A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


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Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Smashing Success

Knitting News and a Successful Benefit

As you know, I have been pretty ill, and spent a lot of time when not working, lying around sleeping. Yesterday afternoon was my turn in the co-op shop, which was relatively low-stress and gave me a chance to almost complete the front portion of DD Nikki's pale pink tank top.. the diagonal eyelets that pink ribbon will end up threaded through. There is minimal armhole decreasing and a few rows of ribbing along the square neck left, and then small cap sleeves and assemblage... which I was too groggy to understand. I have discovered that one of the meds I am taking, Advil Allergy & Sinus, is making it extremely hard to focus, so will be trying to get by without it. I did make a start at a hot pink baby hat this afternoon. I felt quite a bit better late in the afternoon when this effect had finally worn off and headed to our children's center benefit dinner and pie auction.

This is the third year in a row, and brings lots of people in our community out. Our dear friend, family member and supporter, Feather, cooked fantastic and authentic Mexican food for everyone. For two years, Feather ran a taqueria in downtown Downieville, offering food from scratch, but was unable to secure a location this season. We are sure we had such a great attendance because people miss her food so much.

Gold Country Kook Sul Won Demonstrates

While I was serving plates up with tortillas and shredded pork as fast as I could, my cousin Ray appeared. Seems he is a member of the Gold Country Kook Sul Won, where the center has participated for the past two years in the preschool program. In fact, we are proud to say that our center won a special award as "Family of the Year" at the end of 2004 from the director, Tony. It turned out that Ray, at 73, was the oldest participating member in the demonstration. He has lived outside of Nevada City for about nine years now, and I was aware that he did martial arts, but had never connected him with the program where our students participate. It was great to get to visit over dinner, and watch him in motion.

Kook Sul offers much to very young children, helping to see a point in treating others with respect, taking turns, and standing still and quiet during some of the steps in the process. They also learn to channel their energy into appropriate and effective movements, and, despite some parents' concerns, we did not see a heightening in psuedo-violence after beginning the program, but, rather a greater respect for a person's capacity to do harm.


My cousin Ray is the tall, white-haired fellow in the rear, and one of our former students, Alexis is the girl in the front right corner with long, dark hair. Posted by Picasa


Here, two of our children, Kayla and Arroyo, join in the warm-up demonstration. They have been training with Tony for two years now. Posted by Picasa


My cousin Ray, on the right, demonstrates how an elder might employ a cane for self-defense, knocking Tony to the ground. Posted by Picasa

On Family

I feel really fortunate to have spent the past nineteen years in an area where there are such kind and open people. I have a lot of ties here and a lot of support, as I discovered this year, while much was changing in my life. We announced to the crowd that I was assuming the directorship of the Good Years Childrens Center, and Robin moving into Nikki's Head Teacher position at her departure. Robin has been under a lot of stress coping with the finances and politics, and these things don't ruffle me much. She is also a dynamic teacher, and will be able to do more. Nikki will finish her Bachelors degree in Child Development, and figure out along the way what is the best setting for her.

In this process of change and evaluation, the underlying theme that has surfaced for me was to make the decision that "did the most good". It is ironic that I come from a medium-sized Catholic family, where one would think this would be a high value. Somehow, as a child, I was inflamed by stories of missionaries, and then in my late teens, came to the realization that one didn't need to go very far to "do good"; there was still plenty of injustice right here at home to be addressed. I came of age about a decade after the Civil Rights Movement and establishment of the Peace Corps, and I know these social movements affected my subconscious as well. However, there was no family support for this type of thinking in my extended family; it was more about making money, reaching social status, having a nice car.

I spent my 20s and 30s feeling very ill-at-ease at family gatherings, realizing that the answers I had to provide weren't the ones that were going to make the relatives happy. I married and began a family in my early 20s, and the babies growing into children were a source of happiness for my relatives, but I hid behind my children. My work through that time moved from nursing (I received my LVN license at 21) to health education.

I was married to a psychologically damaged Vietnam vet who didn't assist in supporting our growing family, and it was difficult to have nothing positive to contribute about him either. When our last child was born, we moved to the Sierras, about 100 miles from where the rest of my family resided, and I retreated somewhat further. I still attended family functions, but always embarrassed to be showing up in a beat-up car. My children were polite and loving and clean. Nobody ever came to visit me, even though the road runs both ways. My dad, who would have made the drive, and would have loved the area where I now lived, developed Alzheimers within a year of my moving.

I became a single mom, and strengthened my ties to my friends and community. I developed a very strong sense of place, and the place where I lived helped me heal much of my low self-esteem. By the time I turned 40, I had become a strong, competent woman, and had remarried, to a much more gregarious, warm man. Many of my older relatives were gone now, and the ones from my generation equally busy in their own lives, raising children. It took several years, but I gradually became close to some of my husband's relatives. Each generation we live through adds new wisdom, and my forties allowed me to become a very courageous woman, and allowed my husband's parents to see that happiness in life was possibly a higher value than financial success alone. We have a lot of love and respect for each other.

I was especially touched to re-connect with my cousin Ray, who isn't a blood relative, but has been a part of my mother's family for as long as I remember... he married her youngest first cousin about the time of my birth. His wife Joanne slipped away in the night, dying in her early fifties, while their daughter Hollie was just finishing college. He has stayed close to all of my remaining living relatives, still attends church periodically (we both agreed that the ritual became deeply entrenched in us as toddlers and has huge meaning for the continuity in our lives), but has also made a pilgrimage to India this year to spend 5 days with his guru. He loved what I described about changing jobs with the idea of doing the most good. I am so grateful for even one deep connection amongst these people I have been a part of for 50 years. I want to be doing as well at 73.

A Final Note: Product Reviews Coming

Kitt, a fellow TalkKnitting group member, has requested that we all make an effort to share our fiber knowledge by doing product reviews. So, I will be posting my thoughts on a different yarn each Monday, starting with Schulana Supercotton this week. Tune in!

2 Comments:

Blogger FaeryCrafty said...

What a great entry :) I'm glad you are re-connected to your cousin Ray. Family is very important.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous margene said...

It is always a gift to learn more about the people with whom we have connected via a blog. Thank you for sharing the story of your family past and present, Birdsong.

2:41 PM  

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