Saturday, March 30, 2013

This is some Tasty Soup!

It's reveal day!  The first reveal section of the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party begins NOW!  (Interested in learning more about this?  Go here.)

I was paired with the lovely Lea Avroch of LA Jewelry Designs.  Wonderful lampwork.  More wonderful person.  I can't wait to see what Lea made with the soup I sent her!

Here's the soup ingredients that Lea sent me:
Lovely, huh?  I do love me some shades of blue.

Here's what I did with the soup:
I'm calling this piece "Lea by the Sea."  'Cause the lampwork focal just screamed "Ocean!" to me.  And it went really well with one of my art glass cabochon of a mermaid that's been hanging out on my work table.
This is a really different piece for me.  I did stick with some bead embroidery, but kept it very simple.  Where I played a bit was in the neck strap, mixing the silk cord with the flat lampwork spirals and crystals in the soup.
I'm digging the interplay of the fabric and the glass and the pearls and the sparkle.  It feels kind of like the wonders that come ashore with the waves, a collection that's tamed (just a bit) into function.

I'm happy with the results.

To check out additional Bead Soup Blog Party reveals, go here:

National Council of Women

"We, women of the United States of America, believing that the best good of humanity will be advanced by efforts toward greater unity of sympathy and purpose, and that a voluntary association of individuals so united will best serve the highest good of the family, the community, the state, do hereby freely band ourselves together into a federation of all races, creeds, and traditions, to further the application of the Golden Rule to society, custom, and law."

~ From the founding document of the National Council of Women of the United States, March 31st, 1888, Washington, D.C.

I hope you've enjoyed this month-long trek through women's history.  Maybe, learned a bit.  (I know I have!)  I'm going to continue to feature quotes and inspirations on "Wisdom Wednesdays."  If there's anyone you'd like to see featured, let me know!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Courage and Conviction

Today's is Jaynee's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Sister/Friend!

When I asked her which women in history she admired the most, she answered "My Gram, because she lived through so much."  Alas, there are no pictures of Gram to share...

But the courage and conviction with which Gram lived show up in other women.  Jaynee offered Joan of Arc as one example.

Born a peasant, Joan followed the direction of visions she received from saints to lead the French into battle against the English.  Little specific details of her life are known, as documents from the 1400s are rare and open to interpretation of the modern reader.  But Joan's courage and conviction are at the heart of her mythology.

In a similar respect, Jaynee also admires Rosa Parks.
Parks is another heavily mythologized woman.  Much of the focus is placed on her refusal to give up her seat on the bus, while acknowledgement of her extended leadership in the Civil Rights movement is neglected.  (More information can be found here:  The Story Behind the Bus.)  Parks could have let the racism and sexism that she experienced as a black woman diminish her.  Instead, she made herself an example of strength.

Me?  I'm inspired by Jaynee.  She's led an amazing and complicated life so far.  Without courage and conviction, she would have never survived the many challenges she has faced.  She is a true example of a strong woman, committed to building a better life for herself and others.

I am so blessed to have her in my life.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How Many Do You Know?

I love this 2011 Women's History Month poster.  How many of the women can you identify on the poster?
Eleanor Roosevelt
Sally Ride
Lucille Ball
Rosie the Riveter...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Speaker of the House

 As we come to the end of Women's History Month, I have to share one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had of a woman making history.

Several years ago, I traveled to Washington D.C. for a "Women in Congress" program.  Sponsored by PLEN (Public Leadership Education Network), the programs bring female students from all over the U.S. to the capital, to meet with members of Congress, their staff, lobbyists, and assorted other Washington folks.  While some members of our group spent their time chasing then-Senator Obama around the halls, my roommate Page and I sat in the gallery of the House of Representatives, watching Congress members at work. 

In walks a tiny woman, dressed in a wine colored suit.  Immediately, she is surrounded by a gaggle of people.  As she stood in the center of the room, she looked straight ahead.  She didn't raise her head to look up at the tall Congressmen surrounding her.  No.  Instead, they bent down to meet her, eye to eye.

I got goosebumps watching the scene.  This was a woman who was fully aware of her power and in complete control over it.  As the most powerful woman in the room, as the Speaker of the House, she knew that she set an example.  She was the one in charge.  She had the power in the room.  And she asserted and maintained her authority very very simply, in a non-threatening but very effective manner.

It's a lesson I will never forget. 

 Here's a quote from Speaker Pelosi, about meeting with other Congressional leaders at White House breakfast meetings:

For an instant, I felt as though Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton -- everyone who'd fought for women's right to vote and for the empowerment of women in politics, in their professions, and in their lives--were there with me in the room. Those women were the ones who had done the heavy lifting, and it was as if they were saying, At last we have a seat at the table.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"For the benefit of humanknd."

"A black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind" - Bessie Blount

Bessie Blount, was a physical therapist who worked with soldiers injured in W.W.II. Bessie Blount's war service inspired her to patent a device, in 1951, that allowed amputees to feed themselves.
The electrical device allowed a tube to deliver one mouthful of food at a time to a patient in a wheelchair or in a bed whenever he or she bit down on the tube.

In 1951, Bessie Blount started teaching Physical Therapy at the Bronx Hospital in New York. She was unable to successfully market her valuable inventions and found no support from United States Veteran's Administration, so she gave the patent rights to the French government in 1952. The French government put the device to good use helping to make life better for many war vets.



Monday, March 25, 2013


Out of her own body she pushed
silver thread, light, air
and carried it carefully on the dark, flying
where nothing moved.

Out of her body she extruded
shining wire, life, and wove the light
on the void.

From beyond time,
beyond oak trees and bright clear water flow,
she was given the work of weaving the strands
into creation, and the gift of having created,
to disappear.

After her,
the women and the men, weave blankets into tales of life
memories of light and ladders,
infinity-eyes, and rain.
After her I sit on my laddered rain-bearing rug
and mend the tear with string.

Paula Gunn-Allen


Sunday, March 24, 2013


It seems to me that truly abstract work probably most reflects our humanness because it is based on spirit and what we do NOT see or know. Narrative or representational work is based on what we see and know. 
Kathleen Dustin - polymer clay artist
Rosebud Purse - all photos from Dustin's webpage
 The first time I saw Kathleen Dustin's work in a magazine, all I could do was stare with my mouth open.  Oh, the beauty.  The mastery.  The art.
 I'm still amazed.  
This is where history happens.  Work like this changes the standards of a medium, how the story is framed and told.   

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lend a Hand

The most notable fact our culture imprints on women is the sense of out limits.  The most important thing one woman can do for another is to illuminate and expand her sense of actual possibilities.
 --- Adrienne Rich


Friday, March 22, 2013

Future President. Please.

I think that if you live long enough, you realize that so much of what happens in life is out of your control, but how you respond to it is in your control.  That's what I try to remember.
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Day in Spring

One Day in Spring
by Rabindranath Tagore

One day in spring, a woman came
In my lonely woods,
In the lovely form of the Beloved.
Came, to give to my songs, melodies,
To give to my dreams, sweetness.
Suddenly a wild wave
Broke over my heart's shores
And drowned all language.
To my lips no name came,
She stood beneath the tree, turned,
Glanced at my face, made sad with pain,
And with quick steps, came and sat by me.
Taking my hands in hers, she said:
'You do not know me, nor I you—
I wonder how this could be?'
I said:
'We two shall build, a bridge for ever
Between two beings, each to the other unknown,
This eager wonder is at the heart of things.'

The cry that is in my heart is also the cry of her heart;
The thread with which she binds me binds her too.
Her have I sought everywhere,
Her have I worshipped within me,
Hidden in that worship she has sought me too.
Crossing the wide oceans, she came to steal my heart.
She forgot to return, having lost her own.
Her own charms play traitor to her,
She spreads her net, knowing not
Whether she will catch or be caught.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.
Jill Bolte Taylor

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When I Dare to Be Powerful

When I dare to be powerful -- to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. 
Audre Lorde
Erte art poster

Monday, March 18, 2013


“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” 
Frida Kahlo

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reflections on Women's History Month

Thanks, everyone, for your kind and encouraging comments on my blog-ode to Women's History Month.  I'm glad you're enjoying the journey.  I am too, and enjoying your comments!

Midway through March, I'm realizing what I love about Women's History Month.  Yes, featuring amazing women and their experiences/achievements/hopes/dreams/inspirations is a big adventure for me.  But mostly, it's the stories. 

And it's the stories that feed my love of bead embroidery, too.
A new creation: Quan Yin
In looking at the bead embroidery I do through the lens of Women's History Month, I saw, for the first time, the stories wrapped up in the jewelry.  Sometimes, it's the story of how the pieces come together.  Like the necklace above: The photo of the flower in the art cab above comes from my garden.  I have a statue of Quan Yin that guards the front door to my home and my garden.  The two components happened to end up on my worktable near each other as I was sorting beads.  The story just came together as I moved the pieces around, but also honor the mythology of Quan Yin, who cried tears (of garnet, here) for the people she loved but couldn't always protect, until one day she climbed out of the cave in which she lived (at dawn, as illustrated by the blooming flower) and said, enough!  I bring my people love and strength.

Frida Kahlo necklace, 2012
Here's another example.  Frida Kahlo is an artist I admire for her art and for her resilience in an often trying life.  She pulled together broken pieces of her body and of bridging life in two different societies, which influenced her work as an artist.  I surrounded this self portrait of Frida with bits of millefiore chips, to show how the bits and pieces of life create a larger story.  Beauty often is built on (and because of) the broken pieces.

Another new creation, Gaia.  Inspired by Joan Miller's gorgeous porcelain focal piece
This was another happy story on the bead table.  I've had the pink bead embroidery completed around the metal Goddess stamping for a couple of weeks, but it just didn't feel finished.  Kinda, eh.  Because, I realize now, there was no story.  Until I received this scenic porcelain cabochon from Joan Miller.  Immediately, I connected the story, and Gaia evolved.  

Now, I think of my beadwork in yet another way, as a means to tell a story.  (So maybe I don't have to be so hard on myself for not making the time to write stories.)

Irish Blessing

On St. Patrick's Dary, 1989, Dorothy Cudahy was the first Woman Grand Marshal of the NYC Irish Parade.
For each petal on the shamrock.
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom

My Women's History Month memorial would not be complete without honoring my mama.
Yes.  My mother is a clown.

Just before she turned 70, Mom decided to fulfill some of her life-long dreams.  Becoming a clown was one of those dreams.  (So was a hot-air balloon ride, which she did on her 70th birthday.  I swear, the whole county of Kalamazoo heard her screaming and giddy laughter.)

I found a local clown school and signed Mom up.  Six weeks later, she graduated.  Top of her class.
She took on a clown name:  QT Pie.  Fits, doesn't it.
Thanks, Mom.  For being such an inspiration.  For learning how to paint at 76.  For being so excited about your new car.  For experimenting with interior decorating.  For your years of being a nurse. For kicking me out of the nest all those years ago, even when it broke your heart. For being living proof that age makes no difference when it comes to dreams or a love of life.  For continuing to stretch yourself and learn and adventure and being involved.  I can't keep up with you: the volunteer work, taking care of Dad, canoeing down rivers and camping with the grandkids.

I love you, Mom.  You are my woman's history hero.

Friday, March 15, 2013

In Charge

What I wanted to be when I grew up was -- in charge. 
Wilma Vaught

Born on March 15, 1930, Vaught become the first female Brigadier General in the Air Force.  Recognizing that memorials of military women are scarce - especially on the National Mail in Washington D.C., Vaught was instrumental in getting the Women In Military Service For America Memorial placed at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Navigating the Borderlands

“I change myself, I change the world”
Gloria Anzaldua
 I treasure this text from Anzaldua.  It inspires me to keep working for equality, for the rights of women and children, and yes, even men.  Even when I grow very very tired of fighting the same battles, explaining the same issues over and over again.

“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar.

(Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.) ”  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Blanket Around Her

Desert Sky  -
maybe it is her birth
which she holds close to herself
or her death
which is just as inseparable
and the white wind
that encircles her is a part
just as
the blue sky
hanging in turquoise from her neck
oh woman
remember who you are
it is the whole earth.

Joy Harjo-Creek

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Rebel Girl

"History has a long-range perspective. It ultimately passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates those who fought, suffered, were imprisoned, and died for human freedom, against political oppression and economic slavery."
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
At 16, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn gave a speech on the benefits of socialism for women.  She was asked to leave school.  At 19, she chained herself to a lamppost to make her arrest on free speech charges more difficult.

A founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gurley continued to be an outspoken advocate for worker's rights, women's rights. and reproductive rights throughout her life.  She campaigned for equal pay for women, as well as equal employment opportunities.  She helped to establish day care centers so that women could work without worry of childcare.  

As a socialist, she was imprisoned under the Smith Act.  At 74, she died while visiting the Soviet Union.

Such a fascinating life... and yet another example of a woman who rarely makes popular history books/textbooks.    

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Women Lead by Example

I lead by example when my little girl looks at me, and I show her that a woman can accomplish anything, and not based on her looks alone.
- P!NK
Photo from US Magazine. Quote from Twitter.
  Thank you, P!NK, for being such an inspiration.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.

 --- Nikki Giovanni

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day!

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio 

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about? 

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? 

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full? 

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. 

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. 

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.
Alice Walker, speaking "Ain't I a Woman."

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I am prepared to sacrifice every so-called privilege I possess in order to have a few rights.
Inez Milholland, Suffragist 1909
Inez Mulholland, leading the Suffrage Parade. 
 Inez Mulholland was one of the most popular speakers of the suffrage movement, traveling all over the U.S. to give speeches and rally citizens around the cause.  Raised in an affluent family and educated as a lawyer, Mulholland committed her life to working for causes of equality.  In 1916, she collapsed while giving a speech.  Her last recorded words were: "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.
Georgia O'Keeffe
I am continually inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe: her gorgeous artwork, yes.  But also her spirit of living.  Following her own dreams, despite the multiple pressures not to from her partner, family, a society that limited women's creativity, a view of art that didn't recognize the value of a woman's perspective.  Like her, I'm drawn to the desert landscapes: it's where I feel most myself, most in touch with my own wildness, my own art.
I want to live inside these blooms.

I also want to live my life fearlessly.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.
Mae Jemison, astronaut

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Marching for the Vote

On Monday, March 3, 1913, clad in a white cape astride a white horse, lawyer Inez Milholland led the great woman suffrage parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital. Behind her stretched a long line with nine bands, four mounted brigades, three heralds, about twenty-four floats, and more than 5,000 marchers...
Archived photo of parade.
For 72 years, women fought for the right to vote in the U.S.  This parade represents a turning point, as it created a great deal of attention for the cause of suffrage.

How cool that women are marching today in Washington D.C., in memory and in the honor of women's rights.  So much still needs to be accomplished for equality  - for both women and men, of all colors and classes.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Don't forget the ladies!

If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to forment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.
Abigail Adams, U.S. First Lady, 1776

 Often, the U.S. Constitution is quoted as being representative of ALL American's rights.  Have you read this document?  It explicitly references only men (white, property-owning men, at that).  Abigail Adams warned her husband that women should not be left out of the discussions to establish a new nation.

Yes. History continues to repeat itself.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What I Learned From Cat-napping

I'm sick again.  Just in time for spring break.  So a nap was in order.  With the cats, since when I'm not in my bed, it becomes theirs.  (I was only vaguely aware of this rule.  Apparently, it is strictly enforced during the winter months.)

While sleeping with cats (5, on rotation), I learned:
1.  The sun spot really is the best spot.  It's warm.  And makes sparkles behind one's closed eyes. 

2.  Cats don't judge.  (Unless you wiggle.)  Snoring is not frowned upon.  Rhea snores regularly.  Loudly.  This is not considered a disruption to sleep in the cat world, but rather a higher volume purring.  (Purring = an invitation for Samuel to come sleep on the chest that you already can barely move in and out for air.)
Rhea = the enforcer.  The physical size of a 6 month old kitten.  The attitude of a lion king.

3.  If you're in the bed, you agree to snuggle with whomever shows up.  I woke up to Rhea with one paw flung over Sparky's back (best buddies).  When I woke up next, Sam was snuggled at my feet, with this long black tail draped over Rhea's butt (making up for her lack of tail, I presume) and Rosie snuggled in the pillows by my head.  Ricky, the recluse, slept on my desk chair, one eye open.

4, Cat naps are NOT under-rated.  While I don't feel 100% yet, I do think I'll make it through the next few hours before I can go back to bed. 
Sparky, in his usual cat-nap spot, the back of my chair.  He makes a good head warmer.
5. Dogs are not allowed.  Period.  Dogs must whine from the cold floor.  :)  Sorry, Heather.

6.  Food and the bathroom are the only reasonable reasons to leave the bed in winter.  Especially if there is a sun spot.

Women's History Month

Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin "helping" them. Such a world does not exist -- never has. 
Historian Gerda Lerner
March is Women's History Month.  The month out of the year that Congress has set aside to honor the accomplishments of women.  Look for the Presidential proclamation - there's one every year.

Women's History Month is the focus of my dissertation.  I'm looking at the work that a bunch of feminist activists, women's historians, and grad students did, to convince Congress that women should be recognized.  I look at the impact of Title IX, politics, and memory on celebrations of women's history.  I'm curious why so little women's history is included in education today, after 35 years of scholarship.  Heaven knows, I can't read my way through ALL of the books written about women in history, yet textbooks contain very little information.

Women's History Month was a big deal in the 1980s, and into the 1990s.  Now, when I ask my students when Women's History Month is, most of them have never heard of the commemoration.  Most of my students don't know about the suffrage movement, or Seneca Falls, or women's role in the Civil Rights movement.  Women continue to be portrayed as housewives and mothers exclusively, the helpmate to great (too often white) men.  Not as scientists and politicians and CEOs, as doctors or construction workers, as business owners and scholars.

So I wonder, as I read extensively in preparation for writing my dissertation, what happened?  Why are women still marginalized in history?  Does a categorization of "women's history" underscore or perpetuate the difference?

This month, I'm going to (try) to blog every day, featuring a different woman or different aspect of history, in an effort to spread the love for the women of history.