Friday, June 30, 2006

Petey, our next door neighbor, caught on the verge of possible escape attempt thwarted when I entered the house and closed the window. Intense stare directed at my dog.

Who can say what any of us is on the verge of?

Do note the six toes on each of the two front feet. Each of his hind feet has six toes as well. Four toes total above the norm.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Contemplating Alternate Careers

Or what if you had a matchbook?

Never Throw Anything Away

Okay, so let's say you have an Altoids tin.

ZZ Wei has a way with clouds

In my sweetie's fantasy, we will climb aboard the travel van and fly into adventure. We'll equip it with cooking utensils, Krustez pancake mix and canned tuna, a mattress, a collapsible table and chairs, collapsible bicycles, a Coleman lantern, adventure books, maps, changes of underwear and good boots, and sing-along travel music. Off we'll set, our hearts bouyant and lacking for nothing. Yes, he has seen About Schmidt, but he has also seen the movie where the man climbs aboard his riding mower? small tracter? to reconcile with his brother half a continent away. Maybe the bicycles wouldn't collapse but ride outside the vehicle on a rack. Maybe I would not collapse within myself, dismayed by my virtuous antagonism towards gas usage, my less attractive desire to stay in fine hotels and dine in restaurants where there is no ketchup on the tables. I have no wish to make meals ala Lucy in The Travel Trailer movie or to scud around corners like Goofy in the Disney film. I haven't even seen RV or whatever the recent film is called with Robin Williams in it, but I don't feel attracted to doing so. In our travel van, the highway would spool under us like film stock while the scenery painted itself for our passing. We would never misunderstand the nest egg concept, or be really, truly lost in America. We would only play "Born to be Wild" with a sly nod to how silly we look. How silly do we look?

Monday, June 26, 2006

hot under the collar

hot flash




The Jack Straw Writers' Program 10th Anniversary Reading in the Microsoft Auditorium at the Seattle Central Library yesterday afternoon starred nine of the ten chosen writers. Trisha Ready wasn't able to come at the last minute, interviewing for grad. school in I think, don't get me wrong, somatic psychology. Dreamy.

Readers and our fair audience had to find their way through the Gay Pride Parade, heading downtown for the first year ever. Virtually nobody was able to get into the library's parking lot. I parked down 4th avenue about four blocks away and got to walk to the beat of "Dancing Queen" on the way back to the library.

My favorite of the readings was Anna Balint's monologue piece - affectingly in the voice of a young woman who repeatedly sabotages herself and probably will never be able to raise her own children as a result. Barbara Earl Thomas's story about a young girl's sexual awakening through communing with mannekins at The Lerner Shop came in a strong second.

The reading went by incredibly quickly. We had all been admonished to keep it under five minutes, and we all get gold stars. Such a gorgeous gardening Sunday, ferryboat ride Sunday, hiking Sunday, and yet we had an audience in the neighborhood of 50 people. I had memorized my four poems, thanked Joan Rabinowitz and Chris Higachi and went into a white marshmallow space for a half second. Luckily I had made myself a crib sheet from one of the Cracker Box cardboard covered books the volunteers make at Beacon Hill Elementary. I had pasted my typed poems onto the pages, one per page. I opened the book, saw what I was starting with, and was fine from there. It was an interesting experience to face an audience the entire time rather than looking down repeatedly to make contact with the mothership of the poem. I liked and was terrified by the sensation of speaking my mind to everyone. People afterwards, including other poets, seemed to respond to this manner of presenting. I think I'll keep it up - move to longer readings with this same memorization focus, and the crib sheet, just in case. Many people were moved by the Bobo piece - so many of us grew up here in Seattle. Someone, maybe it was Joanie Strangeland, maybe it was Ann Hursey or Anna Balint, maybe it was me, said we could put together a Bobo Poetry Anthology.

We went up to the opening celebration for the newly remodeled writers' room on the 9th floor after the reading. Food and good wine were spread out on the table in the small room next to the writers' room. My only gripe was that there were people blocking access to the side of the table with the cheese on it, and I felt too woosy (not woozy) to ask them to shove over, or around, or just get the heck over to the writers' room for a frickin minute. (It is hot today, have I mentioned this?)

The writers' room has a cluster of round tables divided into kiosks, each with its own bookshelf and its own plug-ins (2) for laptops. Over the heads of these tables are white leafy lor petal ooking fabric structures, perhaps to diffuse the light, perhaps to prevent observers above from pelting the writers at work. I'm not sure it is possible for observers to even be above, but it looks like there might be room between the top of the wall around the writers' room area and the skylight above. 30 Lockers line one wall of the room, below a gallery of photos of writers who have read at the library and are slightly more famous than those of us who read Sunday, to wit, Amy Tan, Alice Walker, Don Delillo, the sci fi writer from Oregon who wrote the boat analogy writing craft book, also a fantasy trilogy with a strong girl protagonist that I enjoyed immensely -- Ursula LeGuin, and others. Nice b&w photos. A photographer took pictures of us as we schmoozed and drank the good wine. When he photographed me, I was making a weird face, sort of a one-sided chewing activity, with an eye scrunched shut. If you saw the old wise guy who led Eddie Murphy to the temple in Nepal in The Golden Child, you have a sense of my fabulous look.

At least one other 1999 Jack Straw Writer, Rebecca Meredith, was there. She no longer lives in Redmond, and no longer is involved with RASP. She said Victor's Coffee House, where we hung out as a 99 group, has become inhospitable to writers since the new guy bought it. He cut the RASP reading series. Peggy Sturdevant, who was a 2002 Jack Straw Writer, has become an official P.I. blogger in addition to the writing she does for money. She had a blog at blogspot for a few months, but got bored with it. When she switched papers for political reasons to the P.I. she noticed bloggers' stuff was printed sometimes and applied to be a P.I. sponsored blogger. They wanted resume, etc., and now she's the P.I. Ballard Blogger. Huh. She has a couple of regular commenters. Oh for regular commenters. It would be almost like having friends, no obligations, which is one of my issues. An issue that does not keep me from typing away so that I can push that orange "Publish Post" button and see my words on my green backgrounded screen.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

In the Public Eye

Today, 2pm, I am part of an event at the Seattle Central Public Library. Ten writers representing the ten years of the Jack Straw Writers Program will be reading for five minutes each. Each of us represents the writers from each of the years of the program. I am Miss 2002. I was a Jack Straw Writer in 1999 too, but am not wearing the sash for that year. Since I have as a project the memorization of my poems (if I don't love them, who will?), I will be saying my poems rather than reading them. I have made a little commemorative book, cleverly titled "4 Poems in 5 Minutes", which I will be handing out to whoever wants one. Yesterday, I brilliantly affixed stickers advertising my book, nothing to hold onto, so that people might go to Finishing Line Press's website or to and buy my book. A couple of days ago, folding little books for this reading, a small overweight angel in mismatched socks whispered that I am doing the best work I can do the best way I know how so I may as well put it out there. I'm not suddenly going to awake to take my waking as Roethke or Shelley (him or her) or anybody else but me. I don't sound like the greats, but then none of them sounded like any other of them, not to mention that in this postmodern, postindustrial, postmenopausal world, there are a fracking lot of us out here throwing words around like we really mean it and who the bleep can decide which of us is going to last or even surface. Perhaps that was a question. To make any kind of art is about making it. To be a deep sea diver, go diving, if you know what I mean. What will I wear to the reading? Nothing too obviously psychedelic yellow green so I don't blend with the escalator and confuse patrons. I used to try to dress like a poet, but never have been able to decide what that means. One middle school student for whom I have built a small but colorful shrine in my back bedroom told me she knew I was the visiting poet because I looked exactly like one.

Some possible rules for pre-reading jitters:
1. know thy poems but print them up in 14 point type in the event your mind flees the premises
2. warm up voice and body.
3. no milk - blechy throat will blur words. no vodka.
4. dress for the event. no tiaras unless event calls for same.
5. bring party favors
6. no stiletto heels unless you can stand in them without falling on your face

And yet, I have come to cringe over the flip, snide and tongue-in-cheek. I take as my text David Sedaris's supposed text of the graduation speech he delivered at Princeton, reprinted or printed for the first time, in the New Yorker. How many pages? I was bored after the first half page. When satire goes wrong.

And now to launder me and iron my linen skirt and spiff up for Rem Koolhaus and the Jack Straw Foundation gang.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Gratuitous Grace Photo

This is not me coxing, nor is it the right crew, nor is this Lake Washington. That hill in the background is not Mount Rainier. We had many more clothes on, in particular me, the cox. Since I have not yet taken the float test, I wore a huge jacket with a life preserver built into it, which kept me toasty in the bit of a breeze. Our boat was taupe, not blue, and there were four rowers. The boat was rigged for sculling not sweeping, two oarlocks and two oars per rower. You will get no information from this photograph to help you visualize this morning. Mount Rainier was starkly present, not a ghost mountain. It wore no lenticular cloud beret. I however wore a WWU Vikings baseball cap with the microphone strap tight around it. My mic cord plugged into my cox box (not a dirty phrase) which plugged into the boat so all four women could hear me fabulously well when I yelled my idiot questions to our coach in the launch or counted under my breath to be sure I would have them shift to another rowing task "in two" at the right time. As my counting became shaky when I was distracted, Mount Rainier, swimmers off the port bow, buoys, wake, breeze, steering lag time, Sally the stroke counted under her breath as she rowed to cue me. Here's the wide awake and brilliant thing: I remembered to unplug the cox box from the boat before stepping out when we returned to the dock. I did not ram or graze the dock. I will never be able to work for the Washington State Ferry System.

On the Lake, 5:30 am

A new era in my life has opened its petals, revealing Mount Rainier, strong and handsome at the south end of Lake Washington, from the stern of a 40 foot long racing shell at did I mention 5:30 am. The tender bud (not button, G.S.) of my cox career got a midicum of sun and no splash. The boat rocked a little once in awhile (wake, yanked steer string) but I came away invigorated and grateful.
One quad,
one novice cox,
one coach in one launch,
one broad shouldered mountain,
two oars per rower,
two motor boats with skiers,
two directions to pull on the steering line,
three sets of paddle 10, half pressure 10, full pressure 10,
three swimmers doing laps in the lee of the floating bridge
four rowers.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lost Item

Lost in the bathroom, far east end of Terminal B, Logan Airport, my brand new hardback copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma, unread.

Please return to Pippi at this blog, pronto.

Note: this collage pilfered from the website of Deborah F. Lawrence, fabulous satirical collage artist. Go to

Don't jerk me around, I have important things to do today. Upstairs, where the flying ants clustered before they were dessimated by the sticky goo the exterminator lay down around every floor to wall juncture, many projects lie about the space I like to call my workroom. I spend time here making poems, lesson plans, collages and handmade books. I also spend more time than I want to tidying, which, as Mrs. Beerman from kindergarten could confirm, is not my preferred activity. "Pippi L. does not seem to like to clean up," was the text of the comment section of my very first school report card. This was before my star status period of brilliant bubble test results put an end to this unkind of observation.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Did you ever stop to think what makes gelatine dishes stiff? The answer is all tied up with the chemistry of gelatine itself -- but the important thing for YOU is that gelatine is a wonder cooking ingredient that can turn a liquid into a solid "just like magic."

-Good Looking Cooking: A Guide to the Use of Unflavored Gelatine
copyright 1959

Is it just me or does this sound sexual to you?


...Even your floating thoughts begin to sit on their own bottoms.
-The Sanity We Are Born With, p. 27

Monday, June 19, 2006

Have you met my daughter Shawna and her husbad Todd?

One minute you are musing about art and the next you'have been invited to view the photos of someone you love, and not one of those boring evenings in the light of the slide projector but one of those new fangled invites where you get to see the loved ones dorking around their lovely craftsman home when what they meant for you to look at were proper public views of somebody's college graduation for example your other daughter's.
Both the lovely souls pictured are college graduates. In fact, the bloodied prom date (to whom I am related by real blood) has a master's degree - in science (of journalism) . (See sidebar to the right>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>)

Say, I'm Gleeful about Paul Klee

Long long ago, when elephants gave birth to girls and boats could be crewed by two blockheads, I fell in love with the art of Paul Klee. I knew nothing of its context or the artist or even whether to say clay or clee. I was a fresh-freed college student about to become someone other than my pupa self, and damn it I was ready for a renaissance or a naissance or a seance, nuance, nonce, though not nuptual, no. I wanted to know how to apply color, why calculus, what is western civilization? But what I found out was that marijuana makes you: 1. horny 2. hungry 3. paranoid. I also discovered that there are no Cape Canaverals for jettisoning the self.
But here is Paul Klee off the internet and onto the internet where I want him, all blushing and blue with firm black lines that say to me, "I know what I am doing. I say what I am. Blue goes just here, here, here, two dots right here, this line begins with a curl, grows thick then thin as I command it."
Outside there are weeds pushing up between the bricks of the walk from the street to my doorway. They are green, but not the green in this painting. Someone uses a blowing tool to move dead leaves around down the alley. The noise comes on obnoxiously, flares, and silences. It has nothing interesting to say. A strange man came into our house on Friday, shouldering window glass. He replaced many of our windows but not the frames. While he worked he made impatient, exhausted, disgusted, world-weary huffs that distracted me at my writing table. He has not been wooed by the paintings of Paul Klee. The skylight above me shows a blue sky, which continues blue all the way across the section of the square opening that is visible to me as I sit here. No decisions. My iris violet wall wears a block of lighter violet where the skylight has invited sunlight in. This cheers me, but not like the painting. The lighter violet block is an accident of light and placement, there is nothing unintended in the painting.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Do you need glasses? Try this test:

what do you want when you gotta have something and its gotta be sweet and its gotta be a lot and you gotta have it now

Did you ever think you would grow up to be who you are?
Did you ever think you would grow up to be?
Did you ever think you would grow up?
Did you ever think you would?
Did you ever think?
Did you ever?
Did you?
Me neither.

Video flash: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang just out on Tuesday. Robert Downey, Jr. Also Val Kilmer. The movie opens with a boychild magician whose boychild assistant sets the chainsaw going and begins the saw the girl in half trick. Girl starts screaming, which sends father running, she's acting, film cuts away as father raises arm to strike. Yikes. Robert D. J. in best aware-of-we're-making-a-film-here narration turn ever and ordinarily I am irritated by voice-overs.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Clinging to expectations is a less than ideal way to proceed

Rain and wind and rain and wind and bits of weatherstripping stuck ridiculously to the sills and below them rather than in the grooves the windows fit into here at Duxbury, Mass. so that I have fled the beach house for the free library, where the room is warm, dry and well lit, except for the half a minute when the power was out and all of us here held our collective breaths. On the table beside me I've set Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus and Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, First Edition. Let us begin:


anise and cumin
Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and
cummin, and have ommitted the
weightier matters of the law,
judgment, mercy and faith; these
ought ye to have done, and not to
leave the other undone.
-from Jesus' reproach to the Scribes and Pharisees

a drop in the bucket
from the King James version of the Bible:
Behold, the nations are as a drop of
a bucket, and are counted as the
small dust of the balance.

fly in amber.
An unimportant person or incident remembered only
through association with a person or matter of significance.

Mickey Mouse
Cheap or inferior, small, insignificant, worthless;
petty, trivial; simple, easy, childish.

no great shakes
a low roll on a shake of the dice,
a negative appraisal of someone's character
on the basis of a weak handshake,
or a negligible yield resulting
from shaking a barren walnut tree.

one-horse town
The phrase maintains common usage in the United States despite
the fact that horses are no longer the principal means of transportation.

peanut gallery
In many theaters, peanuts and popcorn were sold
only to the people in the least expensive seats,
usually in the rear of the balcony.
Since these seats are traditionally
bought by those of meager means
and, by stereotypic implication, those
with a minimal appreciation of the arts,
comments and criticisms
from the people there carried little, if any, weight.

pebble on the beach
"There's more than one..."
and "You aren't the only...,"
most commonly used in situations
involving a jilted sweetheart.

Compared to the man Bilbo,
63-year-old John Rankin is strictly
penny ante and colorless.
(Negro Digest, August, 1946)

the Podunk near Hartford, Connecticut,
or that near Worcester, Massachusetts.

small potatoes
evidently derived from the short-lived satiation
of one who has eaten a small potato.


But wait, here's "cock a snook" under INSULT:
A British slang expression for the gesture of putting one's thumb
on one's nose and extending the fingers, equivalent to
thumb one's nose. (not to be confused with setting the fingers
beside the nose, see 'Twas the Night before Christmas.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Far East Report

Duxbury Free Library, 3pm, view of lawns and Percy Walker (not Walker Percy) Pool, with lines of yellow school buses doing drill team drills at the stop sign behind the oak trees. My hair is damp, I've come from PWP where I swam 36 laps, 1800 yards, thinking of my daughter, who rows 2000 meter races, training multiple 2000 meter pieces daily, or at least that was true until NCAA Nationals.

I'm here at the DFL to research the 2005 Tour de France, think yellow jerseys, think Lance, think our family around the television, Jim deep into radiation treatment and every yellow jersey an omen for him.

Dizzying to be so far from home in this distant yet familiar place. I'm out of sorts this year, disgruntled at the loss of some of my work-avoidance places like the las Olivades store with its Italian dishes, now replaced with a bland interiors store called Octavia's, its wan attempt to woo me with a glass counter of sea glass bracelets failing, all those complacent pastel rectangles.

Following my extra beat heart experience, I am off caffeine and now off French Memories Bakery where I used to buy lattes. They don't make decaf. "Only high test," said the counter girl. Their petit fours and tortes were obscured by condensation on the display glass - what I cannot see I refuse to miss or long for.

What is the function of a blog? Is this a literary blog? I write, I read, I write about what I read and everything else, so yes. I can boast zero comments, a perfect score. Talking at the dinner table with my writer housemates (I cannot say "fellows" as we are all women), we discussed blogs and websites. Two women have websites, I am experimentally blogging. Who reads your blog? Apparently nobody, I said. I am not sure of what use I want to make of it. It is odd to journal so publically, but my blog, arguably, is not public, so there is no invasion of privacy, no questions raised about the expansion of the public sphere into the private. Perhaps I am an exhibitionist, but an exhibitionist flashing inside my own bedroom with the drapes drawn, or maybe just a teeny bit open in case someone might be hanging about in the shrubbery ready to view something really really interesting and distressingly alive and vibrant. Junior high school discovery fantasy, redoux.