Saturday, November 27, 2010

We thawed, and the 2-inch snowfall which brought our topographically-challenged city to a halt has melted away down into storm drains and low-lying fields. I'm always thankful for the rain that returns after a temperature plummet. (I'm going to whisper now: I love the rain.) (If I say that too loudly I'll get pummeled with rotting apples.)

On Thanksgiving, I did not deep-fry, in a vat of boiling butter, a cube of butter dipped in a butter-batter. God knows there have been times when I've wanted to, but I've always managed to stop myself before I went too far. And for this restraint, I am thankful.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


A winter storm swooped down on our city yesterday, and it's not even officially winter yet. Three weeks ago we had a 74-degree afternoon, and this morning it was 15 degrees. Before leaving for work yesterday, I had a robust crop of nasturtiums; this morning their sad remains hung limp beneath snowdust. It's all so odd and we are all so unprepared. While other commuters suffered through blocked freeway lanes and ice-sheets and a journey home taking six, seven, eight hours, somehow I slipped through a hole in the chaos and made it home yesterday, late afternoon, in normal time. In fact, I had to keep reminding myself that it was snowing, that it was icy, and that I should slow down.

I'm a bit of a weather fanatic, and upon waking at 4:30am, with no hopes of further sleep, I took out my iPhone and checked the temps, and was stunned to discover a reading of -6 in my fair town! The forecast for the next four days promised little better -- all these negative signs flashed before me on my tiny screen, tiny frigid barbs. It felt as if a gigantic shift had taken place in my universe while I'd slept; that a ferocious cold front had whisked down from Canada, compliments of El Nino (or Nina, can never remember which 'little child' we can blame). It was massively unsettling, and my mind began to race with the prospect of frozen pipes, frozen plants, frozen everything. Had a Midwest-style deep-freeze really settled in to our temperate region? This is Seattle, for god's sake, home of ever-present winter drizzle and gloriously-habitable summer. What was happening?

And that hour, the four o'clock hour, with its own other-worldly sense. Many dreams have placed me waking to a blue 4am light where the minutes cease to accumulate and possibilities abound in the eternal present, like an unexpected gift -- a present! -- of time and an infinite supply of benevolent blue light --

Then I suspected something -- a nagging inkling -- and checked the iPhone again, to discover that somehow the temperature reading had shifted from fahrenheit to centigrade. Ahhhh.....

My insignificant sliver of the universe righted itself, anxieties dropped away one by one, and I slipped into dreamless sleep.

Cracked at the Edges

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life's Rich (& Christmas) Pageant

This is a little embarrassing to admit, at this age, but I've always wanted to direct a Christmas pageant. Nativity/variety-show, all ages, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And I've suggested it, time and time again, starting at about the age of ten to my neighborhood friends. To family members. And there is generally little or no response. Alas.


Well, I brought it up at work today, that we (all four of us) should do a Christmas pageant, and I think everyone pretended not to hear. So I brought it up again, and they confirmed my suspicions. And wanted to know who would watch, because, er, well, there are only four of us. Oh. Well. Hadn't really considered this. No one had ever asked me this. I'm of the If-You-Build-It-They-Will-Come persuasion. M. suggested that we perform it while walking around the block. Then suggested that we stand on the table and perform, ie., a makeshift stage. (I'll mention here that I'd just recited a poem whilst standing on my chair.) All good ideas! And then there was a lot of discussion (which degenerated rather quickly) of who would be Baby Jesus (R. would) and who would be Mary and Joseph (M. would) and who would be the Three Wise Men (C. would) and who would be the sheep, donkey and cow (that would be me). There! See! It can be done.

More on this later.

All this during a last-minute holiday crunch of prepping a delivery for a very large local holiday sale. We like to keep ourselves entertained.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poetry + Lapsed Catholics =

Much hilarity at my writing group last night when Rosanne (for the second time now) offered to sing my poem, and suddenly we were listening to my poem Supplication to Our Lady of the Dumpster with a Celtic lilt. Then Ted (who is married to Rosanne) piped up "No! No! This calls for some Gregorian Chant music!" So Ted, with the help of Peter (both former Catholics) spontaneously broke into a 21st century version of what I'm going to call Seattle Plainsong. All I can say is Lord have mercy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday Poem: 3-year-old recites "Litany" by Billy Collins

You Tube has embedding disabled for this wonderful piece, but please do click on the link below and check it out:

More Tuesday Poems here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yin and Yang, Ick and Ack

Nothing much here but rain and red wine,
dead roses and an overall absence of pie.


I wrote a poem this morning called
"Supplication To Our Lady of the Dumpster"
for my friend Rachel Maxi's birthday.
(Yet another poem in my series parodying Catholic prayers and litanies.)
Today, while her birthday, was also the final day
of her successful show at G. Gibson Gallery
in Seattle. There was also a fine article
about her show in yesterday's Seattle Times.

One more thing: it's dark, often and early.
And I kind of like it, this pre-holiday romantic gloom.
Come January, however, I'll go into silent hibernation
until the daffodils ruffle-up their skirts.
(Unless, of course, we hop on a plane to Maui.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Isn't summer over?

We are still frost-free here on our little east-facing hill in Doug-fir Land. While the pumpkin harvest has ended elsewhere, my little conjoined twins continue to plump up:

Odd little buggers, aren't they?

And a few last flowers, which show no intention of giving-in to the seasonal turn:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I read a blog post about coyotes.
Then I read a post about ravens.
And then I read a post about ravens and coyotes.
(Three separate blogs.)

Is this a theme?
The cats are safely locked inside.
The geranium-children have been brought in
for the winter. No trinkets askew/aslant/afoot.

Howl on, slivered-moon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let Me Eat Cake

I've made my own birthday cake every year since I've been twelve. (Okay, I'll do the math: hmm...that makes 42 cakes. Yikes.) My mother wasn't a big fan of cake, but she whipped out a cake mix for every family birthday. I started baking seriously at twelve, and told my mom that I was done with cake mixes, and that I'd make my own cake, and she was not happy. I wasn't rejecting her, per se, just Duncan Hines. Thus the tradition began.

Yesterday I was tempted to forego the tradition, as it was just Paul and me here, but relented late afternoon and made a half-recipe of cake-heaven: Golden Butter Cake with the simplest of ganache icings -- bittersweet chocolate and butter melted together. Like I said, heaven. Baked amidst a kitchen filled with the scents of chicken simmering in red wine, and sauteed pearl onions and chanterelle mushrooms. And roasted sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel's sprouts. (Is there a more vegetable more beautiful than a B. sprout sliced in half? Dollhouse cabbage!)

The weekend after Julia Child died, my boys, who were teens at the time, had invited over a houseful of friends. I often cooked up feasts for this group of boys, and that Sunday I decided to honor the memory and legacy of Ms. Child by preparing her Coq au Vin. My Dutch oven was of the cast iron variety, which imparts an odd tint to chicken cooked in red wine. When the boys sat down to dinner, I told them what we were having, and the guests all looked a bit nervous. French food? And why was the chicken purplish? (Of course, no one said this, but their expressions told all. I could hear them saying to themselves how are we going to get out of this and not be rude?) I told them about Julia Child, told them about the cast iron pan, and they sat down with more than a modicum of hesitation. But just minutes into the meal, their groans of pleasure and their exclamations of delight quickly shifted the mood from trepidation to glee. OH MAN! This is good! My own boys, old pros at the dinner table, winked and twinkled at me.


Friday, November 5, 2010


Working on a room of my own here at the house'o'the'burbs. Cleaning and boxing-up the remnants of my step-son's childhood/teen-years, he who has lived in Boston for the past four years. Every year when he comes home for Christmas I kindly ask him to clean the room out, and last year he made a small stack of books and board games with a note: "Please send these to B." Well. Didn't even make a dent.

So last weekend I armored-up against dust and teen-boy-detritus and went at it Full Court Press. He said he didn't want anything, and I conceivably could've just swept through with garbage bags or Goodwill boxes and have been done with it, but it just didn't seem right. Instead I put on my Good Mother badge and went through everything. Everything.

Sorted, rescued, plucked. Photos of him and his mom. Signed baseball cards. Childhood books which showed the signs of obvious affection and many-reads. Saved and packed-up for storage. I figure, he may open his eyes some morning at age 53 and wonder where that Nolan Ryan baseball card ever ended up, and then he'll remember that box of stuff. Maybe. Maybe not. But it just didn't seem right to get rid of everything. So.

Now the fun part begins. Or, that is, after I paint the walls, and I loathe painting walls. (Hmm...maybe there are some manuscripts I have to work on....hmmm....) But then I get to make it mine. I can spread out my papers and pastels and dictionaries and scissors and glue and postcards and photos and fabric and have at it. Not sure yet what it is, but I intend to find out.

It's high time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's November and today it was seventy degrees. WTF? I'm all geared up for torrential autumn rain and this balmy weather is messing with my brain. But at least my conjoined-twin pumpkins (there are two pairs) are still growing. I really want to get seeds from them so I can plant an entire crop of conjoined-twin pumpkins.

Not much else.

I fear I've begun to repeat myself.

I fear I've begun to repeat myself.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Fall Back

Fall Back

It’s returned, that hour lost last April,

slipped in at 2am while a half-moon gleamed

in the pine. Hovered while I slept,

unclaimed angel, tick-tock.

But I don’t desire to use it yet —

I want to be selfish, I want to hoard.

I want to tear it into ten-minute bits,

fold one into my wallet for the late appointment,

one in the vegetable bin when lolla rosa

need last until supper. Under my pillow

to extend the dream, in the oven to slow

Quick Yellow Cake. I’ll give one to my son

to get out of jail free. And one

I’ll bury in the garden in eternal plastic,

mark an X with apples. Maybe

I’ll forget it’s there. And just maybe,

in the next century someone will unearth

a ten-minute treasure, spend it lavishly.

copyright 2010 T. Clear


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