Monday, June 28, 2010

I’m a “Smolensk Day” Crafter . . . almost!

There are 2 major craft fairs in Smolensk every year.  
The first is in May, for Victory Day (celebrating the end of WWII) and the other is at the end of Sept, for Smolensk Day (celebrating the liberation of Smolensk from the Germans during WWII).  
Both fairs are part of weekend- long holidays in the city.  There is also music, food, dancing, war reenactments, children’s activities - - the whole city comes out to walk, look, and listen.  
This past May I walked the craft fair and enjoyed talking with several of the vendors.  What struck me was that mostly they are all selling the same things:  clay cartoonish looking figures, amazing paintings, green plants, rock jewelry, pillows - and that was basically it.  There must have been at least 100 little tables set up - but they were all selling one of these “basics.”  
I thought to myself, “I can make some interesting and practical items and have a little table for the next fair!”
So, I asked a couple of the vendors how they entered the fair and they were so nice and helpful - - and encouraging!  One lady said, “Come join us next month.  There is a fair in Yartseva!”  I told her that I didn’t have any inventory, yet, but she was gonna let me get away, “Come anyway and see what all people are making and selling - you may find some good ideas.”  
Well, I didn’t make it to the Yartseva fair but I have been thinking and planning for “Smolensk Day.”
First, I made a trip to Moscow and got some supplies:

My pride and joy - - a self-healing cutting mat!!! Oh my goodness, how did I work before?  This thing makes cutting fabric a breeze.  
I also got a rotary cutter and a great ruler!  
Next, my handy husband put up a shelf for all my sewing supplies:
These boxes hold thread, needles, pins, zippers, ribbon, some fabric. . . and lots of other sewing goodies!  
The table folds out - on both ends but I usually just put up one side.  Under the table there is a little shelf where my sewing machine rests (when not working) and where I store a huge, but squash-able, plastic bag full of my fabric stash.
I have to say that I am very thankful for this little space to create! 
 I am also REALLY looking forward to having a space that is totally mine in the new house.  Where I can leave the sewing machine out - and the ironing board up.  Where there will be just hard wood floors to make clean-up must faster and not so immediate!  
And, of course, I’ve been working on my craft fair inventory:
  • crayon and colored pencil rolls
  • art caddies
  • “Market Mini’s” - wristlets
  • kleenex caddies
  • document covers (for passports and such)
  • baby onesies with cute appliques
What do you think?  Any other ideas or suggestions?
I would appreciate your input!
I recently put together a rough - very rough - business card with my logo.  We have a talented designer in our church and he is going to “make it all look nice.”  So, I should have business cards soon! 
I also want to use my logo to have fabric labels woven while I’m in the States next month.
And, for each purchase, I would like to include a little card with my information and a Bible verse.
I’ve been thinking - “What are my goals?  Why do I want to do this?  What do I hope to accomplish?”
Answers - “I’m not really sure.”  (how do you like THAT one!?)  
I do know that I feel gently pushed to try this - - something/one is urging me on from inside.  
I’m really excited both to create and then to share those creations!
I love to talk with people and I look forward to sitting at my table and meeting people.
I don’t expect to make a ton of money - but enough to continue buying nice fabrics would really be nice!  
I would like to meet other people in the city that are “crafty.”
For now, that’s about it!  
I have been sewing for Sophi - getting some things ready for the HOT Texas weather.  We’re going for a visit in July and Aug.
I made Sophi this really cute sundress - with all IKEA fabrics and applique, using this great tutorial.  Be sure to check out this blog! I love everything this sweet lady makes - and she is living in the “cold North,” too!

Isn’t the back sweet?  The tutorial originally called for a shirred back - but I didn’t have any elastic thread so I just put in some elastic at the top.  Next year, when I let it out a little I may go back and add the shirring.

I made this little skirt from an old pair of Anton’s jeans and some cute IKEA fabric.

I didn’t follow a pattern or tutorial - just winged it!  And I love how it turned out!
Sophi does, too!

Thank you so much to all of you for your encouraging words as I have been learning to sew.  I love doing it  . . . and I believe God is at work in me through it! 
 I feel His Pleasure as I create.
How cool is THAT!?  
Oh, yes, and I’ll be looking for you at my craft table at the “Smolensk Day” fair!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Law Won

I have been thinking about writing this for a while now.  
What stopped me was fear . . . which is a commentary in itself.
What happened with me is nothing new . . . and nothing secret . . . 
It happens 1,000’s of times a day, all over this great country.
So, here is my story:
I got caught.  
Yep, I parked in a “no parking” area.  
It was just for a couple of minutes, while I ran in to get a package I had been expecting from the States.  Mom sent me a Moda Layer Cake so I could get started quilting.  I was so excited.
As soon as I walked up to my car, I saw them.  They were standing on the sidewalk a few feet away from my car . . . and they were handing out tickets to several obviously shaken people standing around them.  
I thought to myself, 

    “I’ll just get in my car and see if they come up to me.”
I got in my car and, yes, the skinny one came up to me.
Skinny one:  “Let me see your documents, please.”
At this point, my heart is racing at about 100 klm per second.  

    “What if I can’t find my documents . . . what if I suddenly have massive Russian language memory loss . . . what if he takes my license, confiscates my car, and throws me in a Russian woman’s prison?  
    Oh my goodness, Sophi will grow up seeing her mom once a week in a work farm!!!
Ok, calm down . . . here are the documents . . . I think . . . “
I hand him what I believe to be what he is asking for . . . the car’s documents and a copy of my translated driver’s license.  He looks at them and then asks me to get out of the car and follow him.
I get out of the car and follow him . . . to his car . . . 
I notice the people around me.  One young woman is frantically talking with someone on her cell phone.  I catch a bit of the conversation:
“He says he is going to take my license . . . that’s just what he told me . . . “
Next, the big one gets out of their car and walks over to her:
“Ok, ok, put up the phone.  It’s over.” and hands her some papers.
Meanwhile, the skinny one tells me to sit down in their car.  Again, I get to thinking:

    “Ok, ok, not a good idea to get in the car with them.”

I sit down in the back seat.

   “ I’m not going to close the door.  And, if they tell me to close it, I’ll say, “No.”
The skinny one sits down in the front seat passenger side . . . he’s looking at my documents.  He asks me to give him something  . . . I’m too busy noticing the worn spot in the back seat to catch what he says . . . he repeats it and I still don’t get it.  The big one is behind the steering wheel and he turns to me and slowly repeats,

 “Give . . . him . . . your . . .  original . . . license.”
Strangely, I’m becoming quite calm.  Everything is starting to feel surreal.
I hand the skinny one my Texas license.  
And, this, my friends, is where it all starts to get good . . .
Skinny one:
“Well, well, well, D’Anna . . .  this is looking pretty bad.”
Awkward pause.
I’m thinking:

    “Here it goes.  He’s going to try to get me to pay him to get out of the ticket.”
I’m perfectly calm:

    “This should be pretty good!”
Skinny one:
“What you did is really bad.”

Then, kinda under his breath:
“Yeah, will probably have to go before the committee for this one.”
Now, I would not have known what the “committee” was except that Anton had to go before it last Spring for a traffic violation and they took his license for 4 months.
I’m thinking:

    “He’s threatening to take my license!  Can he take it for a parking violation?  I don’t know . . .”
I’m starting to get a little panicky again.
    “Maybe I should call Anton?  Ok, maybe later.  For now,  I’ll just sit here and play dumb and see what happens.”
Long awkward silence.
The big one starts asking me questions:
Where are you from?
Where are you registered?
How do you like it here?
They fill out some forms.  Struggle over some translation . . . looking for my license number on my original TX license.  I offer to help.  They ignore me.

Skinny one, in a voice that sounds a tad bit agitated:

“Well, D’Anna, this is bad.  What are you going to do about it?”
Me, calmly:
“What do you suggest?”

BOTH of them, in perfect unison, turn to face me, and say:
“US?!  WE can’t tell you!  What are YOU going to do?”
I’m not thinking now, I go into some kind of “auto-pilot.”
I ask, 
“What is the fine for this?”  

and, I add, in a naive voice,
“I have no idea.”
Now, at this point I’m wondering.

    “Are they going to think I’m asking them for a number?  Will they really give me one?
Good-night, I don’t have any money with me . . .  What am I thinking!?”
The big one turned around and said,
“For foreigners, it’s $100 dollars.”
At that, I laughed and said,
“I live in Russia.  I don’t have $100!”
Another awkward silence.
The big one laughs and says,
“Ok, for Russians it’s 100 rubles.”  (about $3)
That was it . . . the tension was broken.
They asked me lots of questions about the States.  
Very friendly, now, they even told me step-by-step what I needed to do to pay the fine.
As we were finishing up, I took a long look at these two.
I wanted so much to ask them WHY?  
    How can they do this day after day?  
    They are supposed to be the keepers of the law - but they 
    use the law to extort money
    from those whom they are to protect.  
    Every day they lie, manipulate, steal, and cheat - every
I didn’t have the guts to ask them “Why?” 

But, I was sad for them the rest of the day.  
And, I prayed for them.
Just a couple of days ago, I saw another traffic cop.  
He looked a lot like the big one.
There was a light out at one of the major intersections and there he stood - 
in the middle of this crossways 
- cars and buses, trams and trolleys, trucks and vans all around him - facing him and waiting for his next move.
He stood with his shoulders slumped. He turned this way and that way.  It was a great effort to raise his arms to signal - he must have been doing it for hours already.
Looking at him standing there alone, I was overcome with compassion and started to cry.
I cried for him all the way to Mother’s Day Out.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How a Park Changes

We have a wonderful little park near our apartment.  It is really a big wooded area (we call it a forest, but that’s stretching it!) with lots of little dirt trails and a pretty little lake (ok, more like a large pond, but it’s “our” large pond and we’re sticking by it!)
Here is the park in Fall:
Sophi and I are out for a walk in the crisp Autumn air.  
Notice the dark green trees that are just starting to golden. 

Here is the park in Winter:

Sophi and I are headed out to play in a new snow fall.  
See the bare trees and the frozen pond in the background?   
And, here is the park in Summer:

A wonderland of water and sand!

For little boys in baseball hats . . . 

And, expectant mama’s soaking up all that Vitamin D . . . 

The sun soon warms us all . . . 

Before you know it, it’s scorching, and a body needs to cool down . . . 

don’t you just love the innocence . . . 

Nothing better in the summer time . . . 
Right, Roma?

Thank you, God, for our ever-changing park!
When you come to Smolensk, we’ll take you out for a stroll!
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