Sunday, July 31, 2011

My "smile" muscles are all tuckered out. I think I had enough social contact these past three days to last me for the next three months. (More truthfully, probably enough for the next three days. I tend to lean toward the social butterfly net....)

And now, tomorrow, a day off. Ahhhhhhh.............

Then it's back to the thick of things.

But damn, I miss cooking.
And there's no milk in the house.
And god only knows what exists in the deep depths of the refrigerator.

Is it possible to cram most of a summer into a single day?
Most likely not.

Garden.
Laundry.
Kitten.
The rest of the house.
Groceries.
Bills.
Sighs.

Etc.

(But I did sing my newest country-western song for the assembled post-show group tonight [vodka-tonic in hand], and if I remember correctly, they all reprised the chorus: "Oh Lock Up Your Manhood for Me.....")

It goes on, and on.
Oh, indeed it does.

Get Up!

What Lucy-the-Kitten brought me while I was lying in bed this morning, online with my laptop:

1. a Q-Tip
2. a drawstring cord from my sweatshirt
3. a piece of thread
4. the twisty thing from a frozen juice can
5. a roll of toilet paper

Someone wants breakfast.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My sister stopped by the show today --


It wasn't as busy as we would've preferred.
My guess is that jittery investors are all glued
to their portfolios, awaiting the next big collapse.
It was a meager comfort to be surrounded
by fellow liberal artists. We are all
paddling the same sinking boat.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Home, finally, after a 15-hour day at the Bellevue Arts Fair. Lots of shoppers, not enough people spending $$$. Better tomorrow? I hope so.

I do so love being in the company of so many artists, and people who love art.

Too much talk, though; too much "on" time.

Time for quiet now.

But first, my favorite sighting of the day:

a tall white-haired man wearing very large, thick-lensed, circular black-rimmed glasses; seersucker sportcoat, dress-shirt and bow-tie, linen shorts, bright red loafers (no socks). Kind of an overgrown school-boy look, and the shoes could be spotted from far off. My son Nelson wore a similar outfit on his first birthday. Jayzus I LOVE people-watching!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Vocabulary

load-in
booth
grande
iced
coffee
shelving
windex
hammer
curtain
egg-breakfast-thingy
organize
mortgage
interest
rate
government
bank
expires
modifies
lowers
don't
qualify
necklace
lost
flirt
sunset
insurance
bill
stunned
toy
purr
tail
fur
finish
finish
finish

Monday, July 25, 2011

Odd Stuff & Lost Odd Stuff

This is the week from Hades, going on three weeks straight at work with only one day off (thankful that I have a job and that I love my job) and making cookies for Wednesday's memorial. I can't find my Joy of Cooking with all my notes that I used at the bakery. Because someone insisted that I pack up and leave my former life immediately, everything I knew descended into haphazard hell, while that particular someone chose to stay at a hotel. Yes, we all do suffer, don't we?

I've unpacked most of my things, but the demands of work and this house and my abandoned garden (paint, new shower, new floor, getting a room ready to rent) suck up all the time. I can't find most of my jewelry -- and I love wearing jewelry. I believe it's embedded somewhere in a box marked either "Christmas" or "Odd Stuff".

I fantasize that come August, I'll have time to:
1. play my piano
2. learn to play the concertina
3. write some new poetry
4. go through the remaining boxes
5. mow the front lawn
6. look for a renter
7. cook
8. breathe.

And yes, we do also all have our fantasies.

I realized on Friday that the August order file is bulging. Job security is a good thing.

We set up for our big retail show Thursday morning at 7am, and there still remains a lot of painting, pricing and packing to be done.

Meanwhile, the best kitten on the planet dozes on a kitchen chair while the marvelous scent of Russian Tea Cakes hangs in the air. It's the end of July, a day of heavy rain, my honeysuckle is dying and needs to be ripped out, and the tomato plants languish, grown beyond my ability to contain them.

But I'm singing this song tonight, rain & all:

Liam O'Maonlai

It was my good fortune to hear Liam O'Maonlai perform in a small Australian-style pub in Seattle. Here's a marvelous example of his talent:



Last night it was just Liam and his keyboard, bodrhain, tin whistle, harmonica and didgeridoo. (Unfortunately he never picked up his guitar.) I managed a quick chat with the Dublin-based singer, and oh, he's a regular *sexy* Gaelic man, I must say....

Sigh.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seward Park Chair Blog

A few weeks ago, on my walk to work, I noticed an ugly, worn upholstered chair abandoned on the parking strip a few blocks from my house. People often put items marked "free" out in front of their houses -- a little community recycling, re-purposing (I really hate that word but it keeps popping up in conversation), a little of this or that not quite yet destined for The Dump. It sat for days and days. It rained. It rained some more.

Then notes began to appear on it:


I especially loved this one tacked onto the bottom
of the list -- the misspellings and correction are priceless!


A week or so later, a sandwich-board sign appeared across the street from the chair, with blank sheets of paper, a pen attached with a string, and a plastic cover sheet from protection from our (wintery) weather....(these are quite delightful -- click on photo to enlarge) --

(I penned the Roethke quote. Although completely out of context, I couldn't resist. I've written that same piece on bathroom walls all over North America and Europe.)

And then these last two additions -- creativity and goofiness gone wild!



Yesterday there was only the Golden Flower Chair with a ripped piece of cardboard thrown onto its tattered, er, verdure.

Alas.

Yet more evidence that all good things must come to an end.

And beauty -- lovely to behold -- remains but an ephemeral, an evenescent fancy, conceit, ilusion.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Single Day

If not joy, then sorrow,
If not sorrow, then joy.
Yin and yang,
black and white,
yes and no.
Over and again, and again.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My heart is blown open.....

I've stood on this flaggy shore, where a fisherman once threw a fish up over the water's edge for our dinner; have stood and watched these same flocks of swans. And it's in the not-capturing-it that requires the return trip, over and again. Oh, how I miss Ireland....


Postscript

--by Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So many wonders on my mile walk to work:

--in a back yard, a large white teepee with painted symbols on the canvas
--a sandwich board on the parking strip with paper and pen for impromptu poetry
--a mother reading aloud to her two children in a front yard
--men pushing babies in strollers

---

My tomato plants -- lush and green and nearly fruit-free -- have gotten away from me and now stretch out and down beyond their too-short stakes. And I don't care. We have so little sun this summer, it probably won't matter.

Every evening I try to spend a few minutes continuing my war against the morning glory. Alas. I'm not winning. It's an insidious (this week's word) pest, sending out runners from even a clipped stem, impossible to defeat. If I let it go I fear the house would soon disappear behind curling tendrils.

---

Still attempting to fathom the "silent migraine" of Monday. My family doc and I agree it was a perfect storm of converging elements: not enough sustenance (lack of appetite), not enough shut-eye (lack of sleepiness), plus the surfeit of worries I'm attempting to eliminate from the daily lineup.

Things should ease come August, when the workload will lessen, and the memorial for my mother-in-law will be passed. I've given-in to convenience (and sanity) and decided to hire a caterer. Relief! But there still remain cookie platters to bake and assemble, and I'm on the program to read something -- but what? Possibly some Roethke, or Richard Hugo. I'm open to suggestions.

An Evening of Poetry and One Song

A small turnout at my writing group last night -- only five of us -- and there was the usual abundance of wit and high spirits interlaced with acute yet even-handed criticism. This is yet one of many blessings I am fortunate to lay claim to.

Rosanne Olson (here and here), our house photographer extraordinaire, has of late been writing no poetry, only songs. When it came to her turn to present, she apologized for her lack of a poem, then turned to me and said, "But I wrote three songs for you, T."

Well! I was astonished, and of course we all rallied for a performance, and she agreed to let me film her.

"Can I sing a sad one?" She asked.

I'm a sucker for music that sends most people to a jumping-off point at the edge of a cliff, and, in fact, am more often inspired by a dirge than a jig.

And as yesterday was a day of conflicting emotions -- delight & sorrow, gratitude & keen disappointment -- I was of course moved to tears by this gift of song performed in the last light of a chilly July night.

(Before she began to sing, she said,
"Wait! I forgot the words!" [Laughter.]
And then, "That's okay. I'll just make them up.")

Without further ado:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Ninety-Nine Words

Here is the zing
chiseled words make
when I refuse silence —
listen to me —

what I must say
could overspill a poet’s dozen notebooks,
or maybe just this twenty-one line poem
wrenching its hiss and crackle
into the space your pressed patience allows —

listen — I will hold forth
in all my flame and fury —
these desires, these button-bare
needs — everything
I covet and must place
my hands upon — you
shall listen to me
and from these lips will steam
ninety-nine words of love,
or hate, or something ultimately,
irrevocably wedged somewhere
between us —

© T. Clear

---

Please visit the Tuesday Poem masthead blog for more....

ER

Double vision, tunnel vision, loss of balance, an intense desire to close my eyes....

All this came about shortly after I arrived at work today, and I somehow ended up in the ER at Swedish (Melinda drove me, but all I remember of the trip is streets and cars zig-zagging in front of us, in my ocularly-challenged state.

Once I laid down on a gurney, all I wanted to do was sleep. Intense snippets of dreams: floating on a lake on giant cucumber rounds. No pain, lots of needles, cuffs being fastened and unfastened, a CT machine, and then the obnoxious banging and clanking of the MRI machine ("a clinking, clanking, clattering collection of coliginous junk!") Felt as if I'd woken up inside an off-key marching band with half the instruments missing, and no one with any real knowledge of how to play a damn thing.

Anyway, the diagnosis was Diplopia, most likely caused by a Silent Migraine. (All the symptoms except pain.) NO tumors, blockages, or any evidence of a stroke, thank-you Jayzus!

And, uh, stress, which I've got in spades.

And when the bill comes for this four-hour adventure.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

dit dot dash....

Do other people have favorite punctuation, or am I an anomaly?

My favorite punctuation is the semi-colon; it's unassuming, slightly hesitant, never shouting. Next is the em dash — clean, level & to the point.

(I could be a punctuation snob and say I most admire the ├žedille, but that might be pushing it....) (And O! Ellipses!) (Settle down now T.)

What about you? Or am I the only one a little bit punctuation-crazy?!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vocab.

Are there words -- "new words" -- that you use repeatedly over the course of a week or two, then move onto new "new words"?

My current "new words" are disabuse, taciturn and recalcitrant. Tonight at dinner, in attempting to explain to my dinner companion just what it was that I was talking about, I used all three in a sentence:

"I really should try to be less recalcitrant and disabuse myself of the notion of using all three words in a single sentence, thereby rendering myself more taciturn."

At least I think that's what I said.

It might have been something else altogether.

(Previous words include ephemeral, detritus and insiduous.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

That and This

One thing I can never claim: boredom.

Rode the Light Rail downtown tonight to survey the venue for my mother-in-law's memorial. Can't really believe that this is what engages me at the moment -- don't people you love live forever? (Well. I've been disabused of that notion time and again. [And haven't we all....])

People were queuing up for a night at the theatre while we moved from space to space, assessing room size, prep space, tables, etc. Very surreal: a party atmosphere amidst our somber mission, ushers urging programs on us, requesting tickets.

The only ticket I possess is for OUT.

Long days at the Little Glass Factory.
Studio Hijinx.
The conversation today ranged from Amazing Grace to X-Rated.
Go figure.
A to X.
And our new temporary person is an angel.
Thank you, Universe!

Oh -- and have I mentioned -- I love my job?
If you've ever been so lucky as to work at a job you love, then you understand this.

If not, I wish you the same good fortune.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Accounting

There is the forbidder, and the forbidden.

The banisher, and the banished.

The excommunicator, and the excommunicated.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Antony, Cleopatra, two eagles, three bats....


A big bonus of living in the city is that I'm a half-mile from a spectacular park (site of previous owling), and for 23 consecutive summers, Shakespeare plays have been performed in the amphitheatre, free of charge.

Last night was one of those evenings for which we endure winter: temps in the low 70's, blue skies, and a clarity of air guaranteed to bring out even the most stubborn of curmudgeons. I was surprised at how small an audience there was -- maybe a hundred people scattered here and there on the wooden benches or on blankets, dinners spread out in front of them. As our decision to attend was more or less spontaneous, our picnic was a hurried sack of two cheeses and a half-box of crackers. I coveted a neighboring picnic -- plates of roasted chicken, pasta salad, two kinds of cherries, thick slices of artisan bread. (And I nearly plucked up a cupcake when it was clear that there were extras --)

Antony and Cleopatra: intrigue, romance, war, cunning calculations, betrayal and, of course, the denouement of death. One thing I especially noticed was the athleticism required of these (quite younger than me!) actors -- because the stage area is essentially a broad concrete platform surrounded by trees and field, there was constant running and charging, the frequent thrusting of swords in a spirited choreography.


I have to admit that I tune in and out with Shakespeare; I always wish everything was slowed down just a mite. Nonetheless, the bard's ever-present wit and the sheer exuberance of the youthful actors undeniably captivated me.


At "curtain" call (no actual curtain existed other than those four fluttering panels), two eaglets soared overhead, one after the other, barely skimming the tips of the firs. A waxing gibbous moon hung just above us, gauzy, barely veiled by the sheerest of clouds against the dark dusky blue.

Afterwards, in the thinning light we waded through the luxury of unmown grasses nearly shoulder-height to a massive Douglas fir, where, impossibly high up, an eagle's nest perched, its twig-and-stick roost successfully disguised as, well, twigs and sticks. A closer inspection, as darkness began to settle upon us, revealted a cleft in the fir's trunk, and inside was this:

Three bats swooped and flitted above, the twilight air alive with insects. This was all magic, and all within walking distance of my house. My house.

Coming into focus: I count myself as one of the lucky ones.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Revisiting A Labyrinth....

....in a dream, a variation on a previous dream: the ruins of a Roman colosseum/labyrinth, built on a steep mountainside in Italy, a confounding maze of precipitous stone steps which I was forced to negotiate if I wanted to go anywhere. At one point I stepped off the steps to retrieve something I'd dropped -- a watch, I think, and once I departed the solidity of stone I quickly began to sink up to my knees in a mire whose gravitational pull was nearly impossible to overcome. I did, however, pull myself out, minus the lost timepiece.

There existed everywhere strange and startling beauty: fountains sprung from cafe tabletops and a numinous light shone through the triangular sprays of water. I met poets and I slipped through secret passageways into restaurant kitchens where the frantic & fragrant bustle of a dinner rush was in full steam. Steps appeared and disappeared before me, changing depth and height in the moment I raised my foot to move forward.

At one point I turned a corner to a thousand-foot drop-off, the path narrowing to a mere thread of stone. A man close on my heels pushed past me, turned and shook his head, continued on. I backed up and changed direction.

My attempts to capture any of this with my camera continually failed: blurry, overexposed or lacking any light at all, or a mechanical failure. The only record I could take with me was in the retelling.

---

(And yes, it's rife with symbols and metaphors.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

(Caution, Perhaps)


A while back at work, intending to write the word "fishbowl" on a post-it note ("fishbowl" is a name for one of the shapes of glass we use), I, without hesitation or intention, wrote the word "fuck" instead.

Ah. So fitting a comment for every day of the last three months.
Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.
Holy Mother of Fuck.
Feckin' fucking fucker.
Fcek.
Fcuk.

And below it: OMG.

Indeed.

---

With every step I look down into air, off the side of the cliff, the ground no longer present.

I would love it if someone -- anyone -- would FedEx me a patch of earth on which to plant my feet so that there is time to take a breath.

Living The Full Catastrophe, day in, day out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Post-Independence, The State of the Universe

A friend -- a glass artist & poet -- for whom I used to work, now works for Melinda, and he reports to me. It's not generally a good time, in the economic sense, for artists who survive (or don't!) on their work. In my work universe the stars have been shining steadily; we've managed to slip-slide through this recession, expecting our best year-to-date. But this friend, J., has been just getting by for the past year or so, and as R. suddenly quit last weekend, we had some serious need for help in this, one of our busiest times of the year, and he needed work.

So today, with tables turned, I put him through the preliminary paces, some of which he already knew from his own art-glass experience, and everything glided along smoothly. What could have been fraught was calm; what could have been awkward was greeted with grace, competency and good humor. (Thank-you.)

---

The rabbi's house across the street -- empty for two years -- now houses a new rabbi and his family. Rumor has it that there are ten children. TEN! From ages (I think) four to twenty-four. I cannot comprehend this. From my treehouse bedroom I have a prime view of their house, but so far no action. This might get interesting.

Some years ago, when Mark had a flooring business, we had a two-line landline at the house. After time and circumstance, I no longer needed both lines, so had one disconnected, but still had the two-line phone. Once, accidentally, I picked up the phone (there was a cord!) with the "line 2" button pushed, and there was a conversation happening on my disconnected line. A little while later I called a friend on this "disconnected" line, who identified the caller ID as Soloman Coen. In the phone book (remember those?!), I discovered that Soloman Coen lived across the street from me -- in the rabbi's house. I shared my "disconnected" line with the rabbi. Ha!

Now don't accuse me of not having enough to do, because at this time I was newly widowed with two teenagers and a bakery business, but some evenings when I'd be sitting on the sofa, I'd pick up line 2 just to see if anyone was there. A little entertainment, you know.

Mostly it was teenaged-girl angst, not terribly fascinating, but one time my son and I were holding the receiver between us and laughing hysterically, and the two girls on the line heard us, which of course just pushed us over into paroxysms of even more laughter.

Jesus that was funny.

It all went away eventually -- the land line, the corded phone, the rabbi and his family of girls. I married, moved away, came back, and now it begins again, and we're equipped with iPhones that offer "Facetime" and internet access.

Again, it's an altered universe, and I'm just trying to keep the steady pace.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Grace, on Wings

A most extraordinary thing:

Last evening while I was watering my vegetable garden (the hose too short and no nozzle, a spray generated by my thumb against the surge) a hummingbird flew right up to me --

It hovered mid-air, facing me, then turned in a glinting flash and backed carefully into the spray of water, towards me, about three feet from my hand, and took a bit of a bath, ruffling its tail feathers, lifting each wing in succession.

It did an about-face and dipped a few times, opened its beak and drank while all of perhaps thirty seconds passed.

I dared not flinch and barely breathed while all the time wanting to call out, to summon every person within shouting range to witness with me this vision of something so perfect and so nearly-weightless, so ephemeral.

Just to possess the ability to fly is something extraordinary; to hover: marvelous beyond language. But to dance -- iridescent -- in a stream of airborne water -- who among us has been so lucky?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday

My postage-stamp-sized front lawn is sprouting long strands of dandelion and crabgrass because I've cancelled my mowing service. All rather feral. I like it. Going jungle here on B-Street.

Tomorrow: Tree of Life, by Terrence Malick.

Monday: apple pie.

All windows flung wide open, in high summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday

At my house, if I choose to sit on the front steps, there are musicians across the street playing Old-Timey American music, anticipating Fiddle Tunes at Centrum, which begins Sunday. Not a bad choice.

In the back of my house, on my balcony, there's a view of the lake and rooftops and mountains, and two giant green parakeets just tweeted (not twittered!) by; and a little boy is running back and forth in the alley, carrying one very long stick. Chanting from the Kollel. (This is where I sit.)

There's a clarity of light whichever location I choose -- these are the spectacular temperate days of summer that we enjoy here in Seattle. Little humidity; it's 70 degrees at 7:33pm, and barely a breeze ripples the grape vines.

My son is cooking a salmon filet, my vodka-tonic is due for refreshing, and I'm trying hard to turn in this new direction away from Mr. Soon-To-Be-Deleted, attempting to delete him from memory. If only I could backspace him from my consciousness....

---

The plans for the funeral trudge, stuck in the thickest of muds. Death makes people fall down, and someone to whom I'm close has fallen down and calls me in the falling-down state, which is difficult. Patience. Someone has a date with the Grim Reaper. (Not me!) (Or, rather, we all do, but just won't look at that day on the calendar.) Some of us egg the Grim Reaper on, taunt him, dare him. (Or is the Grim Reaper female?)

In any case, all plans are up in the air. What I do know is that, in spite of one of the coldest springs on record, my tomato plants have tiny green fruits beginning to swell, and my pumpkin plants, though tiny, have indeed sprouted. A painter is going to schedule some work next week, which will clean up a lot. My dearest of friends Tom has been doing odd jobs for me, and wants payment only in home-cooked meals. The problem there is that I seem to have lost all interest in cooking, which, while it contributes to a reduction in the waistline, doesn't exactly lead to sumptuous feasts.

The kitten continues to delight and amaze. Even when I resolutely Do Not Want To Laugh, she coaxes a giant guffaw from me, unquestionably goofy and cheerful. How did I manage to happen upon this marvelous creature? I am blessed.