I am AI, We are AI (and other thoughts about indigo)

I have been thinking about indigo a lot lately.

My forthcoming novel, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible, is about a biracial girl whose father is an indigo farmer and dyer in Tokushima. The inspiration for this is rooted in an interview I did about ten years ago with indigo farmer/textile artist Rowland Ricketts III, an American who apprenticed with dyers and farmers in Tokushima. At the time of our interview, he was living in Shimane Prefecture, where his Japanese wife, Chinami, studied weaving, and where he continued to grow and dye indigo.

Here is the end of my published article:

Eventually, he hopes to collaborate  with Chinami, dyeing fabrics that she has woven herself.

“We want to start with  a handful of cotton seeds and indigo seeds and, with the help of nature, transform them into textiles.

Ricketts also has large-scale plans, and is trying to organize an exhibition of indigo in the United States. “I want to explain to Americans what Japanese indigo is, from sukumo, starting with the seeds.” 

It’s still in the planning stages,” he says of the exhibition. “Nothing happens quickly – I learned that from farming.”

Now, Ricketts is growing and dyeing and teaching in Indiana. His full scale exhibition has been achieved. Today, my daughter and I took in his indigo installation, the final event in a multi-faceted program – I am Ai, We are Ai. It’s always good to know that with hard work and dedication, dreams do indeed come true.

Short Story du Jour #7 – Her Arabic was Shabby

I wish someone would hurry up and publish more of Rosa Shand’s books. I know she’s written a collection of short stories set in Uganda, where she lived for a time, and also a novel and stories set in her native South Carolina. She has one of the most distinctive voices I’ve ever read, and I loved her novel The Gravity of Sunlight. I also loved this story, set among expats in Africa.

Short Story du Jour #1

In honor of the aforementioned short fiction month, I’ve decided to point you, dear reader, to a different short story every day in May. Today’s story is a favorite from the archives of Literary Mama, a funny story about an expatriate Finnish couple in Alabama (which I understand is not a funny place right now) and their misadventures with an au pair.  So here it is – Au Pair in Alabama, or The Legend of the Dog Killer by Tua Laine.

All my best to the people of Alabama, especially Tuscaloosa, and to Tua Laine, especially if she’s still in the state.