Monday, May 28, 2007

Dick and Jane Bib

I couldn't help but take a photo of this bib I came across recently. It's made up of fabric I designed. My heart swells when I see things like this. I wish I could give credit to the person who made it. But I don't know who it is.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

IF: Cars

I haven't done Illustration Friday in so long.
I think me forgets how to draw!

I drew these cars awhile back. I have never drawn anything realistic in my life! I tried, too. But I just don't have the hootspa (is that the right word I'm looking for?) to be able to master such a feat! You really need a ton more drawing skills than I have!

Then. I thought of something. I placed a photograph into Illustrator and I started to trace the car in a separate layer above the photograph. I was so thrilled. I felt like I was 11 years old all over again tracing Peanuts and Archie comic books. I hit a level I never thought I was capable of.

Some might call it cheating. But I call it pure genius.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Two good websites for travel

With summer vacations coming just around the corner for a lot of you, I thought I would share with you two really cool sites that I really enjoy and can help you in your travel plans.

SeatGuru is a great site where you can find which seats you want to sit in or avoid. For instance, did you know that if you booked a flight on American Airlines Boeing 767-300, all the seats in row 13 are reported to feel a little cramped and don't have a full recline? And, the row has misaligned windows so you need to lean to look out. And the space under the B E AND H seats are slightly limited because there have equipment boxes under the seats! And if you fly on the Continental Boeing 737-500, wouldn't you like to know that 14A or 14F seats have a lot of extra leg room but the tray table is in the armrest, so the seat is slightly smaller. Your floor storage is under seats 10A and 10F and it can get cold sitting there in your seat. But if you're tall and thin and hot-blooded, this should be the perfect seat for you.

The other site that's good for your travels is Farecast. This is a site which will let you know the lowest fares and how many seats are available at that price. Also, if it's a good idea to buy the ticket now or wait as the price will be dropping.

Happy Travels!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kings Market

I drive past this scene nearly everyday of my life.

It's a very real impressionable part of me.

When I was not-yet-five, we moved to Santa Rosa so we could live closer to the grocery store my dad and his business partner, Marvin, owned. It was Kings Market, located next door to Fosters Freeze.

I still remember my dad letting us use the Dial-a-Date 12-Year Rubber Stamp to press the date on the cans and climbing up the back steps in the lunch room to spy on the customers that appeared in various shades of gray through the tented windows. The cold ice cream glass case had masking tape alongside the crack where so many people leaned up against it, cracking it. My dad would let us help ourselves to the ice cream drumstick or the root beer popsicle.

I remember shopping there with my mom and feeling proud, watching my dad behind the counter at the cash register ... wearing a neck tie and green apron, he barely acted like he recognized us... acting as business-like as possible, talking quietly. Every summer, behind the brick wall out in front in the parking lot, they sold fireworks before the Fourth of July. I spent so much time at the Fosters Freeze. While waiting for my half vanilla/half chocolate soft cone, I'd grab the pole out in front and twirl around it.

"Watch me. Watch me. Watch me..." I'd say. I'd grab high up on the pole and twirl around as many times as I could before my feet reached the ground.

I still drop by the Fosters Freeze on occasion. It doesn't feel quite so fast-food since they take your order and cook it on the spot, making it feel more home-made than anything.

There was once a laundromat in that center. I think it's been replaced by a vacuum repair shop. I remember my mom taking us all there to do the laundry and while the clothes were being washed, she would let me sit in the cart and my sister would push me around like a carnival ride. The owner's name was John and he lived in the apartment above the laundromat. He wore overalls and was always taking the coins out of the machines and putting them into cloth bags to take to the bank. Or to place under his bed or in a sock drawer for all I know.

Kings Market is now a carpet store. I walked in it a few years ago with my mom while looking for carpet. It was barely recognizable. I wanted to tell the man working that day that my dad once had a grocery store there and I imagined myself pointing up to the windows up in the back and telling him how I would watch the customers through the tinted glass, and how they sold fireworks right outside that window. But I knew he wasn't interested, so after we browsed through the carpet samples we left without saying a word, making a quick stop at Fosters Freeze to order a half vanilla/half chocolate soft cone because even through the midst of so much change, there are still things that remain the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Leaving the comfort zone

On Saturday, I had my usual hair appointment that comes around every 7 weeks.

"Whadya think of changing your hair slightly?" She asked. "You've had the same hair for ten years.. why not change it? Change is good. It'll push you out of your comfort zone and build character..."

I nodded and said, "Sure. what the heck."

She already seemed to know what type of style she had in mind for me while she clipped away.

"Change is good. It'll push you out of your comfort zone and build character...."

I thought back to when I was just 20 years old and I packed up as much courage I could fit into my brown suitcase and left my comfort zone of family and friends to travel with five other near 20-year-old girls up Interstate 5 to live in a seedy area called the Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington. It was a battleground between families and the monsters of poverty and crime, prostitution, drug dealers and transients. I volunteered my time to counsel many of the poor and troubled people in the 'hood with only a 6-month training course.

Everyday, it seemed the gray skies blended into the grayness of the asphalt into a bland palette of gray weariness for me.

It was by far the most serious commitment I ever made and one most laden with guilt, because I wasn't enjoying it as much as I thought I should or with the same joy the others in that line of work seemed to have.

There were many days, I wanted to give up and go home. But I didn't.

I'm so happy I stuck it out. I wouldn't have had the extremely rewarding, yet sometimes troubling experiences I had. Such as those rainy mornings when Bobbi and I waited for the city bus near 11th and south K streets to carry us to a home off South Tacoma Way where we would visit a woman who had no face. Or the endless hours spent holding a 3-month old crack baby in my arms who smelled of sickness and later died from what the nurses at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital said was from "a lack of love".

I wanted to do this work because I wanted to make a difference in this world. And, though I'm proud that I did it, I also think I didn't have enough life experience and know-how to be capable of counseling the myriad of adults with their torrid experiences. What did I know just barely out of my teens?

So in that respect, it was a hardship for me as well. I deeply respect the people who make a lifetime commitment to helping people in need. And who enjoy their life's work.

Living on the corner of 11th and South J Street seems like a vague, half-remembered dream to me now. It seemed like another lifetime ago. And in some ways it really feels like a different life from the one I am living now. But I have the photos and the memories and the friends and stories that weave it altogether and prove that it was a very real experience indeed.

. . .

I turned to see my new hair style in the reflection in the mirror. "What do you think?" she asked me.

It seemed quite different and I wasn't sure I was ready for it.

"You need to get out of your comfort zone...." she said to me.

I smiled and nodded. I thought of the many times I have left my comfort zone and only became stronger for it.

This time it's an easy adventure.

Friday, May 4, 2007

observing this very moment

Two minutes ago, I was quietly working away on new Dick and Jane fabric designs when two cleaning ladies showed up to clean the studio.

The constant roar of the vacuum motor suddenly turned into a loud shrieking sound and I saw the hose sucking up ribbons by the mile. I don't want to embarrass her, so I acted like I don't notice.

"Act casual, act casual, act casual..."

My eyes focused on the computer monitor, I don't want to appear as if I can see her in the corner of my eye.


This very moment, as I type this sentence out, she has quickly turned off the vacuum. It is silent. And she is still pulling out the ribbon like there's no end to it. She's panicked. I can see her looking down, pulling it out, looking at me, looking back down, looking back at me and pulling again on this tangled mess. My eyes still focused on the monitor pretending to be oblivious to her.

click. click. click. goes the keyboard as I type.

She is wearing loud pink pants and a loud bright lime green shirt. It's all a blur to me with her arms flailing, pulling this massive amount of ribbon from the hose.


She just broke off the end. Or the vacuum just did it for her. She turns the vacuum back on. It is still making that loud shrieking sound. She turns it back off. Looks into the hose. Sticks her fingers in it. Shakes it. Turns the vacuum back on. It is still loud and furious.

"Act casual, act casual, act casual..."

I never look up.

She turns it off and grabs the broom from across the room. She is headed over to my desk. I lift my feet pretending not to see her. Then I scoot my chair as close to my desk as possible, still pretending I don't notice the elephant in the room. Then I turn and give her eye contact. She bashfully giggles. And so do I with a sympathetic expression.

We don't speak the same language. But we both acknowledged our unspoken secret.