The Salt Life: Crafty Women (by Sasha)

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Did you know that there is a strong connection between the traditional crafts of women and political activism?

Throughout American history, knitters, quilters, and sewers have been activists who used their needles to needle the powers that be.


The most recent example comes from the Women’s March of Jan 21, 2017. Those pink “pussy hats” won by many protesters were neither worn by accident nor store bought. The Pussy Hat  Project recruited volunteer crafters, taught skills, provided patterns, and organized how to send hats to DC marchers. In support, individual stores offered discounts on pink yarns. See:

I come from a family of “crafty women,” so I’d like to share some of the examples of “womanly hobbies” that have turned political and even subversive. Consider these:


1)  Comforters for Children: In many communities, women knit and crochet afghans or sew quilts for police patrol cars, hospitals, NICUs, shelters, and schools so that children in crisis can be comforted by something that they are wrapped in and that is theirs to hold on to through whatever comes next. In addition in colder climes, mittens, hats, and scarfs are made by crafting societies as well as individuals and gifted to children in need.



2)  Bedrolls for the Homeless: In Sarasota, Interfaith Outreach of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice distributes sleeping mats that are crocheted from 700 recycled plastic grocery bags cut into loops. They measure 3x 6 feet and are lightweight, waterproof, and given free to those who sleep outside in the elements.

NEH photo




3) The AIDS Memorial Quilt: Perhaps the best example of how quilting was politicized by both women and men, the AIDS quilt provides a visually striking memorial to those who died from AIDS. The size of the individual panels are deliberately constructed as panels the size of a grave. When there was political resistance to funding AIDS research, the quilt raised public awareness of the extent of the crisis and the need for a public policy of compassion.4)  Political Statement Quilts: Whether it is pro-temperance, anti-war, or in celebration of the the Constitutional Bicentennial in 1987, quilters have voiced their political views by piecing together fabric works of art that become banners for their causes. Some of the patterns for quilt blocks are aptly named: Burgoyne Surrounded, Whig Rose, 54 40 or Fight, Union Star, Drunkard’s Path.

Burgoyne Surrounded

5)  Civil War Quilts: During the devastation of the Civil War, women both North and South sewed hospital quilts for the wounded. One surviving quilt has embroidered on the back: “While our fingers guide the needle, our hearts are intense (tents).”


6)  Underground Railroad Quilts: According to the book, Hidden in Plain View, quilts were used as a signal for slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. A log cabin quilt with a black chimney square (rather than the traditional red square) was hung outside on a clothesline to indicate that this was a safe house. Quilts were also stitched with symbols like the North Star, Flying Geese, and Jacob’s Ladder to provide a map of directions and distances for those escaping to freedom. The signal they sent was in “plain sight” and yet invisible to those who didn’t even notice these household items much less their subversive nature.



7)  Sewing Circles:  The very first place that suffragist Susan B. Anthony ever gave a political talk was at a sewing circle—a place where women were not monitored by men and where it was thought that the main topic of discussion was gossip—NOT!

So, my sisters, who or what are you needling?

Salt Life Photo Essay: The Sarsota Women’s March 1/21/17 (by Sasha)



The Women’s March began at noon by the Unconditional Surrender statue at the Bayfront Park, and after songs and speeches, the march took us over the Ringling Causeway Bridge and back.  There were people as far as the eye could see; clearly 1,000s upon 1,000s which says something for tiny Sarasota! It was orderly, peaceful, upbeat, and peppered with creative signs.

Our march was distinctively Sarasota:  temps in the high 70s; breeze blowing over the bridge; bright sun and blue sky; lots and lots of traffic; a diverse group of people; and a festive atmosphere of friendship and unity.

Here are some photos that speak for themselves.


The Salt Life: Women’s March in Sarasota 1-21-17 (by Sasha)

We will march in the footsteps of:


Are you planning to join the Women’s March scheduled for this Saturday, Jan 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C. or one of the other many  cities?

The marches are intended as positive reminders to our politicians that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and to promise solidarity with anyone who faces discrimination.

Jack and I plan to march with lots of friends in Sarasota and I’ll post photos and comments from our local event. If you are a local and are interested in joining us, check out the information at:

But meanwhile, I made the above graphic in honor of many of the women (but certainly not all!)  who are no longer with us and  who fought for women’s rights, human rights, and furthered our understanding of the meaning of equality.

I used a free program from to make this word cloud. Basically, you download the program,  upload or type in words (connect those that need to go together with a ~ sign and no spaces), choose a graphic to put the words into, and then you can tweak colors.

You are free to use mine or share it, but not to sell it. Better yet, make your own and march on…


Salt Life Photo Essay: Photos become Artwork (by Sasha)

There are so many wonderful photographic opportunities throughout Sarasota, that I want to introduce you to something a bit different:  a photo filter app named Prisma that works on Android and iOS phones.

The ‘Ca d’Zan (house of John) at the Ringling Museum

The upside is that the app is free, easy to use, and has 41 different filter effects (and endless possibilities because you can apply filter over filter.)

The downside is that it is addictive (but a great way to kill time in a waiting room or on hold for Comcast), the resolution is not great, and there are no descriptions for what the filters do–you just apply them and see the results.

So here are my originals with some of the filtered effects:

A pond and fountain at the Ringling:



The deck at the Bearded Clam Tiki Bar:



Lido Key Birds:


The Courtyard at the Ringling Museum, featuring the David:

And, I can’t resist, the artful Tibetan Terrier, Karma:

Have fun touring Sarasota and please share your own artistic works!

The Salt Life: Season(s) in Sarasota by Sasha

One of the concerns that visitors to Sarasota voice about living here year ’round is that they would miss the fact that here there are “no seasons.”

Au contraire.

The Lovely 4 Seasons who graced the Ringling Winewalk 2016

The conclusion that we lack seasons is off base in two ways.

First, we have weather seasons, although it is true that they are less extreme than up North. (But really, who envies that!)

From “Bliss” by

Our temperatures do not swing between high 90s and below zeros; precipitation does not range from rain, to ice, to snow; and leafless trees do not rattle like dry bones in the chilly wind.

But there are indeed seasonal shifts.

The three-four months of summer are sweltering hot and humid, and rain comes in torrential downpours each day around 4 p.m. (It actually illustrates the expression “sheets of rain” because you can see it coming like a wall of water from a mile away.)

Fall and Spring are glorious: full sunshine, low humidity, and temps that remain in the 80s. In essence, Paradise.

Winter (that is, that one day in December and perhaps up to 10 days in January), is cool and sometimes even requires that we turn the heat on over night. The sun shines and rain is rare. The gulf water drops for a few days below 70 degrees, but the sunsets are spectacular.

January 2017 Photo from Lido Beach by Jack
One of our juicy oranges



And no matter the season, something is in bloom or growing in Florida. Right now in January, our orange tree is heavy with ripe fruit. Grapefruit are soon to follow.

But the second point about Sarasota seasons, is that January 1st kicks off what locals refer to as “The Season.” This is the three-month period when tourists flood into our city and triple our population, triple our traffic, and pay triple prices for rentals.

But Season is more than just crowds: it is about a cultural bounty as well.


Sarasota Season is defined by opera, ballet, symphony, plays, performances, art installments, festivals, sporting events (including polo, tennis opens, golf tournaments, and baseball spring training), innovative restaurant menus, and of course, fantastic white sand beaches.

As much as locals bemoan the traffic congestion, the waitlists for restaurants, and the difficulty in finding beach parking, (and yes, we do moan and groan about all this), we also acknowledge and appreciate that without tourists and their dollars, we would be a much poorer community not only monetarily but also culturally.

To put a different spin on it: Tourists are the reason for our Season.





The Salt Life: Confessions of a Cub Fan’s Spouse (by Sasha)

mlb-cubsWill a win be more traumatic for Cubbie fans and the Cub franchise than a loss?

This is the question I ponder as we prepare ourselves for the start of the World Series

Yes, we now live in Sarasota, FL, but Cub fans remain true blue no matter where they reside.

Jack is a natural born Cub fan, having been born outside of Chicago and raised by a Cub fan father. As a New Yorker, I cheered for the Mets, but when I realized that this was untenable for our relationship, I agreed to convert upon marriage over 20 years ago. It was only then that I began to appreciate the tragic history of my new team—a team that has not won the World Series in what is now 108 years and yet their fans remain loyal and fan-atically devoted. For heavens sake, my father-in-law lived to be 102 and during his entire lifetime did not see his beloved team triumph.

Like any conversion, I had to learn the history and traditions associated with my new religion.

And a religion it is. Being a Cub fan demands spiritual depth. It means having faith when reason tells you otherwise, it means developing personal strength in the face of despair, and it means being the butt of jokes about perennial losers.  But it also means love–as in love of the game despite the loses, love of the players despite their foibles, a love of legacy despite its moments of deep disappointment, and a love of living on the margins when the world clamors for the mainstream. It’s no wonder that the most prized seating at Wrigley is not in the box seats but in the outfield bleachers, and that the drink of choice is not a Heineken but a Bud (Cub fan, Bud man).img_2176

I have touched the holy ivy at Wrigley; attended spring training games in Mesa, AZ; wear with pride my pin-striped shirt with GRACE on the back (for Mark Grace, natch); learned that a Cubbie fan is expected to throw back onto the field (with distain) the REAL homerun ball hit by the other team; know that when the Cubs have the lead, never to chant “Let’s get some runs!” after the rituals of the Seventh Inning Stretch; sang with gusto “Go Cubs Go! Go Cubs Go! Hey Chicago what do you say, the Cubs are gonna win today!” (watch a video version of the song here) and repeated with genuine conviction, “This is going to be THE year.” I even know that the sign on a nearby rooftop that spells out “EAMUS CATULI” is Latin (almost) for Go Cubs.


And I have learned to forgive and be forgiven. I confess that shortly after our move to Sarasota, I became enamored of another: The Tampa Bay Rays. Like the Cubs, the odds seemed against them but still they played scrappy baseball. I came to love their manager Joe Madden for the upbeat spirit and quirky ways he brought to the team and the game.





But then Fate once again shook the universe, and Madden left the Rays and joined, of all teams, the Cubs, (taking Ben Zobrist with him). I forgave them and then found forgiveness myself when I returned to the fold of the Cubbies (despite their losing ways).

Now things have changed. With Madden at the helm, the Cubs are, dare I say it, winners. They are poised to play this Tuesday night in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. They will be playing in their first World Series since 1945—before Jack was even born. So we should rejoice, right?

But I can’t.

Part of the Cub history is their ability to snatch defeat out of victory.  Among the worst moments are the billy goat curse of 1945, the black cat on the field in 1969, and the Steve Bartman fan interference debacle in 2003. And then there is a history of devastating injuries (Sammy Sosa’s caused by a sneeze), of ninth inning collapses, and of dropped balls, once cracking bats that now meet only air, and players who collide with each other. A familiar posture of Cub fans occurs when they cover their eyes to ward off the demons of doom followed by the communal groan of “OOOOH NOOOO!” It is thus that Cub fans topple from the highest of optimistic heights to the basement of baseball abyss.

So it’s no wonder that I face the World Series games with trepidation. (I hear the warning “Winter is coming” and shudder.) I don’t want to witness the pain of those I love should the Cubs return to their previous Cub-like ways.

Jamison, Madison, & Jack

Adding to my concern, is the fact that this year we are once again 3 generations Cubbie strong. With the birth of little Madison, who at just 7 weeks old wore her Cub tee each night to witness the Cubs win the National League pennant, we wonder if this could really, really be THE year.

But upon reflection, I’m not really afraid of losing. We have, after all, already won in making it to the World Series following a 103-58 season, and we have already won in never giving up and keeping the faith despite over a century of defeat.

What really scares me is winning.

How will winning alter our Cubbie identity? No longer the perennial but undisputedly, lovable losers, who will we become? Will our ranks be infiltrated by unproven, unworthy bandwagon Cub fans?

I confess; I’m not sure.

But for the sake of all those who did not live to see this day, those like Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Steve Goodman, Harry Caray, and our very own Erwin Freie, I’d like to give being a winner a shot.

Eamus Catuli!

Please share with other Cub fans!!!