Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What it's really like to do art for a living —

We like to joke about the comments that have accrued over the years, things like:

     You are so lucky! You get to stay home all day and do art!
      It must be so great that you don't really have to work!

(My boss used to say that she had a factory in her home, now she says that she lives in a factory.)

And then there are the comments in another vein altogether:

     When are you going to get a real job?
     Are you still doing that little art job?
     Did you go to New York to do shopping?

Shopping? SHOPPING?!

So, in case there's any question, yes, it's a real job. I run a small business, a small booming business with one helluva boss/artist-in-chief, and there's nothing "little" about it.

Today we discussed scheduling the shipping for this year's wholesale show, and we're up against a frighteningly close deadline. We lost a troublesome full-time employee yesterday, a mixed blessing; while our other fully-trained assistant is on sick leave with a seriously debilitating illness. Two new hires, a full line of prototypes to make and, wait, did someone mention Christmas?

We'll slip under the wire; we always do. I'm so used to pulling rabbits out of hats that the hat is frayed on the edges, the rabbit is getting on in years.

I have a fear that I'm going to succumb with a paintbrush in my right hand, an order in my left hand, the timer beeping on the "kitchen kiln", shipping labels being spit out of the printer while the UPS truck waits at the curb, engine idling.

But hey: abracadabra!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Pod of Privilege

I drove my first loaner car today, a brand spanking new Volvo, because my son lost the only key to my, ahem, not so brand new Volvo. The loaner is sleek, white and new. NEW. I haven't been anywhere near a new car in a long time, and this one was, well, more than a bit intimidating.

When I stepped inside and closed the door this morning, immediately the outside world ceased to exist. I was transported into a hushed, plush universe, with a seat significantly more comfortable than my bed. I felt safe, yet disconnected. Barricaded, yet not part of anything. Is this what it's like to live in a gated community? This thought trailed me all day, the feeling of being closed-out, the how-many-inches of padding there were between me and anyone/thing outside. It felt like privilege, that subject in the news in the wake of the Ferguson riots and the ongoing protests in NYC and elsewhere. And to make my point more dramatic, I'll say it again: my Pod of Privilege was white. 

The car itself was a bit confounding. I couldn't figure out how to adjust the side-view mirror. I couldn't find the icon for turning off the heated seats. The windshield wipers kept alternating patterns — wait! Was that a figure eight? Never mind trying to figure out the computer screen on the dashboard. (Where's the scroll button? The mouse?! Can I send an email? Is there a facebook icon?)

There was a button marked "My Car" — dare I touch it, even if the car isn't mine?!  There was a button marked +/-, which I suppose is handy if you want to practice your arithmetic on long drives. Altogether too much gadgetry for me, but for the .8 miles to and from work, I experienced life in an alternate dimension. 

Let's not mention that it's taken the dealership five days to re-key my car. From the difficulties the guy on the phone kept explaining (in my daily call to Ravenna Volvo), you'd think it was an 1895 model with a ten mules strapped to the front hood, expecting hay and water twice a day. "Problems with the software," he said. "We can't figure it out." Apparently today's mechanics need a degree in computer engineering along with the toolbox.

And in the end, the key was found, on the sidewalk outside my son's job. But too late! The car had already been towed, and the new keys had been cut. Damn.

And....my son's car, which has sat idle for three months needing repairs for which he didn't have the cash, suddenly started running again.

All this, just so I could spend time inside the Pod of Privilege.

If anyone wants to do some math problems, come on over. I'm itching to test out those plus and minus signs. What could possibly be more entertaining on a Friday night in December?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Inside the Red Tomato

My mother, she told me I could cut the pin cushion open, to see what was inside. I was five, and the scissors were bigger, and exclusively mom's, but she let me take them and so I did, gouging open the red cloth tomato, and the sand within spilled out onto the spread-open piece of newsprint. And with  it — so many needles! A family of lost needles,  mom-needles and dad-needles and big-sister-needles and even some baby-needles, as fine as a single strand of baby hair, or so it seemed. Needles let-loose, escaped needles. Found needles.

For the rest of my childhood I persisted with my one request: may I cut open the pin cushion?

My own red tomato pin cushion is going on forty years old, as yet unthreatened by scissor blades. Every now and then, I compress it just enough to reveal the tips of embedded sharps. I've come to believe that the cushion-gutting of '61 was a singular event in the timeline of my life.

Never before, and not once since.

But thank-you, Mom, wherever it is that the dust of your essence exists, thank you for that one extraordinary moment in my fifth year, when you showed me the secret within the red tomato, showed me that treasures are to be found in the most ordinary of places.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve, with Cognac

Winding down after peeling spuds and cubing bread in anticipation of tomorrow's feast. These are tense days on the job, scrambling to finish the last of the gallery orders as we prep for the home holiday sale, and then it's on to prepping an entire product line for the big annual wholesale show on the East Coast. An employee gave notice last week, and M. and I interviewed six prospective studio assistants yesterday and today. It's never dull.

Of the six interviewees, five are new to the area, a couple as new as two weeks. Seattle: land of milk and honey, apparently. And while a resumé provides a curriculum vitae, nothing quite matches sitting down face to face with a new person....

The woman with high heels, jeans and salon-nails was a definite "no". The jumpy young man who was eager to please and laughed nervously (a lot) throughout the interview and looked as if he'd easily take out a tableful of glass with a single nervous swipe of an arm was a "no". The adjunct- college-professor/painter with a three page resumé (which included an impressive and lengthy list of solo shows) was a "no" because, honestly, how long would someone with her CV last as the go-fer and bottom-of-the-totem-pole glass slinger?

We did, however, narrow the list to two (the quiet and placid 31-year-old graphic-designer/painter with a wife and a nine-year-old daughter, and the even younger effusively cheerful man who knows how to sandblast) and M. will contact them this weekend to set up start times. And then it's training time, long and arduous. NOT looking forward to that. Sigh.

What I am looking forward to, though, is the new life that will come into the studio, new life with all its attendant tales and dramas, all its earnestness and frustrations. Again, it's never dull.

Okay, well, that's a lie. It actually does get dull after hours of painting the same size pieces, and the color palette seems to shrink. A favorite complaint: "I'm all out of colors. I need new colors. Someone, please, invent new colors." Recently there have been requests for lots of blue tones — a curious thing, that. Blues and purples. Must be the colors of the hour.

Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to tomorrow — to Thanksgiving, my favorite day of the year.  We will be an atypical small crowd of six, which suits me just fine. My son is making a purple sweet potato pie, in his quest to break from tradition. I, on the other hand, am sticking to My Favorite Menu of the Year, as starch-laden as that may be. (Or so I've been told.)

So bring it on, baby, I say.
Bring it on, because I'm hungry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Small Business Hysteria.

I mean: hysteria.

I announced today that since I couldn't do anything about the looming backlog of orders on account of being down one employee for the past week that I was going to turn off the simmering panic that always heats up when, no matter what I do, I can't do more. There's absolutely zero wiggle room on this tightly-run ship, and when we begin to list to one side, the drowning waves swell mightily with their threat to capsize us.

Yesterday's meteorological event lingered at the edges, like the bits of blue paint that never seem to wash completely from the palettes, a perpetual residue. I could've sworn a Payne's Grey cloud floated  just below the ceiling for the better part of the day.

I wasn't feeling the least bit my usual jolly self. Head down, I juggled (so to speak) the several hundred pieces of glass in the current order rotation, continually moving things from one phase of completion to the next. Storage shed, back-room staging, main work table, sandblaster, studio, sink, grinder, The Hot Shelf, back to the work table, kitchen kiln aka the oven, back to the work table again, back to The Hot Shelf, signing shelf, shipping staging, and finally, finally, back down to the studio to be boxed up for UPS pickup.

The home holiday sale approaches, but wasn't it just summer?

The question, Is this my life? swept over me, a softer wave now, no longer worried about water in the lungs since I crossed out hysteria.

Yes, I silently answered, it is.

And then it was 4:11pm, and sunlight broke through the cloudcover just at the horizon, and a Payne's- Grey/brown-pink light illuminated everything.

Nice that they're color-coding the sunset to match our painting, I said.

Mmmm. Murmers.

On the windowsill, freshly oil-painted glass lit up with the sudden light, as did the tiny vases of assorted foliage, now dried, that have been accumulating since summer: hydrangea, rose hips, dogwood seedpods, a red twig.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata — which sounds like audio velvet — was playing on the iPod. It was a moment to get lost in, the briefest interval of time into which to slip, to forget the daily irritations, the trials. The three of us approached a moment of perfect harmony. A major chord/accord. Everything was flowing smoothly, or smoothly enough.

I stepped outside for just a breath of that lit-up air, took it deeply into my lungs before returning to my work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Clang, Clang, Do It Right

A hundred years ago, or so it seems,  I did piece-work for a local paper-maché artist whose basement studio was filled to the gills with suspended fairies, these:

There were several dozen of us women taking work home, most of us looking for a way to be  with our kids and still bring in some cash. I spent endless hours at my kitchen table, doing various stages of construction of these pieces, while my sons took naps, ate lunch, started school, got on and off buses. (The table a heap of rice paper strips, wheat paste, paper towels, scissored-lengths of aluminum foil and my toirtoiseshell cat named Alice who liked to sleep in a box in the middle of it all.)

It was nit-picky work, with zero margin of error. A piece not up to snuff at the weekly check-in clanged into the garbage can with a dismissive sweep of the hand by the supervisor, and the garbage can did not equal dollars. Standards were standards, and when your paycheck depended on the quality of your work, you did it right. It was often grueling, but it allowed me to be home for my kids. And that was enough.

Some time in the late 1990's, the business owner laid off all her piece-workers after a successful foray into offshoring; production moved to China. The owner and her partner moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, in California. My piece-work career thudded to a halt. Alas. (No tears shed.)

I was reminded of all this today when dealing with quality-control issues at work. My role tends to lean to the bad-cop side of things, as I'm the person final-checking each piece of glass prior to shipping. Some days roll along smoothly, no bumps, no cracks. Today repeatedly tried my patience, with several hours spent fixing other people's sloppiness. The back door was (repeatedly) left open (it's c-c-c-c-cold outside), and when I forcefully pushed it closed, I inadvertently squeezed the cat's paw, resulting in a a feline shriek of epic volume. I felt as if I'd committed a diabolical and intentional act of violence. The cat skulked off to the farthest corner and disappeared in the back of a closet under bags and boxes. I slunk back to my chair and continued the fixing, repairing, repainting, waiting for the day to end.

Meanwhile there was a small typhoon brewing which resulted in a spectacular display of emotion from Someone Else. The boss and I managed to keep our wits together and modeled a united front, with only one outburst of complete indignation (from me).

I shall not disclose more, except that I was reminded of the many jobs I've had where I was given a task to do, and I had to do it correctly, period. No arguing, no questioning, and, especially, no tears. I couldn't stop thinking of the paper-maché fairies I used to make by the dozen, how the angle of the chin required the precision of the width of a single millimeter.

Mostly, I kept hearing that clang into the garbage can. And before long, that recalled-clang drowned out the sniffling and sighing that was going on beside me.

In a way, I'm thankful for the clang. I resented it fiercely back then, but the point was well-taken, sound effects and all.  And the larger lesson — do it right! — was the take-away from those years hand-sculpting rice-paper figurines, while my sons napped, the cat snored, and (mostly), no one cried.
The work got done, I got paid, everybody was happy.

But there was more to it — there was the necessity of releasing the ego. So easy to consider now, to look at the young and relatively-inexperienced with an air of disdainful impatience. Easier now, after-hours, with the perspective that only time and distance allows.

A part of me wants to suspend one of the imperfect glass vessels high above the garbage can, let it go at the perfect dramatic moment so that it ends its usefulness in a spectacular, gravity-driven crash.

I won't, of course.
But I'll keep this little fantasy tucked away close-by for quick reference.
Listen up:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Vapor Trails

It was a family function, a wedding shower for my grand-niece, about 25 women packed into an overstuffed-furniture suburban living room, with all the various and complicated how-are-you-related conversations going on, some people that I've known for 40+ years, others more recent, and still others whom I'll probably never know.

One woman, a few years younger than me, the sister-in-law of my brother-in-law (and how that relates to me by definition is anyone's guess), sat on the next sofa over. We've never actually met, but I went to her husband's funeral two years ago, and know so many details of the decades of her late husband's leukemia, the two sons they raised, the struggle. She was engaged in an animated discussion with her sister-in-law, and from the gist of it (and from the size of the diamond on her left hand), it sounded like they were talking about a new husband.

I was only able to glean fragments of their conversation, but it was enough to get a read on the level of hope, of let's-do-life-over-while-there's-still-time gist of it. Boy do I get that — made my own stab at it a few years back. I know the space that opens up, that gapes in front of you, where you know you can take that leap if you dare to. She seemed to sit smack in the middle of it, stacking up various types of mid-life healthy successes.

But the long years of protracted grieving hung about her like cigarette smoke; I swore I could smell the slow burn of it, the way it swirled around her with its own gravitational pull, a grey aura that seemed to emanate from her every cell. I was fascinated and also deeply moved by what I witnessed, and I've carried a wisp of her essence with me all through this day.

The best part of the afternoon, though, was that three of my sisters and I sat side-by-side for the duration, nestled in amongst each other, with lots of tête-à-têtes. I kept looking over at them, and found myself repeatedly doing a head count. Missing: Patty and Lorraine. One on the east coast, the other away for the weekend three hours away.

For years, in my hometown, and especially in the Catholic parish where we grew up, we were an entity with a title: The Clear Girls. Often we were recognized by no other name, as if we were an amorphous lump of female flesh (and I suspect my brother to have entertained similar notions). The farther down the line of sisters one was, the smaller the chance that someone would know your name. It was easy to disappear among the folds of made-over Easter coats, among the pleated skirts of an older sister. It's taken me decades to claim my selfhood in this community, and yet still I know I can rely on a certain invisibility if I so choose.

But I'm rambling.

I find that, more and more, I want to be in the presence of all of my sisters, all at once. The years are beginning to stack up, and the once-unthinkable is now clearly baring its teeth in the not-too-distant future: we're not all going to be here forever.

Which of us will be left to drag behind us the vapor trails of lost sisters? (I can't believe I just typed that.) This I do know: whoever it is, it will be as visible and palpable as the one I witnessed yesterday afternoon.  If it's me, I know I'll be able to feel it, like a veil, a netted mist about my face, through which the rest of my life will surely have a decidedly altered focus.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

In Which Leaves Became My Enemy —

— as I went airborne, slipping on a dark and wet heap of them, skidded to a stop with my forehead to the pavement, my glasses skittering away (but thankfully intact). A faceful of mud and some particularly colorful abrasions/bruises/lumps: head, hip, hand.

I recall flipping off the front of my friend's sting-ray bike while riding the dirt paths through the filbert groves in Sommer's field when I was ten, landing nose-down on the hard-packed earth: no blood, nothing broken. Tonight I can feel that impact again, all these years later. My shaky-kneed walk through the woods back to my house, pushing that damn bike all the way. 

What a strange sensation that is — the moment when you realize that you're no longer upright and yet also not yet back on the ground, that brief flight, that joyless soar. And then the brutal truth of impact, and all of this in only two or three seconds where you know it's happening but there's little to be done but try to minimize damages. Amazing, also, that in this oh-so-brief flash of time — which feels like a slow-motion explosion — that you can move your body (somewhat) in order to ease the landing.

Anyway. My love affair with autumn leaves is over.

My son helped me remove the bits of dirt and gravel from my forehead gash — no easy task. What we really needed to do was use a scrub brush, but I just couldn't bring myself to endure that. The stuff was seriously embedded. OUCH.

Turn Over A Leaf

Facebook has been overrun with autumn leaf imagery of late; and while I want to shout "Halt! Cliché!"— I must remind myself that there are no cliché images in nature, and that it's the redundancy of social media posts that wears down my usual sense of awe. Better to get out in it, as I made myself do this morning by walking to work instead of opting for laziness via automobile. And anyway, don't you find the undersides of leaves perhaps even more intriguing just by the nature of their understated nuances? No shouting here —

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pilfered Apples

Every morning on my way to work, I step into a forbidden yard and gather the day's accumulation of yellow apples, wet on the grass, some worm-pocked, some rose-blushed. It seems no one else but me commits this small theft from the yard where the garage tilts dangerously to the right and the roof on the house is sparsely tar-papered. Once I saw a woman sweeping the front steps, but apart from that, there's little activity.  I fully expect to be shouted-off the property some morning, but until then, and until the season has given the last fruits of its harvest, I intend to fill my canvas bag with enough apples to weigh me down, slow me down not enough to cause alarm, lugging my appled-self the last half-mile to a an honest day's work.

Monday, November 3, 2014

...and just like that, we're swept into the darkness and rains of autumn; it always seems to happen while I wasn't paying attention for, oh, I don't know, a minute or two. Yes, yes, thankful I am for this rain which descends like a magic everywhere-waterfall from the sky, turning the gutters into little rivers that carry away October's red leaves like tiny ships, gone, gone, gone to November. At night the rains pelts the slanted roof just inches above my head, and I go to sleep with the lullaby of it, snugged-in among pillows and quilts, hoping to wake to one of the cats at my feet.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dangerous Toast

Don't argue with me: the best way to eat toast is darkly toasted, almost burnt. (The toast, not me.)

The problem with this, though, is that I usually can't wait long enough to get that perfect nearly-black hue, when the smoke-alarm is precariously close to blasting and the first spirals of smoke are rising from the red coils. I don't consume much bread, so it lives in deep freeze. And takes longer to toast in its frozen state. And, the rest of my meal — an omelette, a bowl of soup — is already hot and ready to go while I tap my foot and peer anxiously at the toaster in anticipation.

I know, I should time it all better, but I don't. Blame a rampant hunger, a long day at work, a glass of wine. Whatever. All I know is that I end up waiting, or trying to wait, and somewhere between 40 and 50 seconds, I cave and hit the "up" button and the inadequately toasted slices of bread pop — POP! — into the air at least 6 inches above the toaster and fall back askew: a disappointment in iron-poor brown, a "milk-toast" toast. Lacking backbone. Lacking burn.

Tonight was no different. My beef stew: peppery, steaming. My toast: in progress. But I had time to think while I waited:

1. There was my ex-husband who insisted we spend $$$ on a toaster. I disagreed. "Look," I said, "it's a set of electric coils in an insulated box. The bread doesn't care what the box looks like or how many  settings (bagel? pastry? waffle?) it boasts."
2. Never put a knife in a toaster in an attempt to extract toast while the toaster is plugged in. How many times had I violated this cardinal rule, and lived?
3. What was it that had been too close to the toaster and melted onto it? And how many years ago had this happened? Had I tried recently to scrub it off? (Yes, I answered myself, I had.)
4. How many settings, that I never use, are on the blender? And don't they all do the same thing: blend? (Either the blades turn, or they don't)
5. (Isn't this damn toast done yet?)
6. When was the last time I opened the little door on the base of the toaster and shook out the crumbs?
7. Is the butter soft enough to spread?
8. My ex-boyfriend and his current 20-years-younger-than-me girlfriend are in London, and I wondered if they've been sitting across from each other at breakfast, holding hands across the table, sleepy after a night of no-sleep love-making; between them, a plate of phallic sausages oozing grease. Fried eggs. Half a watery-tomato each. And the requisite toast rack with upright slices of pale, cooled white-bread toast.
9. How long has it been since I've waited for my toast to properly almost-burn?
10. Too long.
11. How long has it been since I've slept with a man?
12. See #10.
13. There it is! The curl of smoke!
14. POP!

And there it was, the almost-charred, the just-about-scorched, cauterized, dessicated slice of multi-grain bread.

Perfection, rubbed with just enough butter. It had just the right amount of crunch. Enough, in fact, to reel me back from leering dangerously-close to thinking about my love life. Maybe this was the reason I've not let my bread linger in that insulated box long enough: a little time to think can be a dangerous thing. Let's just stick to marginally-toasted bread, and leave the romance for another time.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Second Summer

After a week of rain, and relatively-warm October temps, I walked out into my garden this morning to see a sudden surge of growth had occurred, a late flowering, a last gasp. We are just weeks away from the first autumn frost, and yet in a few days the mint has sprouted up new green tips. The lamium, after our seasonal August-September drought (when I water only what is necessary), is once again lush and vibrantly green. The nasturtiums, which languished and seemed to merely exist through September, have sent out several 2-to-3 foot runners, as if to say, I can still do it! Watch me! (Perhaps they need their own facebook page.)

I've yet to do any fall garden clean-up. This fleeting resurgence is as beautiful as the decline, though: a late shoofly flower as lovely as a skeletonized leaf, one last lingering ruby rosebud in November as spectacular as an apple gone to worms. The remaking of all life, the blossoming, the fruiting and going-to-seed, the decline, where we nurture youth and make room for the new. Endlessly repeated, measured in numbers of years for which there is no number, going back before there was a single soul to charcoal a slash mark on a cave wall. Before there was a cave wall.

Not quite time yet to fire up the furnace, or set a pot of soup simmering on the stovetop. But already I'm thinking of the warmth of autumn spices: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg. There's a small sugar pumpkin on my kitchen table. Might just be time for pie.
Virgin of Guadalupe disappearing in a flush of late-season lamium

the ongoing decomposition of James Fenimore Cooper

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The end of summer — admittedly three weeks ago — always seems like, well, The End. A shutting down. The show is over, the lights are out.

And now. How to get through these other essential months now that the main attraction has run its credits by us, played its closing music, and gone dark?

How indeed.

Have you seen this?


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hooting Lessons

The Seward Park woods possess their own variety of solitude — that sense of walking in a true forest, with its velvet-humus paths and ferny, salal undergrowth, while still holding (in the back of the mind, hopefully) the reality that we're in the middle of a nearly 4 million person bio-region with all its attendant traffic, pollution, crime, density, etc.

Mostly I try to forget the urban as I detour from the main trail bisecting the park, and venture down any of the winding side paths where one is more apt to see a pileated woodpecker than a sidewalk. Yesterday, though, that fact was quickly diminished when the blare of music from one of the weekend-anchored yachts in Andrew's Bay cut through the primeval silence like manufactured thunder: at once obnoxious, offensive, painful. Never mind that someone else's taste in music is not my taste in music; never mind the fact that whoever the arrogant bastard was that cranked the volume up was in blatant violation of a city noise ordinance. This was just a simple violation of the laws of nature. I doubt the owls — who I'll get to next — threw a party to coincide with the blare. Nor, I'm thinking, did the otters, or the turtles, or the tanagers or bushtits or chicadees or finches or salamanders or eagles or.....

But what do I know?


Finally the music stopped, and lo and behold, if we didn't hear an owl hoot, from just above us, and then another, from the other end of the park, and then another from yet another direction, and then a fourth, in varying tones (including a series of almost comical hoots about which my companion said, "sounds like someone's getting hooting lessons!")

We stopped, backtracked a bit to try to find the source, but the sounds were coming from high up in the camouflage of the maple and fir canopy, a swirl of a thousand shades of green with late afternoon sunlight cutting through. I turned in a circle, my face turned upwards, and they hooted again, like park sentries from the four directions, seeming to reclaim their euphonic rights in this 300 acres of temperate rainforest.

And then they were done. Silence: the silence of thousands of tiny white mushrooms just beginning to emerge from the sides of decomposing logs, the silence of a single leaf releasing itself from the canopy, the silence of worms beneath our feet, the silence of a slug or a hundred slugs, each without fanfare, going about their quiet business.

We were not silent; our footsteps, however calculated to lightness, sounded their soft thuds. And our breathing announced us to the gnats, to the spiders strung out in a lattice from alder to hazelnut branch, from huckleberry to Oregon grape.

Far down the hill, the lake flashed sparks of light through the trees. For a few moments, I forgot the city humming on every side of us, and heard, however briefly, the earth sending out a sigh: the sound of our unspeakably magnificent planet precariously existing.

Maybe I'm lying. Maybe I heard nothing. Maybe it's only the poet in me believing that there's a larger hum to the universe, and that the absence of peripheral noise opens up a wider auditory ability in our decidedly limited human consciousness.

And then again, maybe I'm telling you: this is what I heard.

And it is.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Switched-On Gutenberg, Weather Issue

Delighted to see these two poems of mine today, published in the online zine Switched-On Gutenberg. (Their pairing of my work with cloud photos caused me to gasp with delight.) It's moments like these that make the mostly-solitary work of writing poetry worth it.

You can read them here and here.