fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Monday, April 30, 2007


Los Angeles does not have an Eifel Tower or a Big Ben or a Statue of Liberty. 10 million people: That's more people than in Denmark. Still, nada. There is nothing here to point to, to which we can say, in Hollywood disaster film style after the space aliens have destroyed everything, "This is my city. I know I am here because that is there." I still can barely fathom that the artsy aesthetes that planned and built the Getty Center did not come up with some "thing" right there on the hill visible to everybody on the busiest freeway in the United States, the 405. You know, maybe some wings for an angel, City of Angels, get it? Whatever: Let the flock of MFAs up there figure that out. As sublime as the Getty Center is up close and personal, it still looks like a hospital from the street.

Some folks in Beverly Hills put up this small-breasted, large-thighed figure right smack dab in the middle of Rodeo Drive. However, as very thankful I personally am for their efforts, I regret to say the look has not caught on on the West Side.

Okay, okay, granted: Many may argue that the Hollywood Sign is the City of Angels' Eifel Tower, but as apropos as a sign originally erected by a real estate developer, which later came to represent the entertainment industry might just be, I'd like to nominate this chair as the definitive icon, our collective coat of arms for this city. If you have ever sat in this chair or one like it, you know what I mean.

Any guesses why?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I made stuff

I've been musing less and sewing more. Denim rocks my world. Cheap and perfect. I swear I close my eyes and wince every time I slice into this $15 a yard European stuff. But this batiste is so silky and nice. Worth every penny. These European fabrics just are better. Just are. I received a little pin cushion from Germany as a gift with a few sewing pins stuck in it and even the sewing pins are better. My favorite eight sewing pins. Oh no: I'm musing on sewing pins. Not exactly blog gold. I should go back to just making stuff.

In letzter Zeit, weniger Bauchnabelphilosophiert und dafür mehr genäht. Wie liebe ich Jeansstoff: Billig und dafür perfekt. Ich muss jedesmal die Augen zudrucken und zusammenzucken sobald der Rollschneider den teueren Stoff aus Europa trifft. Aber dieser Batiste ist so seidenweich und schön: Jedem Cent wert. Diese europäische Stoffe sind einfach besser. Ich habe einen kleinen Nadelkissen aus Deutschland mit einem paar Stechnadeln eingesteckt als Geschenk bekommen: Sogar die Stechnadeln aus Europa sind besser! Diese sind meine acht Lieblingsstechnadeln. Ach nein: Ich philosophiere über Stechnadeln. Lieber mache ich wieder etwas.

FYI: Zuma, Avalon and Redondo,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

So humbled

The Not So Plain Jaynes are throwing a Tantrum this week. This blows my mind. It blows my mind every time I squeeze in 50 of these patterns into flat rate Priority Mail box. "Who would make these? Will my retailers sell them?" I ask myself. And, "I hope the seamstress has fun. I hope she likes what she makes." Thank you retailers, hobbyist, designers and thank you Not So Plain Jaynes. I really like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one. And look at what one of the artists made. And don't forget this one.

I'm just blown away.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Memories of my days in the sun ...

When you have a five-year-old that has exactly one line in the school's production of Cats and you can sew stuff, well, you may be guilty of going a little overboard on the costume.

My favorite part of the performance was this dance where the kids spun around under each other's arms and in doing so would knock off each other's cat ears, which would go flying across the stage. A bunch of five-year olds with cat make-up reciting T.S. Eliot, tails peeking out from under the curtain, flying cat ears: That's good stuff.

Avalon jacket and Solana pants. No real cats were harmed in the making of this outfit.

Look at the little strawberry mice one mommy made. And see how the kids hang their backpacks outside? Remember watching television shows, where the schools had no hallways and the kids had their backpacks hanging outside? Growing up where getting to the bus stop often meant conquering a snowbank five feet high, I always thought a school with outside hallways was the craziest thing. Of course, now I know, that's the way schools are in Southern California and that's where the television shows were filmed.

The tail on this costume: The tail kills me. It has a mind of it's own. I wish you could see this tail in real life. I'd post instructions, but I don't know if the tail would be as crazy if I made it a second time. A bit of cat magic must have slipped in.

Monday, April 23, 2007

On the topic of Kitsch

One word: Hannah.

I don't know Hannah. But I want to be her new best friend! That's rockin' Kitsch!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Of rodeos, right midfield and rockets

It was a Jack-heavy itinerary today. He was the second best Third Grader in his school's bike rodeo, and, we established today, the seventh best in the whole city. Just time enough to change into the soccer uniform after that. And now to construct a rocket for the evening's rocket launch.

It has been a very vicarious kind of day. I so enjoy watching him grow, try and occasionally excel. This cloud, however, did not escape my attention. The one in the upper left-hand corner. A puffy little archetypal cumulus was forming so fast, right in front of my eyes. There was a time, when a sight like this (on a Saturday no less), would have had me heading to the airfield like nobody's business. Under each of these clouds is a column of warm air rising from the ground (called a thermal) and if you have some fiberglass or wood and cloth stretched just right, and your craft starts to bump in the turbulence a little, you can bank into those thermals and circle up that column until you reach the base of the cloud. Then you soar over to the next cloud and ride that column of air up again. On a day like today, you could do that for hours. If somebody wanted my opinion, I think that is what angels do. Soaring is that close to heaven.

But this is how I fly today. I sit on the bench and I watch him grow and try and occasionally soar.

Boys are fun. Boys are the ones that make things out of PVC pipe and hook those up to air compressors so that you can blast off paper rockets. Did it fly? You bet: His rocket flew the farthest! I think we stumbled across an innovative fin design. I'm so happy to have a boy with whom to do boy stuff. Oh, I'm all opposed to gender roles: No such thing as a boy thing or a girl thing, I know. Both boys and girls can do anything: They can both be inventors or homemakers or scientists or politicians or soldiers ...

My thoughts are with the mothers of sons and daughters in Iraq. American mothers and Iraqi mothers and your sons and daughters, whom you watched play soccer and ride bikes and make paper rockets.

Tummy apes

The person who good-intentionally corrects my kids when they say, "tummy apes" instead of "tummy aches" will hear from me. Most kids get tummy aches, mine get tummy apes.

We want pancakes. Even if that means tummy apes. Let's go someplace with five different kinds of syrup and swirly, snowy whipped cream and happy yellow eggs and bottomless coffee cups and place mats to color and spinning posters hanging from the acoustic tiles. A place with a whole battalion of newspaper boxes in front, because this place means breakfast. A place where weekend-custody dads let the kids have ice cream, even if they didn't touch the scrambled eggs. And please, no servers from a superior gene pool to make me switch from Swedish pancakes to, "Oh, just some fruit, please". No, we want a server named Ramone, who jokes with the kids and suggests, "Hot cocoa?". That's what we want.

These are a few favorite waiting-for-the-food-to-come games:

Make a squiggly worm: Slide the wrapper from the straw so that is all scrunched up as tightly as possible. Drop water onto the wrapper and watch the worm wiggle.

"What's missing?": Okay, everybody, look carefully at everything on the table. Now close your eyes. Okay, open them. What's missing?

Napkin critter: Take a square paper napkin and twist the corners to make a little hat thingy. Place the hat thingy over a whole lemon. Push the little critter around the table.

Got any more?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Old School

Diana suggested we share our furniture faves (gee, and she just shared that she restores furniture: So rad). I could design furniture. I think I could. Seeing as how Design Within Reach hardly is ... I won't dwell on it, but I'm still not above a little bragging. How about this little charmer? It's industrial age Mid-Century steel and maple. A sawbuck (fünf Dollar ca. Euro 3, Leut') at the fireman's yard sale. Oh yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.

I'm also trying out this blog photography ("blography"? Well, that would technically be "blog writing", but it sounds good, don't you think?). All crookedy and chopping off heads and foreshortened... Glimpses. Yeah, "glimpses" is what you go for. I'm old. And Old School. This crookedy photography will take some getting used to. I'll wait to see what it looks like.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Not funny

My husband is really funny. Unfortunately, he's funny in a "we're laughing at you" way, not a "we're laughing with you" way. Let me explain: He's German. As such, he has no sense of humor. Oh, he tries. He tries to be a real smart ass. But being a smart ass is a craft that takes decades to hone. It's not for everybody. Yes, this is America, and, yes, just because you can buy automatic weapons at WalMart, doesn't mean you should. And just because America is very appreciative of smart asses, it doesn't mean you should be one yourself. In the wrong hands and at the wrong times, it is a very dangerous thing. I think in the interest of everybody, we should post signs in the airports: "Welcome to America. No socks with sandals. No eating with your fork upside down. No skimpy Speedos at the beach. No sarcasm. No, not you."

For example, I'm chatting online with my sewing girls and my husband feels a little neglected, so he says, "I think I'll get a dog. ANNA! Oh, Anna! We're getting a dog!" Now, what on Earth prompted him to add the "ANNA! Oh, Anna! We're getting a dog!"? Of course she runs over, her eyes big as saucers, "A puppy? We're getting a puppy?" "Sure. What kind of puppy should we get?" he answers. They spend the next half hour on the Internet puppy shopping. And then, you can almost hear the angels singing and clouds opening as Anna comes across a husky puppy with blue eyes. It is, without a doubt, the cutest creature on the planet.

"What are you going to do now?" I ask the man.

"What do you mean?"

"About the dog."

"What do you mean?"

"About Anna and the dog."

"What do you mean?"

"What are you going to do about Anna and her expectation of getting a dog?"

"What do you mean?"

"Anna is expecting to get a dog."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, Anna is expecting to get a dog."

"Why that?"

"Because you said, 'Anna, oh Anna, we are getting a dog,' and then you picked out dogs with Anna on the Internet."

"Why would she think that?"

"What part of 'Anna, oh, Anna, we are getting a dog' do you think she didn't understand correctly? What part of going all over the Internet looking at puppy pictures do you think did not plant that seed firmly in her mind?"

"Anna doesn't think we are getting a dog."

"Yes, she does."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, Anna thinks you are going to get her a dog."

"Why that?"

"Listen." (In the background, lots of happy squealy little girl sounds, including "We're getting a puppy! We're getting a puppy! He has blue eyes! We're getting a puppy with blue eyes!")

"She doesn't think we are getting a dog. She knows I was joking."

"She's five."

"What do you mean?"

"She's five. She doesn't think you're joking."

"Why that?"

"She's five and she doesn't get you. Few people get you and no one under 30 gets you."

"Why that?"

"You're not funny. You get taken at your word."

"We're not getting a dog."

"No, we're not getting a dog. I know a lady with a dehydrated cat and that has cost her $1000 so far. $1000 so far for a dry cat and it will cost much more to figure out why the cat is drying out. We are not getting a dog. What are you going to tell Anna?"

"Does Anna think we are getting a cat? I thought you said dog."

"I mean, dogs, cats, whatever kind of pet--that's a time and financial commitment, not to mention the whole fecal matter logistics bit. Just what are you going to say to the jumping, squealing child to explain that you never had any intention of getting a dog."

"I'll tell her you won't let her have a dog."

"You're not funny."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Smell of the grease paint, roar of the universe

I want to avoid flippancy and sarcasm, because that would be too easy and not what I am after. But there is little chance of getting around what the performance was. It was mostly a singing recital, a hodgepodge of musical theater standards with some musical theater acting thrown in (big arms, big eyes). It was produced by the performers’ voice coach, a woman addressed always in person and on paper as “the fabulous”. The theater was a few steps off the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which is venue to dozens of street performers of varying talent. The theater company was comprised of, I must assume, hopefuls: Hopeful 11- and 12-year-olds with their stage moms and dads mouthing the words to the songs, hopeful twenty-somethings with their day jobs and boob jobs, and hope-is-not-lost forty-somethings, with a string of soap opera and sit com appearances after their names. The kids and I attended in support of a friend of a friend, a sweet girl from England and Detroit, whose first name is a composite of two nicknames. That might have been her parents’ doing, but it skews very “theater” nonetheless. I recognized a mom from my kids’ school on the stage. She had had appearances on Night Court “before kids”, as the program notes told us. “Knock-out” was the term that first came to mind when I first ever saw her: Lots of very blond locks, lots of curves, fussy shoes and lots of pink. “Knock-out”, I am sure, was never used in reference to me.

I was embarrassed for each person on stage. The break dancers in front of the Adidas store was better entertainment. I looked over to my companion ready to ask if we should just go. I was waiting for the sounds of yelling and things being thrown to come from backstage. But the yelling and throwing never came. The performers were not visibly embarrassed or dissatisfied, whatsoever. They gave their performances every last ounce. Each off-key note was sung even louder and given some falsetto, so as to make you wonder if it was you and not the note that was wrong. “If you’re going to make a mistake, make a big mistake and nobody will notice” That very well could have been the last bit of fabulous direction they received before going on stage. As well as, “The audience paid their money, they’re likely to stay to the end and they’ll applaud whatever you do, because this is Santa Monica, not Manhattan.” And my companion seemed okay with what was happening up there. He’s from the next generation, so maybe he understands something I don’t. Maybe this is a post-ironic era, when we just skip Will Ferrell giving an excellent performance of a lousy performance and move straight to the bad performance. That Sanjaya kid comes to mind. But I am a hopeful, too. And I hope that is not what was going on. This is my hope.

To be a star. Look at that: The universe is about 156 billion light years wide. Light made at one edge is going to take 156 billion years to get to the other end (okay, this other Web site is telling me it’s only 78 billion light years wide. And NASA’s saying only 10 billion. Probably because NASA doesn’t get much funding. At any rate, they’ve taken a picture of it. Really, a picture of the whole universe here.) The entire creation of the Earth and the evolution and devolution of man is going to happen and be done with before that light reaches anywhere near the other end. I guess my point is, is that super stars, super nova entertainers are just tiny specks. Tiny fractions of specks. One-googleth of a tiny fraction of a tiny speck. But specks nonetheless. So sing that note. Maybe some of that note will escape the past wooden rafters, over the upholstered seats, through the carpeted lobby, over the passing cars in the street and up into 10 billion (or 78 billion or 156 billion--take your pick) light years to the edge of it all. Big arms. Big eyes. Be it musical theater, design, a blog, a business, an advanced degree ... Go for it. I'll applaud.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mea culpa

Yeah, I make mistakes.

So I call out Heather Bailey on the ANNA dress thing.

In blog speed, she steps to the mat and explains (see Comments below). The dress was a gift, the pattern design for which was likely unknown to the Free Spirit designer.

I herewith retract my emphatic statement, eat my boiled crow, help myself to a generous serving of humble pie and thank Ms. Bailey for the clarification and the blog visit (dang, I wish I those killer Avalon photos were up on the front page).

I didn't think anybody read this blog (hear that? Especially you, Karen? We're going to have to watch what we write. Best behavior time.).

Thank you, Heather. Very heads up. Sorry for the misguided assumption.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Concepts around textiles are very effective metaphors: Fabric of society, threads of thought, falling apart at the seams, coming unraveled ... This is a corner of fabric I recently received as a gift from Chris (Chris gave me such beautiful fabrics: But I'm going to wait until they have found their projects before I show you). Chris sews and we "know" (via email) many of the same people. Chris is attending a language school not a block from my house. I think she is fledging a little bit: This is her first big trip away from home, her first time away from the family for an extended period, and she's improving a skill she plans to have open her world. It is very touching and amazing to me, that I have met people and developed friendships and even started a little business around this hobby. I think, once upon a time, women were making all kinds of things from textiles as a way to connect to other people. There probably wasn't a lot of convenience and times were tough. And yet, an embroidered mieder, a dowry of tatted linens, cable knit sweaters ... great effort was made for all kinds of everyday objects to make them beautiful. This Internet is modern, but I don't think we are any different today. The seamstresses on the Internet marvel at each other's work, enjoy the anecdotes, lend a hand, watch each other's children grow and we certainly aren't above a bit of ladies' gossip. It's in IRL, too.

Thank you, Chris, for your beautiful gift. Thank you for letting me get to know you better.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Gimme a break.

So Heather Bailey buys or has made or whatever a Farbenmix ANNA dress for her girl for Easter. Here.

Heather, babe, where's our props? C'mon, little credit? Won't hurt, now, will it?

If I ever get too big for my britches to give a little lift to another independent designer when I use their stuff, you can call me out on it. Okay-dokey?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let's go!

I withdrew a bunch of cash from the ATM and said to the kids, "Let's go spend it!"Off to the Santa Monica Pier we go for a grand day on a vintage carousel, a ferris wheel over today's big surf, a funny roller coaster, some window shopping for dreamy kitsch and blue gummi dolphins.

The colorful jacket is a treasure. A beautiful piece made by Sabine of Farbenmix. It is a joy to wear and to behold.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Got stuff?

I must really have been sick: I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to go on the computer. I didn't want to read. If I did get out of bed, I wanted to clean. Very sick, indeed. A few extra degrees in body temperature and I become compulsive obsessive about the DVDs standing rank and file. I'm feeling much better, thank you. And strangely, the garage is now emptied of several useless things and the cobwebs over the front stoop were vacuumed away in a fevered frenzy. All in all, a very productive influenza. I even lost a couple of pounds. I could do with that kind of infection every few weeks. Not likely to happen, though.

Which sort of brings me to my next point. I'm tempted to call out the crafting blog world "it" girls, in your cute little cottages and cozy flats. I want to know: WHERE'S YOUR STUFF? Where do you keep it? If you make stuff, you got stuff. Nothing gets thrown away, because there's a great idea there. The stuff I got? Oh, several hand-carved Italian chairs in extreme need of upholstery, including two wing-backed suckers that just seem to sneer, "No. No you. You no upholster. You too stupido. No toucha me." Then there's the broken surf boards and trashed skate decks: Got ideas for those. Some Thonet chairs. Some 50s GoodForm chairs. An arch lamp, steamer trunks, an old iron crib/could be a daybed, vintage clothes ... I even have boxes of my mother's unfinished projects. Her dying wish: Keep it all together. Boxes and boxes and boxes of minatures and dolls and I don't even know what all. And all of that stuff has to fit between the kids' stuff and the paperwork stuff ... I live in these 1,377 sq. ft. like a big game of Tetris. Or maybe Rubik's cube: Putting something new in requires shifting and turning and twisting and still you've only got one side figured out. This place contains two kids, two parents and two businesses.

The answer, of course, is very easy. Just get rid of it. But would any of you toss out vintage Italian wing-backs, even if they did sneer at you? No. No you.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Design as a genetic defect

How to become a famous fashion designer? Well, famous in Holland, anyway. Famous among, oh, probably 20-30 sewing types in Holland? And maybe 50 in Germany? Well, lovely pets, I did this in three easy steps:

Step 1: I had a mother,
who was clothes crazy.
Step 2: I grew up
clothes crazy.
Step 3: My d
aughter is growing up crazy and clothes crazy.

How did my daughter, my mother and I independently ever came up with the genius to dress in dolly clothes? At age three? Such prodigy. My mother chose to where her doll dress on her head; a very apropos look I found, as well. Both my daughter and I liked the doll clothes as cuffs, especially combined with sunglasses.

Perhaps they'll find something on the human genome, probably a tiny string of nucleotide that spells out GABBANA. I would suspect they would want to genetically engineer that out of the human gene pool.
In the meantime, what have I learned in all my years of being clothes crazy? Sunglasses and a good bag will fix any outfit.

You mad scientist types, Keep an eye out for this one:
G = guanine

A = adenine

B = G T C (all but A)

B = G T C (all but A)
A = adenine
N = A G C T (any)

A = adenine

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Rejoice! And returns.

Happy Easter. Blessed Passover. Much joy for that part of your belief system, which celebrates renewal and rebirth.

I didn't make these decorations. The hearts and spinny things are recycled stuff from Mexico. The crosses are from Africa. The quails eggs come pre-decorated from quails.

And because I believe in blog truth, well, semi-truth, a more complete view of my world. Tax Return time. But other times of the year, my desk doesn't look much better. I was even considering naming this blog, "My Life is a Mess". But that spreadsheet in the middle lower part of the picture is a really nice spreadsheet. The first word in "Accomplishment" is "Ahhhhh".

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Not me

This is a friend. She'll pack my patterns if I punk up her clothes. We went Frankenstein on a t-shirt and made an underskirt with lots of pink girly tulle. A very ridiculous item of clothing. This girl pulls it off, though. The t-shirt is of Mr. 540, her husband. I guess that makes her Mrs. 540. She made this nice Sharpie tattoo on her arm at the stoplight on the way to the skate park just for me. Nice touch.


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