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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

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we do not achieve things …

by way of proclamations and slogans

but through

persistence,

effort,

and

enthusiasm.

“May 15” in Path to Peace by Shi Wuling.

***

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.

Long live Seattle’s International District and Chinatown, for bringing the tastes, sounds, smells, and arts of Asia to the West!!