Archive | December 2010


Check out these two projects I made yesterday. The first is a scarf I made with yarn from Hobby Lobby that has a huge sale before and after the holidays. Then, I started a new series of butterflies I want to make out of all different materials. This one is hand stitched with fabric I had at Starting Artists and stuffed with batting my mother-in-law Susie gave me. She had this great idea to add some wired ribbon we had from wrapping presents on the inside to make sure the wings stay up. I’m a little rusty with my crochet stitches but it’s a start!

I’m hoping to display a whole series of butterflies in the VW Camper we hope to buy and cruise around in this spring. We haven’t found the right one yet but the photo above gives you an idea of what we’re looking for! We found the photo from a blog entry by a couple who took their VW Westfalia on a road trip and have great hints for how to make it the best adventure ever.

Read the article here.

Happy crafting & traveling, Mari

Happy Holidays

The first big snow of the season and we’re experiencing it in Virginia – Danville to be exact! It’s a white Christmas and aside from delaying my sister-in-law Sonia’s flight back to Boston, it’s a beautiful surprise. This morning we created a snowman and Lilli joined us outside and as you can see we helped her to dry off. Hope you’re having as much fun as we are!

Happy Holidays, Mari & Paul

Farewell Starting Artists…

This month has been full of farewells.

Farewell to Starting Artists, my home away from home, and farewell to our Cobble Hill digs, my home away from Starting Artists. When I think about leaving even more behind: family, friends, creature comforts, it seems a daunting task. How do we properly say good-bye to the community of loved ones we’ve created so far? How do we take the lessons we’ve learned from fostering other communities to making a new home in Latin America? These are the thoughts that are running through my head as the Salvation Army picks up  donations from SA and as movers haul away the boxes from our apartment.

There is so much history stored in these boxes. Often, I would tell my students the history of the raw materials they might be using “I got those beads when I was 8 years old,” I would tell them, “I hope you make something wonderful with them.” It’s true that I am a “Pack Rat,” a habit I will be forced to break in the Peace Corps, but I believe in objects. Not necessarily possessions, but objects that hold special meaning and represent milestones. I’m becoming more comfortable with the memory of the objects that have been important to me–passing them on to good, new homes and not necessarily needing to have them in my life physically. That’s why I love photography. Photographs are a way of capturing ethereal memories and turning them into a new object. A smaller, more manageable one at that!

Through the organizing and packing process I  rediscovered a special object. In an old jewelry box I found a gold necklace from Colombia given to me by Julia, a woman who is as close to a grandmother as I’ll ever have. She met me even before my adoptive parents. She is Colombian and her family donated one of the first buildings for my orphanage CRAN. Julia gave me this necklace the last time I saw her in 2003, not long before she passed away. Wearing it reminds me not just of Julia but also of where I came from. The little Pre-Columbian figure now hangs from my neck and rests close to my heart.

I recently attempted to create a special object. As a good-bye gift to the Starting Artists family I created a book on with photos from the past 3 years of programs. A preview of the cover image is above. I wish I could have packed all of the incredible memories from our last 5 years of existence into this small book. Believe me, I tried! I hope the SA family will enjoy this memento from all of the programs, special events, and adventures we’ve shared through the years. We may have said good-bye to most of the old objects but we will always have the memories (and the photographs!).

Peace, Mari

Peace Corps in the New Yorker

Paul and I attended a potluck last night at the NYC Peace Corps office. How fortunate to meet Bonnie Lee Black, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV to insiders) who served in Gabon. She wrote the book How To Cook a Crocodile: A Memoir with Recipes, of which she read selections at the event. Her former roommate and inspiration, Marty, served in the 1960s and she told us about this incredible recent article in the New Yorker about the Peace Corps. Needless to say we rushed home and found our copy of the magazine. Read the abstract of the article below –  the subject of the article, Rajeev Goyal, is a also a Brown Alum! xo, Mari & Paul

ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about Rajeev Goyal and his advocacy of the Peace Corps.

In the part of eastern Nepal where Goyal served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2001 to 2003, people sometimes weep when his name is mentioned. Locals refer to him as Shiva, the god who is the source of the Ganges River. In the halls of Congress, most people have no idea what to make of him. For the past two years, he has approached the place as if it were just another Nepali settlement with a caste system to untangle. He figured out the Washington equivalent of village-well routes—hallways, hearing rooms, and coffee shops where anybody can hang around and meet a member of Congress. During the past two years, funding for the Peace Corps has increased by record amounts, despite partisanship in Congress and a brutal economic climate.

In March, the Peace Corps will turn fifty years old.

The anniversary is bittersweet: despite the new funding, which has allowed for a significant increase in volunteers, the agency sends fewer than sixty per cent as many people abroad today as it did in 1966. Goyal grew up in Manhasset Hills, Long Island, where his parents had settled after immigrating from Rajasthan, India. In the Peace Corps, he was assigned to teach English at a school in Namje, a village of fewer than six hundred people, in eastern Nepal. Snowcaps provide Nepal with abundant water resources, but rivers are often inaccessible in mountain towns like Namje. Describes how Goyal and others conceived and executed the construction of a pumping system that brought water to the town. Also describes the later construction of a school in Namje built, in part, with funds from Rotary International. Tells about the history of the Peace Corps, which was created in 1961 by President Kennedy. Discusses the National Peace Corps Association’s campaign to expand the organization and mobilize former volunteers to advocate for more Peace Corps funding. Tells how Goyal built a grassroots movement to influence the members of Congress who allocate money to the Peace Corps and describes his “bird-dogging” approach to lobbying Congressmen, in particular, Senator Patrick Leahy. Writer accompanies Goyal on a trip to Nepal, where, in Namje, they attend the dedication of a new building for agricultural training. Tells about a meeting between Goyal and Rakam Chemjong, the Nepalese Minister for Peace and Reconstruction.

Read more HERE.

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