Saturday, August 24


I am hopelessly restless
at this late hour
torn between waking
and sleeping
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
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. 

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?!