Category Archives: spinning

Days 24 & 25: Not So Happy Feet

Beside The Pool

Dear Reader:

A most important word about travel and sightseeing. Moderation.

Since I was in pretty good shape before embarking on this D.C. adventure, I really didn’t give my physical condition much thought. In the spring, I’d overdone it a bit with some running and had a bout of heel spur pain, but a few weeks of rest and bicycling took care of it. I also started wearing those special kind of sneakers with the curved bottoms. Very cushiony. Very good for the heels.

Shelley's Eye-View from Her Chaise

Apparently, not so good for the ankles. After three weeks of almost daily walking, the outer edge of my right foot began to ache whenever I stepped down. Just a little ache, but I’m not going to risk greater injury. So for the next few days I will be sitting beside the pool, reading Candace Bushnell novels, and working on my tan (I use an SPF 45 lotion which allows me to turn a nice golden color without burning.)

The day before my self-imposed house-arrest, Hubby and I biked over to the Museum of the American Indian. The Teen and I had explored the “Our Universes” exhibit thoroughly, but Hubby had yet to visit. We arrived in time to take one of the guided tours, led by a really nice young woman from the Lakota tribe. After the tour, we took our time in the “Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities” exhibit and also spent some more time in the “Our Universes” exhibit where I was able to revisit some of my favorite stories and philosophies and ponder how our country might have been shaped if we had embraced some of these native peoples’ teachings and interwoven them with our own instead of conquering and trying to eradicate these important, vibrant cultures.

(Contact with Europeans and disease led to an upwards of 90% fatality rate among the native peoples. That was BEFORE guns and Christianity came along! Sad.)

"Sacred Circle" by Susan Point, 2003-2004

Taking the time to look more closely at some of the exhibits on the first floor, I was thrilled to find these spindle whorls used by North Pacific Coast women to spin mountain goat wool into thread or yarn. Susan Point’s spindle represents “women’s power, creativity, and contributions to society.”

Moccasins

Here are some more shoes for my D.C. Shoe Scavenger Hunt. Embroidered and beaded moccasins were often designed to show the status or family group of the individual. Okay, I’m a little shoe and foot obsessed right now, but do you see how gorgeous these are? I’d love to see a return to handmade shoes made by skilled craftspeople. Wouldn’t it be great to go down to the local cobbler–or to be precise, cordwainer or cordonnier–for a pair of shoes rather than to the shopping mall? We don’t even manufacture shoes here in America anymore. I hope there are craftspeople from various backgrounds and communities holding onto and passing down the knowledge and skills as we move toward an uncertain future.

Gustoweh

In the Mohawk tradition, the leaders were men and wore headdresses like this one. Yes, the leaders were men, but guess who chose the leaders or got rid of them when they weren’t doing a good job of it? The women. Now that seems like a system that makes sense. Balance. Something our leaders should be looking at right now just over the river from where I’m sitting.

Diablada Mask, ca. 1975

The Bolivian “Diablada Mask” shown here represents the struggle between angels & demons, good & evil. As John McCain recently quipped, “It’s hard to do the Lord’s work in the Devil’s City.”

Oasis In The City

As for me, I’m going to try to stop worrying. After all, there is a chaise longue with my name on it downstairs beside the pool. Now, where did I leave my sunglasses . . .

Day 16: Don’t Go Down The “Hollers”

And Other Words Of Wisdom From West Virginia

Shenandoah River

Dear Reader:

On Saturday morning, Hubby, the Teen, and I sprang the F-150 from the bowels of Underground Parking Lot 2 and promptly lost ourselves in the maze that is the D.C. roadway situation. You know those maze puzzles in magazines found on the racks of convenience stores? Looking at a map, that’s what you see. Instead of finding your way out with a no. 2 pencil, though, you are navigating a big red truck.

But forget the map . . . we didn’t bring one.

So what was the first stop on our trip? A convenience store somewhere over near Georgetown for a two maps (just to make sure). I was impressed by Hubby’s ability to parallel park the truck on city street between two smaller vehicles. Lucky for us, traffic was really light on Saturday morning. Soon, we were on the George Washington Parkway heading in the right direction and enjoying views of the Potomac through the trees.

Georgetown, I presume?

I was able to snap a picture of Georgetown through the window as we rolled along, heading for the highways and byways of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia on our way to Charles Town, WV.

Farm from a Window

Twenty minutes later, the city and suburban landscape gave way to farmland. Driving down I-495 didn’t seem that much different from I-295 back home. I had to snap this picture of a farm, and an hour and fifteen minutes out of the city, we crossed the Shenandoah River and saw the long, wavy, blue line of the Blue Ridge Mountains ahead of us.

Appalachian Trail Sign

Seeing this sign, I had the feeling that, if necessary, I could get out and walk all the way home to western Maine.

Golf, anyone?

Charles Town, West Virginia is named for George Washington’s brother who had inherited some land here and who laid out and founded the town. Charles Town is a small city with a cute and thriving Main Street filled with shops, churches, library and a courthouse. On the outskirts near the highway, a casino has recently been built, and this is where you see the strip of chain stores and fast-food restaurant franchises. Wisely, the citizens preserved the historic downtown to retain its charm and character.

Houses All In A Row

We zipped through town, me gawking out the window and wishing we could stop and explore, and soon reached farms and cornfields and finally the housing development where our friends live. The development is ten years old and built around a golf course. I have to admit, the houses are beautiful and spacious with generous, rectangular back yards and large, wooden decks for the outdoor furniture and brick patios for the barbeque grill.

Golf Cart

Hubby and A___ decided to hit a bucket of neon-yellow golf balls over on the green. I liked watching all the electric carts zipping around while grilling R_____ with questions about her life here.

We stood in the shade of a tree and discussed women’s golf-fashion (I love the little plaid skorts and the saddle-shoes) and whether or not she enjoyed living here. She said they did—though everyone commutes to work in the city on the train and works long hours, and they still don’t really know too many neighbors even after two years.

R_____ works in town, though, and said she’s met some nice people there. “They did all warn me not to accidentally drive ‘down the hollers,'” she said. “You know, those dirt tracks that lead off the road?” I nodded. “There’s lots of family clan territories down there where they’ll shoot you if they don’t know you.”

Okaaaayyyy, then.

And how easy would it be to get to town without a car? R______ said she could, if necessary, ride her bike, but the road leading in doesn’t have a breakdown lane and the drivers don’t pay much attention to what they’re doing.

Would it be better to live in town, I wondered? She said the houses in town cost about three times as much as out in the development . . . and are ten times as old. I can see how tempting it would be, if moving to this area, to buy in a development where you have a new, huge house and a nice back yard and neighbors in the same socio-economic slot as you.

The downside is, like most exurban housing developments, this one doesn’t allow retail and there are no communal gathering spots other than the golf course/clubhouse. Everyone is so tired from commuting, anyway, that all they want to do is chill in front of the big screen television on the weekend. We sat out on the deck for hours and saw only one neighbor venture out her door. It felt like a ghost town–albeit a well-manicured, nicely-landscaped, upper-middle-class ghost town. If I hadn’t been drinking and eating with friends all afternoon, I would have wondered if any real people actually lived here.

A____ and R_____ have picked out some houses for us for “when we move down here” (not that we are seriously considering it), and we took a look at them. Part of me is drawn to this kind of pretty, quiet neighborhood. I could do so much with a big, flat, sunny fenced-in back yard in a climate where the flowers are already blooming by the first week of March and the growing season extends into November. I was impressed by their neighbor’s raised garden beds with drip irrigation system (I saw cucumber plants, carrots, and feathers of asparagus gone by).

But I do wonder if I’d want to move into yet another housing development just a little too far removed from the center of town, where, let’s face it, the real community-stuff happens and you can walk to the grocery store and return your library books and grab a cup of coffee at the java hut.

I’m not even sure that I’d want to live this far from the city now that I’ve had a taste of urban living.

Spinning Wheel from upstate New York

Of course, I had to ask about R_____’s spinning wheel and was delighted when she told me it belonged to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother! R_____’s great-great something grandfather was a brother to Charles Ingalls, so she and Laura shared this common ancestress. Made me itch to get back to my spinning . . . and reread the Little House books.

A___ and R____ were wonderful hosts. It was delightful to see and talk with them again. The Teen didn’t even complain too much as her new phone is keeping her in touch with her friends back home, and she was able to sit and watched movies in the air-conditioned house all afternoon. She even came outside to join us for dinner and practice her conversation skills with us “old” people. As the sun sank, we reluctantly headed back to the city after securing promises that our friends would come see us for a D.C. weekend before the end of the summer.

All in all, it was a nice trip out of the city.

Sunday, we went back to Alexandria, and I this time I remembered to bring my camera! Read about it next time, Outside the Box in D.C.

Creative Website–Check It Out!

handspun yarn buttoned scarf

Dear Reader:

This scarf is the finished product crafted from the mohair fleece I carded and spun and plied on a borrowed Kiwi spinning wheel. The Kiwi is a beginner wheel, and because I’m a beginner, it works for me. I also have a more traditional wheel given to me by a good friend of the family. My next spinning project will be done on that wheel in hopes that I have acquired the skill necessary to spin the thin yarn that wheel requires. Learning a craft isn’t an overnight project. I’m expecting at least three years to even become halfway proficient. However, the journey may be more important than the destination. Every time I sit down at the wheel or hold a couple of bamboo knitting needles in my hands, I feel connected to the age-old crafting tradition . . . and so can you!

One of my online writing friends has started a new website geared toward crafting and do-it-yourself projects and the creative impulse each of us has inside us. They will be offering projects “in a bag” and blogs and articles. I’m very excited to see these kinds of sites going up on the internet. With all these resources at our fingertips, we can explore and experiment to our hearts’ content.

Make 2010 the year you learn to produce something useful and/or beautiful. I strongly believe that along with relocalizing, we also need to become a society of skilled craftspeople. Imagine producing clothes, furniture, houses, vehicles, toys . . . you name it . . . that are meant to last a lifetime rather than a few months or years.

Check out http://www.creativemindandhands.com/ and make something . . . Outside the Box.