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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Angels

One of my favorite children's books is by Wolf Erlbruch, Die fürchterlichen Fünf (roughly translated "the horrible five". I found a Spanish translation, Los Cinco Horribles, but not an English one. Go figure.). In a nutshell, some rather pitiable creatures--a rat, a spider, a toad and a bat--bemoan their miserable fate, that because they are so horrible and unlovable, that they have nothing to offer. Then, a hip hyena pulls them up from the depths of self-pity by making them each aware that they each possess a musical talent.

Well, everybody has a musical talent, that is, except Toad. Poor Toad.

Then, however, this kimono-clad toad pipes up and says "I can make pancakes!" And thus, our not-so-horrible heroes set about to open a very successful and popular live music venue serving pancakes.

About five times a day, the image of this kimono-wearing toad confidently announcing, "I can make pancakes!" pops into my mind. It reminds me that we all have something to offer, some talent we can contribute.

The Boutique Angels is a loosely organized group of women who sell their handmade creations, mostly on Ebay, to benefit different charities, primarily to benefit children. The leader of the Boutique Angels, Tiffany Hageman, was included in the Ebay Community Hall of Fame in 2006. I think of the afflictions and disasters countless people face and I realize my own helplessness and even apathy. But then, as I think of the Boutique Angels, I envision myself a toad in a kimono and saying, "But I can make sewing patterns!" It's not much, but if I put up a charity auction of these patterns, well, I've contributed something. I recently pulled up my donation receipt for my tax files: A charity auction now and then and I've contributed a handsome sum! This has been more donated, frankly, than I would have otherwise taken from our family's budget. And because of sewing patterns! I like that idea.

As a way to thank the Boutique Angels, I have sent a limited number of pre-release LAGUNA patterns to two retail partners, Banberryplace and SewzannesFabrics. Now, you can't buy this particular pattern. Not yet. But if you can show Banberry or Sewzanne's that you listed a Boutique Angels' auction recently, they'll send you a free pattern. Gratis. If you're not making a purchase, they'll probably ask you to cover shipping costs. This is about a $13.00 retail value. LAGUNA is a spiraling twirl skirt and--if the (trust me) simple skirt proves daunting, we have as a small consolation--leggings. You gave of your time, talent, ideas and materials, and now you can get a little something back. And that's not so horrible.

Please check with Banberry Place and/or Sewzanne's Fabrics for the exact details.

This promotion has received the kind consent of the Boutique Angels' moderation.

Oh, and, as always, no mass production of my designs. Really. Soooo not cool, people. Okay-dokey?

Drop-in visitors

My son has a special gift. Beautiful insects like his head. This has been going on since he was a baby: We'd be playing in the yard and along comes a butterfly to sit on his head. And stay there. Think about it: How often has a butterfly landed on you in your life? And if a butterfly landed on you, did it stay very long? It is very odd indeed, but very occasionally, a butterfly or, as we see here, a big green cricket, will sit on my son's head.

Conversely, my son likes to put frogs on his face.

Mein Sohn hat eine besondere Begabung: Schöne Insekten mögen seinen Kopf. Seit er ein Baby gewesen ist, landen Schmetterlinge auf seinen Kopf und bleiben dort sitzen. Überleg' mal: Wie oft ist ein Schmetterling auf dich gelandet? Und wenn, blieb er da lange sitzen? Gewiss sehr kommisch, nichtsdestotrotz recht oft sitzt ein Schmetterling oder, wie heute, die grüne Krille meinem Sohn auf dem Kopf.

Andersrum mag es mein Sohn Frosche auf dem Gesicht zu tragen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

2226 E 4 L B

I had a little homework assignment: A friend was voted by her illustrator peers to be included in an exhibit, which is housed at a terrific used--well, "used" is not really the correct word here. The owners are very particular about their selection. It's more "curated" than recycled. But I digress--terrific "curated" bookstore. And I thought I'd take a few photos of her work being exhibited for her.

This bookstore is in Long Beach. Long Beach is a town dominated in all things by the busiest seaport in this hemisphere. It is a town marked by granite-covered capitalism-induced office monoliths shadowing, not a single street over, working-class, gang-tagged pre-war bungalow neighborhoods. And the gang tags are good. No, boys and girls, street gangs are not good. No: Street gangs are bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. But they do keep the property values down. And that is good. It is good, because the lower lease rates allow for rare economic ecosystems of alternative consumerism to thrive. Wildflowers that grow between the cracks in the concrete. Anytime a halfway interesting store goes out of business in my neck of the woods, the location is quickly replaced by a day spa or a hair salon. Now, these are high-margin businesses, to be sure, but just how much hair do people have? How much maintenance can a face handle? I can walk for three blocks and get a different hair or skin treatment everyday for a month and still not be done. I simply do not want to be that beautiful!

East 4th Street appears to be a fragile, self-contained ecosystem. The vintage clothing seller buys from the vintage furniture seller, who buys from the used bookstore, who buys from the weirdo knick-knack place, who buys again from the vintage clothing seller. There is a real danger that if one of these independent entrepreneurs needs to step out of this tiny eclectic economic cycle--say, if the weirdo knick-knack lady purchases a fax machine at CostCo one week--that the whole system may collapse in on itself. Purely in the interests of conservation of eclectivism, I contributed to the economic activity of this street as best I could (Purely. Just an overwhelming sense of economic benevolence that caused this table to enter into my home. That's all. Really. Utter selflessness.). I bought two great books; one book on "Objects of Desire". I think I know now a thing or two about such things. Including said table. And how do you like my new impulse--I mean--end table? It goes great with my new books.

Across the street from the bookstore, someone wove this unfinished thought between the links of the chain link. I found this answer inside the bookstore.

You are beautiful.

Hier, Perlen in den Muschlen, Wildblumen die zwischen den Betonspalten wachsen, eine Einkaufsstrasse mit Altbüchern, -möbeln, -kleidungen. Ja: Der Beistelltisch hat uns irgendwie nach Hause gefolgt. Gar keine Ahnung wie das passiert ist. Zu der unvervollständigte Frage, "Du bist ..." habe ich im Buchladen diese Antwort gefunden. Stimmt: Du bist schön.

FYI: Lunada trousers pattern and fabric available from Banberry Place. Sabine made the shirt.


My thankfulness sometimes overwhelms me. I'm really thankful for these rowdy, using-the-wrong-fork *ahem* not-using-a-fork-at-all, giggling, dirty-socks-on-the-floor-dropping, too-long-in-the-shower-taking, random-love-note-leaving, homework-forgetting, sand-in-the-house-traipsing, whining, splashing, digging, planting, painting, sculpting, running, falling, knee-scraping, toe-stubbing, early-rising, pancake-making, no-waaaay-a-crush-on-someone-in-class-having, snuggling, reading, laughing, dancing, goal-scoring, sibling-teasing, golden-haired, sunny-smiling children.

I know what love is: It is this boy and this girl.

And then there is all the magic around me: The computer, the Web, the date buds sprouting from the tree in front, the radio in the kitchen, the music, Claritin (no more sneezing!), the warm water from the faucet, these Sharpie pens, the grocery store, human speech, written language, paper, the ports of Los Angeles and San Pedro, the spider web that stretches from the sycamore to the corner of the house, the perfection of natural systems, the beauty of all nature ... I am truly overwhelmed and I am thankful also for the sense of wonder.

And then there is the goodness all around me: The awesome neighbors, the friendly emails from strangers with a compliment, the sewing sisters around the world, the friends I still have from junior high, high school and college, my new friends, who feel just as gold--not silver--as the old, my dear husband, my retail partners, Sabine and Farbenmix, my dad, my sister, the guy who jumped out of his truck to help me gather up the boxes I dropped going to the Post Office, the moms with whom I exchange play dates...

My kids are pretty finicky eaters. I have discovered, however, that they are more likely to eat something if it is "mini": Mini burgers, mini pizzas, mini potatoes, mini-eggs (quail), mini trees (broccoli) and so forth. Thusly, the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinner was mini turkeys (a.k.a. rock Cornish game hens). Everybody gets their oooown turkey. Everybody gets their o000wn wishbone. I get my wish, too: Just one hour babysitting baking poultry instead of 3 or 4.

Thank you, too, for reading this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, this is kinda fun!

I put up a couple of quick Zazzle Christmas Cards. Just for the holiday of it. Totally easy. Kinda fun for those with designs they'd like to share.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

Und extra für Diba, dies hier. Besos, Diba!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Winging it.

I made something with garlic. Garlic promotes cardiovascular health, keeps mosquitoes, vampires and unwanted kisses at bay and now inspires creative hours. This is Claudia's Knoblauchrock, or "garlic skirt". Quite an original design: The finished skirt sort of has the form of a garlic. Very tasty indeed. And Claudia is quite the creative talent. I admire her greatly.

This skirt seemed to say "lady-like" to me and I wanted a little lady-like blazer. I didn't have a pattern at hand, so I tried my hand at drafting one. How tough can that be? I just need to get that one lapel/front piece right and the rest should just follow right along, right? And some ruffles. Yeah, ruffles across the back. Lady-like ruffles. And maybe one ruffle to come around the bottom. But not all the way. And some puffy things on the cuffs. Puffy lady-like cuff things. And lined. Of course, fully lined ...

Flying a bit close to the sun here. I spent a good day on drafting and got bored and then careless with the whole thing. I should have measured the lining pieces instead of winging it. Anyway, my laziness resulted in the Mystery Half-Inch Too Much. This Mystery Half-Inch Too Much sort of traveled its way about the blazer only to be scrunched up and hidden under that yo-yo/button blob on the right ... and then finished off with a silly bit of bias tape ... Ta-Da! I can almost hear the collective cringe among Home Ec teachers.

Scrunched up blobs and emergency bias tape are nothing a good hat, some sunglasses and a great purse can't cure, I say.

I let Anna have free reign in my let's-play-dress-up, um, vintage curations. I think she did a fine job in stying.

FYI: Stenzo corduroy. Fabrics from Beseme Baby and Fabric Bliss.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sternenbrücke ... Let me explain

A rare opportunity.

"Sternenbrücke" could be translated to mean "bridge to the stars". For hundreds of families with terminal children, this hospice is a happy, helpful, healing place.

Many, many members of the klickundblick.de community and other German sewing forums have set up charity auctions to benefit "Sternenbrücke", a hospice for children. Many of the sellers in these auctions only very rarely sell anything. They put so much love, detail and work into each piece, that their things only go to friends and family. Now is a chance to have these items for your child and also benefit a beautiful organization for children and their families during their toughest months, days, hours and minutes.

Now, a note to my American Ebay friends, some of these ladies may not have the photography and photo editing skills that are de rigueur on Ebay.com, but don't let that hold you back from purchasing some of the most beautifully made clothes in the world.

Sabine even has a 10-piece set up. Ten. Count them. Even a fully lined winter coat. I see each of these items of clothing as hugs we can give our children to wear each day and with which we can be so thankful that we have not heard the words, "There is nothing more we can do for your child."

I will gladly help with any communications.

Sank heaven for leeetle girls

How did I ever become a mother of a little girl? Oh, there are plenty of better and more graphic resources on the Internet for finding out exactly how that happens (you may need a credit card handy). But as far as being the whole mother thing, I was pretty unprepared. I never studied this stuff. Never thought I would need to know this stuff. I thought I would fail the pregnancy test. But I passed the pregnancy test (without studying). When they let me go home with Jack, I gave the authority figures in the hospital a second look, as if to ask, "I can really take him home? Just like that? Don't you know I don't know how to do any of this?" We'd already done a number on naming the child (Jack has three given names, none of which are "Jack"). Luckily, even though I didn't know how to be a mother, Jack knew how to be a child and he did his job so well, he told me perfectly and in no uncertain terms what he wanted and when. Despite my many shortcomings, Jack is a great kid.

So, why not give it a second shot? Another child. Why not? Of course, I was thinking, "another son," because I'd figured that one out. A boy will likely walk before he talks. A boy will mimic the sounds of different aircraft before he says talks. (Say "mama". (silence) Mustang? "BBBBBbbbbbbbBBBBBBBBrrrrrrr" F-18? "SSSSSHHHHHHHkoooooooooo" Sikorsky Blackhawk? "CH CH CH CH CH", etc.). Well, we didn't see the tell-tale boy-tail on the ultrasound. So what? A girl. I was a girl. I remember enough of that. And before that, it's just a baby: Boy baby, girl baby, all the same.

Um, no. No, a girl is different creature: Anna, Sikorsky Blackhawk? "Mama!"

I recently saw a documentary and there seems to be some real evidence that boys and girls are different: Girls' brains have more connections between the synapses and a more highly developed isthmus (Sure, guys, nice upper body strength there, but check out my isthmus. Try to do that with your brain!). And somewhere along the way, the genders split dimorphically on reflexively locking the wrist when throwing, and, alas, girls do throw like girls. And women do parallel park like women, unless a women's ring finger is longer than her pointer finger (There's research (yes, controversial) on this. Really. But if that ring finger is longer, then we can parallel park with the best of them! Bring it on!).

Anyway, I have a little girl, too. And all indications are that she'll have no trouble parallel parking. Thank heaven for little girls.

Thank heaven also for Farbenmix. Happy 3rd Birthday, Farbenmix!!

FYI: Anna's snake-wrangling Zorra trousers and Bea sweater sewn with love by Sabine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The week in pictures

My cooking is pretty bad. I even burn socks! Oh, like you've never tried to speed up the drying process by putting something in the oven! Oh. I see. You really haven't. My son has one more game left: I'm going to spray paint them light blue again (sorry, babe).

A sidewalk spirit breaks through. Don't step on a crack!

Downtown, I picked up some bolt ends. Like I need more fabric? Uh, no. But I can write it off!

A Japanese cookie with a skunk on the wrapper and a faux ice cream cone Easter Island totem with man-boobs inside? I don't know what that could possibly all mean.

How was your last week?

Mein Kochen ist dermassen schlecht, es werden sogar Socken verbrannt! Ja: Als ob du niemals Socken im Backofen getrocknete hättest. Ach so. Hattest auch niemals. Okay. Jack hat nur noch ein Spiel im Saison: Ich werde die Socken mit Sprühfarbe wieder hellblau färben (tut mir leid, Schatz).

Ein Gehweggeist ist durchgebrochen.

In der Innerstadt habe ich Stoffballenenden abgeholt. Brauche ich etwa mehr Stoff? Nö. Aber abschreiben kann ich's!

Dieser Keks: Eine japanische Eiswaffelimitation mit Osterinsel-Totem und Männermöpsen? Häh?

Und wie war deine Woche?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sing along

At the traffic light, I turned off the radio, opened the window and listened to these street performers. For those who wanted to sing along, the birds kindly provided the musical notation.

An der Ampel schlatete ich das Autoradio aus, machte das Autofenster auf und habe diesen Strassenmusikern zugehört. Für die jenigen, die mitsingen wollten, haben die Vögel freundlicherweise die Notenschrift zur Verfügung gestellt.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Capable of more than flying

I like flying and I like airplanes. Have I ever mentioned that before? Well, I do. As close as I come to the magnificent machines these days is volunteering at the local museum of flight. There was a grand fly-in this weekend. Warbirds from the area came to the local airport. The sound of a WWII movie filled the air.

On this day, I had the great pleasure and privilege to be present for some living legends: D-Day veterans, ace pilots and the remarkable Mr. Louis Zamperini. Lucky Louie’s personal history is enough to fill five or six autobiographies. First, there’s Mr. Zamperini’s story of a troubled youth, who found his way back on the right track by running track. Then there’s the story of that star athlete finishing first in the 5000 meter run in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, impressing der Führer such, that Adolf Hilter demanded an audience with the California youth. Louie shook hands with Hilter and then promptly stole the flag out of the Third Reich Chancellery. And then there’s the story of a WWII ace bombardier, who managed to destroy many strategic South Pacific targets while dodging all those wily zeros. And there’s also the story of the airman shot down and adrift at sea for 47 days and nights, who had to have the strength of body and mind to survive at sea, while watching his crewmates die. And there’s the story of his rescue, but subsequent imprisonment in a Japanese POW camp and his suffering at the hands of his sadistic captors. And there’s the story of his rescue of his body, but the unrelenting torment of his memories. And then there’s the story of the power of reconciliation, redemption and faith that allowed Mr. Zamperini to look his captors in the eye and forgive each of these men, expect one, personally. Still not impressed? Mr. Zamperini, 91, until four years ago was regularly skateboarding. And the man is always smiling. His autobiography, Devil at My Heels, is an excellent and powerful read and written much the way he speaks in person.

Because of the sacrifices of men and women like Lucky Louie, my own Dad included, I have been the truly lucky one. I have lived in peace and prosperity. I have always been able to pursue my happiness, even in the land of our nation’s former enemy, Germany. This week, I have been summoned for Jury Duty. This will require quite a bit of coordination with getting the kids to school and looked after in the afternoons. It will mean my emails will likely go unanswered. It will require turning my cell phone off. It means I will have to decline meeting with friends, who happen to be in town this week. It will mean disappointing the kids by missing soccer and ballet and playdates. It may require me to think about human nature in ways I prefer not to think. It may require me to consider the laws of my country and how they intersect with a specific individual’s acts and that person's future. These are things that make me uncomfortable and I would much prefer not to do these things. But I will do my tiny part as best I can. I owe that much to guys like Mr. Zamperini. And I owe it to my own little ace balsa wood pilot, as well. I am capable of that much.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or teeth!

I was curious: Where did the Tooth Fairy legend come from? I mean, the notion of a magical creature fishing around under our pillows for lost teeth? After extensive research (two whole Google searches), I learned the following: Probably during the Dark or Middle Ages, when faeries and witches and magical folk of all kind had freer reign, primary teeth were thrown into the fire or buried in the ground to prevent witches from snatching them up and thus being able to cast spells on the child. Also, burying or burning the teeth prevented the unlucky soul from wandering the Earth in the Afterlife looking for those darn lost teeth before settling in for a comfy eternal slumber. At some point, the job of looking after these teeth was handed over to a very busy and benevolent fairy. So, you see, the Tooth Fairy legend may have some loose Samhain connection in there. And since Anna is currently walking around with a grill befitting a prize fighter, what could be a more fun Halloween costume this year?

I "got" (read, "took") the Tooth Fairy costume idea from the ever-fabulous Wendy. I really wanted to avoid a Tooth Fairy, because Wendy's Tooth Fairy was perfection. Every stitch. Every detail. The very idea. And likely because it was perfection, I could not and did not resist temptation. I did go in a different direction, however. Wendy's fairy is more princess, mine more pixie; hers is more Neuschwanstein, mine more Harajuku; hers more Disney, mine more animé. I hope. Another aside, I had the costume cut up and ready to stitch, when I discovered that a very popular blogger was using the very same fabric for her girl's costume! Alas, lest I am to be possessed completely by demons of unoriginality and haunted by opinionated blog post ghosts, I did buyeth a different fabric at the last minute. And that is why the bodice is fitting a bit wonky (I switched back and front inadvertently ...).

Jack, well, he is a chauliodus sloani. This is more body puppet than costume, with a long tail that attaches to his hand. Complete with working photosphores and a glowing illicium. Now, your real-life viperfish will not have eyelids, or, uh, feathers, exactly, but we tried to make it as zoologically correct as coat hangers, black nylon, yards and yards of boning and Christmas lights would allow. The chin munches up and down as my darling deep-sea dweller walks. And the costume actually lived through the night! Well, anything that lives 2500 meters below the surface of the ocean can probably survive a nine-year-old's Halloweening.

Trick or teeth!


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