My blogging year is a little slow to start as I have been figuring out what to do about my lack space. I finally learned how to scale my photos though, so 2013, here we go! Steven took me to his company dinner in Des Moines in February. This was beautiful enough to cover New Years Eve AND Valentines Day!
Steven got involved in the Ames Maker Space this year and I kind of tagged along for the ride at times. People of all ages who have typically been engaged in mental work like software development, business or even just studying for a history test, are feeling a desire to “do something with their hands”. I won’t attempt to say much more about the Maker Movement in this post, but the ideas and philosophy embedded in it are possibly revolutionary. This movement is taking place all over the globe and could be a uniting force for much needed change. In our little spot on the globe, it has meant that Steven started sawing, soldering and taking things apart in his office and storing tools in his bed room. Since moving to Iowa I have enjoyed putting to use the sewing machine that was bought with a little money from my grandmother Mollie Kosier, who also did some sewing and crafting and started oil painting in her 70′s. January 2012 found me wanting to put a little inexpensive color on the walls so I talked Steven into making these wood frames for some cloth I had.
Next I made pillows and even enjoyed sewing the seams by hand.
When I was invited to garden with someone else from the maker space, I expressed my long-time yearning for a grow light set -up and Steven made this for me. Many of the older generation might not think of this making as something new. They learned how to work with their hands from scouts or parents, had good shop classes or vocational education in high school and remodeled and made things because it was cheaper that way. But somewhere along the line, some of that was lost. Shop class was undervalued because test scores and advanced placement became so important. You could buy clothes at Target more cheaply and easily than you could make them at home. Homemade was looked down upon.
But making things with your own hands, designing your own life, and learning from the struggles of doing it yourself has always had deep meaning for people and value beyond economics and time-saving considerations. So this generation that never had time for shop and didn’t have DIY parents, how are they learning the lost skills of making and bringing this meaning into their lives? We live in the computer age and it is fascinating to me how people are now using computers and social networking to immerse themselves in the maker movement, and maker spaces are places that promote this renaissance.
The Ames Maker Space is located in in a lower corner of a building in Ames’ Main Street Cultural District. There are some tools around, old sofas and chairs and this fabulous set up to project web information up on the wall. With the wireless keyboard you can sprawl out on the sofa and learn just about anything you want. Several of the guys there wanted to learn how to sew (yes, sew! One wanted to alter a T-shirt, another wanted to mend a beloved piece of clothing) and a new visitor offered to teach some sewing classes. We hauled in our old sewing machines from mothers or grandmothers and just dived right in, checking in with Y-Tube once in a while for tips. It was here that I was introduced to the power of hacking my own clothes! My mom had made most of my clothes until after I was married. Steven’s mother made a lot of their clothes. But my mom, at least, had always used a pattern, pretty much following the directions. Here though, on the wall of the maker space, I saw girls just hacking out cloth guided by a piece of clothing they knew already fit well. Really, you could do this?!
So 2012 found me successfully making the top in this photo by simply cutting around a favorite shirt and using what I had learned in 4-H to put it together.
On a more difficult note and with a lower degree of success, I hacked my own swim suit. But yes, it is two-piece so I can easily go to the bathroom AND it has a nice long skirt to help me not feel so exposed!
Steven went on to rent a workshop nearby and moved and expanded his tools as he learned how to cut, drill, fasten and jig all by watching things online and reading books. I moved my sewing machine over there and am currently trying to make a comfortable pair of pants to wear around the house when I come home. I feel empowered by making my own things. I am not so good at it yet, but I am anxious to keep this movement in my own life going in the coming year.
I have a soft spot in my heart for animals, even though they make me sneeze!
Here’s my kitty Sally, being beautiful just like she was all year long.
While snapping photos of spring flowers on campus, I was lucky to get a close up of ISU’s love birds, Lancelot and Elaine. I still remember the night back in Indiana when Steven sent me a link to photos of ISU’s lake with two beautiful swans. I pretty much knew then that ISU was the place for me!
My summer started off with a birthday trip with my sister to Seed Savers Exchange where we saw these graceful cows. In addition to saving heirloom seeds, the farm has begun to incorporate animals.
These cattle roamed the British Isles before the time of Christ, and are described exactly in ancient Celtic lore. Today only about 800 of these extremely rare, wild cattle survive worldwide, including slightly more than 200 in the U.S. (and about 80 of those reside at Heritage Farm). These distinctive cattle have white coats, lyre-shaped horns with black tips, and black ears, noses, eyes, teats and hooves (and sometimes black is splashed from the hooves up the front shins toward the knees). The cows are intelligent, alert, quite hardy, healthy, and are aggressive grazers that favor brush. (from SSE website)
At Thanksgiving, I got to see this bundle of enthusiasm, Daisy, my brother and sister-in-law’s dog. She takes her job of greeting, being happy and peppy and just overall adorable very seriously, even when she gets stepped on in the kitchen while the turkey is being carved. She is just the epitome of joy!
Then at the beginning of December, I dog sat for these three musketeers while my BFF went to a tropical island and got married! I had my own little tropical doggy paradise, sleeping on the water bed with the ceiling fan blowing breezes over my face all night and three little chihuahuas snuggled in various nooks and crannies of my body!
Animals can be a little annoying at times…they build dams near your dock, they have babies in your garden, they eat all the bird food you just put out…. but they do what they were created to do, and they are lovely each in their own way, and the domesticated ones love you without reserve (well, cats love you without reserve when they aren’t busy napping or cleaning or being aloof, right?!). I loved seeing the deer and woodchucks at my community garden plot this year, even though they ate the beans and nibbled on my tomatoes. The crows filling the trees around Ames always intrigue me….where do they nest? what are their lives like? where do they die? …… I even enjoyed some story book animals this year as I read Charlotte’s Web with a class at Beloit. I had a mouse in my car for a week and didn’t freak out! The girl in me will always be an animal lover.
And here is just one more picture of Sally being beautiful. I found her on a farm in Hancock County Indiana when I went to pick out one of her kittens. She was so sweet with her Barbie doll tail that I decided to take the mother cat too!
Just recently Steven and I watched the documentary The Secret Life of Plants. I bought a copy of the book when I was a teenager and discussed the almost supernatural claims it made with my mother who always leaned towards the metaphysical. The documentary has some amazing time lapse photography of flowers opening up besides the sections on unusual experiments done with plants. Especially if you are into the 70′s, you should check it out!
I did not grow many flowers in my gardens this year, but 2012 brought some lovely blooms none the less. The above roses were a gift from one of the E.A’s where I subbed for a week.
In honor of my mother’s love of making paper May baskets every year, my sister always sends me a lovely basket of flowers. Some years at home we used wall paper samples to make baskets, some years Mom got DQ cups and we glued crepe paper fringes all around them and filled them with popcorn and homemade divinity candy and a few violets picked from the neighborhood yards.
2012 was a fabulous year for some of my favorite flowers including lilacs, violets and the blue squill that herald spring all over the ISU campus.
Ames is a good place for flower lovers like me. Special attention seems to have been given to spring flowers, and I read recently that new ISU president Steven Leath has made it a priority to do even more to beautiful the university campus.
Then in the summer one can find gems along highways or country roads. I took this last picture along Lincoln Way on the way to Nevada. Iowa has a wonderful roadside planting program described here on degree of green.
2012 may have turned into the year of the drought, but there were still flowers to be thankful for. I love the words of Jesus, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
I’ve done absolutely nothing for the holidays this year, hence nothing to post on that front, but it is the time of year when most people shut down their blogs and the daily internet browse can be kind of dull, so, I thought I would try a “year in review” that will hopefully give you some cute photos to look at and some things to think about in between driving here and there and eating all those cookies!
It’s hard to know what a new year will bring on New Years Eve. Some people plan their year and think they know how it will play out. I am usually a planner, but this year I was still recovering from my masters graduation at ISU in December.
I had achieved a major goal in my life and just kind of started the year out enjoying that. I applied for a couple of jobs without success, continued substitute teaching and started doing home care again for a the handicapped son of a friend of mine. A mild winter turned into the most beautiful spring I ever remember, but then beautiful days turned into dry days and by summer we were in a drought. I got drawn back into gardening where, luckily, there was a good steady supply of water, but my professional progress kind of reflected the state of the grass in our yards….going dormant. In spite of that though, I had a lovely year and am looking forward to reflecting here on my 2012 highlights!