Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chaos ~ Order

Inside the grape vines even the light is green.
I went at the grape vines this morning, all of the garden suffering from several weeks of neglect. Amazing what vigorous growth they are able to make when I open the door of opportunity just a sliver, letting in the faintest of lights.

So much the same for all the rest of human life, eh? And of course many more species —  I think of ants or bees in their ever-tending of colonies.

And to think as a child I sometimes would dig a long stick into a pile of ants, to see them scurry to rebuild, to carry eggs back to safety. (A period of remorse would follow, and outright horror when my brother set an ant pile on fire.) What kingdoms did I dislodge today in my yanking-out, in my need to establish some control?

And then, always necessary to keep some wild place in the garden where I don't make every decision regarding growth.

What I end up with is a rather cluttered collection of blossoms and squashes, grapes and leeks that would appear to most visitors, I think, as verging on total chaos, but is for me a delicate balance between letting creativity/growth flourish with its own intent, on one hand, and then a strict attention to dead-heading spent blossoms and nurturing new growth on the other hand.

Mine will never be a closely-clipped garden. I savor my annual love affair with the volunteer foxglove, the California poppy. And this blue marvel — freed from a strangle of bindweed — has made its presence known once again: the nicandra, or shoofly plant. It's a native of Peru. How the heck did it get way up here?!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I've just spent three days in Facelift Land, and while I don't begrudge anyone a nip here or a tuck there, I saw some women today who had gone severely overboard in their, uh, remodeling. The worst was a woman with the body of a seventy-something-(or older)-year-old and the face of a fifteen-year-old. It was startling and disturbing; I stared. I couldn't help it. The face was very "cute", perky, whimsical almost, with a disturbing inquisitive expression.

But then, maybe I'm mistaken here. Maybe she didn't succumb to repeated facelifts. Maybe she just had a face transplant. There's no end to what the almighty dollar can buy.

Anyway, I'm smiled-out and really glad I don't work in retail. I did that in a prior life and it about killed me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


After the U-Haul truck was unloaded, and the tent erected (a person on each pole, raise and raise and raise and then SNAP! in place), and the flooring puzzled together, and the shelving units assembled (x4), and the lights clamped to each shelf, and the glass unpacked, and dusted & polished & arranged, I announced that my back was finished and that it was time to quit, and there was no protest from Miss M.

And although the temp was a benign 77 degrees it felt like 99 (in the middle of a hot flash) and M. maneuvered the massive rig onto the interstate and stopped-and-went in rush hour traffic until finally we rumbled up to the 'hood and finally the day was finished.

Rarely do I stop and wonder at the state of balance and grace in which one must exist in order to move ones body around so much that is fragile — and not just the likes of us fragile artists and poets but the borne-of-fire vessels that pass through our hands every day, each piece subject to keen examination. When I pass a diamond sanding pad over a chipped edge (for smoothing), or level a tippy vase on the grinder, or use the dremel to correct and repair odd blips of paint, I rarely give the task more thought than the twenty-or-thirty second fraction of a minute that it takes to make things right. Rarely ponder what alignments of planets occurred to land me in this unsuspected landscape of light and color, where, even after too many hours in too few days of intense production, we unpack piece after piece and swoon and exclaim over their magic and beauty. Ask ourselves: did we really do this? Really?!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Martinis in the garden tonight after crazy long hours tending to glass surfaces. Applying dots to glass— by the thousands, one at a time. Fine-tuning glass, a microscopic eye to details. Pricing glass. Boxing glass. Loading glass in the rental truck (careful not to trip on bindweed). (Careful to avoid the climbing rose's lashing stem.)

I'd put off painting this very large piece until the very end, loathe to begin. But my hyper-focus actually was to my benefit, and I methodically painted inch by inch, the piece wedged between towels on the table in front  of me, black, then green, then a progression of mixed colors, layers, reds and golds and many variations, until it was done. Relief!
First thing tomorrow we build the booth: outer structure, floor, shelving, glass.

First thing Friday: $$$.

And to think: this job was one of the reasons for a divorce.

Go figure.

I love my job.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Saturday

While I sipped my version of nectar (a glass of Sauvignon blanc), this little guy kept me company sipping his own sugar-water brew. He likes to hover a few feet from my face, and today he hovered just out of reach of my cat Flip, taunting him. (The cat got very still.)

I am undone by the ephemeral presence of these birds, how they seem to exist between the insect and the bird world — not fully avian. Their wings flap anywhere from 12 to 80 beats per second, and they are the only bird specie that can fly backwards. My favorite hummingbird feat is when one rises vertically, from a hover at eye level, to well above treetops.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Loyal Readers and Citizens of the Universe:

In need of sugar.

Too much work and absolutely zero play.

I accept all deliveries.


Friday, July 13, 2012


An announcement — of sorts — amongst my family this week when word got out that apparently I'm an Atheist. Not certain that I've actually ever declared this to be a truth, and was more than slightly taken aback at this revelation. The sibling who announced this to another sibling (there are many of us) was, according to the story, quite upset.


I've been labeled, categorized, pigeon-holed and carted off to hell, even if in whose existence I do not believe. And will there be conversation, a rebuttal, an explanation, an understanding, in the the end? The sad answer to that question is most likely a resounding "NO." The door to that conversation was slammed shut many years ago, and I'll take responsibility for digging my heels in on the liberal, non-theistic side.

Having endured a Catholic upbringing, and having made a gallant effort to toss aside all lingering vestiges of said guilt, I do admit a distrust in anything labeled religion. How many wars have been fought in the name of the righteous? How many civilizations slaughtered? How long has hate prospered while proclaiming the Word of God?

As usual, when a Big Subject like this one arrives on my doorstep, it becomes the Conversation of the Week at my job. As a poet, my beliefs tend to center more on Mysticism and Animism than anything veering close to the Christian arena. At work today we spoke at length today on the subject of deities, or, a deity. I'll use the word "god" only with a lower case "g". It's a common noun, not any version of some bearded guy wielding electricity from a cloudbank. If there's a supreme being, then it's this infinitely massive universe (and beyond) that we inhabit, and therefore, as organisms in its midst, makes us all integrally our own separate piece of it: god in everyone/thing.

My best guess on the origins of my atheist label comes from a conversation I had with a Christian Fundamentalist nephew last fall, when the subject of religion came up, and I think I said that I'm probably more Atheist than anything else. But it was only — at that time — a rumination, a fragment plucked from a much larger conversation. Context is so important!

And as themes have a habit of swirling up and becoming a greater part of any picture, this one took an incredibly moving turn today, when J., a co-worker, asked for feedback on an email. The back story: he'd made an offer to donate something (having to do with the arts) on Craigslist,  and one of his responses came from Seattle's Union Gospel Mission, an organization which provides food, beds and other support to the homeless and mentally ill.

J., also raised Catholic, is an avowed Pagan, and, not being one to mince words, wrote this to the UGM representative:

While your program seems very worthy, I am having trouble justifying giving to Union Gospel Mission — would you be so kind as to explain how Pagans, Atheists,, other non-christians [lower case "c" intentional], as well as gay, lesbian, and trans individuals fit into your goal to "Create an environment where homeless men and women can safely create, access, and explore their narrative understanding of God, self and other"?

The response from UGM :

"That's a great question. I can see that your experience with people who call themselves Christians has been really hurtful and why you would be hesitant to donate to a mission who uses similar language. I don't know if I can do your question justice without understanding exactly what you're speaking to because I am as saddened at these realities as you are, which is one of the reasons why I started this [Arts] program.I don't know if I can necessarily make sense of some of the longstanding injustice, but I can tell you what we are about at this mission.....

I believe the true heart of why many Christians hold stances of hatred and oppression is because they have never looked what they judge in the face and heard their stories and seen their beauty. It is easy to judge from afar and much harder to judge a face. My job and the heart of this program is to advocate for men and women who have been dismissed because of their differences to those who would rather stand far off and make judgements. So here is my challenge: don't be what you hate, J., If you must judge, judge a face not a generalization. I think you may be surprised by what you see."

Having heard J.'s part of the story prior to the email, I did not expect this balanced and loving reply. How could I have heard a better lesson than this? There I was, fuming and ranting all week at my slap-dash Atheist label, when my negative reaction was no better than the act which precipitated it.

So whether or not I'm an Atheist really isn't important, from a larger stance. Whether or not my nephew and sibling are Christian Fundamentalists really shouldn't be important either. The challenge is to create a world/universe where gay, lesbian, trans, Atheist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Mormon etc. individuals "can safely create, access and explore their narrative understanding of God, self and other."

Shouldn't that be enough?

Is it enough to remind me to step down from my soapbox long enough to hear what my sibling has to say? To really listen, and not judge?

One thing is certain: life's lessons continue to enrich and expand my daily living. May I always be so fortunate to be reminded of the power of love when I'm least likely to be on the hunt for it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A deep silence has overtaken me, most words typed onto this space appear to be precious or ridiculously self-indulgent.

Mid-summer melancholy.

Could just be the heads-down-get-the-job-done pace at work, where our only retail show of the year starts in two weeks. (Egads. Did I really just write that?) We're squeezing-in a few lingering June orders, while all of July has been filed away until August. Trying not to let these glorious July mornings, evenings go unnoticed. The scented air intoxicates — this morning a balmy breeze wafted through my upstairs windows and it smelled green & yellow. Do scents have colors?

My kiwi and grape vines  — an unlikely pairing — are doing their annual twining-duet, and I've suggested to them (with the help of cording and some twisted wire) that they extend across my patio from their trellis to the falling-down garage, and they argue mightily against my urgings. One kiwi tendril actually turned back after being twisted to the cord: outright refusal to follow the desires of the gardener!

We've had quiet words, and although there is obviously a reluctance afoot (a-vine?), finally they've begun their airborne trek, their loops and twirls around the two cords strung from east to west.

And once again, from my balcony, my front (and only) row seat of Big Sky Sunset.

Pass the popcorn.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lear in Rain

All day the clouds stayed too high for rain.
All day we pretended summer, July, Northern Hemisphere.
64 degrees.

Sweater weather.

On the way to the park for King Lear at the amphitheater (picnic, blanket, wine) I mentioned oh-so-daringly that I thought the rain would hold off for the evening. And apparently my words worked a hex on the weather, for the moment we stepped foot from the car, the first benign summer drops descended.

At the foot of the hill, below the concrete benches, actors guided human-sized puppets in pre-show ventriloquism. One held a banana on a plate: unclaimed offering. Live music — though I couldn't quite see the handful of musicians behind a stage set. Umbrellas in plaids and polka-dots, in reds and stripes provided slim shelter to the assembled audience.

We layed out our blanket beneath a hemlock tree, poured thimble-sized glasses of Pinot Grigio, heaped throw-away plates with chicken and salad. I donned my fleece jacket. Settled.

And couldn't hear a thing.

Fifteen minutes later the rain eased, so we packed it all up and migrated closer to the action. Again unfolded the blanket, again set out the plates and our dinner. And the rain kicked up: again! Hoods pulled over heads, ready to endure the best that Seattle can offer on July 2nd. And besides, skin is waterproof.

At that moment an uncostumed man walked out from back of the stage, interrupted, asked for everyone's attention, and said with regret that he had to end tonight's performance because the floor of their makeshift stage (a giant blue plastic tarp) wasn't safe for his cast.

Well. Damn.

So again we packed it all up and set up camp #3, this time in view of the eagle's nest, under a sheltering pine, and finished our picnic.

Lying face-up I could watch raindrops fall at right angles to my eyes — and not too many raindrops, thanks to the criss-cross of branches above. Have I said that I find rain falling from the sky to be exquisitely beautiful?

So while much of the country swelters in 100-degree+ temperatures, we discovered unplanned pleasure in fleece and a picnic in the rain.

Welcome summer!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Sharing the Apple

Sharing the Apple

You know the story: Eve
and all her charms, that sweet allure
beyond resistance. Even so, Adam lived —
ripely — to the age of 930.
But who could deny that sizzle?  — You

certainly do not refuse
when I extend my hand, apple-full,
my contribution to decadence
savored since Eden.
And biting in, the flavor
a shiver of surprise. You offer

the apple back, and I accept.
Bite for bite we pass
the ephemeral fruit from hand
to hand, conscious of the hunger
created by this simple act:
your mouth, mine.

And later, all our sugars dissolved,
the trailing of core and seed
scattered, I'll recall
how you met me full-lipped
and greedy for that first surrender,
first taste of temptation.

© T. Clear 1999
originally appeared in Heliotrope

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Live from

You know you're in trouble when, at the first in-the-flesh glance, you start planning your exit.

This morning's breakfast-date lasted 48 minutes too long. I felt like I was in high school and someone's mom had fixed me up with one of "the quiet boys". Not that there's anything wrong with quiet boys! But looking at online profiles of prospective suitors and exchanging emails can't even begin to compare to a face-to-face. (This morning I almost did an about-face.)

Today's "match" was twitchy and a little bit feminine, with no apparent sense of humor. Didn't seem to know quite how to wear his clothes. Odd. I'm going to dredge up a word that I rarely hear these days: ineffectual.

All kinds of things go through one's head when one is out on the 21st-century version of a blind date, as you can imagine. All I could think of this morning was the word "NO!" And again, "NO!"

After gulping down my eggs and crepe, two cups of coffee and bacon, I slid my chair out and made the move to the door, thanked him for breakfast, and offered no words of encouragement. Couldn't wait to get in my car and back to my own life.