Art Walk Central 2015 is on! and I’m in it!

I’m super mega excited to have one of my art quilts featured in Art Walk Central this year! It’s displayed in the window at Gray’s Furniture downtown. Check it out!

My piece, Figure and Flock, in #artwalkcentral15  -  AWC24 to vote - check it out at Gray's Furniture

Shameless self-promotion: You can vote for it! My number is AWC24 and you can sign up to vote online and at ArtReach. You can also enter the instagram selfie contest! There are lots of neat pieces on display all over downtown as well as at other community venues like Park Library, The Dreamer, and Ziibiwing. Art Walk Central runs through August 22.

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eff the shave-triarchy

The beauty industrial complex has been out of control for some time, but it seems like it’s only getting worse. Suddenly over the last few months, it feels like every single sponsored post on tumblr is some variety of body-shaming aimed at getting women to spend more time and anxiety on their (perfectly fine, thank you) bodies. The primary products seem to be leg-shaving items (and they’re in support of Pitch Perfect 2, a supposedly woman-centric movie). Some of these ads even purport to say that shaving your legs helps keep your legs healthy, and that NOT shaving them is somehow unhealthy.


That is totally not a thing. Your legs are fine and equally healthy regardless of hair or no hair. Period, the end, done.

 

Eff the patriarchy
So I’ve decided to stop wasting time and money shaving (during the warmer months – I haven’t shaved my legs in the winter in too many years to count). As you can sort of see here, my legs end up looking vaguely Pigpen-ish, but I have officially decided that I do not care if that makes anyone else uncomfortable. (I totally get that my leg hair is sparse and soft and that this is a bit of privilege that makes it easy for me to not shave them. Whatever feels right for your legs is your business and I am not judging.) Same goes for you men, if you want to skip reading the guide to trimming your stubble, be my guest, to each their own follies. And think of all the money I’ll save! Maybe you haven’t heard, but products marketed for women cost more than the same products not marketed for women. Not only do these companies shame you about your body, they’ll overcharge you for the products they claim will help you feel better about it! The bullshit cycle is deep here. If this rant has a point, it’s that (a) whatever you decide to do with yourself is FINE and don’t believe anyone who says otherwise, and (b) if you’re going to buy beauty products, shop around and maybe buy some from small businesses or companies that don’t participate in all this crap.

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snow one knows

We’ve been watching a fair amount of Holmes Inspection lately on Netflix. It’s good before-bed TV – everything gets resolved at the end and even though the homeowners have gone through a horrible time of not being able to live in their house and finding out that they made all the foolish decisions and ignored all common sense when they bought, everything has now been Made Right and we can all feel superior in knowing that the experts have fixed it all and it shall never be broken again. (Until someone decides to do a DIY reno, fail to pull any permits, and put the entire structure and its inhabitants in danger as seems to happen EVERY SINGLE TIME IN EVERY HOME.)

driveway fence under snow

Since we are actively looking to buy a house and I am in charge to view properties, am also of course trying to learn as much as I can so we can know what to look for when we’re going through houses and selecting a home inspector. One thing that has been pointed out in a few recent (to us) episodes is that, when it’s been snowing, it’s a good sign to see an even layer of snow on the roof. If there are spots where the shingles are visible, that means heat is escaping and melting the snow, so it needs more insulation in that area. Or if your roof if the only one without snow, you need more insulation all over and/or your venting sucks. We’ve apparently been lucky in that the two homes we previously owned did not have heat loss problems through the roof, so despite living in Michigan this bit of knowledge never occurred to me before. Hooray for Mike Holmes, as now we know! (And knowing is, of course, half the battle.)

So now we’ll be driving by potential homes to see what snow is on the roofs, snapping pics for future reference while trying to seem like we’re not stalking. The other things on the Mike Holmes Sees It Every Time List appear to include: incorrect plumbing (no air behind water!), leaky HVAC ductwork, wiring lacking proper grounding/placement, and wood touching soil (rendering all outdoor structures deathtraps).

Have you found shoddy workmanship in your home? What do you wish you’d looked for before you bought?

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Be the Knope you want to see in the world

Have you read this terrific article about Liz Lemon, Leslie Knope, and the significance of their characters in the realm of TV and in the world in general? If you haven’t, go read it now.

I identify a lot with Leslie Knope, especially as I look at the earlier days of my professional career. I also identify with Liz Lemon in some respects, though Leslie’s loves-the-smaller-town, public-service-oriented, hyper-organized enthusiasm is definitely more like my own outlook on life.

One of the points that stood out to me in this article was this:

To be likeable as a woman, it seems, you have to ensure that you’re also non-threatening and slightly useless. You have to point loudly to your “flaws,” but not your, you know, actual flaws.

http://normreedus.tumblr.com/post/87235697255

I have run into this over and over and over! In the past few years I’ve been striving to get better at accepting a compliment sincerely and at recognizing my own talents (FYI: just because you were too lazy to do actual work in math class in high school does not mean that you are not good at math. You might discover that you are actually really good at it when you look around and notice that a ton of the work you do every day requires significant math skills.) but I still find myself making dumb self-deprecating remarks on occasion.

So, ladies, I’m asking you: What are you awesome at? How do you inspire yourself? How do you do feminism?

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you’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older

I was at a local craft group meeting this week and, as I was sitting there, I noticed just how many of the heads nearby were completely grey or white. Now, I’ve got my share of what I like to think of as silver hair, but seeing so much of it all around me made me stop to think. I wondered, why aren’t there more young people here, like me? Which of course led to a less petulant but more alarming thought: WHAT IF I AM NOT A YOUNG PERSON ANYMORE?!

those aren't grey hairs, they're strands of glitter.jpg

I am 40 now, much as it might not seem possible to me, and most I bet demographers will not classify that as a so-called young person. Throughout the meeting I tried to assess the ages of those around me – were any of these folks close to my age? I decided that a few of them were, but overwhelmingly the group is comprised of retired women*. Most of the group’s focus seems to be on classes and projects that (a) are relatively expensive and (b) require a pretty generous amount of free time. I’m sure that for most of the membership this is fine since they are retired or semi-retired and don’t have 40+ hours/week of time sucked up by working for a living. The group also seems to have a great history with one another, which is awesome, but makes it more difficult for newcomers to find a place. No one has been anything like rude to me or directly unwelcoming, but neither has anyone sat down next to me and/or made an overt attempt at striking up a conversation. I think that everyone is just super happy to see their existing friends so they don’t think about it.

ANYWAY. As I sat there, I thought – well, the group isn’t going to get any younger if younger people don’t join, so if I just give up on it as not for me, that’s not helping. I’m certain that the group wants to be sustainable into the future and that means consistently adding new members. BUT, how much time and interest do I have to give to a group that doesn’t seem that interested in me? THOUGHTS TO PONDER. I’m not giving up yet.

 photo the_brain_t_zpsd1d2505a.gif

*I am 100% not saying anything against retired women. If I could be one right now, I would totally do it.

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New year newness (and some sameness)

Happy new year!

I feel like 2014 was a pretty okay year. We had a lot more stability in our lives, which was a refreshing change from last year. We did move again in the summer, but it was just a couple miles away and we splurged on professional movers who packed everything for us, so it was a lot less stressful and strenuous than our previous couple of moves. We’ve been pleased with our new digs and they’re a lot less expensive, so I feel happy that we’re actually saving a small amount each month now.

In terms of reading, Goodreads says that I read almost the same number of books I did last year.

2014 Goodreads stats photo Goodreads_My_Review_Stats_-_2015-01-01_130559_zps9f437f3c.png

Except that their stats don’t count a lot of books including knitting and sewing books (many of which I admittedly skim or read only parts of) and picture books. If you count all of those, my number would be 397. I made a concerted effort to read more books by women this year, after noticing last year that my reading was ridiculously dominated by male writers. My fave reads from 2014 include: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, What If? by Randall Munroe, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert (this is actually an 8-book series, which I enjoyed more than I can say – it is cozy as cozy gets), Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling), and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

I also wrote and published 38 knitting patterns!

Ravelry my shop photo Ravelry_AnneArchy_Anne_Heidemann_s_Ravelry_Store_-_2015-01-01_131432_zps43788c2d.png

They’ve been selling fairly steadily and people seem pleased with the clarity of my pattern-writing, so that’s pretty awesome. And I knit 96 things in 2014! That is a lot of knitted items. 23 of those were xmas gifts and 6 were craft-it-forward gifts made to help folks remember to be excellent to each other.

For sewing, I conceived and created my first art quilt, titled Figure and Flock.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

It was featured in the grand opening art show at the local Dreamer coffee shop, which was pretty neat.

Last year I made some resolutions, which have gone pretty well for the most part.

  • Blog regularly: I did this fairly well – I posted 94 times in 2014
  • Continue to attend yoga class once a week at OmBodies: This one I let go (consciously uncoupled from?) – I decided that having my Sunday mornings to myself at home was more valuable to me, and the cost of weekly classes felt like too big a sacrifice when we’re trying to save for a down payment on our next home
  • Take more photographs, especially of Coraline while she’s awake (this will require some effort): This one was middling – I took a good number of photos, but the ones of Coraline are definitely mostly sleepy-face photos
  • Go for more walks/explore Mount Pleasant (this may not happen robustly until spring): Success! Once the harsh winter abated, we took Coraline for lots of walks, especially once we moved into our current apartment where it’s more neighborhoody.
  • Create a couple of websites for folks who could use them: This one didn’t really happen, but only because the folks ended up not really needing them. However, I did create a site for the Blythe Swap Group, which helped us tremendously because we have avenues of participation on three different social media sites and it was getting really difficult to keep track of everything. I taught myself how to do a few new things with WordPress, which was cool.
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times: Done! I did the Baby Animals and Halloween swaps, both of which were super fun.

For this coming year, I’m setting some more goals:

  • Blog regularly (keeping this one)
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times (keeping this one again)
  • Find ways to be excellent to others on a regular basis
  • Write up and publish the remainder of the Blythe knitting patterns I have started working on
  • Complete my current art quilt project
  • Spend time with near- and far-flung friends more often

Feeling pretty good about 2014 in retrospect gives me a pretty optimistic view for 2015 (unsurprising, since I’m generally optimistic anyway). How are you feeling about the last year? And the new?

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it’s got teeth

It being me, I guess, in this case, or at least my face skin, which has been reacting poorly to everything it comes in contact with.

I’ve been having a rough time with my skin lately. I was diagnosed with rosacea and have been through a couple of medications trying to find something that I’m not allergic to (metronidazole – possibly only allergic to the kind taken internally, but we’re not going to chance the topical) or super sensitive to (Retin-A, which turned me into one giant dry flake of irritated skin). Currently trying out Finacea – so far so good, but it hasn’t been long yet and it’ll likely take awhile before I see if it actually produces results.

The other problem is that the moisturizer I used for years changed formulas right around the same time, and their new formula is AWFUL. Sticky and residue-y – bleh! I tried half a dozen others from the drugstore, all of which were equally gross and had to be returned. I was reluctant to try something I found online because of course there’s no way to try it before you buy it, but I took a chance on one that looked pretty good: Skin Trip by Mountain Ocean. It’s made with coconut oil (my favorite thing lately – my awesome homemade [not by me – it’s from etsy] odorant is made with it, and we give it to Coraline to help her have less dry skin) and aloe and not a whole lot of other things. And it works! And doesn’t irritate my skin! For all you fellow sensitive-skin-havers, I recommend it!

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do as I do

This article popped up on my twitter feed this morning. I’ve heard of companies offering unlimited vacation (but never worked for one – libraries are generally not the places where this type of innovation happens*) but this is the first time I’ve read something that spoke to how such policies actually function.

It’s not surprising to me, though, that in an undefined system, people would end up competing to see who could take the least vacation time – who could be the most hardcore. Having been an exempt employee in administration/management for most of my career, this type of competition has been the norm. In most of my workplaces, people have felt compelled to prove how tough/committed they can be by taking as little time off as possible, coming in early and staying late as often as possible, and making themselves available 24/7 regardless of vacation or non-work life. Non-exempt employees have some constraints on this type of behavior (at least according to the letter of the law) but exempt employees do not – and they end up pushing themselves to burnout and, along the way, taking their colleagues with them. The supposed leaders in the organization end up setting the worst example possible of what it looks like to live a balanced, healthy life as a professional.

I daydream a lot about what the world could be like if we were kinder to each other and to ourselves (complete universal healthcare into which we all pay according to our income, complete universal healthcare that includes mental health as well as nutritional health and everything else that goes into making a person well, complete human rights for all members of every community without regard to race, background, sexuality, etc.). Minimum vacation days seems like a good addition to my wishlist.

What would you wish for in an ideal workplace?

*Working in governmental/public sector administration has taught me that those who govern our institutions generally believe that those who work for the institutions deserve the very minimum of benefits such as vacation time. These workers should feel lucky to have a job at all, according to most of those who make/approve the policies (very few if any of whom, tellingly, have ever worked in public sector positions). This sense becomes ingrained in administrators, who also come to believe that even they themselves are not deserving of free time, let alone those they manage, so there seems little hope of any eventual change.

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