Start Your Engines

Rolling Around Again

Another Monday morning! Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey."
        --- Wendell Berry

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(And so it begins.)

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What more joyful combination can we possibly find . . . than the intersection of art and knitting?

And especially when it comes to art and camouflage knitting!

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Check out this fascinating collaboration between photographer Joseph Ford and knitter Nina Dodd . . . who created a series of incredible camouflage photographs featuring hand-knit sweaters! The project is called "Knitted Camouflage" and you can see even more examples here.

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In staying-at-home-related news . . . have you ever wondered why so many things are "sold out" these days? I'm not talking toilet paper, flour, and jigsaw puzzles here (although there is that).  I'm talking about  . . . oh . . . kiddie pools (my daughter was on multiple waiting lists all summer and finally gave up), exercise equipment (we're on a 9-week waiting list for a rowing machine), and home office furniture . . . among other surprising things.

Well. There's a reason for that! 
And here it is.

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Mostly when I read, I read silently to myself. Just seeing the words. Reading them in my head. Private. Quiet.

But a lot of the time, Tom and I read together -- out loud to each other. We don't often read books that way (although we have done), but we often read entire news articles to each other. Or poetry. And certainly phrases from books that one or the other of us enjoys.

Last week, I stumbled across this article (from the BBC) about the benefits - for adults - of reading aloud. It turns out . . . reading out loud is really good for us! Here's a quote from the article (written by Sophie Hardach):

"But a growing body of research suggests that we may be missing out by reading only with the voices inside our minds. The ancient art of reading aloud has a number of benefits for adults, from helping improve our memories and understand complex texts, to strengthening emotional bonds between people. And far from being a rare or bygone activity, it is still surprisingly common in modern life. Many of us intuitively use it as a convenient tool for making sense of the written word, and are just not aware of it."

How about you? Do you ever read out loud?

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And, finally, I leave you today with this . . . a moving dance tribute to Breonna Taylor by sisters Norah, Zarah, and Rosa. (If you haven't already "met" Norah, Zarah, and Rosa, you might want to check out some of their other dance clips on YouTube or Instagram. They are sisters from The Netherlands, and they are pretty darn awesome.)

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 


Sometimes Mondays

 . . . are particularly Monday-feeling kind of Mondays, y'know? And THOSE are the Mondays when it's really time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

And this Monday??? On this Monday . . . I dedicate this space to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Buckle up. Vroom- vroom. Welcome to Start Your Engines: RBG Edition.

Let's get to it.

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"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."
            --- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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(My RBG, action figure, watches over me from my bookshelf every day.)

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Sigh.

Heavy sigh.

I so wish I could say something . . . original, eloquent, fitting . . . in tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But, really. I'm just too wrung out and frazzled and sad for my brain to work in that way. Besides, many other more skilled writers have already written beautiful tributes. So instead, I'm just going to share these most excellent words from Rebecca Traister for you. And leave you with this link, so you can read the full piece she wrote for The Cut. (It's not long; worth a read, and with a slightly different perspective than most of the other articles you've likely already read.)

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg matters, now as much as she ever has, but her survival alone couldn’t have saved us, any more than getting rid of Donald Trump will save us. We are facing something far larger: a desperate, life-or-death fight to rebuild, reimagine, reform (and in some cases raze) enormous apparatuses, including our criminal justice, electoral, health-care, and education systems, labor and capitalism, education, housing, the courts themselves, and, most urgently, the health of our planet. It will call on us to fight as fiercely and with as much determination as Ginsburg herself fought, through her life and career.”

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It all feels so overwhelming right now. Much as I want to do something, I feel so hopeless; so helpless. What can we DO with our sorrow and our anger and our rage?

Here are some ideas. . . 

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First, Lift Her Up!

I'm not sure how many of you already follow Dr. Bertrice Berry on Instagram (or other social media platforms; I think she's on Facebook, too), but every day, Dr. Bertrice Berry posts a personal, heartfelt, inspirational, and love-filled message of hope for anyone who's listening. (Have a kleenex ready. She makes me cry on the regular.)

Over the weekend, she donned a dissent collar and provided a 7-minute talk about how important it is for us to "join hands and carry on her [RBG's] legacy."

"Lift up her life.
And her light.
And her work.

Because Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has lifted us to the highest place we have been, and it's our duty to continue with her work.

We've got angels, y'all."
    --- Dr. Bertrice Berry

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Next, Immerse Yourself.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg became "notorious" for many reasons. A lot of us followed along with her career as it was unfolding, all of us benefitted from her tireless commitment to equality. Immerse yourself in her life and accomplishments; be inspired to move forward.

Right now, you can find all kinds of information and articles about RBG through a simple Google search. You can also find and read some great books about her. Books like . . . 

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I read this one when it was first published in 2015. (And then I immediately purchased a copy for my daughter and my daughter-in-law.)

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Or this one, which has been on my to-read list for a while now.

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There are some excellent movies you can watch right now, too.

Tom and I watched the movie On The Basis of Sex on Friday night. (I think it's streaming right now on Showtime. You can also purchase it through Prime or iTunes to stream.) And last night, we watched RBG, an excellent CNN documentary. (It's streaming on Hulu right now. Maybe other channels, too, but we watched on Hulu.)

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Then, Do Something Concrete!

Put your money where your (broken) heart is!

There are many worthy organizations working hard to bring about the changes RBG fought so hard for. Tom and I are long-time supporters of the ACLU, and in RBG's honor, we plan to up our donation. There are so many vital organizations working for justice right now -- and I'm sure one is a good match for your own heart. You can also support political candidates trying to flip seats in the Senate -- or local candidates and races that matter to you. And if you're interested in supporting causes near and dear to RBG's heart, you can consider these options.

Contact your senators!

Let them know what you think about confirming a Supreme Court justice this close to an election.

VOTE!

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Vote.
Get everyone you know to vote.
Get people you don't know to vote. (Here's a link to Postcards to Voters to make this one do-able.)

RBG. May her memory be a revolution.

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Hang in there, friends.
Keep moving forward.

 


Vroom! Vroom!

It's Monday.
Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who made the morning and spread it over the fields . . . 
 Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness."
        --- Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early

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So.
How are you?

Such a banal question in the Before Times. Such a loaded question . . . These Days.

I really enjoyed this little piece on the existential nature of the question "How are you?" . . . as asked during the pandemic. Maybe you will, too?

“How am I? I’m doing as well as I can. I’m taking care of myself. It’s a crappy set of circumstances right now, and I know I have it better than many. I feel able and accountable. I have enough. I’m feeding myself.” That is my answer. Today."
            --- Anthony Weeks, from the article 

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And the article linked above? It had me scrambling to the dictionary to look up this word (which appears in the article) . . . 

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I knew what it meant in context . . . but I wanted to look it up to cement it in my brain!

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Did you happen to see the cover of this week's New Yorker magazine?

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Isn't it wonderful?
It's by Edward Steed and is called "Overgrown." (You can read all about the image here.)

And . . . it totally reminds me of one of my favorite Instagram "follows" . . . Lewis Miller Design. If you haven't checked out his unbelieveably gorgeous and totally stunning floral arrangements, give him a follow on Instagram. Your feed will be filled with beauty! (And who doesn't need more than that?)

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I'm sure you're familiar with the most famous piece of "flash fiction" (or "microfiction") . . . attributed to Ernest Hemingway. (Legend has it that Hemingway challenged his fellow writers to tell a story in six words or less.)

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Well. Larry Smith of the New York Times issued a challenge . . . for people to tell the story of their lives in this time of pandemic in six words. You can read the results here. My favorite is from poet Maggie Smith.

The world has never felt smaller.

What would YOUR six-word-pandemic-memoir be????

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I read this week that the house that inspired Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is for sale! Yeah. It's a bit pricey. But wouldn't it be fun to own it? Or maybe just to stay for a night . . . to see if you might see Cathy through the window? (It's currently a B&B.)

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us.




Here We Are Again

. . . another Monday morning. Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"It will not always be summer; build barns."
        --- Hesiod

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Wonder who Hesiod is? I did. He was an ancient Greek poet, active around the same time as Homer. (I've taken to Googling any quote authors I don't already know. Just to check. Y'know. To make sure they're not creepy.)

(And why does this quote resonate with me? Well. Because this week, I've been fixated on . . . preparing myself. For fall. For an election that goes to shit. For hunkering down in my house for another several months. Y'know. That.)

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Was last week . . . really hard for you? It was for me. And for most of the people I talked to last week. Things just seemed to reach a kind of breaking point for many of us. The All Of It became the Too Much Of It. 

I read this article about our now-depleted "surge capacity" that might just explain some of what's happening to us. (Fireworks spelling out a certain person's name on the White House lawn probably has something to do with it, too, I realize.)

Anyway.

"Surge capacity" is defined as a "collection of adaptive systems -- mental and physical -- that humans draw on for short-term survival in actutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters." The article then goes on to explain that the pandemic is not a natural disaster, which tend to play out over short - but intense - periods of time. Pandemics, by contrast, stretch out over a long period of time. With no known end-point. Thus . . . we deplete our surge capacity.

It's a really good article, and I recommend taking the time to read it. Especially if you're feeling rather depleted right about now.

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If you like to read, September is always a great month. Many of the year's most-anticipated book releases happen in September (y'know . . . to maximize that pre-holiday "buzz"), and there is much action on the book awards scene, too. 

Here are some links to help you follow the "hot books" as they're released this month (and pad your to-read lists, as well).

From the New York Times: 15 Books to Watch for in September

From Book Marks: The Best Reviewed Books of the Week (August 28)

And if you like audiobooks, here's a list from AudioFile of the best audiobooks (from August) for listening. 

When it comes to book awards, watch for these announcements coming out in September:

The Women's Prize for Fiction winner will be announced September 9. (Go, Hamnet!)

The Booker Prize short list will be announced on September 15. (You can find the long list here.)

And the National Book Award long list will be announced the very next day, September 16.

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Have you been thinking about moving your body more?
Looking to build up your "surge capacity" again?
Wanting to do something just for you?

Well. Now that September is on our doorstep (new month, new season, new chance to begin), maybe you want to try . . . yoga?

I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene (as I've already mentioned in other posts). Her yoga is accessible, not "weird" (and if you've ever experienced a kooky yoga instructor, you'll know exactly what I mean), and very . . . habit-forming. She has an incredible catalog of classes available on YouTube, so whether you're looking for a gentle stretch or an energetic flow you'll find a class that suits you. She offers many series of classes -- including for those just looking to begin a yoga practice. Best of all, she offers these classes . . . free. (There is also a membership version available with even more classes.)

Each month, Adriene curates her classes around a theme, and publishes an interactive calendar (load the PDF file calendar on your  your computer or device, and then click through to each daily workout all month long). The September theme? BUILD. As she says in her latest newsletter . . . "Build new systems and rituals that serve. Build awareness. Build up stamina. Build relationships. Build coonfidence. Re-build up your well of self love and pour, generously."

Maybe some yoga . . . is just what you need! (Click here for the September calendar.)

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Looking for something fun in your Instagram feed? Check out @blcksmth for inspiration, color, and a smile!

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us.
(We'll get through this.)
Let's build our "surge capacity" . . . together!

 

 


Monday Again

Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
        --- Helen Keller

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I'm going to admit . . . that this weekend was a hard one for me. Every once in a while, the All Of It just rolls over me, y'know? The  pandemic, the political "scene," the fires in California (right in my daughter's back yard), the fact that I should have been packing to leave for Italy right about now, the end of summer. All. Of. It.

So today? I'll be starting your engines with nothing but lighthearted fun.

Here we go!

First up . . . 

You may have heard over the weekend that a new Giant Panda cub was born in the Smithsonian's National Zoo, always a joyous event in the world since the Giant Panda is so close to extinction. So far, both Mei Xiang (the mother) and her cub are doing well, although it's too early for the keepers to get a close look at the cub. 

You can check it all out for yourself using the Panda Cam! Yes, there is a Panda Cam, and it's available here. You can also find out all about Giant Pandas, learn how you can help save Giant Pandas from extinction, and just . . . generally escape from the Other News by visiting.

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I know how much all of you enjoy a good, old "factoid." Here's one for you . . .

The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships are held in Finland. A recent winner said he prepared for the event by “mainly drinking.”

Who knew???

That amazing fact came from the Amazing Fact Generator from Mental Floss. Go ahead . . . click in and generate some amazing facts for yourself! Then you'll be able to WOW your family and friends with such amazing facts as . . .

Jim Henson made his first Kermit puppet using his mother's old coat and two halves of a ping pong ball.

See? Just for fun!

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Have you had a chance to see the new Time magazine cover this week? It's pretty incredible . . . 

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That image? Hand embroidered! 

Hand embroidered, I need to add, in 24 hours by Nneka Jones, a 23-year-old artist who specializes in contemporary embroidery and wields her needle like a paintbrush. (Absolutely amazing pieces. I can't even describe how incredible her work is.) Read the story behind the cover here. And then read the articles here.

And while you're at it, follow Nneka Jones on Instagram to see more of her work.

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When I'm feeling . . . off . . . making something new always seems to help. Here are a couple of tutorials (free!) I found over the weekend that sound interesting and fun to me. I haven't tried either project myself . . . yet.

(But I will!)

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First up, Project #1:

Tilly (of Tilly and the Buttons) (a British sewing pattern designer) shares a video tutorial showing how to make a super handy (and really charming) magnetic pin holder. Not only would this be great to have near my sewing machine, but it would make a perfect gift for crafty friends, too.

I would've already made one of these (I was ready to dive right in as soon as I saw the video) but I don't have the materials on hand. . . But for this next project? I have ALL the materials at the ready!

Which brings us to Project #2:

Ann Wood (of Ann Wood Handmade) (a US-based sewing and crafting artist) shares a tutorial on her blog . . . for making charming, hand stitched flower garlands from your scrap fabrics. (Like . . . y'know. From all your mask-making.) These look like so much fun! I just love the whimsy of all Ann's projects. 

And . . . if you don't like the idea of a scrap flower garland, maybe you could use the sweet little flowers to decorate a needle book! (Here is Ann's free pattern/instructions for making one of those.)

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If you're interested in following either Tilly (@tillybuttons) or Ann (@annwood) on Instagram (highly recommended . . . for some JOY in your IG feed), you can find them here and here.

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And, finally, in the Circling Back Department . . . 

Last week, I shared some links about the artist Ruth Asawa. Well. Vicki shared this link with me later in the week. Black Mountain College's Museum + Art Center is hosting a free virtual presentation -- Ruth Asawa's Radical Universalism -- on September 23, 2020. As part of the museum's Museum from Home Initiative, Jason Vartikar will be discussing how Ruth Asawa's wire sculptures are a form of activism for racial justice.

This sounds fascinating to me! Maybe to you, too? You can sign up to join the Zoom presentation here.

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us.
(We'll get through this.)

 

 


Something to Celebrate

With the current State of Things, it feels like there isn't much to celebrate. But today, my friends, we have something!

Because on this day . . .
100 years ago . . .
The State of Tennessee passed the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, bringing the number of states passing the amendment to 36 and providing the necesary majority to ratify the amendment, which extended universal suffrage to women.

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
            --- 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution

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So.
Something to celebrate, indeed!
(But holy moly . . . check out the cords on that electric light chandelier . . . )

Today, in "Start Your Engines" fashion, I've got some ways we can celebrate this special day together. (Starting with a quote, of course.)

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"Any great change must expect opposition, because it shakes the very foundation of privilege."
                --- Lucretia Mott

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Telling the Whole Story

By now, I'm sure most of us are pretty familiar with the story of women's suffrage. Although I never learned the history as a child (there was never any time devoted to women's history when I was in school), I devoured biographies about the (white) movers and shakers of the women's suffrage movement and histories chronicling the process of passing the 19th amendment as I grew up. If you're interested in a quick overview, here's a quick refresher (from PBS). And here's a Women's Suffrage Timeline (from the National Women's History Museum) covering the years 1840 through 1920.

But.

That's not the whole story.

Because passing the 19th amendment . . . didn't actually guarantee or even mean suffrage for ALL women in the U.S. For years after 1920, many women, including Native Americans and Chinese immigrants, were not able to vote. And for many others, especially African-Americans, casting a ballot was extremely difficult. Until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, all women in the US did not actually enjoy the right to vote.

And . . . the stories of the movement and the history most of us are familiar with didn't include the contributions of women of color and LGBTQ women at all. It's time we rectify that and make sure we understand and know the whole story.

Celebrate today by expanding your knowledge and challenging your understanding of the story of women's suffrage in the United States.

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"Suffragette"

This was my first introduction to a "suffragette" . . . 

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I'm sure many of you remember this scene from the Mary Poppins movie. (And, like me, you're probably already singing the song!)

Here's a little history on the term "suffragette" -- where it came from, how it evolved, and how the movement embraced the nickname. (Time Magazine)

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A Double-Whammy

Celebrate the 19th Amendment AND support the U.S. Postal Service by purchasing this new commemorative stamp . . . 

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The stamps will be available beginning August 22 at your local post office OR you can pre-order online here. (Please know . . . these stamps are extremely popular right now, and they may not be available at all post offices. I pre-ordered mine online.)

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Watch a Movie

Suffragette

Yeah, this movie is about the British women's suffrage movement, but it gets the point across. It's a hard to watch, but really gives a sense of the passion, commitment, and hardships of the movement. It's available to stream on Netflix, or to rent on Prime.

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A Final Note

You may have seen this a few years ago when it first came out, but enjoy Lady Gaga's parody of her own song, Bad Romance, now with a suffragette twist.

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Celebrate today.
Votes for women!
Votes for ALL women!

 


Vrooom!

It's Monday morning again. Here we go!
Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circle of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace."
        --- May Sarton

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It seems everywhere I look these days, I am seeing images of artist Ruth Asawa's incredible wire sculptures. I've had the great pleasure of seeing her work up-close-and-personal at two separate exhibits in Chicago over the last few years. Amazing stuff! 

There is a new(ish) biography out about Ruth Asawa, and I'm eager to get my hands on a copy. (Click here for an Amazon link.) In interviews about the book, biographer Marilyn Chase describes Asawa as someone who could, "create something beautiful out of any situation." Asawa faced many hardships in her life (including life in an internment camp during World War II) and Chase explains that “What inspired me the most was her ability to turn swords into plowshares. Every time life dealt her a blow, she turned it into something wonderful, something creative.” I think we can all use a little of that kind of inspiration right about now!

You can read more about Ruth Asawa here, and you can see some of her work in photographs here.

The US Postal Service recently released a special stamp collection commemorating Ruth Asawa. You can order the stamps online through the USPS here.

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Are you having a hard time concentrating on your reading these days? I know I was at the beginning of the pandemic stay-at-home phase last spring, although it seems to have gotten easier for me to focus on my reading lately. Apparently, this difficulty with concentration was/is fairly common. Here's an article that suggests rereading favorite childhood books can help get your reading habit back on track!

In an article from The Atlantic, columnist Emma Court touts the unexpected benefits of rereading your old favorites:

...revisiting [childhood favorites] as adults can also provide comfort, relaxation, and the pleasure of rediscovery. Not only do rereaders rediscover the story, but they may also rediscover themselves.

Rereading “reminds us that we can experience something intensely and not be seeing everything at the time. And going back, we see something different,” says Jill Campbell, an English professor at Yale. “It’s a way of thinking more about a book that’s had an impact on you, but it’s also a way of thinking about your own life, memories, and experiences. The continuities and the differences.”

If you're having a hard time concentrating on "grown-up books" right now, maybe try rereading some of your favorite childhood standbys. It's fun to revisit old "friends" -- and who knows? Maybe it will rekindle your enjoyment of reading. (Of course, rereading old favs is also just plain fun anytime!)

What are YOUR childhood favorites? What book would you grab first for a reread?

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Do you ever wonder . . . if animals are noticing the slower pace of things because of the pandemic? Well, here's an interesting story from NPR about the humpback whales in Alaska's Glacier Bay. They're definitely noticing that the ocean is a quieter place for them this year!

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Usually about this time of year, Tom and I are putting together and actively monitoring our "watch list" for all the movies with "Oscar-buzz" due to be released in the fall. This year? Oh, we're paying attention. But we won't be heading to the movies any time soon! (I don't think the movies will even be released in the usual way this year. . . )

Anyway. We just watched a movie from last year's list that we missed when it was (briefly) in our local theatre. It has an odd title, but is just delightful -- The Peanut Butter Falcon. It's charming and heartwarming and beautifully filmed, too -- just perfect for These Days. (You can stream it right now on Prime, Netflix, and Hulu.) Next time you're looking for something new to watch, give it a try -- and let me know what you think!

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And that's it for me this Monday.

I hope your week is off to a great start.
Keep smiling.
We'll get through this.
XO

 

 


First Monday in August

Monday again.
Already August.

(Can you believe that? Time continues to whirl away.)

Let's . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, a little of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk."
                -- Hippocrates

Every week, I find a quote that inspires me (or one that reflects my current mood), and I write it at the top of my weekly planner. I also share it here. This week, it's the quote above . . . which is attributed to Hippocrates. You know . . . THAT Hippocrates. The Father of Medicine, the Hippocratic Oath guy. Ancient Greek physician. Back in the BC times.

And that quote, much as I love it, well . . . it doesn't ring very "ancient Greek" to me. "Bad mood?" I'm sure the ancient Greeks had them, but it seems like an awfully modern term. I just can't quite picture the ancient Greeks hanging around in their togas and laurel head garlands talking about their "bad moods." I did some Google-digging, though, and . . . it really does seem to be attributed to Hippocrates by many a reliable source.

So. I'm going with it!

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I haven't done a Start Your Engines dictionary word for months now, but I have one for this week. Today's word . . . is one I'm sure we're all very, very familiar with (overly familiar with, I'm afraid):

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(Yeah. I knew you'd know this one.)

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was a total doomscroller. I was reading and clicking and reading some more ALL.THE.TIME. I got a handle on it pretty quickly by re-instituting many of the good habits I developed in my "digital detox" (way back in March 2019). BUT. I can still launch myself into a doomscolling rabbit hole if I'm not super vigilant!

It's important for all of us to be mindful of the doomscroll trapdoor - and especially as the news just grows ever more bleak and full of (well . . .) doom. Sure. We need to be informed about what's going on. We just need to be careful about being TOO informed, paying too much attention -- because it's wreaking havoc with our mental health!

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(image from @the_happy_broadcast on Instagram)

Looking for some suggestions for how to stop the doomscrolling in your life? Here are a few resources for you. (Note: Mostly they say the same things, but in different ways.)

From the New York Times.

From Wired.

From @the_happy_broadcast on Instagram.

(Also. This is the not the last you'll hear from me on this particular topic!)

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Looking for a way to get involved with the upcoming election? 

Check out Vote Save America for great information . . . PLUS ways to "adopt" a swing state!

Good information.
Forward thinking.
Ready to rumble!

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Let's talk . . . vaccines and antibodies . . . for a minute.

Here in my house . . . we tend to talk about chemistry and pharmaceuticals and vaccines probably a bit more than your typical household, I know. But at this point, it looks like a vaccine might be the only way out of our current pandemic mess, so it's best we all pay attention.

This article from the New York Times came out over the weekend (Friday) -- and it is an excellent explanation of antibodies, vaccines, how they work, and what we might expect from current research. Give it a read. It might give you some (much needed) hope! (Especially if, like me, you're afraid of the rush-to-drug-approval aspect of the entire process.)

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I know. It's just the beginning of August. But you know what that means in the garden???

Yes! It's time to start thinking about, planning for, and ordering spring bulbs! (Seriously? Yes. Seriously.)

In the past, several of you have asked me to give you a little reminder-nudge when I order my bulbs. Well, my friends. This is that nudge! It's time! (Actually, there's quite a bit of time before you need to get the bulbs in the ground, but if you don't order or purchase soon, you may not get the bulbs you want.)

I generally order my bulbs online. I can also pick them up at local nurseries, but I can't always find the bulbs I want in the quantity I'm looking for -- and the quality tends not to be as good as the bulbs I order. One year, I purchased a number of daffodils locally -- and I also ordered them in bulk from an online supplier. The online bulbs were bigger and healthier and only a bit more expensive. Most importantly, though -- the online bulbs have consistently performed better over time. (Like . . . way better.) Bottom line? I recommend ordering from a good supplier if you can.

Looking for online bulb sources? I usually order from White Flower Farm with excellent results. This year, I'm also thinking of trying bulbs from Longfield Gardens. I've heard good things about them, and their prices look good (a bit cheaper than WFF, although not on everything). (I'll keep you posted.)

Here's a list of top online bulb suppliers put together by Garden Gate magazine, just in case you're looking for some options.

And if you're planning to pick up bulbs locally, here's a great article explaining what you should be looking for in healthy bulbs.

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And that's it for me this first week in August.

I hope your week is off to a great start.
Keep smiling.
We'll get through this.
XO

 


Monday Again

And that means it's time to . . . 

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(And after my break, I feel all the more ready to get things revving again this week.)

As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend. And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.

So. Let's get to it!

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"No mud, no lotus."
            -- Thich Nhat Hanh

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(No lotus here. Just lake plants. Looking down. Right off our dock!)

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Back in the Before Times (like, y'know . . .  February) I was planning an outing with some friends to go see a major Frida Kahlo exhibit that was coming to Chicago this summer. We were so excited about it . . . planning for a lovely July day in Chicago (right about now, actually). But, of course, that was canceled and rescheduled.

Maybe we'll try again.  
Maybe we won't.
Who knows?

But we can still enjoy some Frida Kahlo . . . right from home.
(Yeah. Not the same at all. But the best we've got for now.)

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Is this happening for any of you?

Do you look in your closet . . . at all those clothes hanging in there . . . and just wonder WTF?

As in . . . WTF did I think I needed all THAT for????

I don't have an over-stuffed closet by any means. I've already figured out "my style" and culled my wardrobe to Things I Actually Wear. Which is, of course, an entirely bizarre concept at the moment. Because all I wear now is some combination of workout clothes, denim shorts, and t-shirts.

Every. Single. Day.

Now, maybe someday I'll GO somewhere again. And maybe someday (although I'm not altogether certain about this) I'll actually want to get . . . dressed up again. But, for the most part, I've decided I really LIKE wearing t-shirts every day. And who cares if I'm still in my workout clothes at dinnertime? I'm not worrying about it. At all.

(My earring game is still strong. So there is that.)

Anyway. I've not missed shopping for new clothes at all. And I'm kinda thinking . . . I may never need to go clothes shopping again! (Or at least . . . not for a really long time.)

Is this happening for anyone else? In case you're leaning in this direction, too . . . well, here's an article from The Guardian with 20 Ways to Stop Buying New Clothes Forever.

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I know a lot of you aren't Instagram people. And I get that. (Personally, I'm not a Facebook person, but I really do enjoy following along with all kinds of people on Instagram.)

Anyway.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite Instagram accounts with you once in a while. This week? @DavidZinn

David Zinn is an Ann Arbor, Michigan based street artist. He creates absolutely delightful chalk art on (mostly) urban streets and buildings. His whimsical drawings are sure to bring a smile. Check it out!

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The election is less than 100 days away, my friends. Not long at all, really. (Although, as we know, a lot can happen in 100 days.)

Anyway.

It's always important to vote -- and this year? Super important! We also need to keep up with all the voting news -- because, well . . . you know why. During the next few weeks, I'll share some voting information links, and maybe you can share them with your friends, and they can share them with their friends. Because VOTING MATTERS.

I'll begin with Vote.Org. This site includes the nitty-gritty basics all voters need to git-r-dun. You can register to vote, of course, and you can also do other helpful vote-y things like check your registration, set up voting reminders for yourself, and identify your polling station. There are links to each individual state election center, too, so you can hop right to your own state for more information. 

Click here for Vote.Org's Election Protection Guide, which outlines the specific steps to take should you be denied the right to vote when you arrive at your polling station, including a hotline number to call and report your situation.

Click here for Vote.Org's Voting & COVID-19 Guide, which includes state-by-state information for voting during the pandemic.

Stay informed.
Make a plan.
VOTE.

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And that's it for me this week.

I hope your week is off to a great start.
Keep smiling.
We'll get through this.
XO

 


Just Another Manic Monday

Well, maybe not so manic.
But it's Monday all the same! Time to . . . 

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As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend. (And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.)

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
        – Viktor E. Frankl

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Like many of you, I'm determined to learn more about racism and understand/accept my role in perpetuating it. I've got three goals here: Learning, Doing Better, and Doing Something. I'm reading a lot right now, and trying to expand my "channels" in any way I can -- given the limits imposed by the pandemic. One thing that I've found really helpful is finding and following Black leaders, academics, teachers, and activists on Instagram. There is so much I can learn from them. (Let me know if you'd like some recommendations, and I'll share my ever-growing list.)

Shortly after the more recent protests began, I started following Rachel Cargle on Instagram. In an article last month, the New York Times explains that her "honest and empathic approach to changing white people and supporting black people is shifting perspectives on an increasingly large scale" (you can read that article here), and I find that to be absolutely true. 

Rachel Cargle is offering a 30-day online course called #DoTheWork designed to "be an eye-opener and a call to action for those who seek to be allies to Black women." You can start the course at any time; it is self-directed and offered at no cost (although you may choose to support Rachel Cargle's work through her Patreon account, which can be accessed through the course link). I've just started the course myself. Maybe you'd be interested in joining me?

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This week, Corona Lisa brings us tips about using a public bathroom during the pandemic . . . because sometimes we just can't wait. Here are some dos and don'ts for those times when you need simply MUST use a public bathroom (from the NY Times):

  • A bigger bathroom with more stalls is better -- because it is likely to have better air circulation than a small room.
  • If the stalls are occupied, wait at least 60 seconds after one opens up before you step in.
  • Don't use the toilet seat covers (they're not sanitary anyway . . . having been in the stall through multiple flushes by the time you get in there) -- and sit yourself down on the seat (don't hover); you're less likely to leave "dribbles" behind.
  • If there's a lid, close it when you flush. If it's an automatic flusher, stand back!
  • There is no real preference when it comes to paper towels or hand dryers -- just avoid any reusable hand towels.
  • And when you're done, GET OUT FAST!

If you'd like to read the whole article, click here.

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And here's a handy chart to help you assess your risk when contemplating your activity choices:

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This week, let's visit the Louvre in Paris!

If you click here, you'll arrive at the Louvre's Online Tours page -- and once there, you'll find plenty of options for checking out the offerings at the museum. You just choose a tour, and off you go! There will be an exhibit map, and from there, you just click on a room to begin your adventure. You can click on any of the "information" icons to get detailed information and a closer look at the work, and you can click on the arrows to "wander" from exhibit area to exhibit area.

The Online Tours page (linked above) also includes a list of further online resources (to the right, under the thumbnail photo of the Louvre pyramid).

Yeah. It's not exactly like being there. But you don't have to contend with lines and crowds either!

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I don't know about you, but some days (these days), I find it hard to just get moving and DO something . . . anything . . .  let alone something fun or joy-filled or (good heavens) productive. A few weeks, Gretchen Rubin published this "bingo" card of 42 simple challenges designed to get you moving and help you find some energy.

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You can click on the graphic to embiggen (which is a Real Word), or you can click here to download your own copy of the "bingo" card (word of warning: to download it, you'll have to provide your email address and sign up for Gretchen's newsletter).

Although I won't be trying to complete ALL these challenges or even work toward a "bingo" here, I do think there are many good ideas on this chart. Some of them may even provide just the springboard I need . . . to get off my butt and moving again when I get stuck. Check it out. Maybe you'll find some inspiration, too.

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!