a visit to NYC!

Hello again,

We just got back from our semi-annual trip to NJ and NYC, to see family and friends. In NYC, we stayed at the Washington Square Hotel, on Waverly Place: highly recommend! The staff were super nice and helpful, and it was fun to learn from them about the hotel’s art nouveau decor and the many people who’ve been its neighbors in New York history (including the Roosevelts). The hotel is worth a peek even if you don’t stay there.

Art nouveau chandelier, Washington Square Hotel, NYC

On our last morning, we walked up to one of my favorite places in the world. Come along!

Another day, we took in the Surrealism exhibit currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum which was Fantastic, as was the Afrofuturist Room. The labels displayed alongside those exhibits are particularly noteworthy–kudos to the curators, for telling stories and giving life histories as well as providing provenance etc., as you’ll see below:

Fabiola Jean-Louis, Haitian, b. 1978, Justice of Ezili (2021).

Arshile Gorky, Turkish, 1904-1948, Water of the Flowery Mill (1944).

Tarsila do Amaral, Brazilian, 1886-1973, City (The Street) (1929).

Also delightful were passing sights, like these:

— an Audre Lord poem in the subway,

–and a sexy unicorn !

(Big Gay Ice Cream shop, 61 Grove Street, NYC)

Last but not least, my art shot, taken from our room at the hotel, which I may call Keeping Things in Hand

or Still Life with Boots. Either way, that room was sooooo comfortable and quiet.

Great to have photos like these to imagine it again, now that we’re back under the cold wet drenching rain here in Seattle. (Note the sunny weather in NYC?? It was Amazing!)

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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…


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,

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.


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An artist who inspires me

(Sir Shadow in 2008 and today, with his artwork aptly called “Flowetry” for the flow-state of the artist’s mind at work; photos courtesy of the New York Times)

As the year winds down amid much acrimony and hand-wringing about the tenuous nature of our country’s union and future, there are stories worth keeping in mind. Today’s New York Times brought to light the existence of an artist who inspires me, named Sir Shadow, in an article by Alex Vadukul. Here are some thoughts of Sir Shadow’s to inspire you too:

“I might have this little room in the Whitehouse Hotel, but this room keeps me free. I can’t be at some job. That would ruin my flow. A man with a million dollars doesn’t have what I have. All that matters to me is the next poem. The next drawing. And I have to be ready to receive it.”

“Those who try to be great are cursed. They have to worry about failure and perfection. No true artist says, ‘I’m great.'”

“You must narrow down to your inner peace. Find that time you were in the trees and floating in the breeze.”

Wishing you peace of mind and a warm shelter, as we wind down the final days of this year and find hope for what lies ahead in 2019.

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happy thoughts about friends, France, and stuff


Hello readers!

I am happy to announce that I am back from a long, long trip.

“Where were you?” you might be thinking?

Well, I was away seeing friends I need to see as often as possible. Took a couple weeks to live without media, in France. You see, I love France. Have for 40 years!

I just decided to go see friends and not work. Just travel around Paris to Angers, then Saint-Jean-des-Mauvrets, seeing great people.  A pastoral interlude with safe friends from wayback, beautiful young women I knew at age five and three.

Then back to Paris in a whirlwind of talkative visits with dear friends new and old, back over to the USA and wham, right into the maelstrom of Newark — New York –Subway–A Train–dark and thundering intimidating and thrilling world of New york City!!  Thank you Joyce for two days I will never forget.

But, whew.  That was a long time and a whole lot of talking for an introvert like me. I sometimes don’t realize how much I don’t talk. Until I’m out there.

Out among you,

Mes semblables, mes frères.

(I missed my sewing machine.)

And now I’m stunned to be sitting here sitting on the sofa,

Chapped lips, dry throat, cold windows and air.

I feel stunned.  The only thing to do is stop.

and write instead, a little, til I find my voice again tomorrow in the classroom.


The lesson of my travels is: Carpe diem!  Enjoy your lives! Go see your friends and loved ones, that’s where money should go.


By the way, Delta lost my suitcase on the way over, and I was stuck for three days in Paris with no change of clothes. This problem was quickly solved by the nearby and remarkably well-stocked, excellent Monoprix, and a very nice crew-neck acrylic pink sweater I got for ten euros on rue Mouffetard. Later that night, I noted that the sleek blue trousse de toilette they gave me at Delta was a strangely familiar site. All four of us already have Delta trousses de toilette. The man’s Tshirt was a nice touch, though.

Anyway, that was three weirdly anxious days. Not really anxious at all, I thought, making do with good will on a stubby toothbrush and a thin comb. But when I came back from Saint-Jean to Paris, and that adorable man at the desk of Hotel de l’Esperance said, “They brought your suitcase back!” I was shocked by how happy it made me. I felt waves of love for my favorite jacket and clean underwear.

Ohhhhh stuff, we love you. You anchor us to the earth, for better or worse.



Photo credits: Félix Vallotin, Le Rayon, (The Sunbeam) and a hopeful spring moment caught late one January night on Square Medard, Paris, 5e.

Thank you, and heureuse année, to all my friends over in France and New York City!