Sunday, 23 March 2014

Anachronism and Something New




noun: anachronism; plural noun: anachronisms

1.   1.

a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.


            marimba, pilates, lost trades, playgrounds

Last weekend in Kyneton  (Victoria) was the  Lost Trades Fair. I wasn’t able to go so I checked the programme online and found there  were delightful old crafts like coopering (making barrels) chairmaking, leadlighting, blacksmithing and hedgelaying. I didn't see pottery listed and  thankfully there is still interest in this craft but if we don’t move forward with the other aspects of ceramics i.e the business end we may well become an anachronism just at a time when the planet needs old fashioned alternatives to so many economic rationalisms.

During the week I listened to a great RN program about children being rescued from an educational blackhole by a creative music program using marimbas.
The improvement in overall school performance was put down to the fact that the marimba programme involved whole body involvement in its performance and learning, from the making of the instrument as a group, to physically playing while standing and moving and echoing patterns produced visually as well as auditorily. This meant that children could experience the brain rewiring of music without needing to be able to read music first and the fidgety, kinetic learners could be imprinted with the patterns through their bodies, priming their brains for other pattern learning like decoding print.
You can watch a marimba being played here.
When we learn a physical skill our brains remember a muscle choreography and practice remapping it in our brains overnight. I remember this well from childhood, going through the motions of learning one type of high jump (the straddle) to  (scissors) to Fosbury Flop approaching the jump from another angle in a new style but also gaining insights into burgeoning philosophy as my world view literally changed.
 When I learned computing ,my thoughts flashed before me like computer files, as I settled down to sleep and I could see gardening files come into focus with embroidery techniques combined overlaid with watercolour techniques. My whole framework for thinking had done a physical shift as my brain applied what it knew to what this new world order looked like. When I took up Auslan ( Australian sign language), my other language learning accelerated because I now had a physical way of learning and filing languages -in my muscles.
 This blog has changed my way of operating in the world and in my head as I physically engage with the keyboard and I often find myself tapping out thoughts in my head .
Our bodies are not just vehicles for our brains as Ken Robinson describes here but discreet extensions of our brains and each appendage feeds our brain information to locate ourselves within the soup of our environment. If every thought connection in our brain develops synapses then every sensory experience of our world creates a sort of synaptic connection to the universe making us more securely engaged and aware. Limit the experiences and you risk the individual feeling vulnerable and hanging by a thread. Physicality matters!

The discussion about the marimba program follows closely on the heels of a research project in which children were observed in two different playground situations, one where they had standardised safe playground and sports equipment and the other, regular household items such as brooms, buckets and crates. The second group were found to be more creative, more physically active and more socially engaged than the first as they found new and interesting ways to engage with the equipment rather than the prescribed notions of standardised equipment. Everything old becomes new again. So it is important to keep in touch with those old skills and old ways of doing things. Re engage with some of the physical things you did in your childhood and wake up some of those synapses!  

I began pilates the other day to address some of my spinal issues and had to balance on half foam cylinders, something I was excellent at in my youth. It is partly what prompted this post and brought back memories. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see older people balancing on raised curbings around service stations as they try to physically rebalance their lives. Some of our politicians could do with a bit of physical alignment.
Ancient Mayan art of Pilates  gives you rock hard muscles

Autumn is here and acorns are hanging on the oak tree in the park. Sadly most lower limbs have been removed from the trees to prevent children climbing and hurting themselves. I am anxious to get out and moving around in the cooler mornings but have been applying myself to new skills ofsetting up an etsy shop. It is still crawling days but I would appreciate any advice you have so I can unstick myself from this computer.

No doubt my mind will reframe the world again. I can feel it happening already as I try to apply my own practices of reduce, reuse, recycle, to the practical aspects of packaging and presentation. The initial purchase of a giant roll of bubble wrap had me in a spin trying to work out ways I could offset this hideous purchase.
The bubblewrap made a temporary desk. Printed stock list on a spread sheet streamlined the task a bit.

Every plastic container that comes into my home is now going to have at least one more use. Bubble wrap will still be employed but our office shreddings will now be part of the bubble wrap replacement in nice little recycled paper pillows. 

I have raided a few stores that sell imported Asian products and garnered some little packaging boxes that were being scrapped so my  packaging efforts are coming along. Negotiating the marketing network may take time but I am on my way.

Please take a look at my shop and share it with anyone you know. If you have success stories with etsy that you can share I am a willing student.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Mrs Teapot and International Womens Day

This week I attended a memorial service for an old family friend. It was well attended and full of joy and praise for a woman who had connected with hundreds of lives over an 80 year lifetime. Her last years were difficult as are the last years of many older people, but she had put enough scores on the board in her previous years to more than compensate. She was the ultimate multi tasker, mad as a hatter, trying to improve the world according to her laws of justice based on fighting for the underdog and fearless in her opposition to exploitation whenever she saw it.
In my mind she has been Mrs Teapot for many years, because hospitality and connection to people came ahead of business always. Hospitality included carrying a tray of china for a tea party down through ti tree scrub and across 4 lanes of highway to the beach complete with tablecloth or doilies for her guests who visited in the summertime. If it took 2 or 3 trips to get everything down to the beach, she just did it, scones, butter, cream, milk and sugar and cordial for the children and all with joyful satisfaction in being able to provide the best hospitality. Her endless energy just kept everybody else around her moving too.
She made no differentiation between animals and humans and chatted to them all, and when her cat Lindy died at 23 years of age she felt it was important to notify all those who had ever known Lindy so that they could share their grieving. A cat living with an outgoing person like her could meet a lot of people in 23 years!
Her life was as an educator, and she was of the old school variety which found strength and something positive and interesting in every human to build upon. She worked and raised 4 young men who have gone on to lead competent and fulfilling lives and did it all without the benefits of government handouts and without compromising family life.
I’ve been a bit stuck lately, feeling a bit like a congested whirlpool outside the mainstream, in a world that is streaming past at a great and unconscious rate. My world has been revolving around political agitation and every day there is more to depress and alarm me about our current situation.
I went to the bakery the other day and was deeply impressed with the cheerfulness of the girl who served me. On asking her about her upbeat state she told me that serving was her job and she would make the most of it because no one cares if you have a bad day but you can spread happiness by being cheerful. Well Mrs Teapot would have agreed with her about spreading happiness and doing what you can with what you’ve got but if you can’t care about someone when they are down, especially all the ones who need our help then no amount of fairy dust is going to stop those bad things happening.

 Mrs Teapot was a doer and a fighter who listened and then tried to put people in connection with their own points of strength. That a woman of 80, who has been out of circulation with ill health for 5 years, can still fill a church upon her death is a testament to the strength of human connection and service of others. In this week of International Women’s Day we recognise the grass roots work of ordinary women doing and doing. Hers was a lifetime of teaching , by examples of common sense  kindness and fairness and recognising the hope in everyone she met. She was a roll up your sleeves person and just do what you can with love, sandwiches and endless cups of tea and washing up with others or alone. Blessed are the weird and energetic and God bless Marjie. It’s been an honour to be connected to your story.