Monthly Archives: July 2010

Mmm…yarn and other crafty pleasures

Lately (most intensely during the intermittent silences on the blog) I’ve been working feverishly on knit and crochet projects. I’ve even delved into sewing after my mom delivered a vintage machine to my tiny apartment. I’ve also been flipping through cookbooks for meal inspiration and attempting to add in a bit of baking. There has always been something completely satisfying about creating. I should divulge that I come from a family of women who are needle crafters, sewists, good cooks and bakers, from homemakers to home economics teachers. Even the men sew and cook in my family and everyone is darned good at it. So it’s in my blood, I suppose I have always rebelled against it.

Now I end the fight and join the ranks. Mom and auntie are thrilled and never miss a minute these past months to offer advice on technique or to share from their immense stashes. Now I can look back fondly on my memories as a young girl trapped in the fabric shops, hearing the hum of a sewing machine, or the whir of a mixer.

This of course will influence my blog. Originally I set out to blog mostly about books and container gardening. I am still reading although at a slower pace (I have a few reading notes that I will catch up on) and I do still garden. I have my regular houseplants and now a few raised beds at my boyfriend’s house from which we are enjoying the tastiest veggies I think I’ve ever eaten (well…maybe not tastier than the bounty I remember from my grandmother’s house in the country).

Some of what I’ve been up to:

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overcoming speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel

Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel

Alice Walker’s latest work is a series of short essays about her travels and experiences in Rwanda, Congo, and the Gaza Strip. Working with Women for Women International and CODEPINK, Walker’s trips reveal a side of war and conflict that many are not aware of, specifically how everyday people are devastated and how in the direst circumstances they are able to rebuild their lives and their spirits.

After seeing the unthinkable Walker writes that she was thrust into a state of speechlessness. And more generally it seems that the world has been overcome with speechlessness and the inability to act; we are constantly bombarded with wars, conflicts, a mountain of ‘isms’, and environmental assault.

Whether it is because of media or our own shielding of the eyes Walker revealed for me that truth is relative to what you see and what you feel, what you allow yourself to see and feel. I find it an act of bravery for one person to reach in deep and pull out these stories, to start a dialogue so that we can un-shield our eyes and discuss. I’m sure others are doing similar work, I only hope that we will hear their voices.

Sharing these stories Walker is able to overcome speechlessness, to reclaim her voice and perhaps to give voice to others who are victims or who will propel change forward.

I’m quite glad to have received a copy of this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
LibraryThing Early Reviewers


Great Girls Talk Books: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

It’s so nice to be able to sit with a group of intelligent women and talk, whether it’s about books or not.

Last month was the first meeting of a new book club Books, Booze, & Broads (BBB) hosted by my former professor and friend.

I’ve always wanted to join a book club…clearly I like books and I like discussing them.

The book club reads and discusses books by women or about women.

Last months’ selection was The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks. Rebecca Skloot, a news writer works to uncover the story behind a black woman whose cancer cells changed the practice of science and ultimately expanded our knowledge and coaxed cures and breakthroughs. During examinations for diagnoses and treatment, Henrietta Lack’s cells were removed from her body without her or her family’s knowledge or permission. Those cells were cultured and eventually used all over the world unbeknownst to her family. This is a story of ethics, of scientific discovery, and mostly the story of one woman’s search to fill in the missing pieces of her mother’s story.

I can’t say I read much nonfiction but that may change now. I’ve found that there is something special about reading the lives of real people, about trying to feel them out.

The girls all had strong reactions to the book and I think we discussed every aspect through and through, Exhausting and good. Next time I’ll write down my own thoughts and then try to compare them with the group as time and a few hours around a cozy table have mashed them together a bit.

This month we’re going to discuss I’ll Fly Away: Further Testimonies from Women of York Prison edited by Wally Lamb. It is Lamb’s second collection of essays written by participants in his writing workshop. I’ve started reading these women’s essays and I’m already pulled in by their simplicity and their depth. Of course I couldn’t resist and picked up the first volume as well.