Thursday, February 28, 2013


Can I please just get in a car in the West of Ireland
and drive alone up into the sheep-dotted hills,
farther and farther as the road steepens, narrows,
until the engine sputters, gas burned to zero,
the light failing?

And be alone in that windy silence.

Work, and More Work

First thing today — really, before the first thing — the 3-pallet shipment from the Atlanta & Philadelphia shows was unloaded onto the sidewalk, then dragged/pushed up the alley for better access to the final destination.

Raining. Mud.

Three of us put it all back: the show fixtures in the shed (heavy lugging!), and glass back into the house — our little homing pigeons. And so welcome on our bare shelves!

Once everything was unpacked, Melinda and I got busy photographing every piece; it's the only time of the year that we have complete collections in the house. Lights, white photo tent and a handy-dandy digital camera.  We worked together seamlessly, a choreography of handing pieces off to each other when there was next to nothing in terms of staging space. (We're packed to the gills and then some at the moment.)

The minute – well, I took a 20 minute lunch break first — but (nearly) the minute the photo-shoot was done, I began pulling pieces to fill orders. Seems there is always a handful of orders awaiting completion, missing a piece or two due to any number of errors and/or mishaps. And this time of year, when the big show shipment flies home, it's our version of Christmas morning: an unusual abundance dominates for 2 or 3 days, and then it's back to make-to-order business.

Between pulling cooled pieces from the "kitchen kiln" and doing the final look-at to insure top quality, M. and I moved pieces from 3 orders out to the front porch for signing with the diamond-tipped dremel. (Keeps undesirable glass dust out of the house.) And then back onto the "Hot Shelf" for preliminary packing, double-checking the counts, assembling packets of care-cards to include with each order.

I was running on a minimum of fuel: only four hours of sleep, with perhaps a bit of over-tippling the night before in a week of emotional wallops: life.  No reserves at the moment.

So it was push ahead and get the job done and don't think about napping or putting my feet up or sitting down to a relaxed meal. There were orders to process through UPS and shipping labels to print. (Remember to put the label sheets in the printer the right way!) There were credit card numbers to be processed (the joys of $$$) and I had to make at least an attempt at cleaning up.

And in the end, not a piece of broken glass, amazing considering my somewhat fragile sensibility and the general lack of space. Mindfulness was the rule of the day.

About the time I signed out, I sat across the table from Melinda and said,
"We kicked ass today. Damn. This is one complex small business, and we're doing it."

(Or, as my brother, who hardly knows who I am, said to me last year when I mentioned that we'd exhibited at the New York International Gift Show,
"Good for you, getting a little experience." Pat pat pat on the head.)

My "little art job".

His Name Was P...

When any mention of her ex-husband's name was uttered, a grim pall was cast over the room....

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stairs to Nowhere, A Chair for No One

Except, maybe for the ghost which appeared twice, ascending the stairs, even though I wiped the viewfinder off for possible smudges. And there was no chance of reflected light, as the sun had already set.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vegging should be spelled "vedging".

I snipped a bowlful of rainbow chard tonight in the 5:30 dusk, sauteed it up with onions, garlic, threw in a couple cans of cannelini (canellini?) beans, lots of freshly ground pepper, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, topped it off with parmesan, some brown rice on the side.

For economic reasons as well as health, I've decided to lean a bit closer to the vegetarian side of things, with nary of complaint. Don't get me wrong — I love a hunk of sizzling cow on the flame, or any slow-roasted pig parts, and fish, and fowl, and and and.....

But I've a refrigerator full of tofu and a cupboard full of beans, and it's all good, every last bit!

Late Nights

If I consult a calendar, I can confirm that I am no longer 25, but to tell that to the gallivanting spirit I've adopted of late would engender an argument with myself that I'd rather avoid.

Nonetheless, two nights in a row of hitting the pillows at, oh, 2-something A.M., after a good ten nights of out-and-abouting, these quinquagenarian (how's that for a show-offy word?!) bones are complaining.


My niece flew in from Ottawa last night and spent the night before heading out to spend the week with her parents across the waters of the Salish Sea. If I could choose a daughter, it would be her. She's recently completed her PhD in microbiology, and over a breakfast of oatmeal with blueberries and toasted almonds, she spoke of her research in virology, and of cutting-edge cancer research, where in the next 10 to 20 years, cancer treatment will be individualized to fit the patient, thereby avoiding stab-in-the-dark chemical attacks on the human body in the form of chemotherapy. It essentially amounts to a cancer vaccine — fascinating and hopeful stuff — and she's thick in the middle of it. My heart glows when she's close by, and she's beloved not only by me but by my sons, who consider her more of a sister than only a cousin.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cake, and Clouds

I've been reliving some of my earlier mothering days this week, chauffeuring my concussed son to and from PT appointments, to his umpire workshops, to the light rail station. I'd forgotten how those rides in the car provide a quiet space for conversation, and as R. is particularly taciturn, I'm always amazed that he actually converses when he's the passenger.

Little gifts.

While waiting while he was at PT, I found a French bakery that I'd driven by probably hundreds of times yet never paid attention to — stunningly beautiful and delicate petits fours and cake slices that look like they're fresh off Avenue des Champs Élyéees. Pricey little morsels, but what a great treat.

And then there's the ride home along Lake Washington Boulevard — whitecaps on the lake and the sun flaring out from behind cumulus clouds. Nothing budding out yet, but it's all there, on hold, ready for the shift into a new season.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In a Dark Glade

We walk the path bisecting the park's peninsula, my friend J. and I, late on a Saturday afternoon, a shadow of low cloud slung over us. In the moss draped maples, high up in the winter canopy of bare branches, ferns grow like lace, perpetually green.

I tell J. of my friend who entered these woods with a gun, shot herself dead in a dark glade. No knowing where, exactly, and it doesn't matter. J. speaks of his med-school ER days, the bullit-riddled patients, bodies resisting resuscitation. That moment after somebody "called it", and the quiet release of possible salvation.

His story lingers under cedar boughs and hemlock as the light slips from the day, and we are silent for a moment, our footsteps on the loamy trail barely perceptible.

A woman and a dog approach through the trees, and I recognize her as the one who discovered my friend's shattered body here, six years ago. We're barely acquaintances, and I offer a quiet "hello" as she passes. 

Although I live in a big city, our neighborhood enclave is small, with connecting lines criss-crossing over and under who knows who and who talks to who and, more importantly, who knows what. A secret can be difficult to keep, and I'd heard that this woman desires anonymity, but I know the truth regarding the cruel fact of her discovery.

I also know that she still walks these woods every day, regardless of what ghosts hover in dappled shade where bone and blood marked dirt.

I don't know what it means to stumble across a gunshot suicide.

500 years ago, this forest burned, evidenced by tree rings on long-logged lumber. Storms have  blown through — and will continue to blow through — felling fir snags: eagles' perches. Fungi will go on with their decompositional work, breaking down everything into the smallest molecular bits. 

And in a mere two generations, this story will be — according to the odds — forgotten,  a page from a book left out too long in the rain.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

From the "Are You Kidding Me? Department

On the Comcast homepage, line #8 of Ten Things You Should Buy in Bulk:

college degrees

Most people in this country can't even afford one. The absurdity of this notion so floored me that I didn't read further, even though there may have been a perfectly reasonable explanation.

May have been.

But I doubt it.

Next time I'm at my local food co-op, I'm going to check out the per pound price of college degrees, and if it's feasible, I'll bag up a slew of 'em.

You never know when an extra college degree will come in handy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


At a dinner party last night I was seated beside a doctor who specializes in palliative care at Children's Hospital in Seattle, and one of the other guests asked about what kind of awareness dying children have of their own fate, and he said that often they know and accept this before their parents do, and he's known a child as young as six to have a conversation with his/her mother and father to help ease their oncoming sorrow.

We all took turns reading a poem (or singing a song, playing the guitar), and this doctor chose to read this poem, by Billy Collins:

Picnic, Lightning

It is possible to be struck by a
meteor or a single-engine plane while
reading in a chair at home. Pedestrians
are flattened by safes falling from
rooftops mostly within the panels of
the comics, but still, we know it is
possible, as well as the flash of
summer lightning, the thermos toppling
over, spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message can be
delivered from within. The heart, no
valentine, decides to quit after
lunch, the power shut off like a
switch, or a tiny dark ship is
unmoored into the flow of the body's
rivers, the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore. This is
what I think about when I shovel
compost into a wheelbarrow, and when
I fill the long flower boxes, then
press into rows the limp roots of red
impatiens -- the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the
sleeve of his voluminous cloak. Then
the soil is full of marvels, bits of
leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam. Then
the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, the
clouds a brighter white, and all I
hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone, the small
plants singing with lifted faces, and
the click of the sundial as one hour
sweeps into the next. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I went outside to take some photos, and only had to walk a few feet until I found my subject....

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Song For You

Even almost ten years after the fact, and seemingly from nowhere, come moments where it feels like my husband was in his car accident just last week. And wherever I am, I must surrender to the moment, knowing that it will pass, and the knowledge that, as time goes on, these moments become spaced further apart.

This happened today at work, while I was painting, alone, and listening to Pandora on shuffle, which, with 100 stations and each station playing any variety of tunes that fit the theme,  there is a possibility of infinite variations.

It was a sunny afternoon in a winter of rare blue skies — remarkable in and of itself — and I sat and let the wave wash over me. And then this — a new song began, and it was one of the songs played at Mark's memorial — A Song for You, by Donny Hathaway:

I love you in a place 
Where there's no space or time
I love you for my life  
You' re a friend of mine  
And when my life is over 
Remember when we were together
We were alone 
And I was singing this song to you

My sons and I listened to dozens, possibly hundreds of songs that week before we gathered together, and there was no question that this song — a favorite of Mark's — was the right one.

His memorial was held in one of the theaters at A Contemporary Theater in downtown Seattle, and close to 300 people attended. There was live music as well as recorded, and we listened to this song on their state-of-the-art sound system, and it was heartbreaking, as well as breathtaking.

The timing of this song today was a bit of a heart-taker, a breath-breaker, and I sat up and listened to every note with tears streaming down my face. (Good thing I was alone!)

There is not a day that doesn't pass without a gift, and today's gift was a big one.

I don't know if I'll marry again; the whole business, at this point, seems like a fuck-load of effort that I'd rather forego. But life, and love, has a sneaky way of catching us unaware, roping us in when we believe we're invulnerable.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


There has been a dearth of wind in Seattle for months, and not enough definitive pounding rain on my attic roof, besieged, as we are, with interminable grey.  (From which Seattle gains its fame.) I think it's the omnipresent grey that drives people away rather than actual precipitation, which, statistically, isn't necessarily on the generous side. NYC receives more rain per annum than Seattle does. Go figure.

But a wind has rustled itself up tonight, and after an evening spent with my best poet-friends, and one of those discussions over wine which digs deeply into the heart of things, there comes an ease which knows no other inception than just these things: wind, poets, wine.

There exist turbulent rumblings all round my modest peaceful core — my older son was rear-ended last week and is dealing with the complications of a concussion and whiplash, both profoundly disturbing, with persistent headaches, dizziness, double-vision. He just last month began a new school program, a jump-start to his life which has faltered these past few years due to a pile-up of unexpected circumstances. It seems to be a quarter step forward and twenty steps back. He might have to withdraw from one or two of his classes to get his jolted skull some time to heal. I would like nothing more than to see this young man soar, yet it's challenging, after 27 years of falling down, to keep any kind of faith.

And one of my closest friends, a man who owns a large part of my heart, awaits his own deadly diagnosis. Just one phone call, and the rest of his life will chart itself out.

Yet, in the midst of these bruisings of the heart come flickers of surprise joy, flashes of light so dazzling I hesitate to look straight-on, rendered shy and in awe of the possibilities of love and redemption.

This is my world, set before me with every planetary rotation, and I'll take it.

Monday, February 11, 2013


I am of few words this evening,
staring at the blank space of a word document.
I shall very soon descend into my fatigue, slip
into the light of dreams, that blue before dawn,
suspended, just there —

Friday, February 8, 2013


Pulled to a thousand compass points this week, tending those I love, stumbling on some accounts, pockets brimming with worry. And also waves of astonishment as I seem to have tripped into a new energy field where tectonic shifts in the landscape have set me atilt, askew, akimbo.

Cryptic enough for ya?


I'm participating in the creation of yet more new pieces at my second home, the glass factory, and hot-damn it's thrilling! Grateful for the gift of it, I am. Melinda jets off to another wholesale show next week, to filo-dough-fee-uh, and we're in the rush of the last minute of it now, the ever-evolving swirl (and sometimes clang) of glass and pigment and my favorite paint names (and favorite colors): Prussian blue, alizarin crimson, Payne's grey, perylene maroon, irridescent Aztec.

The cats doze, one on bags of bubble wrap stuffed back into a closet, the other snoring on a high shelf beside a window. Outside, squirrels burgle the suet feeders, while green finches wait in tittering impatience.


These words from a friend gifted with keen insight and rare wisdom:

We seem to be at that mid-life place where tolls are collected with sorrow as payment… a time to invest in the graces of gratitude and the present, and give in to knowing the limits to what can be promised....

Monday, February 4, 2013

One of these days I'm going to turn on my computer,
and there will be this message:

Updates are available for you life.
Would you like to update your life now?

If you choose to update now,
keep in mind that you also must restart your life
for any updates to be effective.

Estimated time to completion: varies,
depending on the age of your operating system.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I've had my head in a moldy James Fenimore for the past hour, having violated my rule to not touch the weather-ravaged volume on the porch. I couldn't resist, fascinated as I am by things in their decay. And who could argue that mold-study isn't a perfectly acceptable alternative to Super Bowl frenzy?