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Dec 2010 037

A couple years ago, after a several year streak of holiday grumpiness, I decided to take charge of my own Christmas experience. Once I changed my approach to the holiday I found that it worked so much better for me than my old way of relating to the season.

My former approach could best be described as a frenzied scramble to meet the desires and expectations of others (or at least my perception of them) combined with my own unrealistic notions about what the season should be.  You may even be familiar with the old routine — the frantic shopping for the “perfect gift” while simultaneously complaining about the commercialism and crowds of Christmas; the furtive listening to news

Peace was a blurry, distorted vision...

Peace was a blurry, distorted vision…

reports of people being trampled on Black Friday with a secret little twinge of schadenfreude; the excessive spending of money on gadgets and gifts too quickly forgotten; the overabundance of food, family, and friends at near-toxic levels.

Mixing and mingling with that off-note jingling was the most stressful time of the year in the life of an academic: the semester’s end.  By December, college students are as high strung as the lights at the Rockefeller Center’s annual Christmas display. They come to your office shedding tears about their grades and their grandmothers — or worse, they sit and cry silently without telling you why at all. In class they band together and plead for another extra credit assignment, in spite of the fact you’ve told them repeatedly there will not be extra credit this semester.  If you stick to your word and practice “tough love” you get creamed on student evaluations. You are an ogre and a curmudgeon and administration frowns. If you have a kind heart, extra credit makes double the work for you as you scramble to invent something for students to do at the last minute that is educational and relevant…and then scramble to grade it along with the mountain of grading you have for final projects and exams before the grades are due. After all that you’re still just as likely to get creamed on student evaluations.

It wasn’t exactly what I would call the most wonderful time of the year and definitely not the happiest season of all.  Obviously, things needed to change.

So, I started working on me and my own inner Scrooge to align my deeper values with my behavior. This required a little soul-searching to work out exactly what my deeper values were. The process revealed a few changes I needed to make.

First off, the “perfect gift” ideal had to go. I had to break the shopping bag shackle to find more fulfilling experiences to share.   This act alone opened up considerable space. Once I reduced the time spent in stores, and online shopping, I had more time and energy to think about and deal more productively with the end of the semester angst of my students.  Freeing up that time also allowed me to pursue a much more relaxing pastime – knitting.  The manual arts have a meditative, calming effect that work wonders on my disposition.  I knitted in much-needed solitude and I knitted surrounded by knitwits and nutters (aka SoKaN), who provided a social support group, not to mention entertainment.  Of course the manual arts also result in tangible and useable things – a happy byproduct.Dec 2010 089

I also came to the conclusion that I needed to give in ways that honored who I am at heart.Dec 2010 072 On the gift-giving front, I admit, I have become a bit more selfish. For example, *I* wanted to take a holiday carriage ride in downtown Memphis, so I forced the parents to go with me for their “present.”  But maybe Ayn Rand is right and there is virtue in selfishness. In the selfish spontaneity of this carriage ride adventure, a meaningful and memorable moment unfolded.  We unintentionally wound up at the place my dad proposed to my mom and I heard this story for the first time. Of course, we are talking about Nanook the Barbarian and the Angry Russian here, so their story was couched more in terms of Archie Bunker comedy than romantic rhetoric.  In fact the two did not agree upon what happened at all, which is no surprise really if you know them. Theirs was not quite a love story, but it was a story of a unique love, and a Christmas gift I’ll always treasure.

The most devastating blow to my inner Scrooge came last year when I refused to listen to media reports about 12-11-2-12 011Christmas mayhem in the community and decided to start expanding my own sense of community. One of my holiday highlights last year was wrapping presents at a local bookstore for contributions to Literacy Mid-South, a local nonprofit organization that helps increase the literacy rates of adult learners.  There are 125,000 adults in Memphis who read below the third grade level.  Literacy Mid-South and their volunteer tutors are helping reduce that number.  I have served with them in the past, but time and logistics were a barrier to continued service, so I jumped at this chance to wrap presents for donations. I drug the Indentured Servant/Resident Teologist and Nanook along for the ride and it was a beautifully wonderful morning of do-gooding awesomeness spent surrounded by books! We were all up in other people’s present buying business, wrapping gifts for stranger’s grandkids, and drinking coffee. It was GREAT! Nanook told me to pick out a book for her present to me, so I scored a copy of Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, which mom wrapped so pretty that I couldn’t bear to open it on Christmas. It stayed wrapped for a whole year before the story called to unwrap it.

Nanook's got present wrapping skillz

Nanook’s got present wrapping skillz

This year, I am all about Christmas…but that, dear readers, is a different post.

So how about you? Any stories of Christmas past – or Scrooge slapping you have to share?

It has been an eventful week for SoKaN.

I invite you to visit our wonderful new website:  isokan.com  Skattur did an awesome job designing it and I am just ecstatic that there is now a picture me in my “boobhat” publically displayed on the Internet for all to see.

Last weekend’s Broad Avenue Art Walk and Art Bark was a blast.  The weather was perfect, there was music in the air,  “Pawcasso” pups running around in costume, and an abundance of interesting people doing interesting things.

This little Dali dog with his melting clock made my day…

An artist across the aisle captured a couple SoKaNers in his sketchbook.

Skattur added a little holiday flair to her display.

The KnitWits of the bunch are back in action for the season…

And here’s a random picture of a picture I took through the giant earhole of Jimmy “Tightpants,” who looked smashing in his polka dot dress.

Next week SoKaN will be at MEMFIX on Cleveland Street from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.  We invite you to come come see us if you’re in the area!

 

I have been neglecting my SoKaN achivist duties the past few months. You might have noticed by the previous posts, I have been a bit overwhelmed (in wonderful ways).

So much has happened so fast that I feel like my life is going by in dog years. At least six years worth of life have been crammed into the last 10 months. With the arrival of autumn, things are slowly winding down. Several projects are drawing to a close or are now being carried by their own momentum. I think I can  return now to being a Good Archivist.  And there is quite a lot to report.

First off, back in May (May!) The Angry Russian debuted The Angry Russian’s Birdhouses at the “All Things Art” festival.  Here’s an amusing behind-the-scenes tidbit:  as The Angry Russian was building these birdhouses, a mama robin built her nest four feet away from his construction site…

Yep.  Right on top of the weedeater.  As he worked, I could almost hear her tweeting (the oldschool way), “Dude, you are not doing that fast enough….I got babies on the way here!”

Brace yourself. Here comes a picture of her naked babies…

They’re alive, although you’d never know it from that picture.  No wonder (normal) birds build their nests in trees – nobody needs to see that sort of thing!  But now you have and there’s no going back.

The Angry Russian made his birdhouses from reclaimed wood that was once someone’s fence.

Then sometime around June or July (it’s a bit of a blur), SoKaN hit “The Big One,” where SoKaN’s Elitest Jerk peddled her beady peeps and BeadyBoop peddled various beaded accessories.

I didn’t spend much time at that event because by then we had moved to Peace.Love.Home. and I was running around chasing butterflies doing very important work…

…like cleaning out the barn.  The previous owner had left the barn full of stuff, like Christmas trees and scarecrows and chairs and party games and a bunch of chipped dishes and clay flowerpots…so I decided to experiment with a little mosaic work with her (now my) stuff. As it turns out, I excell at breaking stuff.

But my mosaic pot was dangerous to touch and a little off kilter.  Kinda like me.

Still, I enjoyed this a lot.  Next I want to do make a birdhouse to match my pot.  Maybe I’ll eventually set up an off-kiltered-mosaic-stuff garden next to the Greek-ruins ensemble.

And then dear LORD we had Goat Days!  The Nutters were selling stuff, or something…I guess, but how anyone could expect me to concentrate on all that when I was surrounded by so much Goaty Goodness is completely beyond me. I mean just LOOK:

I was so completely overwhelmed and carried away by all the Goaty Goodness at Goat Days that I somehow managed to wind up alone and behind the scenes of a traveling circus…

I got kicked out of the circus by a very short man whose picture I did not get, but whose likeness I just rendered for you in Photoshop.

Then, last month, Skattur and I did the Broad Avenue Artists Market Renaissance, which was a cool event organized by local artist, Shaun Barber.  It was a “just show up and do your thing” sort of event.  There were instrument makers, painters, jewelry designers,  musicians, and knitters and nutters, who showed up and did their thing.

The fantastic work of Scott at Tribal Spirits Flutes

Skattur has been creating (and selling) fun stuff like crazy.  Here are a few of her awesome bird feeder and garden plate designs –  all made from repurposed materials purchased at Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

And finally, tomorrow SoKaN will be at the Broad Avenue Art Walk and Art Bark.  If you’re in the area, stop by!

And I think I have finally been a Good Little Archivist and covered all my bases.  Until next time!

xx

Nothing is what it was intended to be, in the hands of a creative person.
~~*~~

You know how the contestants on the Price Is Right jump up and down when they win something exciting?

That’s exactly what I did when I first laid eyes on the gift Skattur & Wendell created for the farmwarming party.  In a fit of inspired genius the two transformed an old bike into a new sign for the upcoming business.

The sign will be posted in front of the office once The Angry Russian has completed rennovations.

If you’ve recently joined the adventures here at My Little Spacebook, I would first like to extend a warm welcome.  Thank you for being here and sharing in this moment with me!  Secondly, I’d like to introduce you to the Society of Knitters and Nutters (aka SoKaN). We’re a band of eccentric folks who get together and make stuff… jewelry, knits, garden art, birdhouses, quilts, fun, and memories.  We’ve made so much stuff that we have to get together to sell it at times, so we can get together and make more stuff.  We like making stuff and we like each other THAT much. 😀

We’ve reach a critical mass again, so this coming Saturday and Sunday the ladies of SoKaN will be selling stuff at The BIG One.

Here’s what’s been going on lately.

Skattur has been breathing new life into the artifacts that people leave behind.  She takes cups, vases,and saucers that folks cast off and turns them into birdfeeders that pretty-up gardens.  She also turns orphaned plates into art for the garden or the wall…

This one is mine, mine, mine! Skattur said so.

She’s really good at it…

…so the birds can eat in style

You’ll find more of her amazing work (as well as her story) on her Etsy page Recycled by Skattur and of course this weekend at “The Big One.”

The Beady Babes have been busily beading bodacious baubles.  Beady Boop has been doing this new thing that takes her a really long time to do and to explain. So long and complicated was her explanation of the process that I really couldn’t work out any of the details in my head, but here’s the final results of her alchemy …

Pretty,

she made that pendant some how or other…

pretty!

She’s also been at work blinging up some ceiling fan pulls with her Kazuri Beads, which are handmade by families of the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya. The sale of these beads help promote fair trade in Africa. It’s her way of crafting with cause. You can read more about Kazuri Beads on their website here.  Good stuff.

Our other Beady Babe, Elitist Jerk (who Skattur really thinks should change her name), has created dancing beady peep earrings.  They’re really adorable.

She’s also created a line of bottle cap necklaces for kids….

They come in other styles besides peace…for example skull and crossbone if pirate is more your thing.

She’s also made beaded rings…but sadly the Archivist didn’t get a good picture. I guess you’ll just have to come to The BIG One this weekend to see them.

Ok, so what is The Big One?  It’s the largest and most popular swap meet in the Mid-South, of course.

It’s held at:

 Expo Center at Agricenter International

 7777 Walnut Grove Road 

Memphis, TN

If you’re in the area, stop by the SoKaN booth and say, “hi!”

Also, there was a great post today that made Freshly Pressed on crocheting….check it out:

http://thepickledhedgehog.com/2012/07/17/crocheting-to-change-the-planet/

Eventually (like when the semester is over and I’m not running around like a crazy person from state-to-state both literally and figuratively) everything will be on the SoKaN website and I will figure out how to blog over there, which means I’ll stop going on and on about all things SoKaN here (maybe) and I’ll return to my deep, reflective, meditative, and peaceful self.  But until then I must share because it’s all so exciting!

Next Saturday, May 5, SoKaN will be sokanning in all their resplendent nuttery at the 3rd Annual All Things Art Festival in Millington.  Please come!

3rd Annual All Things Art Festival
May 5th 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Millington Farmers’ Market
5152 Easley Avenue
Millington, TN 38053

 

Skattur’s latest totem

Jerk’s beady peeps were the big hit of the SoKaN booth!

Beady Boop brought feet to go with her souless sandals. (I thought she was kidding about the feet, but it turns out she wasn’t…)

The River City Balloons booth was fantastic and creative.  They had balloon twisters, face painting artists, and cupcake bakers.

 

And there was sidewalk chalk art that was quite impressive….

SoKaN will be at St. Ann’s Block Party with a booth today and tomorrow!

Here’s a preview of what we’ll have.

I’ve turned into one of the Nutters.  Skattur has got me stacking things on top of other things now…

Elitist Jerk has turned from knitter to quilter to beader.  Her latest creation?  “Beady Peeps”

And Skattur? She’s completely out of control…

St. Ann’s School

6529 Stage Road

Bartlett, Tennessee

The hours are:

Friday, April 27,  5-10

Saturday, April 28,  11-10

Please drop by if you’re in the area.

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. 

 ~Erma Bombeck

…live and create.  Live to the point of tears.

~Albert Camus

~~~~~~@~~~~~~~

The talent and creativity  continues to unfurl week-to-week.  It’s exciting to witness.

Beady Boop’s been busily beading….

The Nutter needs a foot for her souless (yes, souless!) sandals.  Or maybe your foot just needs adorning with her beadwork.

Meanwhile Skattur has been mastering the art of stacking cute things one atop the other….

The totums will add a bit of Mad-Hatter-esque whimsy to any garden.

SoKaN will be peddling all sorts of interesting wares at St. Ann’s during the Bartlett Block Party, April 27-28.  Please come!

The next SoKaN meeting is next Sunday, 3:00 at the super-secret Nutter’s Headquarters.

The website is up, but I’m still having difficulty posting to the blog….stay tuned.

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