Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weaver is uncommon thread in synthetic world

Linda Adamson’s Arcadia store is as colorful as a painter’s palette.

Neat rows of large spools, tightly wrapped in fibers of nearly every conceivable hue, line the shelves of her Tabby Tree Weaver. If you ask how many kinds of fiber her shop carries, Adamson’s eyes twinkle and she grins broadly, simply saying, “lots.”

She becomes almost lyrical rattling off a long list of the kinds of fibers she sells, including ones made from corn, soybeans, bamboo and tencel, which is made from wood pulp, then processed so it’s like rayon. Some of the wool she sells comes from Louie, a sheep she boards in nearby Sheridan.

“What you won’t see here is synthetic,” she adds. “I’m a natural fibers person.”

“Natural” is an apt description for Adamson, as well. She’s easy going and in her element at the shop. As she demonstrates weaving or spinning, her hands move with the artistry of a harpist, her fingers gently plucking and placing each strand.

But the most charming part of visiting the shop is getting to talk with her.

Whether it’s a long conversation or a quick chat – although I’m not sure she ever offers anyone less than 15 minutes of her time – Adamson is engaging as she talks about weaving and dying yarn. She’s passionate about her art and her adopted hometown.

A nurse by education and a former ophthalmologic technician by practice, Adamson learned to weave because she was sewing her own clothes and “I didn’t want to look like everyone else,” she said, so she decided to make her own fabric.

It’s an ongoing education.

“However you’re using fiber – weaving, knitting, etc. – you can never learn all of it so you’re forever going to stay young with it,” she smiled and philosophized.

She loves teaching her art and her life’s goal is “to leave as many new weavers behind me as I possibly can.”

Spend a few minutes with her in Tabby Tree Weaver, and you just might be the next one in the growing line of weavers behind Linda Adamson.

This post includes excerpts from “Handmade Businesses, Homemade Success,” a story originally published in the April-May edition of Hamilton County Business magazine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Girl Up gives life to dreams

Some of the world’s hardest to reach adolescent girls are being touched by Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign.

Girl Up emphasizes that girls are bright, talented and full of dreams, according to its website. But too many girls can’t live those dreams because they can’t go to school, aren’t healthy and don’t live free from violence. One in seven girls in developing countries, for instance, is married by the time she’s 15.

My daughter got marginally involved in the campaign and showed me its Girlafesto, an empowerment poem, today.

It’s a wonderful piece to share with young girls that you might know – or even to keep handy for a reminder to yourself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We're in this together, Jack

The plan was simple, clear-cut and fail-safe.

Set the alarm for 30 minutes earlier than I needed to get up. Check. Lay out sneakers and clothes in the bathroom. Check. Go to bed Monday night thinking, “I’m going to start walking again tomorrow.” Check.

I love walking. My spirits soar when I’ve put in a couple of miles. I feel accomplished, invigorated, ready to take on the world.

That first step, though, the one that plants my foot on the bedroom floor – killer!

Fast forward to this morning.

The alarm went off, the snooze button got hit. The alarm went off again, the snooze button got hit again. The alarm went . . . well, you see the pattern. It was classic Scarlet O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Oh, I did get exercise this morning. There was that full-body thrust out of bed  when suddenly it was time for the get-ready-for-school routine to begin. (Wake my son, let the dog out, call my son a second time, make coffee, escalate to Angry Mom voice, feed the dog, ramp up to Very Angry Mom, . . . again, you see the pattern.)  

I’m a highly organized person – my calendar is color-coded, for heaven’s sake! Not too many years ago, I was responsible for getting five community newspapers to press by deadline four days a week. I’ve raised two children successfully (if you don't count their difficulty getting up) and can multi-task with the best

 “Forget about what you used to do,” fitness guru Jack LaLanne advised in an Esquire piece. “This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.”

OK, here’s the plan: Set the alarm, set out the clothes, think about walking as I fall to sleep. And tomorrow – no using snooze control.

Wish me luck, Jack. You're invited, too, Scarlet.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Learning Mom's family recipe

Dorothy Voige was an accomplished woman. Few things made my mom happier, though, than cooking or baking for us.

Once when she was making Christmas dinner while everyone else was enjoying each other’s company, she said she wouldn’t have it any other way. A good meal was her gift to the whole family, she explained.

Years later, I learned how cooking for us fed her soul.

Mom was struggling to fight a second round of cancer. She wasn’t giving up, but the cancer was winning. She ate almost nothing, had no feeling in her fingers and toes, and her jaunty stride had dissolved into a slow, clumsy step. She needed a cane just to get around their small home.

She got a craving for scones and said she’d tell me how to make them. I got everything out as Mom inched her way to the kitchen to orchestrate the process.

I sensed her spirits lifting as she told me how much of this or that to use. When the ingredients were ready to mix, Mom put her cane on the counter and thrust both hands deep into the big cream-colored bowl, ostensibly to show me how to do it.

Her pale fingers, nearly the color of the bowl, grabbed the ingredients like a claw machine and patiently massaged them into dough. As I watched each pull and tug, color returned to her hands. For those few golden moments she was my mom again, not a cancer patient, making a delicious gift to her family.

Cleaning up the kitchen, I spotted her cane on the counter. She’d gone back to the living room on her own, and I wanted to think it was a sign of victory.

But it was not. Those scones -- the best I’d ever had -- were the last thing Mom made for me.

Less than three months later, she slipped away peacefully at home. Her suffering was over but my dad was inconsolable. He couldn’t understand why his wife of nearly 61 years was gone.

I flashed to that Christmas conversation and what I’d seen happen two months earlier while making those scones. “You know what I think?” I said to Dad. “She had to go first so the table will be set and dinner will be ready when we get to heaven.”

It took me a long time to realize that Mom’s cooking was about much more than feeding her family. Every time she stirred up something, she nourished us with a very special love.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Post time to finish, Hoosier Derby is night of fun

Sweet Lips Lucy won the sixth race last night at Sagamore Golf Club. Friday’s big winners, however, were the Hamilton County seniors that Meals on Wheels will be able to feed due to the generosity of Hoosier Derby Party guests and sponsors.

Everywhere you turned in the clubhouse, people were having a good time. They cheered wildly for the likes of Dixie Doodle, Explosive Joy and Salty Maud at the virtual horse races, placing Derby Dollar bets on the next race as quickly as they scooped up winnings from the last.

The Steve Elliott Band provided some great music, whether you wanted to sit and listen or engage in conversation with a background of show tunes, jazz and popular music from not-so-long-ago days. The dinner buffet was as delicious as it was tempting, and the complimentary mint juleps were a perfect Southern touch.

Two additions to the Derby, MoW’s second, were the popular Fish Face Photo Booth and a silent auction where a wide variety of treat-filled baskets gave guests the opportunity to walk out the door with a unique souvenir.

When you talk about unique, though, you’ve got to talk about the hats. Britain’s royals had nothing on these creative partygoers.

It was one night – one wonderful night of fun and fundraising for Meals on Wheels – where an uncovered head was out of the ordinary.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Track down some fun at Transportation Museum

Hearing “All aboard!” ignites my imagination.

Trains always remind me of a trip with my mom when I was a preschooler. I think we boarded in Cleveland, and I’m guessing Madison, Wis., was our destination. I know we were headed to her hometown in Belmont, Wis.

While the itinerary isn't memorable, the ride certainly was. On one leg, we were on the Santa Fe Super Chief -- the "Trainof the Stars" because of all the celebrities who traveled it from Chicago to California -- and the cars were brand new. I can still picture the colors, lines and shapes of the southwestern-inspired decor in the coaches.

Mom had to come looking for me when I went to the restroom and didn’t return to my seat. I’d somehow stumbled upon the lounge car and was talking to a very nice man. I didn’t recognize him, but my mom did. He was a network TV reporter, and he was often on the news that followed “American Bandstand,” which my mom watched while she ironed.

In Central Indiana, you don’t have to travel long distances to enjoy the train. The Indiana Transportation Museum offers short runs and themed excursions throughout its season, which opens Saturday and continues through the end of the year.

My favorite trip – I’ve taken many since my husband is an active ITM volunteer and member of the board -- is Dinner on the Diner. You board the restored, 1930 Cross Keys Tavern dining car, finding crisp white linens, fresh flowers, stemware and polished silverware on each table.

Each of the four courses is served at a leisurely dining pace. The evening I rode, the food was top notch in presentation and taste. After dessert was enjoyed while on a trestle bridge overlooking the White River, we got treated to volunteer Brian Henke singing and strumming train songs on his guitar.

ITM schedules rides that suit all ages; you’ll often overhear – or be part of – train stories that bridge generations as passengers chat.

There are destination rides, including ones to Tipton for pizza or a movie; experience rides, such as the popular caboose rides between Forest Park and downtown Noblesville; and event rides, such as Polar Bear Express at Christmastime or the Pumpkin Train in the fall.

If you haven’t been on an ITM ride, I highly recommend you make 2011 your year to ride the local rails. Maybe I’ll see you there!

What train trips do you remember taking or would like to take?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lower the dropout rate, change the community

It would be easy for many people to learn about a teenager being charged with burglarizing homes and just shrug it off, shake their heads in dismay or chalk it up to “a kid being a kid.”

Fortunately, Joan Isaac isn’t like many people.

Joan, Hamilton County’s area director for United Way, is a take-charge advocate for people in need. When she sees a problem, she acts, while others just react.

After reading a news story about the teen’s arrest, she started questioning what social services could have been in place to short-circuit the crime. What does Hamilton County lack, she wondered, that could make a difference in someone else’s life.

“The status quo is unacceptable,” Joan wrote in her Current in Fishers column about stopping crime before it starts.

She cited some sobering statistics from the United Way of Central Indiana website:

● One in three children is born economically disadvantaged, with limited access to quality early learning.

● Kids who fall behind in reading and math are at higher risk of dropping out.

● Only two-thirds of area ninth-graders will graduate in four years.

“Changing the dropout rate can change our entire community and, as a result, reduce future human service needs,” she wrote.

UWCI’s Ready to Learn, Ready to Earn program has made great strides in a short time, according to its website. Assessments following more than 500,000 books being given to preschoolers through 6-year-olds, many of whom live in economically challenged neighborhoods, indicate the kids are entering school better prepared to learn than they were before the program.

United Way credits its public awareness campaign in neighborhoods with significant need for raising kindergarten attendance on the first day of school from 64 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2010.

Through enhanced math instruction in a group of schools, sixth-graders showed improvement in the state math assessment, with one school more than doubling its pass rate in that grade.

Much of this work is focused on two Indianapolis neighborhoods, but Joan’s column reminds us that “Crime and poverty don’t stop at county lines. . . . we must invest in early childhood initiatives in our whole region to remain a vibrant community, to attract and retain employers.”

Support education efforts, she urged in her conclusion, to give our youth “the best possible options in life.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Come to the party, for folks like Joe

I don’t know a lot about Joe.

He’s quiet and lives all alone in a house that defines the word “spartan.” So spartan, in fact, that I thought I had the wrong address the first time I visited. There was no car in the garage, and no furniture in his living room. The house appeared to be abandoned until I spotted a portable TV on an old aluminum cart in the dining room and a few clothes hanging on a line in the front bedroom.

Joe is soft spoken. I’ll bet his voice was once a rich tenor but now a raspy hoarseness disfigures its high pitch.

The tall, slow-moving man also is one of very few words. I often wonder if that’s because he doesn’t have much to say or if it's because he has few opportunities to talk with other people.

I see Joe every Friday, and he’s always dressed in clean khakis and a neat, buttoned-up shirt. I often comment on how much I like the sporty baseball cap with a Burberry-like plaid front that he wears regularly. In a gentlemanly gesture, he’s greeted me at his garage door throughout the winter and wet spring so I don't have to navigate a snowy or slippery walk.

Joe is the first person on my weekly Meals on Wheels route, and he’s a primary reason I’m going to the Hoosier Derby Party on Friday, the eve of the Kentucky Derby.

The fundraiser – open to all – will help Meals on Wheels provide hot, nutritious food to seniors, disabled and homebound people in every Hamilton County community when they can’t afford groceries or make their own meals.

MoW's vision is to end senior hunger by 2020, and the challenge is great. Indiana ranked 12th in the nation for food insecurity among seniors, according to a 2009 study done for the Meals on Wheels of America Association. Currently MoW delivers about 200 meals a day here; with the county’s graying population, we on the board and staff know the demand is going to grow dramatically in coming years.

Imagine. The cost of one $50 ticket to the Hoosier Derby party – which is going to be a fabulous night of virtual horse racing, complimentary mint juleps, music, fellowship and bourbon tasting -- would pay for two weeks of meals for a senior. That person might live in your neighborhood, go to your church or even be a member of the family.

The party begins at 6:30 at Sagamore Golf Club. Reservations can be placed with the Meals on Wheels office, 317-776-7159, but walk-in guests and donations are welcome, as well.

The evening is going to be fun for me. Its proceeds are going to be a lifeline, though, for folks like Joe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kids’ make sense when given dollars

Some kids I met on Sunday confirmed a suspicion I’ve been harboring the past few years. I’ve been thinking/hoping the generation growing up in the recession will be good money handlers as adults.

I was involved in a workshop with about 25 preschoolers and elementary students, and I asked them, “If I gave you $5,000, what would you do with it?”

“My school is going to close, so I’d give it to them to keep it open,” said one girl. The school is closing because a new one is being built, but still, I wished decision-makers could’ve heard her

“I’d buy food for people who come to the church pantry,” said one young philanthropist, while another wanted to build a house for a homeless family.

When the kids’ answers were presented to their parents, “save it for college” evoked universal smiles and several sighs of relief.

I was a good saver when I was a kid, always found enough money to buy gifts for my family. But I don’t remember thinking about people being hungry or homeless, and I didn’t start a college fund until my children were born. I’m sure I never thought about trying to bail out my school district, which had to shut down for six weeks because voters rejected a tax levy.

Maybe, just maybe, building better savers and sharers is the silver lining of the downturned economy’s cloud.

How would you use $5,000?