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American literature art children creativity French literature humor music nature quilts

Only a real idiot can have this much fun! (homage to Julio Cortázar)

Reading Julio Cortázar’s essay, “Only a Real Idiot” yesterday, I felt such a joyfully liberating surge of life energy, for he captured how I feel, on seeing a hummingbird scratch his neck with his tiny foot like a dog, or a cornflower in glorious blue abandon alongside gritty Rainier Avenue, or José González in concert. Or my classmates doing Aikido at sunset, a Chinese busker twanging strange melodies at Hing Hay Park, or Toots and the Maytalls when they were here, so long ago in the pre-pandemic past…

“I am entertained, deeply moved; the dialogues or the dancers’ motions seem like supernatural visions to me. I applaud wildly, and sometimes the tears well up in my eyes or I laugh until I have to pee; in any event, I am glad to be alive and to have had this opportunity to go to the theater or to the movies or to an exhibition, anywhere extraordinary people make or show things never before imagined, where they invent a place of revelation or communication, something that washes away the moments when nothing is happening, nothing but what always happens.” (“Only a Real Idiot” in Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, p. 62)

It’s all about enthusiasm.

My latest creation–to be unveiled next week at West Seattle’s Summerfest!–is the Luxury Troll Boudoir. (If ever there were a folly, this is it!)

Luxury Troll Boudoirs in progress, HGBG workshop, West Seattle (7/5/22)

— Set in a picturesque cigar box, each features a troll doll with its own quilt, snuggled into a little bed made of vintage satin
— Comes with a booklet, Beautiful Thoughts for the Boudoir, with quotes and portraits by five inspiring French and American women writers
— Suitable for children or nostalgia lovers of any age

Coming soon to the HGBG shop on etsy!

Author portrait courtesy of https://aldianews.com/en/culture/books-and-authors/cortazar-movies

Categories
art creativity English literature music nature

day 68, Hey Jude take this sad day and make it better

It is so wet and forbidding outside today that my thoughts stay indoors. I tried various tactics—devoured the newspapers as usual, read through emails of (upset) friends and acquaintances, browsed a few favorite books,  but it was all pointing to disappointment, anxiety, and despair. You know enough about all that.

So, I listened to “Hey Jude,” instead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_MjCqQoLLA

“And anytime you feel the pain

Hey Jude, refrain

Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.”

***

Here’s yesterday’s face mask production:

Face masks made on May 25 2020

 

***

HEY JUDE

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool
Who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her (let it out and let it in)
Remember to let her into your heart (hey Jude)
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you
Hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na, yeah

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it better
Better better better better better, ah!

Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (Jude Jude, Judy Judy Judy Judy, ow wow!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (my, my, my)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (yeah, you know you can make it, Jude, Jude, you’re not gonna break it)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (don’t make it bad, Jude, take a sad song and make it better)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (oh Jude, Jude, hey Jude, wa!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (oh Jude)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (hey, hey, hey, hey)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (hey, hey)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (now, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (Jude, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, make it, Jude)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, yeah yeah, yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Hey Jude lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Categories
art creativity music quilts wisdom

day 55, on slowness and detail

“If you think you’re boring your audience, go slower not faster,” wrote Gustav Mahler (Austrian, 1860-1911), who was addressing the art of composing and playing classical music. I’ve found the same to be true with sewing, doing research, understanding current events, or other tasks. When I’m bored or exasperated, I slow down and focus on ever smaller bits of the world. Delving into detail makes things more fascinating. (The zeal for detail can also lead deep into rabbit holes of irrelevant knowledge, beware!)
When I slow down my sewing, the face masks take on a new aura: they are not merely discardable gear for emergency wear, but rather tiny tributes to everyday life and the beauty of the mundane. Case in point, the four masks produced yesterday (after hours of work), featuring two matching masks for a special little girl and her mom, and the two Limited edition styles–the Honey Girl logo and “Seattle Sunrise”):

Face masks produced on May 12 2020

P.s. welcome to week 9 of Shelter-in-Place (woohoo!), with the Japanese Kimono Silk Quilt no. 1 in the background…

Week 9 in window

Slow down, and see if it works for you too.  No matter what you do, tomorrow will be here soon.

Until then,

your friend in cyberspace

Categories
art creativity happiness humor music nature

day 49, number numbers numbers! in homage to Kraftwerk’s calculator song

Hello, here I am again. After listening by chance to Kraftwerk’s song about the pocket calculator yesterday (on KEXP, naturally), I have been thinking about how we love numbers. LOVED THAT SONG! Loved how it mocks our imagined control over life, “I’m the Operator of my Pocket Calculator” (as if the numbers did not control us). And loved that the DJ played it on the request of a 5-year-old girl.

On April 6, I wrote to a friend: “I’ve now got 22 face mask orders which will keep me busy for weeks. I have been making all kinds of lists and counting things, to control life, I now realize, it’s sort of funny.  I started going for long solitary morning walks a while back too, and have been doing that consistently: today will be Day Nine. Not to mention that we are soon to enter Week 4 of Shelter-in-Place, and I’m on Day 18 of my blog chronicle of the crisis.  hahaha  what funny creatures we are. Makes me think of a children’s book:  Magnus Maximus, A Marvelous Measurer. Pretty cute book.”

On Numbers. PART TWO:

Today, May 7: Today’s list is up to order no. 82 and I’m working on no. 52. I’ve made 270 face masks since April 2. It is Day 40 of my walks. I no longer follow a plan, rather I’ve come to prefer Short, Steep, and Solitary. (and Sunny, if possible). Easy to find out here, since our house is on the tip of a small mountain range. We are in Week 8 of Shelter-in Place, and I’m on Day 49 of this blog chronicle of the COVID-19 crisis.

CONCLUSION:

Blah blah blah, numbers can only do so much for the spirit. Maybe that’s why Kraftwerk made their funny pocket calculator song.  Very cheerful, wryly funny and catchy! Those high-pitched beeps work like an anti-depressant.

I’m off down the hill now, to blow all those numbers out of my head. Freed of that burden, the empty head will listen instead of striving to achieve some distant goal; listen to all the sounds my world has to offer—doubtless some mechanized pounding of pile drivers or tooting boat horns coming across Elliott Bay, but also the sea lions’ barks, sea gull cries, and other “little melodies.”

Thank you Kraftwerk, for opening up the fabulous world of electronic music, and RIP Florian Schneider. Wish I’d known you earlier…but I’ll never forget your music.

P.S. yesterday’s mask production:

Face masks made on May 6 2020

Categories
art creativity music

day 45: Slim Dunlap’s song “Times Like This,” an upbeat COVID-19 anthem

There was a funny-sad moment this morning, when my husband came down for coffee and laughed at me. (Usually I don’t like that!) But today I had to laugh too, when I realized how sad and worried I was making myself, how furrowed my brow had become, while reading articles with headlines like, “Foreseeing Years of Death and Rage”! Through the laughter, I relaxed, and realized I was polluting my own mental ecosystem—always a fragile thing—with an overdose of horrifically bad news. Yes, it is important to remain aware. Yes, it is crucial to keep our elected leaders on task. Yes, someone must keep those “murder hornets” at bay! But at the same time, we also must protect ourselves from unnecessary worry and despair, so that we can keep on going, living, hoping, sewing… for tomorrow, because tomorrow will come and things will get better. Different, but better than today.

So I’m pulling back from the news for now, and listening to a new favorite song, “Times Like This” by Slim Dunlap. Big thanks to KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, who has been playing Slim Dunlap’s song as a kind of COVID-19 anthem on his afternoon show, broadcast from his basement. I so appreciate the upbeat music mix; it keeps me company as I’ve been sewing all those masks, day after day, through this crisis.

Fyi, yesterday’s mask production:

Face masks produced on May 2 2020

More to come tomorrow. Until then, keep your chin up, and enjoy your own upbeat music mix. Try Slim Dunlap; he’s great!

 

Categories
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 children creativity design friendship happiness music wisdom

Day 32: “Shameika”: Très cool.

You really know you’ve been listening to the radio a lot when you know who “Shameika” is. And you actually know who’s being written about in the media. Case in point: Fiona Apple, and her song “Shameika.” (Or “Shameika Said I Have Potential. Shameika Said I Have Potential. Shameika Said I Have Potential.”—you just keep on wanting to say it. It’s hypnotic.) The song’s dissonant rhythms and jarring effects reminded me of walking down the hall in high school, by the banging of metal locker doors and kids throwing words around like hand grenades.

Très cool.

In today’s New York Times, not one but four music critics join voices to explain the many ways Fiona Apple’s album is a “bold, cathartic, challenging masterpiece.” (And I’m going to order my copy asap from Easy Street Records!). Critic Lindsay Zoladz addresses the Shameika song, writing:

“One of the album’s unifying themes is women and Apple’s relationships with them, not in a rah-rah #empowerment sense but in a much more complicated and often very raw manner. A standout is “Shameika,” named for a schoolmate of Apple’s who—in a eureka moment for the artist that she admits Shameika probably doesn’t remember—told our antsy, tortured, self-doubting future songwriter that she “had potential.” The verses are chaotic torrents of piano and percussion, and then the world suddenly stops as Apple sings, in an almost hammy, Elton John kind of way, ‘But… Shameika said I had potential.’”

That is all good and fine but when I saw the photo of Fiona Apple—skinny white chick with long dark hair—and that she was raised in Harlem, I knew that Shameika was black.  That is key to the song!!!  Because it builds on what the critic should know, (shouldn’t they?) and admit: if you’re a neurotic white girl and a black girl thinks you’re cool, well, you suspect that it may actually deep down somewhere be true. It’s a bit of white culture, don’t you know… And it’s an amazing feeling.

(Fiona Apple’s young life in Harlem was harrowing. According to her wiki-bio, “At age 12, Apple was raped outside the apartment she shared with her mother, step-father and sister in Harlem. She subsequently developed an eating disorder, purposely slimming her developing body, which she saw as ‘bait’ for potential predators. ‘I definitely did have an eating disorder,’ she recalled. ‘What was really frustrating for me was that everyone thought I was anorexic, and I wasn’t. I was just really depressed and self-loathing.'”

So you can imagine when Shameika said she had potential, it was really, really, really cool. It was ruminate all the way home in your head and write about in your diary cool. Those words lifted her, til she was soaring in the sky on the wings of cool…

Nice.

Can’t wait to listen more to my favorite station, KEXP, after my quiet walk around the neighborhood.

fyi: here’s yesterday’s face mask production, for a mother and two children (daughter–blue; son–red).

Masks made on April 19 2020

btw: Keep those orders coming! If you can be patient, I’ll just keep on sewing face masks! I’m loving the sewing, actually (as long as I practice T’ai chi, take care of posture, and dance around the room while working!). I also love connecting to people through beautiful fabrics and careful stitching. My hope is that the people feel someone cares about them, and the masks endow them with a sense of dignity and style. As if we too, all of us, despite all this bad and sad stuff that’s going on, we too “have potential.”

photo of Fiona Apple by Sachyn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79308040

Fiona Apple joins the Watkins Family Hour house band for Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors series, August 8, 2015. Photo by Sachyn Mital.

 

Categories
art creativity design music work

(later, on day 29)– late-breaking news: limited edition Seattle face masks!

Design inspiration struck today, as I was groovin’ to the dance music and cheerful songs played on our local public radio station KEXP! As a result, you now have two more choices in these limited edition face mask. With a winsome puppy, one celebrates West Seattle’s small business, Honey Girl Books and Gifts. The other commemorates the day when the sun rises anew on Seattle, after good health returns to the people. Just $25 each, for a limited time.  Email juliawsea@gmail.com to reserve yours! (pick-up will be in 1-3 weeks). And thanks for supporting our local businesses in this crisis! We appreciate you.

Categories
art creativity design happiness music

day 26: here comes the sun

There are some signs of hope in the news this morning and I say, “All right!”

Today marks the beginning of Week 5 of our shelter-in-place lifestyle and, as you can see by comparing this photo to Weeks 3, and 4, below, spring is in full swing.

Week 5 house pic

 

Three more sunny thoughts for you:

  1. The mornings are suddenly much brighter in my North-facing studio—a sure sign that the earth is turning and we’re getting more sun out here in Seattle Yay!

(Tour of the studio: Behind the iron, you’ll see a lithograph by my friend, the creative genius, Jean Dibble. I love how she cast a sunset glow over a passage from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s reveries. In the corner is a treasured gift from my mom, Beach Baby by Seattle artist Nancy Bogni. To the left, the Chinese images of anatomy and T’ai chi wisdom remind me of the exercises I practice, every day now in this room instead of my beloved club in Chinatown. Please note the soft and cuddly rocking horse  under the sewing machine too–an open invitation to visits from small people!)Sunny studio April 14 2020

2. Yesterday’s face mask production hit 100! I’ve been sewing daily since April 1; I make eight or so a day, to meet the needs of local people via the West Seattle Blog. It seems a small number for a daily output, but I like to make things nice. Not fast. 100th mask on April 13 2020

And I’m happy to announce an agreement with the DESC, in downtown Seattle, whereby I pledge to continue providing masks for the homeless, at least 10 a week, until this crisis is over.

  1. Thanks to the Good News Network (whose daily updates are excellent), we learned that when someone recovers from the COVID-19 disease in certain hospitals, the good news is announced by P.A. speakers playing “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. Signing off with those sweet lyrics and song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUNqsfFUwhY

See you later, alligator!

 

Here Comes The Sun (Acoustic)
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say, it’s all right
Little darling
It’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling
It seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say, it’s all right
Little darling
The smiles returning to the faces
Little darling
It seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say, it’s all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Little darling
I…
Source: Musixmatch

 

 

Categories
art friendship happiness music nature

day 23: good vibrations

Hello again,

through the clouds april 11 2020

During a little walk around the neighborhood this morning, I enjoyed seeing the sun peeking through the clouds and immediately started singing in my head, “I Can See Clearly Now.”  (Even if I can’t).

Jimmy Cliff, we miss you!  Time for another concert in Seattle!

Also saw some cool driftwood furniture on my outward-bound journey, which was made even lovelier with a neighbor sitting there, on my homeward journey. A smile and brief chat really do make the difference.

Keep up those good vibrations, neighbors!

And finally, here are the face masks produced yesterday. One order includes three Petite-size masks for Easter baskets!  What a nice Easter bunny those kids know…

 

I Can See Clearly Now

By Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

I think I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Oh what a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Johnny Nash

I Can See Clearly Now lyrics © Nashco Music, Inc