Wednesday, 02 May 2012
Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map
And now it’s time for “archaic skills with Linda,” the part of the blog where Linda comes out and demonstrates an archaic skill. I have quite a few skills that are no longer of any earthly use, like how to type a mimeograph stencil and then go back and fix a mistake by painstakingly painting on patches and then realigning the whole thing so you can type one character.
Today’s archaic skill is how to draw a map the old-fashioned way. Generations of schoolchildren learned this skill and used it to make map books that were works of art. I loved my map book when I was in school. It was a larger format than all my other exercise books. The pages were completely blank, and in between each pair of pages there was a sheet of tissue paper that protected the map pages and kept them from rubbing against each other.
Back then, schools did not have photocopiers. If they were lucky, they had a mimeograph machine or perhaps a ditto machine. There was no internet and no Google. You couldn’t sit down at a computer (because there wasn’t one) and do a search for “outline map of Japan.” No, if you wanted a map of Japan you had to find one in an atlas and then transfer it to your map book. You need only a map (duh!), a piece of tracing paper, a piece of good-quality drawing paper, a pen or pencil, a soft pencil, and some colored pencils.
The first step is to place a piece of tracing paper over the map you want to copy. If you are smart, you will line up the corner of the tracing paper with the map or make some kind of reference marks on the tracing paper so that you can align it perfectly in the event that the paper slips.
Then, using a pen or colored pencil, start tracing the map. Remember this is your own personal map, so you can include—or exclude—whatever you want. Obviously you should trace the border of the country and place a dot for the capital city. I like to add major rivers, lakes, other cities, and perhaps the borders of internal states, counties, or provinces. Maybe you want to include a few major highways also.
When you have traced all the features that you want, it’s time to turn your piece of tracing paper over. Using a soft pencil (we used 4B), scribble carefully over all your traced lines and dots, until you can no longer see them.
Turn your tracing paper back so the right side is up, and align it carefully on a blank page in your map book or a blank piece of good drawing paper. Now, being sure to keep the tracing paper aligned, retrace the whole thing, going over all the lines you already traced. If you use a black pencil this time, you’ll be able to see which lines you’ve done twice and which ones you haven’t.
Because you have the soft pencil on the back side, when you retrace your lines you also transfer them to your blank sheet of paper. When you’ve retraced the whole map, it should be on your formerly blank sheet of paper.
Now, you finally have what you would get if you just printed an outline map off the internet! Except of course that this map is personalized. Use a fine marker or ink pen to go over the lines once again. Let your creativity run wild. Make the lakes and rivers blue. Label towns and cities. Put in mountain ranges and swamps and deserts. (Of course you can refer back to the original map for all these details.) Color in nice blue borders around coastlines.
Now you have a map that you can be proud of. You can add to it at any time. Like today, after I finished my initial outline map of Zambia, I realized that I wanted to include the province boundaries. I could have used the same piece of tracing paper, but then pencil on the back might have smudged the original map. So I got a new piece of tracing paper, aligned it exactly the same as the first one, traced the province boundaries, and then transferred them to my new map.
I also included the countries that border Zambia. Other possibilities are using the blank spaces around your map to draw products that the country produces. In the case of Zambia, this would include copper, emeralds, cashews, and roses. You could also include vital statistics like population, life expectancy, literacy rate, and so forth.
I know I’m old-fashioned, but I still think there’s a place in today’s world for a hand-drawn map like this. Not only is it beautiful, not only is it unique, not only does it display the information that interests you personally, but I’ll bet that by the time you’ve completed the laborious process of drawing and coloring in your map, you’ll have a pretty good grasp of the layout of the country!
So today, for our last day of class, I taught my Geography students how to make a map like this. I let each of them choose their own country. Sarah chose Figi, Daniel chose the Korean peninsula, Spencer chose Germany, and Mercy chose Japan (though she hasn’t had a chance to make her map yet).
It was a nice way to end our Geography class—creating something beautiful. And I should have the instructions up on Pinterest before long.
Of course, Geography isn’t the only thing that happened today. I did get some sewing done on Mary’s dress. And I gave up on my goal of finishing it today. That way lies madness. Jasper waited with great anticipation for this afternoon when his friend Isaac’s family came and picked him up. Not only does he get a two-night sleepover, but he gets his very first trip to Six Flags in between! He is so excited he can hardly stand it. I sure hope he likes rides more than I do!
Also, Mercy got a unique graduation gift today. Our friend Angie took her to another town this afternoon to a swanky salon where the object was to try and remove some of the dark color from Mercy’s hair so it would go back to its natural color. This is why Mercy wasn’t able to make her map today. It was a long, long process. When Mercy finally returned, her hair was still brown—but much lighter, and much better blended in with her roots. She went to bed before I could get her picture!
For our Geography lunch today, we went back to the Mexican grocery store to get their delicious tacos. And this sign was on the door.
Yes, we live on “that” side of town.
Tuesday, 01 May 2012
Mama Mentor and the Sleeves of Doom
So, I finally got everything cut out last night. I can’t remember the last garment I made that was so time consuming to cut out. This morning didn’t have a whole lot of sewing, however. I had to take Sassy (the cat) to the vet. She really, really didn’t want to go!
Spencer had stayed up very late finishing Oliver Twist so he slept in this morning while Lucy sat on the couch reading so she could come to the dinner tonight. I did start working on the sleeves for Mary’s dress, but then I made a really stupid mistake and after I ripped out that section of both sleeves it was time for lunch and then I had to go to the bank and then the vet’s called me to come get Sassy and then my student arrived.
We worked on researching and taking notes from books and in the process learned quite a lot about fennel. Shortly after my student left it was time to leave for our final Literary Society dinner of the year. We splurged and went to Olive Garden instead of the Chinese restaurant where we have been meeting all year. It turned out that Spencer and Lucy were the only ones who finished the book!
This evening I had a writing project that demanded some time and then I finally couldn’t put off tackling the sleeves again. When we were planning this dress, Mary picked long, flowing sleeves because she is the “elf” bridesmaid. I was fine with that. Then we agreed that it would be nice if the sleeves had drawstrings so that the length could be adjusted. I love adjustable sleeves, so how could I say no? Then I actually asked if Mary would like trim on either side of the casings and she said yes. We picked out the trim and it is very pretty.
So, what this means, in practical terms, is that on each sleeve, I had to sew the length of the upper seam nine times before tediously threading cord through the casings. Then there were the French seams for the lower seam. And three times around each interminably long hem. I still haven’t done the easing stitches on the sleeve cap, but I’ve got to save some fun for tomorrow! The dress itself will go quite quickly compared to the sleeves—at least until I get to the yoke and collar.
Of course, I also have a Geography class to teach tomorrow because I was naïve enough to think that I would have finished the dress by now.
Monday, 30 April 2012
Not My Best Day
Today was going to be a big sewing day. Instead it was a running-errands-and-crying-a-lot day. To be honest, I’ll just skip over big chunks of it. An extra errand was added this morning to my already full schedule when Spencer announced that he hadn’t slept well—because the springs were poking through his mattress and tearing holes in his sheet, not to mention his flesh.
Sometimes, you realize that something has served its usefulness and simply must be replaced right away. This mattress served for who knows how many years in the dorms at the university before landing at our house some 15 year ago. At the time, we were so thrilled to have another bunk bed because we were trying to squeeze five kids into one room.
Now, though, the mattress is not what you’d call “supportive.” I was so glad that I had decided to take a bus to Tennessee next week because if I had tried to pay for a plane ticket, poor Spencer would be sleeping on the floor tonight. He came with me to get a new mattress. There was no “picking one out.” We just got the one from Sam’s that we could afford. He is thrilled. The new mattress is twice as thick as the old one!
I managed to catch Lina on chat this morning and she had both good and bad news. She didn’t need a root canal after all and was able to get her tooth fixed with a filling. But her dog Ceili had to be put down because the damage from the snake bite was just too severe. That is so hard, to watch an animal suffer. We have been watching a kitty cat suffer ourselves the last few days. My friend Connie’s cat has an absess on her face so my first errand tomorrow will be taking her to the vet. I should mention that Connie doesn’t live here anymore so we have been feeding and caring for her cat. I don’t just randomly kidnap someone else’s cat and take it to the vet!
I had some coupons while I was running errands so I was able to replace some of my cake decorating supplies. I have a couple of cakes to make in the next two weeks, and for some reason my thirty-year-old cake decorating tools don’t seem to be holding up all that well anymore. I can’t believe it never occurred to me before now to replace some of those old things!
Mary and I went to the fabric store to pick the trim for her dress—though we totally forgot about the zipper. But anyway, I took the photo book with me—the one I had made of Lina’s life in Africa. Regina dropped everything to look at it. She is so interested in Lina’s work at Sakeji! I’m glad I was finally able to show her the photos.
Well, for some reason that dress refuses to alter itself and cut itself out. I’m about halfway done now. I sure hope it fits, because I really don’t want to have to redo anything. I may be up late tonight. The family is sick of eating perched all over the house while I have the dining table commandeered for cutting-out purposes. Plus, the temperature in the dining room is so much more pleasant at night!
Quote of the Day:
Spencer: “Any guy who plays guitar instantly becomes a chick magnet.”
Guess who wants to learn to play guitar?
If you regularly read this blog, and if you have been having trouble accessing it, please let me know. One friend said that when she tries to click on the link to my blog from Facebook, she is told that it has a "Trojan" virus. Another friend is also having trouble. If you ARE having trouble, I need to know and any details you can give me would be helpful. I have no idea how a blog can get infected or how to cure it, but apparently I need to find out.
Sunday, 29 April 2012
My Savior First of All
Fanny J. Crosby
When my lifework is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him
By the print of the nails in His hand.
Oh, the soul-thrilling rapture when I view His blessed face,
And the luster of His kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love, and grace,
That prepare me for a mansion in the sky.
Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.
Through the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.