American literature art children creativity design dogs English literature French literature happiness quilts

Happy thoughts on the Vashon reading and quilt show


Honey Girl is sighing significantly at the bottom of the stairs, whining gently for her long-awaited walk, so I’ll have to keep this brief:  just wanted to say “WOO HOO!” about the fabulous reading on Saturday night!

The trilingual reading of The Frankenstein of the Apple Crate was a brilliant event at the Country Store on Vashon Island. The three readers—myself in English, Cécile Perruche in French, and Doctora Haydee Bonnet Alvarez in Spanish—were joined by Donna Liberty, ASL signer, so we were actually a quadrilingual event!

Many thanks to host Matt vonEgidy, manager of the Country Store on Vashon Island for the invitation to do the reading and put up the show of my quilts, “A Life in Quilts, ca. 1974—2019.”  You can see the small “Alice in Wonderland quilt” and the large couch throw, “Western Pacific” right behind us!

If you missed the event, not to worry: the book in all three languages is available at the Country Store (or on the Honey Girl Books website) and the quilt show and sale will continue until November 5 (and they are available via the website too).

art creativity design English literature French literature quilts

Frankenstein the quilt, day one (in preparation for cool Seattle author event Sept. 8)!

You have to make your own excitement in life, right?

So today when I was doing the computer check with the events manager at Third Place Books Ravenna, for a bilingual reading of The Frankenstein of the Apple Crate coming up on September 8, I blurted out that Honey Girl Books and Gifts produces not only a line of Frankenstein pillows and Alice in Wonderland quilts (which I do), but also has a Frankenstein quilt for sale (which I don’t.) Yet….

Since he said it would be ok to bring and display my goods at the event, this is opportunity knocking. I have about two weeks until September 8.

So here goes another whirlwind session of creativity!

Day one was fun, and I love the idea of using gold satin to simulate electricity, in the second blocks which are supposed to suggest windows of Frankenstein’s laboratory, set in a spooky castle.  I may put in more gold satin to mark the phenom. Frankenstein’s creature himself was easy, since I have the original model created by Seattle artist John Douthwaite, from the line of pillows produced by HGBG. And the voyeuristic love affair between the creature and the DeLaceys will be next, interspersed with blocks suggesting his request for a mate.

After that part in the book, however, all hell breaks loose, and I’m not quite sure how to represent that on a quilt!  So stay tuned and you will learn along with me…

Frankenstein quilt day one.jpg


Julia Douthwaite Viglione & Cécile Perruche present a bilingual reading of The Frankenstein of the Apple Crate


Sunday, September 8, 2019 – 7:00pm

Third Place Books Ravenna

The Frankenstein of the Apple Crate builds on a scholarly discovery to imagine how Mary Shelley found the idea for Frankenstein. With the help of a ghost called Mother, the girl recalls a French tale of a helpful robot published years earlier, and retells it as the first Gothic thriller. This is a bilingual author event, with Seattle native Julia Douthwaite Viglione, professor emerita of French, University of Notre Dame and Cécile Perruche (U of Nanterre) reading from the French version.

Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115

Hope to see you there!

art conflict creativity humor meditation T'ai chi wisdom work Zen philosophy

if you want to live a life you’ve never lived…

“if you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done,” say the wise in every tradition. Whether it’s applied to education, or business, or moving to a new place, change is all around us.

Change is us.

The sooner we realize that, the sooner we will get out and do stuff. And dare to laugh and allow our imperfections and just-beginning steps to be seen, because life is not so serious after all!


I am happy to say that I did something new today: I attended a free workshop on marketing, sponsored by the Seattle Small Business Development Center. The drive was very cool: first, instead of going up and over the West Seattle bridge to I-5, you go under the West Seattle Bridge and bump over a bunch of railroad tracks, vying for position with massive trucks hauling containers newly unloaded from the ships that arrive in Pier 5, of the Port of Seattle. The landscape reminds me of an Ayn Rand novel, such as the opening scene in Atlas Shrugged, which rolls into Philadelphia on a freight train. With the old steel mill on one side, and the huge salt-water port on the other, it’s a bustling, massive hive of people at work, operating machinery, building, and shipping.

“The thing that came next did not look like a building, but like a shell of checkered glass enclosing girders, cranes and trusses in a solid, blinding, orange spread of flame.

The passengers could not grasp the complexity of what seemed to be a city stretched for miles, active without sign of human presence. They saw towers like contorted skyscrapers, bridges hanging in mid-air, and sudden wounds spurting fire from out of solid walls. They saw a line of glowing cylinders moving through the night; the cylinders were red-hot metal.” (Atlas Shrugged, 27)

I find this part of town fascinating. To the east and south of here, is the place where railroads and airports converge to move goods from the West Coast to “east of the mountains,” which around here could mean Moses Lake or NYC! Costco and Starbucks have headquarters just to the north. People might find its grey cement pillars and its towering metal containers to be dreary and drab, or the atmosphere intimidating, but I find the whole scene very exciting. There’s so much action!

Anyway, you go through all that industrial area along the Duwamish River to the south, and eventually (if you stay to the left instead of following 1st Ave S. to the right, like I did on my first try) you end up on Route 509 going to Tukwila.  It is a pleasant corporate campus, the Seattle Small Business Development Center. Even though I got a little off track, I still arrived on time and my heart did not start beating too hard, nor did I swear, hate myself, or start sweating.

I only got the slightest bit alarmed. Breathe in, breathe out. (The same thing I’ve done in other stressful situations lately, such as going to funeral mass for my mother-in-law, watching someone get mad, and waiting for the plane in a crowded airport).

Anyway, once I got there I feared the worst, especially when I saw that we’d all been given little booklets courtesy of Facebook. (I am not on Facebook. It seems to bother everybody, for which I always seem to feel the need to apologize. Sorry!)

The happy news to report, however, is that the free workshop on marketing was excellent and I learned a lot. The teacher was engaging and fun, hats off to Jenefeness Tucker, MBA! The people were interesting to meet, bright, enthusiastic, and engaged: we all wanted to be there and we all had something we were trying to figure out. We shared thoughts from our lives, which vary widely. Among the group was a designer of  hijabs, kimonos and other modest fashions; a creator of wedding floral arrangements; two real estate agents; two people who work with realtors by staging homes for sale; an artist who has an original board game; and a business consultant. I was there representing Honey Girl Books and Gifts, as creator of “heirlooms that soothe the spirit”: children’s books, pillows, and quilts.

Which I now realize targets a clientele of educated people, likely women, parents or relatives of children age 8 to 25. She is a little worried about being saturated by cellphones (and likes the cellphone pockets in the pillow backs). She appreciates authentic craftsmanship. She wants to live in a stylish, hand-designed home and create her own family history and traditions. This I offer through quirky quilts and pillows that tell stories or pass along literary and philosophical allusions in color, prints, and varied textures.

The children’s books appeal to people who want their children to discover little-known discoveries from award-winning scholars, illustrated with original artwork. Just good parents, basically, but open to non-Hollywood stories that are produced by real people, not ghost writers and starlets. We are scholar-writers working with young artist-illustrators. (Although if somebody in Hollywood wanted to option The Frankenstein of the Apple Crate, I think illustrator Karen Neis and I’d be open to that!)

Thinking over this workshop and the other things I’ve done since arriving here July 2, I realize that the anxiety dogging my steps over the past couple months is quite reasonable. I’m doing things I’ve never done before, with different kinds of people in new places, trying to create a new business from scratch. At the same time as I’m embracing capitalism and selling stuff, attending events sponsored by the chamber of commerce, for example, and becoming curious about salesmanship, my spiritual and philosophical studies have been focused on Zen, the art of abandoning material achievement: the letting-go of ego and attachment that go with T’ai chi. These lessons are constant and make my mind feel at home, thanks to the time I spend daily on meditation, weekly Qigong class, and the arduous, three-times weekly, 90-minute classes of T’ai chi at the Seattle Kung Fu Club.

No wonder I stress out sometimes. These activities are attached to philosophies that actively oppose each other (competition versus acceptance and action versus stillness). It’s confusing! But doing Tai chi in Chinatown, sewing new things in my studio, and creating a storybook with the kids at the library: those things are simple and clear, just joy.

I remain convinced that one can start and run a small business successfully without joining Facebook, exploiting people, or thinking about money all the time. I am convinced that you can make artworks that speak to people and spread good feelings and curiosity through color, cloth and paper.

It’s a ton of work but it is way more fun than academia because of the speed, and because of the freedom to express your imagination as you wish. In academia, you sit around and talk and have ideas and meet with other people and write reports and then, gradually ever so slowly after months and oftentimes years of deliberation, a change is made. In business, you can have an idea, go get the materials to make it, create it, market it, and sell it in one week or less! And your audience is virtually infinite, you just have to figure out who they are and connect.

So that’s making my life fun. I hope you are taking steps to embrace change and make your life fun too!

And let go of ego at the same time, realizing that it is all fiction.

Just breathe.

Are you confused yet?

Good! Then we’re all beginning together.








art children creativity death dogs loss storms

After the rain, blue skies


Hi readers,

Life has been like a day in Seattle lately: scattered showers, rain heavy at times, followed by blue skies and bright sun. Changeable. Our moods, our relations are constant shifts between yin and yang, shifting, swirling, and moving along through the hours. We all know that change is the only thing constant under the sun, but it takes events like death to make it tangible. And my family has been dealt a lot of death lately: a dear uncle and my awesome mother-in-law both died in the last month, and sickness has afflicted two other loved ones.

Life continues to bring beauty and joy, as well. Honey Girl’s goofy grin, the pinky-orange leaves seen on our daily walks, the sparkling skyline at sunset–those are all things that make me smile.

An invite, then, to something cheerful!

Curious Kidstuff toy store is hosting a display of products by yours truly, “Honey Girl Books and Gifts,” on Sunday afternoon, November 4! Come and enjoy some cozy pillows, and read an advance copy of the new illustrated book, The Frankenstein of the Apple Crate: A Possibly True Story of the Monster’s Origins, (ages 8 and up, available very soon on Amazon in paperback and e-book).

Learn how a discovery in the archives of revolutionary France became a children’s book!

I will be there from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, 11/04/18

I’m also excited to talk to parents and kids about the free writing workshop that I teach, “Write YOUR Story.” The workshop (for ages 8-12) will kick off at Curious Kidstuff toy store in January 2019; information will be on hand for parents to sign up their kids.

Curious Kidstuff is located at 4740 California Ave SW, Seattle WA 98116.

Thanks for reading! I hope you too can warm up to sunny skies today, despite the weather that’s swirling through your head.