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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Not so black and white

I was at this park watching all these little, little kids inline skate on this really crazy, difficult course. It was insane! These little kids, maybe 4 or 5 years old, doing these jumps and flips and going so fast. And I thought, uh-oh, this is something else my kids cannot do. Something else that I've neglected to offer my children. All the kids will grow up being able to jump and flip, but not my kids. At any rate, it was time to leave, so I got in the car with my husband. He was driving. Jack was walking with his friends up ahead a ways. I asked my husband to stop to pick him up. He drove past him, saying it was not a good place to stop. Stop, I say, and let him get in the car! Jack is running as fast as he can to catch us. But my husband speeds up. The world is not waiting for Jack, my husband says, Jack needs to pick up the pace, this is good for him to run. Jack hears this and then he turns away from us and starts running down a foot path, which we cannot drive down. Jack just keeps running and running away and we cannot follow him. I want to apologize to Jack. I am not sure if I want to apologize for not pushing him enough, because he cannot flip and jump on inline skates, or if I want to apologize for pushing him too much, making him take all those AP classes and not slowing down a bit. "Jack!" I to yell aloud to the boy running away from me..."Jack!"... And my yell wakes me up.

It was a dream.

My subconscious is not subtle. While pushing the kids to excel, will I push them away? Will I always feel so guilty for not doing enough and for doing too much? I know several families, who have a child graduating from high school. These sons and daughters have awards and scholarships. They know to which excellent universities they will be attending in the fall. Those parents got it right. I wish it were all more black and white to me.

But it's not, is it? The one thing I really want to get right, help my kids to the best of my ability become the best version of themselves, I might be getting wrong. 

It should be simple. Black and white simple. Like a Saul Steinberg drawing. Which is actually very sophisticated and layered and complex, even though it is simple.

"The artist is an educator of artists of the future... who are able to understand and in the process of understanding perform unexpected – the best – evolutions."

- Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg
Untitled, 1948.
Ink on paper, 14 1/4 x 11 1/4".
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

This is my blatant infringement. Can we agree on "homage"? 

I left this thread loose, hanging out of the needle. It may not last long there. Or maybe it will.

Okay, that's a tad dramatic...but I do believe doing something creative does lend itself to a considered and experienced life, don't you?

Anyway, that Saul Steinberg infringement homage is the outside to a roll-up sewing tool kit. I'm always doing a bit at home, then a bit at my office...and I'm always leaving this or that tool somewhere. So, I'm hoping something like this will help me keep my stuff together. If I can't keep my sh*t together, at least my stuff is together.

I quickly made some "smalls" to put in the kit.

I liked making these itty-bitty smalls. In about fifteen minutes, I've sewn something. And something super practical. I like to carry around a tape measure. And I like to have itty-bitty Post-Its handy. So these do the trick pretty well.

I also made a book cover for my old copy of The Hobbit. Anna doesn't think she needs to read The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings, because she saw the movies. If I were Queen of the World (am I am available for that position), I would make sure everybody read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings before seeing the movie. Or at least after. So I made Anna this book cover to help encourage her to read this book.

By pulling a tab at the top, you can move the owls eyes up and down. By pulling the tab all the way out, you have a book marker.

Behind the eyes I used stamps to write "Read more"... a bit of dyslexic stamping on that "E" there... *sigh* 

Even black and white gets complicated. Anyway, this keeps me from getting bored, right?

“The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blood determines lineage, but I have a working hypothesis that hearts determine families.

Ever been to Tijuana? "T.J."? Even if you haven't, I'll bet you think it's shorthand for anything-goes partying, a bit of lawlessness, cheap prescription medicine and pervasive hopelessness. What Tijuana really is, is a border town that is experiencing tremendous growth in population, as people relocate from rural areas in hopes of a better life. The search of a better life sometimes ends up rather bad. And often, it is the children that get the worst of the bad. Poverty often brings abuse, neglect and abandonment in its wake.

I won't make any assumptions about the Mexican foster care or child welfare systems, because I really don't know anything about them. However, I've seen a thing or two relating to the American foster care and child welfare systems, and, suffice it to say, that no matter a nation's wealth or relative position in the world, every nation often falls short in their obligations in protecting and caring for the youngest and most vulnerable among us. Child abuse, neglect and abandonment all belong to our collective human shame.

The hills are covered in ad hoc dwellings. The ingenuity of many makes it a shame to call them shanties. The people do the best they can with what they have and that is something to truly admire. 

"Find your honor in trustworthiness. Laugh and sing during difficult times." 

But there are people and there are places that are doing good by our children. Yesterday, I had the honor to visit one such place, a wonderful, happy place. Corazon de Vida, is, year by year, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, giving child by child a fighting chance at a great future. About 60 children, ranging in age from infants to teens, are cared for, clothed, fed, educated and nurtured, day in and day out, at this home in Tijuana.

Corazon de Vida ("heart of life") is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit charity dedicated to empowering children. This is from their Web site:


To raise contributions in the form of money, materials and volunteer work to support and empower the children of Baja.


That every child in the world has someone committed to the possibility that their life hold the same excitement and opportunity as the most fortunate child on Earth.


We believe that every child’s life is valued and holds the same potential, excitement and opportunity as any other life. It is up to us to work together to make sure our care transforms into each child’s hope for the future.


To End The Cycle of Poverty and Homelessness

"I don't know if I should be happy or sad," my son Jack says to me after our visit. 

Blood determines lineage. But what about hearts? I have a working hypothesis that says hearts determine families. Corazon de Vida is not an orphanage per se. It is a home. And a home is a place for families. Families are where children are loved, nurtured, cared for, given boundaries, responsibilities, brothers and sisters, a place of their own and a chance to grow and blossom into the greatest version of themselves. Some of these children may be reunited with their mothers as their circumstances improve. And some will be with Corazon de Vida until they are 18. Or older. Because family is forever.

Mexican public (free) schools go up to the ninth grade. After that, schooling costs tuition, as does a university education. Children of Corazon de Vida will be sponsored--given room and board, school uniforms, books and the rest of it--for as long as they are in school, past their 18th birthday if need be. "I want to make these kids become millionaires one day," remarked Corazon de Vida board member Nicholas Sandoval, "That way, they can come back and end the cycle." Right on, brother!

A volunteer donates belly tickles and hugs.

This home runs its own school, which also teaches children from outside Corazon de Vida.

A hand up (not out).

Teenagers at Corazon de Vida are given private rooms to share with one or two others. Each child has his own belongings and clothes, so that each child can develop his own sense of self.

"Every child’s life is valued and holds the same potential, excitement and opportunity as any other life."

Everything at Corazon de Vida Tijuana is super clean, organized, well-maintained and neat as a pin. The children are instructed in how to keep their toys and spaces neat and do their small part to make this home their home.

I think I can...I think I can!

Board Member Andrew travels from Los Angeles to Tijuana 2-3 a month times to volunteer and give some love.

A roof. A shoe. A gaggle of boys. And my son right smack in the middle of all this. Yep: looks about right.

It's only a foul if it's called! Final score: USA - 6, Mexico - 10. (Also, 6 Mexicans against my one gringo, but, in the end, the final score is all that counts, right?)

Here's something my surfer boy might have a better shot at.

Sweet, sweet baby girl.

To save on the grocery bill and teach the kids a thing or two about botany, the home has planted vegetable gardens.

A blessed home.

If you look in your own corazon and see that you may have even a small donation in your budget, please consider a gift to Corazon de Vida. It only costs about $60 for all the needs of a child for a month. Think about it: Could you clothe, feed, house and educate your kid on $60 a month? I've already discussed this with my daughter Anna: She has a birthday coming up and one of her "presents" will be a donation to Corazon de Vida. Her idea. (Did I ever mention how wonderful my Anna is? Well, consider it mentioned!) 

Monday, May 19, 2014


When life hands you lemons, am I right?

I had an opportunity to visit the International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh (more on that later). For my flight back to LA, I had to change flights in Miami. And my flight into Miami was late. And that was the last connecting flight that evening.

After two hours of standing in the rebooking line (thank goodness I was standing between a good-humored sys admin from Montreal and an Aussie gal on her way to the Galapagos Islands: we almost got a flash mob started...anyway...), I got a hotel room and another flight early the next morning. Well, I thought to myself, instead of getting only about three hours of sleep and then spend five hours on a plane, if my day was going to be shot anyway, why not just take the last flight out of Miami and spend the day at South Beach? I know, poor me. I slept in late in a lovely Marriot bed (I like Marriot mattresses), watched an episode of Ancient Aliens (I don't have television in at home, just Hulu and Netflix, so I miss out of gems like Ancient Aliens, where, let's face it, anything that cannot be easily explained, for example, Leonardo da Vinci's brief hiatus from painting, can only logically be explained by the influence of extraterrestrials. Obviously). I had lovely blue meal ticket vouchers, which paid for a leisurely breakfast and then a whole day to myself. Just me, myself and Miami. South Beach, let's do this thing!

I shoot people!

The Left and Right Coasts are different as far as beach culture is concerned. Considering both coasts are all about the beach, how differently could we possibly dress? Very differently, turns out: SoCal = flip flops. SoBe = high heels. SoCal = suncreen. SoBe = eyeshadow. SoCal = floppy hats. SoBe = hair pieces. And so forth and so on. I mean, it takes a stylist to go to the beach here, seriously. 

Anyway, a great day away from the grind. I'll take those kinds of lemons any day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Respect for what he may become

Okay...that was two days ago...

But we're still mothers, no? Everyday is Mother's Day for most of us, amiright?

There is a quote I was thinking of. I need to look it up real quick...hmmm...

"When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments: tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become."

- Louis Pasteur

(If any one person can be credited with saving the greatest number of children's lives, I would suppose Pasteur would be number one.)

My kids are 12 and 15 now. When I read blogs of mothers with much younger children, or see a mom buckle a little one into a car seat or grab a curious monkey teetering precariously from a shopping cart or a mom humming quietly to the tiny one resting in the baby carrier on her chest, for me, it's like driving past my old high school: I was part of that, I think. I did the best I could. I graduated. I went on to what came next.

I am rather anxious about what comes next. College is around the corner for my son. He's a good kid. His grades are okay. Used to be, that these grades would be good grades. Or good enough. Not anymore. Not when 88% of UCLA freshmen has high school GPAs above 4.0. Sure, he's clever, has a lightning-fast intellect and his wits about him, and I am proud of him in every way. But will he soar? I know I subconsciously raised my eyebrows a decade ago at the moms who were paying for $100 private tennis lessons for their five-year-olds. Today, those raised eyebrows have wilted as I learn that those same kids are choosing among competing full-ride tennis scholarships. Was my best good enough? Apparently not.

Everything I read and see and know tells me that my kids will have to work harder and longer to achieve less. My son says he'd be happy if he could live as he does now: In a small, simple house near the beach, where he can bike or walk to wherever he needs to go. Dude, do you know what a tiny, crumbling 60-year old house near the beach will put you back? On the other hand, statistics tell me that my son will likely live in a small house near the beach: namely, this house, as he boomerangs back after facing dismal job prospects and crippling student loan debt.

Now, my parents were born during the Great Depression and my dad fought in World War II, so, really, I certainly have had a stroll down Easy Street. And these kids have never seen a day of truly hard work. I'm not afraid or entirely opposed to a few years of living lean and working harder than they ever imagined they would. Perseverance. If I could just gift my children one thing, it would be perseverance.

"I have found that the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and advise them to do it."

- Harry S. Truman

I have no good idea what the next few years will hold. My anxiousness is making me forget to enjoy the moment. It will be over all too soon.


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