Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beltaine Art of the Month

I thought in honour of Beltaine that I would post some images of a very personal piece of art. It is the handfasting tie that I made for our glorious wedding almost three years ago. Dave and I began dating six years ago around Beltaine and so this time of fertility, awakening and love has special meaning to me. Dave always refers to this tie as our "wedding rings" because our hands were tied together while we said our vows and we did not exchange rings as most couples do.

The front fabric is the same as my wedding dress, cream coloured satin. On the back is my clan's Scottish tartan which is wool. I hand embroidered the flowers and writing. It also has the date of the wedding on it. We hope to put it in a shadow box someday soon and display it in our bedroom. I am very proud of this piece and it will hopefully be passed down to our children and their children for generations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Today is Equal Pay Day in the United States. As far as I can tell there is little press about it in Canada. Despite our laws promoting Equal pay for equal work there is still a wage gap between men and women. According to the Fair Pay Campaign run by the National Women's Law Center:

April 28, Equal Pay Day, marks the day in 2009 when the average woman’s wages will finally catch up with those paid to the average man in 2008. The day serves as an important reminder of the persistent wage gap and the urgent need to take action to ensure that women can receive equal pay for equal work

If you live in the U.S. please visit the National Women's Law Center's page for advice on how to take action. For a Canadian perspective on the wage gap you can visit this site.

We are not there yet. As a stay-at-home mom I feel that this issue still applies to me. Whether you stay at home or not our homemaking, mothering and general day-to-day work is not valued by the almighty dollar in this culture. If you had to pay someone to do all the unpaid work you do it would add up to thousands of dollars: a cook, a cleaner, a nanny, an accountant, a gardener, a shopper, a driver, a counselor...the list can go on and on. Even in some Scandinavian countries where the gender gap is smaller this situation still prevails:

Women perform between 65 and 70 per cent of the unpaid work, even if they are in full-time gainful employment. Marriage or cohabitation immediately increases the amount of housework for women, whereas it does not make much difference for men. There is a clear generational distinction in the caring patterns, as men of younger generation share more responsibility for housework (quote source)

My message here is not one of doom and gloom. We need to face this situation together as men and women, as partners, as friends. Our society has been designed to suit men. We need to change that. The pace, style and goals of our culture are not in sync with the needs of women, children or men. We need more time to spend with our husbands, fathers, friends etc. And we need the work, the hours and hours of unpaid work that women do without even thinking about it sometimes to be accounted for in our culture. And for those of you who work outside the home and make on average about 78 cents to a man's dollar... let's keep on working until that is no longer the case. This is an unacceptable ratio and our generation can change this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Earth day is here again. What a great day we have here too. Sunshine is out, even though it's a bit chilly. Kyan and I spent the morning on a playdate and had some park time. That will have to be our nature worship for the day, besides visiting the grocery store for some wonderful bounty.

I wanted to share my latest reluctant green purchase. Two weeks ago I lost my cellphone. Now I'm not much for fancy gadgets...I had had this cellphone for 6 years. It had no camera, a black and white screen and no internet capabilities. Call me old fashioned but I use a camera for taking photos, a computer to look up something on Google and an mp3 player to listen to music (sometimes I even use a tape deck! Imagine!!) So when looking for a new phone to purchase finding one that would do everything except wash the dishes wasn't top priority for me. I use the cellphone as a safety device. It is only there for emergencies or finding someone when we are meeting up somewhere etc. And then much to my delight my hubby said: Look this one is made from 25% recycled plastics. And I was done my search.

It's called the Moto W233 Renew. It is carbon neutral. Meaning that Motorola offsets the carbon emission production from this phone's operation, production and distribution. The outside casing of the phone is also 100% recyclable. So while I still feel bad that I lost my old phone, I am happy that I could buy a phone that is lighter on the earth.

In honour of Earth Day here is a poem I wrote this month. I hope you can get out and enjoy this day and remember the mother that loves you. Think of her especially when you eat her wonderful bounty today!

Wild Child

when your feet, so small and soft
spread out on this cold concrete
I see visions of
bright, green, strong, resilient
breaking apart this surface
swelling in size
returning the ground to something wild

they rise up to your knees
you run with abandon
chasing dragonflies
buttercups reflecting yellow on your chin

you spin, arms out
hands warm in the sun
you are the green man
at one with the trees
wind kissing your cheeks
with the love of the mother

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mommy's Morning Off

Thursday was a day that I had been looking forward to for weeks. The Vancouver Public Library's Annual Book Sale. They do this once or twice a year and it is a book extravaganza. My mother-in-law was kind enough to watch my little one while I went downtown and perused the piles of books. I had to wait in line for 10 minutes or so and then voila, tables filled with books, loosely categorized and waiting for eager hands to read them.
I know some Moms love to shop for clothes, get a manicure or their hair done, sleep in a fancy hotel or have a gourmet meal as relaxation, but I'm just a simple girl. Give me a room filled with second hand books and the crazy low price of .55 cents per book (some getting up to $2.25ish if larger in scale) and I'm happy. Relaxed and happy.
My only limitation was how many I could carry home. I took public transit and so I couldn't fill a box as many people there did. But truth be told I only have so much space, so the 15 books that I purchased are more than enough to keep me reading for the next year (since my book shelves are already full of anxiously waiting ones)
Being a voracious reader is an integral part of my personality. It feeds my imagination, stirs my senses and lets my brain take a break from the frantic pace that it moves at. That morning was such a wonderful respite.
As for the books themselves here are a few titles:

- a Guy Gavriel Kay novel called: Sailing to Sarantium
- The Healing Garden: Natural Healing for Mind, Body and Soul by David Squire
- The Wishing Tree and other Toys, Games and Nature Crafts for Children by Pamela Allardice

Many Public libraries must have these sales. I would encourage you to check one out in your area. They are a great way to help the library out and keep your book collection fresh.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tales from my Garden

I was blessed with some time in the garden this week. It was brief but refreshing. I moved several plants from a large pot to their own and moved some plants around in the flowerbed. I am coming full circle with my little fairy garden. April was my garden month last year, I researched plants, attended the wonderful Van Dusen Gardens Plant sale at the end of the month and began the slow construction of my first real garden space. At that sale I bought 2 yellow primroses, a delicate BC native fern found in the Queen Charlotte Islands and some herbs. The herbs did not fair well. But the fern and prim roses are doing great. I was so proud to see the primroses blooming. Later on in the season I purchased a blue and white primrose. The blue one is blooming as well, while the white one failed to make it through the winter. Digging in my small garden makes me so content. I feel like I can learn so much more this year. Especially about layout, design and planting for colour in each season. I have a garden journal that I keep plant tags, ideas and research in. I also journal how each plant does, when I planted it and if I would get more. My mother is a wonderful gardener. Her memory for plant names is exceptional. I do not have that gift so I have to keep my little book and learn that way. I have been neglecting it all winter and can't wait to glue in some new tags and plan on what to buy at this year's Van Dusen sale. I don't have tons of money to spend but buying a small number of plants at a time is a great way to really get to know what you are planting. I think this year I'll try some veggies in pots. Tomatoes, beans and maybe some peppers. I have lots of sprigs pushing up through the soil and I can't wait to see what each month blooms into.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book of the Month: April

This month I have chosen The Holding by Merilyn Simonds. I read this book last year a few months after Kyan was born. It was beautiful and mysterious, leading you through layers of time and emotion. It is a spellbinding story of two worlds linked by the same piece of land. Simonds is a Canadian writer and this story is set in rural Ontario. In 1859 we follow Margaret and in the 1990's we follow Alyson. Each woman finds strength in nature and solitude and suffers great loss in their journey.
I chose this book for a very personal and sad reason. Friends of ours lost their newborn baby last week. We attended the funeral yesterday. What can be more horrible than loosing a child? There is no particular comfort that we can offer our friends, we were just there for them and will be a support in whatever way we can.
This novel deals with loss in a honest and compelling way. It is one of those stories that stays with you for a long time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How to Make Artful Pillows: Final Step

All right happy pillow maker. Here are your final instructions for assemblage.
For the sake of clarity I will label your three pillow pieces as A for the front 17" x 17" piece. B for the back piece that measures: 17" x 14" and C for the back pieces that measures 17" x 12".

Step 1: You want your inside of the fabric to be laying towards the table. Iron a 1.4" hem on B & C. Turn that hem under and iron another hem 1.4" wide. Your final hem should look like this:Pin your hem if you need to and sew a straight seam down the entire length.

Step 2: Place piece A wrong side down on the table. Place piece B on top of piece A with wrong side facing out and the hemmed edge towards the middle. Place piece C on the opposite side to form your envelope closure. And pin this together.
Step 3: sew a 1.4" seam around the entire length of the fabric. Keep you lines as straight as you can, especially at your corners.
Step 4: Remove your pins and turn your pillow case right side out. Place your pillow form inside and you are done.