Putting Words To How I Feel…

Yesterday I got to the point where I could verbalize how I was feeling: disappointed and let down. Then my sister Donna sent me a link to Frank Bruni’s piece in the NYT:

Photo From The NYT

It’s always assumed that those of us who felt certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 were putting too much trust in polls.

I was putting too much trust in Americans.

I’d seen us err. I’d watched us stray. Still I didn’t think that enough of us would indulge a would-be leader as proudly hateful, patently fraudulent and flamboyantly dishonest as Donald Trump.

We had episodes of ugliness, but this? No way. We were better than Trump.

Except, it turned out, we weren’t….

Some 46 percent of the Americans who cast ballots for president in 2016 picked him, and as he moved into the White House and proceeded to soil it, most of those Americans stood by him solidly enough that Republicans in Congress didn’t dare to cross him and in fact went to great, conscience-immolating lengths to prop him up. These lawmakers weren’t swooning for a demagogue. They were reading the populace.

And it was a populace I didn’t recognize, or at least didn’t want to.

Read the complete article yourself – he wrote it a week or so before the election, I wonder what he’s got to say now. I will keep an eye out for his next article.

How Maps Deceive

When I look at the current election map of the US I am mystified by the enormous red expanse. I’m supposed to believe that the US is almost entirely Republican:

Normal Vote Representation by State

And then I came across this map showing population density – now the election results make some sense! People in the US are clustered on the coasts and in a few central locations – and the vote distribution is clearly more equal:

Vote Map By Population Density

I came across the map in a tweet by Sarah Cooper and then tried to find out more.

“Land doesn’t vote. People do”

Here is the visualization by data scientist Karim Douieb:

Data scientist Karim Douïeb figured that a more accurate way to represent how people voted is to use colored dots, varied in size proportionally to the population of each county. He turned the results into this GIF, which provides a clearer picture:

Pretty eye-opening, no? And yet, while this is clearly an improvement over the ham-fisted method of the first map in this entry, even this is not quite accurate. Within each of those large blue dots, you still have plenty of people who voted red, and vice versa. These results only show you which party won the vote in each region.

What do you think we’d see, if these data represented actual individual votes and we could zoom in on each one? The country is now more divided than ever, and just about evenly split. So all I’m certain of is that zooming out, we’d see a perfect shade of purple.

I guess it’s important to think more deeply about the mundane.

The Day After…

A Gloriously Sunny Day

A gloriously sunny day, if cold, and I feel profoundly disappointed. Sad so many people chose the path they did. Last time wasn’t a fluke – just a harbinger of things to come. Yes, I know populism is spreading globally, but I’d hoped the folks in the US would see possibility in voting for the ideals expressed in their constitution. I guess they understand it very differently than I do.

People will continue carrying on – grocery shopping, visiting the dentist, managing in whatever ways they are managing in the middle of the pandemic. The stock market will go down and then up and then down again. This snow on the ground will melt tomorrow – the temperature is predicted to reach 12° during the day. Fall will march on, I have an appointment to put my snow tires on at the end of the month. Winter will come and go. Life goes on.

I don’t feel like sewing today. Maybe back to the mystery novel, maybe take a morning nap.

4:12 pm

After some conversation (and a few tears) I can now describe my feelings: profoundly disappointed and LET DOWN.

For more than 4 years I’ve invested huge emotional energy being informed and trying to understand American political happenings even though it’s not my country, and I don’t have a vote, but I have friends living in the US who were doing their damndest fighting for social justice for everyone.

I feel let down by all those women, LGBT, Black, Latino, other vulnerable people (who ought to have voted Democrat but obviously didn’t) whose social, financial, and health prospects will now be severely diminished because they supported the Republican ticket maybe even electing trump and returning a Republican senate which (if Biden/Harris are elected) will result in unimaginable acrimony and chaos for the next 4 years.

We don’t know the outcome yet (likely won’t for a few days) but you can certainly expect trump (even out of office), hanging around pulling Republican strings for as long as he wants.

It’s like being betrayed by a very close friend. It’s that same let down feeling. The best you can do is sever ties and move on with your life.

That’s it. I’m cutting out the news  – I can now invest the 2-3 hours a day I spent trying to stay informed reading novels, doing things that reduce stress levels. It’s time to turn my back on this nightmare I can’t do anything about.

Nov 3 2020 – Getting Through The Day

My day started as usual and being a Tuesday I first went to have my hair cut, then visited the chiropractor. Came home and had lunch. Next a bit of sewing:

I started a new small “purse” yesterday – 4 small zippered front pockets and one side pocket, to carry “my stuff”. I’m carrying less and less these days: a couple of credit cards (I probably could dispense with those since they’re in a card app on my phone, but I still carry three), my health card, drivers’ licence, car registration and insurance card, a bit of cash, a couple of loyalty cards, 2 low dose aspirin, and a wee bit of change.

The “change” thing, I realized this morning, was only for parking meters; I don’t use change for anything else – I’ve taken the coins from my purse and put them in a small change purse in my car – now I no longer need to put up with the weight.

My “Purse”

I made it from some leftover PUL fabric which I used the other day to make an outdoor heater cover for my sister in Toronto (I forgot to take pictures of that project – maybe she’ll send one when she receives it).

I’d sort of finished the purse last evening but didn’t like how I’d handled the side zipper so after lunch I took the two side and the bottom seams apart and redid the side zipper. It works better now.

Completed size: 4 1/8″ x 5 1/2″ – a wee bit large to fit easily in my front jeans pocket but it’s great in a jacket pocket.

It means I don’t have to carry a purse (my chapstick is in my iPhone case along with some cough candies and chewing gum).

It’s now 3:05 – I started a Thomas Perry novel yesterday (The Burglar) – I’m going to pass the next couple of hours – a tall glass of sparkling water with a couple of lemon slices at hand, and a the book.

Last night I fed Ruby and me; tonight she’s returning the favour so I don’t have to think about dinner.

It’s snowing out quite hard right now – even accumulating on the ground:

1st Snowy Day of the Year

I can barely see across the parking lot. I may put my snow gear on and go for a short walk in the storm in an hour or so – fresh air to clear my head.

Tonight, I’m gonna try to avoid any network TV – I’ve got the latest season (Season 4) of “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix – a great light, amusing way to pass some time. This season Phil Rosenthal is visiting Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Singapore, the Mississippi Delta, and Hawaii. All sure to be entertaining. 3 and 3/4 hours of binge watching.

When that’s over, I probably won’t be able to resist checking out MSNBC to see what Rachael Maddow has to say about the incoming election results. God I hope Biden/Harris are leading at that point. I’ve been preparing to feel like I did on Nov 9 2016 – as if people close to me have died. The polls have consistently been favouring Biden since last winter – surely that’s how the election will turn out – but like everyone else I’m nervous. I can feel the tension everywhere in my body.

I just read something by Charlie Cook (editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report – someone people consider “in the know”) – here it is: “Don’t Expect A Contested Election” – he should only be right!

And I’m Canadian – eh? I don’t have a vote in this contest. But it will affect my world in ways I can’t imagine right now.

Oh, well. Enough of this time wasting – gotta get to my mystery novel….

The Last Day Of Summer

It’s a week ago – October 22 – I spent the day with my friend Deb on the South Shore (of Nova Scotia) looking for bayberries.

Bayberry

They’re small, hard, waxy berries (birds eat them) wonderful for cleaning the soleplate of an iron. I collect them, remove twigs and leaves, and sew them into small cotton bags. Ironing with a hot iron melts the wax (which dissolves the gunk on the bottom of the iron) and the hard roughness of the berries scrapes it off.

However, there were none to be found where I’d previously harvested them. I checked with Margaret who was with me on previous excursions – turns out a house was built on the small stretch of dune where we’d found them before. Bayberries all gone! I’m going to have to locate another source.

Because it was such a lovely day – 20° C – highest temperature in Canada that day – Deb and I stopped at a stretch of nearby beach. Deb decided to have a wade – mostly so I could take pictures for her to send to family back home in Manitoba where they’ve been having snow!

The Last Day Of Summer

We had lunch at the LaHavre Bakery, then moseyed our way home. The next day, the temperature dropped substantially and while we’ve had some gorgeous sunny days it’s been quite a lot colder.

Summer’s over.

Teacher’s Tool Belt

I got a request the other day to make a tool belt for a young friend of mine. Suzanne’s a vice-principal, constantly on the move during her work day. She needs her phone, her keys, some hand sanitizer, a pen,… with her – AND she needs her hands free.

Teacher’s Tool Belt – Completed

I checked out some possible ideas online and came up with one I thought would do the trick. Suzanne initially requested three pockets but I’ve given her four: one for her phone (with the tab to keep it from falling out), another for her keys (with a small carabiner that slips into the pocket), a slightly wider pocket for a small spray bottle of sanitizer, and one for a package of Kleenex or a small notebook, and two narrow end pockets for pens.

I was discussing the project with one of my sewing buddies who mentioned she had just the fabric weight I was after – a heavy cotton you’d use to cover outdoor cushions. I picked it up.

Next, I selected a complementary fabric from my stash, put the two fabrics together, cut a 10″ strip from the width of fabric for the body of the tool kit, and a second 6 1/2″ strip, also from the width of fabric for the pockets. I cut each width of fabric in half – each piece 22″ wide. (That gives me enough cut fabric for two tool belts – one for my niece as well!)

Teacher’s Tool Belt – Dimensions

I cut two 3 1/2″ strips from another contrasting fabric (width of fabric again) for a pocket facing and waistband and ties.

Layers of Fabric Before Shaping

I trimmed the 22″ x 10″ fabric to 20″ with slightly rounded bottom corners (see “pattern” above). I tapered the sides a bit leaving the top edge 18″ wide. I also ever-so-slightly curved the top edge to accommodate the belly. I placed the pocket fabric on top of the the apron body – aligning the bottoms and trimmed to match the body.

With the fabric shaped, on to facing the pocket.

I cut one of the 3 1/2″ waistband pieces in half lengthwise giving me a 22″ facing strip (the other half becomes one of the ties). With the two pocket panel pieces (outside and lining wrong sides together) I aligned the facing fabric along one 20″ edge on the lining side (right sides together), stitched a 1/4″ seam.

Apply Binding To Pocket on Lining Side – 1/4″ allowance

Folded the facing over the seam allowance toward the front,

Facing Completed on Lining Side Of Pocket Panel

folded under the bottom edge of the facing, pressed and top stitched to the front of the pocket panel.

Pocket Panel Facing Top Stitched

With the pocket panel faced, I laid it on the body fabric (back of pocket to right side of the outside body panel),

Pocket Laid On Top Of Body Panel

covered the pocket with the body lining fabric (in other words, I had a sandwich: lining fabric face down on top, pocket panel, outside body fabric face up on the bottom).

Tool Belt “Sandwich” – with Lining On Top

I sewed down one side across the bottom and up the other side – turned the apron body right side out, pressed – making sure the open top edges matched (I pinned the top edges so they’d stay together when I pinned the waistband in place).

Next, the waistband.  I interfaced the remaining piece of facing fabric to make the waistband more stable, laid it (right side down, interfacing side up) across the top open edge of the WRONG side of the belt, stitched a 1/4″ seam, pressed seam open, folded waistband in half, turned in the raw edge 1/4″, pressed.

Before stitching the open edge to the front of the tool belt, I cut the second 3 1/2″ facing/waistband piece in half lengthwise and attached each half to the ends of the waistband, folded in half lengthwise, turned in the edges, pressed. I folded in the ends of the ties and pinned them.

Then starting at the end of one of the ties, I edge-stitched the end, than the open edge of the first tie, across the waistband, folded edge aligned to just cover the seam, and continuing to the end of the second tie and across the end.

I press the ties and waistband. DONE!

Teacher’s Tool Belt

It all sounds a lot more complicated than the actual assembly is. The second tool belt (to be constructed from the leftovers from the first) will go much more quickly because I’ve already figured out the order of construction.

  1. Cut out and shape outer fabric and lining; cut fabric for pocket facing/waistband and ties
  2. Face Pocket
  3. Make tool belt sandwich) body fabric on bottom / pocket / lining fabric face down on top
  4. Stitch around sides leaving waist edge open – turn right side out, press
  5. Stitch pockets
  6. Add waistband, ties

BTW, I’m not going into production for those other teachers who will want one themselves when they’ve seen the tool belts I’ve made for Suzanne and Maxelle!

 

 

The Closing Down Of Summer

Fall’s on the way. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the colour of the sunlight. Although today is a warm day (24° C), there’s that something in the breeze, you can smell it, hinting at the change of season.

At The Public Gardens

Yesterday at the Public Gardens wild bees were busy harvesting nectar and pollen – there were some hive bees foraging, too. It was interesting watching the wild bees push the hive bees out of the way – no room for interlopers.

I’ve written about the closing down of summer before.

In the opening pages of Alastair MacLeod’s short story: The Closing Down Of Summer (in the collection: As Birds Bring Forth The Sun) he begins:

It is August now, towards the end, and the weather can no longer be trusted. All summer it has been very hot. So hot that the gardens have died and the hay has not grown and the surface wells have tried to trickles and the trout that inhabit them and the inland lakes are soft and sluggish and gasping for live. …

At the end of July we said to ourselves and to each other, “The August gale will come and shatter all of this.” The August gale is the traditional storm that comes each August, the forerunner of the hurricanes that will sweep up from the Caribbean and beat and lash this coast in the months of autumn. The August gale with its shrieking winds and crashing muddied waves has generally signalled the unofficial end of summer and it may come in August’s very early days. But this year, as yet, it has not come and there are only a few days left. Still we know that the weather cannot last much longer and in another week … the pace of life will change. 

That’s what it feels like today and has felt like for the past week – there has been no August gale, just mostly sunny days – no rain which we desperately need and begin to want. But the air has changed, the colour has begun changing. The Queen Anne’s Lace is ending, the Goldenrod droops, I’ve seen Chicory in a few spots already. The plants know the season is changing.

The folks in the building where I live have been meeting outdoors in a green spot beside our garage driveway – we bring our chairs and knit, or box lunches and share a meal. We can likely do that for September and with jackets maybe October but after that outdoor gatherings won’t be possible.

We’ve all enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie these outdoor gatherings have given us. We will need to find ways to continue congregating – with masks, social distancing, and cleaning the indoor spaces before we leave. We will find a way to carry on – we have to. We’re now accepting the Covid-19 rituals to which we’ve become accustomed will be necessary for the foreseeable future, for a year? maybe longer?

This closing down of summer, now in the air, signals changes we will have to invent in order to sustain our community. We’ll find a way to carry on. As will everyone else.

Five Islands

Five Islands is a spectacular location on the NS Fundy Coast on the way to Parrsboro via Hwy 2 (the Glooscap Trail). Sitting on a park bench yesterday at Lighthouse Park, overlooking the islands, it’s clear from the panorama that at one time the islands must have been one continuous point of land projecting into the Bay connected to the mainland beyond the island at the far left of the photo. In the photo you see the western end of Moose island on the left. From left to right you have Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle islands. Beyond Pinnacle Island you can just see a seastack called Pinnacle Rock on the far right.

Five Islands at low tide

I’ve been driving by Five Islands on my way to Parrsboro for more than twenty years. Each time I’ve always wanted to take a photo of the islands at that spot on the highway where you come around a bend and see the islands through a gap in the trees. But there’s no stopping spot there – there’s sort of one on the water side of the road but I have never stopped until yesterday. I left the car parked on the shoulder, hazard lights on, and walked ahead until I got to the exact location where you can see the islands framed by the opening in the marsh.

Five Islands

The perspective here is somewhat different from the view at Lighthouse Park – you only see four islands with Moose Island on the far left and Pinnacle Stack on the right. At this angle, Diamond Island is hidden behind Moose.

My friend Ruby and I sat for quite a while on the headland bench enjoying the peaceful quiet of the afternoon. There were a pair of clammers digging quahogs on the mud flats while the tide was out but they quickly ended their harvest when the tide began coming in. This is the Bay of Fundy – the tide comes in very quickly and the water becomes very deep very fast. These locals were taking no chances and although their buckets were only partially full they knew enough to leave at the first sign of water returning.

At Five Islands

I was able to capture a photo of Ruby on the bench watching the men at work in the distance. This will definitely be my next wall art piece. I love her relaxed posture, her position against the coast, her head against the sky. I don’t know whether I’ll show low tide or imagine the Bay at high water. All to be determined.

The two of us had a lovely day. I wanted to return to the exhibit to take more photos and I knew Ruby would love to see the quilts hanging. After a short visit to the gallery (we were sneaking in because it was closed to visitors yesterday due to social distancing restrictions (there was a drawing workshop happening with Tom Forrestall) while the workshop participants were away having lunch), we had delicious lobster rolls at the Harbourview Restaurant then slowly made our way back to Halifax, taking side trips on small roads I’ve passed for years but never explored.

It was a lovely day.

BTW – show comes down Aug. 20 in the afternoon.

In Case You Wondered

Just read a piece in the New York Post – “This is the fabric for DIY Face masks, according to science“.

“Much to the delight of many an American grandmother, the quilt fabric performed best as a protective shield against respiratory droplets.”

Anybody surprised? Of course face masks made with a good quality cotton quilting fabric stops cough droplets better than other sorts of home made face coverings.

“Without a mask, droplets from the simulated cough flew more than 8 feet and up to 12. They traveled 3 feet when the bandanna was worn; 15 inches with the folded handkerchief; and 8 inches with the surgical-grade masks.
The stitched, two-ply quilt mask, however, halted droplets after just 2 and ½ inches.
Why quilted? The study suggests that the masks made with quilting fabric fit faces better than loosely tied material. Plus, sturdy two-ply material gives a mask an added layer of protection, other studies have shown.”
So all my efforts haven’t been in vain! I’m now approaching 300 masks – I’ve really lost count. I keep making batches of a dozen. This last week I made another 36.

Latest Face Masks

I keep giving them away. Sent another dozen to my niece in Toronto last week. Have handed them out as I’ve gone to have my haircut, my nails done, had a filling repaired, saw the massage therapist…

This pandemic is going to be going on for a lot longer than people want to believe. Washable face masks are on the way to becoming essential for any socializing if we want to keep infection at some kind of containment level!

I’ve been using bolder, more colourful fabrics with each new batch. My personal collection is closing in on a dozen – I choose a face mask to go with my outfit. Why not, hey? It might as well be a fashion accessory if I have to wear it. And I do wear one whenever I’m in public, everywhere I go (except while actually eating in a restaurant -which I’ve done twice so far).

BTW, this is not all the sewing I’ve done since I last posted. I’ve finally got my latest quilt sandwiched, pinned, and ready to quilt; I made a cotton nightgown for a friend of mine having a birthday on Thursday; I’ve been puttering with Kaleidoscope Table Runners for a class that’s not going to happen. I bought small amounts of fabric yesterday to add to two different sets of octagon “blocks” so I can finish the runners and get on with sewing some summer clothes for myself. Oh yes, and I put elastic inserts into the waists of 7 pairs of pants! And took out excess fabric from the seat of three pairs of jeans I bought at Costco.

I’ve not been idle!