As one might predict, because of my name, Robin, when I was a child, my favorite literary character was Robin Hood. But, this was also because of the available bounty of children’s TV programming. Every Saturday, I watched the series, “Robin Hood,” with the lead played by Richard Greene, taking it very seriously.
And, my interest didn’t end there. Oh no. Genderly progressive beyond my years, I wore green tights and a pseudo-medieval green tunic while playing my hero. But, that’s not all. While dressed in my Sherwood Forest regalia, I rode my white Schwinn bike around our neighborhood, envisioning myself as Robin Hood on his horse. The only thing missing was my bow and arrow, but by Christmas, that need was answered, allowing me to ride my bike with the bow slung over my chest. If I do say so myself, I cut a trim figure in the saddle, especially when I stood up on the pedals to coast.
My favorite Robin Hood episode was the Archery Tournament, where that crafty Sheriff of Nottingham gleefully set up a sting operation to entice Robin, the Earl of Locksley, to come into Nottingham for an archery contest to determine, “…the finest archer in England.” The pride of winning the contest draws Robin and his Merry Men out of Sherwood Forest only to fall into the Sheriff’s trap. After shooting an arrow that splits his opponent’s arrow, already shot into the target bulls eye, Robin’s identity is proclaimed, causing the Sheriff to take action against him.
Egad, the drama! The pathos! The lute music! The dancing! What? The dancing? Yes! The dancing! Aye, they were Merry Men.
Why here, watch it for yourself!
Robin Hood “The Challenge”
And, so now, having set the scene, let’s fast forward to 2013. Years have passed. My Schwinn bike hangs in the garage. My archery set was stolen during a move. But, the burning passion for reenacting Robin Hood has not dimmed one iota. So you can imagine my delight when Missouri Star Quilt Company, in Hamilton, MO, announced a quilting challenge, the Iron Quilter II, to determine the finest quilter in the Missouri Star Quilting world. My dreams of competing, soon to be fulfilled, I read every word of the contest rules, ordered my RJR Fabric, the “Lovely” line by Debbie Beaves, and began designing a quilt pattern to be shared on-line. My dreams from years before were coming true. Here, you can catch the fever, yourself:
The Iron Quilter II
So, now you know what I’ll be doing all week. Sewing away at quilting patches and appliques, crafting an entry fit for presenting to Jenny Doan, the guiding light behind the Missouri Star Quilt Company. While it may look I’m calm, cool and collected, the thrill of honing my skills and competing in the Iron Quilter is is all consuming. Thanksgiving means nothing compared to the finishing of my entry.
But, don’t worry about me. While you’re basting your turkey in the oven, I’ll be basting and pinning 100% cotton fabric. While you’re eating pumpkin pie with whipped topping, I’ll be be making a quilt top, batting and backing sandwich to be machine quilted with angles and swirls.
So, don’t feel sorry for me. You know I’ll be fine, because I’m competing in a contest as SunbonnetSmart, that I never could as Robin Hood.
I’ve always been a big believer in “early to bed, early to rise” making me healthy, wealthy and wise. But, lately I’ve been hanging with a bad crowd. From the land of Jesse James, comes the likes of Jenny Doan and her gang, holed up in Hamilton, Missouri, and I just can’t get off that runaway train.
It all started innocently enough, I happened on one of Jenny’s sweet quilting tutorial videos on YouTube.com Enjoying it as I did, I watched a couple more. Then, I thought, “H-m-m-m, she has a web site selling quilting fabrics and supplies.” Not that I need a thing, I told myself, but quickly noticed I was rallying back with, “It can’t hurt to look.”
It must be impossible to watch Jenny and not want to quilt.
Oh, how the transgressions of youth have caught up with me! Being younger last spring, when this all started, I was foolishly unaware of how Jenny Doan draws one in. She’s no better than a school yard junkie or a vendor at a quilt show with the latest gadget. Shameful the woman was, with her time saving, quilt producing techniques that dazzled and beguiled, making me want to buy not one but ten or twenty of her Charm Packs.
How could I help myself? Being an experienced quilter, I’ve been around since before there were Fat Quarters, and that’s saying something. So, to me, the evolution of pre-cut fabric into all sorts of selections is nothing short of amazing. And, what you can do with them! Why, being well steeped in traditional pattern drafting, I was delighted with the freedom that pre-cut fabrics allow. Quilting methods are so fast and easy now, you can set your sewing machine up on the dashboard of the car and chain piece on your way to work.
The Missouri Star Quilt Company is a family affair.
And so, my affair with Jenny Doan and her Missouri Star Quilt Company began. It was fresh, new and it was springtime. How was I to know it would turn into a passionate one-sided summer love? But, that’s what happened, because, as with many love affairs, one of us became more involved than the other. While Jenny didn’t even know I exist, I had signed up on her web site for the Daily Deal e-mail, because Missouri Star regularly offers a Daily Deal and it’s always a doosie.
I don’t know a single quilter that could pass up a charm pack that would be $12.00, being sold for 7 cents, plus $5.00 shipping & handling. That’s right, folks, one of Jenny’s Daily Deals actually had a Charm Pack on sale for $5.07. I mean, are you starting to get the picture? I became so involved, I was lurking on her web site, searching my e-mail in-box for a “hot of the press” Daily Deal announcement and staying up late at night to be the first in the Western Hemisphere to see what was going to be offered next.
Whereas before, my life was in order, with an early bedtime and sensible waking hours, now I am writing this post, staying up past 12:00midnight, waiting, just waiting to see what Jenny will Daily Deal today. I’m not proud of it, but like I said, it’s how I roll. When Jenny posts, I pay attention, sacrificing sleep for specials, as any quilter would.
It’s just that, I can’t stop and I…
…no wait, it’s almost 1:30 in the morning. Gotta’ scoot and see if the Daily Deal’s been posted! Here I come, Jenny! Love you!
I guess it hit me when Ruth Curran, of Cranium Crunches, asked me for snow photos. She uses them on her blog to create brain teasers and puzzles to keep all of us alert and at the ready.
At the ready for what, I’m not sure, but whatever it is, we’ll be there, armed to the mental teeth. So, thinking about snow photos, I realized that last weekend, I thought we were on the downside of winter. And then Tuesday, March 5, with the weather predictions, we stalled out on the middle of that “downside-of-winter” hill. I decided to take stock of what’s around me to analytically research my “winter to spring” down-sideability.
Parrot Tulips are blooming, therefore SPRING.
Snowstorm today, therefore WINTER.
Wegmans has pastel candy, therefore SPRING!
Snowstorm today, therefore WINTER.
Electric Peeps are here, therefore SPRING!
Snowstorm today, therefore WINTER.
Foil rabbits in place, therefore SPRING!
Snowstorm today, therefore WINTER.
Well, looks like it’s a tie. The situation could go either way. I am hoping for the best, with the forecasts for 60 degrees this weekend coming to pass. At any rate, it’s the weekend Daylight Savings Time begins, so I guess that means SPRING!
Do you have cabin fever like I do? Just time to move on and leave winter behind, right?
March 2013 Join SunbonnetSmart.com for a post every day here and/or on BlogHer.com
When a week with a Thanksgiving Day is looming ahead, winter can’t be far behind. I don’t do well thinking about it.
At least, I don’t do well with transition. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m usually happy where I am. I love fall. I love winter as well, once I’m made the switch over to it. But, during the transition between them, I never feel ready for the change.
I’ve been going through this every year since I was a child, happy where I am. Not ready to move on until I have to, however once moving on, I’m perfectly OK in the new time and space. And yet, knowing I have to move forward, all I can think of is,“There’s so much to do.”
Oops! First sign of fall is when you find Chestnuts!
So, here I am tonight, trying to be calm, blood pressure rising, thinking food prep, present prep, house prep, card prep, decoration prep, family newsletter prep, clothes prep, vehicle prep, guest bedroom prep, fireplace prep and the list goes on and on.
Getting to the bottom of the garden veggies says “Fall!”
Need to winterize the house, the car, the sheds, the lawn mower and the veggie garden beds. Need to plant garlic, broccoli, kale, pansies and flowers bulbs. Have to cook, can, carry, comfort, contemplate and consume. Oh! The list grows and grows.
Warming comfort foods say, “Uh oh! Fall’s here.”
And who has to do all of this without weeping, wishing, worrying and whining? Why, the female of the species, of course. Who else will relegate, delegate, punctuate, simulate, and not hesitate?
Just the mom, wife, daughter, sister, niece, grandma and grand daughter, you can be sure. But, let’s face it. You can bet we’ll pull it off with style.
Yikes! Christmas trees and homemade decorations!
So, here it comes! The holidays. Whether happy or habit, we’re on our way. Here comes Silent Night, new, Noel, Nativity, nice, New Year, nestled and….
Teens and the Internet: Social Media or behavioral risk?
Thinking about my Saturday, June 2, post, Blogging is Good for Teens, TennisMama, FatCat and I started Commenting about Facebook and the minimum age for signing up. Turns out, as FatCat stated, thirteen year olds can have Facebook accounts. Wow! I didn’t expect that.
So, I started nosing around, finding what’s out there by doing searches on BlogHer and Google. I wanted to discover what is available for working with children and teens on the Internet social media sites.
Protecting children is easier when they’re physically and emotional dependent, but….
First, I checked BlogHer. Right away I found Kimberly’s post from February titled, “Mistakes Rookie Moms Might Make when helping Teens Navigate Facebook.” Wowser, was that an eye-opener. So much to learn and so little time before little fingers become bigger fingers able to type on a keyboard.
Click on the image to download this PDF.
Then I found a handy-dandy resource, The Parent’s Guide to Facebook, a great PDF with TONS of information you can download right here. This PDF is published and available on two very helpful sites set up to instruct parents on Internet supervision on the mobile and fixed Internet. Connect Safely says, “Smart Socializing Starts Here,” while the I Keep Safe Coalition encourages Digital Citizenship, “to see generations of the world’s children grow up safely using technology and the Internet.”
BlogHers are not the only ones aware of the changes in the way we reach out, relate to each other electronically and gather new information. Two new books caused The Washington Post to feature an article showcasing how we relate to the Internet and to each other.
The Post comments, “Net Smart,” arrives at the same time as a similarly minded title that is more narrowly focused on parenting in the digital age. James P. Steyer founded the San Francisco-based nonprofit organization Common Sense Media with the aim of helping parents figure out how to responsibly usher children into the digital era; his new book, “Talking Back to Facebook,” shares that goal.”
The book, “Talking Back to Facebook” helps parents monitor their children in the Internet adult world.
The Post article continues, “To grab the reader’s attention, both authors put forward an array of startling numbers and statistics about our digital habits. The average 15-year-old receives nearly 3,500 texts a month, we learn from Steyer. On YouTube, Rheingold tells us, 35 hours of video clips are uploaded every minute.”
Wow! That’s hard for me to believe. All of that time focused on a screen, virtually experiencing life, rather than being in the real world. To me it’s like thinking there’s no reason to visit the Grand Canyon because one can got to the Internet and visit the National Parks web site. But, on the other hand, if that’s where our children are mentally, emotionally and socially, we need to know about it.
As time consuming as it is to hover, it is easier to monitor Internet usage than clean up a bad situation.
What a sobering prospect this is. There is an avalanche of negative influence out there in cyberspace. Any part of it can easily enter our children and infect our home lives. As I read in Kimberly’s article, even a slight default in supervising access to friends and strangers, can result in invasive harm. Hopefully, these web sites, books and articles will provide tools for enriching, rather than injurious, family Internet experiences.
Because of the interest, here is another essay she wrote. This one about her experiences working with the Press on the Carter Campaign.
Zoe had a flair for the unusual and dramatic.
Zoe Artemis Remembers Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter Thompson is another American casualty in the war against hypocrisy and political corruption. Thompson was fearless….Thompson was a revolutionary…Thompson was a man’s man……Thompson was an oracle who continually pushed the envelope into the faces of the straights, into the face of conformity, into the faces of lame journalists. Thompson was American’s shaman. He carried his shadow side with him like a badge of courage, while most of us suppress or sanitize it. If all the world is a stage and I believe it is, then each of us has a part to play for better or worse. Like a consummate performance artist he stepped up to the plate ranting and airing the dirty laundry of the power elite.
I met and worked with many journalists when I worked on the Carter Campaign in l976 as an advance person. I was on the bus for four months and had the time of my life. Most of the press people, like Sam Donaldson were amazingly arrogant uptight cynical mainstream assholes. Donaldson, who worked for ABC and wore a toupee, always gave me a hard time. He complained about the size of his hotel room. It wasn’t big enough. He complained he was bored when Carter gave the same campaign speech at three or four rallies in one day. As if we were there to entertain him. He sneered at all of us and told me, ‘you’re candidate will never win’. There were a few cool people, like Ed Bradley, with whom I had a brief affair. We talked about Hunter’s book ‘Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail’ and how he got it right. There was lots of sex, drugs and alcohol and when were were in New York we hung out with John Belushi. Working on a presidential campaign produces the most amazing adrenal rush especially when the candidate starts off as the underdog and then begins catching up. President Jimmy Carter credits Hunter Thompson in winning the election when Thompson covered Carter’s Law day speech in Rolling Stone magazine.
Some may say it is a tragedy or a waste when someone takes their own life. On the other hand it may be seen as an act of courage. Thompson fully accomplished what he needed to do in this life time and we are the benefactors. What more can we ask of him.
…just like a new legal pad and freshly sharpened pencils waiting to write an anticipated manuscript. The Universal Law of Possibilities decrees there are no limits to genius when proper supplies are purchased. It’s true. All that’s needed is quality supplies.
Surely, inspiration and perspiration follow. Or not.
But, the inert possibilities of the supplies are not depleted whether the project ends up as a magazine article, on the wall of a gallery or in storage at the bottom of the closet. Err, therefore, on the side of caution and buy lots! More supplies equal more possibilities. More fabric equals more possible quilts!
What fun! When you shop at a quilt store, you are shopping for possibilities.
The City Quilter in New York City’s Chelsea District is a wonderful source for fabric art supplies.
When we last left our Sunbonneted heroine, she was in New York City for a BlogHer Friday meeting on March 23, 2012.
Spending the night near the Garment District in Chelsea, I happened upon a quilt shop directly across from my hotel on West 25th Street. Finding my hotel room, running from the elevator, throwing my “travel wardrobe” onto the bed and then zooming back downstairs to go out into the street like a lunatic, I was on my way to The City Quilter quilt store.
But, first! I had to run down West 25th street, *pant, pant, pant,* to take photos of green foil shamrock balloons left over from St. Patrick’s Day, tangled in a tree on 6th Avenue, or the Avenue of the Americas.
Walking through the front door of The City Quilter, this is what you see, color, selection and order.
I had seen the green shamrocks out the window of the taxi as we did “ring around the blockies” following the one way street signs to get me to the hotel. The same traffic engineers that plan Washington, D.C. also plan New York City, in that they see no need to have traffic flowing in two directions on any one street. By making every other street go one way and every other street go the other way, the streets are cleared of sanity and confusion reigns. You know you’re in a big city; nothing makes sense and the natives are assured you’ll be glad to leave soon, once you’ve spent your money.
Everybody who’s driving works together to get mad and honks their horn creating a cityscape, so you know you’re in NYC. I did what I could to jaywalk, annoying cab drivers while doing my part to add to the festivities. Soon, I was walking back up the street toward the hotel and quilt shop, after photographing the shamrock balloons.
The colors, the choices, the selections of notions, patterns and books were overwhelming.
So, now there was no holding me back. I was free to fabric shop! First, I took a nice photo of the side of The ArtQuilt Gallery-NYC, the gallery devoted to quilted fabric art in the space next to The City Quilter. The City Quilter complex includes what I guess were originally two retail store fronts. The stores have been connected and The City Quilter occupies about one and a half stores, while The ArtQuilt Gallery commands the space of half a store, with it’s own separate storefront and awning. I love the vivid red awnings, by the way, which set the up tone for my visit.
The bright red awnings against New York’s gray concrete provide startling visual contrast. In fact, as one of the Managers/Owners of The City Quilter’s Cathy Izzo, comments, “We provide a respite from the gray city and the intense days so many of our customers experience.” The bright red awnings hold lofty testament to that claim, as do the colorful fabrics lining all of the walls of the shop itself. Color and light beautifully define The City Quilter, a quilt shop honored on their 10th Anniversary in 2007 by the Council of the City of New York, as being recognized by Quilt Sampler Magazine as a Top Ten quilt shop in North America.
Specialty fabrics, designed and manufactured by The City Quilter and its fabric artists, are sold by the yard and housed in bolt cases at the front.
The City Quilter is a highly proclaimed retail quilting supply store and Internet sales mail order business that has been profiled by The New York Times in a great article about how the establishment indulges the “quilter within.” Founded by a married couple, Cathy Izzo and Dale Riehl, in 1997, the shop has outgrown its original space, moved, begun printing their own line of fabrics and recently, opened a gallery devoted to the display of museum quality quilted art. It’s a destination for quilters from around the world.
It’s very unusual for a quilt shop to print their own specialty fabrics, but being right in the Garment District, what would one expect? In fact, I was so impressed by the selection of fabrics, I took lots of photos, originally for myself. But! There’s been so much BlogHer interest in The City Quilter fabrics, I decided to create a separate fabric post to share some of the current selections. Coming next as #4 in the NYC series.
Every store vista includes fabric bolts, notions and accessories.
The City Quilter appointments are fun and exciting as there is so much to look at and enjoy as one travels from one delight to another. The most intriguing things I saw were rolls of Laminated Fabrics, protective coating over cotton fabric that can be made into stylish raincoats, waterproof tote bags and many other projects.
One of the cutting tables for fabrics sold by the yard. I love the colors and teaching displays in this photo. Doesn’t it look cozy? Talk about possibilities!
It felt cozy to me in The City Quilter as, being a quilter, I feel at home anywhere there is a good line of 100% cotton fabric. But, in addition to the contrast of New York’s hustle-bustle with the time honored quilted bed coverings and clothing, there was an intense mixture of the two which seemed to create a third layer of “urban quilting.” Sophisticated fabrics and patterns were combined in and among more traditional calico cottons in both the stock of fabric on bolts and in the plentiful array of shop models.
I learned that in New York, all sorts of fabric enthusiasts shop for exotic lines of fabrics, including hand dyed fabrics, such as batiks, in addition to tried and true quilter’s calicoes. Dale Riehl, Cathy Izzo’s business partner and husband, explained that customers range from instructors at the Fashion Institute of Technology, F.I.T., right up the street, to costume designers for the Metropolitan Opera and Broadway productions, in addition to the legions of quilting fans that travel great distances to visit.
The City Quilter has a full Bernina Sewing Machine area and provides machines to all students in their classes
The City Quilter sells and supports Bernina and Bernette sewing machines. Recently, a new Bernina Club has been started to allow Bernina owners to learn together in a relaxed atmosphere, getting full use of their marvelous Bernina and Bernette sewing machines. The City Quilter is listed as a Bernina Excellence Dealer on the Bernina USA web site:
“The BERNINA Excellence Partner program recognizes dealers who provide superior customer service and support through a combination of excellent product knowledge, innovative programs and education. Dealers who meet our rigorous criteria have shown their dedication and are proudly identified in our dealer locator listings.”
Well designed and executed shop models easily get the creative juices flowing.
A bountiful listing of seasonal classes is a sure draw to those who love fabric art and want to step up their skills. The City Quilter has exceptional class options for all levels of accomplishment. Well recognized for their class selections and qualified teachers, New York Magazine has identified their classes as “The Best in New York:”
“Quilting may not yet be the new knitting, but it appears to be headed that way. The City Quilter’s eight-week Basic Patchwork and Quilting by Hand courses are already packed, and with good reason: Students come in not knowing how to sew and leave with a block of stitched-together fabric or even an entire quilt-top. Each week in the store’s back room, a motley crew of actors, doctors, lawyers, and stay-at-home moms looking for a way to relax or kill downtime gather to sew and chat. They come away with yet another tool for managing the inexplicable delays of a New York day, at restaurants, in the subway, or on airplanes.”
The final treasure room of The City Quilter leads to The ArtQuilt Gallery, NYC.
Passing by, yet MORE fabric, and a final, massive display rack of books, I walked from the store toward The ArtQuilt Gallery, NYC, the quilt gallery connected to The City Quilter. The book rack was massive and stood from the floor to above my head. There was a “NEW” section, featuring new arrivals and the books were so colorful and gorgeous, it was all I could do not to pick up an armful.
The ArtQuilt Gallery was a finely crafted museum space, setting off the current show to best advantage, and what a wonderful show it was. But, dear BlogHer, you are going to have to wait to hear about this show, because I’m not writing about it here, but as the fifth and final post in the NYC series.
See you then!
April 13 Poem
The City Quilter
Squarely in the Garment District The City Quilter stands. The store, a mighty draw it be To all creating hands. And, the fabric on the lengthy shelves Travels far to distant lands.
What! I hear you saying. Seven!?!?! Oh, sigh. Yes, seven.
Cats are regular BlogHers.
My muse, Kitty, sleeps on top of my computer desk telepathically giving me inspiration.
Kitty was the first. I was a dog person. I had had a small Yorkie for all her life, thirteen years, when she finally passed over and I was petless. I missed her terribly, but, at the same time, I had gotten her when I was single, far from being with a family. Without a pet, I was to the point where having one less demand upon me was a relief. I was happy to have one less thing to worry about.
Then I got a call from a certain someone that there was a family of kittens born in a field at work, eating crickets for food and living in a rabbit hole. It was October, winter was coming, the big boss was taking one of the other kittens home, so how could we say, “No?” But, when I received the call, I had my wits about me and said, “Well, I don’t really want a pet, but we can one get it if you agree to change the cat box.” Not a first time cat owner, as you can see.
Smokey is a Tiffany. She is just as strange as all of the articles on Tiffany cats say they are.
Then, my Dad got sick and we were spending as much time at his house as our own. Kids miss cats, so driving home one day, there was a sign “free kittens” that drew us in. Once we saw Smokey, we were hooked. We consider her “medicinal” as she provided a little buddy for the kids at my Dad’s house while he was alive.
Helen was named for Helen of Troy, in the movie “Troy.”
Then, one day, we went to see the movie, “Troy” with Brad Pitt. When We came out of the theater, there was a couple with a kennel of kittens yelling, “Free Kittens!” We couldn’t stand it, not knowing who would be taking them home, so we saved one. We got Helen because Smokey was laid back, loving and sweet, while Kitty was a die hard career women and wanted nothing to do with raising kittens. Smokey was constantly being rejected by Kitty and we felt sorry for her. Helen was the perfect playmate and they have been close ever since.
Helen and Smokey are constant companions.
So, verything went rather well until one day, the kids were yelling about a cat going in and out of our shed. Being no fool, I thought, “Kittens!” And I was right. Going into the shed, there was a tragedy in store. Here were three freshly birthed kittens, umbilical cords attached, eyes closed, dying and half dead. The mother was so sick, she couldn’t take care of them. The mother didn’t make it and GUESS WHAT!?!? The kittens did.
We didn’t know much about taking care of young kittens.
I kept doing my motherly duty in preparing the kids for the fact that these kittens were so far gone, they wouldn’t make it. All the while I was preparing kitten formula, filling doll bottles and using flannel in a shoe box to make a kitten nest, not to mention feeding them every two hours. And, best of all, did you know kittens do not have peristaltic action in their little digestive systems? Did you know kittens can’t go to the bathroom without the mother cat licking their tummies?
Every two hour feedings ’round the clock. Yes indeedy!
Well, neither did we. The vet showed us how to use WARM cotton balls to stroke their tummies and get them to go. It was really more than I needed to know, talk about TMI and “oversharing,” but once you get going on something like this, there is no turning back. Wherever you find yourself, there you are, as they say.
Here are two of the three twenty pound cats.
Well, they made it and we became the proud parents of three tremendous male cats. Didn’t we do a FINE job?
Turns out, they are Turkish Vans, another rare breed. How do we create these rare cats out of thin air? Why do they come to find us? What are we doing wrong? Or right?
We found out the “Boys” are Turkish Vans because that is the only breed of cat that likes water. Every time we drew bath water, these three hephalumps would come running and jump in the tub. We quickly learned not to leave doors open when taking a bath, because if one or more wandered into the bathroom, the bathtub became very friendly.
The Boys’ connection to water was the weirdest thing. While trying to figure out what in the world was wrong with these cats, we found their origins. Leave it to us to come up with this one. Turkish Vans are originally from Turkey and Armenia where they swim in ponds and streams and catch fish.
The Boys were named Bruiser, Dot and Mini. We still have Bruiser and Mini, but Dot passed on after a congenital deformity manifested in later life. After the loss of Dot, I have turned down my feline “love light” and things have been relatively quiet.
This is FatCat, a lady of refinement, with a goal and a heart of gold.
Recently, though, I’ve gotten into adopting virtual cats that I find on BlogHer. I just open up my BlogHer Profile, and Ag-g-h-h-h, there they are. But, I have found virtual cats easy to care for, requiring only a comment or two every day or so. And I have Followed them as well. FatCat was my first virtual kitty love. Who could turn away from her sweet demeanor and zest for living? And, every day she has new stories to tell.
jennifer.watson is a very loving cat who just adopted a kitten.
Just this week, I’ve gotten to know jennifer.watson and I have been fascinated with her stories of adopting a kitten, or child, as she prefers to call them. I was very happy to see her when she Followed me home to my Profile. I decided to Follow her immediately, when given the chance.
It occurred to me, that with her now blogging as a Mommy Cat, all of us on BlogHer will be able to hear about this baby growing up. Very regularly so, until she gets frazzled by motherhood like the rest of us and can’t keep up with everything. But, either way, “Welcome little Esme Louisa.”
And there you have the introduction to my cat family. I am sure this post served a really good purpose and was worth all the time it took to read it.
No cats or avatars were harmed in the production of this blog post.
In November, 2011, I joined BlogHer.com and haven’t looked back. What fun to be a member of a blogging community that shares life, love and bad things, too! This post by “Dorid,” written last January really stopped me in my tracks. What heartfelt advice. And…how nice to have a list in case something happens and heads are not clear. Just get out this post and start plodding ahead…
I’m no stranger to homelessness. Sadly, so many people are too familiar with it these days. Battered women, families who’ve lost their income, men who’ve lost their jobs of 25 years and have searched until their unemployment has run out to no avail. The economy and the social situation in this country seem tailor made to result in homelessness.
In my case, it’s merely red tape. I’ve been out of work as a result of chronic illness (Lupus) for years, and rely on my social security and housing grants to make ends meet, but this month I was faced with a clash between the apartment complex and the Housing Authority that threatened to leave me without shelter. As I went about making arrangements to be homeless, I realized that there were a number of things that could be done to minimize the impact of homelessness and make it more likely to be a temporary rather than chronic situation. For some, homelessness becomes a trap. I wasn’t about to let it become a trap for me and my family.
How to Prepare for Homelessness
1. Sort through all your papers. Know what’s really important: ID, legal records, school records, social security and insurance information top the list. There are also some publication-ready critiques I have taken out of my file cabinet (which is now empty) and into a small carry-file.
2. Sort through any possessions that have sentimental value. This one is harder for me. The last time I was without shelter, I at least had my car. Last time I was without shelter was when the girls and I moved from Buffalo to Florida in ’03. Our car broke down a few weeks before the move, and we had to sort everything into three suitcases. I’m afraid we could be there again.
3. Figure out how much you can reasonably carry. There’s a reason you see so many homeless with shopping carts. When I had a van, I was able to keep things like the TV, dishes, and small appliances. If I’m out on New Years Day, I won’t have room for any of those things.
4. Which brings me to the next must: Maximize your carrying space. Rolling suitcases, small shopping/laundry carts and the like increase what you can save. It also makes it more tiring to carry and drag around.
5. Know where the motels, shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are, and what you need to have/ do to get in. If you’re looking for a shelter, call in advance to find out when they start to line up and if you need some sort of referral to get in. Also make sure that you know what ages and genders they take. Some places only take families, some only children, some only men, and so on. Try to plan around breaking up families… that part might be hard.
6. Have transportation. Get a monthly bus pass. Some agencies will provide them for the homeless. Sometimes, however, any money you get should go toward transportation. Having mobility means having choices.
7. Don’t LOOK homeless. Looking homeless is looking vulnerable. If you look like you’re shopping (or on vacation) by staying clean and fairly well dressed, you’re less likely to be harassed or robbed, and it’ll be easier to impress prospective landlords.
8. Put your money in a roof. Most landlords want to see you pay no more than 1/3 of your income in rent. Let’s face it: Hotels cost a lot more than that, and so do most apartment homes in decent neighborhoods… at least if you’re on Social Security. That doesn’t mean YOU have to agree to that. I’ve paid 1/2 of my monthly income in rent before, and more than that on a few occasions. The thing is, if a landlord lets you in with that little income, he’s more likely to be a slum lord type. If you’re well-dressed and well-spoken, however, you can sometimes convince some of the nicer places to allow you to rent despite the risk.
9. Prepare to be homeless longer than you think. Stupid people think that being homeless means you live cheaper. Unfortunately that’s not true. Hotels on cold nights when you can’t get a place, or buying a tent or the like: those get expensive. Only people who have no income will lie under a bridge in below freezing weather. The rest of us spend most of our income keeping our kids warm and bathed. A sleazy hotel with the basics costs about $200- $250/week, almost twice the rent for a studio here. Saving money when you’re homeless is a lot tougher than most people think. 10. Join a gym. OK, this sounds counter-intuitive. Some gyms have free short term memberships. Some insurance has free memberships included. Being a gym member means free hot showers and bathrooms.
11. Find a home for your animals. Pets don’t do well on the road, although most homeless I know take better care of their dogs than they do themselves. Cats, birds, and other pets don’t do as well on the streets as dogs might, and shelters don’t take animals. Long term stay hotels may or may not take pets. Best to look forward if you’re at risk for homelessness and find a good place for your pet in advance.
12. Find something to do besides sit on the street corner with a sign. (That will just get you arrested anyway). Volunteer. After all, you’ve got no where else to go, and doing something good for others will keep your mind off your own plight. It’s also important to keep relationships with individuals. Humans are social animals, and being homeless can be isolating.
13. Pack mostly what you need NOW. That means you don’t need to be using up valuable space in your cart or suitcase for that cute little swimsuit if it’s January. You can worry about finding another cute little swimsuit in summer.
14. Keep your cell phone on. Communication is almost as important as shelter. You’re going to find home searches a lot easier with a working phone. If you’re looking for work, having a phone is vital. Go to a cheaper plan, or go to one of those local carriers if you have to, but keep the lines of communication open.
15. Remember to pack your self esteem. Being homeless can happen to anyone, especially in this economy. And yes, it’s going to be crushing and painful and stressful and ugly. But if you go into it feeling defeated than you’re beaten, and it’ll be harder to get back up. Remember, you do NOT deserve this, and you’re worth better. Keeping that in mind will help you get through this, and will be invaluable when it comes to negotiating homeless services or acquiring a new home.
Dorid’s post is so poignant and direct. When hardship happens, direct is good, because many decisions have to be made quickly.
Dorid regularly posts at her blog, The Radula. I love her sharp wit, displayed in even the name of her blog. A radula, she explains with the illustrated panache of National Geographic, “…is a rasping, flexible tongue-like organ in the mouth of gastropods.”
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Being proactive to initiate change for the better while being patient enought to wait until things change is the homeless person’s balancing act.
Homeless people, and their increasing numbers, have been largely ignored by mainstream media. Now the problem is so noticeable, coverage is more frequent.
InvisiblePeopleTV is a YouTube Channel that profiles homeless people, giving them a face and a voice reminding us that many are just one paycheck away.
Here, in New Jersey, homeless folks living in a camp, sometimes for months and years, discuss their situations and what led to their predicaments.
You can see each person has a story to tell and value as a human spirit. Listening to these dialogues makes me feel so fortunate. In addition, I can’t help but think we can learn from each person profiled in these news clips. Many of us are just one medical emergency away from joining them. Never forget that most bankruptcies are filed due to inability to pay medical expenses and not because of spending beyond one’s means.
A contemporary book author, Chet W. Sisk, was a successful entrepreneur of an advertising agency. Suddenly things changed, as they often do, and he lost everything. Mr. Sisk began volunteering at a homeless shelter and claims that’s where his second life began. His book, “Seven Steps to Success: I Learned from Homeless People” is not only an informative eye opener, but also a reference for making it through difficult times.
SUMMARY: This is the journal of what happened to one man who hit rock bottom and lived to tell the lessons learned, the insight gained, and the visions revealed after spending time with homeless people. This is the true story of a man who lost the world and gained his soul.
To preview this book that will change your outlook, hover over this link:
Two articulate Amazon reviewers give us heartfelt praise for “Seven Steps to Success: I Learned from Homeless People:”
“This thoughtful work should be read by those fortunate enough to have a place to call home and by those looking to find that place. Read this book first, all the way through, marking your favorite pages and passages. Return to the book for inspiration, strength and courage. Looking to conquer a challenge? Do so with “love and light” in your heart – and with the thoughtful advice you’ll find in this book.”
“A book about more than the physical state of homelessness. “Self empowerment, letting go, and moving forward”. Chet encourages you to look within, while allowing you to reflect on how you got there without placing blame or guilt. Chet offers tools for self exploration at the end of each chapter while encouraging you to find the lesson in each life’s event. The stories as told by the homeless helped to offer some insight into their plight. Well written and thought provoking.”