Having spent most of my life on the California edge of the Pacific, when I wasn’t in the middle of it, that is, I am exceedingly fond of sunsets over the ocean. (Isn’t it generous of Nature to share her kaleidoscope with such mean beasts?)

I trapped a San Diego sunset one February day three years ago and now it’s serving as the wallpaper on my computer. It was one of many sublime sunsets I drove into after work when I was living at the beach the year before I moved here. I would drive a block past my tiny dollhouse to the empty beach, park my car, and leap out to capture the sky. Did that a lot. Here’s another February sunset from that year (click it!).


In addition to sunsets, I also love the color orange, African fabrics, and doing things to make the world a better place when I can. So after talking about the Shona shop (at the end of my last post), I bought a skirt. Couldn’t resist.

They called the one I bought the Sunset Skirt. It’s made of fine polished cotton, lined, and sewn with vertical panels that are wider at the bottom for a subtle flirty, frilly effect. The orange and off-white are complemented by a deep, almost black purple, just like in the captive sunset above. The skirt is as delicious as its name. And Mapendo, one of the Shona founders, sewed it herself. Thank you Mapendo!

This summer, Paris has had almost nonstop cotton-skirt weather, so I should have plenty of chances to wear this outfit before fall sets in.


I want to take this opportunity to salute Dawn Hurley, the wizard behind the Shona shop curtain (and what a beautiful curtain it must be!). I asked her about the shop and how she got involved. Here’s what she said:

While living here in Congo, I wanted to do something that would address some of those bottom levels of the pyramid, as you were saying. I am an English teacher by profession but that did not seem to be extremely useful in this context. Sewing seemed like a tangible way to help people help themselves, so I started with that, thinking that I would just carry some things back with me on my trips to the states, and sell them at a church or something.

Dawn’s husband had initially encouraged her to sell the items on eBay, but she ended up teaching herself html and launching an out-of-the-box platform for the Shona e-commerce site. Since then, she has found a company that donates its services to spruce up the site and keep it updated. She did all this with no background in sewing or geek stuff. Bravo, Dawn. (Read Dawn’s blog for more.)

Stories like this, people like this, are what make life good. Pretty skirts help too, of course.

I have never seen a sunset in Africa, but I think I’ll have to one of these days.