Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Turn Around

My sentimental husband has been playing a Rosemary Clooney/Keith Carradine version of this song (which unfortunately is not on YouTube), and I've had to tell him to stop. It makes me cry every time! This Kodak ad, which features the song, made me cry as a child, alas. I'm a damn sap, that's what I am.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Nettles


For so long they contained all

that was evil, fear comprehensible

as a bully, a threat

to push me deep into the stinging

heart of a thicket –

I hacked a risky path.

And while dreams sifted through green nights

nettles sprang up, impossibly –

silvery undersides welting my ankles,

a poison assuaged with fern sap:

thin veil of defense

only a child could believe.

© T. Clear


Please do take the time to visit the Tuesday Poem masthead site for a bevy of poetry from New Zealand, the UK, and the USA.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Old News

From 5,000 New Answers to Questions, by Frederic J. Haskin, copyright 1933:

What was the largest cake every made?

Probably the largest cake was that ordered by Frederick William I, King of Prussia, in June, 1730. It is said that this contained 36 bushels of flour, 200 gallons of milk, one ton of butter, one ton of yeast, and 5000 eggs. The finished cake was 18 yards long, 8 yards broad, and more than half a yard thick. It was so large that 30,000 soldiers could not eat it all.


Just in case you wondered.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Benign Chaos

The family room is in the living room, the master bath is in the closet, the basement rooms are heaped into themselves, boxed and condensed. Closets lie in silent linen white, emptied of the accumulation of years. The kitchen is yet negotiable, stalagmites of cookbooks rising from the counters. The cats creep these sudden new alley-ways between paintings leaned against a wall. Fumes pervade everything. An architecture of ladders on the porch. Change is afoot and each newly brightened wall glows with its own light, delight, a calm uplifting of winter spirits cast out with the waning month of March.
I had sushi with a friend last evening and listened to her travails in dealing with her irrascible, ninety-year-old failing father who lives 1800 miles away. The father who, on oxygen and refusing to move to an assisted living facility, insisted on driving twice-weekly to the senior citizen center to play poker. When my friend's brother quietly confiscated the car and locked it up, the dad called the police on him. Three times. And then tried to convince his home-care-giver to drive him to his son's house, break the lock on the garage, and get the car back.

There is a blessing in timely death, I suppose. My own father died an untimely death at age 46, and god only knows the kind of elderly man he would be. In my few short years with him, we were very close -- we fished and gardened together -- but after so many years, in some respects he's like a fondly remembered character from a novel that someone read to me in my early years, from the past of the previous century, mythologized ever more with each fleeting year. There's a bittersweet blessing in these preserved memories, absent of the trials of the teen years, and of what would inevitably be his own declining vitality had he lasted longer than four+ decades. I look at my sons, also facing adulthood with their own abbreviated version of a father -- gone seven years now -- and wonder which glimpses of him they'll carry with them on their own roads into the future.

But enough of that. The painters have arrived, weighted with spattered drop-cloths; paintings are stacked out of their way. Paul is just back from a trip to the vet with one of the cats who has a giant swollen mass on her abdomen, which turns out to be a bruise. I cooked him up a plate of bacon and eggs, and there's a moment of quiet peace in the house before I launch myself into traffic and another day of shuffling glass vessels from paintbrush to packing box.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Something nags at me to sit down in this space and type a bunch of letters that make sense. So.

Isn't there some rule where you shouldn't work on two houses simultaneously? We're nearly finished with the seven-year excavation of the Brandon Street house basement; this afternoon I got all the way down to vinyl, which I mopped, until the mop did itself in. This is the rule: stuff fluffs. When you think you're finally done with most of the stuff, the remaining stuff plumps up to fill the newly vacated spaces. It's not just a rule: it's a law. The Law of Stuff Plumping. My advice? Throw it away. Now.

My son informed me that the furnace died today, and I discovered that the main floor shower is leaking and rotting out the floor. (%$#&*$!) (But mostly just $$$.) (Again: #%$&*#!)

The Redmond house, where I actually do most of my living, is boxed and dismantled for painters. And then it will be the wood-floor refinishers, and then the carpet installers. It will be beautiful, eventually. But the general lack of order and disarray addles my brain. This morning I continually tripped on box edges, caught my elbow on stacks of bowls sticking out from where they don't belong. At one point, fallen nearly face-flat, I decided it was wise to just lie there and straighten my banged knee for a few moments, let the sharp sting of the tumble pass. All balance is askew, all centers tilted to the left.

But the good news is that Spring has officially kicked Winter off the calendar. Not much in the way of seedlings in the garden yet -- a few straggly daffs, some teensy violas. And we have new neighbors -- from Hungary -- who pre-empted us yesterday in the Welcome Wagon department when they showed up at the door with a plate of Hungarian apple cake. Neighbors! Friendly neighbors! Almost feels like I'm back on Brandon Street.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wig, Four Ways


And when we weren't modeling blond curly locks,
we did a load of painting:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sitting here this morning, aware and grateful for even the most elementary of blessings:
--clean water from the tap
--a roof
--an abundance of food on the shelves


Glaringly aware of the near-impossibility of wrapping my brain around the scale of devastation in Japan. Consider this photo:

Besides my being nearly completely unable to conceive of a massive ship perched on a breakwater, there is the question of how exactly does a city/country cope with this amount of chaos? And then there is the fact that this photo of a single thing is but a fraction of the disaster.

This is a brutal reminder of our vulnerability, as residents of the planet. Nature is without mercy, and cannot know mercy. I stand in awe.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sleep Country

We went to a mattress theme park yesterday. Free admission!
One Dollar Mattress Rides

Upon entering, a child, who was bouncing from mattress to mattress, was joyfully belting out the theme song! We removed our coats, were given our own pillows, then were encouraged to lie down on any of the many beds while the attendant operated the controls. Lying there, side by side with eyes closed, our legs were raised up slightly, then our heads were raised up, then were lowered down! Amazing! Boy was I glad I hadn't eaten anything for several hours!

The park was organized by theme; our favorite attraction was the Foam Mattress Display. We bought extra tickets for this one so we could return and lie down time and again. The movement was very subtle: upon lying down, we could feel the foam beneath us slowly relax and conform to our bodies. Wow! What a ride!

The Beauty Rest Display was not terribly exciting -- all you could do was lie there. No up-and-down action, no sinking into oblivion. Yawn.

The Stearns & Foster Display had some mighty pricey tickets, so we didn't even bother getting in line for that one. (Actually, there was no line.)

And then there was an interesting set of mattresses with black trim. For these, you paid extra. What the heck? Aren't mattresses usually covered with layer upon layer of decorative trim anyway, trim in which one sleeps? Why spend more for extra (ahem) trim underneath all the usual trim?

We were so impressed with the Tempurpedic Ride that we decided to purchase our very own! It's being delivered Wednesday! Instead of cotton sheets I thought I'd get us some pink cotton candy
and now I have to redecorate the entire room so that we can lie in bed and throw impossibly soft pillowy balls at a pyramid of glassware. Maybe Paul will win me a mammoth turquoise stuffed elephant. Damn, but life is good!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Five American Sisters

In a short two months time, I'll be on a plane to Ireland with four of my sisters. (There's one more, who will not be joining us.) We'll stay a week at Holly Hill, then three will depart, leaving my oldest sister and myself for another week. As seems to happen in families with lots of women, the pre-trip gossip has begun to simmer. It's already been decided who rooms with who (as the host, I get my own room -- ha!). I've winnowed down the possible day trips to two -- Achill Island and Doo Lough/Leenane. So much to see in so little time! Most people who stay at our house, once they get there, don't want to leave. Why would you, waking up to this each day?

One of my brothers-in-law thinks we're nuts: five middle-aged women, some of us outspoken, most of us opinionated, with varying degrees of tolerance and adaptability (myself included). Will we revert back to our roles we played as children? (God I hope not.) Will we all respect the individual each has grown into during her lifetime thus far? (I hope so.)

I'm working on a set of rules to which we must abide, the first one being:

1. No whining about malfunctioning body parts. Holly Hill is a place of refuge from all ills and whatever ails you. This rule prohibits the discussion of cholesterol levels, arthritis, colonoscopies, mammograms, biopsies, valves, joints, supplements, pharmaceuticals, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.; except in the event of a medical emergency.

However, the following anatomical-related subjects are exempt: menopause, teeth.

This list will be updated as more rules make themselves known.

In the meantime, the countdown has begun.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Blog Brain has been mysteriously silent of late. No accounting for it.


We're revved back up to ramming speed at the Ferdinand Street Glass Factory. M. returned from her wholesale show with an armload of orders; her best show yet. Yesterday we received back from Philadelphia the three pallets that we shipped out a month ago, and as I was unpacking I contemplated just how many times these pieces of glass go up-the-stairs/down-the-stairs. I think that I don't really want to know. It comes in, it goes out, it comes back, it goes out again, etc. Lots of tinkering & fussing occurs in the interim. I often feel like a dentist with a drill and my tiny knife-tip: scrape scrape scrape. When M. gets the photos back of the new work, I'll post some here. The newest line is called "The Dream Line" and it's indeed dreamy. I'm all in a swoon over it.


Part of the recent silence reflects my desire to write, in this format, something that matters. There's so much crap out there in the way of navel-gazing and self-aggrandizing. (The letter "Z" twice in one sentence! I love Z.) It wears me out.