Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

new tool

I have wonderful and exciting news!!!! I'm happily typing to you from my new laptop. She's a lovely MacBookPro in glossy, shiny silver. She plays video, downloads pictures, files, and more! She's light. She's fast. Meet Dot. She's my new MacBook Pro. We're just getting to know each other, but based on my past Mac relationship, I can already tell we'll be going places and together through thick and thin.

I'm sad to retire Computrix; she's a feisty old broad, but alas, no longer meeting my needs. I'm going to have some friends clean her up and potentially donate her, or sell her (for a very low price) to some kids for their first computer. I really can't stress how much I've loved my iBook G4. We've been together through a very influential and important time in my life. I've spilled water, beer, wine, and puke on the keyboard. Dropped her countless times, and yet, she still runs. Computrix hasn't always run like a dream, but over the nearly six years we've been together, she's been a reliable little machine.

Santa was very good this year. I'm so thankful for my family, friends... and Dot. I wonder what challenges lay ahead of Dot and I. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

progress can be slow

The weaving is going slow.  I'm not going to lie, its kind of taken the back burner lately.  The warp threads are the ones we put on the second day of the workshop back in October.    Although the progress is very slow, I'm throughly enjoying the entire process.  Only downside is I originally intended to use some of this for holiday gifts... alas, December has some how slipped past me.  I ended up buying gifts this year, but never fear.  I bought them all from local small businesses and locally made when I could. 

The weave pattern is a herringbone (slightly visible in the blue stripes) and the oatmeal colored tread is my own hand spun.  There isn't really a rhyme or reason to the stripes or their widths.  It's telling me when to switch it up.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'real' adult

M & D sent flowers to the office last Monday.  Before I read the card I was flipping my wig a bit.  I never get any mail or packages delivered to the office, and to be completely honest, I was a tad afraid/concerned about who they'd be from.  It probably didn't help that the office was full (a rare occurrence in itself) and a-buzz with "Oooo!  Liz!  Who's the new boo?!"  I called M after reading the card and we both had a good chuckle.    M & D were congratulating me on my first Finals Week with no finals... apparently a milestone into adulthood.  I'll take whatever excuse to receive flowers.  

The flowers sat on my desk all week and made me (and my office mates) smile.  I brought them home Friday because they were still looking great... and almost an entire week later, they're still beautiful.  Do M & D rock, or what?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

providence canyon, georgia

This weekend several friends and I went on a quick hike in Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia.  The park was only 4.5-5 hours away from Gainesville and had a 7 mile backcountry trail.  Our group was originally of 7, but by the time we departed, we were down to 4 plus a pup.  When we drove up Saturday morning it continually rained.  We kept our fingers crossed that the weather prediction of sleet wouldn't hold true.  At the start of our hike, it was a whopping 38 degrees and still rainy.  We would not be deterred and decided to hike in 2 miles and make camp.  

Surprise, surprise.  I'm in the back of the pack.  

The rain never let up.  It continued throughout the night and into Sunday morning with torrent waves coming and going.  We decided over breakfast that we should probably head back the way we came and call it a short hike.  Everything was soaked.  We packed up very wet tents and gear and headed the two miles back.  However, we could never have predicted the surprise we were in for.  The creek bed had risen 6 inches to a foot in some places.  Of course, our trail was the creek bed.  There was no alternative but to walk through the flowing chai colored water.  The rain pounded down and we trudged through.  We all laughed and rolled with it.  It was exciting, refreshing, and just plain fun.  I remained relatively dry (so to speak) until the water reached my knees.  There's really only so much water prevention Gortex can handle; my boots were probably carrying 5lbs of water.  We reached the segment of trail back up out of the creek bed and turned to survey our triumphant path.  We all laughed at our orange, clay covered bodies.  The hike might have been cut short, but the adventure hadn't.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of us when we reached the cars.  Everything was soaked, including the camera.  Naturally, the rain stopped once we got off the trail.  Figures.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my companions and the challenge of hiking in the cold and rain.  I also learned just how out of shape I am.  I suppose I need to get back into the real gym and get back on the bike.  Simply rock climbing twice a week just ain't cuttin' it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

tat #2

I did this while in CA with Mess.  I'd been thinking about it since coming home from India about a year an a half ago.  Dominic Vasquez at Full Circle Tattoos drew the image and then inked me up.  We found them on (which I'm also quite pleased with).  It took a total of an hour and a half.  I'm not going to lie, it hurt.  But the end result is AMAZING. 

Thankfully it's not as red and angry looking anymore.  It has healed up quite nicely, and I'm increasingly tickled with it.  I couldn't have done it without Mess there cheering me on.  Hooray for sisterly bonding.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I apologize for the wonky formatting and inconsistency. I've recently learned that the blog looks very different on my home Mac than it does on my work PC. I'm trying to find some sort of happy medium.

Any suggestions would be great.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

teaching tolerance

I should probably explain something, I was never trained as a teacher. I never took any education classes while in school and generally avoided kids under 14 unless absolutely necessary. I have no idea what drove me to apply for the job I currently have... most likely desperation and encouragement from a few friends already at Peaceful Paths. As unlikely as my role as facilitator/educator may have seemed, I'm generally enjoying it. Yes, I complain about the kids, they can be quite cruel at times, but I must say that this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.

Unfortunately, shortly after I started my job, my boss left. She is an amazing person and continues to be a wonderful mentor and friend, but her departure nonetheless left me flying solo in a new job. I struggled to figure out how to do the sessions and how to go about utilizing the curricula we had laying around for me to consult. I somehow managed to run my 5 groups without too much feeling that I was screwing up the kids. It was fun, most of the time, but very overwhelming.

One of the resources that I've come to love is
Teaching Tolerance. The site contains entries/submissions from educators across the country as well as articles from the experts (get this... the experts are actual teachers, school principles, guidance counselors, etc) on how to integrate civil rights and liberties topics into curricula. It also has a strong emphasis on teaching social change and helping students develop the skills to engage in community action, conscious media consumption, and critical analysis of current events. I'm loving the ideas and reading about the ways that educators are subverting the system and integrating some wonderful messages and topics to our youth.

Things have eased up a bit in the past week or so. All but one of my groups has wrapped up, at least until Jan. And in that group we're doing an activity called
Progressive City Planners to further explore different forms of oppression, discrimination, and societal violence. Check the activity out. I'm excited about the discussion we're going to be having. This particular group middle schoolers is very smart, they never cease to blow my mind. Even has they manage to get under my skin and drive me nuts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I can fit a penny in my right nostril.

Ok... back to work.

Monday, December 7, 2009

the interns

I'm starting the interview process for the program's Spring interns this week. I must say, I'm slightly nervous and uncomfortable about it. I've been told I'm being slightly ridiculous since I'm doing 6 interviews. I just want to give them all the benefit of the doubt and ensure that I'm not overlooking anything about these candidates. The scars of job hunting and rejection are still a bit fresh. I don't know how I'm going to negotiate those feelings and my desire to take the best 3 candidates. I'd take them all, but I simply cannot manage 6 interns. Plus, as an agency, we traditionally only take up to three for each department.

My philosophy with the interns is that they should create more work for me, in the sense that I don't want them to do bullshit tasks... but actually get some hands on learning. They are not slaves. They're the next wave of our activists, advocates and educators. (Can you tell I had an awful internship once upon a time?) My goal is that by May, they'll be able to cofacilitate groups...or even fly solo. If only I could take all of them... UGH!

First World Problem? Possibly...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

fred the fin whale

While I was visiting Mess in CA, she had a meeting at the San Diego Natural History Museum with some super cool dude, who's name, I just cannot remember.  Her meeting was regarding her project of describing a fossil that has been on display, but undescribed and unclassified for some time.  It is thought to be a different species (although, extinct) of Balaenoptera, or Fin Whale.

While its no dinosaur, Mess is very excited about her project and took me to see the specimen.  We promptly dubbed it Fred the Fin Whale (unless it turns out to be female, in which case it will be Frederica).  

Monday, November 30, 2009

in search of harbor seals

For Thanksgiving this year, M & D helped me get out to California to see the sister unit (Non-profits don't pay all that well..).  While Southern California isn't really my cup-o-tea, I had a fabulous time with Messy.  She's currently working on her Masters in Evolutionary Biology at San Diego State University.  She studies whales... Fin whales (Balaenoptera sp.) to be exact.  More on that later.  

Check out the harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) Messy took me to see.

La Jolla Beach, CA

Mess on the Beach
There are more pictures, if you're interested.  They're on facebook.  Just let me know if you'd like to view them, and I'll gladly send you a link.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I sit on our porch.  The breeze is cool, I'm terribly warm.  I'm in my underware trying to feel numb.  Trying to let go of the things that swim around and consume my thoughts.  I can't.  There's something bringing me back from my deep meditation and absolution of guilt and dread.  

Why is it nagging?  Why won't it leave?  

I close my eyes and let the air and breeze consume me.  I'm one.  I'm nothing.  I'm invisible.

Monday, November 9, 2009

spinning my wheels

Since I have some free time, now that I'm out of school, I've been spinning again... and thinking of buying my own wheel.  It's been almost a year since I started spinning and I'm not showing any signs of stopping or slowing down.  There are currently several 5 gallon buckets full of fluff in our apartment as we speak.  Taunting.  Teasing.  Pleading to be carded, stroked and spun.  Finances have been solid, but finding space in the budget for a $500 - $800 purchase is proving to be slightly more challenging.  It'll happen soon.  I'm almost to the point were I can swing it.  Until then, I'm distracting my fingers with the drop spindle, knitting, collecting, and weaving.  But... I can only hold off for so long...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

weekend weaving

Over Halloween weekend, Erin and I signed up to take a Beginning Weaving workshop with the Gainesville Handweavers Guild.  It was a two day intensive class where we learned the basics of the loom, how to read patterns, and most importantly (and also the most difficult part) how to 'warp' or 'dress' the loom.  

The first day, I used a table loom which belonged to the GHG.  However, on the second day, Erin lent me one of her extra table looms so I could continue to work on my project at home after the class finished.  I'll post more pictures of my current project soon.  Until then, check out some shots from the workshop.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Please be patient... I'm having technical difficulties.

October has been a wonderful month full of fun, friends, family.... AND FIBERS! Pictures and some description will be up shortly.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

experiments of the delicious kind

Through Ravelry I stumbled across an AMAZING cooking blog called smitten kitchen.  I am absolutely in love with the photography and have been wanting to make a bunch of the things featured.  I don't really know what came over me, but I had this hankering for marsh mellows after seeing this.  So, after some encouragement from Ms. Erin, an experiment was conducted.  Below are the results:  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

critique of the nyt magazine: august 23, 2009

Thursday I read Mandy Van Deven's review on Feminist Review of this week’s edition of The New York Times Magazine. The edition is devoted to ‘Saving the World’s Women’ and takes up the global condition and problems faced by women of the world, such as sex trafficking, abuse, microfinance, and lack of access to health/medical care and education. Since this was part of my area of focus in school, I was giddy and excited about it hitting the news stands. Yet, as I flipped through and read the various articles, I kept thinking the same thing: Why does this collection seem to only be highlighting disempowerment and oppression of women of the Third World? Why is there absolutely no mention of the issues faced by women in the Global North? By no means do I intend to discount the horrors that women of the Global South face, or imply that the issues of women in developed nations are higher in importance and relevance. In fact, I’m elated that the edition has provided such exposure and attention to these travesties. My problem with it is this: by ignoring the conditions and struggles for equality, justice and basic human rights faced by women in developed countries, the message is that women in places such as the US and Europe have already achieved equality and do not face many of the problems, violence, and discrimination that our sisters in Africa and Asia do. The problem is presented as something “over there” rather than a truly global phenomenon; one simultaneously occurring in our own backyards. 

Instead the role of women of the Global North is presented, and can be summed up, in Lisa Belkin’s article “The Power of the Purse”. The article discusses how women are increasingly using their economic power to help sisters in need. Wonderful. What about the Americans working in the field? Those dedicating their lives to non-profit work and long hours through heartwork and sacrifice? What about the women working in shelters or tirelessly on legislative and policy reform to make the donated money more effective in aid?

The theme of the edition is on the global condition and staunch human rights disparities that exist for women, yet the content and focus of the articles does not seem to adequately reflect the variety and multitude of conditions through its limited scope of Africa and Southeast Asia. What about the sex trafficking and sex tourism that goes on in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Bloc? What of women in Latin America? In the Caribbean? What about the compounding effects of environmental destruction and scarcity of water? Why doesn’t it discuss the modes of oppression the First World through economic exploitation or women of the Third? Why aren’t any of the articles written by women from the places discussed? Instead of presenting a wide view of the various conditions and proposed solutions, the articles focus disappointingly only on economic and capitalist short-term solutions: microfinance and microlending. The articles, while well intentioned and well written, failed to adequately address the underlying social structures that provide the framework to these issues.

On a whole, I’m happy that the NYT Magazine took the chance and did this publication, but I’m highly disappointed in the content and execution. I suppose I got my hopes up a bit too high when I heard about it, and thought that perhaps things would be presented in a radical and revolutionary way. I understand that in order to fully cover all the issues I’ve mentioned would take volumes and much more space than the NYT Magazine could provide. However, what limited space that was available could have explored or touched on so much more. Instead, what was presented was but a sliver of the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

what i want my words to do to you

This is the title of a documentary that aired on PBS in 2003.  We watched it in my class on Incarcerated Women last month.  I think it provides a brief look at what I've been studying for the past six weeks.  It's very moving and powerful.  The poem at the end, read by Judith Clark, sends chills down my spine and makes me reexamine what I consider to be a crime worthy of a life sentence and what I think justice should look like.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

what you make of it

The seas are quiet.  She looks out to the horizon and sees a dot.  Dark, mysterious, ominous.  But she's not frightened, more curious.  She is well acquainted with the unpredictable ways of the sea.

What is it?

The dot slowly approaches.  Its blurry edges come into focus.  

Its change; manifested as a sea monster.
Will she befriend it?  Tame it?  Quietly strike a truce?

Is it really a monster as the legends say?  Or is it just misunderstood much like the pirate herself?

Only one way to find out.  

Friday, July 24, 2009

feminist spotlight: nawal el saadawi

Nawal El Saadawi is an Egyptian feminist, activist, writer, scholar and physician.  Her writings and activities around Arab women’s rights have cost her a psychiatric job, imprisonment, and a lifetime of struggle.  Her resilience and determination has gained her public support, respect and admiration.  The author of 27 books, numerous essays and articles, Saadawi’s work has concentrated mainly on Arab women’s sexuality and legal status.  Even from the beginning, her work was considered controversial, dangerous, heavily criticized and even banned in Egypt.  Her work over the last four decades has had a profound effect on many generations of men and women through out the world.

Saadawi was born in 1931 in the small village of Kafr Tahla.  She was one of eight siblings and was ‘circumcised’ at the age of six.   While her family live could be considered ‘traditional’, her father was somewhat progressive in insisting all eight of his children be educated.  In 1951, Nawal left Kafr Tahla to study psychiatry at Cairo University despite religious and social oppression of women.  Upon graduating in 1955, she went on to become the Director of Public Health and began a magazine, Health, addressing issues pertaining to preventative medicine.  At this time she also began writing about women’s issues and their particular oppression by the Arab world.   She then met her husband, Dr. Sherif Hetata, who was also an activist, revolutionary and doctor at the Ministry of Health.  Hetata served thirteen years in prison for his activities in the leftist party.  In 1972, Saadawi was relieved of her position at the Ministry of Health in response to the publication of her first book Women and Sex, which had been published in 1969.  The book was banned by the political and religious authorities due to the contents of several chapters of the book in which she wrote against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and linked women’s sexual problems and control to women’s overarching political and economic oppression.  Health was closed down in 1973.

In September 1981, Saadawi was imprisoned under the Sadat regime, for alleged “crimes against the state” and held in Qanatir Prison until November 1981 after the assassination of President Sadat, when many political prisoners were released.  Yet her imprisonment did not quell, or deter her from, her activism and writing.  While behind bars Saadawi formed the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA), “the first legal, independent feminist organization in Egypt” and wrote what would become in 1983 Memoirs from the Women’s Prison on toilette paper with an eyebrow pencil smuggled in by a fellow prisoner in the prostitutes ward.

The AWSA has grown to have some 500 members locally and more than 2,000 internationally but was banned by the Egyptian government in 1991 following Saadawi’s criticism of US involvement in the Gulf War.  Upon disbanding the organization the government seized and handed over its funds to the association called Women in Islam.  Six months prior to the decree banning the organization, the government closed down the magazine Noon, published by the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and of which Saadawi was the editor-in-chief.  Although banned in Egypt, Saadawi continues with her work with the organization. 

In 2001, three of her books were banned at Cairo International Book Fair.  A year later a fundamentalist lawyer raised a case to have her forcibly divorced from her husband due to her apostasy.  She won the case thanks to international solidarity and pressure.  In 2006, Saadawi’s play, “God Resigns At the Summit Meeting”, was banned, and in January 2007, Saadawi and her daughter, Mona Helmy, also a poet, writer and activist, were accused of apostasy and interrogated by the General Prosecutor in Cairo. Saadawi faced a new trial on charges of apostasy and heresy in February 2007 because of the play.  She won the case in May 2008.  While her legal battles and political struggles continue to the present, she continues her work, on female genital mutilation and women’s rights as well as remaining a prominent political activist.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

morning procrastination

While spending time at a the house friends are house sitting for, I played in the yard.  The yard at this house is amazing and fully of fun plants, many are even edible.  These here are butterfly attractors.  

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

the artist and the botanist, part 2

Erin and I finished our paper making experiment today.  It was fun and VERY smelly.

Draining and rinsing the fibers

And then...

... there was paper.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

watch, listen

I'm exhausted and in a funk.  Probably because I have to go places and it's pouring down rain.  I love the rain.  I just don't like to go anywhere in it.  I want to curl up with a cup of coffee and simply watch it.  

The world pauses.  

The stormy seas of  thoughts begin to calm and soften  
Washing everything clean again  
The plants glisten
Raindrops dance in the wind,
Spin and swirl

Feel at ease
The rain takes up the organized chaos from within  

It slowly stops

Everything creeps out of hiding, and resumes
Until the next storm

Friday, July 3, 2009

say hello to my little friend

I was so excited about going to the beach, I forgot my camera.  However, I feel it is important to note I attempted to do some recruiting for my crab army.  Ghost crabs, mother nature's mercenaries.  Below is what my most hopeful candidate looked like.  I talked of catching one... but I was not successful.  They are quicker and smarter than I.  Ninja skills are in need some work.  I love how their little eyes stick up.  I want eyes like that.  Perhaps it is time to make a hat...

Ocypode quadrata (Ghost Crab)
Picture obtained from the internet.

While observing the crabs I overheard a woman explaining to her small child how God put the crabs on the earth to dig in the sand.  She then continued on to explain how God gave them pinchers for protection.  Seems like if this God had his ish worked out properly he would have given these crabs a shovel or scoop of sorts.  But what do I know, I'm no theologian.  But, I am very good at eavesdropping on random strangers conversations.  Four women on the other side of us were discussing careers as pinup girls.  Very interesting.  I wonder God's rationale on that.  I love public beaches... you get all kinds of freaks and weirdos.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

the world keeps spinning

This week has been hectic for me.  I started work Tuesday and a new class Monday.  Both are wonderful and going to be challenging/fulfilling.  Coupled with the stress of moving at the end of the month, finding a new place, getting my finances in order, etc, I've been quite strung out with anxiety and things to do.  To alleviate that anxiety, I've escaped by watching a short movie or TV show while spinning.  It's more about the spinning than the TV.  The TV is just noise, pictures, something to stare at.  Since I haven't acquired a wheel yet, I've been perfecting my drop spindle skills.  My threads are becoming more uniform.  I can make them thinner and more delicate than I used to.  The small amount of control I can have over my threads and the fibers calms me down.  The spinning of the spindle reminds me of how fast I'm flying through this summer and how much progress I've made personally and professionally.  I'm quite tickled with myself.  

Drop spindle with Merino Wool Top

Spindle with Blue Faced Leichester Top