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Honey Girl Books and Gifts humor meditation retirement wisdom work

a zinger about ambition, from Seneca (ca. 4 BC-AD 65)

Reading Seneca this morning, I had the feeling of being with a shrewd friend who was laughing at me! And I had to laugh along, because there was a lot of truth in what he said.

“We commonly give the impression that the reasons for our having gone into political retirement are our disgust with public life and our dissatisfaction with some uncongenial and unrewarding post. Yet every now and then ambition rears its head again in the retreat into which we were really driven by our apprehensions and our waning interest; for our ambition did not cease because it had been rooted out, but merely because it had tired–or become piqued, perhaps, at its lack of success.” Letter LVI, p. 111-112, in Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, ed. Robin Campbell (Penguin ed., 1969.

HA! just see all those books on my bibliography about Buddhism, alternative economies, compassion, and “letting go” etc., as contrasted with the exuberant posting when I made a sale on Etsy! We are all the same.

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what success looks like

to me

with enthusiasm,

J

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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

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English literature friendship memory

words, and a quilt, to wrap your mind around…

Making the All Star Seattle Quilts which are now keeping me busy brings to mind my hometown and all that I treasure about it. Is it any wonder that T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Little Gidding,” jumps into my thoughts? It too is about going home, time passing, things gone. Much about Seattle has changed too, since I grew up and first left town. Yet the symbols, imagery, and places in these quilts have all been chosen for their historical relevance and personal acquaintance–and there’s still enough to love. Sailboats, forests, mountains and bookstores, restaurants, record shops, and schools–all part of what makes living in Seattle so sweet, sometimes so heart-breaking.

Below some images from “All Star Seattle Quilt no. 2,” and some lines from Eliot’s beloved poem. Enjoy!


What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make and end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.

And every phrase

And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,

Taking its place to support the others,

The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,

An easy commerce of the old and the new,

The common word exact without vulgarity,

The formal word precise but not pedantic,

The complete consort dancing together)

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,

Every poem an epitaph.

And any action

Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat

Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.

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art creativity design happiness

omg! so happy!

If you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll realize that until 2018 I was a college professor, lost in the whirlwind of conflicting thoughts… I was a complete novice at business, though I took a great course and do know how to sew and design pretty things. But still… even the MBA in a Box (which still sits on my shelf) was intimidating, and I felt like a failure–or completely INSANE to be doing what I do–quite often. And if you’ve ever tried to create anything or start a small business, you’ll also empathize and feel a surge of joy right now, on hearing that I JUST MADE MY FIRST BIG SALE today! The All Star Seattle Quilt (above) sold after just one day on Etsy!

So now, I’m riding on the wind, as I look forward to a wonderful session of T’ai chi, after the exhilarating Water Taxi ride to the waterfront… and it’s not even raining (right now).

All Star Seattle Quilts nos. 2 and 3 are underway and will feature the T-shirts of more local favorites! No. 2 will feature Pegasus Books, Easy Street Records, and Beanfish Tayaki; No. 3 will feature Elliott Bay Books, Easy Street Records, and Communion Restaurant. preorders available now! (6-8 weeks)

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small mercies

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!

And now, about that weather…

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Keep a green bough in your heart…

… and a singing bird will come.*

The sunny weather makes this a perfect day for a Quilt Show on my back porch! Today I’m unveiling the brand-new “Seattle Quilt” no. 4, which sports a green Seahawks T-shirt in its center, alongside “Seattle Quilt” no. 3 (with a navy blue Seahawk jersey) and “Seattle Quilt” no. 2, an homage to West Seattle. All three are available now!

*Proverb recounted in Neurodharma, by Rick Hanson.

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Right in time for MLK Day: Respect Quilt no. 14, and a quilt sale!

Respect quilt no. 14 is now done, and heading off soon to Atlanta, GA to celebrate a great American writer: Tayari Jones! In the joyful spirit of love and brotherhood, I am also offering a sale of 50% off all “Seattle” and “Respect” quilts now until Friday January 21, 2022, on etsy!

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Seattle Quilts are here!

Right in time to ring out the bad old year and usher in a brighter future, is my new line of Seattle Quilts! They feature calm images–whales, sailboats, (and a sailboat gliding over a whale), seagulls, rolling waves, the cityscape at dawn– alongside bright fabrics celebrating some of Seattle’s many cultures–Mexican florals, Vietnamese tigers, African wax prints, Japanese cranes in flight–plus a UW symbol and adorable kittens–what more could you want? With vintage linens and denims, materials new, old, and hand-made, it projects an inclusive, energetic, upbeat feeling.

Add a back made of black cotton with dayglo dogs in all shades of the rainbow and you’ve got BOLD!

Boldly we go, into the new… let’s hope an early spring will push through the snow!

Couldn’t help adding a few of my favorite things–Honey Girl’s footsteps in the snow, a laptop with stickers from the best radio station in Seattle (or the world, maybe), and other stickers from beloved local shops run by real people (a family in one case) and a feminist art studio in Spain; Salty Dog : a children’s book given to us by my dad the sailor. The Salty Dog books are by Gloria and Ted Rand: a Seattle author/illustrator pair whose work is charming and never fails to grab kiddos. P.S. See the hilarious laughing crows on our shed, by Stroble Art of Puyallup, WA. Then there’s Hello Kitty, just because.

Happy New Year!

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goodness with an edge (hommage to Emerson)

In “Self Reliance,” Emerson warns against trusting in false allies and those of weak will, saying, “Your goodness must have some edge to it–else it is none.”

I translate this into a motto for my business, Honey Girl Books and Gifts LLC: We specialize in cozy, with an edge... Each of my quilts and books celebrates a work of literature or a group of people to be honored. They are canonical and non-mainstream, funny and scary and pretty, sometimes angry and always alive with feeling. Some are linked to fund-raisers for good causes; all use recycled materials from Goodwill and other thrift shops. All of them are different and they are not for everyone.

But when my people find them, how happy they will be!

(Above see Seattle Quilt no. 1, inspired by Sabrina B., winner of the Win YOUR Quilt drawing of December 4, 2021 at West Seattle Grounds coffee shop.)

How lovely to see a new design come to life. Coming in spring 2022: The Seattle Quilt with rainbow back!