Women's History Month - Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

The last Ruler of Madagascar.

She's Crafty - Microscopic Edition!

Some really cool science inspired crafts!

Happy Birthday - Septima Poinsette Clark

The "Queen Mother" or "Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quote of the Day

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Audre Lorde

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lucy Friedlander Covington

As happens more often than I'd like to admit, I went looking for a subject for a short post for today, and instead fell into the internet. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course. But it makes writing a short, conversational post that much harder when I've got enough fascinating information to write pages and pages.

I saw a mention that today is the birthday of Lucy Covington (November 24 - September 20, 1982), a tribal leader with the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State. Thinking I'd find some bits and pieces of interesting facts about her, I started my research. Instead, I found out that she was likely single-handedly responsible for protecting her reservation's protected status from being "terminated" by the federal government and the tribal leaders at the time.

Termination sounds terrible, and according to Lucy, it would have been. In the 1950s, the US federal government's approach was to induce tribes to liquidate their holdings (usually land) as a way to better assimilate into the wider society. When Lucy first heard about the plans for termination of the Colville Reservation, it had already been approved by the tribal elders. Many of them saw it as a way to get a very large check from the federal government. Lucy saw it as selling off the economic and social future of her people for short term financial gain for only a few.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Music Break - Karen O.

I'm traveling this week, visiting a friend's parents in Arizona, which is quite nice. It's like a mini vacation, with lots of relaxing afternoons of just sitting and chatting. On the trip driving through the desert, we had to rely on my very limited supply of music on my phone. Which is not much. But, one of my favorites is on there: The Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack.

Monday, November 10, 2014

TV Night - Madam Secretary

Over the last few days I have been busily catching up on my TV watching from a couple of weeks. In particular, I have been a bit behind on Madam Secretary, which is one of my favorites from this season. It's not perfect -- it's a bit hokey, in that the crisis always gets resolved by the end of the show, and there's some second tier romance drama -- but overall it's quite a good show.

And, to be honest, I'd still watch it even if it was terrible, just to see Téa Leoni as Secretary of State. I just adore her in this role. Strong, smart, kickass, calm, and totally together except when she's not.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Question of the Day

What's your idea of a perfect autumn afternoon?

I'm feeling nostalgic for what I think of as 'real autumn' from when I lived in Michigan many years ago. I loved wrapping up in warm jackets and crunching through the leaves. And visiting apple cider mills for a cup of warm, delicious cider and a soft, fresh cake donut.

Autumn in Northern California is nice, but feels a lot like slightly cooler summer. It's still sunny, and sweaters aren't needed yet. Heck, I'm kinda jealous of all the pictures folks are sharing of their fancy socks. I'm still in sandals.

But I'm looking forward to cooler temps when snuggling up in a warm blanket with a cup of tea and a good book is a viable option for a lazy afternoon.

What about you?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Clara Sherman

Clara Nezbah Gould Sherman (February 18, 1914 – July 31, 2010) was a renown Navajo weaver who was instrumental in the development of the Toadlena/Two Grey Hills style rug.
"When you weave, everything comes back to you and you feel fresh again."
Clara grew up herding sheep and cattle, and raising corn and watermelons, often working side by side with one of her sisters, Yazzie Blackhorse. The two would often herd sheep, and pick up the bits of wool that would catch on the barbed wire fences. In defiance of their mother, who didn't think they were ready to learn how to weave, the two built a secret loom in a dry arroyo, and taught themselves.
"When we would herd sheep, the wool would stick to the barbed wire when the sheep passed through the fences. Yazzie told me to hide the wool carders under my coat and go out. At the time we were herdin' sheep over there at the place where I was born. We would card our wool over there in secret. And the same thing we did was hide a spindle from my [older] sister. She didn't know that we used it. And my sister [Yazzie] already know how and she taught me how to spin. We put up a rug like this size [approximately two feet high] on those bushes, and we covered it up so no one would know."
source: Convocations: Indian Arts Research Center

What sets her region's rugs apart from other Navajo rug designs in the reliance on colors that occur naturally in sheep's wool. While other Navajo weavers make dazzling rugs from brilliant reds and blues, the Toadlena-Two Grey Hills weavers work with the colors the sheep provide naturally.
As the weavings of the Toadlena-Two Grey Hills have become more and more renowned for their quality and artistry, the weavings have become finer, and more intricate and precise, including an emphasis on the evenness of color. Through the years and generations, these qualities have won these weavers top prizes and escalating prices. But sheep's pelts are unevenly bleached by the sun, and from one year to the next, a sheep's wool is different. For the master weaver with her own herd, the mind boggles at the complex considerations from preparing the wool, envisioning the elaborate designs, and weaving it through every season's change of humidity. Unlike modern pilots or surgeons, these weavers do not work from checklists to make sure they have the exact length of each handspun and blended color they will need.
source: Art of Outside: Exhibition of weaving shows timeless dynamic
In 2004, at the age of 90, Clara won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. And in 2006, she was awarded the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.