A Tourist in Our Own Town

Sunshine and I had a really good day today. The sun was shining and we didn’t need a jacket for the first time in several months. We keep a list of potential activities and one of the things we do from this list is explore new neighbourhoods. Today we went to Fort Langley and did all the activities that they offer at this old Hudson’s Bay fort. There were real life people displaying some of the activities of daily life from the 18th century, including a blacksmith, a woman separating the chaff from the wheat and explaining how to make bread, gold panning and even the shooting of muskets, though no bullets were involved. I was thrilled to see the odd spindle and basket of wool ready for carding. Finally, something I could expound upon! Sunshine bore this with good grace. Lots of fun.

The muskets were loud, and apparently very heavy. They sounded very dangerous, especially to those attempting to use them. The re-enactors talked about how completely erratic their aim was, and the time it takes to re-load makes it better to consider using the thing as a club instead of a gun if a large predator is headed your way. We decided, as peace loving vegetarian Hindu/Buddhist types to stick to singing to scare bears away.

We found a stash of clothes in the big house that must have been meant for playing with. I am trying to look dignified, Sunshine doesn’t look convinced.

The blacksmith had an absolutely adorable bottle fed lamb following him around while he demonstrated.

A bit of sunburn and we called it a day. (The mango cheesecake didn’t fit with the pioneer theme but oh well.)

It is fun to play sometimes.

Finding Beauty

Grant works in a very difficult neighbourhood, about which much has been written. I have no intention or ability to write much about the downtown east side – almost every night on the news there is some cliche or other intoned, with opinions flowing about “what to do.” I am not interested in following that dubious tradition. But Grant came home the other day enthused about this mural, which is painted in an alleyway near where he works. I have been taught that in traditional Buddhist iconography  the many hell realms always have a small  depiction of compassion within them, a reminder to turn around and maybe this serves that purpose for some people. It’s pretty amazing regardless.

I was given a bunch of fabric many years ago, bits and pieces of bright rayons and bits and pieces of old robes, completely threadbare and worn. I couldn’t seem to discard them, and could not until recently come up with a use for them. The spinning workshop of three weeks ago really seems to have let loose a creative spark, and I am playing with ideas. I tried spinning the cloth on my wheel and it just wouldn’t go, even in thin strips, but on a spindle, wow did that work out. The next step is a bit of weaving just to see.

I think this will be really interesting. While it looks ropey it is actually very soft, with bumps and texture. I warped my wee rigid heddle loom and plan to experiment tomorrow. The idea of using found objects, or objects that have no obvious value resonates a lot. I don’t know if spinning and weaving is traditionally what happens to worn out robes, but it strikes me as fine.

Grant contributes another picture today, this from his long walk at Crescent Beach.  Someone was playing under the grey sky.

I Am Not a Stereotype – A Post From Sunshine

I’m Not a Stereotype… Maybe a Little!

Adults and many people my age think I am a “smarty-pants, goody two-shoes” Indian girl. I know I’m Indian, but I barely fit into that stereotype. We turn out that way because of what our parents teach us growing up. So maybe it’s not our faults for being this way. The stereotypes that surround you about us are usually false.

First of all, I am taken to be as reserved and “the good one”. Every time, I go to one of my friend’s house, I get the approved look from their parents. This puts pressure on me to be the one to shush everyone else if we are being too loud. Furthermore, why can’t I be the one without a parent breathing down my neck? Why can’t I be the fun one? It’s all because of an Indian girl stereotype. But, that is only outside of school. Inside of school, almost no one talks to me out of interest. I usually make friends through other friends, which is kind of sad. How am I going to make friends, if everyone treats me like a dust bunny in the corner?!

Secondly, I am a very smart Indian girl. Is this a stereotype? Yes. Is it true? If you’re referring to me, then yes, you can say that I am smart. Of course, when someone does talk to me, in my head I’m like,” Yes, a new friend!” The person sits down next to me, asks a question about the subject, and then walks away. Any hope I just had deflates, like a balloon. This is very frustrating especially, when I come home to parents that only want straight A’s. When I tell them that I got B+ on a quiz, they yell saying that I have to get into the best university and be a role model to my younger siblings. The exact same siblings that go around telling their little friends, that “our older sister is so smart and she is so cool.” Great, now I have to live up to my schools, parents, little sisters and their little friend’s high standards.

Last but not least, I am a robot. Apparently, I have no emotions and I just go through the motions of getting straight A’s, working and eating. This is absolutely not true. I like having a good time and laughing my head off. I can make jokes (not very good ones) and I actually have more than one friend. I think that why people see us as “robots” is that our parents work us so hard that all we know how to do at school is work, work and work.  We are so busy studying, that we don’t grow into ourselves and our personalities. I know that I can appear like a robot too. But that is because I grew up to be very cautious of people. My uncle once told that since I am a girl here in Canada, I am not protected by the status we have back in India. I never understood that. Although, I do understand if I continue being like this I will have graduated to adult robot. I already have spent 90% of my fourteen years of life in my room, so I need to start working on developing my own personality, pronto.

In conclusion, I don’t live up to this stereotype. OK, maybe a little. This can be a good thing, since I know what my priorities are in life. Or it can be a bad thing because I will never have more than two friends in life. All I know is that I’m still growing into myself, metaphorically and I will never think that every teenage Indian girl is what the stereotype says. Because, they always turn out different, I should know since I have two at home.

 (Sunshine and Grant, being incredibly focussed. Sunshine is kicking Grant’s butt in Temple  Run. Very serious business. )

“Everything we touch we transform.”

Judith Mackenzie said this on several occasions over three days of intense spinning.

A good teacher is a generous one, and Judith Mackenzie is a very, very good teacher!

She referred to the women in the class as a “library”, keepers of knowledge. And repeatedly she said, “You are the makers of the cloth.”

There is a lot to this. The knowledge and skill of working with our hands is not only passed along in words. There is observing, and trying something just that little bit out of reach, letting the hands adjust to a new way of moving. In my case on several occasions during the class, adjusting to not moving. Watching a master artist at work was humbling. The skill of her teaching was clear when she convinced all of us in the room that what she does is directly within our reach. This was not a time to take refuge in inadequacy! I had a real breakthrough, if you can call it that, when it was pointed out that my equipment had it’s limits. One tends, at least I tend, to assume that if a skill is hard to learn it is somehow the fault of the learner, that there is something that I just couldn’t  do. A simple, “this wheel has it’s limits,” with an explanation of those limits, some ways to work around it, a few words of encouragement sincerely said, and my mind was blown.

This can become –

which can become something like this!

(These are different fibres done at different times, with different things in mind.)