Monday, June 27, 2005

My home is filled with children and pets. Some are mine, some are, just like in Monopoly, Just visiting. It makes for a chaotic life, but long before we had kids, we had pets.
Isn't it funny how you remember your pets from childhood? Each one had some special quality but they all give you undivided adoration.
One way to get lots of pets (other than having children beg for them) is to have a husband working part time at a pet store. In our small one bedroom apartment, we had two rabbits, a cat, and our fish tanks began to multiply. At one point, or rabbit population went to zero, but the cats doubled and the fish tanks multiplied to 7 or 8. We got a turtle along the way, finches for a while, and never underestimate the entertainment value of a crawfish.
So, now, along with the photos of our family, we've started a gallery of pets, past and present.
Looking at old photos for that project, I found inspiration for a quilt. Snuggles was a very sweet kitty who moved with us from Ohio, to Florida and on to Missouri before she passed away. Her companion cat, Pumpkin, lasted a few more years before she had to be put to sleep.
Since then, we've had 2-K (named by my DH who wanted people to ask, "why 2-K?" ) Who absolutely hated me and passed away from something the vet never pinpointed. So then, our latest kitty is Psyche. (whose name provides me with an easy check of the quality of education a person received )
Well, currently, besides the cat, we have a dog and two turtles, a tank of fish, and a red-bellied toad (which is rather boring, to be honest. ) What I do have is a daughter who loves animals and is contented begging for additions to the group. DH has refused any notion of adding rodent-type pets, so we are stuck with what we have.
A solution is to have her volunteer at the animal shelter (and we have even fostered a dog to socialize it) but currently, it's under quarantine so we haven't visited.
I know people who are fanatics about their pets. Treating them as children, instead of an animal. Of course, you see those "stars" who walk around carrying a dog and dressing them up, sending them to spas, etc.. It's crazy, but then, compared to children, dogs never tell you no. They do minimal damage. They won't turn to drugs. They don't have to go to college to succeed in life. As long as you can afford vet bills and county tags, you are doing well by them. You don't have to buy clothes for them. (some are amused by it, however) Food costs are much lower, especially when you are talking about teenagers.
Maybe some make the decision not to have children, they believe pets are good enough. But, with all the heartbreak, is some real jewel -like moments that kids can bring and pets cannot.
I'll stick with the kids.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Evening swim at Tablerock Lake-

My favorite time to visit the lake is when the sun is slowly setting on the lake. The light changes quickly, but besides the beauty, there's something about going at this time, a time when normally, we would be talking about dinner, homework and baths for school the next day. This is golden time, summer, when the rules don't apply and the fun can stretch late into the summer night.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Politics as viewed from here--
I hate to talk about politics. Sometimes, when I'm in a group gathering, I wonder how can I continue to be pleasant to them, when I am so opposed to what they believe. But then, the moment passes and I realize that they are pleasant people, friendly and caring , not monsters.
I am not happy about the funding cuts happening in the senate at the moment. I don't care what people say, NPR/ PBS do a lot of good for our country, especially in rural areas. But to say I want that funding back, that it's a bargain for the price, then I have to say it's more cost effective than spending that money on a war plane, tank, or ammo.
But then, I have to say that I don't want our troops in Iraq, I never did. I thought we didn't have any reason to be there and I still don't. I never understood the reasoning Pres. Bush gave for going there in the first place. "weapons of mass destruction " became "Saddam was a bad man". And my response to that would be, "So?". If we were to attack every country that had a leader who we considered a "Bad" one, we'd have wars breaking out all around the globe. And why is it our place to decide who is Bad? And why there and not North Korea, or Africa?
It's difficult to hear about the war there everyday. To hear of the soldiers who have died, to hear of how the citizens themselves keep sabotaging efforts there. Instead of understanding that electricity benefits them all, someone keeps stealing the wires to sell. It's stuff like that that makes me just say, "why are we there again?" But then, I didn't think we should be there in the first place.
President Bush declared war on a country that had not attacked us. That is a very important and dangerous action that will come back and haunt us for years to come. I'm writing this down here so it's on record so I can come back and say, "see? I told you so".
sadly, that's all I seem to be able to do now. I've written my congressmen several times and either get no response, or a very patronizing note about how " complicated" the middle east is.
No kidding! And I thought my 11 year old could figure it out! (she just doesn't have time since she's been studying so hard for the aptitude tests required by NCLB. )
Speaking of that, I recently heard on NPR (nasty pro-leftist radio) That part of the NCLB allowed the military to not only be able to recruit at our public schools, but to have access to the student records to better contact the students they believe would be good candidacy for the military.
I've been to the NCLB website, but never saw THAT on the site. So, I went back and looked more carefully. I finally foundthis:

These laws are: Section 9528 of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 7908), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110), the education bill, and 10 U.S.C. 503, as amended by section 544, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (P.L. 107-107), the legislation that provides funding for the Nation's armed forces.

I can tell you that it is not talked about on the website where Parents are told what the act means to them. I can also tell you that this isn't mentioned there either:

If you do not want [School District] to disclose directory information from your child's education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the District in writing by [insert date]. [School District] has designated the following information as directory information: [Note: an LEA may, but does not have to, include all the information listed below.]
-Student's Name-Address-Telephone listing-Electronic Mail address-Photograph-Date and place of birth-Major field of study-Dates of attendance-Grade level
-Participation in officially recognized activities and sports-Weight and height of members of athletic teams-Degrees, honors, and awards received-The most most recent educational agency or institution (not sure what.. Because it just ended there)
It all feels underhanded to me. That's what I dislike about politics the most. It all feels like they make a big deal about some things, then slip in extra stuff that never is discussed and never makes the light of day until it's too late. I hate that the elected officials never seem to respond to my letters or if they do, they treat me like a moron.

Quilts on dark subjects
On the QA list, someone raised the subject of doing quilts depicting dark subjects. It brought up the memory of the Child abuse quilts in 1998 ( I think) that made the rounds to many quilts shows as a special exhibit. I remember that the discussion was centered around just how nervous everyone was about having them at quilt shows. I seem to remember that in at least one location, it was set aside in a special space, clearly marked with the title of the show, so some poor unsuspecting soul didn't accidently wander in to see such strong statements about such a dark subject.
Wouldn't it be something if all the Art Museums around the world did the same thing? "This gallery contains strong, negative images" And then the brave viewers would get to see the likes of "Rape of the Sabine Women" and "La Gurnica". Then, it wouldn't be long before there would be warnings for all the galleries that held nudes as well. Then, if you were seen taking your children into either gallery, it would be frowned upon, if not outright prohibited.
Well, maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe quilts have been associated with home, hearth, comfort and grandmas having the ole' quilting bee, that it IS a lot to take. First, that a quilt could be art then. secondly, that it doesn't have to be all sweetness and light all the time.
For me, Art has the responcibility to point out the human condition and being human isn't always pleasant. Just because I choose to use fabric to make my art, doesn't mean I cannot make a powerful statement about the human condition if I wish.
I think any place a large group of people gather, should be able to host a thought provoking exhibit and they all should be intelligent enough to know every thing I've said here.
We know these aren't quilts that people would want to sleep under. We know these aren't quilts they would (always) want to have on their Living room wall. I don't know anyone who would want a rape scene on their walls either, but someone painted it.
So, from that exhibit, my favorite was the one that showed the small girl cowering in the corner beween the legs of the Man (father) who was holding a belt. It was a very powerful and uncomplicated image.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dragons, Dreams, and Daring Deeds-
This Tuesday will be the first meeting for the local Library's summer reading program and I'm working with the older kids again. I enjoy it very much and I love being able to come up with art projects that fit the themes. I have decided on what projects I'd like to do. I've made some examples, so I know what parts will be difficult, and how long it might take. One project I'm planning is making fairy wings to wear. The photos I took of my girls were testing my example out. I think it will be fine. Maybe some of the boys might not want to make wings, but then, maybe some of the girls won't care about making shields either. I think they should do both activities though.
The first thing I've got to do is make a dragon from cardboard. I need to have all the pieces cut out so I can have the kids do the spray painting (using some stencil shapes for details) and then we'll glue it together into it's final 3-D shape. We'll display it in the Library durring the program (5 weeks)
But, I have to take DH to the airport tomorrow and I've been working on my own art for the past couple days. Always a plus, being able to work on my own art. So, for now, I'll get back to it.

My Youngest, Delaney, who enjoyed the idea of being a fairy very much.  Posted by Hello

My daughter, Maura, reluctantly posing for the photo. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Creating a Stir

Today, I decided to write some strongly worded feelings to a mailing list I belong to. I prefaced my statements by writing that they could flame me all they wished, I was flame-proof.
Ironically, I've only had one strongly negative comment and I hurt another person's feelings. (which I regret) and there were some people (aren't there ALWAYS) who didn't read what I said carefully. So far, the overwhelming responce is along the lines of "Finally, someone said what I've been wanting to". So, what did I say?
It's a quilt list, but more importantly, it's a quilt ART list. IMHO, that second word makes all the difference. The people on this list, therefore, should be WANTING to make art, that happen to be quilts. So, who are quilt artists anyway?
You aren't a quilt artist if...
1. If you are still buying magazines to use the patterns in them, not because it's your article in it, you aren't an artist.
2. If you are buying books that you follow step by step, not because the author is your friend, you aren't an artist.
3. If you are watching TV shows or going to classes so you, too, can make a perfect ohio star, you aren't an artist.
4. If you attend a quilt show and take a picture of the quilts just so you can try to copy it when you get home, you aren't an artist.
5. If you care more about perfect points, 1/4" seams, the latest template, the latest gizmo and the latest fad than you care about having a great idea, finding inspiration, deciding how to create it and executing it to the best of your abilities, then you aren't an artist.
6. If you buy a pattern and the exact fabric they recomend in a kit, you aren't an artist.

Ok, I could go on and on, but you get my point. I'm just flat out tired of people claiming the title of "artist" when they are just crafting. There was a time in this country when people actually had to make things and they were important things, but they never considered themselves artists. They made chairs so they had a place to sit. They made clothes to wear. They made quilts to keep warm. There are those who think that all of these things, just because they are handmade, should be considered ART.
Let me explain something. Art is not just "pretty". Art is not "luck". Art is not "easy". Art is not "quick". Art doesn't come in a kit. Art is not paint by numbers.
Art is thoughtful. Art is making decisions. Art is skillful. Art is Communication. Art is hard.
The very minute you give up any one of the decisions out of a myriad of choices, you become less than an artist.
So, I'm not too worried about what I said on my list. I believe it with my whole heart and, it seems, several people agree with me.