Sunday, December 30, 2007

Party of the Century

Yep. And it was mine. And Paul's.
Wish we could have invited all 500
of our friends/family, but, well, at this age,
I think it's a good idea to only have as
many guests as ones age. Or as many as will fit
in Cafe Juanita, whose staff, by the way,
Menu will be posted later!
(But I recall quail, saddle of lamb,
salt cod fritti, pappardelle with goose sugo....
And lots of Prosecco, a lovely Nebbiolo.)
Both Paul and I managed to get through
the "till death do us part" portion of the vows
without voices cracking or tears descending the cheeks.
Ahhh. Layers and layers of emotions there, our four
beautiful young men beside us (Reilly, Nelson, PK, Bill),
alive and shining with the grace of being well-loved.
This afternoon P. and I shall walk to the Market
(we're ensconced at the Fairmont Olympic)
and shop for new cookware at Sur La Table.
Joy by the heaping cupful!
(No pinch, no smidgen. No carefully leveled.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I would live in your love as the sea-grasses live
in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes,
drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul as the dreams
that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats,
I would follow your soul as it leads.

Sara Teasdale

Friday, December 28, 2007

Wedding practice. There is a reason for this.
Oops! Wrong music! Whoa! Stand here! No! Here!
Turn it up. Turn it down. Scoot over.
Move the chairs back. Now line them up.
Now arc them. Now separate them.
Walk up the stairs. Now walk down the stairs.
Do it again. Turn and face each other.
Move the flowers. Get rid of the table.
More candles. Candles. Don't make me laugh.
Are we done now? Let's run through it again.
What's for dinner?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The threatened snow never arrived,
and we canceled Spa Day even so.
Spent the afternoon routing out
the corners of my bedroom, making way,
making way. Bags stuffed for give-aways,
the useless tossed, the useful carefully
folded, boxed. And then it was on
to razor-cutting each wedding-favor edge,
a John Lennon song, the text neatly reproduced
in claret ink on chardonnay card stock, mounted
then on burgundy card stock. With a single malt

In My Life
There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
--John Lennon

Rain, please.

I love snow. But no snow, not today.
People arriving (perhaps already arrived, actually)
from Ottawa, Florida, Virginia, Texas.
And I want to go to Olympus Spa today in the north
with friends from work. I want to lie on a heated floor
and then get scrubbed with salt. I want to not think.
I want to float, to steam.

The cats have taken over the Christmas tree water.
What is it about these creatures? There is always
fresh water in two dishes in two different locations
in this house, but for some reason the water pooled
at the base of a brightly lit decorated fir
is so much more delicious.

Entered into retail post-Christmas madness briefly
yesterday to find a tie for Paul for the wedding.
Stripes! Satin! Paisley! Dots! Squares! Geometry!
Algebra! Calculus! (Whoops. Got a little carried away.)
All the salesmen at Nordstrom looked the same:
twenty-something, dark hair, well-groomed.
Little happy selling clone boys.

And I'm very efficiently avoiding everything
I must do today while writing this blog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tom Porter's Brussel Sprout Story

Shopping at Puget Consumer's Co-op this afternoon,
I was dismayed at not seeing anyone I knew. I
dawdled by the beer cooler, pondering the many
varieties, wondering which hip new label would
appeal to the twenty-somethings at my Christmas table.
I knew that if I stood there long enough, someone
I knew would walk in, and sure enough, my friends
Carol and Tom appeared, as if on cue.
We talked beer, Carol recommended a Pinor Noir,
Tom rustled up the Cheese Man who recommended
a Manchego substitute, of which they were out.
I next caught Tom sifting through brussel sprouts,
picking out the tiniest. Wish someone in my house
liked brussel sprouts! He asked me if I'd ever heard
his brussel sprout story, and I said no. One must
settle-in to listen to a Tom Porter story, so that I did
among the portobella's and watercress and Dungeness Farm carrots
(among the gridlock of grocery carts and elbowing
produce seekers): Tom was hitchhiking in California,
must've been twenty-five-thirty years ago, and sometime
in the middle of the night, was suddenly let out
of the car in which he was traveling, in the dark,
and just possibly a bit hazy from a certain
inhalation. He awoke the next morning in the middle
of a field of brussel sprouts. No explanation:
that's just where he was. And that was his breakfast:
brussel sprouts, raw, fresh off the stalk.
We read A Child's Christmas in Wales
by Dylan Thomas, out loud, Nelson and I.
A Christmas Eve ritual in this house. Reilly
played with the cats, gave them a holiday dose
of catnip, so "Aunt Hannah sang like a big-bosomed thrush"
was accompanied by the romping and galloping
of drugged kitties. Even the old cats played,
lured out of their sedate naps by waggling ribbons.
Tip pulled a wrapped piece of Christmas candy
from behind the piano. God only knows how long
it's been there! Not one of us had seen it before.
All this after homemade pizza (coppacola, feta, kalamata)
and an afternoon session of cookie making (candy-cane
cookies) and floor mopping. I insist on a clean floor
for Christmas. That way it gets cleaned
at least once a year.
I started a coconut cake last night.
Baked two layers, split them, filled them
with sour cream with some sugar swirled-in
and a bunch of coconut. Poked holes so the
filling can macerate, settle. Tomorrow I'll
whip up a seven-minute icing and transform
the towering, oozing layers into a glimmering
snowy confection, set on a vintage pink plate.
O heavenly!

R. also requested a cherry pie, so we searched
for the out-of-season iconic orbs at Safeway
yesterday, found some battered fresh Bing-types
in the produce department. The sign said
"Northwest Bings" but the bag said "Product of Chile."
Hmm. Questionable. There were some generic canned
sour pie cherries -- also questionable. Other canned
versions appeared equally unpromising. We finally opted
for two bags of frozen cherries. I will not use
the fluorescent Red Dye #40 canned cherry pie filling
that lights up the baking aisle! (With Real Cherry Flavor!)
A college friend of Paul's
from Austin sent him this poem today:

Marble Cake

A widowed friend is marrying
A woman who lost her husband
Four years ago
I picture batter in a bowl
Chocolate marbling into white
Flavors blending but retaining
Separate integrity
As the mixture stirs and rises to a cake of marvelous height
Layered in the variegated texture of memory
All-over iced with future sweetness
Melting on the tongue

--Nita Lou Bryant

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A need to be private these next few days,
to burrow into winter, to sleep out this rain.
Contemplation, meditation, silence.
But no! Lo! Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am going to talk about my son
for just a moment. Bear with me.
R. was magnificent in the kitchen
Thursday evening. I had many reservations
about hosting a sit-down dinner for 22 friends
the week before Christmas, the week before
my wedding. (I'm also in the middle of packing.)
But he persisted. He rarely asks for anything.
So I went forward on faith, and the payoff was
beyond any dollar amount imaginable. A bit of history:
this young man suffered debilitating seizures as a toddler;
he missed entire developmental stages.
We were reduced to experimental drug therapies
after the traditional methods failed, and were
ultimately successful. Then followed years of
therapy. At four, after two years of seizures
and intense medical intervention, he began to learn
to talk again. At eight years of age, he gradually
withdrew from all medication, and has been seizure-free
since. But he emerged from all this as a unique
individual, with challenges the rest of us would
take for granted. The death of his father four years
ago was an unfathomable blow, and he's moved forward
in his life since then at a slow and jagged pace.
The Culinary Arts Program at South Seattle Community
College has been a marvelous home for him these
past two years. He doesn't cook at my house often enough
for my taste, so seeing him in his element cranking
out dinner for 22 in my less-than-adequate kitchen
was like, oh, perhaps seeing one's son step forward
to receive a diploma from, say, Harvard. He was efficient,
professional, poised, organized, wildly creative, humble
(unlike his mother!) And he was smiling. It's been so long
since I've seen that. Planning and preparing the house
for this event and shopping for the ingredients
was something for which I had no time. There were
moments when I considered calling the whole thing off.
I was sick for the four days prior and nearly reduced
to tears more than once. But he kept assuring me
that we could do this, and I trusted him, and what
transpired was perhaps the best evening of my life:
three long tables stretched the length of my living room,
dozens of candles down the center, cedar greens and
holly branches and vases of red tulips. The only light
from the tree and the candles. Twenty-one of the best friends
(mostly neighbors, one fiance, two sons) imaginable.
R. received a standing ovation. I stand up
and applaud my handsome and magnificent son.

Maria Muldaur's touring RV is parked outside my house.
She rolled into town yesterday afternoon to do two shows
at the Highway Ninety-Nine Club. When
in Seattle (and I've always been out of town on previous
visits) she stays with my neighbor Candy, across the street.
The band members are bunking at another neighbor's house.
Now, Candy's house is slightly larger than a doll house,
and this massive bus/RV dwarfs it. I've yet to meet her,
but tonight Paul and I are going to her show.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Running on fumes. Need to refuel.
Very little sleep. Took the elevators
in the King County Administration Building today
and one of the floors doesn't have a number
but it does have a letter. "T". Why?
And in Nordstrom downtown, the women's clothing floors
are numbered 1, 2, and 3; but the men's floor is just "M".
In some department stores in France, the basement level
is marked "-1". Now that makes sense.
(Paul and I got our marriage license application!)
(Then we walked down to Cafe Paloma on Yesler
for a late lunch, the restaurant quiet and subdued.
We were both a bit slow and dumb by that point,
no need for talk, just calm and secure in each others
presence. The Mediterranean flavors served as a balm
to the frantic pace of these past few days -- feta
and tomatoes and hummous and olives. Lemon vinaigrette.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Menu

Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktails
Marcona Almonds
Marinated Olives

Pink Lady Apple & Cabbage Slaw
with Confetti Peppers
& a Dijon Blood-Orange Vinaigrette

Pork Roulade with Pears, Garlic, Fresh Rosemary
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Sauvignon Blanc Braised Mushrooms
Filet Green Beans Tossed with Cashews & Shallots

Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches
Candy-Cane Ice Cream Sandwiches
Mayan Cocoa with Peach Schnapps
Bourbon Eggnog
I am grateful
I am grateful
I am grateful
Mushrooms give up no secrets.
The radishes argue.
And O! The humble cabbage!


Reilly's eggnog slips like silk
across the tongue.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Crazy prep for the dinner party today. Costco.
Trader Joe's. Scrub scrub scrub. Tested the pomegranate
martini. Needs something sweet. (And it's not really
a martini and I really loathe this current fashion
to call anything and everything a martini
if it's served in a martini glass.) The boys
are down the street picking up tables. Julie polished
silver for me: thank-you Julie! The ice cream base
is cooling in the fridge. Reilly is starting the forcemeat
stuffing for the pork loin any minute. (Adding pears,
fresh rosemary and shallots.) I need a double refrigerator.
It's been packed and repacked several times today.
Linda brought over an alstromeria bouquet. Plates
are stacked. The wicks on the candles are standing
at attention. Pot roast for today's dinner nearly burned
from inattention. Going to my writing group tonight,
our second annual White Elephant Gift Exchange.
My contribution is a record album:
Anita Bryant, The Miracle of Christmas.
Here's a tidbit from the album notes: "Anita Bryant sings
these familiar songs of the Christmas season, and she
sings them the way you like to hear them."
And I know you are all jealous.
I just bet you all wish you could have
your very own Anita Bryant album.
I had a date last night with five
very handsome and gracious men.
It began at ACT where we saw A Christmas Carol,
(the ghost of Marley lept out of the bed
this year -- explosions of surprised laughter!
[I should say it surprised the Dickens out of us]),
then dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
(I just typed -- and then corrected --
Ruth's Christ Steakhouse. What would a Christ Steakhouse
be like, I wonder?!) After last night's meal
I really shouldn't eat for several days....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I hunkered down this afternoon at Uwajimaya
at the Vietnamese lunch counter over a bowl
of steaming pho, fragrant with fresh ginger, basil,
jalapeno. There are half a dozen stools wedged-in
down a little corridor. It's cozy, anonymous, private.
The perfect antidote to rain and shopping panic.

Monday, December 17, 2007

So. I was at a family gathering yesterday
expressing my anxieties about leaving the family
home, moving out and leaving my (grown)(in college)
sons at home, an upside-down sense of abandonment,
which I intellectually know is silly. (Actually, I cannot wait
to abandon the mountains of laundry they have a tendency
to leave everywhere.) My youngest son
volunteered that the two of them are delighted
in the upcoming arrangement, and he actually said,
"Phew. Now we won't have to do dishes all the time."
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!
This all reminds me of when R. was an infant, and I
had to go back to work. I'd heard of the phrase
"separation anxiety," and seeing that this was in the
olden days of the last century, pre-internet, I did my best
to research how one dealt with it. I was very surprised
to find out that all the literature centered on how to prepare
the infant for the separation -- not the mother!
I was not at all concerned about R., as he was going to be
cared for by his father, at home. I was concerned about me!
I felt as if I was the only mom on the planet
who hated leaving her baby every day. Baby and Dad
managed beautifully. I was jealous. Sigh.
Time to grow up. Time for everyone
to grow up.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My first and last names anagram to Secret Healer.
How does your name fare?

I love this image. These were most likely the
u-cut version. Impossible. Difficult.
Predecessor to the punch-out variety.
Loved the little tabs for holding on
the various outfits. You boys out there
have no idea what you have missed!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spent four hours today trying out fancy hair
and fancy makeup (didn't even recognize myself)
at a salon in Kirkland. Pampering.
Came out to a cold and windy afternoon
on Lake Washington, the hairpins holding fast
each carefully coifed fancy wisp.
I am ready to be Bride.
In fact, I went to a party on Yarrow Point
disguised as a bride. This was not a fancy
party, per se. Fancy house, fancy pomegranate
martini's, not fancy people, though. Down to earth,
pleasant people. As one guest has been quoted
as saying, "Face it -- we're all white trash."
(Well, maybe in a prior life. Or last week.)
Lots of people in jeans and a scruff of a beard
and wool sweaters: tres Northwest/Seattle.
And then there was me: somewhere between
Marge Simpson and the Queen Mum.
With my Big Beautiful Hair. I felt perhaps
just a wee bit conspicuous with my pink Coco Chanel lips.
My bronzed jaw. Rouged and plucked.

Strike Two

The pharmacy clerk at Safeway. Again.
(Wait: his name is Sang. Not Sing,
not Sung. Sang. And I didn't question him
on this! I didn't say, shouldn't your name tag
say Song?) He said that the bottle had an odd flange,
and wondered if it would bother me.
He said, "Some senior citizens
have a hard time with it." I wondered for
perhaps a second about what he was saying,
then it dawned on me: he thought we was being
considerate of me, thought I was a senior citizen!
(No offense, Senior Citizens.) I looked straight
at him and nearly shouted: "I AM NOT A SENIOR CITIZEN!"
He appeared to be confused for a second or two,
then quickly backpedaled, apologetic, obsequious.
He really does seem to be a sweet young man,
though I can't even begin to imagine what he'll say next.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Working well under pressure, although
hours and hours of sleep are required.
Wedding two weeks away: finally ordered
flowers today, over the phone. I highly
recommend Ballard Blossom. Professional,
helpful, efficient. Most of all: reliable.
Dark red roses, pale pink roses. No blushing
white. (No blushing whatsoever. Too late for that.)
Christmas tree is in the stand, albeit crooked.
No decorations yet. No lights. House is still
in complete disarray but (I'm trusting) that
will all change in the next six days prior
to the giant dinner party. I really could
use the services of a housekeeper. A live-in
housekeeper. (Dream on.) Last day of work today
then several weeks off.....ahhhhhh.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

There were no miracles....

Melinda and I went to Nordstrom today
to buy bathing suits. Steeled ourselves.
The best-selling item for the post-teen, post-size-zero,
post-bikini mature women (when did I
get to be mature, anyway?) is called the Miracle Suit.
Huh. The only miracle that I witnessed
was when I actually managed to squeeze my torso
into one of those elastic compression devices.
The problem with frontal steel-belting is that excess body mass
is forced out the back of the garment.
Kind of like sausage bursting from its casing.
Not at all pretty! Whilst undergoing
this self-imposed torture in the dressing room,
Melinda yelled out to me: "Do you think they
have any burka bathing suits?!"
We each did manage to leave with a new swimming costume.
M. opted not to get the red suit. I opted for a matching
black skirt/cover-up. (Although what exactly it's supposed
to be covering up I can't for the life of me figure out.
Fully costumed, there is still altogether way too much
of me without any covering whatsoever.)
Sigh. O youth forever lost.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

After reading Rebecca's accounting of the salmon
returning to spawn in a local creek, this poem
by David Wagoner has been afloat in my brain
all week:


They hold their hands over their mouths
And stare at the stretch of water.
What can be said has been said before:
Strokes of light like herons' legs in the cattails,
Mud underneath, frogs lying even deeper.
Therefore, the poets may keep quiet.
But the corners of their mouths grin past their hands.
They stick their elbows out into the evening,
Stoop, and begin the ancient croaking


I've always loved this poem.
I'd much rather be pre-minstrel
than pre-menstrual.
This is hard to explain, but I'll try:
In my bedroom, which faces east, there
is a bank of windows through which
the sunrise shines every morning.
Just now, while lying in bed, I saw
in another window, a side window, a perfect square
of pink and yellow light -- perhaps two by two feet.
Its lines were not gauzy; all was perfectly delineated.
It appeared to be hovering. Fascinated, and not entirely
sure what it was, I arose, and, of course, this
reflection shifted when I shifted, and disappeared.
When I got back in bed and positioned myself
at the same angle as before, there it was again,
but the light had intensified -- now fuschia,
now gold. Ephemeral window, an entrance (an exit?)
to another life? And of course, as I write this,
it has entirely disappeared along with the rising sun,
behind the ever-present winter clouds.
O golden moment!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nom de Moi

I have absolutely no time for this blog
these next few weeks but I doubt that will
keep me away from this keyboard.....
The girl who bagged my groceries at Safeway today
was named "Bionica." What if her last name is "Mann?"
Not good. The last time I picked up an RX
from the same store, the pharmacy clerk
asked for my last name, which I told him.
Then he asked my first name (ALWAYS difficult),
as it's Therese (and I can't seem to do accents here
but there are two of them, on the first and
second "e's.") Just like the saint from France.
Bona fide French name. Correctly pronounced,
it sounds something like this: tay-rez. Give or
take a gutteral "r." So, after I told him
my name, he found my RX, and said, "OHHHHH,
you mean Teresa! I just groaned. So sick and tired
of mispronunciation. Thus the pruning to the single
letter T. And what nerve from that clerk!
What did he expect me to say? "Oh, yeah, that's it!
I always mispronounce my own name! Thanks
for correcting me!"
Parents-to-be: pay attention!
Give that kid a relatively easy name!

Here are some mispronunciations (and misspellings)
of my name that I've endured these past fifty years:
Terez (actually not so bad)
...and my current favorite, my name as seen
on the Q-West (I will not say "quest!") bill : Threrse.
Please, call me T.


Attempting to carve out a space
in my living room for a tree. Of the evergreen
variety. I miss the $5 Chubby & Tubby trees.
I saw an ad in the paper last week advertising
C & T trees at a lot somewhere out north -- Shoreline,
I believe. But without the old variety store
with its merchandise stacked to the ceiling,
it's just not the same thing. Upon purchase
of a tree, every customer was given a key,
where one could attempt to unlock the Treasure Box
in the store. One year Nelson's key opened it!
He received a $10 gift certificate, which he promptly
spent on a green fleece hat with a long tail
and a pom-pom. Our cat Tip went crazy over
the pom, and we had to make sure we put the hat
high out of his reach or he'd spend hours
chewing on it. Chubby & Tubby trees were the old-fashioned
Doug firs, untrimmed, spare, often flattened from
lying stacked one against the other. They needed fluffing.
Tree-shopping there was a source of great amusement.
And you couldn't beat the price, even when they
went up to a whopping $7.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I want to lie on a beach
and sleep for about 200 hours.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I got up sometime during the night
to use the bathroom, didn't turn on
any lights, and my pajamas
were sparking with static electricity!
Every time I moved I looked like a
human sparkler. This is an advantage
to getting over ones fear of the dark.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My friend Genevieve told me today
that every Christmas season she, her husband
and their son build a gingerbread house.
Actually, she said it's more a gingerbread sculpture,
with turrets and drawbridges and spikes and porches
and and and. They work on it for several weeks, adding
layer upon layer of nasty neon-colored candy (which we
whole-heartedly agreed is NOT food), adding rooms
and roofs and entirely new wings. Until, by January 1st,
they tire of it completely, haul it out to the driveway
and set it on fire with blow torches. She said that a lot
of the flaming candy smells really good, but some of it
smells really bad, and it sparks and flares with the most
amazing colors. Cool. My kind of gingerbread.
Tell me I'm crazy. I'm planning a sit-down dinner
for 22, five days before Christmas, for my neighbors
who are practically family. In my not-so-big house.
This involves moving furniture out of the living/dining room
and setting up tables the length of it.
We'll be touching elbows (and most likely shoulders,
thighs, forearms), the lights will be dimmed
to hide the dust and the carpet which needs
to be replaced. My son the culinary whiz is confident
(or delusional?) that we can pull this off.
Why am I doing this? Because I love to entertain.
I love to cook. When I was twelve, I tried unsuccessfully
to talk my mother into turning our house into a
restaurant. (In the Renton suburbs, no less!)
I made out a floor plan, a menu. I priced all my
ingredients based on the weekly Safeway ad.
(I didn't know about wholesale at age twelve.)
I was shocked that she didn't agree to do it.
Thought it was the perfect plan. My dear mother.
I mean, who wouldn't want strangers roaming
through ones house, sipping coffee in the living room,
forking sausages in the bedroom? (No apologies for that
last image.) So....this fantasy resurfaces.
And it's crazy right now because I'm getting ready
to move, getting ready for a wedding, and it's Christmas.
The more stress the better! No wonder
I wake up at 4am every day.....
Waking at 3:30am, or 4am, night after night,
the brain overloaded with details. Each day
divided into 15-minute segments. I go to work
to relax.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

In the garden the apple trees --
the Akane and Chehalis --
lay down their heavy load,
the earth at their feet
a confetti of red and green,
the party at last over.


From a journal:

(from a dream, 1999)
Cupboards refill as soon as I pack a box,
all the plates, mugs, emptied bowls
in their newspaper nests,
yesterday's events crumpled.
There is to be no end
to this leaving.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rustling through papers, sorting and tossing.
Found an envelope containing ten slides:
five of Mark as a toddler, five of Reilly
at roughly the same age. Who put these in this
envelope? Mark? Me? And when? Why? This was in the
bottom of a drawer long abandoned, old bank statements
and gas company bills. I abandoned many things
four years ago. Just closed up boxes and drawers,
moved the good stuff into my new living space upstairs
and left everything else behind. Bye bye.
But back to the slides: held up to the light,
it was difficult to tell Reilly from his father
in such a tiny square space. The same curls.
The same inverted half-moon eyes. The same cheeriness.
I also found a bunch of photos someone took
the night after Mark died, at a neighborhood wake,
and everyone is smiling. It looks like a birthday party.
(No: a Deathday Party.) Can someone tell me what
everyone was so damned happy about????

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Yoga. Early morning.
At the close of each practice, we lie
on our backs, eyes closed, feet slightly apart
and arms extended out from the body, palms upward.
Savasana. Ten minutes, after a fairly intense workout
of stretches and prolonged poses. Time
for the body to process all that it has just done,
time to free the mind of thoughts. I've been
practicing yoga for nearly two years, and once
during savasana I had the sensation of levitating,
my body raising about twelve inches, then rotating,
floating, all very slow and dream-like. Today
I was given the gift of another other-world experience.
I was lying on my back, a mini lavender-scented
pillow over my eyes. There was a window open, and the clouds
parted for a few minutes. (This after three days of wild weather:
snow followed by monsoon-like rains.) I could sense sunlight
illuminating the room. The wind kicked up, and a chime
tinkled outside, delicately audible. As the wind rustled
the curtains, crinkled the edges of magazines,
filling the room with an almost balmy glow,
I was aware of spirits entering on the breeze, flowing
around the three of us supine on our mats,
bright benevolent swirls of blues, greens, reds, yellows.
They persisted for just a few moments --
until the furnace clicked on, forcing hot, packaged air
into the space, driving our visitors back out the windows.
The chimes became silent, the sun disappeared.
As if there was no place for these -- what? Ghosts?
Angels? -- in our conscious world. Our intentional act
of operating a furnace, taking control of our living space,
sent them back out into the wide wild universe.
We who are fully alive, filled with breath.
The temperature in the room dropped just enough
to warrant closing the window. It is, after all, December.
But my hope is that they come again, uninvited,
when the scent of lavender fills the winter air.
And may there always be an open window.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Nearly eight o'clock, and it's barely
light outside. Over two inches of rain have fallen
since midnight. What good reason could anyone have
for abandoning ones bed on a morning like this?
(Okay. I admit that some of you have jobs
where you are required to clock in prior to 1pm.)
I want to know where Jeeves is, with my coffee.
And croissants. And butter.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I had intended yesterday's blog entry,
December 1st, to be a list of all the flowers
still in bloom in my garden. (A random blossom
here and there, hangers-on.) But no! Bossy snow had to push
her way in, cloaking all, shouting "Look at me!"
Snow is a Prima Donna. A Princess.

So anyway, here's the list, humble and modest:

I've picked roses for a Christmas bouquet
many years. The December rose.
Nothing flamboyant, mind you.
Hard little red buds, drawn
into themselves. Aiming
for invisibility.
Just as Paul and I parked this afternoon
on Stewart Street in the Market, snow began to fall,
hesitantly at first, as if trying itself out
for the first time. We bundled ourselves up the hill
to First Avenue and squeezed into the entryway
of Le Pichet (tiny French bistro)
where every table was occupied. Alas!
There were two booths to be squeezed into
against the wall, and as soon as we sat down,
we noticed that the snow, now apparently boldly confident,
was descending in puffy clumps. A murmur rippled
from table to table, everyone turned his or her head
to the front windows, and a group "Ah!" sounded.
One of the waiters bounded from behind the bar
to the sidewalk, yelping and cheering and flinging
his arms to the heavens, performing a spontaneous
snow-dance. We each ordered Soupe A l'Oignon Gratinee,
which arrived steaming from the broiler,
a gruyere-rich croute afloat
in the rich, deeply-brown beef stock,
onions perfectly soft and sweet,
a hint of Cognac in the finish.
No wine, no coffee, no dessert. No need!
A constantly replenished basket of sliced baguette
and a generous hunk of butter, tall glasses of water,
and soup. And snow.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wasn't it just seventy-five degrees
and the cosmos in lush bloom and dahlias
and roses and calendula and and and?
We push summer into October
and without warning it's over, finished, done.
Twenty one days until the winter solstice
and it's dark at 4pm. If it snows
I'm going to scoop some into a mug
and add a healthy glug of Bailey's.
My adult sno-cone.
From Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta:

" be a human is to be perpetually insecure,
always edging on death, chaos, the uncontrollable.
Being a mother made this apparent. And you get this
small window where you can give your child a feeling
of unconditional security, no matter how much fear
you feel. In creating this sanctuary for you child,
you feel comforted in your own anxiety."

Ahhhhh....I remember dark winter evenings
of the past, the boys asleep, the husband snoring
in front of the television, the furnace clicking on, off.
The house buttoned-up tight. That sense of security,
vulnerable as we were behind such flimsy doors,
locks that could be kicked in with a modicum of effort.
How important it was to believe, at least
for the duration of the night, that we would greet
the sunrise (inevitably grey) with that same
glow of safety about us. The roof in place.
The house still bolted to the foundation.
The universe intact. How, not believing
would make existence unbearable.
This is the beginning of faith, and trust.
How easily we move through the universe, how often
thoughtlessly, until a muscle contorts, slowing
every inch forward, every twist. Awoke two nights ago
unable to roll over in bed. Could sit straight up
just fine. The clenched muscle affected specific
movements. Today I rejoice in every step.
(Muscle still clenched, but I'm more aware
than I was two days ago, more present to the body
and the air through which it moves.)


I was uninspired to cook dinner last night until
D. at work mentioned that he was making a ginger
cake for his dessert. Just that mention of ginger
set off in me an hour-and-a-half cooking/baking/sauteeing
frenzy: campanelle with cheddar sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes
and diced hot chili's; kale sauteed with a onions, garlic
and a hint of bacon (hint as in 1 tsp. bacon fat [it's
not gonna kill you!]); peeled fresh carrots from Dungeness Farm;
apple sauce (I found Jonagolds at MacPherson's last week
for 59c/pound) and ginger bread. (Why is it called ginger bread?
This was most cake-like.)
The house smelled like a party.
Smelled like happiness.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sometimes, the desire to be neither the adult
nor the parent. Enough enough enough.


If I were to become a writer of fiction
and prose, I would change the name
of this blog to Novel T.


Tonight, ripples of laughter from my sons
in the room below me. Right now. This is joy.
More subterranean excavating: the sorting of saw blades
and hammers and trowels and nails and screws and
Things With Handles and Things With Cords
and razor blades, chemicals, odd building supplies.
Nelson, god-bless-him, in the middle of it all,
taking over the organizing. Delving deeply
into the subconscious of dead-husband/father.
A house unfinished. Parts disassembled.
All will soon be priced, offered to the world.
And I'll be absolved of ashes, wood planks.
From dust we came,
to dust we shall return.
I know that there are some kind readers
out there who are going to thank me for not displaying
the photo of the Remote Control Tarantula
on sale today in the Target ad for $14.99.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I love this poem by Mary Oliver:

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Yesterday. Dinner preparation. S., who is about
twenty and a student at Seattle University and who
hails from Sheridan, Wyoming (pop. 22,000) asked if
he could help with anything. I said, "Sure. Peel potatoes."
His response: "How do you peel potatoes? I've never
done it before. My parents don't cook."
My question: how does one get to be twenty, travel halfway
across the prairie and over mountain ranges
in order to study philosophy et al., never having
peeled a single potato?! So I taught S. how to
peel potatoes (remove any green discoloration!),
how to cut them into evenly sized chunks for cooking,
told him to start with cold water in the pan, a bit
of salt, bring to a boil, etc. He did it like a champ.
A bit later I employed his youthful enthusiasm once again
when the cream needed whipping, and he did it by hand
with just a whisk. I truly believe that it's important,
when learning to cook, to feel, kinesthetically,
how each particular food reacts to your manipulation of it.
For example, how the cream slowly loses fluidity, gains mass.
I believe in peeling a potato, or an apple, with a paring
knife, so that I can feel the curve of the fruit, feel
the skin releasing with each downward stroke.
When I make pie dough, I close my eyes once I begin
to use my hands on it, flattening a disc for the rolling pin.
It's velvet in my fingers, pliable and smooth,
with an expiration date (= toughness) if it's overworked.
Every gadget, every electrical appliance one introduces
into the preparation of food further removes the human
from the sustenance. Ah...I digress. All I wanted
was to peel a potato. Actually, S. peeled the potatoes,
and not long after that, we sat at the table and feasted.

Here's the potato recipe:

Mashed Potatoes with Manchego & Olive Oil

by Jose Andres, Food & Wine Magazine
His tip: "Add the olive oil slowly to the potatoes because if you dump it in all at once, you’ll get streaks of oil."

Serves 12

2 heads of garlic, top third of each cut off
1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
3 cups heavy cream, heated
1/2 pound young Manchego cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Preheat the oven to 350°. Stand the garlic on a large sheet
of heavy-duty foil. Drizzle with oil and wrap in the foil.
Bake for about 1 hour, until the garlic is very soft.
Squeeze the soft cloves from the skins into a small bowl
and mash with a fork. Meanwhile, bring the potatoes
to a boil in a large pot of water. Salt the water
and boil over moderately high heat until tender,
about 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.
Shake the pot over moderately high heat for 1 minute
to dry the potatoes. Mash the potatoes, then mash in half
of the hot cream. Add the remaining cream and mash again.
Stir in the Manchego to melt, then slowly stir in the mashed
garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt
and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining
1 tablespoon of olive oil and serve.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Remember, when you are grating fresh nutmeg
for your pumpkin pie ( and do not tell me
you are not using fresh nutmeg!), the recipe
does not call for freshly grated fingernail.


November 21, 2003

They fist the door with their 2am burden
of ill news, two men and a woman —
black, white, clergy, police. Clipboards. Bible.
I know their mission before they speak,
their faces dreading the apologies
for which they bear no blame.

Intimate strangers,
they hunker beside me on the couch,
knowing before me, before my children,
that my husband departed
the scene zipped dead into a sack,
spinal cord transected, right lung punctured.

I will not recall their names,
or whether, roused by duty,
they left a sleeping household
much like mine; the only difference
being that moment’s hesitation
in the turn of the wheel, foot on the brake.

Monday, November 19, 2007

......and more Jell-O

I dug up my circa-1970 Joys of Jell-O cookbook
and just couldn't resist sharing some tidbits
with you! I was especially delighted to find
the Ring-Around-the-Tuna photo online -- the same
photo as in the book. Notice how the pimentos
in the olives contrast with the green gloss
of the lime Jell-O! Stunning! And what a sparkle
those radish roses add!

Here are some more recipes to savor:
--Continental Cheese Mold ( I throw my moldy cheese
away, but, hey, maybe I'm missing something here.)
--Cauliflower Radish Salad (Cauliflower and Jell-O?
Together? Not on my table.)
--Orange Glazed Duck (Orange Jell-O on cooked duck.)
--Orange Ginger Whip (Sounds kinky.)
--Herb-Glazed Sandwiches (Again, just wrong: "Place
sanwiches on a rack and pour syrupy gelatin over them.
Chill until glaze is firm."
--Richelieu Molds (Jell-O a la Francais. Non non non!!)

Okay, here's something that's actually pretty cool,
if you consume Jell-O (and I will admit, even after
all this, that I am fond of certain Jell-O concoctions):
Crown Jewel Dessert (pictured above), also known as
Broken Window Glass Cake. It gets points for the title
alone. I think I prefer the pie version.

Recipes available upon request.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What I Don't Make For Dinner

I just couldn't resist posting this:

Pumpkin Jello

1 small box lemon gelatin
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 small container Cool Whip
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water; add sugar and spice.
Add pumpkin, mixing well. Chill until slightly thickened.
Fold in Cool Whip and nuts. Pour into
mold or bowl and refrigerate until firm

Hideous, eh?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nails. Roofing nails. Sheetrock nails.

With and without heads. With funny little grooves.

Short, long, featherweight, thunky.

I don't need any of these nails which live

in my basement. I have on my desk a small

compartmentalized plastic box of picture-hanging nails

which I purchased at Lowe's, which I use. Probably

enough in that box to last my lifetime. But the thousands

of nails in my basement sit in their rumpled paper bags

or their Folgers cans, doing nothing. I don't want them.

Today I brought my neighbor a glass punch cup

filled with many sizes of nails. She told me that she

needed one the other day, and had none. So now, she, too,

has a lifetime supply. I don't do garage sales. I don't

post on Craig's list. Do you want some nails?
Thanksgiving. Max, who is eleven and is home-schooled
and comes to work with his mom, asked me, in light of
the coming holiday, what I was thankful for. I told him
that I would have to contemplate this. He said he was
thankful for Wii. We didn't take up the conversation
again yet, but I anticipate it happening Monday.
So, I've been ruminating.....

Here's the start of a list:
my sons
my sisters
my fiance
my in-laws (you heard right!) (from last marriage and upcoming marriage)
my future step-sons
my three cats, except when I step in cat puke barefoot
punctuation (enamored of the semi-colon)
green lacewings
vintage aprons (even better with rickrack)
dinner parties
coq au vin
the letter "Z"
Eau de vie young again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Words That Have Fallen Out of Favor:



What do you get when you make a breakfast cereal
out of a loathesome ex-lover? Oafmeal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I was asleep this morning, deeply, when I was overcome
by a conscious urgency to awaken, to open my eyes, right now:
my upper floor bedroom was glowing in pink light.
I flung open the curtains beside my bed and the horizon
was brush-stroked with reds, fuschias, oranges.
Cold! I nestled back into blankets, watched the sun rise
above urban rooftops, above the Cascades.
And just as quickly it faded to greys and a dull blue, show over.
Alice-the-cat, old old cat, nestled at my shoulder
with a purr that sounds half-purr, half popcorn-popping.
Time for coffee and simmered oats.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Body of Christ

Sunrise outside Corpus Christi.
Paul took this on his iphone a few weeks ago.
I love that it's so spare and brooding.
Walking the mile home from work
there is a lovely anonymity in the dark.
The best light, of course, is down the middle
of the street, which I avoid. Heavings
in the sidewalk lose clarity so each step
is calculated. In the dark, I lose age.
Hooded and bundled, gender blurs.
A private mile. Silent.

Tying (tieing?) the knot in six weeks
and I did something very girly, something
very un-fifty-one: I bought a wedding magazine.
Oh-ho! We all have our illusions.
When I went to my local Columbia City florist
to discuss flowers, the sales-person asked me
what the bride's colors were. Hmm. Let me ask her.
I'll get right back with you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

In November

Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.

-- Lisa Mueller,
from Together: New and Selected Poems

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Last Night

Party #1
P. and I attended the Artist Trust Awards Ceremony
at the Wright Exhibition Space -- a cavernous interior
with little sense of intimacy. We were fortunate
to meet Amy Denio, this year's winner of the Paul Goode
Ireland Residency. We are excited to send a musician
to Westport -- the small town of 4500 residents boasts
37 pubs, roughly one pub per 121 residents, and each one
with its own music scene. Amy Denio is even more excited
than we are -- and she's going during the darkest of dark times --
late January into February. She claims to love the gloom
and rain. I've not been to Ireland during the depths of winter,
but I hear that the impact on one's soul can be profound.
(Thus the pubs.) (That's what we lack here in Seattle.)
Let's see....if I put Seattle's population at a half million,
and divide by 121 (the number of residents per pub in
Westport), I come up with 4132 pubs. Make them all
family-friendly, and we're good to go!

Party #2
Our dear friend Herb celebrated his 50th birthday
at a friend's home on north Capitol Hill, on East Boston Terrace.
Impossible to find! This was not a house, but a chateau, complete
with turrets and triangle-leaded glass windows. Built on the edge
of the hillside above Montlake, windy views extended
to the north and west -- a panorama of city lights. Once inside
I felt as if I was inhabiting one of my dreams where there
were so many details a description of it defies imagination.
Winding hallways, framed art on every square inch of wall
ceiling-to-floor, in every room. (Curiously, the ceilings
were left vacant.) Every surface (and I mean every)
was crammed with bric-a-brac, collectibles, antique
this-and-thats. And then the books: hundred of thousands
of books, alphabetized, in every room, stacked and shelved
and piled, every imaginable author. And objets d'artes
on the shelves in front of the books where there was
(at some prior time) an available square inch of space:
the tiny bottle shelf, the Pez shelf, the salt-n-pepper shelf,
the elephant shelf, the PeeWee Herman shelf, tin-toy shelf,
etc. And no dust. Amazing.
It was a flea-market/museum/library in one.
Upstairs, waaaaay down a long wandering hallway,
past stacks and stacks of books, there was a bathroom
with a live turtle in the bathtub. There was a stuffed
musk-oxen head as well as two stuffed life-size bears
sporting hats. In the basement I saw drums and saw blades
and more, more, more books; a rather archaic- looking furnace
(scary -- surrounded by -- guess what -- books!)
but apparently I missed the wine cellar, where I'll quote Nelson
as saying "there was one dated 17--, hard to read
because it was so old." And I haven't even started in
on the refreshments yet! Phew!
French rose Champagne, a secret bottle
of Chateauneuf-du-Pape hidden in the kitchen (I was one
of the lucky ones to score a glass), countless (I'm not joking)
bottles of French reds set up on a table in the living room.
Beef tenderloin roasts (a bit too bloody for me) swooned over
by just about every man present, sliced Italian delicacies
from da Pino (down in my neck of the woods!), roasted salmon.
I swooned over dessert (what a surprise): a chocolate rum
mousse-cake and a coconut mousse-cake, and there was
a killer tiramisu, all made by Vic Taylor of Il Dolcino.
Desserts were served up with champagne glasses
of lovely, lovely Sauterne, or, if one chose, any variety
of single-malt Scotch or Irish whiskeys, all at least
15 years old. I had to be rolled out of the party
by my red velvet coat, the threads threatening to burst their seams.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reversed Polarities

Let me clarify: not twenty-one years --
closer to 21,000 years. Spent three hours
underground this afternoon sifting through books,
discarding the useless, the undesirable.
Started to vacuum and smelled something
burning. Oh shit. Bad wiring from dead husband.
Rescued by angel/man/friend Tom who assured me
that my house was not going to burn down tonight.
I thought I had fire-credit: doesn't one residence-fire
grant one immunity? Apparently so. But then, wouldn't
one lit match just take care of all of it rather quickly?
Isn't this a solution? Apparently not.
How does one disassemble twenty-one years of living
in the same house? Dish by dish. Hammer by wrench.
Books to keep, books to pass on. Building materials
all to go. Away. A bit of an archaeological dig,
the layers of my boys' childhood. Each year of marriage
with its own stratum. The epoch of widowhood.
The subconscious of the attic now inhabited,
dreamed within, glossed with paint.
The onion-skin of the kitchen peeled away.
All the bad apples gone to compost.
A Somali woman once worked for me at Two Tartes.
She was thirty, had six children -- the oldest in middle
school -- and had fled Somalia unexpectedly. Said she
and her husband had about twenty minutes to leave
their house with their (then) three young children
or face certain death. Her husband worked in his
family business -- a hotel. They left everything,
ended up in a small apartment in the Renton Highlands.
She was enrolled in a refugee retraining program
at Seattle Central Community College. My job
was to teach her to bake. She knew well how to cook
her native cuisine, but Western cooking was foreign.
I started at the beginning, with measuring spoons,
cups, ingredients. She was intelligent, learned quickly
and had a marvelous sense of humor. Every day she arrived
to our hot little space in the midst of summer, fully swathed
in her Somali dress. I always dressed in as little clothing
as possible (no chef's whites for me) -- shorts and tank tops.
She insisted that she wasn't hot, but I sweltered.
That bakery cooled down to a toasty 85 degrees
in the afternoons with the AC blasting. (Wimpy AC.)
The basics -- flour, sugar, baking powder, salt --
these were easy for her. It was all the add-ins that
vexed her. She asked, "what is walnut ? What is cranberry?"
When she learned that my husband had died in a car accident,
she told me that she couldn't imagine such loss and sadness;
of course, I said the same right back to her about her
loss of country, home, culture.
Fatima -- pronounced "FAH -dee-muh" --
was a pleasure to teach. She was with me for ten weeks
and then left, and I have not seen her since. On her last day
she brought in a traditional Somali meal that she prepared
at home (and carried to us on the bus). I don't remember
what it was except that I loved all of it. I miss her.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Not cake, not today.

My sister Ann called me at eight this morning
(to wish me Happy Fifty One Years) --I was still in bed,
processing the remnnants of yet another very odd dream
where I was showering in my car while driving.
Very difficult to do -- when you close the shower curtain
you can't see where you're going. Also difficult to soap up
when sitting down with a steering wheel in your lap.
My horoscope today said I will invent something
in a dream which will lead me to riches. I don't think
this is it. I hope not.


I began making my own birthday cake at age twelve,
when my mother (who did not particularly like cake)
refused to make a cake from scratch. I have done this
every year since then, but this year I'm going to take
an extra-long walk this morning instead. And yes,
I will miss that cake. Golden Butter Cake, with bittersweet
ganache icing. Yeah baby. Even good the second day,
and the third, sliced, warmed in the microwave
for about twenty seconds. Oh my.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"What is a liar? Someone who tells the truth
about something that never happened."
--Glen Hansard (of The Swell Season and The Frames
and the movie Once)....crazy Irishman, singer, guitar
player, songwriter, teller of tales....tonight at The Moore.
Makes me lonely for Ireland.

How did it get to be Monday? Losing track of days.....
Coyotes in the neighborhood, two reports of them
in the past week, cats meeting their grim demise.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wedding Costume #2

Because Wedding Costume #1 just ain't gonna fit.
Went a'shoppin' with my friend Marie yesterday
and BINGO found the ideal dress in less than two
hours. Just short of a Vatican-sanctioned miracle.
My friend Candy says that the dress looks like
a cake. A wedding cake. It's flowy and feminine
and ivory with just a blush of pink. Reilly said
it looks 17th century (I think he meant 18th)
and that I should wear a powdered wig with it.
So does this mean that come December 29th
I'll resemble an 18th century wedding cake
with a wig garnish??!! God help me.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It's pepper season at MacPherson's Produce, and yesterday
I bagged a bowlful of red, yellow and orange rocoto peppers,
because the sign said " sweet and mild." While Nelson and I
were cutting them up (really beautiful black seeds!) I started
to cough and cursed this two-week cold. Then Nelson began
to cough. Then my hands began to burn, but I didn't think
much of it. We tossed them with balsamic vinegar and olive
oil, the roasted them with some cipollini onions. When I opened
the oven to check on them, I got a rush of heat -- not from the
temperature of the oven, but from the peppers --
and actually burned my face, mildly.
These were not mild peppers!!
N. tasted one and confirmed this. Yowza!
We plan to turn them over to the Hot Sauce King, Reilly.
He'll transform them into something of wonder, I am confident.
Hoo hoo! It's happened! I've hit the society pages
of a Seattle magazine!

Okay. Let's be realistic. On page 49 of the November
issue of Seattle Metropolitan magazine is a half-page
piece on the Floating Bridge Press Great Art Party
which took place in September. Three photos:
a lovely shot of Genevieve Church's goblet,
a 2x3" mug of Jeff Crandall (Mr. Art Party)
and a shot taken from the balcony at The Armory
looking down at the general scene of art/party-goers,
and waaaaaaay in the back is me (or, at least, my head)
measuring at least 1x1 millimeter. Not exactly
a glam pic, but, hey, I'm bigger than a pinhead.
(But just barely.) Hoo hoo.

Friday, November 2, 2007

In this dream, I am in the garden of my childhood,
my vegetable garden that I planted first at age twelve
and then every year thereafter until I left home.
On the sprawling half-acre despised by my mother
after the death of my father for what she perceived
as necessary upkeep: my sisters and I mowed, my brother
pruned the dozen fruit trees, the tiny barn slumped
and succumbed to rampant Himalayan blackberries .
The boysenberries and raspberries just gave up.
But in this dream, recurring monthly since I was eighteen
(and I reached the half-century mark a year ago),
it's late summer, and my garden suffers from neglect:
not enough water, weeds are prominent, the unthinned
carrots and lettuces barely formed. I hurry to restore
what little remains before the season turns; drag rusted
watering cans across the yard, tender a trowel, loosen
hard-packed earth. Every month in my sleep I return
to this garden and awaken filled with a sense of dwindling
hope. But lately the dream has shifted: there are hoses
and sprinklers to ease irrigation, there is more sunlight.
In fact, the light has taken on a deep golden radiance,
suffusing each plant (and me, I suppose) with an inner source
of fire. And the garden renews itself, the tomatoes plump
and lush, the cornsilk glistening, the rosemary and sage
fragrant and robust. Last night while inhabiting this landscape
I realized I no longer had to work so hard, so I just sat down
amid parsley and potatoes, amazed at the tidiness of the rows,
the absence of dandelions and crabgrass. The dream
had a soundtrack -- I think Patty Griffin was singing --
and it blasted loudly throughout the neighborhood,
the woods, the fields beyond. Complete and utter

Thursday, November 1, 2007

May I rant? May I express less-than-complete-happiness
for at least one paragraph? Youngest son + automobiles = :(
1) Son's first car, purchased from relative: engine went out after five months.
2) Son totaled Mom's car, which Mom paid to fix. Mom = :(
3) Third car, purchased at auction in Fife last May: entire coolant
system is rusted = $$$$$, therefore Mom + Son = WAAAAAHHHHHHHHH.


Monday, October 29, 2007

My New Boots, Continued

Nelson: "Those look like Wizard-of-Oz boots."
Reilly: "Ooohhh....Witch-of-the-West."
(Spoken independently of each other.)
(And the best part is, [other than the pointy toes
and three rivets at each ankle] is that they come
with a pink satin bag. Just in case.)

My New Boots

rsvp Cate

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"And the day came when the risk it took
to remain tight inside the bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom"
- Anais Nin
(borrowed from Esther Helfgott's blog)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pilchuck Auction: Party at the Westin

Expectations of glass toppling, so many people
with so many drinks (my favorite was the Pole Turner,
signature drink for the event: Belvedere vodka with
a blueberry infusion, twist of lime, edge-of-glass dipped
in crushed-grahams/sugar....deadly); glass fused, cast,
blown, blasted, painted, twisted, collaged. Some pieces
in the live going for $35-40k. Chocolate in my cleavage.
Genevieve with her fuschia-pomegranate hair, Michael
with a scarlet rose in his lapel. The woman who went
from table to table collecting a platter-full of magnetic rocks.
Individual ice-sculptures of Pilchuck architecture with a hollow
for a single scoop of cucumber-lime sorbet. (Completely
recyclable serving pieces!) Middle-aged women with
backless dresses (too many) (cover it up). Thin crisp
candied orange slices: edible garnishes. Some of the glass
was almost edible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All Bran

If you haven't seen this video yet.....

His Apron Strings

Tangled, wrenched under the agitator,
they won’t budge. (Neither will my son,
asleep after his night shift at the restaurant
plating salad after salad.) I won’t pay
a hundred dollars for a stranger
to do what I can figure out,
and I won’t resort to scissors.

I pry up a plastic disk to reveal
a single screw, not quite rusted.
It unwinds with my turning
and the washer mechanism lifts to reveal
the offending string coiled to the core.
Oh easy I sigh, greased to the elbows.
More difficult to extricate the son.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Last night The News Hour with Jim Lehrer ran a segment
about the poetry "biz" in Seattle, featuring our very own
Floating Bridge Press, and *starring* Jeff Crandall. Check it
out here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

From an article at

"Since the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, more and more families across the country are birthing their boys into Red Sox Nation with the name Boston. In 2004, for the first time in a century, Boston appeared on the government's list of the 1,000 most popular names. Rallying from virtual obscurity to 626th place, the name has made a comeback, spawning a modest bumper crop of baby "Bostons." According to the Social Security Administration, 856 boys named Boston were born in 2004, 2005, and 2006...."

My children are lucky that this trend to name kids after cities wasn't popular back in the late 1980's -- how could I have resisted naming one of them Renton?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Monster Egg

Break a dozen or two of eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Tie the yolks in a pig's bladder, boil them hard, and remove them. In a larger pig's bladder, place the whites. Into the midst of the whites, place the set yolks, and tie the bladder tight. Boil the whole until the whites harden and then remove from the water. Serve the Monster Egg on a bed of spinach.
Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany
I met a baby last night -- Darragh William Payton --
nearly six months old, a bruiser, with what looks like
apricot dust on his head: soft orange down. (A night out
at Brad's Swingside Cafe on Phinney Avenue.) Darragh
was passed contentedly from person to person, entranced
by red helium balloons and twinkle lights, shells suspended
in a net strung in the window. He dined on mother's milk
and rice cereal. The rest of us dined on mussels, calamari,
bow-tie-pasta, chicken, lamb, steak. Limoncello mousse.
And a hell of a lot of wine.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Coming out of the Columbia City Cinema tonight
(saw Michael Clayton, very understated role
for G. Clooney, intelligent and complicated story --
I recommend this movie) the rain pelted us
and I tried to wrap my white Pashmina scarf
about my head and it kept blowing into my face
and I couldn't see and then it would fly off
and I could see perfectly but was getting wet.
Oh, such troubles. Pleasurable, simple troubles.


Trader Joe's sells prepared grits-in-a-tube.
Squeezable grits. I want pizza-in-a-tube.
Won't somebody please invent this?
Every fallen leaf has been documented.
Every twig, every apple tossed in the wind.
The toppled dahlias, cosmos, monkshood.
All is noted.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday night parties are a good idea.
Today my neighbor Ben turned 50
and we toasted him with wine and champagne
and a potluck-dinner and tres-leches cake
from the Salvadoran bakery in White Center.
Sailed right past those Monday night blues.
Looking for a house is a lot like
looking for a Christmas tree --
you don't want to choose the first one
you see. Gotta look at it from all sides,
shake it to see if any dead needles
fall out (scary to think about a dead needle
falling from a house). Is the color good?
How will it look decorated? Is it tall enough?
Will it fit? Will our star shine brightly from it?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rules One and Two

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the argument that life is serious, though it is often hard and even terrible. Since everything ends badly for us, in the inescapable catastrophe of death, it seems obvious that the first rule of life is to have a good time, and that the second rule of life is to hurt as few people as possible in the course of doing so. There is no third rule."
--Brendan Gill

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Try the pumpkin pancakes at Cafe Flora
on East Madison in Seattle. They are plate-sized,
puffy, fragrant with nutmeg, served with walnut butter
(chopped walnuts folded into softened butter)
and warm maple syrup (the real stuff). I went
at them after Paul had stuffed himself silly,
and still there remained half-a-dozen generous
hunks. This was the kind of pancake experience
where I tuned out everything around me, wanting
only to be present to what was passing through
my lips. Share an order with someone soon!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Yesterday at dusk I lifted heavy vines

to check the sweetness of grapes left out

too long. Ready, I decided, tomorrow.

And while a grey sun rose though October rain

I slept on and on as starlings swept through

and plucked clean each laden stem.
GO AL! (Gore, that is.)
("Go Al" spells goal.)
I'd say he's scored quite a point.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I disassembled my washing machine
in order to unwind the cord of Reilly's
chef's apron. Black grease on my arms
and all. And....I put it all back together.
The symbolism here has not missed me.....


The grapes of my childhood were an unidentified
purple variety, most likely for wine. The vines stretched
all the length of the south side of our half-acre, arching
without welcome into the neighbor's yard. (Some of my vines
grow to 24 feet!) Sour, tough-skinned, but I figured out
that, after popping one into my mouth, I could remove the skin
with my front teeth and tongue, spit out its bitterness,
and there remained, between the skin and flesh, a thin
layer of near-sweetness. Not quite a reward for my discovery,
but nonetheless, come ripening season, I'd lie on my back
in the tunnel formed between the fence and the gentle arch
of the vines (this was during my feral phase) and secretly
suck out the juice.
No blast of early October sun to sweeten the grapes.
Even the starlings ignore them as mold begins
its slow invasion. Alas.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"One may still find in remote parts of the west of Scotland,
or in Ireland,the vanishing traces of an ancient culture
once universal, where the face of the land and sea and sky
hold a meaning… Every bird has its own magical quality
and significance; certain wells and springs are holy,
and there are green mounds which no crofter
would disturb because of the spirits which
continue to inhabit them."
--Kathleen Raine, Defending Ancient Springs

Sunday, October 7, 2007

(After attending a book launch for Congressman Jay Inslee's
new book Apollo's Fire at Seattle University):

Coming out of The Chapel of St. Ignatius
after a day of rain-drama, the October sky
is bunched with clouds: rag-clouds, torn-curtain clouds,
a steel-wool fringe against indigo. I desire a dress
sewn from these clouds: black and blue,
gauzy, backlit with a threading of gold.
Ripped and mended.
Mostly mended.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Forgot my recycled grocery bags when I went to Safeway
today, and now once again my kitchen is afloat
with brown and red puffy plastic bags. It usually
makes the clerk nervous when I produce my collection
of well-worn canvas bags, with the occasional refolded
brown paper bag included. There is usually a passive-aggressive
sigh, as they fumble with the handles and try to get
them to stand upright. I generally assist, which also
produces a measure of anxiety from the clerk. And no!
I dont' need help out with my gallon of milk! (Which requires
no plastic sack!) In Ireland, and I'm guessing many other
countries, one is required to brings ones own method
of store-to-vehicle-grocery-conveyance, or cough up some
extra Euros for a plastic sack. There are often empty boxes
stacked in the front of the store for customers to use.
This is a great idea. And the funny thing is that I almost
always remember, when I'm there. (Unlike when I'm here.)

Friday, October 5, 2007

"There are a great many sins in the world,
none of them original."
--Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo
Psychotropic dreams last night, inspired by nothing
other than my own wacky brain chemistry. Kept
trying to wake up and couldn't. When I finally did
awaken, all I wanted was to slide back into hypnotic
sleep. Here's one image: in the main floor room
of a building I used to inhabit in Wallingford
back in the 80's (an old mom/pop grocery-store
building) set designers were building thirty-foot-high
wooden chairs for a Verdi opera. They were encrusted
with rhinestones and were painted bright greens, blues,
oranges, reds. In another dream, an animal-welfare group
captured all the wild parrots in Seattle to save them
from a predicted sub-zero storm, and then released them
to a particularly warm & tropical area of Eastern Washington.
Upon their release, at the edge of a cliff which looked out
over a verdant valley suffused with golden light, an eight-year-old
boy belted out a gospel-ballade about birds and freedom.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"The best way to make your dreams come true
is to wake up." --Paul Valery
Some years ago, I was in the Safeway parking lot.
Just behind me was a young mother with a baby
on her hip, holding a three-year-old girl by the hand.
The girl twisted away from the mother and started
to run, past me, just as a car reversed out of a parking
stall. I leapt forward and swept the girl into my arms.
I vividly remember the feel of her bones, the
insubstantial depth of her rib cage, her thin white
cotton dress. The reversing car continued reversing,
and then proceeded away, completely unaware.
I stood with the very surprised child in my arms
and the mother stumbling up behind me, saying
thank-you thank-you thank-you. It was very bright
and sunny, the kind of day where you dare to believe
that the world is a benign place.


This morning, I was exiting off I-90 to Rainier Avenue
and I saw a car that appeared to be parked (no emergency
flashers) against the concrete pylon, right against the curve.
I thought it was odd, and as I continued on (very slick road,
a dangerous curve if you're going too fast), I noticed that
the car had head-on collided with the concrete and was wedged
against it. This all happened incredibly fast -- by the time I
realized it was an accident (I do not think quickly in situations
like this), I had rounded the curve and was on Rainier --
probably about four seconds. Panic! I called 911 and reported
it, thanks to the existence of cell phones. So much flashed
through my mind, so many possible scenarios, life/death/
Autopsies. A knock at the door. I believe I did the right thing.
I want to believe this. Need to. I could not stop.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I walked outside this morning and saw all that rain
and wind and said, "Stop it. It's too soon."
And guess what: the elements ignored me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Broken Count

1) one 9 X 13 Pyrex baking dish, in the oven, very hot,
containing a whole chicken;
2) one circa 1970 highball glass, adorned with a red
and gold paisley design, on my bathroom floor;
3) one fifties-reproduction juice glass, green-striped,
upon unloading the dishwasher;
4) a pair of two-year-old Nikes (sole detaching
from the body of the shoe);
5) one-half of a pair of Clark's sandals: severed strap.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thinking alot lately about the changing of residences,
exploring what that means, to me and those to whom
I am the closest. Am I particularly enamored of where
I hang my coat, or is it just habit? I am not, and have
never been, overly fond of this current residence.
It's old, semi-remodeled, in need of constant work.
The yard is too small, the basement filled with too
many spiders and exposed pipes, wires, beams, drains.
The living room is, essentially, one long hallway.
The bedrooms are tiny. The kitchen is big and is fairly
functional, but the alley garage is crumbling, leaking, slumping.
(Although my upper-level, my own personal bedroom en suite ,
completed three years ago, is lovely, with a balconey
and a view of the rising October moon and an occasional sunset.)
I love my neighbors, aka my Brandon Street Family.
Can I leave? Absolutely. Do I ever long for long-lost houses
of my past? Never. Don't get me wrong -- it is with infinite gratitude
that I return to my own home each evening. It is a privilege.
As is the proximity of so many treasured friends. I can't imagine
having raised my sons in a better place. But in the end,
it's a structure with a roof and four sides. It houses me and my sons.
And I'm ready to dust out the rafters, vacuum the heat vents,
cart away the used-up memories, box up and save the good ones.
The planet, in spite of our global mindset, is still a big place,
with a lot of room. It is with open arms and a clear mind that I approach
my upcoming new life. Open arms, and joy.

Friday, September 28, 2007

We saw (and heard) George Carlin tonight
at lovely Benaroya Hall where there is so much
leg room that you don't have to stand up when
someone walks down your aisle. We sat high up
in tier three, up flight after flight of stairs, and looked
down, down, dizzyingly down to the stage, where the
seventy-year-old Mr. Carlin, or "the old fuck", as he
refers to himself, pulled out all the stops. Nothing
passes him by -- no cliche, no platitude, no corporate
slogan, no political double-speak, no Bushian mumbo-jumbo.
It's all there to be examined, parsed, dissected and layed
out in cross-section, with all parts labeled. He is brilliant
and raunchy and gut-splittingly funny. Carlin began
the evening by poking fun at his advancing age, then
moved on to three particularly off-color jokes, followed
by rants on subjects ranging from Perfect Children to
What We Say To Widows At A Funeral. There is something
incredibly energizing to be in such a sizeable crowd
of laughing people.
--in memory, Mark Benchley Anderson
September 28, 1956-November 22, 2003

I have to tell you:
the starlings returned
to nest in the eaves
where you neglected repair.
You never loved them,
yet last year waited to roust
the messy twig and mud jumble
until each fledgling soared
clear of gutter and roof.
Grumbling, glad to be done,
this was your unmentioned gift
and I never thanked you.

Soon summer will spread its benevolent wing
over this unfinished house
where porches and railings
await the carpenter’s hammer and nail.
Our children — nearly men —
will desire to roam the city all night,
and I’ll let them go
one feather at a time,
always holding back
and then releasing, alone now
instructing in the mechanics of flight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some cars don't look like hats at all,
but some cars look like fishing caps.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In spite of the fact that I'm quite fond of the rain
and grey, I am always quite unprepared for it
when it actually occurs. I left the house this morning
minus a coat, with clogs and no socks. Cold! Damp!
Drip drip drip drip drip drip drip drip drip.

P. is going to crack the whip at me tonight as I
get my book-length manuscript in the mail.
This paper-shuffling-secretarial crap just does not
suit me. I would rather mop the floor. Really.
And I despise mopping.

Monday, September 24, 2007

At the bakery a customer once asked me if
there was any meat in the cupcakes. Meat!
My guess was that she was newly-vegan, and
didn't quite have the lingo down yet. I had to
surpress a chortle (actually, more of a guffaw),
and I told her, "no meat in these cakes!"
If I had chosen to include a meat filling in a cupcake,
I could've labeled them "Beef Cakes!"
But now, after my Safeway Tropicana Tilapia/Sardine/Anchovy
experience/inspiration, I could make Tilapia Cupcakes!
Sardine Oil Scones! Anchovy-Chip Cookies!
Endless possibilites.....could be the next food fad....
or perhaps not.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The October issue of Gourmet magazine has a feature
article on Holly Smith, owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland
where Paul and I are getting married. (Unfortunately,
Gourmet doesn't post their current articles online.) Last year
Gourmet listed Cafe Juanita in their top fifty restaurants
nationwide. I brought Paul there for his birthday in April,
and not long after we booked it for the Big Event. (It was
running neck and neck with Canlis, which beats Juanita
hands down when it comes to the setting, but the food
got the final vote....) Cafe Juanita is superb.

Yummy Blended Fish Juice Product!

At Safeway today I was looking at the list of ingredients
in some Tropicana orange juice in the carton to see if it
was from concentrate, and this is what it said:
Ingredients: orange juice. Contains tilapia, sardines, anchovies.
Yikes! Fish in my OJ! No way! I am not kidding.
I'm thinking, what, is it pureed? Chunky? Is this
what they mean when the label says contains pulp?
Upon further investigation, I discovered that it contained fish oil.
Couldn't the Tropicana people get a bit more
specific on their label??!! Perhaps, tilapia oil, sardine oil, etc.
But, now that I think of it, that isn't much more appealing.
No thanks, no Tropicana for me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I did some dark driving tonight, from Port Ludlow
to Seattle, unlit roads and unfamiliar curves,
one cup of strong black tea not quite enough
to keep me longing for sleep and the comfort
of blankets. The interminable wait for the ferry.
I could not do this with any regularity.
Paul picked me up for work yesterday
in his new Prius! Man, that is one outer-space
vehicle. It is completely silent on start-up
and when idling. Need I mention the terrific
gas mileage?! I meant to have him pose in front
of it last night when we were dressed to go to
Jazz Alley....he looked sooooooo sharp in his
black slacks, black Hugo Boss shirt and camel
blazer, beside the charcoal Jetson's transport device.
It's a very smooth ride.

Is today the first day of not-summer?
This morning it was not sunny and not windy
and the last of my tomatoes are not thriving.
My pumpkins are not glorious and my grapes
are not ripe. (Although that last statement could
be a lie as I haven't actually tasted them yet this year.)
I did not finish reading Motherless Brooklyn because
it did not have much of a plot. I am not staying home tonight
but hopping a ferry for Port Ludlow where I most likely
will not talk about Motherless Brooklyn at my book group.
Sometimes I am notty, and sometimes I'm not.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Mitten! A Mitten!

Is this mitten for me?
Is that mitten for me, too?

That mitten is for you, Janet.
This mitten is for you, too.

Is this mitten for me?
That mitten is for you, Jack.

I have a mitten.
I have this mitten, Jack.
You have that mitten.

This mitten is for Janet, too.

from Tip and Mitten: Mckee, Paul and Harrison, Lucile M.,
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1949.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007


Paul made a wonderful soup yesterday, perfectly
appropriate for a rainy Sunday: white beans,
spicy Italian sausage, vegetable broth, tomatoes,
carrots, onion, garlic. (What? No celery?! He doesn't
like celery. I LOVE celery. Must be the French girl
in me.) We ate it with cornbread.

Later, at dinner with my boys, I made a version
of Waldorf Salad, minus the mayo: chopped red-leaf
lettuce, chopped gala apple (they're really good this
year), celery (yay!), green onion, toasted walnuts.
Reilly made a white wine vinaigrette with the addition
of some huckleberry honey. Oh yeah!
And so the rains return. They feel like a blessing,
like holy water upon my head. All the garden plants
bow down, in reverence.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Troll King

from the American Heritage Dictionary -
troll (trōl) n. A supernatural creature of Scandinavian folklore, variously portrayed as a friendly or mischievous dwarf or as a giant, that lives in caves, in the hills, or under bridges.

The sign outside Mutual Fish on Rainier Avenue today said,
"Troll King Salmon." Wha? Huh?
Who is the Troll King? Where can I meet him?
Where is his kingdom? Is there a Troll Queen?
And why does the Troll King get to have salmon
named after him?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I ordered a dress today online, fancy
with tiny beads sewn all over, very 1920's.
And no, I will not post a photo of it on this blog.
And yes, it's a wedding dress. Or, at least, it's what
this fifty-something chooses to wear to tie the knot.
I had to buy it in a size a bit smaller than my actual
girth, as it was sold out in my specs.'s all
simple math, no? A bit of subtraction, here and there?
I love that the color is nude. Both Paul and Nelson
were very alarmed when I disclosed this detail.

7am. Standing on my balconey, cloud cover.
All the cars on Wilson Avenue rush north,
into the city. I can hear them, but they
are concealed by houses, trees, fences.
Bush-tits in the apple trees, with their
tiny high-pitched ee ee ee. About fifteen
of them, and when they take off they
look like grey butterflies, or a bouquet
fallen suddenly apart, petals lofted.
A squirrel in the maple tree, scuttering
through the canopy. I can see a neighbor
in the house behind me --his back door
is open -- spray a pan with cooking oil
and place it on a burner. I guess eggs.
He's a widower. I've never seen
a visitor to his house. A silent man with a long
horse-face and enormous glasses. Someone else
in another house is putting away dishes. Their
clink-and-clank punctuate this morning stillness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A List of Things on my Trunk (coffee table)

a box of reduced-fat Nilla Wafers
Pontoon Number Eight
Wheel of Days
, by Linda Greenmun
In the Next Galaxy, by Ruth Stone
Old Filth , by Jane Gardam
Straw for the Fire, by Theodore Roethke
Haiku U,by David M. Bader
HomArt, Fall and Winter 2007
Caribbean & Mediterranean Yachting Cruises DVD
Best of the Best, Your 2007 Guide to the
World's Best Hotel Experiences

a russet-brown sharpie
Brocato curl-energizing cream
a digital camera
a tomato pin-cushion
a spool of royal-blue thread
(are you still with me?)
my folder of acceptance/rejection records, dating to 1978
One Day on Achill Island
One Day in Donegal
William Christenberry, by William Christenberry
a plastic glitter pear
a package of 100% bamboo fiber towelettes
The New Yorker, July 23 and August 27 issues
Gourmet magazine, May 2007
a blank CD-R
The Whole World Over, by Julia Glass
an i-pod nano
headphones to above
three pencils
three pens
a 6x4" spiral notebook
The Oxford Book of Aphorisms
a stack of photographs (on paper) from Nelson's birthday
the O'Shea Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance Family Cookbook
Bayou magazine
Crab Creek Review
Slant magazine
a bar of goat milk soap, lilac-scented, handmade
in Ballyvaughn, County Clare, Ireland
my hair-stylist's business card

(And this is fairly cleaned-up!)

Paul and I saw Richard Thompson at the Moore
last night. Great show. Drummer Michael Jerome
mesmerized me. I'm usually not into drums, but
he made those drums sound meaty. Visceral.
(And he was altogether too gorgeous! Those forearms!)
The music was an amazing blend of rock'n'roll
and British folk, including a sea shanty where
Pete Zorn played a bass flute -- wow! Deeply
resonant, moody, the sound rolled like ocean waves
under a midnight sky. After the show we walked
down to the Virginia Inn, where a woman
was quite peeved that I objected to her
cigarette smoke wafting into my face.
I think she thought it was acceptable
because we were sitting outside.
Nope! Twenty-five feet, girlie!