Monday, January 11, 2021

A New Year, New Space In Progress

Perhaps for some of my readers, this will be news. I am...not always organized. Messy, even, at times. It is a constant flaw that has plagued me for much of my life. As an adult, I've made huge changes to help counteract my lack of organization, and it has helped. Last year I used the Marie Kondo method to redo our entire apartment, and it really helped. When we moved we were far more organized and prepared, and it just felt better. But the one space that is still difficult is the craft room!

For years I've operated my research, business, and crafting in less than ideal conditions. There was always something a little off about the space. I'd pick too-small desks, poor room design, and not properly utilize the space. At first, everything would be fine, and over a few weeks, it would dissolve into an uncontrolled mess. While I do think the creative process sometimes demands chaos, I'd like an easier system in which to organize it.

When we moved I discovered that we would have the space to create a more open craft room, and I was psyched! It has taken months to finish the room (because someone got COVID...) but now we're finally working on the finishing touches. I'm excited to get back into my hobbies, and enjoy them in a more organized way!

So here's a bit of a teaser of what we've started. I'm especially excited to have my books organized, as well as open space to store items from my shop. The fabric boxes are FINALLY labeled, and I can even display a few past projects for inspiration. Hopefully, I can keep up this system :)

I hope your 2021 plans have gone well so far. You know, except for that whole terrorist attack by white supremacists in our nation's capital. And the threats of violence in the future, mixed in with a deadly pandemic that kills thousands of people every day. 

But yeah. I control everything in this craft room so that's nice.


Friday, January 8, 2021

January 6th Terrorist Attack

 So here I was in the middle of writing a boring blog post about my year in review, and white supremacists throw in a terrorist attack. I was just relaxing for a MINUTE, like crafting at my desk watching Netflix, and crap goes down. I can't say I'm surprised, since calls for violence from these organizations have been going for years. But still, it happened. And we have to confront it, not with some Facebook post saying "I condemn ALL violence," making some allusion to the summer protests as if there is equivalence there...

In the other blog post I was writing, I talked about the conversations reenactors need to have before returning to any events when COVID wanes. From what I've seen, many plan to continue with "business as usual," refusing any sort of changes. This attack on the Capitol is another example of escalation, after a summer of brutality towards protestors, violent rhetoric, and complete denial of a deadly pandemic. There cannot be "normal" for us anymore.

There are reenactors that downright refuse to wear a mask, despite the body count. There are reenactors cheering on the injuries of peaceful protestors. There are reenactors physically threatening other reenactors that speak out against racism. And there are reenactors supporting the terrorist attack on the Capitol. I've written about the complicated relationship the reenacting community has with the confederate flag and white supremacy and for the most part, any efforts have been ignored. I'm currently watching FB threads right now from reenactors who deny that white supremacists were involved in the first place; they spread the conspiracy theory that BLM or Antifa did it, despite the mountain of evidence saying otherwise. It's disgusting, and not just because they are racist, but because they cannot see basic facts before them.

We need to confront the ugly truth that we, as reenactors of history, have contributed to the violence that took place this week. I hear many people say "this is not who we are!" online, and then those same people doing absolutely nothing to change. Events were already dying, and it's getting a lot harder to explain we're not racist when someone three tents over tells the public slavery was "necessary." (Seriously, and people support this woman somehow). I'm embarrassed by a great number of people in the community.

Think about how gross it is to see the Confederate flag enter the Capitol in an act of terrorism. We helped put it there, either by actively supporting the hateful, racist rhetoric in our community or quietly allowing it without protesting. Our silence was and continues to be compliance, and this is what we get for it. This is who we are.

Start your conversations people. 



Thursday, December 31, 2020

On My Bookshelf: December

An interesting fact about me: after college, I didn't read as often. Sure, there were romance novels and historical books, and reading for work, but I really didn't read for pleasure for a long time. My undergrad and graduate studies burned me out to some degree, so I kept everything very casual.

Since the beginning of COVID, I've read more than I have in years. There are books that I haven't included in the blog posts, shorter pieces that I've read electronically. These past months are a reminder that I really love reading, and need to keep it as a part of my daily schedule. It's such an enriching part of my life that I left out for too long. 

The month of December has been especially good for reading now that I'm on a brief recess from school. I haven't taken a day off from virtual learning (except Thanksgiving break) and it is such a relief. Even though I'm working from home, it's still time-consuming! And I'm trying hard to give myself space to heal after COVID.

by Colleen Houck

I'm going to be very honest about this one; I liked the cover and bought it. It helped that it was on sale too! I've noticed lately that I've been drawn to stories about witches and all things fantastical. I wonder if there has been a growing trend for these genres. 2020 has been a rough year and I can see people needing a form of escapism, even if it's just within the covers of a book.

There's definitely a steampunk vibe here mixed in with the magic and fantasy. The author has done an excellent job of painting a picture of both the human and monster worlds, tying them together neatly in the storyline. It's a light read, more of a YA novel, but fun nonetheless. 

I'm in love with this author's tone. I know that sounds really weird, but seriously! His take on monsters and myths speaks to my soul. He's mildly sarcastic but also respectful of the stories of the different stories he relates. I have this one on my nightstand and I read a chapter every night. It certainly wasn't creepy, more thought-provoking. How do these stories relate to each other? When did different parts of the world all agree about the existence of vampires or ghosts? Why is the night so vast and dark and full of terrible creatures that want to eat your face off?

By Jerry Craft

Meet Jordan, a 7th-grade student who is enrolled in an expensive, preppy, mostly-white school. While he makes friends fast, he suffers through many moments that make him feel out of place as black and from the city. This graphic novel walks through one year of his time at the school, and how he coped with different things, from taking the long bus ride to microaggressions from teachers.

Let me start by saying, if you are a teacher, BUY THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. While I've seen and heard racism outright in school, the details of how Jordan and some of his friends experienced an all-white school was made crystal clear by direct language and thoughtful illustrations. This book made me look closer at myself as a teacher, examine my behavior, and make plans for the future. It was so real, and I applaud the author for overcoming the negative experiences and putting his story out there for everyone to learn from. 

By John Updike, Illustrations by Edward Gorey

Let's begin with the fact that Edward Gorey is brilliantly terrible. His book, The GashlyCrumb Tinies, contains all describe the 26 gruesome tales of children and their mortality. That is not this book, but I believe John Updike captures the essence of such horrible things, and it is fantastic. One of my favorite lines: "A man of no plausible address, with no apparent source for his considerable wealth, comes down the chimney after midnight while decent, law-abiding citizens are snug in their beds-is this not, at least, cause for alarm?" While very short, I plan to read this to my future children to remind them that Christmas is scary and weird.

By Yao Xiao

This graphic novel describes the experience of Yao Xiao as an immigrant to the United States, as well as her coming out as bisexual to her family and friends. While it is a quick read, this one settles in your soul. Buy it immediately and thank me later.

Yao Xiao's story sticks to your ribs like oatmeal, her illustrations the sprinkle of cinnamon on top. I admire her simplistic but detailed drawings that capture each moment in minute detail, taking the reader along on just so many emotions. Feeling exposed and vulnerable? Check. Alone? Yes. Strong and proud? Totally. This is another one I want in my classroom ASAP because she tells her story so well.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Holiday Nights: Greenfield Village 2020

 I was a little worried this year about Holiday Nights. We missed out on the Hallowe'en event in October when I was sick with COVID, but the weather loomed with a rainstorm. Luckily we were able to sneak past the drizzle and have an amazing time! I'd like to add that Greenfield Village had some awesome guidelines, including only 25% capacity, hand sanitizer, required masks, and social distancing rules. Is it wrong for me to wish for something similar in the future??

Whenever I go to Holiday Nights, I have a checklist; say hi to people I know, eat a beef sandwich, drink some eggnog, sit by the fire, tease a Krampus, and enjoy some roasted chestnuts on the way out. Also, take some cute pictures with my fiance :) By my usual standards, this year was a success!

By Kristen COVID was something. This was the most steps I've done (with my tracker) in over 3 months. By the time I made it to the car, my chest really hurt and I had trouble breathing. Every so often we had to stop to let me sit and breathe, which was annoying with all of the fun things to see! My finance is totally patient and understanding with my recovery, but knows when to slow me down. He made sure I didn't get up when I was dizzy and wheezing, though I felt like a million years old!

I'm glad we were able to end 2020 on a good note. I hope you've had a safe and fun holiday!


Friday, December 25, 2020

A Very Krampus Christmas

I've started getting into Warhammer 40k as of late. The back story, the armies, the lore, all come together to make a fantastically crazy universe. There are humans but daemons and magic and monsters and literally every nightmare ever. At times it is a bit bleak, but then again it's 2020, so why not?

Recently I purchased a set of deamon bloodletters, which should be painted red. Instead, I gave each one a tail and a tale; this little band of monsters stumbled upon a sleepy village in the throes of Christmas cheer. What horrors have befallen the town? Well, take a look!

*I am only slightly apologizing for my dark humor here. I believe Christmas should be a little scarier.

Merry Christmas! From this Krampus household to yours!


A New Year, New Space In Progress

Perhaps for some of my readers, this will be news. I am...not always organized. Messy, even, at times. It is a constant flaw that has plague...