Monday, February 28, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Cheese Report

On the coast today expect
gusty shredded mozzarella
with foggy cottage
in the morning hours.
Partial Edam in the afternoon,
with periods of bleu.
Highs in the 50's.

Inland expect increasing Manchego
with scattered wet Stilton.
Windy and mostly Jack on Saturday
with possible feta flurries.
Lows around 30.

In the mountains: Roquefort advisory
with accumulations of up to 3 feet.
Gouda becoming easterly 20-30 miles per hour.
Pecorino warning on the northern slopes.

Extended outlook calls for frozen Limburger
off and on through Friday,
with partial afternoon Brie.
Cheddar level, around 500 feet.
Chance of cheese: 100%.


© T. Clear 2011
A version of this originally appeared in Poultry.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Sussah, of angels and people/life in New Orleans, left this comment on my previous post:
Do you have sleeping dreams so sweet? I hope so.
These past few days I've been contemplating a blog entry centered around a long-recurring dream where the light in the dream matches the light in the photo below. But I know that other people's dreams are dull dull dull, and so I've prevented myself from going any further with this theme until I read Sussah's comment.

Sussah: you're in my head!

One of the (many) wonders of technology is that I've been able to reproduce, through photographic manipulation, the intense blue-green light of a dream from which I always awaken feeling exhilarated, stunned with the possibilities that life offers.

So if I haven't lost you yet, here it is:

In the dream, I arise about an hour before dawn, to a mostly-sleeping universe, except for myself and maybe one or two other people. And we are suspended -- in time & this luminous light -- for several hours. Nothing much happens other than the fact of our being present and allowing this light into our consciousness. It's a balm, a restorative, a limbo of peace with the intense awareness of everything being right coupled with a heightened sense of reality. If I could go there every night, I would.

When Jodie Foster, in the movie Contact, stands on a beach with her long-dead father, we don't know if she's in an altered state of consciousness or has successfully navigated to an alternate universe -- but -- the screen was lit up with that same light from my dream.

In Philip Pullman's book The Subtle Knife, Will Parry discovers an invisible opening into another dimension, and while there finds a knife which allows its bearer the capability of "cutting entries into countless other worlds." [Random House] Is the dream my metaphorical knife? If so, I want to hold it in my hand, honed to a keen edge.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Let me exist, for a time, on the beach just below these cliffs, in this ocean-green light. On canvas. With gauzy edges. No schedule, no cold, no worry. And no shoes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Criminal, Redux

A year ago I blogged about my limited contact, thirty+ years ago, with the Green River Murderer. (Here's a link to that piece.) I opened the Seattle Times this morning to, once again, his reviled face: he's confessed to yet another murder, a woman whose bones were discovered just last month. And yet it's his mother whose face I see, she who made my life -- at age 18, 19, 20 -- a particular kind of hell. (He's about the age his mother was when I worked with her.)

A while back while dining out, Paul and I struck up a conversation with a woman who was dining, alone, beside us. She was a psychiatrist with the Washington State Department of Corrections, and this man (whose name I'll not utter) is one of her patients. Needless to say, the conversation heated up at that moment. Apparently, he sees himself as a celebrity, and struts around before her when they are in session asking, repeatedly, "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?"

What really gets me though is that this beast receives counseling, compliments of the State of Washington. Counseling? WHAT??!! Gee. I wonder how that's working for him. Sure hope he can work out all those mommy issues.

Anyway, I'd prefer to never see his face, anywhere, again.

Friday, February 18, 2011

There's an argument for not going to Hawaii in the middle of winter because re-entry is quite possibly worse than not going at all, but I'm not going to pursue that argument, because, in spite of mid-February malaise and airplane air it IS worth it. (I'm not sure if that all makes sense but who cares.)

Quiet at work, by myself. Melinda is off to Philadelphia to accumulate a year's worth of orders. Check out her current blog post here.

Having grown up in a large family, I want and need a lot of people around, most of the time. I know there are others who, having experienced the same early familial hubbub as me who crave alone time, but not me, or not so often. So it's just been me and the cat in the Wee Glass Factory aka Melinda's house. Come visit! Today was the first day of the Philly show, and early reports look good. I'll post pics when I can; no new ones available yet. The new work is literally hot out of the "kitchen kiln". But there are some real beauties!

Monday, February 14, 2011

nine things more-or-less related to today

1. The average adult human heart weighs about 10 ounces.

2. I once gave a poetry reading on Valentine's Day, and only read poems that contained the word "love". Fourteen poems. Paul was there -- we'd only just begun to date -- and the reading was hosted by one of my bakery customers with whom I'd gone out a few times.

3. When I was newly widowed, I received, at the bakery, a bouquet of tulips with a card signed "from one of your admirers".

4. I've always coveted those lapel pins with an outline of a heart in red rhinestones.

5. Heart-shaped, iced sugar-cookies are sublime.

6. My son Nelson, at age four, for shoes wore only a pair of red cowboy boots.

7. Those old valentines, where you had to cut out and glue the envelopes? Bad idea.

8. Valrhona 85% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate + a glass of Ruby Port = Heaven.

9. When I say "Happy VD" I want to hear you clap.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Even better than the road to Hana....

....and less crowded is the Kahekili Highway in West Maui, where the "highway" is indeed one lane most of the way, razor-narrow one lane, mirror-scraping-rocks one lane. The landscape is entirely different than anywhere else on the island, more wind-scrubbed by the wide-open waters of the Pacific, plants and trees hugging the ground. It's cattle-country, and hunting country. Red dirt country. It actually reminded me a lot of the sodden coastal West of Ireland, but with heat.

There is a single village of a dozen or so houses, nestled in a steamy valley --

-- where an old bus anchored to the cliffside serves up deep-fried hot dogs and mahi mahi & chips --

A bit further down the road, a banana bread stand sold mini loaves, still warm, complete with a plastic knife for slicing....

My favorite sights, though, were the fruit stands, unattended, with a jar for payment: the honor system:

This felt more like an authentic Maui, with taro plantings and chickens wandering, no hurry. The resort scene is a world unto itself, fascinating to observe, relaxing and a kick to be a part of. But today I entered into an older world, minus a single gas station or mini-mart. (No Starbucks!) And imagine this: no cell phone service. Remote? Indeed. But with a luxury of breathing space that one is hard-pressed to find in the land of multi-lane roads and five-bar phone service.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Living in fish heaven here. Except for some bits of bacon in my salad last night and a pig taco, I've been practicing piscivorism. No, not some tropical golden-idol worship, but the worship of fish: ahi, ono, mahi mahi, crab, shrimp. Hot temps make me crave it. Seared, macadamia-crusted, pan-roasted: bring it on. Still on the list: poke (po-kay) -- a raw fish salad.

There's only been one dish I've not devoured: a pohole fern salad. Overloaded with the Hawaiian variety of the fiddlehead, very bitter, with nothing in the dressing to balance the flavors. I did my best, really hating to waste food, but after chawing my way through half of the large plateful, I pushed it aside. Felt like a horse with a feedbag.

And last night's dessert was a swooner. If Paul hadn't also ordered it, I would've been forced to erect the Portable Electric Dessert Fence: white chocolate filled malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) with coffee-caramel dipping sauce. Sublime, divine, glorious, etc.....

I know. It's gotta end at some point. Forty-eight hours from now I'll once again be enduring Seattle's perpetual winter gloom. But that still leaves plenty of time for more pleasures of the plate/palate!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Road to Hana

Known for its 600 switchbacks and 52 single-lane bridges, the road to Hana, on the northeast end of Maui, adjacent to the West Maui Forest Reserve, is situated in the last undeveloped swathe of land on the island, and the most remotely situated region in the state of Hawaii. Driving it yesterday, strip malls quickly gave way to sugar cane fields, which faded into vine-strung tropical rainforest where rainbow-bark eucalyptus trees and banyan trees alternated with impenetrable groves of bamboo. African tulip trees towered above, their mammoth crimson blossoms -- flame tongues -- clustered at branch-tips. I was in fern heaven: entire hillsides and banks of lush, giant ferns. Trying to capture any of it on film seemed hopeless: you just have to go there yourself.

Luckily, I was not behind the wheel. Paul, trained on the back lanes of Ireland, is a pro at narrow winding roads -- more than once he proclaimed "This is NOT a one-lane bridge!" Nonetheless, they were narrow, and most drivers perceived them as such, and the ever-accumulating quantity of them -- coupled with the fact that you have to go back on the same road (unless you have a 4WD) -- makes for some dizzying travel. I just did the math: 1200 sharp turns and 104 skinny bridges. Here's a detail from the map:

I guess that makes anyone who drives this road and back in a single day a saint. I hereby cannonize St. Paul the Husband. Down on your knees, heathens.

At a rest stop about a dozen feral cats made begging rounds among the pick-nickers. When a man threw a scrap to one of the cats, at least a dozen feral hens came sprinting out from the bushes -- and I mean sprinting -- and one snatched up the bit well before the cat was able to take possession. These were some tough old hens; easy to see who's at the top of the, uh, pecking order here!

We stopped for Kalua pig tacos at Up in Smoke, an open-air BBQ stand situated among a cluster of shacks in a clearing carved out of the jungle. Always on the lookout for ruins of a sort, I spied this car back in the weeds, with a smashed windshield, littered with African tulip blossoms, with a coleus growing out of the wipers.....

Most of all I was enchanted with the bamboo groves: I could live happily for the rest of my life surrounded by bamboo. I love the speed at which it strikes upwards to the sun, I love its scent, the texture of the green stalks, the sound of those thousands of leaves fluttering in a breeze. I love that it sends its rhizomes out horizontally beneath the surface of the earth, a secret that will not be controlled. I've grown it myself in large oak casks, but this just seems wrong: a plant in a cage that belongs in the wild.

We drove back in waning sun, left behind the black sand beaches, the glistening black crabs scuttling across lava rocks, the waterfalls, the 52 single-lane bridges. The brazen hens. Too soon civilization reappeared: a yoga studio, a coffee shop, a gallery. A three mile rush-hour traffic jam, luckily going the other way. Safeway. K-Mart. Wal-Mart. Home Depot. Had to remind ourselves that we still were in paradise, even though the road to Hana and its 600 switch-backs was, alas, behind us.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On Lahaina Bay

Fifty-foot sailboat, humback whales breaching, slapping their flukes. A mom-whale swam directly under the boat when her baby got too close to us; she quickly headed him off. We were able to see most of her when she arched up out of the water: spectacular. It's a thrill unlike any other. The first mate said that she's about as long as the boat and weighs three times the boat. No whale photos -- I didn't want to be fussing with the camera and then miss the actual experience.

But in the lulls between sightings, the horizon beckoned, as did the West Maui Mountains, and Lanai and Molokai in the distance. This Hipstamatic lens (on my iPhone camera) I'm using takes the shot and then reverses a part of it and superimposes it on the photo, and it's different every time, with some pretty thrilling results. Today it seemed to capture where my head is in this exotic landscape: a shifted perspective, images layering themselves one upon another in my consciousness, and hazy at the edges. Sometimes up is down, and vice versa --

But then, that's what a vacation is supposed to do, I think: shift the brain into a new place, shake up the vision a bit, open ones eyes to a changed landscape, where there are colors whose names you could have never imagined before this day, this place, this moment --

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I Have Resorted To

I keep starting blog entries then deleting them....still sponging up the local scene, the upwards temperature shift, taking note, as per usual when I'm away from my home setting, of the many nuances in human behavior. Primarily, I've noticed that most "holiday makers" (as they say in Ireland), or more appropriately, "hula-day makers", fall into a few categories:

1. First timers, characterized by an obvious goggle-eyed expression and an indeterminate stride.
2. Honey-mooners, goggle-eyed for each other, bound at the hips.
3. The "let's give this one last chance" couples, silent and bored at dinner, blankly staring into their pink-umbrella-topped Mai Tais. Wife almost always with a flower in her hair. Husband generally agitated. Loosen up, folks!
4. The retirees. Most conversations I've overheard from this group concern their most recent cruise."Last month we were in Bora Bora blah blah blah." More like Boring Boring.
5. The pros: they know where they're going, they walk chin-out, chest-forward, they laugh too loud and boom their voices, know all the "rules".
6. People like us, for whom I'm always on the lookout. (I like to believe we defy a category, but I may be mistaken.)

Last year, my first time here, I was in a daze the first few days, and was amazed that I was surrounded by what seemed to be Professional Huladay-Makers. Where had I been all my life?! (I'd been eking out a living, scraping up the rent, inventing a dinner from Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, penning a poem or two when the muse graced me with her appearance.)


At Safeway, rambuton (a tropical fruit related to the lychee):

Late afternoon sun viewed from the lounge chair --

Paul's and my alter-ego silhouettes:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011


I ran across this sentence that my son R. wrote as part of a spelling assignment when he was in 5th grade (the spelling word was "brief"):

We were golden for a brief moment.


And by Robert Frost:

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.


My advice to you:

Be golden today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Particular Harmony

I don't remember the song, but we were listening to a Chet Baker CD at work today, all going about our separate jobs -- Melinda resizing imagery, R. making photo-masks, I was packing pieces for the big wholesale show coming up -- when I suddenly became aware of the fact that all three of us were singing along, each with our various vocal talents (or lack thereof!).

There was not much that was conscious or even self-conscious about it. We were more just part of the symphony of background noises (rolls of packing tape unfurling, the click-click-click of the exposure mechanism, footsteps on the wood floor, the heave of heavy boxes, the rustle & crackle of stiff sheets of plastic, the printer spitting out a new transparency, glass vessels clinking into each other) but we were singing! On the job!

There are few delights more delicious, I truly believe, than feeling a freedom to sing in the presence of others. Not to perform, but to just let the music move the soul forward into a melody of its own, with no reward other than the joy of feeling ones voice lifted into the atmosphere of the moment.

Wait!I recall the song -- here it is (minus the glass-girls-chorus):

(Thinking back, it's not the first time this has happened. I recall the group of us singing gospel along with The Blind Boys of Alabama, as well as I Feel Pretty from Westside Story. I believe we've done this -- are you ready? -- time after time....)

Sometimes everything in the universe lines up just right.

The other day, Melinda, my boss, came back after running errands. C. and I were working down in the studio, and had left the iPod blasting a Johnny Cash playlist in the house. Melinda stepped into the house, and there was the momentary between-songs silence. Wondering where we all were she called out, "Hello?" And just at that moment, Walk the Line queued up where Johnny begins, in his deeply resonant voice, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash!" --answering Melinda's query.