Tag Archives: affluence

So Happy Our Paths Crossed

Wendy continues to ask me what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s part of my answer:

A new-to-me friend stopped by the other day. She is familiar with fiber arts, so I introduced her to our studio. She saw the weaving project that my husband was working on, and her jaw dropped as she exclaimed, “You mean, you weave one thread at a time?” I responded, “Yes, and we put yarn on the looms one thread at a time.”

Here is what my loom looks like today. We are around 1/4 of the way done “threading” my loom, for a jacket, putting one thread at a time through the reed that spaces the threads evenly, and the heddles that raise and lower the threads to make the weaving patterns.

threading Grace's loom

A couple of days ago, my (grownup) son saw one of my handwoven towels with new eyes. He asked me if I had ever considered selling them at craft fairs. I had. I cringed from a flash of memory of summers as a teenager selling my work in hot, open areas, and people walking around with dripping ice cream cones, and greasy fingers from hot dogs… but they had to touch my fabrics and baskets to fully appreciate them.

I told him that I had a hard time imagining someone paying the market price for one — $50 — when you can buy some at the Dollar Store. He agreed and responded, “How much does one cost you to make?” I calculated around $2 because I use mill ends (leftovers from huge fabric mills). He said, “Well, then, you can sell them for $12 or $15!” I said that each one takes around a full day of work to make. He slumped with understanding.

You can understand now why I don’t sell them and only give them as gifts.

Theresa blogged about one of the towels that I made. After you read it, you can understand why I enjoy giving them as gifts.

Towel from Grace

CatTail Tales

When Chuck and I caught the ceramics bug and set up our studio last summer, we started out with reckless abandon.  We spent the evenings and weekends making anything and everything that we wanted to try and, in a matter of weeks, we started to find ourselves buried in beautiful pieces with nowhere to go with them all.

Being a kitchen designer by trade, I can’t stand disarray. A good design deserves to be seen and used without being cluttered. The same goes for a harmonious color palette. Although we created some beautiful pieces, they weren’t always what complimented the decor of our home…or our friends’ homes…or our family’s homes…or our neighbors’ homes…

It became very apparent very quickly that if we wanted to keep making ceramics, we needed to start selling ceramics. Before long, we were learning how to sell on Etsy.

That is where we met Grace.

One day Grace solicited us to make her some winter…

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Weighing In on New Years Resolutions

Now that the new year is under way, you might be putting your resolutions to the test. This weekend, I noticed that a nearby grocery store had expanded its produce department, even though we are having seasonal temperatures around 0o F, and none of these foods could grow nearby now. I imagine that they are feeding people’s new habits.

Expanded produce department

But how long do new habits take to form?

I grew up during the era when everyone “knew” that it took 21 days to establish a new habit. Imagine my surprise during dinner last night when my daughter told us that she is on the 17 Day Diet, and my son protested that new habits take 30 days to form. So, I did what I love to do: I looked for reasons behind our various expectations.

I found that I grew up after a doctor published that his patients took 21 days to begin to adjust to their cosmetic surgery. Paperback best sellers retold his story by stating that it takes 21 days to change a habit.

A few years ago, the European Journal of Social Psychology published an article that states that it takes 18 to 254 days to form a new habit. Media is reporting that the researchers found that habits take 66 days to establish, so a new myth is born.

You might want to join Matt Cutts as he challenges you to try something for 30 days instead.

If you’re looking for support while you’re turning over your new leaf, or know someone who is taking on an awesome challenge, let us know in the Comments section so we can cheer along and be inspired.

The Longest Night

Thank you Liza for reassuring us that we can bring back and expand the light.

photo: Candle in the dark, by Andy Hay

Like Liza, I have been sifting through memories of my Christmas Pasts, to find ones that nourish new possibilities. I am so content with what I have, my seasonal joy is now from gifting things to people who are in dark times, to surprise and delight them.

When I studied Psychology, I learned that people collapse under crises just after the worst is over. Forget the common idiom, “the darkest hour is just before dawn”; the darkest hour is the one just after dawn. People tend to give up just as things start to get better. That is one reason to appreciate that Christmas and New Years are after the Solstice; after the darkest, longest night. That means that the most important time for action is now.

What is making your days merry and bright? How are you brightening the dark times of others?

(This might be especially true for people close to the North Pole. I have not found a comparable tradition for Southerners; short days are less drastic for them.)

Deeper Roots

Tonight is the longest night. At 5:03 the shortest day of the year ended and the winter solstice, the longest night began.

My family lit candles – six candles on the menorah for the six (thus far) nights of Hannukah and four candles on the Advent Wreath for Peace, Hope, Joy, Love. We won’t light the Christ candle until Christmas Day. My family gathered in the flickering flame. The light looked so fragile, the shadow and the darkness beyond so vast and enclosing.

It feels like it is the longest night in our nation as well.   The President of the New York Police Department Union said “There’s blood on many hands tonight….That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.” In fact there is blood on many hands. There has been for many generations. Since the first Native was murdered, since…

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A Dog’s Life by Ed Kinane

Ed Kinane's dog Archie

Archie, our black lab mix, is a remarkably handsome guy (I think). He has soft, silky hair; a long, elegant muzzle; and thoughtful, soulful eyes. He barks ferociously when anyone comes to the door, but then within a minute decides our guest deserves his warmest, deepest attention.

We serve Archie the very best dog food and dole out a treat whenever we leave the house or whenever we sit down to eat (no fattening human food for this guy!). He’s never missed a meal. Archie has three human housemates, all retired. He doesn’t get left home alone all that much. He has a roomy yard enclosed with an invisible fence. But no day goes by without a romp with us in Elmwood Park.

A marathon napper, Archie has his own couch and pillow. He even has his basket of toys. Surely, Archie’s life is better than that of the vast majority of dogs on this planet. Heck, Archie’s life must be better than that of many – most? – humans.

Why does Archie have such a good life?

Mostly, because of how fortunate my housemates and I are in our lives – how privileged.

Awhile back I took part in a three-day workshop at a nearby campus. In one exercise, our facilitator had each participant list ten words that describe his or her identity – each word on a separate slip of paper.

Here is what I wrote: white, male, hetero, US citizen, honest, Green, non-car owner, partnered, nonviolent, privileged.

After we all compiled our lists, the facilitator had us crumple each slip and drop it to the floor. But first, we were to reflect on what our life would be like without that particular trait. So, for example, as I crumpled my male slip, I was to consider how my life might be different if I had been born something else.

Then the facilitator asked us to reclaim all the slips – except for those traits we wished weren’t part of our identity. While I’m ambivalent about a couple of my traits, I left none on the floor. For a moment, though, I considered shedding privileged.

Ours is a world where so many have so little. It’s a world where affluence often ultimately comes at the price of others’ impoverishment. Affluence also comes at the price of denying future generations resources and opportunities. Affluence takes an enormous ecological toll. My privilege is far from sustainable.

Rightly or wrongly, my rationale for keeping the privileged slip went like this: by US standards I consume little; as an activist I focus on what I think of as essential issues (anti-militarism, anti-imperialism etc.). So, I told myself, my privilege is partly justified since I try to leverage it for the greater good – how could I do my work without this pricey computer etc., etc.?

Sure, I may be kidding myself. We humans have an enormous capacity for denial and self-indulgence. Because I’ve had many years of schooling, I may even succumb to such delusion more than most.

Further, thanks to the advantages I’ve had (through little effort or merit of my own), I may well have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. You might call this “more-ism”: the more you have, the more you think you should have. There is a corollary: “less-ism.” Often, the less you have, the less you’re aware you should have. In other words, over- or under- empowerment.

One reason I cherish Archie is that I see in his eyes and in his body language that he’s calculating and pondering and sorting things out. If only I could enter into his mind for just a short time! I’d love to know what he thinks; how he thinks.

I’m sure Archie has more-ism. I doubt he ever questions the unruffled ease of his life. He never asks who built or bought that couch he’s made his own. Nor does he ask who pays the vet bill. Surely, Archie never wonders whose labor produces the food that magically keeps appearing in his bowl twice a day.

In Archie’s case the obliviousness is innate. The sadness is that we humans can go through life no less oblivious.

Ed Kinane is an essayist and anti-state terror activist based in Syracuse, New York. In 2003, he spent five months in Baghdad with Voices in the Wilderness … before, during and after “shock and awe.” An advocate of “prison witness,” he has twice done federal time for direct actions against the Pentagon’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ed has worked on Peace Brigades accompaniment teams in the war zones of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Sri Lanka. In the eighties, he spent nearly three years teaching in and hitchhiking around Africa. For the past several years, Ed has been preoccupied with exposing the Reaper drone war crime in Afghanistan originating from the 174th Attack Wing of the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, NY.

This piece was republished with permission from Ed Kinane. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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Result of trial February 8, 2014