Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Poem Tuesday

Blogger friend Claire Beynon at Icelines

has started posting a poem every Tuesday,

along with numerous other poets, and I've

decided to tag along. Thought I'd start

with something topical:


Barely ten, I bolted from Rose Chintz china

and linen, dinner still barely warm.

My pink coat, made over from another April,

another sister, lay rumpled beside white

patent leather and gloves soft as a rabbit’s ear.

The woods were green with four o’clock April light

and hardly a wind rippled the hazelnuts,

the nettles just beginning to line my path.

I ran and leapt over logs and ferns

until I reached the enormous maple

behind Rupert’s broken barn. I climbed

and swayed in the thinning branches,

stretched as far as that tree would allow

and sang as loudly as I can remember:

Jesus Christ is risen’ today, a-a-a-a-a-le-e-lu-u-jah.

Our triumphant holy day, a-a-a-a-a-le-e-lu-u-jah.

There was not a soul in sight

that green and billowing afternoon

from my bluejay’s perch above the world.

And no organ padded the velvet air,

no plaster saints, no crucifix.

I sang until I trembled with hoarseness

and felt the wind gone from my lungs.

Then silently I slipped branch by sturdy branch

to the earth. Took the long way home --

through the deserted orchard, past the filbert grove,

up a slow hill to my house.

Copyright, T. Clear

Originally appeared in Manzanita Quarterly

Friday, March 26, 2010


Lingering over dinner, with the last of the wine and the stub-end of the bread, and tissue-thin slivers of butter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All night: the sound of spring rain
through an open window.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Third Day of Spring

It was warm today in Seattle, I'm guessing upper
60's, and at 2pm I stepped outside to take in some sun.
I looked down at the lawn which is lush and bright
with the new spring green, and hasn't yet been mowed
so was soft, and decided to lie down, arms spread out,
face tipped upward to the sky, eyes closed. I could hear
bees out and about their business, an occasional car
passing on the street, the sound of air moving in and out
of my nose. Melinda laid out beside me, same posture.
We must have looked like victims of The Yoga Murderer,
posed in eternal shavasana on the front lawn of an
urban dwelling.

But we were very much alive, as was evidenced by the
groans of sun-pleasure, of grassy glee. I desired stasis,
desired the remainder of the afternoon
to contain nothing else but this rooted green mattress,
and this ceiling of warmth.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Razzle Dazzle

The artist Melinda for whom I daily toil
(yes, that's an exaggeration, but I do love
the word toil) finally has some photos of
her new work, which she has generously
agreed to share with me.
(Please check out her blog here.)
So, without further ado:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Holy Sixties Pop Culture Reference!

In my effort to post something New! and Stimulating! Here I am seated at the wheel of the original Batmobile (my son is on the left.) This was taken in Seattle in 2003. The story: one of my next-door bakery customers did body work on classic autos, and the Batmobile was in town for some kind of promotion, and needed a bit of touching up. Lucky me got to go for a ride and pose for photos. (Such are the rewards of charming ones customers.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sometimes the only medicine is a glass of good red wine. Tonight it's Quo Grenache from Spain. We buy wine by the case from Catherine Reynolds of Queso y Vino, a local independent wine seller. Last May Catherine suffered a catastrophic aneurysm, was hospitalized for many weeks, and yet has managed a remarkable recovery. She specializes in all things Spanish and Portuguese, and especially delights in wines that don't bankrupt your wallet. If you are in the Seattle area, please do check her out. You will not be disappointed.

Now it's time to get back to that glass of wine....

Two words and one symbol....

Pie = Love.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holy Day of Obligation

I did not go to mass today like a Good Citizen of Ireland but I did consume my American corned beef and cabbage. My question, however, is:
Where is the sticky toffee pudding?

I do admit to downing a handful of multi-colored sprinx purchased at the Super-Valu in Westport, Ireland, several summers ago. They tasted like oregano, cayenne, curry powder, bay leaves, sage and asofoetida. Oh, and gumbo file. Fee-lay.

It's a grand fine day.

Re: previous post

Whirled: sounds as if I stuck my head in a blender.
More accurately, I stuck my head in a bottle of wine.
I woke up today thinking: What was I thinking???
And then I decided to delete the post, but a faithful
blog reader on the other side of the planet
was already up and chipper and had left a comment.
Seemed a sacrilege to delete.
Thus it remains: awhirl, aswhirl, atwhirl.

Here's something to mark the occasion of
All Things Irish, taken last summer
in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Please Take Note

Sometimes we remember just why it is that we love the people we love.


Moss and lichen green:

Nettle green:

Cedar green:

Fern green:

Salal green:

Doug-fir green:

End-of-winter green:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

There's no one home.

There's a lovely beef soup simmering on the stovetop; leftover pot roast cooked with tomatoes and red wine etc. makes the perfect soup base. I threw in  4 cups of canned stock and some cabbage. Yum. It's easy to cook, if you pay attention.

Are you there?

Go ahead -- be brave. Be really brave. Leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Twig Digs

On my drive to work, I travel four miles on Rainier Avenue, a gritty four-lane arterial through one of Seattle's seediest neighborhoods: nail parlors, pho restaurants, fast-food chains, a food bank, gang-driven graffiti, a Lowes hardware where every morning there is a crowd of day-workers clustered near the entrance, ready to pound a nail or dig a ditch. Some years back someone in the city had enough long-term vision to see that deciduous trees were planted on either side of the street, and now these trees are tall and grand, skeletal in their pre-spring framework of branches. Today I counted twenty-one crows' nest tucked in among the limbs, rough and twiggy, somewhere within I can only imagine a swaddling softness, beaked bits of rag or paper. Thousands of vehicles pass beneath these nests every day, spewing exhaust, rattling and grinding their way to somewhere. And cached high above, eggs are laid, and hatch, and the new crows send out their plea for sustenance. Nature goes on with its business of living sixty feet above unforgiving pavement.

One of the nests is rapidly disappearing in a froth of pink cherry blossoms.

In a month none will be visible.

It's important that I remember that they are there.


For a good laugh, and in keeping with this week's apparent church theme,  check out this video at Citizen K., then click on this link . Be sure to click on the pushpins for details! It's frightening, I know, but I can't seem to stop laughing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


So much is in bloom right now: a frenzy.
And yesterday for a few minutes, fat snowflakes
made their descent. It's turned cold again, Old March
and his lionine entrance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In the Church Basement

The long tables.
The white vinyl tablecloths.
The packets of powdered creamer.
The egg-salad sandwiches: triangles.
The urned coffee.
The bustle of Church Ladies.
The appropriate conversations.

The nervous step-grandson, ready to bolt.
The former coke-head.
The dead granddaughter.
The grown children.
The red-head with greasy hair.
The dandruff.
The woman who looks like a man.
The chatty preacher.
The last words, to which I object: Go in Christ.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Brilliant sun today. I was outside in jeans and a tank top pruning out dead wood in an ornamental flowering cherry. The tree is mostly moss, with just a scattering of pink flowers. I needed a saw. Didn't have a saw. So it became an exercise in looking at a tangled conundrum and deciding how best to approach it. I began with the smallest possible details, the driest twigs snippable and within reach. Then I stood on the big rocks beneath the tree and reached for higher and thicker branches. Pulled on some until they snapped. Considered jumping up and reaching for those just a bit too high, grabbing and swinging, but decided that this probably wasn't a good idea. (It's important to remember that I am no longer ten years old.) It only took about a half hour, and now I have an erratic scruff-of-a-tree which should probably just be cut down but I kind of like its mossy hide. I'll plant some Heavenly Blue morning glories at its base and let them twine and adorn. There was a layer of moss bits and bark bits and lichen bits all over me when I was done. I was halfway to becoming human compost.

I've been scouting the yard, watching where the sun goes, to find a good spot for some tomato plants, some herbs. Dahlias, sunflowers, cosmos, violas, nasturtiums, clematis. It's high time I started gardening again. It's tricky: lots of trees, odd sunny corners, too much shade but I might just have to give in to begonias, impatiens, ajuga, sweet woodruff, a few ferns. But I'm accustomed to gardening by the square inch so I'll
make good use of those few sunny patches.

Friday, March 5, 2010


It's Friday and the lingering headache has finally made its exit. A headache with little prickly barbs. I looked at a strand of wool under a microscope once and discovered the reason for the itch: barbs. Everywhere: barbs. That's what the mal à la tête was. Wool under a microscope.

Comfort food this week: roasted chicken, chicken pot pie, chicken and pappardelle with celery and parsley in a bechemel sauce. I asked P. why is it that I cook dinners that require the use of nearly every pan/plate/bowl in the kitchen, and he said that he's asked himself that very question many times. (He who helps with the dishes.) If I don't cook when I get home from work, I get antsy, nervous. Need to chop/stir/saute. IMHO, P. is one lucky guy.

My mother, in her day, would make a cold dessert-like dish, like "Frozen Cranberry Salad" which contained fresh (and then frozen!) cranberries, walnuts, Cool Whip, among other things. She pressed it into a loaf pan, froze it, de-panned it, sliced it and then placed it on a leaf of lettuce and called it Salad. My question: if I bake a butter cake, slather on some ganache, sprinkle it with some toasted walnuts, then place a slice of it on a leaf of lettuce and call it Cake Salad, does it count as a vegetable? Just wondering. Always on the lookout for New Ways With Cake.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I know it sounds a bit bizarre....

We listened to the original Broadway recording of Camelot today at work: Julie Andrews, Richard Harris, Robert Goulet, etc. I realized that I knew most of the words:

"It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May....
Tra la! It's here!
That shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear!

"How to handle a woman?"

"I loved you, once, in silence, and misery was all I knew."

It's a charming little tale about a queen who, to avoid death by burning at the stake seeks refuge in a convent after being rescued by her French lover. Ho hum. Just another day in Merry Old England.

At an early age, I was convinced that this was one of Shakespeare's stories, and when my sister who is ten years my senior purchased a set of Shakespeare volumes (lovely little blue books) from Book-of-the-Month-Club, I was shocked when Camelot was not included in the set. How could a publisher make such a mistake?!

I admitted this embarrassing fact about my childhood
misbelief today for the first time, while we pondered
What Do the Simple Folk Do?
Apparently, the simple folk
from the township Renton, of which I count myself a
former member, had some of the facts wrong. Or maybe
it was just me. This was, of course, long before I claimed
to be an English Major in college.

But back to work. We began by listening to the Woodstock album, but the jangly guitars et al. jangled just a bit too much for our delicate sensibilities. So Camelot it was.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I came upon this while reading comments on a new blog I've been enjoying:

What's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? The optimist enjoys himself whilst waiting for the inevitable! I think we should all live by that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I've never wanted to be a landlady, but it seems that I am one. (At least two of my tenants are my sons.) (That sounds as if perhaps more of my tenants might be my sons also but that's not what I meant.) (I only have two sons.) But to get on with this story, last May, right after the home-invasion robbery/burglary, some friends of my son R. asked if they could crash at the house for a little while because they were between apartments. As we were all of us in a daze, I said yes -- they seemed like nice kids -- but the "little while" turned into six months, when both my sons insisted that they move out because of their slovenly habits. I thought: how bad can it be? (Note: I don't live in this house.)

Well.....today I found out. N. had been telling me that these tenants left quite a pile of crap behind, and that he'd been down in the basement cleaning it up in 15 minute increments. Fifteen minutes! What is wrong with my son? --I wondered.

Oh. My. God. When I finally viewed the tenants' remains (sounds like they're dead, doesn't it?), I had to remind myself that this is after N. cleaned up, repeatedly. I've never experienced anything like it: parts, pieces of unmentionable things. Tissue things. Old food. Soiled dishes, cutlery. Sex toys. Sex toys! I'm no prude, but for god's sake, put 'em away when you're finished! And pack 'em up when you move! The candy/candy-wrappers, empty pop cans, general paper-waste -- though ankle-deep, were innocuous in an oddly refreshing way in comparison with the, uh, other "treasures."

Yikes. We loaded up R.'s car with plastic sackfuls of garbage. Swept and swept and swept. Thankfully, I had my gardening gloves in the car. We opened windows and turned on fans. After about an hour, N. said "I'm done! Can't do anymore!" R. and I agreed. Enough is enough.

Next time I'm there I'll bring out the spray bottle of bleach solution and kill every single remaining bastard bacteria that lingers. But at least, now, the debris is gone.

It's time for that glass of wine. Or two. Or three.