LITTLE THEORIES

(NOTE: I write from time-to-time about Little Theories, which I see as our assumptions of how the world works: sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong. But it makes for good conversation.)

woman

Art by Elisa Riva for pixabay

 Poodle skirts and persistence

 I wrote recently about how something as simple as sewing can make us a bit more mindful, stitch-by-stitch.

The gift of a hand-made item when our personal time has become so meagre increases the value of a present that results from our own labor.

While writing, I was struck by how much the act of sewing enriched my growth.

Here’s what I’ve gained:

  • Engineering skills
  • Planning
  • Persistence

It all started in elementary school.

When I was a lass, all the kids in first grade—girls and boys—learned how to make a wooden tugboat.

The teacher brought us boat-parts: a pentagon-like shape for the hull, a square for the deck, another square for the upper deck (wheelhouse), and a roundish peg for the smokestack.

We learned to hammer and glue the parts together (I was impressed that six year-olds were entrusted with hammers) and then painted our boats with bright tempera colors.

While I don’t build boats any more, I find that sewing flexes the same muscles.

When I’m getting ready to cut pattern pieces for a garment, I first imagine what all the shapes will look like once they are sewn together, just like an engineer building a boat.

Sewing requires planning: some parts get stitched together before others, so you have to be able to envision each step and imagine—or draw on paper—each stage.

The thing about projects like sewing and boat-building is that they take time.

Typically I spend a few hours on a project one day, and then resume the following day, and the day after that, and the day after that.

The task may take several days, or even weeks, so sewing requires persistence and a leap of faith that your labor will result in a completed creation.

Pity that sewing seems to have gone the way of poodle-skirts and eight-track players.

I discovered schools in California (where I learned my tugboat skills before moving overseas at age 10) no longer offer classes where students learn sewing, mechanics, building and cooking.

Learning the skills to create something—whether it is changing the oil in your car or hemming a skirt—lasts a lifetime with surprising payoffs.

Sewing helped me become a better writer because I know if I keep at the task of refining and pruning and polishing that I will (eventually) have a completed project.

I see college students struggle with their writing and I’m convinced one reason is they lack persistence: they don’t have the patience to chip away at a task that may require hours, days or weeks.

Maybe we should require that college students first take sewing instead of statistics, or carpentry before calculus, so they can flex their muscles and learn persistence.

5 February 2019

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Today’s blog is for my pal, Jen, who is always looking for ways to be a better teacher

#littletheories

#persistence

#sewing

#gifting

#homeeconomics

#shop

#bearpeople

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#cetisawkin

#kiyuska

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#thebuddhaway

#deplorable

#dumptrump

 

 

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Gifting

pj

Jam-packed with feeling

 I dusted off my sewing machine to construct a pair of jammies for my husband and was struck by the lessons sewing can teach us.

For me and most of my pals, time is a true commodity, and one that companies like Amazon recognize fully.

Rather than spending your precious time searching at the mall for the right Instant-Pot, Amazon can deliver one straight to your door.

Same for pajamas.

Why toil over cutting, stitching and ironing a pair of PJs when you can find your size with a few strokes on your electronic wizard?

One reason I decided to make my own jammies is because I could choose a flannel fabric with just the right colors, and make small adjustments you won’t find in a factory-made pair.

Adjustments like just-the-right-size elastic for his girth and the custom-made hem.

I see the hours spent in labor as a gift of love.

Every stitch in is infused with meaning, even if we can’t see it.

But I know it is there.

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#gifting

#bearpeople

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#cetisawkin

#kiyuska

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#thebuddhaway

#deplorable

#dumptrump

 

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Toilet Paper: Art and Conversation Piece

Cynthia Coleman Emery's Blog

For Molly

scottissue (1) The eponymously named toilet paper

Seems toilet paper has become front and center.

I got somewhat obsessed during my recent visit to India.

After just a few days on the journey, I ran out of the purse-packet size of Kleenex I brought for the trip, and ended up stuffing my bag with fistfuls of toilet tissue from our hotel.

The reason?

Most public toilets in India avoid paper altogether (it clogs the drain) and users rely instead on a blast of cold water from a hose in the loo.

The method is simple and basic, unlike the porcelain bidets of my youth, growing up overseas.

Bidets were commonplace in homes and hotels in the Middle East and Europe, where they’re plumbed right next to a Western toilet in high-class bathrooms.

Experts are uncertain how the term “bidet” evolved.

Oxford says the French term refers to a pony, and…

View original post 409 more words

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Toilet Paper: Art and Conversation Piece

For Molly

scottissue (1)

The eponymously named toilet paper

Seems toilet paper has become front and center.

I got somewhat obsessed during my recent visit to India.

After just a few days on the journey, I ran out of the purse-packet size of Kleenex I brought for the trip, and ended up stuffing my bag with fistfuls of toilet tissue from our hotel.

The reason?

Most public toilets in India avoid paper altogether (it clogs the drain) and users rely instead on a blast of cold water from a hose in the loo.

The method is simple and basic, unlike the porcelain bidets of my youth, growing up overseas.

Bidets were commonplace in homes and hotels in the Middle East and Europe, where they’re plumbed right next to a Western toilet in high-class bathrooms.

Experts are uncertain how the term “bidet” evolved.

Oxford says the French term refers to a pony, and the verb (bider) means “to trot.”

The word takes on a new meaning when you consider our expression for “tummy” troubles when we lived in Iran: we called them the “Teheran trots.”

As kids we would play with the bidet’s many knobs and shoot water into the air, rather than using it for the intended nether regions.

My husband loves the method, but I prefer paper.

And handi-wipes. And towels. And warm water.

Hotels in India stock toilet paper, but in small bundles.

New rolls are about one-quarter the size of our American rolls.

Turns out an Indian toilet roll fits snugly into my purse, so my fears of running short were assuaged.

As a young lass I made objects from toilet paper.

My sculpting career started because I was never sleepy at nap-time and, in the evenings, I stayed awake long after night lights were switched off.

While my sisters slept, I invented songs and stories, or I’d sneak off to the bathroom where I discovered I could fashion little animals from fresh toilet paper, soap and water.

Continue reading

Posted in bidet, ex-pat, nativescience, travel to India | 1 Comment

A Pescatarian’s Dream

boat

Fisherfolk in Kovalom. Photo by the author.

I looked forward to sampling the local fish in India as we made our way farther and farther south.

We landed at the southern-most tip in the lovely city of Kovalom at a resort with a pool, hot-running water and a beach view.

After a restful New Year’s sleep, we looked out our window and saw a line of anglers pulling in a net.

The process—which looked like a game of tug-of-war–was well-organized, with men yanking on the line, pulling fist over fist, and chanting a hauling song.

We grabbed our clothes and trotted down to the beach.

Once the net landed in the sand, we saw about 40 bite-sized silver fish flutter and sigh.

Not an impressive catch.

That evening, we joined our fellow travelers and struck out toward the touristy section of town.

For the first time in weeks, we weren’t the only Westerners in sight.

We saw a bevy of blonde, tanned tourists in shorts and sandals, keenly on the hunt for beer. Continue reading

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Travelling the World?

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Here’s an idea: Pack for one week

What’s amazing is that even after five decades of trekking the globe, I’m still learning how to be a competent traveler.

My first solo trip was as an eight-year-old.

My parents loaded me on a Greyhound bus for a 300-mile trip from Long Beach to Salinas to visit my cousins.

Since then I’ve honed my packing skills and know to pocket Dramamine, extra cash, Kleenex and bottled water wherever I go.

We just returned from India where I needed …

  • Dramamine for five hours of endless curlicues to the high plains of Munnar (and I still threw up)
  • Extra cash for the restrooms that charge a user fee
  • Kleenex because there’s no toilet paper in the restrooms that charge a user fee
  • Bottled water to avoid diarrhea-inducing tap-water

The biggest life lesson for me was learning how to pack fewer clothes.

The epiphany emerged when I spent a summer in Washington, D.C. on fellowship at the National Museum of the American Indian.

I packed and repacked and packed again, until I made a fateful decision: Just pack enough for one week.

Taking one carry-on bag was liberating.

I packed only enough clothing for one week and used the washing facilities at my sub-let.

I learned to limit my clothing palette to the basics: white or beige and black or blue, with colorful scarves and sweaters to add spice.

When we travelled to London this month I sported one vibrant scarf, one dress, one pair of leggings, one pair of socks and one pair of boots, which I wore for three days and then packed in my carry-on bag (along with my winter coat) and stored at the hotel while we traipsed from London to India.

To plan for India, I had tucked a smaller bag inside my carry-on when I arrived in London.

Once packed for India, my bag and purse weighed 2 kilos less than our allowable 7 kilos (15.4 pounds).

I boarded the plane at Heathrow with sandals (in December)—sturdy, sole-supporting and breathable Keens—and took three pair of capri leggings, four summer dresses, one lightweight wedding-appropriate dress, one summer nightgown, one sweater, one scarf, and a week’s worth of underwear.

With bright, hot weather I needed sunblock which doubled for body lotion and found a lipstick that lasts 24 hours, which I topped off with chapstick throughout the day.

After years of searching for the perfect purse I settled on a cross-body—rather than a backpack or shoulder bag—constructed of thick fabric rather than heavy leather.

The sturdy and light-weight bag has three distinct, zipped compartments and holds my wallet, passport, cell-phone, book, medicine bag, large water bottle and leaves enough room to close the top zipper.

Turns out I had everything I needed to traverse India: cool clothing, bottled water, and motion-sickness meds.

It only took 50 years to sort it out.

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8 January 2018

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#osage

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#packfortravel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s all in the sign

Felicitous new year

The signage in South India is fascinating.

Restaurants have “homely” food and you can get a haircut in a “saloon.”

Our haircuts and our hair coloring make us stand out like a beam in a lighthouse.

No one, I mean no one, has white hair like we do.

The women and the men dye their hair black black black and they can’t understand why somebody would want to show off their white locks.

The language here, Malayalum, is insurmountable.

I usually try to learn a few words in the language of the country where I’m going to travel.

For example, we listened to Turkish tapes before our trip to Istanbul.

We couldn’t remember one word once we had landed.

Malayalum sounds like you’re trying to make pretzels with your lips.

So we just speak English and use sign language while we are in India.

We’ve managed to learn the words of much of the food, however.

In addition to homemade breads we get lots of curry here: fish curry, chicken curry, and lamb curry.

And it is highly spiced.

My refuge is bananas.

The local variety is a small, very sweet, yellow banana, which has sated my appetite on more than one occasion.

We drink lots of bottled water, which is plentiful, and have discovered toddy, a fermented coconut drink very much like kombucha.

Our hosts have found a delightful lodging with hot water (mostly) and western-style bathrooms.

Still, we occasionally run into a local bathroom while trekking across country.

Local toilets are called squats.

I leave the rest to your imagination.

The best sign I’ve seen so far is for a restroom that reads:

TOILET

FELICITY

HERE

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Sign at a national park

1 January 2019

@nativescience

@Nativewriter

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