Friday, July 30, 2010

How Peaches Saved Me and Why I Love My Job

Slugging around all week at work,
slothing around, slow slow slow.
Friday Friday Friday.

Sliced across the middle of my index-finger-nail
with a chef's knife. Tender. Bone.

Melinda asked me this afternoon
if I would like a peach.
I like peaches.

A moment later, a bowl of sliced fresh peaches
and Greek yogurt drizzled with agave syrup
appeared on the table in front of me
in the middle of a paint-tube hodgepodge.
In the middle of Friday!

(This was my reminder that life was good
and would always be good.)

le fin

Thursday, July 29, 2010



Paul pointed out this morning that this vase of larkspur looks like a Morris Graves painting. I've long been a fan of Morris Graves' work, and especially loved a painting I saw back in 1999 at Foster White Gallery in Seattle. I told Paul that I knew the painting to which he was referring, and said that I had at one time really wanted it, but would've had to sell my house/children/body to buy it. This was long before I knew Paul. Apparently, he saw the same painting at the same gallery and considered, for a fleeting moment, acquiring it. A decade later, we do not possess anything by Morris Graves, but I'd not trade all of Morris Graves' work for this life I love with Paul. And it's enough to know that we'd both coveted the same painting, at the same gallery, well before the trajectory of each of our lives spun us around to where we sit at this moment, at the breakfast table, a vase of larkspur sending its glints of blue into the morning.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, happy!

My handsome son made me dinner tonight!
We ate in the backyard of the Brandon Street house,
in "the jungle", which used to be a yard but now
is a tangle of grape vines, kiwi vines, lemon balm,
clematis, pink lavatera and the ever-present
scourge of bindweed aka morning glory.
It is, though, very private.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Pablo Neruda

Ode to Common Things
I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
and bowls -
not to speak, or course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
small -
and flower vases.
Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It’s full of pipes
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers -
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing:
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
carpenter’s nails,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.
Mankind has
oh so many
Built them of wool
and of wood,
of glass and
of rope:
ships, and stairways.
I love
not because they are
or sweet-smelling
but because,
I don’t know,
this ocean is yours,
and mine;
these buttons
and wheels
and little
fans upon
whose feathers
love has scattered
its blossoms
glasses, knives and
scissors -
all bear
the trace
of someone’s fingers
on their handle or surface,
the trace of a distant hand
in the depths of forgetfulness.
I pause in houses,
streets and
touching things,
identifying objects
that I secretly covet;
this one because it rings,
that one because
it’s as soft
as the softness of a woman’s hip,
that one there for its deep-sea color,
and that one for its velvet feel.
O irrevocable
of things:
no one can say
that I loved
or the plants of the jungle and the field,
that I loved
those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.
It’s not true:
many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.


I first heard this poem when I was in graduate school, taking a poetry seminar taught by the American poet Shirley Kaufman, who read it aloud in class. It was not difficult to fall in love with it. I've always believed that an object carries with it energies from the past, whether it be from the hands of the factory-worker who packaged it, or the artist who painted it, or the shopkeeper on whose shelves it lay, awaiting a home. Neruda captures this with loving sensitivity and uncomplicated language, and takes it a notch further by bringing to mind the concept
of oneness and connectedness of everything on the planet.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

After the Show, The Artists

We loaded up the truck, drove back to Seattle,
unloaded the truck, then stuffed ourselves
with Thai food and vodka/gin tonics
and, ahem, other substances.
In Melinda's yard.
At the table.
On a blanket.
Under the full moon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

True Love

Friday, while walking the aisles at the Bellevue Arts Fair, I spotted a handwoven rug nearly identical to one my late husband brought home sometime in the mid 1980's, which he'd acquired at a shop in Pioneer Square in Seattle. Delighted to meet the artist/weaver (Kimberly Morris from Wallowa, Oregon), I told her that I had one of her rugs. She was interested in the details of where/when I'd acquired it, and said that it couldn't possibly be one of hers, because she'd not been in the business that long. Then she added, "but how sad that your husband passed away!" I told her, yes, it was sad, but not to worry, as I'd met another man and was happily remarried. She replied, "So it is possible to find true love!"

So I told her that P. and I met on, which she admitted that, as a single woman, she'd considered it, but found the whole online dating thing a little scary. I assured her that it's a little (or a lot) scary to most people when they try it the first time, but once you get going on it, it's not at all intimidating, and in fact becomes a little addictive, and actually fun. I encouraged her to give it a try, and she seemed hopeful.

I said, "You're going to go on and find your own true love, all because of a rug my late husband didn't buy from you in 1984!"

(Saturday, I brought P. to her booth and introduced him as "evidence" that does indeed work.)

I must admit that at moments like this, when a spontaneous human connection occurs with a stranger, I find myself truly in love with the world.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Le Dejeuner

July in Seattle: it's too chilly to sit outside
and eat lunch at Le Pichet; we shivered in the breeze
to wait for a table inside -- six of us: Paul, my boys,
my sister, and my niece in town for a few days
from Ottawa.

Most of us ordered from the charcuterie
board. I had pâté Albigeois, rillettes de porc and
Saucisse Lyonnaise. I violated my Cardinal Rule No. 1
(absolutely no wine at lunch) and three of us
shared a bottle of white Burgundy. Nap time!

A spirited conversation, luckily, kept me awake,
and included such subjects as The United States
Constitution, the benefits of Canadian citizenship,
iPhones, baggage fees, Paul's graduate school program,
what not to say while going through airport security
(ie: "I have a BIG KNIFE in my purse/pocket/panties.")
and the fact that chocolat chaud is merely a seductive
way to say 'chocolate pudding'.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Last night, after an eleven-hour day at work packing product for the Bellevue Arts Fair, I laid out on my back porch in the dark and looked at stars with my binoculars. Cedar trees scented the warm air, and the cats sashayed about me, telling me their little cat stories in various squeaks and mewls. Paul sat just inside at the kitchen table, watching a Van Morrison video on You Tube, a bottle of Casal Garcia Portuguese rose´uncorked on the counter. I considered sleeping outside on my $20 plastic-strap lounger (which unfortunately often folds me up inside it if I'm not careful) but then also considered the family of raccoons that frequents our back porch, as well as the local night-roaming coyotes. The cats, who almost certainly would alert my sleeping self to the presence of critters, would most likely flee if a feral canine attempted to nibble on my toes. And then the mosquitos would make a midnight snack of any exposed skin. Alas, I retreated to my most civilized bed, but longed for that ceiling of stars above me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Want a Pony

An article in this morning's paper (yes, that would be newsPAPER) about the ponies of Chincoteague reminded me of a doomed day-trip I took with my mother, younger sister and a cantankerous aunt (who, unfortunately, was at the wheel) when I was fourteen. We were staying the week with this Aunt C. who lived just outside of D.C. Somehow my mother talked her into a drive to Chincoteague, in Virginia, to experience the annual pony swim, where the wild equine inhabitants of Assateague Island swim from there to Chincoteague Island, and the 60 to 80 foals born that year are auctioned off so that the remaining herd can maintain ecological sustainability.

I had, in the years prior, read and reread all the Marguerite Henry books about adopting a wild Chincoteague pony -- Misty of Chincoteague was a Newbery Award winner -- and entertained my own ten-year-old fantasies of doing the same. (I was amazed that my mother didn't share this same fantasy. Never mind that we lived a continent away from the Virginia seaside, and my mother, as a new widow with seven children, had other things on her mind.)

The drive from Betheseda to the coast was tense and grim. I don't think my aunt liked children -- she certainly didn't like us -- and my mother and her oldest sister had never enjoyed a particularly affable relationship. When we finally pulled into the tiny seaside town of Chincoteague, we stopped and asked someone where the ponies were, and were directed to the carnival grounds. My aunt snorted, announced that she didn't associate with the degenerate lowlifes that frequented carnivals, turned the car around and hightailed it out of there. My fourteen-year-old heart missed a beat, and another. My mother turned to me in the backseat, rolled her eyes, and remained silent. WHAT???? We'd endured an entire day held captive in the car of irritable Aunt C., and now, within blocks of possibly succeeding in talking my mother into letting me adopt my very own feral pony (I'd told no one of my plan, but maintained high hopes that the Powers-That-Be would rule in my favor) we were DRIVING AWAY??? I was crushed beyond comprehension, beyond language, beyond tears. I slumped down in my seat, in utter despair. Apparently my aunt held sway over the aforementioned powers.

I recall a stop at a French restaurant after that, for which we were required to change from our beach clothes into something more appropriate. It was a somber dinner, with my sourpuss aunt snipping at us for not praising her choice of dining establishment.

On the long drive back, Aunt C. handed the map to my mom (bad decision!) and instructed her to provide navigation. If my aunt had ever taken the time to actually get to know her little sister, she'd know that her map-reading skills and sense of direction were, well, lacking. So -- a question would come up about which way to turn, and my mother, agreeing that it was the correct way, each time answered "right!" My aunt's response to this was to turn right, when, indeed, she should've been turning left. After hours of this -- I think we were by this time
close to South Carolina -- Aunt C. figured out that something was askew. She lit into my mother, my mother shrugged, and my sister and I cowered in the back seat. I don't know what time it was when we finally arrived back at the house, but I can tell you that my mother, my sister and I laughed and laughed about it for years. Although my mother never admitted it, I like to think that, as a sly, passive-aggressive response to her sister's cruel decision to bar us from seeing the ponies, she intentionally led her sister astray. Go Mom!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Not a lot of blogging from this sector of late --
working extra and intense hours in preparation
for the Bellevue Arts Fair. By late this afternoon
I was out of inspiration; all my paint faded to brown.
Language verged on gibberish, the week's measure
of folderol spent.

Here's a featured piece:

(All glass by Mary Melinda Wellsandt.)

For more views of work available for purchase
at the show, go here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Black aphids on the nasturtiums.
A death knell.
They're doomed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tuesday Poem

This is a blog post from last July
(and the green hillside you can see
in the photo at the top of my blog
is the hill in the poem):

My first Irish publication!
Last week I sent a new poem to The Mayo News,
and it appeared in this week's edition.
It can only be viewed online in their digital edition,
which is a pay-per-view operation. So instead,
I've photographed the page of the newpaper:

Unfortunately, because of the layout,
the linebreaks were slaughtered.
Here is the correct version:

Golden Hour

I found a new way up a steep slope,
a rusty gate that opens easily
with a simple untangle of rope.

A quick clamber from sea level
to the thistled ridge, ankle-deep
in grasses whose names I wished I knew.

And all along that ridge, from every direction—
gulls and swallows and starlings
in a shimmering swoop & dive—

I scuttled under barbs, amazed
at the efficiency of the crouch, the roll.
And no rips: not one.

And down I went on the other side,
nearly hip-high now in the meadow,
the rambling field of bracken, thickets of gorse.

I followed no path and left scant trail.
And happiness rippled up in me, plain and unadorned,
the kind of happiness for which there is no accounting.

Looped back to the gabled house
across the tide flats of Clew Bay,
slipping on sea kelp, on carrageen.

And no urgency to know who possesses
the barbed-wire I ducked beneath,
in whose unmown meadow I whistled.

--T. Clear

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I can't seem to figure this out out: on the side of my house, in my rose bed, I've planted nasturtiums, and twice now someone/something has very carefully pulled up the seedlings -- roots, seed & all -- and laid them on the soil. Everything is intact, and no part of the very delicate seedling is damaged. It would seem to be the work of a creature with a sensitive pincer grip, so I doubt it's a squirrel/bunny/jay/robin. I can't imagine an adult doing this, and there seems to be little evidence of any children visible ever on the street. Ideas?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


In full-on summer here, suddenly. I love the way a yard smells mid-afternoon in the heat.

We drank a dry white Portuguese wine with dinner -- tongue-dancing!

My scented geranium bloomed, finally.

All is right with the world.

(Or, all is right in my particular universe, at least.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hung Out to Dry

Not sure exactly what dredged up this memory except perhaps for this sudden spike of mercury, but in '05 I took my two teenaged sons to Italy and France for a three-week trip. (One adult + two teens in 95 degree heat in non-English speaking countries = chaos.) Anyway, we rented an apartment for a week in Venice, up several very steep flights of stone stairs. One of the bedroom windows opened up to a small courtyard, which was frequented by fellow tourists as they tried to negotiate the maze that is Venice. We were blessed with a washing machine (which my 16-year-old son repaired) and I hung our washing out on some lines strung just outside the second-story window. As I was attaching the clothespins, a group of tourists spied me, pointed me out to their companions, and started snapping photos: "Lookee here! Authentic Italian washmaid hanging her business out in public!!" I waved, smiled, and went about my chore. I like to think that somewhere on the planet, I'm featured in someone's vacation photos as "that woman in Venice doing her wash".

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


After much patience, summer has at last arrived here in the Pacific Northwest -- but I won't hold my breath because it could just as easily vanish. I awoke today to sun in the Japanese maple, and danced my way down to coffee and breakfast. And now, hours later, glass of wine in hand, I listen to the neighbor girl practice Mozart on her piano, a particular joy now that the windows are all flung wide: open song. We are creatures of the earth, and we love the wide blue of a summer sky.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuesday Poem: William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


I bought this dishcloth in Ireland last summer,
and recently pulled it out from a suitcase
where it's sat for the past year.
Before using, I ran it through the wash,
and upon using it, noticed that Yeats appears
to be crying, where the stitching has pulled.
What terrible calamity has befallen us
that has caused the great poet to weep?
Ah yes, "the blood-dimmed tide is loosed"
foretells the gash in the ocean's floor
in the Gulf Coast --
And as poet, I believe that this tear-shedding dishcloth
trumps every single slice of toast bearing the image of Jesus.



For more Tuesday Poets click here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Sandal-shopping today at the mall,
the choice seemed to be limited to two options:
a. dominatrix
b. slave-girl

Guess which one I chose?!!
Not these --

Nor these:

And, alas, not these, which seem to be suffering from an identity crisis:

What I had hoped to discover in my tiger lily glen:

Midsummer Eve Fairies, by Edward Robert Hughes.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Always, in June, there were two or three tiger lilies in bloom, in the grassy glade to which no path led, in the woods beyond the barnyard. I like to believe no one knew of their existence save me, and maybe I was right, but the hubris of a ten-year-old, that confidence that soars before adolescence sets in, can be inflated. Few flowers bloomed here, and so these lilies took on mythical proportion beside the plebian Scotch broom, the dandelion. Their light seemed to not just glow but to also breathe its own air. And I breathed the same air, for the week or two that they sent forth their dusty pollen into the second-growth forest, in the shadow of alders and big-leaf maples. I imagined myself a fawn, invisible and unknown in the larger world, safe in my thicket, in the rampant growth of fiddlehead ferns at the edge of the universe.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I want, I want.

I just opened this week's New Yorker
and saw this:

"The Dress Lamp Tree, England", Tim Walker, 2002.

I want these.
To hang in my Japanese maple.