Sunday, December 23, 2012

A New Find

I've made a discovery. (I think I'm a year behind the rest of the world, but it's a discovery nonetheless.) It's a children's book called - enchantingly - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, and there are no words for how wonderful this book is. I came across a quote from it on Goodreads - my favourite online quotes bank - and was so hooked I ordered it immediately. (  Highly recommended :) ) As a booklover I'm always on the lookout for good books for my kids, and I wholeheartedly agree with C.S. Lewis' view that "a children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." I also like his rule to "never give a child a book to read that you wouldn't read yourself. (Was that C.S. Lewis? Might have been George Bernard Shaw.) One of the happiest days of my life was the day I discovered that my favourite writer as a child, Tove Jansson, also wrote adult fiction.

This is the sort of book you want to devour in one sitting, and annoy the people around you by making them listen to bits you read out. Which I'm about to do to you... This is one of my favourites:

"When you are born...your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. So every once in a while you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again."

Glorious. And it got me thinking about my youngest boy. One of the things I love most about him - and, let's face it, find most terrifying as his mother - is how utterly fearless he is. I'd been about to do a layout for his album on our recent holiday, and this musing led to a completely different direction for the page. Here 'tis:

I remembered the e. e. cummings quote halfway through and decided it suited. I'd already stuck the little sun badge on, which echoed the quote's first line nicely. I love happy accidents like that.

I've managed to finish off a couple of other layouts too, so today's post takes us up to 35 for the year. I'm happy with that, even if it isn't the 52 I aimed for. Maybe next year....

Have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year :)

PS: I've no idea why those first two layouts uploaded sideways. The computer is obviously feeling festive and whimsical  :/

PPS: Just checked. George Bernard Shaw  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Getting Reflective (and a wee bit heavy...)

                   "I am changing,
                    Less and less asleep,
                    Made of different stuff than when I began."

These Brooke Fraser lyrics have been echoing in my head lately. I think I've been undergoing a quiet revolution of sorts. It's not wholly recent; it's been simmering for several years now. But it's definitely starting to gather momentum.

I'm talking about living sustainably. The more I read about the gap between the first and third worlds, and the horrendous cost that a first world lifestyle has on the rest of the planet and humanity, the more troubled I've become by the way I live. Now, I know I'm not personally dumping toxic waste or cheating African workers, but I've come to realise that our culture is so engineered to function at the expense of the developing world that it's almost impossible not to enable that exploitation. There are alternatives though, and those are what I've been trying to track down and start implementing.

Like I said, this has been a gradually developing thing. But every so often there's been a big, jolting discovery. The most recent was coming across Lucy Siegel's book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? This was a real (and extremely uncomfortable) eye-opener. It covered the environmental, humanitarian and social price of the global fashion industry, which is absolutely horrifying. Every time I've been shopping since, I've started myself questions like "Who made this? Under what conditions? What am I actually supporting if I buy this?" (It's very inconvenient...) BUT, since the author loves clothes as much as the next woman, it also offered plenty of wonderful alternatives. And there are amazing people out there, creating clothes that are superior in every possible way to the cheap, looks-worn-out-after-three-washes rubbish that we buy (most of the time) simply because it's there and it's a "bargain".

Now this blog was only ever going to be scrapbooking-based, but I've got a vaguely formed resolution for the new year (and beyond, if it works). I thought I'd see how I'd go with making sure that every clothing purchase was as ethical a choice as I could make it. This can include new stuff from ethical designers, buying secondhand, upcycling old stuff, or DIY. I think I'll give myself some leeway on shoes, and I unapologetically draw the line at any kind of secondhand underwear ("If that is the price of the earth's survival, then I fear the earth shall have to die." Ben Elton). But I think it's doable. I might post some pictures of anything that I'm particularly happy with along the way. I have made a start with these two - the first was an old A-line skirt, and the second was another little skirt - sweet, but far too short (for me at least) to wear and still be unselfconsiously carefree:

Back to scrapbooking! I did up this page in my art/reflective/visual journal (I never know what to call it...) as a reminder. Think it's Number Thirty-One for the year.

Not sure how clearly it shows up, but those are third world workers under a layer of organza. Oh, must make disclaimer: just noticed that one of those tops is by Gorman, which has a stellar reputation for ethical manufacturing. Oops..

And here's Number Thirty-Two.

I think I'm on a bit of a page roll at the moment. It did cross my mind that maybe, just maybe, I could still reach the 52 layouts for the year, but then it occurred to me that there might be one or two other things happening during December.... We'll see!

Have a wonderful - and festive - week :)