It’s been pretty damp out here lately. It’s easy to let your spirits fall flat and feel dreary. Even the computer sends out small, slightly ominous messages of warning, in the right-hand corner of the screen.
Yet I take heart in Emerson’s words this morning: “I am thankful for small mercies.” The beauty of green lush scenery and the ever-changing skies, the humorous way my computer seems to be speaking, commiserating about the weather… it’s all so endearing, so regular, so northwestern. It’s life happening right before our eyes. The passage which follows in Emerson rings strangely familiar too, to readers of Michael Singer and other contemporary writers on consciousness:
“The new molecular philosophy shows astronomical interspaces betwixt atom and atom, shows that the world is all outside; it has no inside.”
Emerson also reminds us, like Singer in Living Untethered (just got my copy and loving it!) that:
“Life’s chief good is for well-mixed people who can enjoy what they find, without question. .. To fill the hour–that is happiness; to fill the hour and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval. We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”
“Life is a tempest of fancies, and the only ballast I know is a respect to the present hour. … we should not postpone and refer and wish, but do broad justice where we are.”
— from Emerson, “Experience” in Selected Writings, pp. 350-352.
And then there’s “All Star Seattle Quilt” No. 1, finished yesterday! It was fun to stitch in some of my favorite natural scenes and landmarks from this city I love so much… and to blend them with fabrics from the many cultures which make this such a quirky, lively place to be: African block prints, Vietnamese tigers, Japanese cranes in flight, Mexican flowers in bloom–we have so much to be grateful for, in this outpost on the far western side of the country.
Hint: those T-shirts and the tiny pin represent local landmarks which will be featured in “All Star Seattle Quilts” Nos. 2 and 3, coming for summer!
The venerable Shi Wuling once came to South Bend, IN, and it is from her that I first learned about Buddhism. Lately I’ve delved into Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Surya Das’s audiobooks, Buddha Standard Time and Buddha Is as Buddha Does. Perhaps it’s working, because I finally feel more at home at home. It’s almost three years since we moved. Since I left my identity at the curb and took on a new everything. (Well not quite everything. The husband and dog are the same.)
And I swear we’ve both lost 10 years in attitude-drag. To see him on his e-bike & going to the gym, and me with my regular T’ai chi and Aikido sessions, we are both way more disciplined and physically fit than we were in our 50s. We’re also cheerful now. I think we are actually happy, most of the time. Pretty amazing in comparison with the stressed-out wrecks we used to be!
Funny, what you realize when you have the time to realize stuff.
Creating intricate quilts with symbolic meanings and diverse textures continues to be my passion and way of communicating with the world. Above and below you’ll see some pics of my latest work, the “Respect” and “RARE” quilt projects, which have drawn me to connect with people of color from all around the USA and increasingly, here in my hometown. That development–and the chats, smiles, and thank you letters I’ve received–give me great pleasure and life satisfaction.
Thinking it over as I work in silence, I realize that these projects are a continuation of friend-making I learned to do in France. After years of feeling estranged in my beloved adoptive country, and never really connecting in a long-term way with a French person, I moved to France again in 2001. We would be there for two years, so I needed a friend. One day, I put up a card in the library, asking basically if anybody felt like being friends. Or at least talk once a week. Then 9/11 happened the very next day. And on 9/12, two French women called. It worked. Life-long friendships were born there in the Bibliothèque anglophone on rue Boisnet in Angers, France.
Now I’m trying to reach out, or deepen friendships, with people from a different population–namely my fellow citizens. Through the “Respect” quilts, I seek to support and celebrate people of color in the USA. And make friends, if possible. As a very white person living in a very white city, it is not that easy. But little by little, what do you know? The same technique seems to work. People like people who like them. A smile begets another. Hope begets hope. One person’s search meets another’s.
These latest quilts are for inspiring Black women who live in the Seattle area, a top-echelon hospital administrator (and a friend, whose name starts with “J”) and an award-winning high school student.
Drop by West Seattle Grounds coffee shop during the month of June and you will be surrounded by my handiwork. I’ll be there in person smiling at everybody, and hosting the “Make a quilt” game, during the West Seattle ArtWalk on June 10 from 5-8pm.
On another note, it would be amiss of me to neglect mention of Taiyaki, a Japanese delicacy that I discovered today after T’ai chi class. (Which was fantastic as always.) The taiyaki truck Bean Fish parked right behind me. When I smelled that good smell and saw the truck sitting there, I thought: “If this is not synchronicity then I don’t know what is!”
Wow! Good call. I highly recommend the Food Truck, Bean Fish, for these deliciously comforting treats. I had an “original” with red bean paste and loved the warm, crunchy, gushy sweet combo of flaky crust, soft inner layer and perfectly textured bean paste (very important). Plus the adorable fish’s face and cute scales! It made me quite content, all the way home.
(Or for the rant version: all the way through the convoluted Pioneer Square detours, past the rude/terrifying speeders who zoom by and/or cut in on the highways, and behind the long lines of patient neighbors working our way back to “Vashon East”, otherwise known as West Seattle, cut off from the mainland since 2020 when our bridge broke.)
Either way, it was an excellent Saturday morning.
FYI: The Bean Fish truck is parked across the street from the busy and amazing Asian grocery store, Uwajimaya, for your shopping convenience.
Life can be sweet. Hard but with moments of grace. As I was writing this, Richie Havens, “Here Comes the Sun” came on the airwaves thanks to my favorite radio station KEXP, and reminded me of this flowering tree seen recently in Chinatown. Yes, let’s have some hope! Spring is coming, hate has lost, help is on the way. Tomorrow Trump has to leave the White House by noon, and we’ll have new leaders : President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris!
After four years of Trump, it is amazing to survive intact. And after all those years in the drear darkness and punishing snow and winds of Indiana winters, I am surprised by the light touch of winter in Seattle–it’s a damp darkness, slow-moving but livable. While we await vaccines and better times, I gave myself a task of capturing the rage and despair inspired by Trump, but now that “The Ten Days til Post-Trump” is done and published, I am ready to move on.
We persevere, holding book discussions while shivering at a picnic table, finding things to do at home, suspending judgment, just getting by. My sewing gives me hope and love; I hope the feeling comes across and gives you a little lift. Here is a sneak preview of “Respect” quilts no. 7 and 8, in progress.