“Respect” 3 is here!

Quilts? I just make them. The rest is up to you.

I’m pleased to introduce you to “Respect” quilt no. 3, now available!

I hope its bright colors and cheerful, feisty message will buoy your spirits. You deserve it. It’s been a rough year.

P.S. Can’t say enough how I love working with these fabrics.

The striking black on white Afro silhouettes on fine canvas make me feel like I’m surrounded by friends as I work. AphroChic is a great discovery, from my June 2020 researches into Black-owned businesses. (They actually promote T’ai chi too!)

Another finding is called “Harlem Toile de Jouy”–tight canvas printed with historically embellished images of Blacks in antebellum USA, in black and other colors, by Sheila Bridges. Those pics are fun to use as a centerpiece to each quilt top. No. 3’s combo, of a young woman at a picnic (with a lot on her mind), and a careful fox looking out of a tree, creates a quiet mood.

The African strips of fabric, found notably in the center of no. 3–the orange and green flowers–are also new to me. It’s amazing how they tell stories all by themselves. (Note how there are three flowers in the quilt, from bottom (closed like a puckered bud) to mid (open and central) and higher (moving into sky). I just love messing around with those strips of fabric imported from Ghana, courtesy of Lisa Shephard Stewart at Cultured Expressions.

The whole feeling of “Respect” quilt no. 3 could be summed up as foxy, contemplative, smart, visionary, earthy and natural.

No. 4 will feel more hip and hetero-sexy: it includes a man and woman dancing to a boombox!

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day 74, same as yesterday

Can’t think of anything better than to repeat myself, on this sad moment in American life.

Dear reader,

I know that you are suffering. That is why I’m writing. I want to remind you that your life matters, your mind matters, your potential matters. Your words and actions matter. All the people who have died matter, and we will remember them, and keep demanding an end to the violence. And if you would like a face mask to wear during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, or a quilt to celebrate a life, let me know. I can help with that. (Quilts $100 today only; lead time 3-6 months.)

Thank you.

With hope and solidarity,

Julia   (use the Contact form to communicate requests for masks or quilt information, or just to chat. I’ll check in frequently.)

p.s. sorry for such a minute response to what is really a shattering moment in American history, but apart from nothing—symbolic silence—I could not think of anything worth writing. It’s all out there in the news, I can only offer face masks or quilts, and a few words of comfort.

Honey Girl quilts, normally $499.99, just $100 this week only!

(That is Nick’s high school graduation quilt, June 2009; apologies for the out-of-focus photo)


and fyi, yesterday’s face mask production:

Face masks made on May 31 2020

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day two: time for a talking goldfish, and more viral humor!

First, here’s the viral humor (we need it), brought to us from a friend in cyberspace.  (Thanks, Tom!)

Bookstore sign March 20 2020

Second, a good message from one of the books I love, as promised yesterday, to help us cope with this weird health crisis. The story below tells of an encounter between a typical bureaucrat and a magical, yet very anxious goldfish.

Depressed goldfish

“One day, when I was walking along a road, I suddenly heard someone calling me. I looked around, but saw nobody. When I looked down, it turned out to be a carp calling me from a dried rut. I went over to it, and asked, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ The carp, gasping, replied, ‘I am a minister of the God of the East Sea. I was swept here by a rainstorm, and now I cannot get back. I will soon die, unless you bring me a pail of water and put me in it.’ I said, ‘Of course, I can do that. But you must wait until I persuade the sovereigns of the states of Wu and Yue to allow me to use water from the Xijang River.’ Hearing this, the carp said, ‘Distant water cannot quench present thirst. You’ll find me in the dried fish market tomorrow!'”*

This cryptic fable was written some 2,200 years ago, by a writer unknown by most of us  (Zhuang Zi, c. 369 B.C. — 286 B.C.) who is very famous in China as a chief representative of the Taoist School.

You gotta love a talking goldfish, of course! How even cooler is it that this goldfish is shrewd and critical. For our purposes, the fable provides moral urgency and a sober punchline. “Distant water cannot quench present thirst.” Take it to mean anything you need: if you’re angry about the government’s actions, it works for you. If you’re in despair over getting access to a mask or test, it works for you.

However, it could be a more uplifting lesson too. If you, like me, are staying home to “shelter in place” and allow the coronavirus time to sweep through your region without adding to the casualties, give yourself credit. You are, in effect, giving water to present thirst. You’re feeding the quotient of healthy people so that we can resist the invisible enemy.

Thank you for helping, in any way you can!  And hang in there; we’re in it for the long duration, I think.  I’ll be back tomorrow with another good thought (and more humor, I hope).

*Zhang Fuxin, The Story of Zhuang Zi, trans. Zhang Tingquan (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2003), pp. 183-184.

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with a little help from my friends… and “Yǝhaw”

Yehaw art show King Street Station March 20 2019
All styles of art work —including Chai Adera’s video “Earth Prayer” — are on display in “yəhaw̓,” the inaugural exhibition at ARTS at King Street Station. The exhibition features work by more than 200 indigenous artists. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Hi readers,

I don’t know about you, but my spirits have been feeling kind of low lately. Now that my career-imposed blinkers are off, life feels much more raw and open-ended. Identity exists more as a fluid sense of being, waxing and waning every moment with ups and downs that arise from who knows what or where. One thing is certain: I have no one to blame–no lazy students or blowhard colleagues, no more useless committee meetings–for my doldrums. I have to own the blahs and dig myself out.

Yet something seems to have shifted for the better and the low energy cloud is lifting.  In the hopes it may help you, here is what happened.

It began in the morning, when I read an article by Brendan Kiley in The Seattle Times about the first exhibition taking place at ARTS, a new space on the second floor of the King Street train station downtown. Called “Yǝhaw,” this art show features work from indigenous artists working in the Pacific Northwest. That itself is cause for cheer, but it was the story behind the name that caused my personal turnaround…

As curator Asia Tail explains, “’Yǝhaw’ is a Lushootseed word pronounced ‘yee-howt’, but with the ‘t’ stopped, as if you were about to say it but ended when your tongue touched your teeth. It roughly means ‘do the work’ and comes from a story about some far-off past when the Creator brought lots of people together with no common language. At the time, the sky was too low and people kept bumping their heads against it. So they came up with one word they all understood: ‘yǝhaw’–‘do the work’. The people made poles for themselves. Then, in unison, they said, ‘yǝhaw!’ and lifted the sky.”

The message is: “There’s no hero in that story, no one single person. Everybody knew they needed to change the world together, and made something happen.”

Maybe that is what got under my skin. Because later in the day, I suddenly realized the way out of my blah mood: let my friends know it exists and let them help!  Emboldened by the New York Times article by Mike Isaac, about how “personal newsletters” are returning to vogue, I wrote a message to friends all over the world, and told them I’ve been missing them. I detailed some new items for sale from my little business, Honey Girl Books and Gifts, and some stuff I’ve been doing in town here, but it was mainly a personal message to remind them that they are important to me and I miss them. Vulnerable, open-ended, and a little bit lonesome.

And what do you know? it worked. Admitting the loneliness helped make it go away, because it made me remember that I do have friends and they are a diverse, talented, funny, and loving bunch of people (who mostly live really far away, alas).

In the meantime, spring began, the full moon shined down on us last night, and the adorable “Write YOUR Story” group of nine young writers, ages 7-11, met and began illustrating our collective book, The Spell of Unfair Fortune. That may also have something to do with my newfound cheer. Try spending an hour with a group of energetic kids all volunteering to create beautiful pictures–it’s happiness guaranteed!

What I’ve learned, and want to remember, is that you cannot expect people to read your mind. If you’re feeling low, maybe you should just say so.  (And not only grumble to your spouse and beloved dog who, no matter how nice they are, can only do so much to lift your mood.)  Sometimes you have to tell your friends what you need, so that we can all do the work together. Yǝhaw!