Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rug Show 2013 - Weaving Demonstrations

by John Aldrich

The Elders come to the show primarily to sell their rugs and crafts. But they also spend time sharing their unique skills and creative vision with the audience. Prior to the show opening to the public there are demonstrations for school children, and during the show, there are several opportunities for people to see the weavers at work and to hear the stories of the rugs.

Most of the weavers still have their own sheep, and many still prepare their own wool for weaving. This is a time-intensive and laborious process which is little practiced by the younger generations of weavers who find that commercial yarn is much more convenient.

While other weavers work at their looms, a few of the oldest Elders show portions of the process that leads to finished wool that can be used in weaving rugs. Elsie Shay demonstrates carding where fine-toothed combs separate the wool into strands.

The raw wool is then worked into loose coils in preparation for spinning. These are the hands of Ruth Benally.

Using a hip spindle, May Shay is working the wool into a finer strand that can be used for weaving.

Katie Furcap shows a simple but effective way to coil and uncoil the wool.

The first weaving demonstrations take place on Thursday and Friday for over 600 school children before the show opens to the public. Rena Robertson works at her loom in front of a sea of fascinated young faces.

Elizabeth Clah is working on a twill pattern. This is a more complicated technique of weaving than traditional rug patterns.

During the weaving demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, Elsie Benale and Ella Benally present and describe a rug from each of the weavers.

Lena Cowboy's hands work instinctively as she adds new lines of weft to her rug.

Anna Jackson's rug is a conventional pattern. It is remarkable that weavers in their 80's and 90's can still weave so beautifully.

Louise Reed worked on this Yei rug during the various demonstrations throughout the show. It remained unfinished on Sunday and will be completed later.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas 2013 - Jingle, Mingle, and Bingo

by John Aldrich

As Christmas fast approaches, ANE volunteers enjoyed our annual party at the warehouse yesterday. This is always a time of happiness as well as an opportunity to feel grateful for the work that has helped to support the Elders throughout the year.

This year's party had an additional happy note as Linda was able to introduce her new assistant, Caroline Murdock.

Caroline made a very favorable impression on everyone. She is friendly, engaging, and assured in a way that makes one feel that she will be a great asset to ANE and an invaluable part of the team. We look forward to working with her and getting to know her better.

The party consisted of a pot luck meal plus a variety of games. The assortment of food items was both tempting and overwhelming. Joan Reid shows the colorful cheesecake she brought.

Before the games began, Sam and Sandi Aloia shared a few words about their trip to the Chinle area of the reservation to deliver Christmas stockings. They were also able to visit with their Elder on the trip.

Linda is quite a master of devising entertaining games, and all of the major prizes were to be won on behalf of Elders. This added a note of giving to the competition. Initially, people won points and awards for their answers to a variety of trivia questions. One that stumped everyone was, "Who first sang Jingle Bell Rock"? (For those who are curious, it was Bobby Helms in 1958). Other questions were of a more personal nature such as, "Who has ever received and then thrown out a fruit cake"?

There was quite a response to that one.

The grand prize for this event went to the person with the most points. Carla Sydenham tallies her score but didn't win.

Thanks to her ability to sing/recite the full Twelve Days Of Christmas song, Mary Ann Morgan was the big winner.

Before the bingo games began, C.J. passed around small gifts from the Elders to everyone.

In what may very well have been her first official function at ANE, Caroline also helped with this job.

C.J. was the emcee for bingo.

Mary Ann helped her granddaughter, Morgan, fill in her card using Fruit Loops for markers.

 One of the games needed an "L" to win.

 Joan won one of the big prizes.

Several of the prizes were Wal Mart gift cards. It seemed most appropriate that Sam Tsosie, a Code Talker from Dilkon, won this $50 card.
Sam is spending the winter months in Salt Lake with one of his daughters, and we were honored that he was able to attend our party.

And finally, these elves wish you a Merry Keshmish and Happy New Year on behalf of all of us at ANE.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rug Show 2013 - The Auction

The Friday night gala opening for the rug show features a live auction as the main attraction of the evening. This event serves as the principal fund-raiser for ANE during the show, helping to defray the cost of bringing the Elders to Park City and staging the event at the Snow Park Lodge.

An auction has been a part of the show for many years, but this year was unique for the quality and appeal of the various packages that were offered.

Pauline Blanchard was the moving force behind the auction this year. A great deal of work takes place throughout the year to line up the various packages, and Pauline did an outstanding job.

We use bidding paddles to make the auction run more efficiently. KC Hale helped guests register  which entered them into a raffle drawing as well.

Pauline had a team of assistants who helped the auction run smoothly.

By the time the auction got underway, a good crowd had gathered.

The auction packages were presented to the audience by several Navajo girls in traditional dress.

Richard O'Keefe was once again our auctioneer. His style is fast-paced and very entertaining, so even those who weren't bidding had a good time at the event.

Winning bidders not only won their chosen package but were presented with  a white rose.

One of the packages featured a variety of items created by talented ANE volunteers. This beautiful watercolor by Sandy Sleeper was one of the items.

During a brief break in the bidding, the audience was treated to cookies.

The most impressive auction package of the evening was a Grand Canyon white water rafting trip for two. Fientje Allis facillitated this donation through Marty Mathis the owner of Grand Canyon Expeditions in Kanab, UT. Marty received a Navajo rug in honor of his generosity. The trip drew a high bid of $6000.

Lacee Harris and his wife had fun bidding and came away with several of the packages.

Perhaps the most unique thing at the auction was a package that provided a traditional Navajo meal cooked at the winner's home for ten guests. Along with the food the package included an evening of Navajo winter stories. The Eichingers won this package but live in Texas. They will fly Beverly Benally and her husband Howard to Texas this winter to provide the food and stories to their family.

When it was all over everyone felt rewarded with an enjoyable event and ANE benefited from the most successful auction ever.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

by John Aldrich

We all hope that everyone in the ANE family as well as the world in general is having a wonderful day full of gratitude and thanks for the many blessings we enjoy.

ANE volunteers had their own special Thanksgiving event last Sunday at the annual dinner to honor those whose dedicated service make the work of our organization possible. Here are a few highlights of the evening:

The warehouse was miraculously transformed for the event. Approximately 100 people attended and brought special dishes to add to the turkeys and ham provided.

Robin Field-Williams brought her famous strudel dessert.

After everyone had settled in with full plates of food, Linda conducted a brief program which started by honoring Virginia Aldrich who had organized the event.

Alice Sikorsky was honored for her work organizing the Christmas stocking program which will deliver over 1200 stockings to school children on the reservation.

Our new Shi Yazhi princess, Tiffany Singer, attended with her proud parents.

CJ Robb provided details of the rug show financial results which were very impressive this year.

Gina Zimmerer spoke about the Christmas Ornament Program which sold all but 13 of the ornaments at the rug show. She told us that these remaining ornaments were available for purchase that evening.

At this point Shawn Acerson challenged everyone to make a donation and a basket was passed around the room resulting in $1000 which could be split among the 13 unsold ornaments.

 Shirlee Silversmith's little granddaughter made a generous $10 donation.

Shawn and Gina totaled up the final total of donations.

After this outpouring of generosity, Linda thanked everyone and offered a chance at the mic to anyone who wished to add their own remarks.

This offer was led by Shirlee Silversmith.

Followed by Andrea Berman who offered a few of her hand-made earrings for sale to benefit the Elders.

Rose Jakub offered a few words and sang a song.

Rosie Begay expressed her gratitude for the Program, and also spoke of how much ANE means to her mother-in-law, Madeline Begay. Madeline is an Elder in the Program at the Dilkon food run.

Harry James spoke and sang.

The evening ended with the surprise appearance of James Bilagody a very entertaining Navajo comedian.

Many thanks to all our volunteers, and a Happy Thanksgiving to all.