lizcommotion: Two African American men gazing at a sign reading "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" (bayard rustin)
So there are certain things I mention at dinner parties and at any parties or conversations that I know about from my history degree that are conversation stoppers. But they are things I feel like people should know about, only they don't know about them. But it's kind of like, I dunno, talking about genocide at dinner?

Usually I just stay quiet, but I am going to mention a thing here behind a cut. Be forewarned that it is a TRIGGERY thing and it has the potential to:
  1. make you angry at people in the past
  2. be visually disturbing (pictures of graphical violence if you follow the link)
  3. poke at any anti-racism feelings you have rather hard
  4. make you angry at people in the present for ignoring this part of history in favor of the [World War II] History Channell
  5. make you insufferable at dinner parties

TRIGGER WARNING please read numbered list above; triggers involve racial violence, hate crimes, learning things that will make it hard for you to stay quiet at dinner parties )
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)
Here are some basic instructions on how to tie dye a shirt with basic steps. I also watched this very in depth and talkative/giggly video about the steps for making a tie dye shirt so I could visualize it.

I would note that the soda ash is a really useful component, because it does help make the dye stick. It can be inexplicably hard to find in the craft store unless you buy a kit containing the soda ash. However, it is super easy to find online. The kits are good, though, because they basically contain what you need to get started, so I am not anti-kit for a first time.

Things to remember for successful tie-dyeing (note this will seem confusing unless you read instructions/watch a video first):Includes one large photo )
OK, I think that's enough blabbing about tie dye now. Other than that I have some for sale on my Etsy store and if you enter the code "DREAMWIDTH" there's a 5% discount. (Hey, I have to share that info somewhere, right?)
lizcommotion: image of a water lily blooming in a pond (lily)
Poem: Now and Then, By Sandra Becker
(note: scroll down for poem, it's the last on the page)

I'm a big fan of Buddhist poetry. This one is available in its full form from the Buddhist Poetry Review (well worth exploring). I particularly like the lines:

at the most unlikely moment, Winter Solstice,
the sun’s light furthest away, as if I’d never suffered
a migraine, never made a zillion mistakes,
as if I’d never known the sorrow of an orphaned child,

lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

For my Aussie friends, who don't have much experience with squirrels, a history of squirrels in Washington, DC from the Washington Post.

An excerpt:

"A little more than a century ago, the District's downtown parks and green spaces didn't have a squirrel population to speak of. Eastern gray squirrels are native to this area, but they had been largely wiped out in the most urban parts of town by the late 19th century because of hunting, which wasn't outlawed in much of the city until 1906.

Looking to fill the squirrel vacuum, nature lovers, government officials and other civic-minded residents in the early 1900s pushed to have areas including Lafayette Square, the U.S. Capitol grounds and the Mall stocked with squirrels. "Several Pairs of Interesting Little Animals to Be Set Free Among the Trees" read a 1901 headline in The Washington Post, announcing plans by the Architect of the Capitol to introduce squirrels to the grounds."

lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)
Continuing on the quilting theme, there was an exhibit near Seattle that started after I left that I really wanted to see. It's called "Bold Expressions: African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Riley" and runs until October 7, 2012 at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Many of the materials are scraps of blue jeans, flour sacks, and work clothes.

Here is one sample from the deeply abridged (only 12 photos) and drool-worthy online exhibit, entitled "Controlled Crazy Quilt" (Indiana, 1970s):

image of a crazy quilt in bold colors and...I really can't do it justice with words, I'm sorry

For more images, click here.

From a review of the exhibit, which maybe does a better job with verbal expressions:

"I saw striking and organic Rauschenberg swathes in a strip-style quilt from East Texas, circa 1930s or ’40s, and, when looking at examples of what are categorized as “controlled crazy quilts,” I made plans to reorganize my already color-grouped closet in a whole new way. Reds and blues hang out with pale pink, two examples put cobalt blue with dull plum and creamy white, and different shades of denim show up in the most inspiring and satisfying ways....

It’s Riley’s contention, and BAM’s artistic director Stefano Catalani agrees, that all of the quilters’ decisions—the random red square, the broken pattern—were intentional, but I’ve found that many artists and designers are happy to admit that their best work often comes from a happy mistake or a last-minute recovery from some supply or time shortage."

lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
Here's an interesting article on Etsy about the origins and history of crazy quilting. No wonder I like it so much - its origins are Japanese. ^_^

Bonus: Also linked from the article above, a piece about Japanese Boro: "Literally translated as rags or scraps of cloth, the term boro is also used to describe clothes and household items which have been patched-up and repaired many times. Once clothing was made, it would be maintained throughout the owner’s lifetime, or perhaps even longer."

image of a crazy quilt from the Museum of Appalachia, courtesy of Wikipedia
lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
This is an awesome performance of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance by a men's A Capella group, complete with choreography. Even if you're dear/hard of hearing it's worth watching just for the dance moves. (And if you're visually impaired, the singing is awesome and it's interesting to hear this song in male voices.) I love, love, LOVE how unself-conscious these folks are about crossing traditional gender lines.

lizcommotion: Two African American men gazing at a sign reading "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" (bayard rustin)
I didn't get a chance to post this wonderful poem for the QUILTBAG poetry week they were having over at [community profile] poetree  purely because the book it's in was packed and then I went to Seattle. D'oh. However, I have to say I think this is one of my favorite QUILTBAG poems.

It's from an anthology called Poetic Voices Without Borders 2, which I picked up at a library book sale. It's a great book that has a lot of poetry from different countries and identities.
Trigger warning: reclaims a three-letter-word for a gay man that starts with the letter F in a positive way, but I'm trying to be sensitive that some people still have a hard time with that word in any context )

I'd like to just say that I'm also posting this in honor of every person who's ever been told that something they're doing wasn't gender appropriate. It's works like this that can help heal those wounds, IMO.

How is my icon related to this post? A post on Bayard Rustin is probably going to follow soon, but you can read ahead if you want on Wikipedia.
lizcommotion: Patrick Stewart in Star Trek attire with the caption "Engage" (Engage)


I enjoyed making a Washington, DC/Smithsonian-related post, so here's another one. Many people know about the Hope Diamond, housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. However, there is another diamond - or rather, many very small diamonds - that I find infinitely more interesting. It's just around the corner, and hardly anyone seems to notice it.

The diamonds are in a little glass tube at the entrance to the Meteorite exhibit, or rather the end of the Gems and Minerals Hall. They're not very imposing at all, and you have to use a microscope to see them. Why are they so exciting, you may wonder? Well, they may be one of the oldest things in our solar system.

Most of the "old" things in our solar system were formed around the birth of our sun, about 4.5 billion years ago. However, these lovely little specks of diamonds were formed - at least, scientists are pretty sure that they were - during the supernova of another star. It's been awhile since I've paid homage to them (for they're another thing I visit when I go to the Smithsonian, and sadly, they don't merit their own web page for me to look it up), but consider this: these little bits of diamond dust were once - something - in another solar system. Maybe even another life form (although don't quote me on that, as there is no evidence to back up that particular guess. But at least some form of matter.) The sun went supernova and in that flash, they became diamonds. They survived through space and time to arrive here, on Earth, where eventually someone picked up the meteorite that they were part of and thought, "Huh, this looks worth investigating." And then they figured out what they probably were.

Pretty frelling awesome.

Here's an article about diamonds that hail from outside our planet, if you're interested in reading more. It's not specifically aimed at the ones at the museum, but that's as good as I can get to a direct link.
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)


This post goes out to [personal profile] northern , so she can appreciate a Fairouz (also spelled Fayrouz) song or two before her library's festival. Fairouz is a Lebanese singer who is one of the most famous musical artists in the Arab world. She was born in 1935, and chances are that if you eat in an Arab kebab restaurant you are going to listen to at least one Fairouz song or cover. (Unless of course they're one of these newfangled places that are all about smoking sheesha/hooka and only play Trance music.)

My favorite song is by far Khedny, which is below. I have had the good fortune of having it translated by my partner, because translations are few and far between on the internet. Arabic is a very poetic language, and I find it striking how poetic this song really is. It is a real tear-jerker among Lebanese people (and others, me included now that I know what it means).

Translation from my partner (please note the asterisk comment, as that line is not meant to be sexual but it comes across that way in English because there is no direct translation of the word):
Read more... )
lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)


An article about Freecycle and social science; or, how giving stuff away on Freecycle helps build communities and social identity.

lizcommotion: A British stamp of Queen Elizabeth (UK stamp)

My mum is from Yorkshire, in the northern part of the United Kingdom. The first time my partner went to Yorkshire with me she had a difficult time understanding what many of my family members were saying, because Yorkshire has a very particular dialect. I've grown up hearing it, although my mum's is mostly gone except for when she talks to family in the UK. People with a very strong dialect are said to have a "broad" Yorkshire accent.

Here is the "unofficial anthem" of Yorkshire sung in the Yorkshire dialect, to give you a sense of both the Yorkshire sense of humor and how people talk. My mom and my aunts and uncles have all sung it round the dinner table before.

lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

My favorite museum in the Smithsonian - indeed, in all of Washington, DC - is definitely the National Museum of the American Indian. I love that the outside of the beautiful natural landscape of the outside of the museum is part of the museum's exhibit, which demonstrates Native American tribes' connection to the natural landscape. I've seen baby ducklings swimming in the pond, heard a red-winged blackbird, watched dragonflies skate across a lily pond - and all within sight of the Capital building and the Washington Monument. The architecture of the Museum itself also suggests adobe buildings. There is also a garden along one side of the museum that uses the "three sisters" method to grow corn, squash, and beans, as well as tobacco and other crops. It's really cool. And that's just the outside.

I could go on and on about the exhibits, which make a point of (1) not showing artifacts plundered from the grave sites of Native American peoples; (2) showing Native American peoples as living and evolving peoples rather than somehow "trapped in time"; (3) showing beautiful depictions of Native American craftsmanship; (4) showing more than just the European angle. My favorite exhibit is probably the one on spirituality, which shows similarities and differences between the spiritual beliefs of a number of Native American tribes throughout North and South America. It's interactive, there's videos, it's very cool.

The cafeteria is also worth a visit, as there is a selection of delicious food that's representative of different regions of the Americas. You can get (depending on the season) tamales, salmon, bison burgers, squash and crab apple soup, various kinds of salads, yucca,'s delish. I go here sometimes just for the outside of the museum and food. (It is a little pricey, but given what you're eating it's comparable to a nice restaurant. But definitely not as cheap as the McDonald's at the Air and Space Museum.)

My favorite part of the museum, though, is this statue by Apache artist Allan Houser. It's entitled Sacred Rain Arrow, and it depicts a young man shooting an arrow into the sky as a prayer for rain for his people. To me, it is the essence of prayer. (This photo depicts the statue from before it was housed at the museum, because I was trying to find a public domain image.) Please note that sometimes the statue goes on tour, etc. or they stick it in a weird part of the museum so sometimes you have to ask the info desk about where he might be.

Sacred Rain Arrow by Allan Houser

lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (yarn bunny)

The silliest thing I've knit is probably a "dog safety balaclava." It's for a friend's dog. The dog lives in the country and is petrified during hunting season because of all the gunshot noises. Curly (the dog) is also not a fan of firecrackers. So I offered to make a device to block the noise. So far there haven't been many opportunities to test it - partly because he had ear mites and I also finished it after hunting season - but his pal Depot (another dog) is happy to wear it because of the treats and attention he gets.

Here is a photo I took of my dog modeling said silly knitting project:

Dog Safety Balaclava
Small brown dog wearing a red balaclava with black earmuffs covered in red pompoms.
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

I thought I'd follow [personal profile] oursin 's example with the 100 things blogging challenge. Also similar to [personal profile] oursin , I couldn't think of one thing to blog about, so my theme is going to be something along the lines of "random things I like." We'll see where that leads.

For today, here's a historical photo of a garden from the Library of Congress's photo stream. It's taken in New York City in 1921 or 1922. It looks like such an oasis to me, sort of Tree Grows in Brooklyn-meets-jungle. But of course it was all carefully planned, because it was part of a gardening exhibit.

"Flagstones," Charles Clinton Marshall house, 117 East 55th Street, New York, New York. (LOC)

From the description:

This garden was comprised of three lots at 117 and 119 West 55th Street, owned by Charles Clinton Marshall who lived at 117. At the 1922 City Gardens Club of New York City exhibition at the New York Camera Club, Abby Story Marshall won "Before and After" Special Medal for the garden she developed from the three back yards. Today: House and garden not extant.


lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

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