Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Thaw at the Ditch

For those of us who don't walk well in snow, the January thaw can be a blessing -- especially if the temperatures are fairly warm too and the day is sunny. It was time for a long overdue walk to the Ditch.

Harry the Heron, of course, is vacationing at points South. I really didn't expect to see too much wildlife to when I came around the corner, I was a bit surprised to see this.

Can't see anything much? Let's zoom in!

There was a trio of deer on their island. One is kind of hidden in the photo above; you only see her bottom. But this one was definitely curious!

I always feel like it's a special gift when I see the Ditch Deer. I think I'll call these three Doe, Re and Mi. Doe is clearly in charge!

I shared a few sitting ducks in the last post or the one before that. When I came around the first corner, every single one was asleep...

... but when I got to the bridge a short distance away, things were perking up!

Time for a swim!

You'd think their feet would get cold!

I loved the reflections on this one!

I know we'll have plenty more snow this winter and it will be some time before all the ice goes out and Harry and his friends return.

Till then, I'll take in the beauty of winter! If it wasn't so darned cold, I'd actually like it!

What a difference a day makes -- one day you are walking and your jacket is partly open, mittens in your pocket and you wake up the next day and it looks like this.

Life in Michigan.

 Keep cozy!

Joining in at Share Your Cup   

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Altered Candy Boxes -- A DIY Tutorial

Many moons ago, I made Rick a little candy box for Valentine's Day. It was pretty cute, but I'm better now! In sore need of a crafternoon, I made up a model to share for a relatively quick project. Here's the finished piece. Let's get started!

Supplies include papers of your choice (origami and scrapbook papers are pretty!), glue stick, glue gun or other favorite glue, scissors, ribbons or lace or both, embellishments that could include cut outs, buttons, flowers, and a heart-shaped candy box. A Xyron X-box is useful but not required.

(I bought loads of candy boxes after Valentine's Day one year for about 25 or 50 cents each but I saw the small ones at Target the other day for a dollar. Size is up to you. To be honest, I think the candy in them is pretty so-so and I'd recommend filling them with M&Ms or some homemade treat!)

First, remove the candy or insides from the box. You can save the tray if you plan to refill it (I used M&Ms so discarded it). The paper heart can serve as a template for your inside liner.

Draw around the top and bottom of the box on your paper (I know I don't have to tell you to turn it upside down but I will on the off chance your third grader is reading this.)

Cut it out -- you don't need to be exact here. Better to make it a little large than cut too closely to the line. Glue it on with your glue stick (a dryer glue like a glue stick is better here) and then trim.

Also trace around the paper heart from inside the box and cut out the heart that will be your box liner. Glue this to the bottom of the box.

Then put your box back together. It will either have a top that closes to the bottom like this or one where the top meets the bottom half way. This determines the ribbon you will want to use on the side of your box. I was able to use a wider ribbon but you may need two pieces of one that is thinner.

I love my Xyron X-Box for ribbon. You just put it through and it comes out sticky. But if you don't have one, I would use either a very strong doublestick tape (like the red tape) or a fabric glue.

Attach the ribbon to the box. You want the ribbon to be flush to the box (that little end sticking up was glued down when I "came around.") Be extra careful when coming to the indentation around the top. Use something like a butter knife or scissor blades to be sure the ribbon attached all the way into the groove.

If you are using lace on the edges of the box, that's next. Using your glue gun, work slowly around the top and/or bottom edges of the box attaching your lace a bit at a time. Be careful around corners -- you may need to cut in and do the corners by pieces, which is easy, just annoying because it would be easier to do it in one piece.

When it's done it will look like this and that's boring! Time for the fun part.

Play around with what you want on the top. (You probably did a bit of this when you were choosing your papers initially.) Consider buttons, cut outs, even fun three-dimensional objects. I did this one kind of foo-foo but you could go streamlined with game pieces, scrabble tiles, Cracker Jack prizes, doll house bits or other things that fit your Valentine.

If you are working with a paper cut out, you might want to mount it on card stock or watercolor paper with your glue stick to ensure that it is sturdy.

Place them around your box to "audition" them. When you are satisfied start putting them down with your glue gun or the firm adhesive of your choice. E-6000 is good too.

I did mine in about an hour. The longest part was picking what to use. The second longest part was getting the lace around the edge of the box. Making selections is mandatory. Lace is optional! Voila!

That concludes the tutorial portion of this post! Below are images you can save and print for your own projects. Click on the photos to enlarge and right click to save on your computer.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Getting Back to Normal

I can't believe January is nearly over. This is from my friend Kate's annual bird calendar and I just love the January image. I'll hate to swap it out next month (but February is really cute! You'll see.)

Before I forget, I need to clear up something that I might have shared with you when replying to comments in an earlier post. That wonderful drawing of the two cats in this post was not by me and is not Lizzie. It was from the Beatrix Potter book I'd been talking about. I should have put a caption under it. (And I did go back to the original post to do so!) I apologize for the confusion and on behalf of the late Ms. Potter, thank you for the compliments! I wish I could pass them on in person! (On behalf of me, I thank you for thinking I was that good!)

From "The Art of Beatrix Potter," not the art of me!
I also want to thank you for your comments on my last post about the happenings here in Lansing related to the gymnastics abuse case. It's a powerful world of support out there for these young women.

Our little city is returning back to normal, which means pretty quiet and huddled in during the winter, though I have to say that right now it's relatively benign. Snow has melted for a bit, ice is going out on the ditch and the temperatures aren't terrible for a January. It's Michigan. It will change. But it's a nice break in the action.

Rick is a away for work for quite a few days and I've been taking the time to pull together a few Valentine things. I'll have a fun tutorial for creating pretty altered candy boxes for you next time -- I've been making a model for a potential crafternoon project next week. But meanwhile, I had fun putting together a simple bunting with hearts and embellishments from Michael's and buttons from my stash.

The "Love" sign above it is one of last year's projects.

I don't decorate all that much for Valentine's day. This heart wreath stays up all year.

But I do like to have a few reminders that love is in the air!

I was making a progress list to share on my family genealogy blog, The Leatherman Tree, looking at what I'd done last year and my goals for 2018. The list made me tired! And I realized, I'd better get back on it! Now!

Meanwhile, I will leave you with a few sitting ducks to ponder.  Stay cozy!

Sharing this week with: Let's Keep in Touch at Let's Add SprinklesShare Your Cup / Pink Saturday 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Courage -- A Slightly Different Post for Me

Yup. Sometimes I write about serious things with a lot of words. But these matter, because they speak to the courage of young women who have been wronged, hurt. They are the strongest women I know -- not personally, but I would be honored to be their friend. Their collective stories have shaken a university that turned their heads away from them to the core. I am already in their court.

Source: The Detroit Free Press

A lot of my international blog readers probably don't have a clue where Lansing, Michigan is. But I've been surprised that more than one of you, living in other countries, have emailed me about a trial happening here in my home town. I guess news has crossed the pond. I've read articles (or translations) in online newspaper reports from the UK, Canada, France, Germany and even Al Jazeera.

Lansing is in the heart of mid-Michigan and is the home of Michigan State University, the university where I worked for many years (and from which I received both my degrees) and for my money, one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere.

Larry Nassar, a doctor employed by the U, has been on trial for molesting young women, many from the time they were little girls, under the guise of medical treatment. These young women were aspiring gymnasts, some children at a local gymnastics center. Others were Michigan State University students and still more, Olympic athletes and national champions. Nassar, also served as team doctor for the United States Olympic team and USA Gymnastics.

This story has been circulating in our community and in national press for at least a decade and even before that. Girls were told they didn't understand the medical treatments they were being given when they reported abuse. Colleagues and coaches supported him.

His method was simple. Be the friendly guy, the one who gave them treats, brought them gifts. The kind of guy you didn't really want to go against because he was , well, so nice. His reputation as the Olympics' team physician added a certain allure to the impressionable and aspiring gymnasts. If the treatments for their injuries seemed odd, well, so be it. Fame and reputation can make even parents and colleagues turn a blind eye. And besides, a young girl -- or two or ten or more -- against a reputable doctor?

But it was more than one girl. More than 200 girls, some now young women, filed suits, including leading stars in the gymnastics world, like Simone Biles, Mckayla Maroney (who broke her non-disclosure agreement), Ali Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber.

Recently, Nassar pleaded guilty to some of the abuse charges and was also sentenced 60 years for federal child pornography charges.

This past week, our little city became a focal point and was seen around the world as Nassar, found guilty for molesting and abusing these young women, has been listening to the victim impact statements for additional sentencing for the abuse charges.

More than 150 young women and in some cases, their parents, have given profoundly moving statements in court, including Olympians Raisman and Weiber and victim number one, Rachel Denhollander.

At one point, several days into the impact statements, Nassar asked if he could be excused from court because listening to these statements was bad for his mental health. (He also blamed the media for bad press -- a pretty common argument these days -- and told the judge she just wanted to be on TV a lot, so that was why she was making him listen to all the victim statements.)

Let's just say the judge, Rosemarie Aquilina -- who will get my vote for anything she runs for -- was not amused.

In the end, Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40-175 years in prison, to be served after his federal sentence. He will begin trial soon for three more related offenses in another Michigan county. There is subsequent fallout in the U.S. gymnastics world.

The prosecutor also praised the efforts of investigative journalism (Indianapolis Star) who happened onto a story about a complaint to USGA that had been ignored. Without this fine reporting and Denhollander going on record, this may well have continued. Subsequent reporting by other media outlets, including in-depth coverage on ESPN's Outside the Lines, has been stellar.

These women have the courage of champions. They told of their experiences in graphic detail. The impact of these events resulted in more than one suicide, self immolation and shattering memories that cannot be erased. They have been praised and supported by media, demonstrations  on their behalf and most especially through Aquilina, the sentencing judge, who made her courtroom a safe place for these young women to tell their stories.

Through all this, the university remained relatively silent, turning a blind eye. They did not initially cooperate with an investigation into their role. An investigation by the Detroit News revealed that at least 14 representatives and leaders from Michigan State knew of such reports over the years, including President Lou Anna Simon

While some heads have rolled in individual departments, the higher levels have avoided this one like the plague. One of the board of trustees stated "we have more to worry about than this Nassar thing" and the board fell in line to support the university president, one of the more money-grubbing human beings I've been associated with during my time at MSU. (Now the NCAA -- National Collegiate Athletic Association -- has finally launched an investigation into the University's complicity.)

The state House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for her resignation or dismissal, as did numerous editorials and news commentary. The university faculty had a vote of no confidence. And social media was screaming with posts pushing the president and board to resign and let Michigan State begin to heal and rebuild and attempt to become the school it once was, where students matter more than money and outward appearances.

Late yesterday, Lou Anna Simon, MSU's president, did resign. Her resignation letter left much to be desired, making it more like she was taking it for the team, stating that of course people would blame the president and that it was a shame all this was politicized. It's all about the money. But what about the people, what about those girls? What about the girls to come? She danced around apology -- the "I'm sorry he was a bad guy" argument -- but never once took responsibility that more effective action was never taken. No personal "I'm sorry." But that's typical. This woman can spin with the best of them.

These gymnasts are not the first women to have been abused by a trusted medical professional as a child or adolescent. This I know to be true. And those encounters leave a mark that takes decades to heal, if it ever really does, and the love and support of those who matter most to a child or young woman.

These strong, young, rightfully angry women have a courage some of us may never know. The youngest among them has the strength of a champion, the champions standing in that courtroom. I applaud each and every one and thank them for speaking out. They are my heroes.

Spring will come soon to MSU and to these strong women. May it bring a new start and sorely needed healing. (And if you've read with me this long, thanks more than you know.)

Popular Posts