Category Archives: life in the corona

Ode to shibori ribbon

Most days in the studio I look for meaning in the process, not in the end result. It might not seem that way to many as the thing most people see and react to is the end result of what I do, in the form of something they might purchase from me or enjoy looking at online.

But the reality of it all is, that much of the meaning is experienced in the process. This is where all the wondering begins, questions are asked, and solutions discovered. I appreciate simple process and basic beginning points. I really enjoy creating and practicing a process. Always have.
This past week, I had the first wholesale order of shibori ribbon in a while. I have adjusted my process a bit to fit the scale of what I am doing these days. Also, jumping around in the studio from one process to another isn’t exactly the model of efficiency. (shibori silk dyeing, indigo dyeing, moon making, teaching zoom workshops, card making, putting together fabric packs, flower making and more-phew!) That always bugs me. I feel like I am spread too thinly.
Some things are like riding a bicycle, you remember how even if you are a bit wobbly and slow at first. But you can improve the more you do it (the practice thing). I can make shibori ribbon with ease, in general. In the past I had enough orders to facilitate the making on a bigger and more efficient scale.
What do I mean by this? For example, the base dyeing. Generally, I would base dye a minimum of 60 yards of a color. If an order was for 200 yards of 12-15 different colors, I would probably be base dyeing 600-900 yards of ribbon. The extra would be consumed by the future orders and only the colors I was short of would be put into the mix for the next order.
Now, I do one order at a time. An order for 12 rolls of 12 different colors are produced one 10 yard roll at a time. Overall, this takes more time, wastes more dye, uses more water. When it comes to the overdyeing part, it takes me almost the same time to dye one colorway as it would to dye two of the same colorway. In all of this, I am spending more time to make less product and less income. I’m getting older, working harder, making less income. (Quite a familiar scenario for many these days!) These are the things I have to consider in the process. Yes, I could raise my price. I suspect I will have to the next time I have to order silk- we all understand rising prices for materials and transportation.
I’ve been also considering another option. Ending wholesale orders and switching to retail only. Seems like the practical choice.
I have some reservations about doing this. I like my wholesale customers and have created good relationships and even friendships with many of them over the more than a decade of making and selling the ribbon wholesale. I liked the fact that several of them are (and were… no longer in business) small businesses like myself and we formed interdependent relationships that benefited us both. So that feels like a loss to me. But over the past two years, wholesale orders have slowed to a near stop. The pandemic is responsible for a large portion of this but not all of it. Much like the sun and moon both rise and set, a product also has a trajectory that has a beginning, a middle, and sometimes an ending. But generally things do have a season of popularity. I have seen these product arcs last ten years or so with products I have created in the past. The shibori ribbon has seen even more time than that (since 2006/07 ish) so I am grateful!
I still love it, its beauty, the process, and all the customers that use it in their creative works. It’s really such an honor to see what you all do with it and all the beautiful things that have been made with it. Yes, there have been quite a number of people who started to make shibori ribbon to compete with me. None that I am familiar with did so on a wholesale level. That’s harder. They were more interested in getting the higher retail price selling only direct to customers. I took it to a different place.
So right now, I have one more wholesale order to complete. And from then on, I’m going to go retail only for a while. I think. Of course I can always change my mind.

I will also say that when I started making the ribbon, very few were even aware of what shibori was, let alone this new fangled thing called shibori ribbon. It was a unique creation that inspired lots of wonderful making over the years.

I thought it might be fun to do a visual look-back on shibori ribbon over time. I have a number of slide show vids and photos I’ll post below. At least I will record them again here in one place and one post. For now. It will take me a while to get set up and post product for retail only on the ribbon, but in the meantime, I’m cutting up all current stock for shibori ribbon scrap bags just to make a clean sweep.
Like a wildflower mix. Seed your imagination. Water with wonder and creativity!

And start over. In the shop here.

symphony of colors
this piece takes one yard…

I always have fun naming the colors…

who, what, when, where

Somewhere I recently read that 90% of writing is rewriting. This often rings true when I’m writing blog posts. I stop and start, sometimes by design, sometimes by circumstance. Often times when I go to hit the “publish” button and I see the number of revisions I’m shocked! Some of the revisions are minor of course, a word or two here and there, a punctuation or spelling correction, or just an adjustment to make if feel better as the words roll by. Other times, it’s as if I started out with one idea and end up with a completely different post for one reason or another. Some posts are completed in one sitting, others are written over the course of several days. I never know which it will be once I’ve started.

Sadly, I’m attending a service today for a man named Bill Pearl who for 20 plus years was the journalist with the most integrity in our city. He was mostly ignored by local government as he didn’t write what they wanted him to-but the people loved him and it is very obvious by the many, many outpourings of love and stories written online in his memory. He kept politicians accountable and residents informed as best he could.
He always asked us to think about the who, what, when, and where of a story. Should you wish to spend a little time learning about our friend Bill, you can go here, and here.

Many times while I’m working I write clever blog posts in my head, fully meaning to write them very soon. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they usually disappear from my mind before I get back to the keyboard. If I’m lucky, I stop what I’m doing for a second and jot a voice note into my Notes app for later retrieval. If I’m further fortunate, I can actually remember what I meant to write about from that note!
Ahhh… so goes blogging. At least the way I do it these days. I really don’t know how Bill managed it all these years…

Recent days have had me preparing & shipping out the kits for the upcoming Komebukuro Treasure Bag workshop starting on the 20th. That reminds me…I need to go into the shop and halt all kit sales. I won’t have time to do any more to be mailed out in time before the workshop. BUT- you can still sign up for the workshop and use your own materials. In fact, there are people who only do the workshop and don’t order kits which is just fine. I love to see what fabrics they choose to use. If you sign up for that there is a materials list you can download and work from.
Workshop Only Link

In dyeing the linings for this set of kits, it was easy to see that one piece of lining evaded my poly detector. I thought I had done burn tests on all of them. This is kimono lining that I later (after dyeing) I applied a lightweight fusible to before cutting into the 6″x6″ squares.

You can easily see that one was silk and one was poly in the vat. It’s still been quite cold here and the vats are being a bit tricky outdoors. And my hands were freezing!

I originally thought I would include a slug of un-disassembled but (indigo dyed) silk lining just for the fun of having the participants see how it is before taking it all apart but I changed my mind after remembering how a few struggled with stitching the silk without a fusible. So I dyed, washed, ironed, applied the fusible and pre-cut the squares for ease of handling. The silk lining can also be tricky to cut if you aren’t set up for it and I don’t like participants to become frustrated with the project. It was a bit more work for me but better than having everyone have to fuse and cut their own.
I try to improve each time and take what I notice from the past and move ahead.

Later today, I have a monthly check in with Ann Wasserman with past students of her quilt restoration workshops. (She’s got a new workshop in signup stage if you are interested in checking it out.) It’s just a zoom check in to see what everyone is working on and how they are doing with their restorations (I only have a little progress to report myself) and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve been up to.
(Ok, so in the meantime the check-in with Ann and group happened. Saw one gal from my session and the rest seemed to be from the prior session. Shares of repair projects all around with one pretty extensive project that took a year to complete. Lots of tiny pieces in that one. It was fun to see the excitement around the completion of it! Maybe the most interesting conversation was about the rescuing of the records of the California Heritage Quilt Project. One of the women in the group has stepped up to rescue the records and the project. Many other states have State quilt registry projects which I learned about in Ann’s class. Some state groups have published books about them. The California group is just trying to get itself back up and running so if anyone here has the interest and time, please contact them!)
Over on Twitter (which I don’t think many readers here engage in) I have been following some great historical costume and fashion accounts. Oh my! Some of the items shown are so amazing I need a fainting couch! Also, some of my favorite Japanese sericulturist accounts are starting to contemplate their spring silkworm rearing. Will I raise silkworms again this year? I don’t know.
Right now though, there has been a good amount of unexpected snow in the Kanto region. The photos of snow in Kamakura, Yokohama, and Tokyo are beautiful and make me nostalgic for the winter snows of my childhood there.

some familiar scenes in Kamakura but with snow!

Japan… I get emails asking about the Japan tour. With omicron rising, it’s doubtful to happen this spring. I will consider the fall if things settle down. Please sign up for the constant contact newsletter via the top link in the sidebar here. That’s the best and easiest way to stay informed on the tour. If you email me or ask to be added to the list on a social media thread, I might not get to it. Just being honest…

My son and his new wife are quarantined in Taiwan for three weeks. Like Japan, there are no tourist visas but she is a Taiwanese citizen and they are visiting family once they get through the quarantine period which is very strict. Their all time number of Covid cases is only 17,000. They are serious about maintaining their low exposure to the virus. Currently the biggest complaint is that there is too much food being delivered!

We won’t restart the tour to Japan until it is safe to do so.

There’s more but must get on with it now. Stay safe out there…check on your neighbors and friends.


textile detective continued…

Now that the holidays are over, and the sun is back out after some very much needed rain, I’m back to finish off the mystery of the silk fabric from the obi I was deconstructing here.
As you may or may not recall, there was a question as to whether the sateen silk backing of this obi was a cloth woven of silk and paper which would have been very rare. I sent a bit to my friend Velma who makes shifu and she pointed out that she could not detect any “seeds” in the weft threads as she unwove them. The seeds would be where “the strips are joined in one continuous thread by tearing a small tab of paper from the connecting strip above two threads. This tab is rolled in the same direction you intend to spin the thread creating the “seed”. This seed is one of the most notable characteristics of paper thread, and forms a unique pattern in the final woven cloth.” See here for attribution of this explanation and more about shifu.

I too had unwoven a bit more of the weft and looked at it more closely seeing that the fiber did actually look more like a cotton or hemp than paper. I did another burn test on the warp just to make sure and it really did smell like cellulose and not protein fiber-confirmed!

I also received back a reply from the Kyoto Shibori Museum who sent me the following interesting reply:
“It looks like an obi made a long time ago.The Japanese embroidery is very beautiful, and I think it’s hard to see anything like this now. The red stamp part is usually stamped with the weight of the fabric, the name of the manufacturer, the place of origin, etc., but it cannot be identified here. The kanji woven into the silk can be read as KAMI GO. It could be the name of the manufacturer/weaver or the title given to this particular obi.
KAMI means God and GO is the name of an ancient Chinese country. Japanese kimono is also called GOHUKU, but it means the kimono that GO people came to when the shape of the kimono came from China to Japan.

The best guess at a date would be late Meiji- early Showa. So around 100 years old.

I have been wondering what fabric I would use for the January Moon of the Month Circle. To begin the year and the Moon of the Month Circle, I will be sending both moons using this beautiful obi silk lining. Can’t wait to get to the vat and make them!

A couple more projects claimed the workspace in December. first, a not so auspicious
t-shirt quilt I have been threatening/promising to make for my son trevor going on ten years now! When he went off to college and cleaned out his dresser, there were a lot of favorite t-shirts going back even to co-op preschool days. There were memories from music camps, summer camps, marching bands, favorite pokemon,surf and skate brands, and even their own rock band from when they were kids. I had cut out the graphics and backed them with a lightweight fusible and there they sat, stacked and ready to go. Over time he added a few more from college music groups, shinkendo, and Japan. As I cleared out some of the workspace I decided that THIS was the year I would finish it. I spent two days stitching them together, backing, quilting (by machine), and self binding it. Done! It’s a fun ride from preschool through college in addition to being a utilitarian quilt made with recycled fabrics. The first photo he sent me of its use had a big fluffy cat sitting on it- success!

The other project is still ongoing but I think I solved a dilemma that had been plaguing me for a while. I made this piece -a bit of an ode to fabric scraps and stitches and wasn’t sure if or how I wanted to back it. I always like the back of a stitched work-maybe just out of my own curiosity. But this has sat there feeling a bit unfinished and finally it ended up sitting next to some lovely old red lining silk. The jacquard pattern woven into the very very fine red silk are beautiful cranes with florals and vines. This auspicious pattern was probably for a wedding kimono lining or some other important kimono lining. It’s a full bolt but disassembled and stitched back into a continuous length. I decided I didn’t want to cut it to fit the width of my piece- it would ruin the full pattern. So I decided to stitch it into a tube at the proper width to stitch the lining to the back of my piece. This way, should someone ever want to reuse this beautiful silk, all you would have to do would be to unstitch it. Kind of like a kimono. Something from the Amuse Boro Museum rings in my head at times like this.

2015 Asakusa, Japan Amuse Boro Museum
i imagine sericulturist feeding the kaiko, the silkworms spitting this thread, the dyers dying the thread, the pattern designer graphing out the pattern for the loom cards, the weavers weaving… imagine what the silkworm provided!

The sun has come out here and is drying the outdoor workspace after all the rain. The snow has covered our local mountains and the new year begins with this wonderful view and hope for a year of drought recovery. About a million poppy seeds and bachelor buttons have sprouted in every nook and cranny in the backyard!

the unity of the circle

I thought we might enter the 2022 New Year with a confidence and vitality that would enhance our well-being and allow us to look back on the past two pandemic years with a certain gratitude and commitment that we could go forward with lessons learned for the future.

Hmmm…that was around mid October. Yes, I’m an optimist!

Now, it is clear the better thing to do at the moment is to admit that we are not quite ready for that yet and to step into the New Year a bit gingerly, with a commitment to looking out for each other and continued determination to adjust to things as they come at us.

Here and there over the years on this blog (entering my 17th year now!) I have committed to a word at years end, and the word that I am thinking of a lot these days is an old and good friend of mine…

P E R S E V E R A N C E

Now this old friend has carried me further than any other word I can think of in these sorts of situations and is often well paired with other words…

love P E R S E V E R A N C E hope P E R S E V E R A N C E
compassion P E R S E V E R A N C E trust
P E R S E V E R A N C E kindness P E R S E V E R A N C E time
P E R S E V E R A N C E understanding P E R S E V E R A N C E
peace P E R S E V E R A N C E community
harmony
2022

There have been many occasions missed, rerouted, and cancelled this past year. There have been deaths, illnesses, pain and sorrows. Too many sorrows for sure. But there have also been births, unions, and celebrations too. We persevere. While 2022 will continue offering us challenges, we can and will rise to meet them. We really have no other choice do we? Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to maintain harmony.

For the New Year, I have a couple of new projects I am working on as in-person gatherings are still on hold. One is a textile talk series over zoom that will (mostly) be about the Japanese textiles I have collected over time. I am sorting and organizing that at the moment. This was suggested to me by a couple of people and most recently my friend Janet in one of the online classes where I went off the rails talking about some of my Japanese textiles. I received several emails telling me how much they enjoyed that spontaneous part of the workshop. OK-I hear you. I appreciate the suggestions and the feedback. Because in the end (and the beginning!), it really IS about serving the needs of customers and those that are interested in what I do. This thought of service and commitment I carry forward into the New Year. Thank you!

Wrap your mind around this if you can…this is a silk weaving! I photographed it at the obi weavers studio in Kyoto in 2019. It continues to amaze me. It’s quite large as i recall. hard to convey in a photograph but quite amazing in person.

The other offering I am doing is a Moon of the Month Circle. It’s a subscription item to receive 2 moons a month. These will be made using some of the fabulous cloth here and each months moons will have a note about the fabric, the dye, and whatever other story the cloth wants to tell. The two moons will be sent out first class mail tucked into one of my MoonMate photo cards. Let the moon guide your inspiration!
The moons continue to be one of my most loved shop items and making a subscription item with them will help me even out the making of them as well as make my income stream more predictable in unpredictable times. Of course you can still order the separate sets of moons but these will be a bit different than what you get in those sets.
Use them in stitching, journaling, and multimedia projects, gift a subscription to a creative friend- let the moon be your inspiration!

Petition of Japanese traders to the authorities. In order not to understand who the initiator is, all the signatures are written in a circle. 18th century.

I post this image here as I found it fascinating. As I understand it, placing the signatures in this circle presented the traders as equals, so no one person would be targeted for recriminations as a result of the request. The unity of a circle. The protection of many by the circle. Just something that make me think and wonder…


Welcome to 2022 friends…may we all look up at the same moon in peace, love, harmony AND perseverance!
Omedetou tomodachi sama!
Glennis

took a little road trip…

It was time for a little road trip, it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and Phil’s birthday. So we got the animals and house handled by son and wife, gassed up the ’87 Volvo wagon and hit the road!

Just getting OUT of LA is the harder part but once we hit the open road it was smooth sailing and the coastal views were grand. Made a stop in Pismo and then again at San Miguel Archangel mission. The mission was closed but we walked around outside a bit and down to the little adobe museum (also closed when we were there) and walked around the outside garden area. Just one little photo…

The missions have a romanticized past of colonization in the name of religion and land expansion where the local tribes were essentially wiped out and their culture all but destroyed (what’s new?). Of the missions I have visited (maybe half+ of the 21 California missions), this one is my favorite. It seems the most authentic and hasn’t undergone a massive restoration or rebuild. But alas, closed on this trip.

We continued on and found a hotel room near some friends and took in the sights and sounds of Niles California. Saw their Christmas tree lighting and parade, ate some nice food, visited with friends. We discovered another much smaller mission in nearby Freemont so wandered over there with the Birthday Boy…

Phil on his 55th birthday…rocking the indigo shibori t-shirt he dyed. Later we went and had Korean soup at a very small family owned restaurant in nearby Union City. (Here at the Mission San Jose)

Moving along to something textile related, I brought along several small projects to work on and ended up working on just one of them. I am stitching together old vintage bow tie quilt blocks made from 30’s feed sack materials when I noticed some printing on the back of a couple of the plain pieces.

The printing says Lincoln Bleachery and Dyeworks. The one in the center I’m not sure.
So of course I looked to see what I could find out about them and ….found this.
In the company history, one of their mills was even named Sinking Funds Mill (I guess they weren’t expecting much?) Fortunately, later renamed. I also read somewhere that some of the companies selling product in feed sacks would have their company name and product info printed onto the feed sacks with washout inks so women could use all parts without any waste if they didn’t like printing in their pieces.

Before I left, I was working on these. They’re still sitting on the work table waiting for me to get back. I did get them into the shop but didn’t publicize the fact. I think I did a short livestream on making them before I left. Seems a blur now. Some Holiday Cheer. I know many of you are as concerned and depressed as I am on hearing the news of the new variant. We will wait to hear the details and continue to follow the protocols from scientists. I spent a couple of days before I left working on the Japan tour for May, but it’s looking grim again…damn!

https://www.shiborigirlstudios.com/shop/holiday-cheer

moon circling

The past few days have had me back at the indigo vats working on new sets of moons. The only vat of the three that didn’t need reviving was the fermentation vat, which had a nice coppery surface and was dyeing beautiful blues.
Cleaning up around the studio I found a couple of base cloths that I had dyed moons into and had set aside for myself to play with on a rainy day. Well, the rain never did come but I craved a little needle time so I threaded up and got to work. It was quiet peaceful work-just going along with it. I never plan them out ahead of time- just let the cloth take the lead.
I finished off the little moon cover for the buckwheat pillow that had been looking kinda shabby. It’s an envelope style so the cover can easily be removed. The back are two pieces of old sturdy kimono cloth. I love these things and much prefer them to any kind of foam pillow insert. They just have a great comforting feel.
Next I had an old feed sack that had a wonderful repair on it- I dyed a tattered moon over the repair. These are treasured and useful scraps, the scraps of our lives. As we work to put our heart and souls back together after this past year and a half, I’m feeling pretty tattered myself these days and stitching these blues seems to wash away some of the sorrows.
Circling of Moons can be considered a series of sorts. I have a number of them started around here in various stages of completion. Various moons, various cloth, but mostly indigo. The ones that aren’t indigo are natural dyes. I’m grateful for some of the stitching techniques I learned from Jude- especially what she calls the “glue stitch”. I use that extensively to stitch the frayed raw edge pieces to the base cloth. I fray them enough first so they won’t unravel more and stitch them down with these tiny stitches. You can barely see them and probably can’t in a photo. Later I add the running stitches with thicker thread to ask your eye to travel with me around the moons. I want you to meander and wonder as you look at these pieces. To take a little trip.
Someone recently said to me, ” I have a sewing machine but just don’t know where to start”. I say, start anywhere! Start with a needle in your hand- sit in your favorite chair or the kitchen table. Gather some bits of cloth- cut up old clothes- go to the secondhand store and get some old cotton cloth. (skip the poly!) No machine needed. You can always unstitch something if you really can’t live with it but just let things develop. YOU will develop with practice.
I also did a couple of short videos that were requested from participants in the recent tekumo workshop. One had to do with machine hemming using a hemming foot, and the other with wiring the edge of a hemmed silk piece. You can see them on the FB studio page by scrolling down a few posts.

Late last night I took a 2 hour zoom tour of a sericulture farm located in the Kofu Basin in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan. It was quite interesting. Probably the largest sericulture operation I’ve seen so far in Japan. He said they raise 160,000 cocoons at a time there and grow them from seed. Most of the sericulture farms now get the silkworms in the 3rd-4th instar from the local collective and raise them on mulberry from that point to cocooning. Here’s a few links for my “silky friends” to enjoy…


Silky moth friends at Ashizawa Sericulture
And speaking of circles, Circle of Silk is a lovely story of silk sericulture hanging by a thread.
And also, a video on silk thread reeling by my friend and sericulturist in Annaka, Nobue Higashi whom we visit with on the Silk Study Tour to Japan. Enjoy!

no doubt

it’s summer. here, one can tell by the garden jobs that need attending each day before getting started on other things. plus, by the amount of tomatoes piling up on the kitchen counter.

and in all things summer, the mockingbirds sing throughout the night, the fans hum in the background by day, and earlier morning watering is preferred. also, the garden is filled with creatures. (and the dog got skunked)

the hornworm was put in a box in the garden where a bird flew off with it for a juicy meal. the monarch cats are now in their beautiful green chrysalis’ and the neighbor cat…well… let’s just say he appears to be moving in from over on the next block.
i’ve taken to making tomato soup and hot processing it to use the extra tomatoes that i don’t pass on to friends and family. it’s even really good cold! i’m drying lots of the cherry tomatoes. there are thousands i think. each day, one at a time.

the ladies…

the ladybugs have been breeding here and having a garden party. they daily eat all the available aphids so no damage to plants-lucky me! seriously, they are everywhere. these are tiny! earlier in May I found tons of the nymphs. found these ones when i was picking tomatoes this morning.
meanwhile i also continue to harvest and save assorted dye materials- right now mostly cassia pods and marigolds.
speaking of doubt, out a an abundance of caution, i cancelled the in-person tekumo shibori workshop and reformed it as a zoom workshop. Covid does not seem to be done with us even as we vaccinate and with the delta variant and numbers rising throughout the state and county it seemed the right thing to do. and just when i do this, now silk organza is no longer available. at least not until late august i’m told. fortunately, i have enough on hand for the workshop but jeeze…it’s always something.
fortunately, in addition to the organza i have on hand i have a nice selection of other japanese silks for us to experiment with.
each cloth to its own.

three silks, same technique, same dye session-different results.

stay safe, get vaccinated, and keep masking when indoors in public. your families love you.
each moment is precious.

ALL about shibori…

Now that I got that last post out of my draft folder I move on….

oldest one in the center is probably around 100 years old

Today is all about shibori….stands. Or you may consider them to be a “third hand” which is how I think of them. I have several and show you here. (I have a couple more stored in workshop boxes but they are lesser ones and one in fact was broken in a workshop and I have yet to see my way to repairing it (if possible).

I’ll start by showing you a video of how I updated the old one pictured above. As I recall, I acquired it on a flea market trip one year after the Silk Study Tour. Is needle was missing and the hook where it once existed completely rusted through, but still…

I am working my way back to offering some shibori workshops and the first one will be tekumo shibori using shibori stands with a shibori hook. For this to work, I had to create enough stands for everyone in the workshop to use and the next video is my simple design which costs less than $10 to make with odds and ends from the local hardware store.

It feels good to have rescued an old shibori stand and to also create a new version that is very affordable. Each has its pros and cons- the older versions can be used anywhere, whereas the new version needs to be used on a tabletop to which it can be clamped.

makers mark on side of stand

wondering in and around our local backyards…

Unless you just started following this blog last week, you probably know that aside from shibori, dyeing and silk, my other pleasure is gardening. This post is NOT about shibori, or dyeing, but isn’t everything connected?

Summer vegetable gardening is in full swing here- picked the first zucchini and tomatoes last night and made a beautiful and delicious casserole with them for dinner. Had to use store bought onions and garlic but those are going to be harvested soon as well.

it happened before i got to finishing this post!

Something has been simmering in the back of my mind this past year as I watch the California powers that be (and that generally means the $$$ powers in real estate development who fuel politics) gradually chip away at any and all open space by filling our urban area with much denser spaces- both residential and commercial development, without creating a balance of open space like parks, preserves, and community garden spaces. Not only are they building denser multi story residential buildings, cities and the state are allowing- in fact encouraging, increased density on single family home lots with minimal open space required.
As a home gardener for over 40 years, I feel this loss for future families and the environment. Gardening connects us to Nature, to our Earth, and maybe most importantly, to ourselves. It grounds us. As I wander in my little backyard oasis watching the birds, bees butterflies and other insects I wonder how much longer they will continue to have backyard habitats. A mindful gardener is a temporary keeper of the land they work, be it a small farm,orchard or a raised bed garden in their backyard or community garden. Small gardens are habitats for myriad birds, insects, and peaceful contemplation. A “habitat for the contemplative mind” if you will. Gardens provide food and beauty for ours and our neighbors tables.

I wonder what will happen when generations of humans have lost this connection not just to nature, but to the processes that teach us where our food comes from (and I don’t mean the grocery store-or even the farmers market)? Yes, we will probably (hopefullly) still take trips to visit nature on vacation, but will it be accessible out our back door or down the street? For many, it already isn’t there. And for many, vacations are something one dreams of.

I wonder how concerns for our environment will fare when people are disconnected from the soil that they can dig and run through their hand? What will be the tipping point for all this?

Even in urban areas like the one I live in, there are rivers (long ago cemented in) and wetlands (cruel fodder for continued oil extraction ($$$) and groups fighting for the very life and last breath of these valuable spaces. The local pols throw meatless bones in our direction hoping to satiate the majority through their next election funded by the very developers robbing us of these open spaces. Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) are avoided by both developers and our city, in favor of lesser mitigated negative declarations assuring us that the harm they do won’t affect us….much. There are solutions- solutions that cost extra $money and mean less profit. Decades of promised river plans bulldozed by the very pols that 20 years ago, used those promises in speeches to voters that fueled their slick campaigns.

I can’t say where this ends…but I see people out walking in this very neighborhood pass by my house and I can hear them say “Wow! I’ve never seen how artichokes grow!” or “is that how onions grow?”. If only they saw the back yard…

Cheers to the following Long Beach groups and their continued persistence in tilling the soil in their dogged and valiant efforts to educate and preserve enough nature and environmental quality for us here in our urban city so future generations have access to nearby places where we can co-exist in partnership with the very thing that keeps us physically and spiritually grounded.
CARP-Citizens About Responsible Planning
“Promoting the quality of life in the City of Long Beach through involvement and education in the greater Long Beach area.”
HUSH2/LBNF- Long Beach Neighborhoods First
To educate the citizens on environmental, social, and health impacts of policies and actions proposed by public officials or private entities on land use, transportation, and redevelopment efforts impacting our neighborhoods.
LBRC-Long Beach Reform Coalition
“The Long Beach Reform Coalition is a local, non-partisan umbrella organization and political action committee that promotes and supports public policies, laws, and candidates toward the goal of a transparent, accountable, and inclusive government.”
RPC-RiverPark Coalition
“Our vision is a healthier, happier environment for communities within the watershed of the lower Los Angeles River revitalization zone.”
Long Beach Chapter Sierra Club
” Exploring and enjoying nature is a healthy, happy way to live.”

I know most of my readers here are not from anywhere near this local area but I do know that many of the places you come from are feeling the pressures exerted on your own local habitats and environmental quality of life. I hope that you have organizations in your cities, towns and regions standing up for Nature, our World, and that you choose to participate with your involvement as you can. All are in need of funding, participation, and assistance.
Check out your local area groups and stay involved!


Milo and Neko chan

It’s been 15 years here on the blog and almost just as long Milo the cat has appeared here and there. I went back and searched posts (he started appearing in early 2008) and found many photos and mentions that even I had forgotten about. He has been a steadfast companion all this time and during this past year he even insisted on making appearances on zoom too. It was with a heavy heart that we had to put him to sleep a couple of weeks ago. I was just too sad to post about it and even now… we miss him dearly.

On an upbeat note, we got our second vaccination last week and all was well-even without any side effects at all other than a sore arm for one day. May 5th will be our two week mark. I am hoping that more and more people choose to get vaccinated so we can begin to congregate more and see fewer people fall ill. I’ve barely seen my nearby grandson who will turn two next month this entire year. I know many of you have also missed seeing dear ones. While people in many other countries are literally dying for a vaccine, people here are saying “no thanks, I’m good”. Astounding. Here in LA, even the police are only 50% vaccinated (while having access for months now) leading one to believe they are choosing to remain unvaccinated while working with the public! Even Japan seems determined to have a summer olympics against all reason with only a 1% vaccination rate and rising infection rates.
And India! Such suffering…

Ok…moving on.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been going through some of my collected Japanese fabrics as well as cleaning out a cupboard or two. In one of the cupboards I found an old hand stitched cat doll my grandmother had made. It is so basic, yet with a lot of personality. Made with what looks like a cotton toweling and red thread it seems to have been an exercise in hand sewing practice. The face and her name are drawn on with a (now faded) marker of some sort. Interestingly, in one place where the stitching came undone the material that was used to stuff the piece was showing. It is stuffed with women’s nylons. Since nylons were not available commercially to women until around 1940, I had to reassess who/when this little cat was made. So either my Nana made this for my mom (maybe a class?) or my mom made it and for some reason my Nana’s name was written on it for identifying purposes. My mom would have been around 10 in the early ’40’s. Nana was born in 1901. Both Nana and mom loved cats. This little guy is probably about 80 years old…

Back to the fabric sorting/organizing and I wondered…what if I made a little cat based on Nana’s cat? So I did. What if I made one for my grandson with some photos and a story? What if I made a pattern and a kit with instructions using some of the Japanese fabrics I have? And so it is… a quick and fun little project for a child or just the child inside us all. Added to the shop here.