Thursday, July 31, 2008

My new obsession with collage art has turned me
into somewhat of a Stamp Geek. Not rare stamps,
but those that appeal to my sense (I hope it's sense)
of what I'm attempting to create from these scraps
of paper spread out over my table. I've been collecting
paper(s) most of my life, with some (until now) unknown
ultimate goal other than the filling of empty shoe boxes.
Been gleaning techniques from the various artists for whom
I have toiled. Taking notes. Going to art museums.
Storing up, and the stores are bursting.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I am not here to please you.


Well, not necessarily.
No rules. No requirements.
It just is. (The Blog.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A few years back I was walking through the Safeway
parking lot, and noticed behind me a young mother
with a baby in her arms and holding a perhaps-four-year-old
girl by the hand. The girl broke free and began to run
just as the car in front of me began to back up.
I leapt forward a few very quick steps and scooped
the girl out of harm's way. Her mother, when she caught
up with us, kept repeating thank you thank you thank you.
I can still feel the nearly weightless body of the child,
her bones beneath so little flesh. I can feel the pattern
of her white eyelet dress on my arms. The reversing car
continued to reverse, seemingly oblivious to the drama
being played out in its rear-view mirrors, then lurched
into drive and disappeared from us.

I can't help but wonder how many times a scene just like this
has been played out, how many vulnerable beings pulled clear
in the seconds before certain impact? And how many times
has it been me behind the wheel of that car?
How many times has it been you?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eat at this Restaurant!

Ama Ama Oyster Bar & Grill in West Seattle, where
on Saturday and Sunday nights, Reilly is King of the Shuckers:

I was delighted to learn that one of the owners used to be
my customer at Two Tartes! The ambiance is kind of
retro-Miami, with fifties beach-blanket-bingo movies
playing in the bar, and a giant marlin mounted on the wall.
Excellent food (even if you don't like oysters), and possibly
the best martini I've ever consumed. We had drinks sitting
at the oyster bar, and Paul and Nelson shared a dozen
while I was sitting between them, which meant the platter
was in front of me, and no one wanted to shift seats. Huh.
Reilly whipped up a sushi roll for us (my son knows how to
do this?!!), then we moved to a very comfortable circular booth
where I feasted on the marinated steak salad: heavenly. Nelson
had scallops, Paul the halibut ceviche and a fried tomatillo salad.
Oh Yum! They've been open for less than a year, and deserve to
be around for a long time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Art is Glamorous...

...or, rather, working for an artist is glamorous.
We get to sit around all day and create pretty things
and eat bon-bons. What? You don't believe me?
And are not the above photos evidence enough?
On Thursday morning we met at 8am sharp to set up
Melinda's booth at the Bellevue ArtsFair. I must admit
I was fairly amazed that we produced enough work
in the past six weeks to fill these shelves. (Granted,
I was gone for four of those weeks but let's not talk
about that here.) The show opened Friday morning
with a bang and M. had customers lined up with dollars
bulging from their wallets. When Paul and I stopped by
Friday afternoon, I couldn't even get into the booth.
There is nothing even remotely resembling her work
anywhere else at that show -- lots of paintings, lots of
blown glass, lots of textiles, jewelry -- but no other
functional vessels which have been painted, masked,
blasted, peeled, dremeled, dotted, baked and polished.
Phew! (Is that really what I do every day?!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I've been a bit absent this week....getting back
to the Pacific time zone.

Was at JoAnn Fabrics this afternoon
and caught this girl twirling in the bolts --

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Ireland photo, this one from the beach
in Carrowholly....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I spent a good part of yesterday cooking:
pulled pork shoulder with homemade BBQ sauce,
vinaigrette potato salad, cabbage-yogurt slaw,
buttermilk biscuits, and a Pavlova for dessert.
The meringue for the Pavlova wept, then stuck
to the parchment, so it cracked and crevassed a bit
when I attempted to pry it free, but piled with whipped
cream and three kinds of berries, it utimately was glorious.
I'll never fail to be amazed that you can begin
with four egg whites -- slimy, translucent goo -- and end up
with a thick white puffy delicately-crunchy sweet
cumulous-cloud confection. I could have eaten
all of it myself. (But didn't.) Paul, PK and Ashley
shared it with me, sitting on the newly refinished deck,
pots of my new herbs surrounding us, in the generous shade
of maples, Douglas firs and cedars. Happy to be home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

From the wrapper of Lily O'Brien's
Half Milk Chocolate Coated
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Contains Wheat, Gluten, Milk, Eggs, Soya.
Manufactured in a Nut Environment.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Paul is doing his Marsellaise thing again,
tapping his foot to it. I expect marching
any minute now. Mais oui.

Today I asked for things:
1) Please remove the $89 late fee
on my mortgage payment as I was out of
the country and my son, who was in charge
of bill-paying, claimed to receive no statement
from the mortgage company.
2) Please remove overdraft charges from other son's
bank account and credit the fraudulent PayPal charges.

The squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The drive home tonight, 18 miles of traffic:
nearly unbearable, the tonnage of too-little-sleep
bearing heavily on my consciousness. The cars
and the cars. Thousands of them. Zip zip zip.

And now, on the deck which I'd call pastoral
if there were a pasture of any sort in sight:
a neighbor girl practices piano, elementary,
one, two keys at at time. Plunk plunk plunk.

Back to the routine of work and the handling
of fragile objects, only now there is a 12-week kitten
skittering in and out. Long-bodied, ear-fluffed.
Rather too cute. And not mine.

Maighdine Muire

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


To bed at midnight. Awake an hour later
certain that it's dawn. Asleep. Awake
at three with the same certainty. Awake
again at five and I said "fuck it."
Still awake, six hours later. I staggered
around Whole Foods for an hour shopping
for coffee and somehow the coffee (which ended
up taking the entire basket) cost $200. Oh.

It's glorious summer in Seattle with lovely
cool mornings, a bit of a breeze. I must go
shopping for herbs, now that I'll be in town
for a while: thyme, sage, chives, oregano.
Big bursting terracotta pots of sun-hungry herbs.
Must pick up my geraniums which friend Drew
babysat for the month, and kitty Sally at Melinda's.
Must stop in and see my boys, see how my Brandon Street
garden fared in the heat minus my puttering.
Hang with Tip, Flip & Alice, my abandoned cats.
(Who don't seem to miss me or even notice me
when I visit them on Brandon Street where they reside
with my sons. How quickly allegiances shift.)

A desire for dinner parties: a bounty of summer's
harvest, berries & cake, jugs of Sauvignon Blanc.
The deck out back was restained when we were away
and now I can walk out there barefooted, no splinters!
Come one! Come all!

Signs, Various & Assorted

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

After the long flight, the need for air,
great gulping lungsful of fresh Seattle air.
Nothing processed, filtered, scented, forced.
Just the open windows, and a nearly full moon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On the Road to Carrowholly

This is a bit herky jerky because we were in the car,
and for some odd reason it repeats (and I'm am so
inept when it comes to iMovie) but here's a short
piece taken on the road to Carrowholly Point --
(the white horse!) until my batteries ran out!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gaelic Football

Another day so full to bursting I almost cannot contain
what is in my head....and this damn bandaged finger
gets in the way and prohibits speedy typing.

Began this morning with a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association)
Connacht Minor Football Championship Final in Castlebar.
Our friend Ian invited us -- Gaelic football is a little like
soccer with some basketball-type moves mixed in,
an abundance of shoving and pushing, and lots of very colorful
cheering by the mostly-male crowd. ("Feckin' bollox, etc.")
( I brought my camera but did not remember to charge the battery,
so the photo is borrowed from the internet.)
The big Mayo-Galway (Maigh Eo-Gaillimh) match in the senior
(over 21) division was won by Galway (boo-hoo),
and the crowd of nearly 32,000 fans was orderly and convivial.
Concessions consisted of pop and candy bars, and the restroom
doors were marked in Irish ( oh!) so I held it. We stood for the
Irish national anthem (sung in Irish) while the teams and a marching band
circled the stadium. Irish president Mary McAleese arrived
by helicopter. Fun! Fun! (Even if we sat on concrete benches
for four hours.)

We bemoaned our loss over dinner across the cove at Ian and Mina's
along with their friend Tom from Belfast and his two sons Alex
and Patrick. As usual, wine flowed like rain from the Irish sky --
we sat for hours and laughed ourselves silly over dahl and rice
and turkey and bacon and salad and potatoes and apple strudel
and frozen yogurt and berries and coffee and tea and, finally,
champagne. We invited all of them to visit Seattle and instructed
them to arrive on Wednesday, this week. I don't think it'll happen.

As we lurched home (on foot, thankfully) we noticed that our
neighbors just west of us had arrived from Dublin, and since
I'd never met them, I strolled up and introduced myself.
Of course this was followed by an invitation into their ultra-
modern home, and tea and cake. Two hours later, we staggered
across the yard, filled to brimming with information on:
1) where to go in Spain (south, and then to Morocco)
2) Berlin
3) an annual arts & crafts show in Dublin
4) a book on early French settlers in Quebec (my relatives)
5) etc.
Declan and Mary. Mary told me that you're pretty safe
calling any woman "Mary" who's over fifty in Ireland --
chances are you'll be right.

Tomorrow we pack, bid goodbye to Carrowholly.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I tried to cut off the tip of my finger today,
and went into a tiny panic because of the drip, drip.
Considered calling into town to try to find the husband
who was probably at a pub, and who could do what, exactly?
Hold my hand above my heart?
Refresh the bloody rag?
Perform a nifty jig for my amusement?
Well, no, I did not call Matt Molloys or The Porter House
and ask if there was a bearded middle-aged man with glasses
sitting in the corner reading. As if.
Instead I applied pressure and sat calmly until all was well.
Then I wrote poem of the day #2:


A slip of the knife and the skin peels open,
releasing a quick red flow. How easily
the wrapping on this bodily vessel tears;
so much the epidermis must contain:
each organ with its lifetime assignment,
the bones with their rigging, the ease of tendons.
And O, tender brain!
O heart!

Once it clots, I patch the incision
with my clumsy wrong hand,
grateful for this mechanism
that staunches the river from my finger.
Acutely aware of the possibilities
of the blade, the meager protection
afforded by physiology. Alive,
I am alive and bleeding.

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Geez we're getting dotty. Zipping around Westport
searching for a "card reader" so I can load my film
onto my computer, when suddenly P. has a moment
of brilliance, and realizes that my new camera came
with a cord which, miraculously, attaches to both
my camera and my computer -- get this -- at the same time.
Whoa. Back in business.

Beerista Magic

More from the pub at the top of the world, lovingly presented
by the very cute bartender in the video clip below.

Farren's, the northernmost pub in Ireland

Another camera death, this time involving water.
(And I will not mention exactly what kind of water.)
What sadness doth befall us!
And the thinga-ma-joob with which I transfer my photos
to my camera was left tangled in the sheets in Donegal,
in this house:

Four hours away. And Westport is not exactly tech-city.

We attended a book launch last night for Sean Lysaght,
a Westport poet whose most recent publication is translations
of epigrams by Goethe, at Sea Sand Shore Gallery.
We were cosily crowded into the lovely space, surrounded by the
quirky paintings of James Lawlor. I met Sean online after
finding his books at Seamus Duffy Books in Westport.
Hoping to make more connections in the writing community here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fort Dunree, Famine Village

Just returned from two nights up in Donegal -- the northernmost
county in the Republic. The photos are from an abandoned barracks
at Fort Dunree -- don't you love the graffiti?!!

We saw so many things yesterday, I lay in bed last night and tried
to recount my day and was bombarded with images. We decided
to spend our day in Inishowen, a peninsula at the northern tip
of the country. It's remote, rugged and rural. (Inishowen is also the
title of one of my favorite Joseph O'Connor novels [brother of
Sinead].) Started with a ferry ride across Lough Swilly --
tiny boat, perhaps could hold 15 vehicles, open air.
Tooled up to Fort Dunree, built in Napleonic times to defend
against French marauders. Spectacular views from the top!
Windy, fiddlehead-fern and heather hillsides, no one but us.

Our next stop was the Famine Village. Our host at the guest house
recommended it to us, but I knew nothing about it. I expected
something much like the Famine Village on Achill Island --
was I in for a surprise! We drove up to a cluster of white huts
with thatched roofs, with doors and window frames painted
in whimsical blues, pinks, red, greens. Upon entering a courtyard
we saw a busload of senior citizens sitting on benches, heard
quaint music being broadcast over the public address system. Hmm.
As we began to wander, our path took us into long, tin-roofed huts
where inside, lifesize scenes from the famine had been re-enacted --
all very spooky and quirky (and dark): peasants digging potatoes,
attending mass at a penal altar, children attending "hedge schools,"
emaciated bodies in an open grave. We learned later that this is a
labor of love by a local man, who apparently is so shy he finds it
difficult to even say "hello" to someone. At the finish of our
self-guided tour, we were served tea and one very small slice
of corn-soda bread with butter and jam.

I was pretty blown away by it all -- initially because I had expected
something else, and then the seeming whimsy of the scene upon
our entrance (famine? what famine?), followed by the not-quite
lifelike dioramas, complete with baby-dolls and skeletons.
When we left, the woman attending the front desk asked up
repeatedly and enthusiastically if we enjoyed it -- we did!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our Lady of Flotsam

O she who keeps watch
over the rubbished, the odd shoe, the cracked
crockery flung in rage, the zipper pull,
chunks of airborne, waveborne styrofoam.
Vigilant mother-of-pearl, of cockle & scallop.
All ruin, all glorious sand-glinted treasure
is welcomed into her oh-holy-arms.

Tides strew a briny indulgence
at her feet. She makes incarnate the shred,
the bit, the fragment. Grants goodness
to the twist-top, the peach pit, the tangled line.
Gull-beaks beseech her name, crab-hulls
praise the stones which tumble upon her strand:
an ocean of miscellanea become sacred.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Heading up north to Donegal for a few days, back late
Thursday; don't know if we'll find an internet connection,
so I may be absent until then.

Went to listen to Kevin Burke and Cal Scott last night
in Castlebar. Terrific show, we sat in the front row
about three feet from the musicians.

Monday, July 7, 2008

More Jellyfish

Hannah, Elizabeth and I walked the beach this morning and spotted
stranded jellyfish left and right. Most had been flung up into the grass
by the tide. They are the most amazing creatures! Hannah, who just
turned ten, asked how it was that I could have a twenty-two-year-old
son and just have gotten married last December. Well. When I told
her that I'd been married first to another man, had children, and my first
husband had passed away, she said, "Oh! I'm sorry! Perhaps I shouldn't
have asked you that question?" She had more presence of mind
than many adults -- dear girl! What a joy it is to be around these
lovely children. I sent them each home with one of my collage cards
and a bag of six chocolate chip cookies, which, I told them, they
were not obliged to share.

Hannah and Elizabeth...

...came to the door last night bearing gifts of wildflowers and buns.
(I kept calling them muffins or cupcakes, but I was quickly and
repeatedly corrected: buns. B-U-N-S. [Elizabeth spelled it for me.])
Their family owns the holiday house next door, and they come over
from Drougheda (near Dublin). No, they are not twins, and are
exhausted by that question, although they are just over a year
apart. They have a four-year-old brother and a baby sister. I've often
watched them fishing for mullets with their father Peter.
(The first time I saw them they were a blur of pink across the cove.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Messing Around with Color

The Craft Fair and The Camera

Drove up to Castlebar Saturday to take in the Craft Fair and look for
a new toilet seat. The Craft Fair was big by Western Ireland standards --
instead of the usual four or five booths there were forty, and a nice
assortment of jewelry, hand-turned wood, pottery, glass beads,
felting and stone carving. We happened upon the piece above --
it's a one-of-a-kind collaboration between the jeweler Martin
Fitzpatrick and a print-maker Anne McDonnell. The pendant
is acid-etched sterling, and they're priced as a single unit.
Score! (We did not score on the toilet-seat front, though.
My response to that is bummer!)

So, a little rant on the fragile nature of The Camera:
I've been known in my day to break more than one piece
of Waterford crystal (which, incidentally, is manufactured
in China these days -- it's designed in Ireland, and there
is a certain small amount made here to satisfy the heritage-
hungry eyes of tourists), and taking out one's persnickety digital
camera in order to capture a moment is not unlike
whipping out a Waterford Champagne glass from your
pocket. Delicate! Fragile! I'd even venture to say that
the crystal glass is possibly more durable than The Camera.
Of course, Waterford would shatter with more magnificence than
The Camera, all sparkly and such, but you can really get your
hand around its stem, wrap your fingers around its bowl --
it's probably not going to fly from you at this point!
(Especially if it's bubbling with Champagne. I mean,
who would risk losing a glassful of that lovely stuff?!)
The Camera, on the other hand, is a slippery and sleek
little-weasel-of-a-creature, all polished steel and teeny hinged
doors and doll-sized buttons and an honest-to-goodness
screen. Nearly a midget television, right here in the palm
of your hand. It's a hold-your-breath kind of toy,
a take-good-care-of-it-or-you'll-be-sorry gadget,
sorry to the tune of a couple of hundred euros, which
translates to a lot more dollars than it was a few years
back, the dollar being stuck in the toilet. Ah, the toilet.
Or rather, the toilet seat. A new camera is more easily
had here than a new toilet seat. And, well, Waterford
crystal, I just might have some in my pocket. I just
have to figure out how to get it to take a picture.

White Horse Frolic

We were driving by and saw this horse running and kicking
and leaping across his pasture, so of course I had to
stop and record it, only, when he saw me, his curiosity
got the best of him, and he also stopped to check me out!
Run horse, run!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Apple Pie and Eggs

Actually, Apple Galette. The Official Apple Pie
has been consumed, digested, and converted to pounds
which are at this moment settling somewhere undesirable.
And check out those eggs! I scrambled some this morning --
the speckled one was nearly too beautiful to crack open
but it wasn't going to do me any good in the fridge.
The yolks were orangeorangeorange. Absolutely delicious,
along with some 'streaky rashers' -- bacon.