Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Living in Limbo

As I mentioned in my last post, we are in the midst of a home renovation project.  That means that the house is in chaos, since everything needed to be packed up and moved out of the rear parlor (some of the furniture from the dining room needed to be moved, as well).  The remaining rooms are crammed with towering piles of boxes and furniture and stuff.  Watering the plants in the sunroom has become a challenging exercise of tiptoing carefully around the electronics on the floor and stretching over piles of boxes to reach the various plants. I feel as though I'm doing some bizarre yoga-parkour mix.  The living room calls to mind one of those unpleasantly overcrowded antique stores, where one fears to even wander amongst the eclectic mix of vintage items for fear of dislodging a china shepherdess or stumbling over a wooden settee.  The remodeling zone is framed in translucent plastic, its cloudy film creating a sense of distance and unreality.  I stand in the kitchen, looking through the plastic sheeting, and it feels as though I am encased in a bubble, ungrounded from my real life.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

And the winners are . . .

Greetings, all!  I haven't had a chance to blog recently, because we are in the midst of a home renovation project that has taken much of my time.  But I didn't forget about my blog giveaways.  The winner for my Birthday Giveaway #1 was commenter #2, Clio.  Congratulations, Clio -- I hope you enjoy reading Bonk!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Birthday Giveaway #2: Fabulous Fabric Beads

Do you love fabric and beads?  Do you have scraps of beautiful fabric that you can't bear to throw away?  Then this giveaway is for you!  In Fabulous Fabric Beads:  Create Custom Beads and Art Jewelry by Kristal Wick, you can learn to make beautiful beads from fabric.

This book is chock-full of information and inspiration.  The first section covers the basic materials that can be used to make fabric beads.  The second section explores a number of surface design techniques, including the use of paint, dye, bleach, paintstiks, gesso, foil, stamping, and more.  Then Kristal Wick explains how to make a variety of fabric beads, including basic rolled beads and more elaborate variations, such as adding rhinestones or wrapping with wire and seed beads.  There are also a number of jewelry projects included to feature your newly-created fabric beads and a gallery section for even more ideas for how to use fabric beads.  The instructions are clear and the book is full of photos that illustrate the instructions, step by step -- not to mention all the photos of beautiful beads and finished projects. You can see some of the pages from the book at Interweave -- just click on the "Preview" tab. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Birthday giveaway #1

Tommy bowed and Annika curtsied and then they handed Pippi the green package and said, "May we congratulate you and wish you a happy birthday?"  Pippi thanked them and eagerly tore the package open.  And there was a music box!  Pippi was wild with delight.  She patted Tommy and she patted Annika and she patted the music box and she patted the wrapping paper.  She wound up the music box, and with much plinking and plonking out came a melody that was probably supposed to be "Ack, du käre Augustin."

Pippi wound and wound and seemed to forget everything else.  But suddenly she remembered something.  "Oh, my goodness, you must have your birthday presents too!" she said.

"But it isn't our birthday," said Tommy and Annika.

Pippi stared at them in amazement.  "No, but it's my birthday, isn't it?  And so I can give birthday presents, too, can't I?  Or does it say in your schoolbooks that such a thing can't be done?  Is it something to do with that old pluttifikation that makes it impossible?"

"Oh, of course it's possible," said Tommy.  "It just isn't customary.  But for my part, I'd be very glad to have a present."

"Me too," said Annika.

From Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (translated from the Swedish by Florence Lamborn), 1950.
As I continue my travels along The Great Material Continuum, I'm taking a cue from Pippi Longstocking with a series of giveaways to celebrate my birthday.  Actually, my birthday was some days ago, but Q and I have a tradition of a "Birthday Week" -- and I'm still within my birthday week.  Heck, why can't I have a Birthday Month?   (After all, Lyric Kinard has been having blog giveaways throughout her birthday month.) 

I'm going to give away items that reflect the diversity of my interests.  After all, I am a versatile blogger and need to recognize all aspects of my multifaceted life, right?  Psychology, sexuality, feminism, art, sewing, beading, gardening, dance -- there will be something for everyone.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

We have a winner!

And the winner of the Inspirations piece, Stuff Your Eyes with Wonder, is . . . Cheryl!

Thanks to all who visited and commented.  It was very inspiring to read your comments!  I'll post another Inspirations set at the end of the month, so be sure to check back for another chance to win. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Inspiration Series: Stuff Your Eyes with Wonder

I'm beginning a new series of small textile pieces that will incorporate quotations and images that reflect some aspect of the quotation -- I'm calling it my Inspirations series.  I'm inspired by this new series, and I hope that the pieces inspire others as well.  My plan is to make multiple versions of each piece, to explore different design variations.  I think this will work well for me, as it allows me to combine the thoughtful exploration of ideas as well as experiment with design and embellishment.  Plus, I'll build up a body of small works, which I am currently lacking.

Oh, and did I mention the giveaway part?  I'll choose one version of each piece to give away to my blog readers (that's you!).  I hope to complete a new set of pieces every month.  So come back regularly to catch the giveaways!  (Remember that you can sign up through a blog reader or get new posts by email -- see the links on the sidebar.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A home for imagination and creativity

When I was a child, I was given a dollhouse.  I played with it throughout my childhood and kept it set up even after I stopped playing with it (my younger sisters continued to play with it while I was in college).  When Q and I moved in together, I set up the dollhouse in our apartment.  Eventually, though, I stored the dollhouse and all its furnishings in a closet, waiting for a time I could bequeath it to another child.

Looking spiffy with the fresh paint --
and the open door invites us to peer inside.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Making a Difference (whether you know it or not)

Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island (8/2012)
With the advent of the new year, it's a good time to review the experiences, events, and achievements of the previous year.  Last year, I blogged about my cosmic footprint and tried to sum up all I had done in 2011.  But recently I've been recognizing that we often don't really know what effect we have on the world.  Sure, I can list my activities, but it's harder to capture the impact I may or may not have had on the world around me.  The carefully crafted lecture that I spent weeks refining may have breezed by my students, while an off-hand remark I made might have been a turning point for a student's academic career.

I'm reminded of an email I got over the summer from a former student.  I hadn't heard from this student in years, but I was deeply moved by the story he told.  I share it with you now (with the student's permission), not to toot my own horn, but to let you know that we can all make a difference, even if we don't know it at the time. 
I'm a UMD psych major right now who's pulled nothing but As and academic honors since becoming a full time student again, I'm going to be eligible to graduate in the fall and right now I'm going through the process of finalizing some grad school applications and taking my GRE.  I'm finishing up PSYC300 with a student I found out yesterday also came from MC and we got to talking about how hugely formative having you and Dr. Palmer as teachers was in really shaping our interests.  [. . .]

I bombed out of my freshman year at a 4 year institution, never because I couldn't do well in my classes but because frankly I just didn't care about them.  I hated my job, I hated being in school, my family situation was atrocious, I didn't like myself very much and I was really depressed about that for a very long time.  Even my time at MC was approached very half-heartedly, just stumbling through random classes hoping to find something that would really interest me.  Plenty I would just not show up to after a few weeks because even the idea of coming to class just made me feel deathly bored.

I took PSYC100 over the summer with you what feels like a life time ago and I know it sounds really cheesy to say, but that was without a doubt the best experience I'd ever had with either a professor, or an academic subject ever.  I found I really loved the material which helped, but more than that I was really struck by how much you obviously loved what you do and that really resonated with me for a very long time.  That was exactly the kind of engagement I was looking for in my life.  I felt challenged and engaged in your class and even though it was hugely inconvenient for me to make the trek to Rockville then, I always looked forward to coming to school for that.  I don't think I can really explain how enormously important that was to me.

I ended up taking Human Sexuality simply because you were teaching it, and Abnormal Psyc with Dr. Palmer, even though neither class fulfilled any kind of a requirement for me at the time.  I started reading psych books for fun.  For a few years, I didn't do more than that, because I really didn't think that I could go to school for that, let alone get a career in it.  Going to school for several more years seemed daunting but much more than that, I didn't think I'd be good enough so I didn't try to do more.  My life was a mess, I struggled enormously with depression.  Things really started to run around for me eventually. I found myself a really great therapist with many of the same qualities I saw in the teachers I had at MC.  I got a lot of the encouragement I need from her to really pursue that interest and I was lucky to have really great teachers for my other psych classes.  Long story short now I'm looking at entering a grad program for the 2013 school year.  How that's going to play out exactly is still very uncertain, and even if I feel like I don't always feel like I know what I'm doing making that leap, I can't imagine working towards anything else.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Even though I probably didn't show it very much when I was in your class (I was a really average student at best), you've had a huge impact in shaping who I am today.  Please don't underestimate the impact you can have on students, even those that you aren't really sure if you're reaching or not.
I am truly fortunate to be able to work with such amazing students, and to have the opportunity to help them find their way in life.  But we all have the potential to make the world a better place.  To paraphrase my student's sentiment, please don't underestimate the impact you can have on others, even if you aren't really sure you are reaching them.  Your passion, your enthusiasm, your caring, your encouragement, your commitment touch those around you, even though you may not see it at the time.  Don't give up.  You, too, can make a difference . . . whether you know it or not.

Some of my Social Psychology students
at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (3/2012)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Results of the baking frenzy of 2011
I don't know how it all started.  Maybe it was the holiday visit to my high school boyfriend's family.  I baked cookies to bring as a gift.  But they'd like a variety of cookies, surely, so I'd need to make different kinds.  Somehow I ended up surrounded by tins of cookies -- far too many, really.  Was it then that I thought to give the extras to my friends?

It really snowballed in college and graduate school.  I became well-known for my cookie baking:  More and more of my friends asked to be on my holiday cookie list.  I spent days baking to make enough for everyone.  I hunted for new recipes, bored by the old standbys.  After final exams were over, I'd immure myself in the kitchen, surrounded by flour and butter and sugar, in marathon baking sessions that left my feet aching from the hours of standing, my hands wearied from mixing and rolling. An enjoyable pastime had become an exhausting mandate. 

Decorated by Q (2012)