Thursday, January 21, 2021

One Giant Group Project

One of the things I do miss about working is the energy of the students who served as our interns and paid students. I was thinking about this, about the world we are leaving to the generations behind us and the words of one young woman, a student working in my department, came to mind.

One night, after a screening, I drove her back to her dorm, as it was late and pouring rain. We were talking school and projects, the frustration of group projects and then she said, "But then, life is one big group project." 

One big group project. True enough, isn't it?

We may do our world solo, appreciating the autonomy that comes with making our own decisions and operating on our own schedules. But sometimes we all need a little help -- whether it comes in the form of actual assistance or through the support of others who are on our side, urging us on to achieve our goals.

The group project concept crosses a number of areas. Take your creative soul, for example. I speak only for myself, but I find that when I can work and create as part of a group, I tend to discover new things more quickly, fall back less on old (and sometimes poor) habits and take chances I might not do on my own.

I love a class situation when a bunch of people who may or may not start out knowing one another end up encouraging and suggesting or asking for your constructive advice. There is something organic about how, during the course of creativity, conversation and ideas flow -- sometimes related to the project at hand, sometimes completely off topic -- but valuable.

It is almost as though by the very act of creating in company, something in the brain opens up to be receptive to all around us, whether it is the seasoned advice of an expert instructor or the casual comment of the person beside you -- "What if you moved that a little to the right?"

And while I have to say that while my creative work is my own, every piece, every photo, every word owes a debt to someone, someplace in time. Someone who encouraged, guided, taught, praised, questioned or listened.

The same holds true of just about everything in life. If you have a walking buddy, you might be more likely to get out and walk each day. If you're taking a class that's difficult, having a study partner can help clear some of the fog. I know I never would have come through my two semesters of statistics in grad school without my study group pal, Tom. The bonds forged through those cold winter days of trying desperately to get my brain around something so alien forged a lifelong friendship.

Group projects were a factor of my everyday life when I was still working. With every television show you watch, every event you attend, there are far more people at work than you can imagine -- far more than are "seen" by the general public. You see the television show. But it is the product of not only on-screen talent, but the director, audio and video crews, the graphics specialist, the writer, the editors and more. And the fact one knows about the program it at all may be related to what I did, with communication and promotion.

Rick is dealing with a giant group project right now. His partners in this will be his four brothers and no doubt me, their wives, his mom's medical team, his mom and her friends. All will need to work together, sharing tasks and ideas to determine how to handle the living situation after she is released from rehabilitation. This "project" will be taking place from five households thousands of miles away, as his four brothers are spread out over four states, none in which is where she lives. It will not be easy, not everyone will agree and there will probably be tears. But ultimately, everyone must come together for a common purpose -- the best care and situation for this dear woman whose life was turned upside down with one fall.

l look at our world and domestic situation and as usual, my mind goes to Covid. Can you think of any greater group project than that of developing a vaccine for a virus that has affected millions worldwide? And they pulled together, doing this in record time.

Now it is up to us to get our vaccinations, wear our masks, keep our distance and stop the spread. It's our giant group project and together we may not be able to make it disappear -- no miracles there -- but we may be able to get a handle on it so we can go out to dinner -- inside -- or hug each other and those little munchkins who are growing up so fast in front of our eyes. Or rather, on Zoom or Facetime. 

This is our collective group project -- probably one of many, including healing our country. What are some of yours?

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Art of Lord Robert Baden Powell

Two years ago this month, Rick and I were in Dallas for his mom's birthday. We took time to visit the National Scouting Museum, then located in Irving, Texas. One of the exhibits that fascinated me featured the art of Lord Robert Baden-Powell.


Powell served in the British Army but for others around the world he is best known as the founder of the world-wide Scouting movement, first the Boy Scouts and then with his sister Agnes, of the Girl Guide and Girl Scout movement. He also wrote the first editions of "Scouting for Boys." 


What people may not realize about Baden-Powell was that he was a remarkable artist who painted almost every day from his childhood. His father was an amateur artist as was his grandmother and he came by it naturally and with support. 


He had an interesting style, shifting his brush from one hand to the other with little change in style or skill. He worked in pen and ink doing advance sketches for his paintings. He spent many of is later years in Africa and many of his paintings reflect this. 


Baden-Powell's first British Army commission sent him to India. 

His letters home included stories of the people and sites he observed and they were liberally illustrated with images describing the scenes. He was also an avid art journalist -- long before art journaling became a "thing."


He also received an invitation from The Graphic, a newspaper offering payment for his sketches from the front. 


Baden-Powell was an avid traveler, both through his Army commissions and independently. His travels took him to Switzerland...


....and to Canada.


Some of his work was done while touring Tunis and Algeria. He wrote many books and often his later works focused on African themes.


In 1910, he retired from the army organized the scouting movement. When girls appeared at the first Scout rally in 1909, they told him they were "Girl Scouts."  He and his sister then formed the Girl Guides, which evolved into Girl Scouts in some areas of the world. 


When Baden-Powell retired in 1937, he and his wife, Olave, whom he had married in 1912, moved to Nyeri, Kenya, where he died and was buried in 1941.


I wonder what he would  think of recent controversies in the Scouting world. I know that being an Eagle Scout was a big part of Rick's growth and development and always spoke highly of the movement.

 I'm so glad I was able to see this collection before the Scouting Museum in Irving closed. Powell's art is a wonderful example of both watercolor work and journaling...

...and certainly an inspiration.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Five-Minute Snowman Centerpiece

When I was swapping out Santa for Snowfolk I wanted to change up the centerpiece that stays put on the dining table. I'd changed out the runner to one with blue and white snowflakes so I thought a snowman would be perfect. And this one took five minutes.

I'm not even doing step-out pix! You'll need a silvery tray, fairy lights, white batting, bottlebrush tree and a snow person (or more, if you want!)

On the silvery tray (Dollar Tree) I added a string of battery fairy lights.

I added some of the batting I use as a base for my felties on top of that, pulling some of the lights out of the batting.

After placing the snowman in the middle, using tacky wax I added a few bottlebrush tree.

 And there you have it -- five minutes (the longest part is fiddling with the lights) and using items on hand.

 And full of winter fun!

Sharing with:  Meraki Link Party      /    Love Your Creativity     /     Tuesday Turn About     /     Let's Keep in Touch    /     Share Your Style

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

So Far, I'm Not Bonding with 2021!

It's been a bumpy ride this year, hasn't it? January hasn't started out the best for Rick and me. And that part has nothing to do with the riot in Washington.

That was a bad week for us on any number of levels. The worst was that Rick's mom fell and broke her hip. Surgery was delayed for a few days for other medical reasons. Apparently, she was close to having a heart attack (which didn't have anything to do with the fall) and the cardiologist had to sign off. Meanwhile, she was in terrible pain. The good news is that the surgery went well and she is starting to sound like herself again. There will be rehab, of course, but that one is looking up.

I think it was the same day that we found out a cousin of Rick's (second, or removed) had died in December. Barbara was a lovely woman. She and I shared an interest (no, a passion) for Jacqueline Winspear's "Maisie Dobbs" mysteries and she would send me hers when she finished. She never forgot Rick's birthday. Every year she sent a Christmas letter to Rick and one to me -- much of it was the same but she always, always personalized the first couple of paragraphs, referring to our times together or shared interests. A few years ago she came to the lake and we had a wonderful time and I will be forever grateful for having had that opportunity to get to know her better. 

I'm still going through cardio testing, which -- thanks to slow prior authorization from our new insurance company -- has delayed appointments and finding out just what needs to be done for my a-fib. I'm still hoping for a conservative, medication-only treatment. 

A friend of Rick's came down with Covid. He's not a good candidate with many co-morbidities. Rick picked up meds and food for him, leaving it at his door. Stay tuned. And, Rick is also having trouble with his tenant who lives on the other side of his duplex wall. The best thing that could happen is that the lease is broken. Sometimes a bad tenant is worse than no tenant. Oh, and the tenant was exposed to Covid over New Year's. He'd better be staying out of the laundry room.

But, on the happier side, Lizzie and I have been enjoying some backyard bird watching.

There's a lot of action at Lizzie Coco's Birdbath Bar and Grill. I've seen all kinds of sparrows, woodpeckers, juncos, cardinals, jays, and I think the red one in this post is a finch. 

Although, every photo reminds me that I should have washed the windows outside before the snow fell!

 Rick is making noise about wanting his hair cut. I'm liking his long-hair look and dreading using the clippers he bought. Maybe a scissor trim.

The good news? I'm now eligible to register for my Covid vaccine. The bad news? Our county has over 80,000 people in my category and doses for about 2,500. I'm sure glad I like being in my house.

As you can see in the photos above, I have replaced the Santas with the snowfolk. I am so glad I did a bottlebrush tree mantel this year so I don't have to deal with that right now!

The big tree and some of the smaller ones will probably be down by the time this posts, give or take a day. I was going to take it down on the seventh, after Twelfth Night, but the lights and color were so peaceful and calm and after what happened the day before, I needed all the peace and calm I could get. Meanwhile, this one gives me all the joy you need on a bad day. Or week. Or month.

So, to keep me calm, another Lizzie pic. She was having quite a time. Lizzie lives in oblivion of all except eat, sleep, play, purr. I think a lot of us wish we could live in oblivion after events at the Capitol last week, but I also suspect that being oblivious to facts, truth and falling under the spell of a maniacal fascist leader and conspiracy theories is what got us into this mess in the first place. January 20 cannot come soon enough for me but I'm under no illusions that the violence is over. Remember, I live in the state where these domestic terrorists got a dress rehearsal storming our state capitol in April and plotted a kidnapping attempt on our outstanding governor who has gone to the mat to protect our state during Covid.

These people are not patriots. They were not peaceful protestors. Call them what they are. Rioters, terrorists, racists, thugs and so much more, incited by a madman who was enabled by followers whose source of information was unproven conspiracy theories. For many, those theories were fueled by perceived self-interest, whether it was financial or motivated by single issues like the Supreme Court. Why should we be surprised at his inciting violence? I just don't understand the thinking behind this.

It's not like we weren't warned when he suggested using the second amendment to take care of Hillary Clinton in 2016. It's not like we weren't warned by the increasingly rabid tweets. We were warned. And eyes were covered.

Some of his followers are otherwise good people. They do good things for others, volunteer for worthy organizations, would bring chicken soup to a sick neighbor.  Some are in my extended family, others I've known for years. They are people I care about. I don't wish them ill, I know we will in time have what I hope are good times together. But I do not understand how they can stick by him after all the damage he has done to our country.

I truly believe they are deluded. If anything comes from this, I would like to think they would come around and recognize not only who and what this man is and his role in instigating partisan hate, but also their role in enabling it through their votes or passive acceptance. It is not a matter of party. It's a matter of principle. Or, as the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

My word of the year is hope. Hope for eyes wide open, not eyes wide shut. But I don't know that I'm too hopeful about an end to the violence. Or, that everyday people will accept their own accountability. I'd like to be wrong, so very much.

We are emotionally and mentally exhausted. At least I am. I'm getting a little desperate for joy.

I'm leaving comments open here but keep it civil, regardless of point of view. I'm sure some won't agree. But comments that cross the line will be deleted.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Mural Monday: Bright Color in Old Town

There is a bit of irony in the fact that Lansing, Michigan's Old Town might be the trendiest area in the city, and certainly the least frumpy! It's an area of the arts and they do it well.

So it's not surprising to see this splendid mural on the side of one if its older buildings. I'm happy to share it today with Mural Monday on Sami's Colourful World.


Titled "Maagwed Miijim: The One Who Provides," it is by artist Nani Chacon with Dylan Miner and Marsos DeJesus and was sponsored by MSU Women of Color Initiative in 2018.

Old Town is one of three "villages" in Lansing's early development. John W. Burchard was the settlement's earliest resident, building the first log cabin in Lansing in 1843. 

The area was home to the city's first sawmill and a its location by the Grand River and its first bridge, financed by leading pioneer James Seymour, connected the area to places wast. Lansing's first school was built in Old Town as well. 

For many years the area was a bit of a hub in the city, but it began a decline in the 20th century. When I was a child in the mid 1950s, my grandparents lived in the country north of Old Town, and the area was most convenient for my grandmother's shopping. 

By then some of the spots I recall were Glass Pharmacy (where Mom and I would have a cherry phosphate at the counter while Grandma did her grocery marketing), Freddie's Donuts, Beeman's Market, a bank, the dime store (was it a Woolworths? I don't recall!), the Mustang and Unicorn bars and the Northtown movie theatre (where, according to my grandmother's journals, she and granpa enjoyed many movies). 

Only the Unicorn remains. After a good deal of decline, the area fell into decay. Slowly, but very steadily, enthusiastic artists and small businesses, led in large part by the remarkable Robert Busby, and with the help of many grants, brought the area back to the status of being Lansing's crown jewel. 


It is the place to be, with its galleries, shops, street art and annual festivals.

One of the things I missed most at Christmas was not being able to shop in Old Town's delightful stores. Yes, they were open. No, I didn't shop this year. Going to Old Town is one of the things I'm looking forward to visiting again after my vaccine.

We'll be visiting again here soon!

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