Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rosanne Olson at Robin Rice Gallery

My marvelous and talented Seattle friend Rosanne Olson has an opening next week — Wednesday, May 8th — at Robin Rice Gallery in New York.

How I wish I could be there!

Rosanne and her husband Ted McMahon have been in the same writing group with me for many years. Both are multi-talented. Rosanne, besides her work as a professional photographer, is a talented singer/songwriter, as well as poet. Ted, a Seattle pediatrician, is a poet, drummer and welder.

New York friends — check out the show for me!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

James Fenimore Cooper, After Twelve Months

My Dear Mr. Cooper,

It's been a year since I set you on my porch
to be cured of mildew, hoping the sun
would bleach it away. Instead, I've watched you
endure rain, frost, squirrels, wind, crows,
an accumulation of additional mold (stunning
pinks and greens, furry blues),
potato bugs, spiders, fir needles, human feet,
god knows what else.
Every day I've checked your verbage,
your crinkled pages, your unraveling spine.
You've been my constant, my index of months,
the tick-ticking of another year.
Now it's time to shift you, with intention,
to another place, maybe 
I'll snug you in among salal and irises,
or nestle you in meadowsweet and bluebells —
a bed I'd choose if my own chapters risked thinning.

You've been a sturdy volume —
nearly unmoved for twelve months
by the ravages of a flawed planet.
Maybe your words will take root in the garden,
or maybe decompose, break down
to elements of a larger ecosystem.
You might take up with worms.

You've been good company, Mr. Cooper
and may your passing into new territory
carry with it every possible surprise.

All Best,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Almost —

The truck, as it careened towards my sister and me,
seemed slow-motion —
and the car following, flashing its lights, honking —
that second or two, in memory at least,
goes on for minutes, that's how much information
the brain can fire up in that flash of time passing
or barely passing or, even, suspended —
we moved aside and now I can't recall
whether we leapt or sauntered
because in the flash of another unmeasurable interval of time
the truck smashed into my sister's car
where we had just stood —
and the truck's driver who is a friend, a neighbor,
slumped to the side, drunk,
with a gaze of did something just happen?
And the driver of the car who honked
jumped out and started yelling
about hit-and-run and pedestrians nearly plowed down
and wondered was it a medical emergency? A heart attack? Stroke?

No. None of those.
(But I hugged the honking/yelling driver for alerting us, averting us from certain injury.)
And I recalled how, ten years ago, in the wake
of my husband's DUI death, I knocked on her door
and pleaded with her to seek help, to stop driving, anything.
And how she still drove every day and once knocked down a young tree
but never another vehicle, another human.

Now, hours later, too razzled for sleep,
I can't decided whether to be angry that she almost killed me
or happy that she didn't.
And compassion?
It's somewhere, but I can't find it, not yet.
Maybe in the morning, after this elusive sleep.
Maybe next week.

She left in handcuffs.
She's still my friend.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Distance of the Moon

Every so often, when I'm alone on the job, I pull up a podcast to listen to. Yesterday it was this:

The Distance of the Moon - Radiolab

(If you click on the link, you'll go directly to the site.)

I had no idea what it was, and I was blown away by it.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Again, Orchard

A fascination with apples
too small to be of use:
undeveloped, pocked, cankered.
Wintered under a punishment of snow,
missed in the raking of each row.
Ripe for my obsession
with the dead, the dying, the decayed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday, Yakima

This morning I walked the rows of apple trees in search of yesterday's clutch of eggs, and paced in vain, finding only the dessicated, the abandoned, the dead. Even an outhouse was padlocked — I reached my camera through a narrow gap in the door opening and took a photo.

When I told my brother about the nest, he said, "the mowers are coming tomorrow." My hope is that the nest is close enough to the tree trunk that it will escape shredding, but how could the pheasant hen withstand the roar of that destroying machine so close to her eggs? My brother also said that the orchard had just that morning been sprayed with pesticide, so there goes even the potential for hope.

And without my photo, I would this morning have believed that yesterday's nest had been only a mirage, borne of the sun — my rain-weary eyes were quite possibly in shock from the brightness — and the wind which moaned its loneliness down through the valley.

Even the smudge-pot graveyard — despite the appearance of a private conversation among their rusted convocation —spoke of desertion.

(Though the red heart of the the half-apple, still-seeded, reminds me of love's possibilities —)

In My Brother's Orchard

My prize find of the afternoon: a pheasant's nest at the base of an apple tree, the brooding hen taking startled flight to my quiet footsteps on rippling grass, a flurry of feathers drifting from the air she left above her clutch of eggs. And one egg, in her rush, shifted away from the warm leaf-nest, and I lifted it back into the center or its life.
And then away, away, into the wind and the sharp chemical air, the late afternoon sun casting its slant across my steps.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I am continually vexed by color: its opacity, density, translucency. Blues are the most persnickety, greens are the most agreeable. Red is a constant mystery. Is it yellow I want, or is it gold? And what happens with any of these when I paint it onto sandblasted glass, which possesses its own translucent/opaque persona? Zinc white adds depth, but refuses to blend properly.

And light vs. shadow, direct-under-the-lamp light vs. natural light: every shift of light alters what it is I see when I'm attempting to paint a piece of glass.

And, of course, there is my own particular mood.

And the depth of the blast on the glass, where a millimeter variation can greatly influence paint application.

And the grit in the sandblaster: fresh and new? Or old and spent?

There are bad paint days, especially bad black paint days, usually at the week's end, when it's time to knock off and let my weary fingers/hands/arms/shoulders take a rest.

Patience, I tell myself.

Love the glass.
Love the paint.
(Follow my own advice.)

Happy almost-weekend.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On the Job: Brick House

Falling behind at work, orders banging up one against another, not enough space, too much glass, paint smudges on cheeks, boxes, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, linseed oil tipped over into a pond on the floor (my clumsiness), zip codes, shipping labels, FRAGILE, always another flaw for which I must invent a solution.

Push, push and more push.

This came on the radio, and I cranked it up to a vase-shattering volume and danced —

Hungry, I buttoned up my black corduroy jacket today and lugged my lunch outside to eat in the company of a single crow cackling it up on the telephone wire.

Monday, April 15, 2013

In the Wake of Bombing —

My reaction — always — to violence, is to love even more. Love my children and my friends and my sisters and my nieces and nephews and my brothers-in-law and my one biological brother and my many chosen-brothers and my sisters-in-law and on and on and.

Love my two cats and the two neighbor cats who regularly come to my back door. (That would be you, Oliver and Kitty-Boy, in case you're reading.) Love the buttercups that I rip out of my garden, for their unrelenting tenacity. Love the peeling paint on my falling-down garage, love my falling-down garage which shall not be a studio, in my lifetime. Love the alley behind the garage. Love the Himalayan blackberry vines in the alley. Love the secret places in the alley and the secret places to which the alley leads, if you are observant.

Love my neighbors.

Love the rain.

Love that I have a job and love my job and love the one person who, every day, makes my job a miserable challenge. Yes. Love that person too.

Love broken glass and torn skirts and the April clouds that make me think of ripped silk. Love hail. Love the apple blossom petals that fly with the hail in the big wind that I love.

Love my toothbrush, my lavender soap, the sofa the cats claw. Love the stuffing bursting from the cushion of the sofa the cats claw. Love the cats' claws, especially when the cats are asleep and I can gently make the claws protrude.

Love snoring.

Love my beautiful, flawed, hurting, astonishing sons.

Love the father-in-law who is no longer my father-in-law, and also love the father of my dead husband. Love my dead husband, who died drunk and broken and alone on a frozen November night. Love the man who divorced me — even he, who is the most difficult to love.

Love the customers who came to my bakery and bowed down to the altar of sugar and butter.

Love making pie. Love the sound forks and plates make when eating pie, when the silence that my sons and I call Pie Silence occurs when eating really good pie.

Love Chopin's nocturnes. Chopin's ballades, especially the one I've been trying to master for 40 years. Love my piano with all chipped keys. Love its dissonance.

Love this inescapable imperfection which runs rampant across this magnificent planet. Love this planet.

All of you.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday, Precipitation, Planning on Mortality

Rain and rain and rain and rain
and rain like I've never remembered it
except I suspect my memory is undeniably flawed.
Rain like the West of Ireland in the middle of July,
Ballycroy National Park where 11,000 hectares
of blanket bog lead you down a planked trail
into only more cloud/mist/fog.

I tell my friends that I love rain
but days like this I doubt my sincerity.


In other news, Costco now carries coffins.
I mean, is one supposed to stock up?
Please, in the end, plant a shrub on me and skip the frou-frou. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Odd

In the peculiar image-scape of dreams, recently there appeared David Lynch standing on the opposite side of a trench behind the toilet in the house where I grew up. He backed away from me, pointing and shaking his head, receded underground into an infinity of darkness. A short-haired, short-legged, red dog barked and barked at me from the same trench; and kittens that had part-human faces begged me to adopt them.

I said no to all of them.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Runaway Washer Hose

Living in an old house (c. 1908), one is always on the lookout for the odd and the unexpected. Last summer it was a slumping foundation, evidenced by slowly (by the millimeter) widening cracks at crucial points of connection. There ensued excavation and a spreading-out of loads and sacks of cement dragged in and finally, just as the autumn rains set in, the trenches were filled-in, the splitting and separating halted. Alas, the garden still awaits reconstruction, and if the weather cooperates, I'll get to it this weekend.

Tonight, in the basement (the subterranean vaults of my subconscious), I noticed that Things Were Wet where things weren't supposed to be wet. I thought: cat? (One old cat has sworn off his litter box. Naughty beast!) But the tell-tale scent was absent: good thing. Backed-up floor drain? Didn't I just have that snaked-out? By my nephew and his truck-full of marvelous plumbing tricks? Indeed I did.


Then I noticed that the washer drain hose, which is supposed to point down into the drain, was unhinged from its, um, well, rather primitive duct tape fastening, and was pointing up. Up and out of the sink. Onto the floor, across to a shelving unit: wet everything.

But clean! Yes! Clean and rinsed! Spring-time fresh!

Coming soon: The Ecosystem of the Uncleaned Gutter.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ebey's Landing, Again

This painting, by an old girlfriend of my late husband,
has hung in my house for 33 years —

Yesterday I took this photo, from the same vantage point—

And this, from the National Park Service:
The Ferry House is located above the beach at Ebey’s Landing. Some mistakenly think this is the Ebey House, but that structure no longer stands. The historic Ferry House, built c. 1858, was a place where early travelers to the island, arriving by boat, could get lodging, food, postal services, supplies, and overland transportation to Penn Cove, where they could continue their journey by ship. The NPS is working on restoring the Ferry House to preserve it for future generations.

Ebey's Landing, Whidbey Island, Washington

In a twist —

Decidedly anatomically feminine —

The reverse —

Whose name I do not know —

Saturday, April 6, 2013

State of the Universe

wilted tulips
bits of sandpaper
books scattered
bunches of last year's hydrangeas
(a clutch of corkscrew hazelnut branches on the loveseat
quince petals bruised and smashed on the carpet
poems scattered in the sunlight after a night of rain-like-the-end-of-the-world)
(one slice of leftover cake
pencils with no eraser
a brown silk dress from Alabama, c.1910
fractured sleep)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


1. misunderstandings
2. a birthday
3. wig
4. hold the chicken, please
5. corkscrew hazelnut
6. 'he cut down a tree"
7. 2 tablespoons garlic salt
8. chins
9. ice
10. sapphire
11. slink away
12. visitation
13. pink camilia
14. deep-fried butter
15. pocket