Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hire them all, almost.

Interviews today, three out of four were damn fine candidates, all willing and wanting to work for not a lot of money because it's not working for The Man. I sat and listened to artists speak about what is important in the world, how experience and joy trumps the dollar. Granted, experience and joy generally don't pay enough to pay the mortgage, but sometimes they do, and we find out that we're getting by just fine.

I don't know how M. will say no to any of those three. Such earnest souls, people who get why we do what we do, here at the Glass Factory. Just about makes me weep, the honesty of each of them, the insight.

And then there was the fourth one, who arrived thirty minutes early, was loud and overbearing with one of those old-girl smoker's coughs, her voice gravelled down somewhere deep inside her lungs. Appeared to be older than me but, I'm guessing, was probably not. A helluva lot of really hard living hung about her like a sooty cloud. Her jag-toothed, leering smile. Oy.

And the man with the massive hands, who I know couldn't manipulate his hands down inside most of our vases that get painted both on the outside and the inside. He was nervous, talked a lot, had a lingering sweetness. I looked at his online painting portfolio, and there was some fabulous stuff. Again, why is he applying for this job?

I don't know which one said this, but it was spot-on:

"When I work a traditional job, like retail, it zaps all my creative energy. I come home and don't want to do any of my artwork."


For us artist/writers, that creative energy is essential to being alive.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sunset Therapy

I stood in the street tonight in front of my house for a long time, turning in circles to take all of this magnificent sky in. (All I've done to this photo, taken with my iPhone, is ratchet down the saturation.) I couldn't get enough of it, wouldn't if it went on for the rest of my life. What is it about color, anyway? I can feel it deep inside my brain, like the best drugs possible. And no Big Pharma involved!

On the eastern horizon, it looked like someone had taken dustings of mahogany and fushcia chalk and sifted them down into the puff of clouds. Tonight was color-feasting of the highest order.

All well needed, as we're in the midst of major fluctuations at work, two people on the way out and one new person in training. Another new hiree has already been let go. It's pretty easy to tell, early on, if it's a good fit, and this one was definitely not. Pretty painful, as she really, desperately wanted the job. On to more interviews tomorrow.

A few things have surfaced, while reading cover letters from prospective employees: they're all "'passionate about art" and are excited about "bringing their skill set to our team." And so many applicants are tremendously overqualified, it breaks my heart. This is an entry level position, not anything even remotely glamorous. It's hard physical work, with a fair amount of tedium, yet today within a few hours of posting the ad, there were at least forty responses. Most of them have BFA's (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and not a few have MFA's, and impressive resume's.

It's all rather exhausting. And while all this is going on, the production schedule continues to demand my attentions. Shipped out to Boothbay Harbor, Maine today, a gorgeous collection in mostly tones of blue, grey, turquoise and yellow ochre, colors most unlike the performance of tonight's western sky.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hornet House

Hornets in the eaves, hidden behind boards, coming and going through 1/4 inch spaces. I'm loathe to exterminate them (exfoliate, electrocute, exorcise) — they are good pollinators and, who am I that is so important? An ethical dilemma.

Maybe all I need is an AK47, blast the hell outta them.

But seriously.

Since I'm a bit sting-shy, and don't relish the thought of great hordes of them rushing my face, I'm hiring a friend to brave himself up on a ladder and point a can of lethality at them.

But until that happens, in a few days, I anticipate a nightmare or two where they drill through the sheetrock and swarm into my bedroom, hissing clouds of unrelenting pain. Wasps, hornets: they sting multiple times, and with little consequence to themselves.

My brain tonight is overfull with buzzing, even as the hornets ease into dusk.

The lives a house contains, the many thousands incubating as I type.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gardening the Unremarkable, on the Solstice

I've humbled myself down to a garden of unremarkable plants, yet they are plants no less loved than anything more exotic. When talking gardening out and about in the world, the conversation always gets back to that which is less than ordinary, and my aim when I'm elbow-deep in the muck is to nurture what wants to be there, not that which I'm tricking into growing.

There's white anemone, and a few kinds of mint. There's borage and a shasta daisy or two. (Or three.) Cosmos. Cornflowers. Some penstemon, whose latin variety-name I know not. Alstromeria. Lemon gem marigolds. Lamium. Hosta. Nasturtiums. Geraniums.

Oregano, chives, sage, parsley, thyme, basil. Rosemary. Fennel. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, onions, carrots, chard.

No exclamation points, no misty-edged photos. On this morning of the longest day in the northern hemisphere, I yanked out weedy invaders, filled my watering can and lugged it from bed to bed, ever-aware of conservation, only watering what needed to be watered.

There are no photos to show here, nothing about which to exclaim. I worked my ordinary garden with a quiet mediation in the abundant early light of the first day of summer. And I could not have been more contented.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

In Clouds

I laid on my balcony tonight and watched clouds, something I haven't done in I-don't-know-how-long. Rain rolling in, a quick clipped wind, the undersides of leaves flashing white.

How easy it was, though, while lying there, to feel part of the larger world, an inhabitant of a larger planet with atmospheric shifts occurring right there above me. So good to visually step out of the small world of day-to-day, that downward focus that snares us in and keeps us from expanding our vision outward.

How long has it been since you laid down on the earth and spent time looking up?

(I had a notion that clouds would be fascinating seen through binoculars, but I was mistaken. )

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

There's a nail, a bolt, a screw, a giant something stuck in one of my car tires. I could hear it all the way home Monday night from my open mic, ten miles of click click click and of course I feared the worst, it was close to midnight and the road along the lake was unlit and I was alone.

I calmed my alarms down, no flat tire, rolled uneventfully home.

Do you hate dealing with car stuff as much as I do?

Especially glad for the walk to work this morning. Car worship is something I've never been able to understand. It's simply a tool, a vehicle, if you will, for getting from point A to point B.

I'll drive it the two miles to the repair shop tomorrow, do my best to communicate the issue with the proprietor whose first language isn't English. And if I say that I want life to be easier, I'll remind myself that this is easier, all things considered.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Silence of Fathers

When I think of my father I think of apple trees, his apple trees, all four of them, and how his work with them seemed a kind of meditation, all these years since. So many years. I'd bring my dolls out and sit with him as he pruned, or thinned. Or I'd climb up in the trees: not far to fall. Not much talk — a quiet man.

I can recall few conversations with him: he taught me how to tell time, a complicated lesson which involved the sun and the rotation of the earth. I was six, and didn't understand much. But I remember sitting beside him on the couch while he went off on what seemed to me far-reaching tangents, all too advanced for my first-grade understanding. There was an awe, and a fear of him, a serious man.

He tried to teach me to row a boat while camping in the San Juan Islands, and I failed, utterly. We fished together; again, a quiet study.

I wonder what our adult conversations would've sounded like — I like to believe that we'd have sparred on issues of philosophy, politics, the need for art. Which side would he choose? He could debate anyone under the table. (I have one of the medals he won as a champion on the debate team in college.)

My fear is that we'd have been polar opposites in our philosphies, that he'd disapprove of poetry. But then, what do I know, really?

I do know, though, unquestionably, that we would have talked gardening, and apples. I know he'd have the remedy for my six-apple tree.

Every year on Father's Day, I lie under the radar of families celebrating.
I work in my garden.
I keep quiet.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Moon, and Treasure

A back-and-forth email with a friend has evolved into its own odd thread, an excerpt below:

The vacuum, well, it lingered alone
in the basement stairwell, back where the foundation sagged,
all those hundreds (thousands?) of pounds of brute house force
yanking it downward. Gravity was the problem,
as it ever was.
Frown lines.
An old quilt whose stitching wanted nothing more
than to lie down and say goodnight.
And wasn't sleep the goal, after all?
The buttermilk moon, the lemon moon, or whatever the heck it was called
remained nested comfortably behind a swaddling of clouds.
Nearly summer, and a cold wind pushed its way in
through a window left open for the cats.
Not a night for music.
Even those velvet-cream sheets lay limp as kelp.
It had been a brain-scramble of a week,
and, well, sleep was indeed the goal.

Maybe tomorrow, she thought,
in the light of midday. Maybe we'll amp up that music
and get on with the harmonizing.


And then a dream, in which I find treasure — yes, treasure! — a pile of large boxes on my kitchen floor: strange and ancient coins, piles of silver and gold charms (including about three dozen Eiffel Tower charms), old first-edition books (autographed) in mint condition, pristine vintage clothing. There were two pairs of women's silk shoes, one emerald green, the other fuschia, and I had to snatch them up quickly because there was some urgent need to get away and hide them, something pressing on my consciousness: I'd overslept, it was 10:37am, and was going to be late to help my sister move.
I want back in to that dream.

The metaphor doesn't escape me: I exist amongst treasure, this being alive is what it is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DIY Dentistry, Day Two

Of course, the "dental adhesive" didn't last, and I'm left with a hunk of 28-year-old molar-shaped gold and a jagged gap in the back of my skull. I was telling my co-workers about this little adventure today and E. said this:

"My hygienist is the funniest hygienist ever. She used to do forensic dentistry, and she can tell what part of the country you come from by your fillings."

(Long pause.)

"Of course, that was a while ago, when I had dental insurance for a hot minute. It's been a while since I've been to the dentist."

I had one of those hot minutes myself, ten years ago, and the luxury of dentistry was mine for a short time. Not so much now. Last time I was in, the doc said he could only glue this crown back on one more time. Not enough tooth left, nothing to anchor. (Which might account for my repair failure.) An implant is a fantasy at this point, so I'm looking at extraction. Ain't that swell.

But enough of that. Our two divine employees at the Glass Factory are both leaving at the end of June, off to greater adventures. I've been in mourning over this, not only that we're losing two wonderful workers but we're losing two marvelous, radiant individuals who have graced us with their presences this past year. It's been a gift to sit beside each of them and listen as their life stories have unfolded during the long hours at the big table. I'm a better person for it, and my own imagination has expanded in ways I never thought possible. I am reminded, again, at how much there is to learn from the people in our lives.

M. posted a Craig's List ad for replacements, and had over 60 responses. Phew! Most applicants were crazily over-qualified, including someone whose resumé listed "Creative Director for Polo Ralph Lauren, New York." Why in hell does this person want to work with us?

But it looks as if we may have struck gold — again— if that's possible, with the two new hirees. I spent all yesterday and today training, or rather, teaching from the ground up, and it's going well. Fingers crossed. The learning curve is steep.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DIY Dentistry

Just today at work, while wielding an x-acto knife and picking away at a "cavity" on a piece of glass, I mentioned to one of the new employees that if she needed any dental work done, I'm her girl. I even have a drill! (Well, dremel, but it's got a diamond tip and I'm exceptionally precise. Maybe I missed my calling?)

Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, tonight I'm my own girl. My crown popped off, and minus dental insurance and/or a cache of spare bucks for a dentist, I googled "how to reglue a crown", and I was in business. Went to Walgreens for some dental cement, and after a few attempts (including, at one point, losing the crown and finding it in the garbage can), it seems fairly solidly in place. We'll see. But $3.60 is significantly less than $120. And the difference between the two will buy a helluva a lot of groceries.

But not to perseverate.
Earlier, I was sitting on my back deck with a glass of wine and the NYTimes Sunday Review, which I dole out to myself day by day, article by article. A state of utter contentment. My hummingbird buzzed up to my ear, hovered there until I acknowledged its presence. What was there to possibly complain about? Not a thing.

And now I sit, crown repositioned and feeling not unlike some kind of dental queen.

The bottom line: when you have to do it yourself, you find a way.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Not a Bushel, Not a Bagful

Only six apples on my tree this year.
(One is enough, of course, for temptation.)
And god knows who to blame.
(But what does god know?
And what is god?)
But if, in fact, god knows who to blame,
then let him show his face.
(God? Or him?)
(And clearly him, I say.)

The truth, I know, is clear,
and six is not enough.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


A treasure discovered beneath the rhododendron, nested in a bed of spent purple blossoms —
The shell that remains from a squash I grew last summer, so like a broken egg.

The curled tendrils of last summer.
Shell within a shell: snail within a squash.

Shell exterior.

The backside with its lovely concentric water marks, like sedimentary layers on a cutaway hillside.