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art conflict creativity design generosity quilts social media work

Day 111: update on face masks and Respect quilt

Letter from Debbie in Bellevue July 2020Hello again readers,

I’m as surprised as the next person to see that I’m still in the grips of face mask mania, 111 days later. As the hilarious (yet dead serious) comedian and fellow seamstress Kristina Wong pointed out yesterday in a cool event hosted by Creative Capital, and my own experience has confirmed (see letter from Debbie), it does seem that something is wrong in this country, when senior citizens–our teachers, our parents, our beloved elders and fellow humans–must appeal to strangers for the protection they need from a dire plague. Hmmm.

At any rate, the face mask sewing continues, as does my desire to start producing the Respect Quilts announced some days ago!  Some progress has been made, as you’ll see in the pics below. They show the fabrics I’ve gathered and the embellishments made to the Harlem Toile de Jouy by Sheila Bridges Design in NYC. (I especially enjoyed making the woman look like a teacher!)

Another day, another link in our connections, another chance for hope…

 

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conflict Uncategorized

Don’t want to complain but the USPS is driving me nuts

So I’m trying to do a good thing, right, by sewing face masks and offering them for free to people: seniors, unemployed people, and medical personnel. Lately I’ve been getting LOTS of requests from seniors and I’m so happy to help!  To keep it simple, I ask for self-addressed stamped envelopes. In the past, a regular envelope and a Forever stamp ($0.55) worked fine. It worked fine again today, with one client in a nearby city who wrote in delight upon receiving hers. But for three others, their letters–identical in weight–were returned with $3.25 postage due!  see the evidence!  ARGH

Just in case anybody out there can help me understand. Feel free to comment.

It’s incredibly frustrating.  I don’t know what to tell my clients for the free face masks, who are generally quite elderly (and endearing). “Send me an envelope with a Forever stamp, maybe, or maybe $3.80 worth of postage.”

I plan to visit the local post office tomorrow –join the long sinuous line out front, that is, and pass a few good hours there–so I guess I will find clarity then.

HAHA

 

 

 

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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…

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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 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
conflict creativity death quilts Zen philosophy

day 73: dear country, let me help

Today dawns on a weary, frightened populace as we look around at a nation torn apart by so many calamities. It is overwhelming. I seek to respond but don’t know how, apart from shedding some tears for the civil rights movement we felt was so wonderful while I was growing up, and all the hopes now dashed again, proven wrong yet again. I’m especially worried for my black women friends who are raising sons in this toxic environment. But I am really sorry for all of us, because today you and I are suffering.  Even if we think we’re exempt / immune /numb and incapable of taking in any more horrors, we are suffering. I turn to the Buddhist writings of Thich Nhat Hanh for guidance. I’ve been thinking and singing in my head the Billy Swan song, “I Can Help,” for hours.  Clearly, it would do me good to do you good. But how?

Here is what I learned from the Buddhist:

“When we are suffering, we have a strong need for the presence of the person we love. If we are suffering and the man or woman we love ignores us, then we suffer more. So what we can do—and right away—is to manifest our true presence to the beloved person and say the mantra with force: ‘Dear one, I know that you are suffering; that is why I am here for you.’”*

Today, we need love all around. Maybe you’re missing THE person you love. OK, can’t help with that. But I can be one person speaking up to you today with a friendly gesture that is real.

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 quilt to celebrate 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.  But remembering Billy Swan, I just had to say, “let me help”.

***

Here are a few examples of memory quilts from the past, fyi

and fyi, Yesterday’s face mask production

Face masks made on May 30 2020

*Thich Nhat Hanh, “Love is Being Present,” Right Here with You: Bringing Mindful Awareness into Our Relationships, ed. Andrea Miller and the editors of the Shambhala Sun (Boston, Shambhala, 2011), 7.

Categories
conflict generosity happiness wisdom

day 52: a mother’s advice: MYOB

Q: How to be a good mom?

A: The best answer I can give, as a long-time member of that bittersweet club known as motherhood, comes from Epictetus (or the kids on the playground): MYOB, mind your own business.

As readers of The Art of Living know, there is a chapter entitled, “Disregard What Doesn’t Concern You.” It begins like this:

“Spiritual progress requires us to highlight what is essential and to disregard everything else as trivial pursuits unworthy of our attention. Moreover, it is actually a good thing to be thought foolish and simple with regard to matters that don’t concern us. Don’t be concerned with other people’s impressions of you” [or of your children].  “They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence.” The Art of Living, p. 20.

That’s all there is. Sounds easy, right?

It’s not. But it is a good goal.

If you can bite your tongue and think about how much you love your child, all the time, just that, you’ll be a great mom. [As kids are wont to remind us sometimes, they did not ask to be born. So our job is to accompany them in this journey of life. None of us chose to be born. And it’s hard to live with purpose. But what other life would you want?]

p.s. If you can do the same thing for yourself, you’ll probably feel much better about her, too. Works for husbands also. And dogs. Cats who pee on the rug, not so much…

Love,

a mom

fyi: yesterday’s face mask production, and packages ready for pick-up

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conflict creativity music nature work

day 37: happy / sad money stories, but “Never Grow Old”! (Toots and the Maytals bring happiness again)

view of downtown through the rain April 25 2020

Hi,

Since the rain is pouring down out here in West Seattle this morning, I’m giving myself a break: no walk. Instead, a couple thoughts on money topics that have been bugging me lately: the problem of using cash and the problem of using electronic money transfer apps.

  1. As mentioned in my day 35 post, earlier this week I was given a 20-dollar bill as payment for face masks, but the bill had a message in red ink on it, and the bank rejected it. (Grrr.  I was NOT happy.)  But the story has a happy ending!  After reading my email about the problem, the person who passed me the bill not only came by and exchanged it for a clean bill, she gave me a $10 tip! (She had done so initially also, since she only owed me $10.)  GOODNESS EXISTS!
  2. For all those who wonder why my face mask business only accepts cash or checks (which clearly bring a certain degree of risk), there is an illuminating article in today’s New York Times about the charges associated with the apps offering instant transfers. Lesson: Beware using Venmo or others as your go-to for purchases, until you know what charges they may be adding on….

The moral of the story is that capitalism poses problems for all of us, buyers and sellers. It is a fascinating topic! not my issue though… I’d rather work with my hands than delve into the tortured reasoning propping up “financial products,” right now…

But let’s remember that goodness exists!  as one of my inspiring neighbors and clients–a nurse–wrote yesterday:  “if we all pass it on we can bring kindness to this challenging time.”

___

And yesterday’s face mask production, fyi:

Masks made on April 24 2020

I’m changing my routine a little today–got to keep things moving! First up: the Maytals singing, “I’ll Never Grow Old”!

Categories
American literature art conflict creativity death design humor work

day whatever

email I wrote today:

Dear ….,

In case you’re wondering why I’m already on email at 5:45am, it’s because of the shortage of white cotton!!!  I was lying awake worrying about how I’m going to get enough fine tight-woven white cotton to line the face masks I’m selling, because demand is robust to put it mildly.  It is scary to be so much in demand, in a way, at the same time that it is thrilling.

But now that I’ve ordered probably way too many expensive flat white sheets (which may or may not arrive–I’ve never seen so many orders be “cancelled”!), I can calm down, drink my coffee (thank goodness there’s no shortage of that yet) and enjoy the dawn.  It is fun to feel needed, but now that my supplies are shrinking, I’m developing a whole new appreciation for supply and demand, and how a crisis throws assumptions about what is valuable out the window. I’m also developing a certain sympathy for price gougers. After all, why not, right?  (But so far, I’m holding the line on my own principles, and charging only $5 each or free to elderly, unemployed and medical personnel.)

Ouf.  This is what they call a teachable moment, I guess.

While keeping anxiety at bay, barely, I went for another morning walk. Mailed my first mail-order of face masks! And ruminated over the growing list of orders..  (“How will I ever get them all done?” / “This is awesome!!! I am having so much fun!”)

Seeing the library in the tender early light made me realize how much I miss going there. Before I met my funny new friends, the library was a rare source of laughs, when we first moved here.
That is where I discovered some excellent reads:

  1. Liane Moriarty, Three Wishes: [heroine’s to-do list]: “Reduce stress in measurable, tangible ways, both professional and personal, by no later than March 1.” (p. 208) On being in despair over a miscarriage and a divorce: “Death was the hot bath you promised yourself while you endured small talk and uncomfortable shoes. You could stop pretending to have a good time when you were dead.” (p. 244)

Also: Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers, and really, anything by her!

  1. Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You: [child contemplating her mother]: “’Keeping house’, she had thought. She still powdered her nose after cooking and before eating; she still put on lipstick before coming downstairs to make breakfast. So they called it ‘keeping house’ for a reason, Marilyn thought. Sometimes it did run away.” (p. 29)

Here’s a good corona-joke:

2020 is a unique Leap Year. It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April. 

 [with thanks to Tom]

See you tomorrow; I’ve got to get back to work!!!

ps, yesterday’s batch of masks:

Masks made on April 15 2020

 

Categories
American literature conflict wisdom work

day eighteen: fast or fastidious? good must be enough

Greta's face masks April 5 2020

As I cut and sew, moving as quickly as possible to supply the demand for face masks, I am haunted by the battle between “fast” and “fastidious.” So today I looked up those words.

Fast has many meanings in the dictionary; indeed “rapid, swift, quick-moving” is only no. 8 among the ten meanings listed. The first seven meanings relate to a different concept: “Firmly fixed in place,” such as a fortress or pair of dentures.*

Fastidious, a word I have long associated with, has actually quite negative meanings. It comes from the Latin fastidium, loathing, and its first meanings signify “disagreeable,” “disgusted,” and “proud, scornful, disdainful.”  The definition I expected is no. 3 but it too is more negative than I thought: “Scrupulous or overscrupulous in matters of taste, cleanliness, propriety, etc., squeamish.”**

Speed is anathema for a person like me, whose forte has always been attention to detail, precision, and care. Hearing bad grammar makes me cringe; seeing misspelled words on menus creates personal turmoil (to mention? or not?); unaligned objects call out for a nudge into alignment. “Perfect” has always been one of my favorite words. No wonder I cannot sleep! Yet in my sane moments, I realize that even if the face masks I create these days may not be quite as perfect as I’d like them to be, the orders will be met. They will be good enough: good enough to hold fast and keep people safe.

As Yehuda Yerushalmi notes, “what we do may be only provisional. But that is all right. In the terrifying time in which we live and create, eternity is not our immediate concern.”***

 

 

* The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), vol. 1, p. 929.

**Op. cit., vol. 1, p. 928.

***Yehuda Yerushalmi, Zakhor. Jewish History and Jewish Memory, (2005, p. 103); quoted in Joyce Block, A Good Enough Life After Freud: Psychotherapy in Uncertain Times (2011, p. 24).