Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Out walking this morning, a cool edge
to the breeze, and I could feel it
on every centimeter of my skin, dust
of the universe brushing past me.
Alive, significant, insignificant.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wild in the 'burbs

A mother raccoon and four teen raccoons
tormented Paul's cat tonight.....luckily
there was glass separating them. Paul and I
went eye-to-eye with them in the dark
(the porch light had burned out) while Sally-the-cat
hissed and charged at the sliding glass door.
They were very curious and unafraid -- of both
the cat and the humans. The very civilized Baguette Quartette
(as seen below) accompanied our encounter with Mother Nature.



I mean, they weren't in the back yard with the critters
nor were they playing live in the house....but on Paul's
fancy-dancy stereo with the FABULOUS sound, they may
as well have been....a little French cafe music from the
1920's should accompany all raccoon sightings,
don't you think?
Tomato moon. Pocked plum moon.
Burnished lychee moon. (There were lychee hulls
on my kitchen counter yesterday morning.)
Nelson and I sat out on the front steps
and watched the last sliver of sunlight ease
from the lunar face. We shared a hand-stitched
blanket, remnant of one of N.'s high-school
romances. For some reason the whispered
conversation turned to moral values,
and their source in oneself. N. spoke of the
profound impact of the deaths he has experienced
in his lifetime. All this at 3am!
Thank-you, universe, for this fortuitous
mother/son/moon/earth/sun alignment!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Eee Clips



It's 9pm, and I can lie in bed and see
the full -- nearly full? -- moon.
A cool breeze drifts in; there is the scent
of fire in the air.
I may set my alarm for five hours hence
so that I may see the eclipse at its zenith.
A desire to blast Van Morrison's Moondance
from my top-floor bedroom window.
It feels like October.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blackberries are fading. Nelson and his friend Jennifer
visited three sites today before gathering enough for a
pie, said they were mostly dried up, except of course
for those hidden in the shade, guarded by spiders.
The season turns.




Watched the season finale of Big Love tonight on HBO.
Three woman -- er, wives -- all lying to each other and to
their husband. And the husband with his own half-truths
and distortions. The 16-year-old son with his plans for
polygamy, dating identical twins. Ay yi yi!
Why make life any more complicated than it already is?!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thank-you to everyone who posts a comment!
It's nice to know that connections are being
made in this virtual community. In a perfect
world, (or, at least in an alternate world)
we'd see each other every day at the local
bakery, or pub. (Or coffee shop, butcher,
park, etc.) But this is what we have,
and I like it!

Speaking of perfect worlds, P. and I
went to Crossroads last night to hear How's Bayou.
What a great scene! Granted, it is a mall, a small
one, but it's a vision of community that we rarely
see anymore. There's a smattering of local, independant
restaurants at the "Food Court," a small stage, and
an assortment of tables and chairs. There were people
dancing, playing chess, teens playing Magic --
all ages, Russians, East Indians, a group
of young adults with Downs Syndrome. Bellevue Public
Library has a branch there, which is always bustling.
The restaurants include Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian,
Italian, Korean, American, Mediterranean. Decent food
at decent prices. I do not like malls, but I like
this scene! The music, as is to be expected from
How's Bayou, was great. Ben Lang told me that they've
been together as a band for about thirty years.
Karen on fiddle, Mike on bass, Dave on Concertina,
Mooney on guitar, Jay on drums. Crossroads features
a different band every Friday night -- I highly
recommend this venue!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I got this recipe from Emily Lang
at our Block Watch party:
make old-fashioned macaroni'n'cheese,
enough for a 13x9" pan. (You know --
white sauce, cheddar, pasta.) Add to it
a small can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced
tomatoes and about 1/4 cup minced pickled
jalapeno's. Bake as usual.
It will knock your socks off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"I" before "E", etc.
Niece.
I used to know all this.
Really! Although in fifth grade
Sister Catherine Eucharia sent
Randy Perkins to the diocese spelling bee
instead of me, because she thought a boy
should go.
Paul, Reilly and I dined last night at the home
of my sister Ann and her family. Gene had caught
a five pound cutthroat trout in Clearwater
(that's a big daddy!) which he grilled...lovely
pale pink flesh, mild and tender. Ann rounded out
the feast with baked chicken, a hot pasta salad,
corn-on-the-cob, and some lovely fluffy, thick-crusted
hot buttered bread. We lingered at the table long
past apple pie, telling some outrageous stories
from our (also long-past) youth, most notably
where Ann said they (not me, thank-you!) used
to play with mercury whenever a thermometer broke.
Rolled it around with their fingers, squished it,
all sorts of good, clean wholesome fun. Yikes!
We finished the evening listening to some selections
on the violin, performed by my nearly-fifteen-years-old
grand-neice, Karisa. (Or is that
great neice? I'm never quite sure,
although she certainly is a great neice!)
This is on my refrigerator,
from The Little Zen Calendar,
dated September 28, 1998:
"Each day should be
passed as though it
were our last"
--Publilius Syrus
(with the following note added at the bottom)
"Happy birthday Mark, love, the Porters."

This year on September 28th the boys and I
are going to see/hear George Carlin at Benaroya.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meadowsweet, County Mayo


Atop the continental divide of this half-Clydesdale,
half Cobb, I lumber above Carrowholly countryside,
led by eighteen-year-old Anya, keeper of Belle
and holiday-neighbor to me, fifty – decades away
from knowing how a horse moves.

Anya talks fauna, names every flower
Belle covets as we clop down the lane.
I can see above fuschia hedgerows
to cows lolling beside gorse, to sheep
newly shorn, grazing the scruff. Nothing

moves faster than us. Belle startles
at a plastic grocery bag lofted in the breeze,
ignores a tractor rumbling by. I won’t swim
astride this horse as Anya has, accompanied
by seals. Nor will I canter under a solstice

moon at low tide. At fourteen I rode
a borrowed horse bareback all one summer,
pleasure sustained in the ripple of each flank.
Now the saddle creaks beneath me
as we detour down a path through nettles

and gnarled oaks. Beseiged by gnats,
Belle’s tail swooshes, ears flick.
We emerge in an abandoned pasture,
the backbone of Croagh Patrick rising
above us beyond Clew Bay. I won’t ride again

this June. Rainfall will surpass records,
and I’ll fly home six thousand miles
over ice and ocean, over North America
to a house in the city, a craving
for meadowsweet on my tongue.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Yoga cancelled this morning an hour after
I roused myself from the blankets, wanting
nothing but to stay in the valley of my bed
and listen to this August rain, happiness
for pumpkin vines and roses and dahlias.
But I was breakfasted and bathed and coffeed
already, and the cats were fed and snug,
so -- ta-da -- I wrote a poem!
It's always such a high, the best kind of high,
that initial inspiration. Never wanting to be forced,
the inspiration snags me by the neck,
or pulls my hair, and I must follow.
The new piece is set in Ireland,
about being led on a horse by my Irish neighbor Anya.
Middle-aged woman being led on a horse.
Ha!
Went to see Class Act at ACT last night --
one-man show starring John Aylward
about the legendary Northwest poet and UW professor,
Theodore Roethke. Amazing performance by Aylward.
This was no sit-down-and-reminisce experience. Roethke was
bi-polar, and the highs and lows of this psychopathy
were vigorously portrayed. Aylward romped about the stage,
lit fires, pranced with a chair on his head,
ripped pages from notebooks, danced cheek-to-cheek
with a striped bathrobe, invoked the spirit of his father,
and sweat profusely. I was fortunate, in my university
schooling, to study with several of Roethke's former students --
notably Nelson Bentley, Richard Hugo and David Wagoner.
Aylward lovingly and accurately became the Roethke I knew
from stories and his poetry, especially his notebooks,
Straw For The Fire. (I lived and breathed
SFTF in my early twenties; my paperback copy
is now minus its cover, a right tatterdemalion
of its former self.) Written by David Wagoner,
Class Act is a must-see for anyone
interested in the roots of the Seattle literary tradition.
It closes August 26th.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Minute-Cake

So much joy in the impromptu cake,
mixed by hand, ready to consume
hot and crumbly in about thirty minutes....
Last night it was "One-Egg Cake"
from an old Joy of Cooking.
As I was at Paul's, which means somewhat
limited ingredients (okay, he's perfect
even if he doesn't bake), I found a jar
of raspberries preserves in the cupboard
which I swirled around in the batter.
Most of the lovely berry bits sunk
to the bottom of the pan during baking,
but -- oh! Yum!(And yes, it is magic.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paul and I saw Death At A Funeral today....
very funny British farce. Well-paced, well-acted,
a lot of hilarious scenes. Definitely recommended!

The Rainier Valley annual parade happened this morning,
and Paul and I were about six minutes late, and I fear
that we missed the best of the drill teams. I just LOVE
those white clickety go-go boots, the pleated, flippy
skirts, the call-and-response. We did manage to view
the Baby Dangerettes -- great name! What I love about
this parade is that it's so low-key. When it first
began, about ten years ago, there would only be
a handful of spectators scattered about. Today
we were in the second row of fans!
One of my favorites today was a group of Vespa
riders, all close to my age, revving and looking
not-at-all tough. No floats -- alas! This is not
The Torchlight Parade. And it only lasts about
thirty minutes. Feels very small town.
After the parade, we wandered about Columbia City --
a "must-see" is the Columbia City Bakery
where the display cases look like museum exhibits
from The Museum of Fabulous Eating (which exists
only in my mind). Their Walnut Levain is about
as good as it gets, their chocolate biscotti
are sold by the bagful and are worth every cent.
Their sandwiches are fresh, delicious, on amazing
soft French rolls. They put a certain G-Town bakery
to shame....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Came home last night from Jazz Alley
and Nelson and his new (girl)friend
had picked blackberries -- enough for a pie.
Last Christmas Reilly gave me THREE
pyrex pie pans....no excuses!
I believe there are few things on this planet
better than homemade blackberry pie
(add a pinch of cinnamon!) served warm
with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The 'pinch of cinnamon' came from my sister
Mary (thank-you, Mary!) who had brought
a b-berry pie over the night Princess Di
succumbed. We were sitting on my back steps
in the dark and warm evening, feasting,
when Mark came out and told us.
So now blackberry pie with a pinch
of cinnamon = Princess Dies.
Princess Di B-Berry Pi.
I don't have a Diana obsession!
Really. I do have a pie obsession,though.
Life is better with pie.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reilly and I went to the Columbia City Farmer's Market
today. Heirloom tomatoes, lemon cukes, all sorts
of peppers, haricots verts at (yikes!) $8/pound.
Local peaches are especially good this year;
I haven't had a single mealy one. Can't believe
that this is my first visit this year. The crowd
was nice there today -- more varied than I remember
from previous years, a good mix of ages, ethnicities.
(I almost wrote eccentricities!) (Well,
come to think of it, that is also true.) Real bread
from Wild Wheat and Columbia City Bakery. The flowers
are always exquisite and the best bargain in town --
plumped-up bouquets starting at $5! At one booth
the scent of the stargazer lilies was intoxicating.
Fresh cheeses -- curds are very in. (And
very addictive! Beware!)Reilly saw an herb called
epazote, which, he says, is the antidote to bean-gas.
Golden beets, purple kohlrabi, orange romanesco.
(One year I grew purple string beans, which turn green
when cooked!) Oh -- and purple potatoes, fingerling
potatoes, Yukon golds, tiny reds. (Sounding a bit
like Ireland here.) Apricots, plums, berries,
the first tart green apples. An abundance,
a multitude of delights.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why is it that often Monday is so typically Monday?
Crazy early yoga today....how can one meditate
when one isn't even properly awake yet?
I was a bad yogi this morning....lists in my head:
loads of laundry, champagne glasses to wash,
paperwork to fill out & mail. And I would've
traded that garudasana (eagle pose) for a nap.
My body did not want to be a pretzel today.
It wanted to be more like a slice of Wonder Bread.
Limp, puffy, good-for-nothing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Should I forego yoga tomorrow at 8am
and instead stay awake until 1am
so I can take in the peak of the
Perseid meteor showers? Or do both?
Five, six years ago we would've
been at Priest Lake in Idaho
this week, toasting N.'s birthday
by campfirelight. Listening to bats
swooping between the tamaracks
(whose cones burned purple flame)
and there were more meteors
than we could possibly count.
I camped in a previous life;
now all my gear lies idle, stacked
in the basement. Still each year
the meteors return. I am reading
Boy in the World by Niall Williams:
"...because, it was explained to me once,
as the world is a ball and is turning
and everything is in fact in motion
all the time, doing nothing is not really
doing nothing, it's allowing things to move
at their own pace." Just like my camping
equipment: moving at its own pace.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Nelson's last teen birthday.....apple pie, blackberry
pie, peach pie, white chocolate cake, roasted corn,
polish sausages, vinaigrette potatoes, basil tomatoes,
champagne, vanilla ice cream.....a house full of
youthful men (not really teenagers anymore!)
and then there's Paul and me, upstairs,
sedately reading, blogging. The surprise guest
was my sister Kath, unexpected and delightful,
with her long hair and turquoise skirt.
Photo's tomorrow! Sleep now; I am the
exhausted mother of the birthday-boy.

Happy Birthday Nelson!

8:27am. Still in bed. Making lists
in my head. (Drag a comb across my head....)
Breakfast, then the baking marathon begins.
O splendid cloudless summer day!
Nelson was two weeks late being born
and I remember that August as relentlessly
unending and hotter than a pie-fueled fire.
On my actual due date, I picked blackberries
(I was puffed and swollen and lumbery and wobbly)
and then baked four pies and invited all
the neighbors in for a pie feast.
One of my male neighbors (who shall go
unnamed!) whispered in my ear,
"I should have married a woman like you!"
Me, nine months pregnant, in my sweaty,
smoky, pie-kitchen. Now, nineteen years
hence, mercifully not gravid, it's
once again the hour of the pie.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Anticipating Nelson's birthday tomorrow.
As usual, I insisted on a simple meal
and as usual, it has grown into a more
complicated meal. Or, rather, the desserts
have multiplied from one white chocolate cake
into one white chocolate cake, one peach pie,
one apple pie, and possibly one blackberry pie.
(There is one problem, though: who shall
pick the berries?) I shall bake the pies
and the cake, and Reilly shall make fresh
mozzarella for the caprese, and he'll roast
the corn. I'll marinate the Yukon gold
potatoes, chop the red onion and Italian
parsley. Julie will slice the fruit.
Paul will do the crossword puzzle
and Tom will drink the pinot grigio.
Nelson will blow out nineteen candles.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I love this:

250 anthologies of poetry by WB Yeats were set free in Dublin on Monday, July 9th, 2007 by the National Library of Ireland. The books which were left on trains, buses, caf├ęs, pubs, hotels and public spaces throughout the city were distinctively labelled with an invitation to savour the work of the great poet and a request to leave the book in another public place for someone else to enjoy.

Yeats Book Crossing was inspired by the concept of Book Crossing in other countries. It is hoped that the books, which have been specially purchased by the Library for this book crossing initiative, will be enjoyed by people of all ages, will promote a greater engagement with the poetry of WB Yeats and will lead to visits to the Library’s award winning exhibition Yeats: the life and works of William Butler Yeats.

Each of the books is marked with a unique code. Readers can report a sighting and log their comments here on the National Library’s website. This log will in turn become a record of the journey of each of the 250 books as they wander through public spaces in Ireland and abroad.

You can view the reader reports here.
My friend Carol sent me this poem today:

The Mower

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

--Phillip Larkin

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Last night was Seattle's "Night Out"
and we had our annual neighborhood potluck
down at the dead-end of the street.....lots
of desserts, with an unintentional blackberry
theme. Yum! I especially loved Candy's b-berry
cobbler. So many beloved neighbors missing now,
gone forever -- Marilyn, Mr. Nelson, Dave Mehus,
Pat & Mary, and, of course, Mark. And those
who simply moved away -- Jamey, Ingrid, Tony G.,
and Rod & Mary. I absolutely cannot imagine
having raised my boys in a better place
than Brandon Street, where we have been
a community in the old-fashioned sense.
When I was a teenager, and communes were
the rage (or at least we thought they were!),
I used to plan a life much like the one
I've ended up living these past twenty-some years.
Well, there is no communal garden, or orchard,
and the houses are a bit close together,
but the sense of genuine neighborliness
(sounding a bit Mr.Rogers-ish here!)
is as good as anyone could desire.
Last night Ben and Pam carried their fire pit
down to the street, and we sat in the waning light
as sparks flashed around us, and smoke scented
our hair and clothing. Some years a fire truck
paid a visit; once a local news team captured
our event for the 11pm broadcast. In years past
we have enjoyed a talent show, a children's
art exhibit, and lots of live music
by our resident musicians.
As this will be my last "Night Out"
as an official resident, friends
have been asking me how I think it's
going to feel moving away from here,
and my answer is,
"I'm moving away from a life I love,
and entering into a new one
that I'm going to love just as much."
Life doesn't get much better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Today's Cupcakes



I've been on a baking binge and I am very happy.
The marshmallows turned out spectacular:
white puffy sugar-dusted edible cumulous clouds.
(I know, that's a lot of adjectives, but this
isn't poetry.) The cupcakes are garnished
with chocolate mint, and the tiny pink spheres
are from Paris. I possess a collection
of sprinkles from various countries:
Italy, Ireland, France.

Monday, August 6, 2007

No work today. I mean, no work-for-pay today.
THANK YOU BROKEN SANDBLASTER! I haven't had
a day at home in too long. An ENTIRE day.
There was yoga at 8:30 this morning, then
I made James Beard's "Basic Homestyle Bread,"
made marshmallows, made green gazpacho (recipe
in a previous blog) and then did a very girlie
thing: I got a pedicure at "Fashion Nails,"
where everyone speaks Vietnamese but me
and there was a Vietnamese disco show
on the television. Now it's time to eat
the green gazpacho (with a drizzle of
olive oil and some crab in a romaine 'boat'.)
It's very quiet in my house.
There is a pawn shop on Rainier Avenue
that has a sprawling sign in the window
that reads:

BACK TO SCHOOL SALE!

I mean, I know it's Southeast Seattle,
but what could they possibly offer
a third-grade student? Knives?
Rifles?!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Here are the first two lines of my
country & western song:

There ain't no god in eggplant;
no holy ghost in corn.


I don't know if they use semi-colons
in country-western songs but I am enamored
of the semi-colon, and if I'm going to write
a country-western song, well, dang, it's
gonna have a semi-colon.
Once again avoided the invasion of warplanes
by going to a Mariners/Red Sox game. Idyllic
(is that spelled correctly?) Sunday afternoon,
perfectly ambient temps, in the company of my
two lovely sons, my delightful fiance, and his
sweet son and girlfriend. The world felt right,
felt like I had a complete family again.
Reilly ever-hopeful for a fly-ball with his mitt!
There are so many things about baseball to love --
(let's not talk about the $$$$, please!)
there are the infinite number of stats, the goofy
organ music, the precision of a double play,
the 7th inning stretch, the peanuts in the shell
(there would be a lot less cleanup post-game
if peanuts were only sold shelled!), the ice-cream
sundaes sold in tiny upside-down batting helmets,
the fact that the team managers (coaches) wear
uniforms! They are so cute, out there looking
like overgrown little-leaguers. This sport still
contains a lot of the elements of play,
something not found as often in, say, football.
And there is the communal aspect of the fans,
the striking-up of conversations with strangers
sitting beside you, comparing stats or players
or stadiums. It's mostly good-natured, and civilised.
I like it.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I spent the night in Redmond, a respite from loud boats
and even louder jets (who have been doing a fly-by
every morning this week around 7am -- bastards!)
and the traffic of the hydroplane races, which take place
about a mile from my house and I'VE NEVER BEEN
TO SEE THEM. And damn proud of it. The Blue Angels
fly so low that I can read the numbers on their underbellies.
When they release their decorative plumes of smoke,
an oily residue descends and settles on my garden.

Thursday, August 2, 2007



I got this letter in the mail today:

I am pleased to inform you that your name
has now been entered as an Irish citizen
in the Foreign Births Register held here
at the Consulate....

--Emer Deane
Consul General of Ireland
Western United States


Wow! I now have dual citizenship,
and I'm a member of the European Union.
Hee hee!