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Bubbe Wisdom by LouiseSilk
Unraveling the Threads of Life
Oct 19, 2010 | 177459 views | 0 0 comments | 161 161 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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The Full Moon of Elul
by LouiseSilk
Aug 27, 2015 | 117 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

As we approach the full moon of Elul this weekend, it is time to gear up for The New Year peeking just around the bend. Traditionally we read Psalm 27. Here is a modern version as translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

    Yah! You are my light.

    You are my savior.

    Whom need I dread?

    Yah, with you as my strong protector who can make me panic?

    When hateful bullies gang up on me, wanting to harass me, to oppress and terrorize me

    They are the ones who stumble and fall.

    Even if a gang surrounds me my heart is not weakened.

    If a battle is joined around me my trust in You is firm.

    Only one thing do I ask of You, Yah:

    Just this alone do I seek, I want to be at home with you, Yah,

    All the days of my life.

    I want to delight in seeing You.

    Seeing You when I come to visit You in Your temple.


    You hide me in your sukkah on a foul day.

    You conceal me unseen in Your tent.

    You also raise me beyond anyone's reach

    And now, as You have held my head high despite the presence of my powerful foes

    I prepare to celebrate and thrill, singing and making music to You, Yah!

    Listen, Yah, to the sound of my cry

    And, being kind, answer me!

    My heart has said, I turn to seek you.

    Your presence is what I beg for

    Don't hide Your face from me.

    Don't just put me down, You who have been my helper.

    Don't abandon me, don't forsake me, God my support.

    Though my father and my mother have left me

    You, Yah, will hold me securely.

    Please teach me Your way.

    Teach me Your way and guide me on the straight path.

    Discourage those who defame me

    Because false witnesses stood up against me belching out violence.

    Don't let me become the victim of my foes.

    I wouldn't have survived

    If I hadn't hoped that I would see, yet,

    Your goodness, God, fully alive on earth.

    So I tell you, my friends: you too hope to Yah! Be sturdy!

    And make strong your heart. And most of all, keep hoping to Yah.


And if that is too much for you consider this written by our own home-grown Rabbi Patti Haskell.


Late summer month

Leading into the holiest of days.

Time of reflection

Time of return

Time of repentance.


An invitation to open your heart

And feel into your own depths

Searching for sweetness

Searching for tenderness.

Searching for reunion

With your Glorious Creator

Who loves your very being.


Open and be.

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American Made
by LouiseSilk
Aug 25, 2015 | 336 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

How does one grow a new evolving business to make its mark?

A.     Create a look and feel on Instagram

B.     Create a story around the products and the makers

C.     Get follows on Facebook and Tumblr

D.    Try to catch the eye of someone famous

E.     All of the above

In the effort to do All Of The Above, Sarah and I made the effort to get our business, SilkDenim, nominated for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards.  The entry itself took quite a bit of effort. There were many questions and a video. For example here is the answer to Tell us about your business in 1000 characters or less:

Inspired by the beauty of authentically worn old jeans, we started SilkDenim to repurpose clothing with history into meaningful one of a kind garments, bags & quilts for people who want to be eco-conscious, stylish, comfortable & unique. A Mother Daughter business, we individually craft every item in Pittsburgh PA out of handpicked vintage jeans & clothing. Louise Silk, a fiber artist for over 40 years, raised Sarah Silk with a love of all things fiber. Together, we began designing clothes & bags to fit our artistic lifestyles. Leftover t-shirts from Louise’s memory quilt commissions became Sarah’s dream shrug. Family’s members’ old jeans became our favorite purses. Requests rolled in. A business was born. Our process includes deconstructing & reworking denim into transformed pieces focusing on style & function. We plan to keep the business in Pittsburgh so all pieces can be made by us or local artisans.

Next month we will find out if we are one of 500 finalists and then we will need your help to win. Stay tuned for more info. Meanwhile meet SilkDenim on Utube.

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The Great New Pittsburgh Botanical Garden
by LouiseSilk
Aug 16, 2015 | 308 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

If you venture out into the wilderness one last time before getting into fall, make an extra effort to get to The Pittsburgh Botanical Garden.  It was founded in 1988 by horticulturists who envisioned a world-class outdoor garden for the Pittsburgh area by transforming 460 acres of abandoned mining land.  We discovered it by happenstance driving someone to the airport.

This year, the Garden opened on a permanent, year-round basis. There are all kinds of experiences: a children’s sensory garden, a restored log cabin, chickens in the apple orchard, reforesting with 1,500 saplings, wonderful meadows, and a restored lily pond to name a few of the stand-outs.


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Guerrilla Who?
by LouiseSilk
Aug 13, 2015 | 392 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

As always happens, things show up in one’s life that seems so interrelated it is impossible to ignore. This one started for me with a new book about Agnes Martin. So wonderfully informative and insightful; if you have any interest in her, her work, and that time period for growth of abstract art it is well worth the read.

That somehow put me in touch with a new book with the writings of Linda Nochlin. Another fascinating review of women’s place in fine art, beginning with the women’s movement in the 70s.

And then this article in the NY Times about the 30th anniversary of my heroes (along with Louise Bourgeois), The Guerrilla Girls. In addition to a look at their herstory and their continued commitment to “working without the pressure of success”, the great news that The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has purchased their entire collection of posters and numbered prints that were originally plastered on walls, phone booths and galleries in SoHo and will shown them in their own exhibition at The Walker museum in January. The times they are a changing?-maybe

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Let The Real Work Begin
by LouiseSilk
Aug 11, 2015 | 213 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

If you’re like me and make an extra effort to watch Jon Stewart’s fine episode last week on Comedy Central and if like me, you were bored and deeply disappointed; it helps to read Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness, Gerard Alexander’s opinion in the New York Times. The point made is that while we like to think of John Stewart is an active change agent the fact is he is nothing more than a comedian doing a comedy show on a comedy channel.

It’s true; he was never restricted by false ethics or standards of balance. He used an honestly critical brand of reporting that doesn’t exist anywhere on television. He was never stymied by the anarchy of the far right. He very effectively highlighted the hypocrisy and growing superficiality of journalism and reinforced the growing sense that media more often than not gets distracted by its own short sightedness.

But at the end, Stewart’s pointedly funny satire was simply preaching to the choir and doesn’t do a blessed thing to alter the changes that need to occur in news reporting. Disappointing.

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by LouiseSilk
Aug 06, 2015 | 433 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I read somewhere that Americans spend an estimated 37 billion hours waiting in line each year. You know we aren’t happy, particularly while we wait impatiently for an internet page to load on our phone trying to occupy our time waiting in that line. That’s one of the successes of apps- they have eliminated the wait time as much as is humanly possible as I showed in my blog about banking.

We want it all, and we want it now. Why do we hate waiting? It’s because unoccupied time drags provoking impatience and anxiety that makes the wait interminable. Waiting is that nagging sensation that one’s life is uselessly slipping away. Lay that in opposition to our constant busyness, our multitasking, and our information overload, no wonder we do not tolerate idle time very well.

Why not look at waiting situations as an opportunity to have more peace and stillness in our lives? There is a Japanese concept known as ma that refers to the gap or space between things.  What if we could use life's inevitable waiting periods as moments of ma?

Next time you find yourself waiting in line, instead of reaching for your phone try one or two of these:

Take some deep breaths.

Smile and engage with a stranger.

Clear your thoughts directing your full awareness the visual and auditory stimuli around you.

Let someone who's in a rush cut in front of you.

Make a mental list of things you're grateful for.


Try a standing yoga pose.

Send a kind thought to someone you love.


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The Best Breakfast in the Universe
by LouiseSilk
Aug 04, 2015 | 344 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

A toasted 12-grain Bruegger’s bagel

Fresh Mozzarella

Steve’s homegrown tomato

Steve’s fresh garden basil

Organic fresh brew coffee with half and half

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The Best Invention Since Sliced Bread
by LouiseSilk
Jul 30, 2015 | 367 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Oh my goodness, have you tried mobile banking? I am one of 45 million consumers now using mobile banking and with good reason. It is amazing.

I get a check in the mail. I open the app in my phone, I decide where I want the money to go, the app guides me in photographing the front and the back on the check- voila, money deposited.  It is truly amazing.

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#recycleddenim #madeinpittsburgh #Oneofakind #Have It Your Way
by LouiseSilk
Jul 28, 2015 | 631 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I love working at SilkDenim where I can continually sharpen my most advanced skill of patchwork construction. You can see the great results in the newest additions of Collection II on our website.

But in today’s internet business world, one studio skill needs the follow-up of active publicity and marketing to makes its way into the digital hands of the consumer. Enter the #hastag where thousands of social media users are only a word away from connecting with our SilkDenim garments, quilts and accessories.

Three Examples:

Robert Brandegee’s chair with our #SilkDenim custom cushion. Made from 100% recycled denim: #custom #patchwork #chair #craft #art #recycleddenim #reclaimed #upcycleddenim #upcycle #reuse #recycle #designer #denim #home #apartment #design #craft #handmade #jeans #vintagejeans #pittsburgh #madeinpittsburgh #cushion #pillow

Our #SilkDenim romper made from 100% recycled vintage denim: #jeans #denim #romper #onesie #oneofakind #custom #handmade #artisan #arttowear #style #fashiondesign #fashion #design #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburgh #upcycle #reclaim #vintagejeans #vintage #bohemian #comfort #reuse #recycle #salvage #ecoconscious #jumper #wabisabi #hole #rippedjeans #distressedjeans

Our #SilkDenim Boro Quilt made from recycled vintage denim and hand quilted Japanese inspired: #quilt #boro #handmade #handquilt #art #sew #silkdenim #patchwork #denim #ecoconscious #upcycle #reclaim #vintagejeans #jeans #comfort #artisan #madeinpittsburgh #pittsburgh #oneofakind #custom #reuse #recycle #utilitarian #style

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The Death Of Ms. Bland
by LouiseSilk
Jul 23, 2015 | 449 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t have much experience with prisons. That’s probably one of the reasons I watched Orange Is The New Black on Netflix, to get a peak behind the bars and glean a little understanding of incarceration. Hands down, my favorite episode is when bed bugs appear and the inmates are forced to spend their days wearing only regulation prison underwear. Who ever thought about the need for underwear as part of a uniform? It reveals so much on so many levels- really genius dramatization.

Part of this third season entails the privatization of the prison and the opening of a sweatshop where the inmates made fancy underwear.  This made me interested in Columbia University’s recent decision to stop investing money in companies that run private prisons. Columbia owned roughly $10 million worth of shares in two companies that run private prisons.

A $5 billion private prison system accounts for nearly 20 percent of federal prisoners and about 7 percent of state prisoners. Minorities who are convicted of crimes are more likely to be sent to private prisons than their white counterparts where shareholders are guaranteed shareholders certain occupancy levels that often result in higher rates of incarceration.

Yesterday was another blow against the prison system with the death of Sandra Bland. Reported as a suicide, it seems more like a wrongful death because she should never have been arrested. She had recently moved from Chicago to Houston to start a new job and made the mistake of expressing irritation at being pulled over for not signaling a lane change and then balking when the officer asked her to put out her cigarette.

As Tisha B’Av approaches, we can add to our list of losses moral, ethical, and rehabilitative correctional facilities. Another shanda for America.

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