Where there is a will there is a way

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Unicorn costume for a girl - second go

Vaulting a tall horn on the front of a girl's head is no easy task. Although the red hair that I used that night for the next day school dress up did look a little clownlike - I think that the solution we found for the horn was excellent.

In the end, for my second go, I used the resource of balloon holder cup and a chopstick, as the horn had to be very light. (My first horn used a single cigar tin but it ended up heavy, and unwieldy.) Shane helped me with his engineering skills - and constructed the horn's support (2 lengths of waistband elastic sewed together to be double wide.) This costume was fashioned after Star, from the book The Baby Unicorn (by Jean and Claude Marzollo, illustrated by RJ Blake). This was also the reason for using orangey-red cloth for the hair.

Here are the steps - I am definitely not bothering to re-draw them in Illustrator, here are a few scanned sketches for anyone interested to understand the idea:

THE HORN: Balloon cup holder plus stick (balloon stick chopstick any stick). Then you cello tape card or thin cardboard around it to make a light sheath.
Tape the cardboard round and round with clear tape.
Then you handsew a layer of pretty cloth around it, which gives it structure - but more importantly the ability to sew it to a base.
Make an elastic headband to mount the horn on. It helps to make the location where the horn will go double wide creating a rectangle - we used elastic waistband which worked very well. STEP 5
THE HOODIE: Before you sew the horn on its mounting to the hoodie, sew some hair onto the hoodie. I sewed some non-frayable material, cut in wide strips almost to the end. Once I had sewed along the hood's seam with a sewing machine (definitely use one if you can or this part would be laborious), I then cut the strips into many far narrower ones.
After the horn is mounted on the band -- sew it to the base by hand, make it strong -- put it on the child, as well as the hoodie. This way you'll be able to see where the horn should come through the hoodie. Then cut a hole and stick the horn through. STEP 7
After you take the horn and hoodie off, you can sew the widened band to the underside hoodie, giving it a wide surface area to support that horn. (You can cut off the extra straps that extend past the widened part, you won't need them anymore).
Handsew on ears of your choice (I looked at a real horse image to see how their ears are placed first.) Then you are done!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Burning the Shelter by Louis Owens

This is an excerpt which was I saw posted on Care2.com, passed on from UTNE Reader alternative press. -N

A simple fire reveals the beginnings of our environmental crisis

Excerpted from “Burning the Shelter,” by Louis Owens, from The Colors of Nature, edited by Alison Hawthorne Deming and Lauret Savoy (Milkweed Editions, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Louis Owens.

In the center of the Glacier Peak Wilderness in northern Washington a magnificent, fully glaciated white volcano rises over a stunningly beautiful region of the North Cascades. On maps, the mountain is called Glacier Peak. To the Salishan people who have always lived in this part of the Cascades, the mountain is Dakobed, the place of emergence. For the better part of a century, a small, three-sided log shelter stood in a place called White Pass, just below one shoulder of the great mountain, tucked securely into a meadow.

In the early fall of 1976, while I was working as a seasonal ranger for the United States Forest Service, I drew the task of burning the White Pass shelter. It was part of a Forest Service plan to remove all human-made objects from wilderness areas, a plan I heartily approved. So I backpacked 11 miles to the pass to set up camp, and for five days I dismantled the shelter and burned the old logs until nothing remained. I spaded up the earth, beaten hard for nearly a century by boot and hoof, and transplanted plugs of vegetation from hidden spots on the nearby ridge.

At the end of those five days I felt good, very smug in fact, about returning the White Pass meadow to its “original” state. As I packed up my camp, the snowstorm had subsided to a few flurries and a chill that felt bone deep with the promise of winter.

I started the steep hike down, and half a mile from the pass I saw two old women. Almost swallowed up in their thick wool caps, they seemed ancient, each weighted with at least 70 years as well as a small backpack. They paused every few steps to lean on their staffs and look out over the North Fork drainage below, a deep, heavily forested river valley that rose on the far side to the glaciers and saw-toothed black granite on the Monte Cristo range. And they smiled hugely upon seeing me.

We stood and chatted for a moment, and as I did with all backpackers, I reluctantly asked them where they were going. The snow quickened a little, obscuring the view, as they told me they were going to the White Pass.

“Our father built a little house up here,” one of them said, “when he worked for the Forest Service like you. Way back before we was born.”

“We’ve been coming up here since we was little,” the other added. “Except last year when Sarah was not well enough.”

“A long time ago, this was all our land,” the one called Sarah said. “All Ind’n land everywhere you could see. Our people had houses up in the mountains, for gathering berries every year.”

As they took turns speaking, the smiles never leaving their faces, I wanted to excuse myself, to edge around these elders and flee to the trailhead and my car. I wanted to say, “I’m Indian, too. Choctaw from Mississippi; Cherokee from Oklahoma”—as if mixed blood could pardon me for what I had done. Instead, I said, “The shelter is gone.” Cravenly, I added, “It was crushed by snow, so I was sent up to burn it. It’s gone now.”

I expected outrage, anger, sadness, but instead the sisters continued to smile at me, their smiles changing only slightly. They had a plastic tarp and would stay dry, they said, because a person always has to be prepared in the mountains. They would put up their tarp inside the hemlock grove above the meadow, and the scaly hemlock branches would turn back the snow. They forgave me without saying it—my ignorance part of the long pattern of loss they knew so well.

Hiking out those 11 miles, as the snow of the high country became a drumming rain in the forests below, I had long hours to ponder my encounter with the sisters. Gradually, almost painfully, I began to understand that what I called “wilderness” was an absurdity. Before the European invasion, there was no wilderness in North America; there was only the fertile continent, where people lived in a hard-learned balance with the natural world. In embracing a philosophy that saw the White Pass shelter—and all traces of humanity—as a shameful stain upon the “pure” wilderness, I had succumbed to a 500-year-old pattern of deadly thinking that separates us from the natural world.

This is not to say that what we call wilderness today does not need careful safeguarding. I believe that White Pass really is better off now that the shelter does not serve as a magnet to backpackers and horsepackers who compact the soil, disturb and kill the wildlife, cut down centuries-old trees for firewood, and leave their litter strewn about. And I believe that the man who built the shelter would agree.

But despite this unfortunate reality, the global environmental crisis that sends species into extinction daily and threatens to destroy all life surely has its roots in the Western pattern of thought that sees humanity and “wilderness” as mutually exclusive.

In old-growth forests in the North Cascades, I have come upon faint traces of log shelters built by Suiattle and Upper Skagit people for berry harvesting a century ago—just as the sisters said. Those human-made structures were as natural a part of the Cascade ecosystem as the burrows of marmots in the steep scree slopes. Our native ancestors all over this continent lived within a complex web of relations with the natural world, and in doing so they assumed a responsibility for their world that contemporary Americans cannot even imagine.

Unless Americans, and all human beings, can learn to imagine themselves as intimately and inextricably related to every aspect of the world they inhabit, with the extraordinary responsibilities such relationship entails—unless they can learn what the indigenous peoples of the Americas knew and often still know—a few square miles of something called wilderness will become the sign of failure everywhere.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August Garden

Following a tip from Xanthe White's organic gardening book, I cut off the main head of broccoli from the plant, and waited to see if side heads would grow. I didn't totally believe it, but look!

After a great deal I got from a farmer on TradeMe (he has several horses and has been composting horse manure with sawdust, and posted a trailer load on TradeMe for $20), this former soggy clay filled area is starting to look like a garden. (I also sprinkled alot of gypsum all over as well, on advice, as apparently it breaks up clay.) Going to plant potatoes.

Looking pretty good now, but that's because it's drier. The slugs were getting the best of these plants as I wasn't as vigilant as I could have been at night raids, to remove them. The garden was formerly far too wet - in that climate the plants did not do well.

Cool, magical surprise this morning. A HUGE MUSHROOM appeared like magic in the midst of the garden.

Yealands Wine Review

I had read about Peter Yealands wine, as he was promoted in Good magazine a few times as one of the few (first) sustainable growers. I have kept my eye out for awhile, not seeing his wine have resorted to gambling on choosing the best wine by claims on their labels. How cool to see his wine in the liquor store the other day - and reasonably priced ($16 I think). Red too, I am into red.

Here is the review, was exceptionally good. Really really good. So there you go - I have a favourite wine to buy.

If you can't find it, as I don't see it everywhere, just buy close to home!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lullaby by Billy Joel

When I am working (concentrating, drawing) on the computer, I really listen to songs. This lullaby by Billy Joel is amazing. Listen to it...I want to learn all the words to sing to my little girl. The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart, you'll always be a part of me

Lullaby by Billy Joel
Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away

Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me


Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me

Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabyes go on and on...
They never die
That's how you
And I
Will be