It's Alive

There are many elements of Feng Shui that I incorporate into my home. Having things in the house that are alive is always a positive way to bring about healthy circulation of Chi (life force) energy. Growing things either for the sake of having living things or for purposes such as herbs to cook with or plants that promote clean air and detoxification is also a relaxing activity, if you chose to make it a mindful one.

I love these two products which incorporate unusual methods of having things growing in the home.

This Sky Planter by Patrick Morris made for Boskke has herbs growing upside down!

Dr. J and I have grown many varieties of herbs over the years in all seven spaces we’ve shared. No matter where we lived we have always had our top three: basil, rosemary and mint.

This Play Ground, Play Table by NOTHING dESIGN GROUP is a fantastic piece. Although not conducive to a home with young children (can you imagine!) it is a really cool idea- they make both a coffee table version as well as the desk/table pictured here.


Say You're One Of Them

Say You Are One Of Them is a collection of short stories by Uwem Akpan. Born and raised in Nigeria he studied theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and became an ordained Jesuit priest. He received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Mr. Akpan's story “My Parent’s Bedroom” received recognition for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2007. His stories have received many accolades for their true exposure of life in Africa, amongst poverty and genocide.

His stories transformed me as they uncovered the realities of circumstances told from a largely marginalized perspective. Specifically, events are told from the perspective of not only an African writer, but from the view of children.

In this collection of five stories the one that still makes me cringe is the last one “My Parent’s Bedroom”. The first story “An Ex-mas Feast” was an amazing read. Told from the perspective of an eight year old boy resonated close to me. It’s portrayal of family life in a shack “which stood on a cement slab at the end of an alley, leaning against the back of an old brick shop” was detailed to the degree that I too wanted to hold the tarpaulin roof down and cover the children with the families only wet blanket. The despair and misery was palpable through Mr. Akpan’s talented writing and although I have physically been in an African shack (while on a work project in Swaziland) I have never experienced being in a shack like this until I read this story.


Molas De Panama

Central America is colorful by nature and encouraged by nature.

I traveled to Costa Rica in 2008 and was greatly motivated by the wonderful colors, fresh fruits, beaches and primary growth jungle which smelt of ancient divinity.

My parents were in Panama and sent us this post card which was the inspiration for this segment of ‘Farts and Crafts’.

Molas are traditionally made by women of the Kuma; an indigenous people of Panama and Colombia.

From the writings of Dr. Mari Lyn Salvador , curator of The Art of Being Kuna:

“The Kuna live in an area that includes a 140-mile stretch of rainforest on the mainland and a chain of coral islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama, from San Blas Point near the Colón side of the Panama Canal to Porto Obaldía near the Colombian border. Named San Blas by outsiders, the region is now called Kuna Yala, which means 'Kuna land.'”

The Kuna people originally painted elaborate geometric shapes on their bodies. After colonization they began to make these patterns onto fabric, particularly blouses.

Molas are layered pieces of fabric which are made using a reverse appliqué technique. Layers of different-coloured cloth are sewn together. Then cutting parts of each layer away, each edge is sewn down. Generally the more layers a Mola has, the more skilled the artisan. Depending on the complexity of the design a single mola can take up to six months to make.

Mola art is popular among apprecianados. Practically anywhere in Central America there are tourist shops that sell these as pillows, placemats or wall hangings. An authentic mola is one that has been worn as part of the traditional dress by a Kuna woman. Authentic molas, those not made for tourists, are distiguishable by several factors: they are sold in pairs, made up of the back and front of a blouse, and will show signs of fading and wear.

To achieve the effect of an intricate mola my artisans painted randomly within a rectangular perimeter onto tee-shirts.

Afterwards we sewed these mola inspired cut out designs, on top, to accomplish the look of this art form.

An interesting tidbit is that the Kuna people have a high rate of albinism which in Kuna mythology elevates one to the statues of dragon defender. I’ll have to research this one more!

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