Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recreating the Village

It seems like whenever we women begin to talk about monthly cycles, the old time menstrual hut is often mentioned.  Throughout history, cultures have had various traditions in dealing with a woman's monthly cycle.  Some women were not able to participate in religious  activities during their menses and others were sent to stay in a separate shelter during that time.  In Hawai'i, this was called, Hale Pe'a.  The women were allowed to have a break, being served food and water by the older women of the village.  Men weren't allowed to interact with them.  They were free to weave and babies were often left with another lactating woman in the village to nurse.  

Always, somewhere in the conversation regarding these huts, I lament with my friends about how sad it is that things aren't like they used to be.  Why can't we take a break when we have our periods and let the family wait on us, coming out of that week relaxed and even having accomplished some sort of quiet work that requires no interruption?  Is that how younger women managed to weave cloth, baskets, and spin yarn?  Why can't we go back to the days of the village?

How has modern American society come so far from traditions held dearly for thousands of years?  I think it traces back to the way our country was founded.  People came to the North American colonies for a fresh start, free from many old ways that had somehow become law.  By nature, many settlers were rebels and independent thinkers, like a teenager or a toddler trying to understand their place as a person on this planet.  Villages meant old ways: a new wild country meant freedom and new ways.  The hard part was that in creating new ways, the wisdom hidden in the old ways was lost.

The nuclear family model of society seems to have been in part formed by the vastness of this new world. People moved to this continent alone, moved into cities alone and moved west alone.  Villages based on country of origin began to form within the cities.  People seem to have an inherent need for the support of of a community of people connected by some sort of common bond, with a variety of ages, skill sets and personality types to support one another.

I started thinking about social interaction in our current society.  I think everything we do is really just trying to get back to the old time village.  My husband loves to interact with fellow computer nerds on Google +.  He calls his buddies on the cell phone when he wants to chat.  I network with friends in a vast support web woven by texting, social media, phone calls, play dates for both mom and kids, church, 4H, sports and our homeschool co-op group.  There are game nights and "get something done nights" hosted by a friend and by me.  There are women's retreats and prayer group times.

We are created with the need for the village.  We can't live in beautiful pili grass huts by the ocean, taking a break and having our mother in law bring us food in a calabash.  But even if we don't have that old time Hale Pe'a, we can have a modern version of it.  When I text a friend saying that Aunt Flo has come to visit and I'm ready to cry, she commiserates with me.  She might offer to babysit, or better yet, offer chocolate.  My husband often sees this time coming before I do, and there's this supernatural communication that happens between us when I refuse to do anything and go straight to bed, no tucking of kids.  He knows it's his turn, and he's ok with it.  He knows there will be a happier wife the next morning.

I think it's important to build our own village.  Even if we can't live with our mom, or mother in law right next door.  Even if we didn't grow up here, have no family here, or don't feel the same as anyone here.  We can do it.  We can find older women to mentor us.  We can find people to mentor our fragile teenagers.  We can find friends who will hug us when we are broken and who will listen when we want to whine.  We can find the time to take a break from the insanity of our busy lives if we search for it.  There is time to do those quiet and restful activities.  There is time to spin yarn.  The village is all around us, we just need to see it, live in it, and make use of it.  Who is your village?  What does it look like to you?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How to Float Mount a Photograph on the Cheap!

The materials you will need to float mount a photograph
I love to create photographs, but I rarely print them, except for Christmas present and for entering in our local fairs.  My brother and his fiance are excellent photographers, and when he told me about this method for float mounting photographs, I asked him to explain every step to me.  It seemed easy enough, so I collected the materials.  Because I have been teaching a photography class this fall and winter, it is the perfect economical solution for mounting and displaying the kids' best photos for a show at school next week.  My oldest daughter is in my class, so I asked her to mount her photograph so that I could do a tutorial.

You will need:

Foam board
Your photograph:  I printed ours in 8x10 format with a matte finish.
1 exacto knife with new blade 
A metal straight edge ruler 
Spray adhesive.  My brother used 3M.  It was expensive, so I bought Krylon

You will also need a clean surface you can cut on.  I used the old picnic table in our yard, but cardboard is what I'll use at school. You will need a clean cloth to smooth your photograph out when mounted on your foam core.  You will need a clean surface, such as cardboard, on which to spray the adhesive on your foam core and photograph.

You're ready!  Wash your hands well.  Prepare your materials and surface.  Read the instructions for your spray adhesive.

We used our photograph to measure the size we would need to cut our foam core.  If you'd like to protect your photo, simply outline it on a piece of cardboard and use that as a form.  From our experience, I found that we wouldn't have to trim edges later if  if we had originally cut our foam core 1/4 inch smaller length and width-wise.  Keeping this in mind,  you may want to cut a form 1/4 inch smaller instead of using your photo as the template, as we did. 
We held the photo flush with the straight edge ruler, cutting a 45 degree beveled cut through the foam core toward the photograph.  This will allow the photograph to appear to float when it is mounted.  No foam core should be visible when mounting is complete.
Once all four sizes were cut at the 45 degree bevel, there were some rough edges, which we cleaned up by using the straight edge ruler to guide us.  

Side view of the 45 degree bevel.  The foam is ready to be used to mount our photograph!
A piece of clean cardboard served as a place to spray our adhesive on the back of our photograph and the top of our piece of cut foam core.   Be sure to follow the specific instructions for your brand of adhesive.  We sprayed one piece at a time, then did jumping jacks (literally!) for a minute while the glue got tacky.   Be sure to spray the LARGER side of your foam core, so that the bevels will go in below your photograph and will not show.
We were very careful to correctly position the photograph correctly before allowing it to touch the glue on the foam core.  This is because it's VERY sticky. 
We used a clean cloth to smooth the photograph over the foam core, ensuring a good strong mount.  

We used blue sticky mounting putty to mount the photograph on a wall in our home.  You will find this in the duct tape aisle at your local hardware store or even at Target.
We straightened the photograph, then gently pressed against its surface to help it stick to the wall.   You may want to use your clean cloth to do this if you're worried about fingerprints.  We used matte finish photographs and don't have sweaty hands so it wasn't a problem for us.

 "Voila!"  You have an aesthetically pleasing float-mounted photograph that people will go nuts over!

Elf Shoes

These are elf shoes.  They are also chocolate chips that have had a manufacturing malfunction.  I love the creativity of my children.  All day long they present me with silly, interesting and actually very good ideas.  This is one of the reasons all the work of mommyhood is worth it.

English Boom Historical Park

Last year, my friend Kari shared some pictures of a beautiful park on Camano Island, and ever since then, I've been wanting to go there.  The weather has been warm and sunny here for the past few days, so I thought I'd take her up on it when she invited me and the kids to go there on Friday.

English Boom Historical park is on the north shore of Camano Island.  It's one of the quickest parks to get to on the Island because of this.  We went at about 4:00 in the afternoon, so because the hills block the sun, it was shady and cool, even on this sunny afternoon.  It's a nature preserve and there's a wooden boardwalk type trail through the salt marshes and it's right on the mud flats of the south end of Skagit bay.  In the 1920's and '30's it was the site of a log boom, one of many huge storage yards along the sound, where logging operations would store, then ship out logs to many mills around the sound.

When we arrived, just one other couple was at the tiny park.  The kids and I went straight out onto the sandy mudflat because the tide was out.  We explored, finding barnacles and rockweed everywhere.  There were bits of very old broken pottery scattered about that we guessed were probably remnants of the days of the log boom.  We were careful to leave everything we found behind and admired the picturesque beauty of this place at the end of a lovely day.  We'll need to go there again and explore the trail!

Alder cones

mussel shells and alder cones

View of the Cascades.  You can see Whitehorse, Three Fingers and Pilchuck

barnacle jar

barnacles on wood pilings

levi found a garden tool
birdie footprints

signs of people

a tiny little pond

feeling the squishy muddy

Mt. Baker

Salt Marsh
cute little pink shells
God had some fun with his paintbrush
dusk in Stanwood