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American literature art creativity death

Seattle Protests! face masks support ACLU and #BLM

 

These face masks celebrate the peaceful #Black Lives Matter protests which have marked 2020 in Seattle and ushered in hopes for a more equitable future.
– Available in Large, Adult, and Petite sizes
– Attached by black cotton ties printed with colorful peace symbols. Extra long ties for all hairstyles!
– The latest in retro-chic style (see the June 2020 Vogue!)
– Sold in sets of two masks
– 100% cotton front and back. The fronts are in bright orange and red batik, printed with a black silkscreen of the Seattle cityscape. The backs are made of tight-woven white cotton for superior protection.
– Created from New York Times pattern (April 1, 2020): page A15
– Lined with interfacing for a crisp look with no ironing required
– Include the adorable HGBG puppy dog logo
– Free shipping to anywhere in the USA.
– 50% of proceeds will be donated to the local arm of the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s premier civil rights and civil liberties organization. Clients will receive a copy of the receipt from the ACLU when this fund-raiser is over.
– Your purchase supports a Seattle small business and promotes fair and equal civil rights for all!

-Limited availability; only 25 will be made. Order today from the Honey Girl Books and Gifts Etsy store.

Seattle Protests masks with books

Why? Because Black Lives Matter.

P.S. Wonder who that handsome smiling man is, in the background on the right? It’s Langston Hughes (1901-1967): a great African-American activist and writer, and judging from the touching voice of his poems, a beautiful human being.  Listen to him recite “I, Too Sing America.”

Categories
American literature art conflict creativity quilts wisdom

day 79: follow his words–Chad Sanders, that is

Hey readers,

Exhausted, heart-sick, anxious and wretched? Me too. But we need to get over it. I got a surge of new energy–and humility–this morning from reading the powerful article in the New York Times Op-Ed section by Chad Sanders (author of the forthcoming book, Black Magic). The article is accompanied by the image above, by Hanna Barczyk, which says it all: hey white folks, stop drowning black people in your crocodile tears!

Basically, Sanders is here to chastise us–white people like me who’ve written to our black friends this week–and to explain why our messages are misguided and tiring. Black people are drowning in our smug letters and texts, he says. Moreover, he points out that us telling people, “Don’t feel the need to respond,” is wrong on all accounts: it is oppressive,  condescending and not appreciated by the recipient. (How would you like it if someone told you how to feel? or not to feel?)

Most usefully, he provides instructions on what we CAN do, if we want to do something meaningful.  As he writes, “please, stop sending #love. Stop sending positive vibes. Stop sending your thoughts. Here are three suggestions on more immediately impactful things to offer instead:

  1. Money: To funds that pay legal fees for black people who are unjustly arrested, imprisoned or killed or to black politicians running for office.
  2. Texts: To your relatives and loved ones telling them that you will not be visiting them or answering phone calls until they take significant action in supporting black lives either through protest or financial contributions.
  3. Protection: To fellow black protesters who are at greater risk of harm during demonstrations.”*

*Chad Sanders, “White Friends, Fight Anti-Blackness,” New York Times (6/6/20): A21.

Being a good student, I immediately got out my wallet and visited the link on Anti-Racist and Social Justice Resources of my favorite local public radio station, KEXP. After studying some options, I chose to donate $100 to National Bail Out. I like their slim organization–run by volunteers–and their clear mission: this is a “Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration. We are people who have been impacted by cages — either by being in them ourselves or witnessing our families and loved ones be encaged. We are queer, trans, young, elder, and immigrant.”  Learn more at www.nationalbailout.org.

national bail out

In conclusion, please excuse me, black friends, if I annoyed you or wasted your time with my emails this week. And I thank you, Chad Sanders, for helping me understand how I can help with funding organizations like National Bail Out. On a lighter note, I’m thrilled to see one of my clients wearing one of my face masks to a local demonstration!  (Looking good, Shep!)

Shep at protest with HG face mask on June 5 2020

p.s. I’m still moving forward on plans for the “Respect” quilt project, and the special offer of a Honey Girl quilt for only $100 is still good for one more day!  See day 73 for details.

Respectfully yours,

Julia

fyi: no face masks made yesterday, but production resumes today…

Categories
American literature art conflict creativity friendship quilts work

day 78, a way forward: the Respect quilt

Hello readers,

I’m excited today to announce a new idea afoot and to request any feedback you may have to share about the “Respect” quilt project which was inspired by the many beautiful fabrics I’ve purchased from black-owned businesses around the USA this week (above):

The “Respect” quilt project: allies at work

The “Respect” quilt is a result of black and white creators working together to honor black women’s beauty, history, and resilience.

The first one, underway, is being created by a former teacher, a white woman, for a former student of hers, a black woman in South Bend, Indiana. When in her class at age 15, the young woman wrote and illustrated a short story, Overcoming Adversity, which stayed in the mind of her teacher all these years. (Discussions are afoot about revising it and publishing it with Honey Girl Books and Gifts LLC.)

The “Respect” quilt features African fabrics (waxes and Ankara cottons), Afrocentric fabrics, such as Harlem Toile de Jouy designed by Sheila Bridges (NYC), and other fabrics purchased from African-American business women across the USA.  It is the intention to celebrate and honor black womanhood that we all share.

Ideas? email: juliawsea@gmail.com

And yesterdays’ face mask production fyi, the final batch for North Seattle College! (if you look carefully, you’ll see that all 45 masks made over the past days are uniquely different, to honor the diverse identities of the No. Sea. College faculty, staff and students!):

Face masks made on June 4 2020

 

Categories
American literature French literature nature

day 77, just getting by, with Mallarmé

Hi anybody,

So much turmoil and fear everywhere. Anxiety courses through my veins and it is only 9:02 am. No wisdom to share today.  Just “same as day 73, and every day since.” If I can help you, please contact me. If not, know I’m feeling the pain too. It’s a mute solidarity of misery and fear. But we can still hope for a better tomorrow. Or even a better 9:15am!  On that note, I’m going to go for a walk.  Here is a bit of poetry from Mallarmé–an excellent companion for bleak moments–to capture the angst and desire to flee from one’s own mind:

La chair est triste, hélas ! et j’ai lu tous les livres.
Fuir ! là-bas fuir! Je sens que des oiseaux sont ivres
D’être parmi l’écume inconnue et les cieux !

“Brise marine” by Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)

And the gorgeous translation by my friend Henry Weinfield:

Sea Breeze

The flesh is sad, alas, and there’s nothing but words!

To take flight, far off! I sense that somewhere the birds

Are drunk to be amid strange spray and skies.

— Stéphane Mallarmé, Collected Poems, trans. by Henry Weinfield (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1994, 2011), p. 21.

Yesterday’s production of face masks:

Face masks made on June 3 2020

Categories
American literature art conflict creativity death quilts work

day 74, same as yesterday

Can’t think of anything better than to repeat myself, on this sad moment in American life.

Dear reader,

I know that you are suffering. That is why I’m writing. I want to remind you that your life matters, your mind matters, your potential matters. Your words and actions matter. All the people who have died matter, and we will remember them, and keep demanding an end to the violence. And if you would like a face mask to wear during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, or a quilt to celebrate a life, let me know. I can help with that. (Quilts $100 today only; lead time 3-6 months.)

Thank you.

With hope and solidarity,

Julia   (use the Contact form to communicate requests for masks or quilt information, or just to chat. I’ll check in frequently.)

p.s. sorry for such a minute response to what is really a shattering moment in American history, but apart from nothing—symbolic silence—I could not think of anything worth writing. It’s all out there in the news, I can only offer face masks or quilts, and a few words of comfort.

Honey Girl quilts, normally $499.99, just $100 this week only!

(That is Nick’s high school graduation quilt, June 2009; apologies for the out-of-focus photo)

***

and fyi, yesterday’s face mask production:

Face masks made on May 31 2020

Categories
American literature art creativity death Zen philosophy

day 66: “Undone” and “Devs”: love the way they stay in the mind

Two good things to note about this spring: we’ve watched some series that generated really interesting conversations about existence and its possibilities. Last night we watched the finale of Devs (spoiler alert: it’s actually DEUS), and we’re still wondering what exactly it meant. Does the kinda creepy tech wizard messiah dude (played by Nick Offerman) get to live forever, as long as his blank-faced automaton girlfriend (Alison Pill) keeps the switch turned on? But what about the gamine, feisty, super-smart heroine Lily (played to perfection by Sonoya Mizuno)? Is she doomed to live in the messiah dude’s version of paradise? That could be nice, as is suggested by the sweet embrace with her hunky boyfriend (Jin Ha) at the end. But what if somebody turns off the switch?!!!!!

Undone, which we saw earlier this spring, was/is even better. In Undone, the heroine Alma (Rosa Salazar) struggles with “mental health” in ways that put a bite into the words–what’s so healthy about reality as we know it? (It is worth noting that her very name is inspiring: “Alma” has several meanings in a variety of languages but the gist is this child “feeds one’s soul” or “lifts the spirit”.) Even though the images are animated, Alma feels very real; her presence is what the French call tonique.

Alma’s situation is so interesting that I can’t wait to see Season 2 of Undone. I guess it’s what we all wish we could do. Sort of. Sometimes… She is able to see and talk to her dead dad. She sees him pretty regularly although with startling irregularity to her: he comes and goes at whim, played with spot-on timing by Bob Odenkirk, who has the most familiar voice from all those seasons of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, that you totally believe he’s the dad, or an uncle, or somebody you know.

The comedy/tension of Undone comes from watching this dazzling Latina heroine toggle between the two worlds: on the one hand, there are the moments of Zen awareness brought on by her dad and his teachings, but they are marred by the anxiety of wondering if he is messing with her for his own designs. On the other hand, there is Alma’s sweet (maybe too sweet?) boyfriend, played adorably by Siddharth Dhananjay. But wait a minute: what’s with his not telling her about their break-up before her near-death experience, amnesia and unwitting reconciliation? Is he intolerably weak, to be dropped immediately, or heart-breakingly lovable and to be married at all costs? Is she really going insane (again)? The possibility of wisdom hovers on the horizon, now and then you hear words you wish you could write down when the dad is talking or they’re walking in outerspace… But Alma’s sharp tongue keeps you on edge; she’s just irrational enough to make you wonder about her.  (Or identify with her!)

In short, it’s a slice of Zen 101 alongside funny scenes from a super-smart girl’s life, coping with the messy real-time stuff we call today. It is complicated, surprising, and philosophically complex.

Both Devs and Undone pounce on the power of humans to persuade each other of stuff, as does Sneaky Pete, another good series we watched recently.  (Hmmm… seems like the zeitgeist is on to something) All these shows stay with you long after the lights are out and bring on lively conversation—c’est un tonique!

 

Time to walk, now, and another day of sewing!

 

And yesterday’s face mask production, fyi

Face masks made on May 23 2020

 

Undone image By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61764886

Categories
American literature art Chinese literature creativity memory nature wisdom Zen philosophy

day 59: a good kind of weird: Fu shên (depicting soul)

A chance note in a newspaper article about ghosts in people’s houses led me back to Mai-Mai Sze’s book, The Tao of Painting, this morning, in search of insight about the art of capturing specters and ghosts. In early Chinese painting, Mai-Mai Sze explains, the literal aim was to represent the spirit of beings—deceased ancestors and figures of history, religion, and legend—who could influence and aid the living. The word for portraiture, fu shên, means to depict a soul.*

Today’s newspaper continues that tradition, in a way. The author, Molly Fitzpatrick, passes along portraits of nameless dead folks, and explains how they are making contact with the living. At its best, the article depicts their souls. Note the history of the young couple in Queens: the 31-year-old man shares the small space with his 27-year-old girlfriend (fwiw: both have professions that imply education; these are not typical “nut cases”). One night, he saw a small, older Asian woman in green scrubs standing at arm’s length from him in the bathroom. She appeared to be glowing, he said. On another occasion he awoke at night with the feeling that someone was tucking in his feet. He assumed it was his girlfriend, as they often tug the comforter back and forth, but it wasn’t. He explains, “It was so weird, dude. It was so weird.” But it is a good kind of weird!  As the reporter concludes: “But the incident left […] a lingering positive impression, as if whoever—or whatever—it was had been trying to make the couple feel more comfortable, or to mediate a potential conflict between them before it happened.”**

I would love to come back and haunt the living after I die too… with good karma, love and fellow-feeling. Laugh if you want, laugh if you can, but why not invest magical meaning into our daily lives? Who else will do it for us?!

😊

Peace to you, in the pandemic.

Yesterday’s face mask production (and some cheerful driftwood art).

 

* Mai-Mai Sze, The Tao of Painting, p. 42-43

**Molly Fitzpatrick, “Violating Spectral Distancing Rules” New York Times (May 17, 2020): ST 7.

Categories
American literature art creativity death humor

Day 56, it’s painful, but it’s ours

Rainy day, gloomy outlook, horrifically alarming news… on a day like today it is hard to find the energy for… well, anything. Luckily, we have Dorothy Parker to the rescue!

Here’s a droll little poem about why life is better than the alternative. Poet Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) ironically called it “Résumé”—which could mean two things: 1) a noun: a “résumé” is a summary of knowledge or experience, or 2) a verb in the past tense, “resumed” means kept going, recommenced, restarted (what we hope our “normal” pre-Covid 19 lives will do some day).

Whatever it means, let’s hope this poem gives you a smile too.

Résumé

Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

— Dorothy Parker, “Résumé” (1925) in The Best of Dorothy Parker. Illus. Helen Smithson. London: Folio Society, 1995.

 

And yesterday’s mask production, fyi:

Face masks made on May 13 2020

Categories
American literature art creativity

day 54, fog (by Sandburg) seen in Seattle

Carl Sandburg for May 12 2020 from the Poetry Foundation

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
__
Foggy city images, from this morning’s walk:

And yesterday’s mask production, fyi:

Face masks made on May 11 2020

Categories
American literature art creativity English literature friendship happiness humor quilts

day 48, frivolous thoughts

If today’s newspaper were a living creature, it would come wrapped in a terrifying miasma of toxic effects. “Hot Zones Shift, Leaving No Hope for a Speedy End,” moans one headline, “Mystery Illness Linked to Virus Sickens Young,” screams another, and rounding out page one is an in-depth bleeding wound: “Trials of a Pennsylvania Street as Contagion and Fear Sped In.” Yet deep inside the guts of the paper, on page C5, is a heart beating wildly, “spellbound by desire and imagination.” Brought to us from an American poet named Wayne Koestenbaum, who I immediately imagined being friends with–he would be a prickly, intense, hilarious kind of friend, I think.

wayne_koestenbaum_pic

I seized upon the review of Wayne Koestenbaum’s new book, Figure It Out, the way a shipwreck victim might pull herself into a lifeboat, with relief and delight to be on familiar ground again, among the living. I love the whole article, and send out thanks to Parul Sehgal for such a fine interpretation of what must be a hard book to read. But it is the first paragraph that really got me:

“Here’s Something Strange: as babies learn to speak, they don’t merely imitate adult speech. They often produce phonemes—units of sound—not found in any known language: complex vowels, consonants and clicks. The linguist Roman Jakobson called this stage of language acquisition ‘tongue delirium’.”

TONGUE DELIRIUM!  WHAT A DELIGHTFUL THOUGHT!

He goes on to discuss what that means when an adult tries to recapture it in writing, because that is Wayne Koestenbaum’s gift, noting Lewis Carroll among others.

“AHA,” I thought, thinking of my Alice in Wonderland quilts, and the happy moments spent with that book. There’s where we go next. So many choices!

 

There is the delightful song of the Mock Turtle, for example, which begins, “’Will you walk a little faster?’ said a whiting to a snail, / There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail. / See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance! / They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance? / Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?’”*

mock turtle

Or there is the impotent rage of the Red Queen, when Alice replies that she does not know the identity of the cards on the ground: “’How should I know?’ said Alice, surprised at her own courage. ‘It’s no business of mine.’ The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, began screaming, ‘Off with her head! Off with—’ ‘Nonsense!’ said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.”

The Mad Hatter’s song is very pleasant, sing it with me now: “’Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! / How I wonder what you’re at!’”

Let us all ponder deeply the Cheshire Cat. As Alice says, “I’ve often seen a cat without a grin, but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!’”

Tennel_Cheshire_proof

Of course, no foray into frivolous thoughts is complete without a few lines, at least from  “Jabberwocky,” (from Through the Looking-Glass): “‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: / All mimsy were the borogroves, / And the mome raths outgrabe./ Beware the Jabberwocky, my son! / The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! / Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun / The frumious Bandersnatch!”

And lastly, “The Walrus and the Carpenter” must be read aloud RIGHT NOW!, so it can stick in your head all day long:

The Walrus and the Carpenter / Walked on a mile or so, / And when they rested on a rock / Conveniently low: / And all the little Oysters stood / And waited in a row. / “The time has come,” the Walrus said, / “To talk of many things: / Of shoes–and ships–and sealing wax–/ Of cabbages–and kings–/ And why the sea is boiling hot–/ And whether pigs have wings…”

(this right before he and the Carpenter ate them all with bread and butter. LOL)

I don’t know about you, but I feel refreshed!  Those funny words created the effect of a “bain de mots” (word-bath, just as mingling with a group is known as prendre un bain de foule). A departure from grim headlines takes us back to a part of our brain that also needs companionship… the universe of unknown, imaginary, frivolous thoughts. Why not go there today?

(P.s. you just did).

___

Fyi, yesterday’s face masks:

Masks produced on May 5 2020

 

*Lewis Carroll, song of the Mock Turtle, p. 102; the Queen’s rage, p. 82; the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, p. 73; the Cheshire Cat, p. 67; “Jabberwocky,” p. 148; “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” p. 185.  From The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, ed. Martin Gardner, illus. John Tenniel (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000).