Saturday, August 24

Sleepless



Dreamless
I am hopelessly restless
at this late hour
torn between waking
and sleeping
powerless
waiting for a sign
that morning is come
and I am finally done
with waiting.

Stepping forward
into the void
I am not who I used to be
Shedding old fears
toe to toe with new conflicts
fear is my shadow
and I am so
tired of it.


I was alone in company
he was wrong
about me
I have always known
who I was.
Many sleepiness nights
are prerequisite rites
for emerging
finally
wide awake.

Monday, August 19

Heroes Among Us

I don't know what actual event this image belongs to, but today it is an appropriate fit for what I saw in the intersection of 7th Street and Camelback (North Central Phoenix) around 8PM.

The light was red for North and South bound traffic. My suburban nosed up to the crosswalk, my two dogs panting contentedly in the back after a long walk in a beautiful neighborhood off Central Avenue at sunset. Everything about tonight changed in a split second; cars proceeding East suddenly lurched as they applied their brakes, hesitated, and then continued forward. Instantaneously my eye caught the commotion in the crosswalk to my left.

Two people were standing the the middle of the street, against the red light. They were carrying multiple plastic grocery bags stuffed to capacity. One was a woman who appeared to be physically and mentally impaired. Her bowed legs splayed out an an extreme angle, accented in the deepening night by the bright yellow sweat pants she wore. She seemed disoriented. Her gait was hugely awkward, she teetered precariously as if she might lose her balance and go sprawling into traffic at any moment - traffic which was still on-coming! To my horror she lunged with her burden swinging heavily from each arm several steps outside the cross walk as if she would continue to the middle of the intersection!  Her companion scrambled to the safety of the sidewalk while she stopped, shoulders stooped, her body wavering equal to the motion of the swinging bags she carried. 40mph traffic in fact was approaching the intersection from the West, and I involuntarily gasped out loud at the carnage I feared would surely happen next.

Then I saw him.







Entering the intersection West-bound, he had parked his car against the green light without taking time to activate his emergency lights - leaving his driver's door gaping open. 



It was this car, a Sidekick JX. The man was young, maybe early 30s. Three lanes of cars behind him entered my peripheral vision.

I watched him in one, smooth and confident motion take several swift, long steps sideways towards the woman in danger  and  forward into three lanes of on-coming traffic with his arms spread wide, open palms and outstretched fingers signaling drivers to halt. His long-sleeved white shirt glowed neon in the headlights. His face was expressionless, washed in light. I didn't hear screeching brakes, which surprised me. Actually, I can't explain how two people directly in harm's way during heavy, fast-moving city traffic were not tonight's grim headlining late news.

Miraculously, the bow-legged woman hobbled grotesquely to the safety of the sidewalk. The young man returned to his car and completed his left turn South-bound onto 7th Street a few seconds after the light had changed. It was while he was driving in front of me I caught up to him and saw what type of car he drove. I wanted to yell across to him through my passenger window an acknowledgement that I had seen what he had done, but he changed lanes and was gone.

All I could think about as I drove home was how someone, in the typical chaos of a big city breathless and impatient with asphalt still boiling from the day's heat, had observed something extraordinary and in a flash had decided to use his own body as a living ensign to save total strangers. He had exchanged words with no one. His deed was accomplished within a matter of seconds. Then he was gone, and it was done. The roar of the city buffeted my face with hot, humid night air through my open windows.

Heroism is a curious thing. Why this seemingly innate voice powerfully beckons some people to action in a crisis while others are paralyzed with mindless fear or are impassively oblivious, is one of the most beautiful and capricious features of human nature. 

Thank you, Captain JX.




Thursday, August 15

Little Monster

The love for a grandchild is an awesome thing. All the more anticipated is a little guy who will make my beautiful first-born a mother!

Time and distance is a very bitter pill; I cannot be there. It breaks my heart, actually, so I did the next best thing - I sent him a piece of me. I heard from his daddy-to-be that they received this little monster quilt in record time:

Christian termed it "off the hook"; I think that's a good thing...?!



(Colors in this photo from my laptop are much truer than the yellowish toned pics)

I am notorious for sewing by the seat-of-my-pants. I hate math, so I never measure, and I hardly ever use patterns for anything. I pay for this bad attitude later with odd seams added on to make up for whatever I was too impatient to plot out in the first place. This time, I bit the bullet.
 Sort of - because I didn't know how to transpose what I had figured here 
 to what I would need here.  :( 

To save money, I bought a fuzzy blanket from Goodwill instead of batting. I double washed it, and laid it out.

 

Next, I laid the backing piece on top, and trimmed it to fit:

I printed out my references:
And decided to do something about my 42 year old pin cushion disaster - the one that someone being "helpful" many years ago had pushed every single pin down as far as it could go into the cushion. Grrrr.

I bought a new one, along with the heavy embroidery thread to quilt it with, and grapes for snacking.

It was inspirational to have all the pins standing tall and perky ready for easy plucking! 

I'm glad this perfect pin cushion is documented, because within about 24 hours of this photo Asia showed up (child #4 and daughter #2) and immediately began smashing all the pins down as fast as she could. Mystery solved: now I know who perpetrated this crime originally.

On to cutting out the 9 blocks that would feature a little monster. 


I laid the blocks out about a million different ways before deciding on which color should go where.
After cutting them out, I ironed on a thin pelon backing. This is the magical element to making the applique process coming up easy as pie. That is, once you hit upon a monster that makes sense. 

Losers:
See unfortunate monster upper left: Cool retro pattern fabric is the wrong color green and looks gross; especially with the weird green nostrils, lavender muzzle and brown eyeballs. Gak.

Next is something that morphed into an awkward zebiraffe that just doesn't work. Man!

Finally, the cute little stripped shorts monster sporting a green retro crewcut.

 Um, NO. 

Here is how he ended up:


When Asia saw my early attempts, she quickly referred me to the cutest ever array of little monsters you could just eat up with ice cream! That girl has a super nose for design. Thanks, Asia!


And these:


On a roll now, here is what replaced the nasty retro green guy:


His bow tie is like a real tie (3 dimensional) attached, and about half the monsters feature an element that the baby can play with, fuzzy hair or moveable arms or ears, the tongue on the fish, etc.
All the pieces are backed with iron-on pelon, and then machine zig-zagged to the block that was also backed. This prevents puckering and stretching and allows for smooth and error-free appliqué even on tiny details like little eyeballs or thin areas like lips. 
Close ups of the remaining squares. 


The flower folds back to reveal layers inside.


Moveable ears and arms on this pouty-faced guy:

The tongue moves, and the fin folds back (underside = blue):


Fuzzy paisley bed-head hair:

All the blocks were quilted with an exaggerated stitch of the extra large embroidery floss, doubled. 

Fringed turtle necks on well-dressed monsters are all the rage:


The binding was done correctly for the first time in my life: I cut the different fabrics on a 40 degree diagonal and pieced them together at random lengths in 4 or 5 different colors all the way around. The corners are mitered. 

*(Thank you awesome Youtube tutorial that FINALLY features a woman who doesn't yak your ear off but gets right down to business in a superdeedooper easy to follow method! See it for yourself here)


I get it that the backing fabric is not beautiful, or even the right color-wheel green, fine. Have you seen fabric prices lately?!


EXACTLY.













Sunday, August 19

Miracle of a Life Time: Israel 2012

Part One: Oy vey! Getting There

Unbelievable ~ I have a passport! Welcome World! My photo is truly hideous. It is much more suitable as the mug shot of a child-molester. Fiddle-dee-dee, details. This was only an insignificantly unfortunate element of an utterly fantastic adventure never to be forgotten this past April when Dean treated me to my very first trip abroad.

City That Never Sleeps
Of course, flying from Sky Harbor to New York with beautiful you know who at my elbow rendered the five hours a brilliant passage of time. However, it was absolutely thrilling to descend into JFK mid-afternoon and view Manhattan glittering below us. I had no idea it was so beautiful! The architechture, classic form and shades of grey jutting up over brilliant green (I wasn't expecting to see so many trees!) surrounded by water gleaming in the sun combined for a show-stopping sight, and a tear or two. Yes. I am a cry-baby, and no, this is not a picture we took. Pretend it is.


You know how you can have a flurry of thoughts in a fraction of a second? It's amazing how the tiny portal view customarily afforded from a stuffy, unglamorous airliner can be the means of a full-body sensory rush. I felt overwhelmed to see the New York skyline not only for the historicity (all the way back to New Amsterdam and later the Battle of Brooklyn), but for what must have been a similar view (generally speaking) for the fated American Airlines flight 11 as it approached the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. My tears were tears of joy for the miracle of flight as always - never will tire of how common place we casually accept stepping into a vehicle that flies through the air and spews us out into a completely different time zone - appreciation for the spectacularly beautiful sight of the iconic city sprawling as a textured jewel below us, and tears of sorrow for what was suffered on American soil.

People
Language is what hit me next as we wended our way to our gate at JFK. Russian, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, French and Hebrew swirled around us from beautiful and interesting faces in trendy American fashions or traditional ethnic garb. I could hardly contain myself; there is something magical about the concept of language. What arrives to my ear as meaningless sounds is to someone else an effortless communication complete with fully defined mental imagery and a verbal response waiting to be exchanged. For a wanna-be Cultural Anthropologist, this was akin to being spoon-fed gourmet cookies 
or how other women feel about pedicures and spas, I don't know - it was wonderful!

The Big Plane
Boarding the 747 took my breath away. I had no idea it would be HUGE. Logistics for this flying freighter are crazy and well worth the reading if you are interested. The passenger capacity is nuts! I lost count of flight attendants at around 12 or 13. I saw two different galleys and was aware of a at least a third one at the rear of the plane. We sat in the vast middle seating area with an isle way far away on either side and more rows of seats until a window and the edge of the massive plane. All around us Hebrew and English punctuated the air as passengers settled into their places. Our safety instructions were voiced in both languages as well.

The Big Flight
Dean had warned me about trans-Atlantic travel. Speaking of language, I thought I understood the words that came out of his mouth. I was mistaken. When he said with emphasis, "It's a long flight," - this is what he really meant:
Oh my gosh. I am not a very comfortable person in an elevator for 30 seconds or rubbing shoulders with crowds at amusement parks for 30 minutes. This was ridiculous. After maybe four hours of the nearly 12 hour flight to Tel Aviv (don't forget the five and a half hours already from Phoenix to New York) my skin was beginning to crawl. My compressed rear end felt like it belonged to someone else if that's even possible, my eye balls felt dry and raw and the inability to move around became an exquisite torture. There was actually nothing specific in its own right about the seat, the armrest, or how my legs and neck were positioned that offended; it was the massively compounded effect of being confined for hour after hour in a never changing scenario that screamed little white jacket. I believe the fact that we couldn't see where we were going kind of played with my psyche, too, especially since most of the flight was at night. It pretty thoroughly freaked me out to know we were over the greatest ocean of the world the whole time. I couldn't help but imagine the teeny tiny splash we would make...

The Proposal
Dean advocated Ambien. He said it helps relieve jet lag. I was offended at first. Why would I want to sit next to someone party-pooper drugged oblivious when he could be talking to moi? Again - it's a language thing. I did not understand key couplet words:  
a) long flight 
b) jet lag
He offered me the little pill. I swear he winked. I considered his character. He is honest, brave, trustworthy, clean, courteous, thrifty - you get it. I decided to half way trust him. I took half a pill and I did eat. Sort of like Adam and Eve reversed.

The Problem
He was out like a light as promised, I was not. Dangit! Cat-napping is notoriously mis-named. Cats, when so inclined, appear totally if not blissfully dreaming of kitty delights during brief yet satisfying periods of deep feline repose. My goal of unconsciousness having eluded me, the intermittent falling shallowly asleep and waking up with a violent start got old really quick. I repented from snickering at a fellow traveler we observed shortly after take off. We had watched her go through a well-oiled routine of flight preparations. First, she applied lip balm with exactness. Next she inventoried her carry on things and then tucked them fastidiously away. Then she vigorously rubbed lotion deeply into her hands and wrists (which reminded me of a fly washing its hands), tugging her long sleeves up out of the way. She wore a black turtle neck tee shirt. Weird, I thought at the time. Next she dramatically popped her jaw a couple of times, inserted ear plugs into each ear, put on a plush black-out eye mask, settled her head into her personal donut pillow and tucked herself into her airline blankie. Miserably uncomfortable, exhausted, cold and my hands and lips aching from feeling dry - I eyed her with regret and respect.

The comfy Deanster, on the other hand, had no reason to feel anything. 


It was a freaking LONG flight.

Saturday, July 14

Family Math at Graduation


Five of these belong to me
(James, Robin, Rachel, Asia, Leiland)
(Okay you guys, line up in birth order R~L please - hey!)
(Somebody always has to be the clown...)
(No, c'mon, get serious this time, I mean it!)
(Really?)


Plus these three make life complete.

(Christian & Rachel; the one and ONLY time he wasn't singing the "My Little Ponies" theme)


(See what I mean?)
(Your guess what he's up to here...)
(Trisha & Rachel; bffs)

(Perfectly Pretty: Ray-baby and The Chelster)

Add two of these
(The World's Best Genius Grandchildren MaKenna (3 1/2) & Jack (6) out on a walk with Mimi. They have their own language together and a shared love of pretzels and goldfish.)



("Cheese" would be customary, but okay...)
(Hey MaK, what do you want for later? Some In 'n Out Burger?)
(What the - ?! Leiland in a classic spastic moment)
 (GET OUT OF THE PICTURE!)
 (Leiland after composing himself)
 (Baby Bidee: who loves you, baby Junebug?)
 (a brotherly lift)
 (My caboose of the Five)
 (Squeezies)
 (Oh my gosh you guys are Ridiculous...)
 Friends
(Azlee & Asia reflect the seriousness of this life milestone for Rachel)
 (Island-Love Spencer and his ardent admirers for obvious reasons)
Diploma & a Snickers Lei
(Rachel is pleased, but Jack bagged the better bargain)
(Thrills)
(Amanda & Ray, dueling dynamite smiles)
And JOY profound,

Counting blessings all around.





 (We're all making the same face)
All Together Again