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day 63, we’re back, slowly but happily

Hi again,

It worked. A day of rest has restored both Honey Girl and me to our usual selves, maybe not so bouncy as we used to be, but we are both happy to be here.  (Those squeaky toys don’t squeak themselves!)

Sometimes slowing down, or even stopping entirely, is what we need to keep going.  Doesn’t make sense? Just look around—there are many models of movement other than the fast lane / 1,000 Mbps bandwidth / hyperlinked way of living we prioritize nowadays…. Or at least we used to do, in pre-COVID-19 times…

Take sloths, for example. As Lucy Cooke points out in Life in the Sloth Lane, “Sloths don’t hop from tree to tree in a blaze of glory—they gently test the next branch to see if it’s sound before they proceed.” Cooke thinks sloths have much to teach us, writing: “We humans—busy pedal apes who are determined to move faster than nature intended—sometimes need a little help remembering how to slow down and appreciate what we have, rather than racing after what we desire.”*

Not a fan of sloths?  What about tugboats?  I stood and watched this tugboat in Elliott Bay for a few minutes this morning and was amazed at how fast it was moving, though it appeared to be standing still.  Seems like there’s a lesson there… if we took the time to think it.

Fyi: yesterday’s face mask production (once the migraine pain lifted, it was such a pleasure to get back to work!)  Face masks made on May 20 2020

* Lucy Cooke, Life in the Sloth Lane, (New York: Workman Publishing, 2018), p. 69, p. 1.

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day 61, “when you wish to delight yourself…”

“… think of the virtues of those who live with you,” counsels Marcus Aurelius. “For nothing delights so much as the examples of the virtues when they are exhibited in the morals of those who live with us. […] Hence we must keep them before us.”

Meditations, Book VI, 48.

Today is devoted to that: delighting in the virtues of others.  First, I was delighted to discover my favorite nearby island, Vashon, made the news this morning in the New York Times!  It is an article in the Science section about the innovative COVID-19 testing program that some volunteers (including a retired cardiologist) set up on the island, and which is now being offered as a model to tribal communities and other rural areas around the nation.  I love the concept of “inherent trust” that exists among the islanders, and which will doubtless help the contract tracers follow the path of the virus, were there to be an outbreak on Vashon.


(It may sound crazy, but I like to think that all of us people–tailors, sewers, grandmas and teens–all the people who are sewing beautiful face masks for other people around the world, that maybe we too might help foster trust among those who are protected by our creations.)

The stock market rallied yesterday on news of other people making a difference–scientists working on a promising vaccine. Yay for people creating positive changes in their communities and in our country!

Hopeful stock market sign May 19 2020

and fyi, yesterday’s face mask production, alongside our new window sign for Week 10:

Here’s hoping tomorrow brings more positive news! 🙂



creativity work

day 58, accepting our limitations, admitting our imperfections, and getting on with it

More grey weather outside, another onslaught of scary, outrageous, sickening news in the paper, another day of mounting worries and anxiety: what else is new? LOL. 🙂

So I took out a little book that sometimes helps and turned to the message for May 16:

there are four things conducive

to the uncovering of wisdom:

association with those who are virtuous

hearing wise and true teachings

listening well and deeply

practicing sincerely *

to which I would add: “looking carefully at the photos of your work before posting them!”

Face masks made on May 15 2020

That grey mask with the purple stitching was an experiment I conducted on inspiration from DJ Kevin Cole’s afternoon show yesterday on KEXP, when he issued a creative challenge to listeners to “use an inappropriate color.” For me, that meant using purple thread instead of grey thread on a grey mask. I was so happy with the results that I took a quick pic, submitted it, and patted myself on the back… until I looked closely at the pic, then the mask, and saw my error!  (one of the ties is not stitched correctly.) Yikes! I know it’s extremely small potatoes, in the big scheme of things, but I care that my work is as beautiful as I can make it. Luckily, this is one thing I can fix.  Yay for that!

Hang in there, any way you can, until tomorrow…


* Shi Wuling, Path to Peace

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day 44: just a bird?

This morning as I was getting ready to step into the shower, I looked through the skylight and saw a most amazing big yellow bird with a red head! It seemed to be calm and powerful, as it gazed through the thick boughs of cedar and hopped from branch to branch. I watched for a while (wishing I had my phone), and he remained present during my shower and afterwards. But when I was dressed and dashed downstairs to get my phone and came back upstairs again, he was gone.

Looking out from the shower at the cedar tree May 2 2020

Now I did take a minute to search “yellow bird with red head” and quickly got the answer: it was a Western Tanager, not uncommon in these parts, apparently.

But more importantly, I now think about him still and the vision makes me feel like something just happened. The dazzling vision—of bright yellow with black and white wings, flashing a red head with black eyes, looking through the graceful green boughs—seems like a sign. It is a sign that a bird feels safe in my cedar tree—the tree of wisdom, according to the native peoples of this region—which means to me that this place is sacred. From there it is but a hop to conclude that my work–in a room looking over this tree–could be sacred too. As a lovely poem by Pascale Petit goes:

“They say we are just embroiderers

but when we are working well, our tower turns

into burnished fire and the mantle flows

from our fingers, tumbling through the air

in loops of delight.”*


So this message goes out to my brothers and sisters, the seamstresses, tailors, sewers, stitchers of all ages and nations: take heart! Your work matters, and you matter too. What we are sewing now will become part of this time’s collective memory, so make it beautiful! Or, as my motto goes:

La vie est trop courte pour se protéger tristement.

(Life is too short to wear a sad mask.)


Also, alongside yesterday’s face mask production, is a picture of our new T-Shirt!

Exclusive!  Honey Girl t-shirts, now available for just $10 each (cash or check)  in West Seattle (on my porch) or by mail order (w/SASE upon request).

Sizes:  Youth Medium; Adult Small; Adult Medium; Adult Large; Adult Extra-Large.  Email quickly to reserve yours, !

(While my face masks take lots of time, these t-shirts are already done, and allow you to spread the good feelings with our winsome puppy logo.)


* from Pascale Petit, “Creation of the Himalayas,” cited in Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted, p. 180. Poem inspired by painting Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle by Remedios Varo (1961, featured below, with thanks to



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day 41: restlessness or satiation? the paradox of overly empty


Today’s news is full of articles about Americans being restless, itchy, aching for something to do. But are we restless or overly well rested? Satiated seems more accurate  (at least for those of us lucky enough to be considered “non-essential”). We are overly well rested! Just like when you sleep too much and wake up feeling kind of gross or disgusted with yourself, our days are overly empty. Life has taken on a boring kind of dullness because we do not have enough to do or think to change the blah-ness.

I won’t bore you with all the definitions of rest, restless and satiated (although they are fascinating!), I’ll just provide the one item that seems most relevant. It is the last definition under the verb satiate, the phenomenon known as satiation.

“PSYCHOLOGY: the point at which satisfaction of a need, or familiarity with a stimulus, reduces or ends an organism’s responsiveness or motivation.”*

I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to keep myself motivated: the house is cluttered with lists and calendars, as I’ve tracked my daily walks, daily exercises, and face mask orders to do. But even the most self-directed person can become satiated by the busy-ness of work and action, in the absence of … what exactly?

No answers here, so I’ll sign off for today.

fyi: the photo of yesterday’s mask production

Face masks produced on April 28 2020

*Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 2673.

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day 40, on happiness “by the way” (John Stuart Mill)

Searching longer than usual for something inspiring to think about this morning, I dug into one of my old journals from when I was a professor, in “South Bend and sometimes Paris, April 6, 2011 to July 4, 2014”. Exhausting! So many classes to teach, student papers to grade, research to do, papers to write (and get accepted or get rejected and rewrite, etc.), trips to take, alongside all the family issues to confront or ignore or complain about, and don’t get me started on other people and their problems! But the back flap reminded me of why I did so much, why I’m always so wrapped up in life and ideas and stuff going on. And now creating face masks for strangers, day in day out, as if my life depended on it.

It’s from John Stuart Mill, Autobiography*:

“Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness: on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.”

I like the idea of happiness “by the way”.

By the way, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means” (a) during a journey, on the way; (b) incidentally, in passing, as a side-topic or casual remark” (vol. 2, p. 3597).

This we need to remember: That good feeling? It’s short-lived, ephemeral, fleeting. It’s incidental not central. You find it on the way, and then you both pass by. Might as well get back to work.

Btw: On this, day 40, we now know what a true quarantine feels like. Une quarantaine de jours s’est passée. I guess that’s some kind of achievement. “40 days and 40 nights.” Watched all of “Veep” and now just started a very cool Japanese series called “Giri/Haji” (Japanese for “Duty/Shame”). The hero, a detective played by Takehiro Hira, is soooooo cool: it’s like watching a cat–watchful, neat, and extremely intelligent–as he carefully makes his way through an extremely difficult life.

Yay us!



John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, Chapter 5: “A Crisis in My Mental History. One Stage Onward”: found here:


Yesterday’s mask production, fyi:

face masks made on April 27 2020

dogs work

day 38, more of the same, except warmer

WSEA library April 26 2020

Nothing new here today, except a warm sun overhead. I still miss the library. I’m still deep in mask-making. Still grateful to be alive. And for Honey Girl.

Yesterday’s mask production, fyi:

Face masks petite size made on April 25 2020

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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


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”!

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day 34, drizzle

Today’s walk brought a sense of peace. Drizzle is the word that came to mind (le crachin nantais, they say in Seattle’s sister city in France), and now that I’ve looked up drizzle in my very fine dictionary, I realize drizzle is the perfect concept for today and my work as face mask maker.

Drizzle: noun & verb [Etymology: Prob. from the Old English drēosan to fall = Old Saxon driusan, Gothic driusan: see DREARY.]

  1. noun. 1. Rain that falls in fine spraylike droplets; an example of this.
  2. A tiny trickle.
  3. verb. 1. verb intrans. Rain or fall in fine spraylike droplets. Usu. impers. in it drizzles; it is drizzling, etc.
  4. verb. trans. Shed in fine drops; sprinkle (a liquid), let fall in a thin trickle.
  5. verb trans. & intrans. Sprinkle or wet (esp. food) with liquid in fine drops or a thin trickle.
  6. verb intrans. Pick the gold thread out of discarded tassels, embroideries, etc. into which it was woven.

How poetic a concept it is, drizzle, that takes us from dreary skies to golden silk, plucked carefully from discarded fabric.

My output of face masks is also a tiny trickle, but I offer it in a spirit of love to humanity, that is to you, my readers and new friends in the neighborhood–not one of whom I’ve yet met (or even seen!) during these odd, old-fashioned transactions via the chair in my front yard.  Please know that your  emails and hand-written notes usher in new trickles of joy leading back to my heart…. and hands.

Au boulot!



*The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), vol. 1, pp. 760-761.



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(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 to reserve yours! (pick-up will be in 1-3 weeks). And thanks for supporting our local businesses in this crisis! We appreciate you.