Category Archives: Food for Thought

Lovely Things

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In the July 2017  The Smithsonian magazine, there’s a very interesting article,  From Ptolemy to GPS, the Brief History of Maps, about the history of maps, written by Clive Thompson.  The article begins by relating some recent incidents of mishaps attributed to hapless drivers mindlessly following inaccurate GPS directions while driving.  Thompson writes:

“You can laugh, but many of us have stopped paying attention to the world around us because we are too intent on following directions. Some observers worry that this represents a new and dangerous shift in our style of navigation. Scientists since the 1940s have argued we normally possess an internal compass, “a map-like representation within the ‘black box’ of the nervous system,” as geographer Rob Kitchin puts it. It’s how we know where we are in our neighborhoods, our cities, the world.

Is it possible that today’s global positioning systems and smartphones are affecting our basic ability to navigate? Will technology alter forever how we get around?”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/brief-history-maps-180963685/#GwdJLeK41bIuW2jo.99
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The article is definitely worth a read and I don’t have the answer to whether our “smart” computer technology is making us dumber or more inattentive, but it sure does make us lazier and more inclined to take short-cuts.  A year or two after we had our first home computer, I lectured my kids for their insistence on checking the weather online in order to decide on their apparel for the day or whether to wear a coat heading to the bus stop in  the morning.  I told them to step outside and see how cold it was or to look at the sky and they could see it was likely to rain.  They scoffed at that, telling me how the weather report relied on “expert” meteorologists and besides, who wanted to walk outside, when they could find out more “accurate” information online.

I prefer to look at the sky or look at the leaves on trees, which can speak volumes about impending storms or even how the birds act, as my first barometric reading, so to speak.

One thing I have noticed with my use of computers for almost all of my writing is that my spelling has become atrocious without spellcheck and now with beginning my “gratitude” journal, my handwriting is beyond terrible and it felt very awkward holding a pen for more than a few minutes at a time.

One of the first books I learned to read was a small board book my grandmother gave me, as part of my Christmas gifts for Christmas in 1964.  I was 4 years old:

I think I was around 7 or 8 when the cover started coming loose and I took some of my mother’s bandage tape and taped it back together.  I remember this, because my mother told me that wasn’t a good tape to use to repair a book.  I kept that book all these years and I came across it recently, sorting through some old paper stuff in my decluttering efforts.  Perhaps, I will attempt a better repair job.  The prayer at the top of this post is one of my favorite prayers in this book.  I remember loving this prayer as a child.

It is a prayer about gratitude.

That brings me to my ugly, dollar store journal, that is now my “gratitude” journal.  Why I picked the ugliest journal to start a journal is part of how I always worry about messing things up, so I didn’t want to begin “journaling” in my nicest journal, in case I messed it up.  It’s the same reason I keep many very nice things and don’t use them, because they might get ruined.   The same applies to many of my sewing and craft supplies, where I purchased fabric I loved or a craft item I thought was wonderful, but then I put off using it, because I was afraid I would waste it on a project that turned out crappy or that I might mess it up.  So, I have many lovely things awaiting the perfect project or for me to feel that my crafting/sewing skills will do justice to them.

“Junk journals” might be the perfect project for me.  My first junk journal turned out nicer than I expected.  Now, with this gratitude journal,  where I’m starting with junk, if I mess up this ugly dollar journal – so what!   And besides it’s just for me to write in, look at and read.

From the time I was around 9 or 10, I began cutting out pictures and stories from old magazines, like Highlights for Children, that I wanted to keep.   I had folders and an old shoe box for my clipped items.  By the time I was a teenager, I still had folders and I had boxes that I had decoupaged clipped pictures or old, pretty wrapping paper onto, making them pretty, but still functional.

After gluing some pictures in the altered composition books for my granddaughters, the other night, as I was trying to think of what to write in my “gratitude” journal, I decided to cut out pictures from some old magazines to glue into my journal.  I always try to make everything perfectly straight and agonize over perfect color combinations, perfect page layouts and if the overall arrangement is perfect.   As I started gluing in pictures, I decided not to stress over it and just glue in some pictures.

I started with just a picture or two on the two-page spread of the journal, but the next night I decided to do some collages of pictures and I started with this one, with the very crooked edges on the left side:

Then I decided to do collages inside the front and back covers:

Usually when I think of collage art work, I think of those edgy artists, who paint bold sweeps of colors and combine dismembered body parts into odd new arrangements or who have some giant eye somewhere in the picture peering at you.   I lack artistic ability, so mine is just gluing in pictures I like, with a glue stick.

I had done the porch page on Monday or Tuesday night , then yesterday I found the words, “The Porch: The soul of the house lies just up the front steps”,  in another old, Southern Living magazine and knew it had to go on this page.

Funny how something like gluing in pictures from some old magazines made me realize how grateful I am to have grown up poor, in a large family, in the mountains of PA.  The front porch of our house was where I spent hours in the summertime cutting out pictures from old magazines.  We would carry my great-grandmother’s rocking chair out on the front porch for her in the evenings, because she didn’t want her rocking chair left outside.  It was a part of the routine to cart her rocking chair in and out, when she wanted to sit on the front porch.  My parents, brothers and sisters, cousins next-door, sometimes neighbors too, congregated around our front porch in the summertime.  Often, friends of my parents would stop to chat a few minutes, as they were driving by.

We were never bored, we talked a lot, we never wanted to go inside and we begged our parents to stay outside longer, long after it was dark.

And of course, I do get lost easily, so I pay close attention to everything when I drive, taking careful notes of landmarks, buildings, road markers of every kind, even distinctive trees.  I don’t use GPS directions, instead I keep road maps in my car and I write down careful directions on a piece of paper before I take any trip.  My father built roads for a living.  He taught me to keep track of the mile markers on the interstate, so anytime we are on the interstate, I can tell you which mile markers we are between and which direction we are headed.

There’s no way I am going to trust a GPS voice on my phone to guide me.   Years ago, I did a google mapquest search for a friend from work’s home.  I had never been to her house, so I typed in my street address and hers.  Those directions included a turn onto a street that does not exist.

And, amidst having so many gadgets,  gizmos and fancy things, I am going to refocus on being thankful “for the lovely things” in my life, like “the pretty flowers and the little birds that sing”.  Kind of odd that a “junk journal” brought all the real treasures in my life into focus.

Note: The prayer, For Lovely Things, was written by Edna Dean Baker and the book, Prayers For Little Children,  was edited by Mary Alice  Jones and illustrated by Suzanne Bruce.

Books with collages of all pictures glued in are often referred to as “glue books” and it’s a very relaxing pastime.  There are many good videos on YouTube explaining how to go about doing a glue book.  Here are a couple of videos that I found informative:

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Food for Thought, General Interest, Things That Matter

True heroes, no capes required

The story of this rug, that  my father bought for me when I was a child, is in my 2013 blog post, My Lucky Rabbit

Today is Father’s Day, so the debate going on in my head as to blog post topic is, Should I write a sappy, “my father was the greatest Dad ever” ramble about my Pop or some larger cultural issue? Perhaps, this post will be a little of both.

I loved my parents a great deal, but I respected them as much as I loved them. My mother was a serious type person, but my Pop was the most happy-go-lucky, cheerful, practical joker to the max, kind and umpresuming man imaginable.  My parents were both extremely hard workers, but they also were hard workers with taking care of my 3 sisters, two brothers and me.

My mother was reserved around other people and cautious around new people, while my Pop never met a stranger.  My mother marveled at how Pop had this ability to strike up conversations with strangers and within minutes find common ground.  And, before you knew he it, he had acquired more friends.  He was also dedicated to helping people whenever he could, but he did it in a quiet, nonchalant way, with no fanfare, often with no mention of it all.  A few years back, I wrote:

“As a child, I marveled at how many people stopped by our home bearing everything from fresh garden produce to hams and bottles of whiskey at Christmas time as thank-you gifts to my Dad for “favors” he did for them (of course the whiskey sat gathering dust at our home, as my parents weren’t drinkers). My Dad made helping people part of his daily life, with no mention of it and certainly no desire for anything in return.”

And

“When my father passed away a couple attended the services and they expressed their great admiration for my father and told my siblings and my mother about how many times my father helped them with things around their house, This couple were newcomers to our community and I assumed my mother knew them, as I had years before moved away from home. Later as my family sat discussing the services, one of my sisters asked my mother about this couple. My mother said she had no idea who they were and she thought one of us might know who they were. My Dad’s brand of quietly doing “favors” for people could sure put us on the right path to rebuilding the American team and his “small town values” still serve as my personal model on how to treat other people. Often when I queried why he did so much for other people, his usual response was, “Well it didn’t cost me much except a little time and everyone has a little time to spare.””
https://libertybellediaries.com/2013/04/26/time-to-spare/

My Pop was an illegitimate child born to a mother who wanted nothing to do with him.  He was raised by his maternal grandparents.  My husband’s father left when he was 5 years old and he never saw him again.  His mother went through many failed relationships with men moving in and out of my husband and his five siblings’ lives.  I wrote about this in a post about J.D. Vance’s book, Hillbilly Elegy, because the experiences and problems Vance faced in childhood reminded me of my husband’s family.  My father may not have had a mother or father who wanted him, but he had grandparents who loved him and were good role models.

The interesting thing about my parents and so many parents in previous generations is they never read a single book on parenting, yet they were dedicated, constant in their devotion to their families and unswerving in their belief in their moral and religious principles.

“True heroes are there for the long haul, and you can see their weaknesses along with their strengths.”

p. 12, How To Be a Hero To your Kids, Josh McDowell & Dick Day, 1991

My husband and I had plenty of disagreements on parenting, because my husband’s frame of reference for discipline was the Army and I told him children aren’t soldiers.  The barking out orders and yelling at them rather than talking to them was met with resistance and temper tantrums.  It made their behavior much worse and escalated problems rather than solving any.  Yelling does not solve anything.  And that’s where the above quote comes in.   When our kids were grade school age, my husband came home from work one day with the book, “How To Be A Hero To Your Kids” in hand.  He told me the chaplain brought this book to him, after a talk they had about parenting.  I was stunned that my definitely-not-religious husband turned to an Army chaplain in a casual conversation about his parenting difficulties.

I think almost every parent has yelled at their kids about something, especially dealing with teenagers.  My father was not a yeller, but I recall the one time he yelled at me.   I was in my early teens and started arguing with my father about going to catechism class, which was a weekly ordeal for two years, before confirmation in the UCC/Lutheran church.  I didn’t want to go to catechism class and argued about it the entire two years.  One evening, I was supposed to go next door to my great-aunt, who was going to drive me and her daughter (my second-cousin) to catechism class.

My mother was at work at the hospital, so I started this tirade about how I wasn’t going to catechism class and I stormed out the back door by our kitchen and I slammed that door as hard I could for good measure, to make my point.  The glass in the door shattered.  My Pop, who never raised his voice, came tearing out that door after me, as I scrambled across the ice-covered snow in the yard.  He caught me by the arm, kicked me in the butt and yelled, “That’s enough out of you!”.  He firmly told me I needed to march down to my great-aunt and go to catechism class.  I was so stunned at his yelling and kicking me in the butt, that I went to catechism class without another word.

When I got home, my Pop was his usual calm self, but I knew he wasn’t going to let me get away without mentioning my bad behavior.  He told me he couldn’t get glass to fix the window until the next day, but he had already covered the hole with cardboard.  And he told me I needed to start thinking about other people in our family instead of just what I wanted.  He made me feel selfish, because my actions were totally selfish.  He apologized for kicking me in the butt, but truthfully, I think I deserved it.  It wasn’t just my Pop who had to endure my temper tantrum, it was my entire family and while it may have felt great slamming the door in defiance, that door window was the top half of the door.  The broken window let ice-cold air blow into the house.

I started thinking about self-control after that incident and I started working on my temper.  I’ve never reached the same level of calm as my Pop, but I keep striving to treat other people like he did.  We all make plenty of mistakes at parenting, but the one thing everyone can strive for is to tamp down on anger and work at not yelling.

People flying into rages about everything is an American pastime.   It’s not just our politics where Americans have gone off the deep-end, it’s all around us in our culture and in way too many homes across America.

Although, How To Be A Hero To Your Kids , is a little dated and written from a Christian perspective, the lessons are universal.   You don’t need a cape, superpowers, or celebrity status to be a good role model for your kids, but you need to get your priorities straight and be dedicated for the long haul.

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Time for a truce in the civil war of words

The political atmosphere in America continues to descend into deeper partisan divides and the media’s frenetic spinning the news keeps perpetuating confusion and keeping America’s politics in a state of constant chaos.

Believing the worst of political opponents and those who hold differing views is the new normal.  Extreme partisans feverishly work to launch vicious smear campaigns to destroy the character of political opponents, without any concern for the veracity of their scurrilous attacks in this endless scorched earth information war.  With American partisans so entrenched in this self-destructive, by-any-means necessary, war of words, the Russians don’t have to do much to “influence” or work to destroy our democratic institutions.  Our own partisans are burning them down rapidly, while Putin sits back and laughs at “America developing political schizophrenia”.

Here are two reading recommendations

David French’s piece: To Defend Trump, The GOP Is Becoming a Party Bill Clinton Would Love

The other is a book, Stopping Words That Hurt, Positive Words In a World Gone Negative, by Dr. Michael Sedler.  I read this book a couple years ago and last night I started reading it again.   I have it in kindle format, but it’s available in paperback at amazon now.  While the book is written from a Christian perspective, the lessons really are universal and just plain old common decency.  He explains why, what biblically is referred to as “evil reporting”, lying, gossiping, spreading negative stories about others, is only half of the issue.  He explains why listening to “evil reporting” is very destructive and he offers many positive personal strategies to “stopping words that hurt”.  I need to work a lot harder on this.

In a country where the media and politicians are consumed by their scorched earth war of words, to win the news cycle, I think all of us need to start demanding a truce in this “cold civil war”.

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Filed under American Character, Civility, Culture Wars, Food for Thought, General Interest, Politics

The cost of freedom

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Standards of excellence… or not

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Do standards matter and are they worth teaching and preserving?

A month or so ago, I stitched this small American-themed design to add to my “I love America” room, which is the foyer by my front door.  That space is approximately 4 feet X 10 feet.  I get lots of ideas for this small area, as I mentioned in a previous post: here.  The foyer had vinyl flooring when we bought this house in 1994 and although there was a chair rail trim, about halfway up around the walls, above and below the chair rail were an off-white color.   It took me a few years to find the wallpaper I wanted, which has an English hunting vibe.  Above the chair rail is the animal print and below the chair rail is a coordinating striped-print.  My husband hung the wallpaper, but then I decided I wanted hardwood flooring in the foyer.   However, after shopping around and asking a lot of questions, I decided I wanted a vinyl flooring that was cut into “planks”, like hardwood floors.  The easy maintenance and durability, with having 4 kids and dogs in the house, sold me on the vinyl option.  These vinyl look-alike planks were about the same price as going with hardwood flooring.  My husband laid these vinyl planks, but in typical LB style, I had looked at hardwood floor designs and decided that I wanted them laid in a herringbone pattern.  So, I showed my husband some pictures from a book and he drew it all out on paper with measurements, then installed my herringbone floor.

About 10 years ago, we replaced flooring and carpet in our home and my husband really wanted tile flooring in the kitchen, bathrooms and foyer.  I opted for a high-quality vinyl “tile” floor for in my kitchen, because it’s not as hard to stand on cooking and it’s not as cold as tile on concrete-slab homes here in coastal GA.  He got his real tiles in the foyer and bathrooms.  We had someone install the tiles, because my husband wasn’t in good health, by that point.  I missed my herringbone pattern on the floor, but these big tiles are nice too.

My beloved wallpaper should be removed, but I am hanging onto it as long as I can.  The above craft project isn’t anything great, but I am satisfied with it.   Instead of just framing that little piece, I opted for trying a finishing using a paint canvas.  The fabric is a print I love, which I had sewn into a travel-size pillowcase years ago.  I used a travel-size pillow on my lap for propping my Q-snap frames or embroidery hoops, when I do needlework.  Lucy, my stray-dog rescue, loves to chew holes in the corners of throw cushions and even furniture cushions.

This is partly another “happy hoarding” story, as after she chewed the corners off my travel-size pillowcase and pillow, I washed that damaged pillowcase and kept it with my patriotic fabric.  Last night, I cut up the pillowcase and used one side of it to cover this paint canvas, then I added some rickrack trim and the cross-stitch.  I am keeping the rest of that pillowcase too, because I can use it for the backs on some small patriotic-themed cross-stitch pillows.  I decided to add the pins, which were a set of 6 pins I bought at a yard sale years ago.  The hanging ribbon, was just ribbon that I twisted up to look like cording.  There are obvious imperfections, but overall I am satisfied with it.   It’s a small piece that I can stitch up again, easily and finish it differently or I can take this apart and finish it differently, if later I decide it needs improvement.

The “imperfections” are really what this blog post is about, despite it taking over 500 words for me to get to the point. The lack of concern with doing things “right”, maintaining “standards” and the pervasive willingness to heap praise on mediocre work is as destructive to the moral fiber of our society as all the more obvious cultural revolutions in the past century.  This attitude, that how you feel about your work matters more than the quality of your workmanship, permeates even into needlework.

The 2016 election, with two venal, lying, corrupt candidates, both running vile scorched earth propaganda campaigns left me wondering how on earth, these two disgusting candidates could be the candidates the two major political parties put forth.   More Americans, who voted in the primaries, opted for these two candidates and that speaks volumes about the state of our republic.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I started watching embroidery videos on YouTube, then discovered “floss tube”, where cross-stitchers post videos about their work.  I wrote:

  “The usual floss tube video seems to be about an hour, divided into sections of show and tell about finished projects, works-in-progress (WIPs), and “Haul” (more cross-stitch junk purchased).  Then there are a few floss tube contributors, like the expert needlewoman , Mary Rose, named after Mary, Queen of Scots, who present much shorter, highly educational and deeply thoughtful videos that deal with much larger life lessons.”

My craft project last night was a technique, covering a paint canvas with fabric, which I saw on a floss tube video by Silvia.  Silvia, who posts under the name beckisland, is a sweet, German lady who stitches small cross-stitch pieces and finishes them in creative ways.  Silvia is very dedicated to doing the best work she can and often she will dissect an older piece she finished and discuss what she isn’t happy about with her work and how she would do it differently now.

She’s focused on excellence.

Since floss tube is an informal community, people from around the world post their videos, which offers an unfiltered look at the good, the bad and ugly (and not just about cross-stitch).

Last year, I mentioned another YouTube video by  Dr. Saul Cornell, the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair, American History, Fordham University.  His video explains the concept of civic virtue.  At minute 26:56 Dr. Cornell discusses how after the American Revolution women in America started including elements of American civic values into their needlework samplers:

Listening to people is a lifelong hobby of mine too, so watching these videos, I detected that many of the same attitudes and beliefs that are corroding our social fiber, have had an effect on needlework too.

There are stitchers posting videos in which they declare that they don’t care if the back of their needlework is a knotted up mess.   There are plenty of stitchers who make comments that the back of their work isn’t neat and they are embarrassed about it, because they know it’s not up to accepted standards.  These younger stitchers, who boldly proclaim those standards don’t matter offer an assortment of rationales… like “my friends love my work and I love my work, so who cares” or “the back of your work only matters if you’re entering your work in needlework competitions” or “no one sees the back, so who cares”.

Keeping the back of your needlework as neat as the front is a standard of excellence in needlework, because the neatness on the back assures the stitches on the front will remain snug and keep their shape.  Neatness on the back also assures there are no unsightly lumps on the front from tangled and knotted threads on the back.

I’m trying to use up scraps of Aida cross-stitch fabric, that I’ve had since the 90s, for small projects.  I stitched this little piece on an old Aida scrap yesterday.  My back is pretty neat, but I need to improve on neatness with my backstitching, where the lettering is.  The creases in the fabric are where it was folded in a box for years and then wrinkles from my hoop.  With washing and pressing, I will get all of those out.  I try to trim loose threads as I stitch, because loose threads are like pythons lying in wait, ready to wrap around other threads and they create tangled nightmares.

This post ran way longer than intended, so in another post, I want to discuss how this disregard for standards of excellence hits you in the face at every turn… even on needlework videos.

It is destroying the American character.

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Filed under American Character, Food for Thought, General Interest

Threads of Civic Virtue

“God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to defend it.”

– Daniel Webster, 1834

I’ve been spending more time sorting through sewing and craft supplies lately, trying to organize my sewing room, than following politics and the news. However, being an inveterate news junkie is a habit that isn’t easy to break, so I’m still reading some news online daily.  Watching the endless scorched earth battles of President Donald Trump pitted against the Left, the Democratic machine, and the mainstream media disgusts me and fills me with great concern for America’s future.  I wonder, “Who are we and what really matters to us?”

This post isn’t going to be about needlework, but needlework is the thread with which I’m going to try and sew the larger issue of liberty and personal sacrifice to preserve liberty into a blog post.

Through watching needlework videos from around the world on YouTube, I came across some “community” of counted cross-stitchers called “floss tube”, who post videos about their counted cross-stitch projects.  The usual floss tube video seems to be about an hour, divided into sections of show and tell about finished projects, works-in-progress (WIPs), and “Haul” (more cross-stitch junk purchased).  Then there are a few floss tube contributors, like the expert needlewoman , Mary Rose, named after Mary, Queen of Scots, who present much shorter, highly educational and deeply thoughtful videos that deal with much larger life lessons.

The poem she is referring to is a poem, The Life That I Have, which she stitched and is combining with a floral design.  Sounds silly and pointless, until you consider the poem:

The text of the poem, by Leo Marks:[1]

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_That_I_Have

Mary Rose explains the history of the poem and how it became famous, in the WWII movie, Carve Her Name with Pride, which is based on the true life story of British spy heroine, Violette Szabo, who was just an ordinary young woman working in a department store in London at 19:

“Just four years before, she was Violette Bushell, a pretty, Paris-born girl selling perfume at the Bon Marché department store in South London. Then she met Etienne Szabo, a charming, 31-year-old officer with the French Foreign Legion, at a Bastille Day parade, and they married five weeks later. But Etienne soon shipped off to North Africa, where General Erwin Rommell and his Panzer divisions were on the move through the sands of Egypt. Szabo was killed in October 1942, during the Second Battle of El Alamein. He would posthumously receive the Croix de Guerre, the highest French military award for bravery in battle, but he would never see his daughter, Tania, born to Violette in London just months before he died.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/behind-enemy-lines-with-violette-szabo-1896571/#6ADyiWlgBSWG0i4T.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
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This young WWII widow, with a young daughter,  joined the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).  She was captured by the Nazis after being injured parachuting into France on a mission.  She was executed in 1944 in the German concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

The poem above is a poem code, which Leo Marks used as Violette Szabo’s code to send messages.  Leo Marks was a British cryptographer in World War II.

Violette Szabo, didn’t have the education or background to be a likely choice for a SOE agent, but in that day recruiters for the SOE were looking for unique people, with unique character and skill sets.  The Smithsonian Magazine article, Behind Enemy Lines with Violette Szabo, describes her:

“…she was fluent in French and, though just 5-foot-5, athletic and surprisingly strong for her size. She was already a crack shot in a family comfortable around guns and target practice; under rigorous SOE training, she became an accomplished markswoman. Reports described her as a persistent and “physically tough self-willed girl,” and “not easily rattled.””

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/behind-enemy-lines-with-violette-szabo-1896571/

Like so many of her generation, Violette Szabo, knew liberty is precious and worth fighting to preserve.  How she lived though, by courageous self-sacrifice, says more than all the focus-group tested speeches, ever delivered  by self-serving, pompous, iconic feminist windbags, like Hillary Clinton.  This 23 year-old war widow, with a tiny daughter, parachuted into France and here’s how she conducted herself:

“Two days after landing, a car transporting Szabo to a rendezvous was stopped at a German checkpoint. With weapons and ammunition in the car, Szabo and the resistance fighter accompanying her had no choice but to open fire and try to flee in the confusion. Szabo twisted her ankle, but urged her companion to go on without her while she sheltered behind a tree and provided covering fire. According to two of her biographers, Szabo held off the German pursuers until she ran out of ammunition, when she was captured and taken away for interrogation, still defiant and cursing her captors.”

http://www.theweek.co.uk/64502/violette-szabo-how-ww2-heroine-earned-her-george-cross

How important messages are sent and received matters.   Leo Marks used his original love poem as a secret code.  Violette Szabo’s selfless courage speaks of a civic virtue, desperately needed, but rarely found in our rudderless trash culture these days.

In today’s world, where checking the “right” boxes for educational background and resumé or knowing the “right” important people matters more than actual character or talents, I doubt our intelligence “experts” would even notice the talents of a heroine like Violette Szabo.  Assuredly, assessing character is a rare ability in America, where the two major parties’ 2016 presidential candidates were both pathological liars and willing to say or do anything to win.  That millions of people cheer on two such morally-bankrupt characters speaks volumes about we, the American people, and what we think matters.

My blog is just my opinions.  When I write posts, often I walk away not sure I expressed what I really intended to say.  Storytelling isn’t my strong suit.  In fact, in most things in my life, I don’t have a great deal of talent.  That’s the truth.  I love needlework, but I’m not a “natural” at it and I don’t produce any heirloom-quality pieces.  Most of what I stitch are small or medium, not highly complicated patterns and I try to keep the back of my work as neat as the front.  My writing is much the same… a great love of writing, but not nearly the skills and talent, that I wish I had.  With just about everything I have done in my life, I had to practice… a lot, to become even halfway decent at it.  So, I stitch things that I like, even small, simple things, like this, that I want to turn into a small quilted wall-hanging for in my I love America room:

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Being willing to listen, with not only an open mind, but an open heart matters.  Often, not only messages come in surprising ways (like via a needlework video), sometimes they are delivered by highly unlikely messengers, like Mary Rose, sitting in her  “stitchblisscorner” chatting about needlework.




Here’s a link to a 2015 news story about Violette Szabo’s medals:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11755734/WWII-heroine-Violette-Szabos-George-Cross-fetches-260k.html

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Filed under Culture Wars, Food for Thought, General Interest, Inspirations, Military, Things That Matter

Speaking the same language…

My youngest daughter is 29 years old and lives near Dallas, TX.  She usually calls me in the morning as she’s driving into Dallas to work.  She often relates what’s happening with protesters outside the building where Senator John Cornyn’s office is located in Dallas, because she works near there.  One day in January she messaged  me some photos of these protesters and she asked me what we’re supposed to be “resisting”.  Then she asked me how people have time to show up day after day and protest.  She said it must be nice not to have to go to work.

Yesterday the Left staged another feminist protest, A Day Without Women general strike.   My daughter called me as she was driving to work and she mentioned this protest in scathing terms.  She said if she doesn’t work, she doesn’t get paid and she asked me what was the point of this protest.  I don’t think the feminist organizers can even agree on a message or what political goals they are seeking.  In a style change from pink pussy knit caps and lady parts costumes of the Women’s March, the organizers of this “general strike” encouraged women to wear red.

A British feminist, Caitlin Moran, offered this stunningly idiotic advice to young girls:

“In The Guardian last week, Gloria Steinem – brilliant, bad-ass, pioneering, pack-mother feminist Gloria Steinem – was asked which book changed her life.

“Little Women,” she replied. “Because it was the first time I realised women could be a whole human world.”

Oh man, she’s right – so right I yelped when I read it. Because if I had one piece of advice for young girls, and women, it would be this: girls, don’t read any books by men. Don’t read them. Stay away from them. Or, at least, don’t read them until you’re older, and fully-formed, and battle-ready, and are able to counter someone being rude to you, in conversation, not with silent embarrassment, or internalised, mute fury, but a calm, “Fuck you very much, and goodbye.”

Because if there’s one thing that has made me, perhaps, happier in myself, and more confident about writing the truth, and less apt to run myself down for my appearance, weight, loudness and unusualness than many, many other women, it’s that I never read books by men when I was younger.
Read more at https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/features/2017/mar/caitlin-moran-how-books-made-me-a-feminist/#2qw3YCE2VicM0wUf.99

Picking literature to read based on the sex of the author…  That’s what edgy feminism is about today???  At this link there’s an interview of Moran and photo of her.  It’s kind of interesting that a hardcore feminist likes a top with such traditional smocking and embroidery, but her top speaks loudly about the total trainwreck of modern feminist ideology.  These angry, self-righteous, bigoted, ignorant feminists don’t really have any clear ideology or political ends.  They’re just making up attention-seeking, headline-grasping nonsense as they go.  Too many modern feminists truly have no respect for traditional female roles or the women who find  happiness and contentment pursuing domestic endeavors.  Some women prefer to be at home with their children and taking care of their home.  Decades of feminist indoctrination hasn’t been able to alter that.  This lady may spout hardcore feminist dogma, but her top speaks loudly that she admires lovely embroidery.

 

Over the years, I’ve completed many needlework projects, but many “to-be-completed” ones are stashed in plastic storage containers, so I’m working at completing some of them.  The nativity scenes in the counted cross stitch piece above, I stitched around 1995 or 1996.  I only had the backstitching to complete on the bottom section, but I got busy with other projects, then I lost the pattern for this.

A few weeks ago, while going through a large plastic container of craft stuff in the garage, lo’ and behold I found the wooden frame that is for the nativity scene cross stitch, so I brought it into my sewing room.  I dug out the cross stitch piece and kept looking at the camels, not sure where the backstitching around their eyes should be.  Then I remembered that I had a large manila envelope with Bucilla needlework catalogs on one of the bookcases in my sewing room.  So, I began looking through them and in the 1995 Bucilla Holiday catalog there is a picture of this nativity scene picture.  With my magnifying lamp I use for needlework, I could easily see the backstitching in the photo.

So, here’s a completed piece that sat in a box for over 20 years.   When I started to relay this story about the old catalog to my daughter, she interrupted me and said, “Why do I get the feeling this is going to be one of your hoarding stories?”   Hoarding stories are her euphemism for stories where I point out some happy outcome from using junk that I should have tossed out decades ago.  My kids hate my happy hoarding stories…  They fear being stuck with all my junk to deal with when I die;-)

The photo of the stack of plastic canvas needlepoint tissue box covers are 8 of the 12 that I’ve made in the past few months.  I need to mail these to family and friends soon.

In honor of A Day Without Women strike, I watched a lot of embroidery videos yesterday and spent several hours working on a counted cross stitch project. Lately, reading or watching the news makes me feel a sense of dread and deep concern for America’s future, so I’m spending more time watching needlework videos and doing my own needlework.

The video below is a talented needleworker, Shagufta Fyms, who is a wonderful instructor. This video has 3,791,110 views on YouTube.  Not too shabby for an embroidery video.  She speaks Urdu, which I don’t know at all, yet amazingly I can follow her instructions without a problem.  She obviously learned her stitch names and sewing terms in English, so it’s easy to know what type of floss or yarn she’s using, how many plies or threads and the stitches.  With the amazing carnations she stitches in this video, the ruffled effect of the carnations looks so exotic, but once I saw what she did, it’s the common buttonhole stitch, stitching with a doubled yarn, rather than a single strand.

Needlework videos in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean, and the list goes on, are so amazingly easy to follow and the most common stitches in English embroidery are the same around the world.  Needlework is a universal language, I’ve realized.  There are even needlework videos with no speaking, set to music, and I can follow along and learn with no problem.  The comments on many of these needlework videos come from all over the world, in many different languages, where ladies post comments or questions.  Often a commenter helps explain something to another commenter.

Just an FYI, if you want to learn the basics of embroidery in English,  Sarah Homfray, a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework in Great Britain, has dozens of excellent videos on YouTube, from basics to advanced techniques.

I bet you could gather needleworkers from all over the world, stick them together in a large room with their sewing supplies, some tables and chairs, and within minutes they would be sharing their work and talking about their families. Needlework has been an integral part of family life around the world, from the time people began stitching together clothes.  It has also been an integral part of community life in many parts of the world. However, women around the world took the ubiquitous utilitarian and turned sewing into a decorative and artistic form of expression.

In American politics, the complete opposite is true.  We may all speak English, we may all be familiar with the same pop culture, restaurant chains, and stores, but when it comes to politics and the reporting of politics, partisans might as well be from different galaxies, because they don’t understand anything about each other, their belief systems have no common threads, even with news events, their understanding of the facts reside in different realities.

In many blog posts, I’ve written about finding common ground and of all places to find an important story about this very topic, here’s a Washington Post piece, from today,  about a female documentary filmmaker, Julie Winokur:

“It was the middle of the Obama administration, and Julie Winokur, a self-described liberal, was so frustrated with what she saw as Republican obstructionism that she would immediately dismiss any argument from the right. Then one day, her own child flipped her narrative. He told her she was “the most politically intolerant person” he knew.

“If the other side had a good idea, you wouldn’t know because you’re not listening,” she said he told her. “I realized in that moment that I was as responsible as the people I was pointing fingers at. You have to take ownership of your own contribution to the negativity.”

That was 2012, at the height of the tea party movement and in the midst of that year’s presidential election, when it felt like the partisanship and rancor couldn’t get worse. Her son’s criticism inspired her to stop lamenting it and instead try to fix it.

In the latest episode of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” the host accused a young man of having a “Nazi” haircut, even though, in reality, Kyle Coddington is a #NeverTrumper with brain cancer.

The show sent cast member Mike Rubens to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in February and spliced together a video showing all the absurdities he encountered at the annual  event. A minute into the clip, a narrator says they saw lots of “Nazi” haircuts and showed a montage of young men who had their hair clipped short or shaved on the sides. Among those was Coddington, who appears sitting at his laptop at the 1-minute mark.

Samantha Bee’s Show Said He Had ‘Nazi Hair.’ He Actually Has Brain Cancer

Kyle Coddington has the “Nazi” haircut, because he’s battling stage 4 brain cancer.

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Filed under Food for Thought, General Interest