Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Penance: Costco

A day of sharp rain squalls, this Easter Saturday, and I was out in it on my weekly urban grocery foraging. Ha.

I mostly try to avoid Costco, but go there for prescriptions because the price doesn't bleed my wallet out. I didn't need much other than the Rx's, so I didn't get a shopping cart, which was a mistake. I realized, as I dodged and swayed quickly left or right to avoid getting side-swiped by rolling metal tank-like carts that they serve not only the purpose of holding one's mega-whatever packs but they are also a kind of personal armor. I'm telling you, it was dangerous, and I kept having to do funny little dance steps and do-si-do's just to avoid injury. I could swear that there's a low constant humming in that warehouse, the sound of commerce grinding it's way inexorably into the next sale. And why is there no express checkout?! Five items or less? All I had in my arms was a giant bottle of Tabasco and a giant bottle of vanilla, and for the privilege of paying a reasonably low price for them I had to stand vigil behind flat-bed carts tipping with 48-packs of toilet paper (each roll individually-wrapped: what waste!), cases of Progresso soup, and floppy giant bags of white flabby dinner rolls.

My mother used to do an Easter Saturday vigil at St. Anthony's church every year, alternating shifts with her fellow Altar Society members, until midnight. Me? Today I meditated in line at the Costco Cathedral of Our Lady of Capitalism, contemplated the apparent need all around me for excess upon excess (the sales clerk didn't even take the time to make eye contact).

A kind of penance, I suppose, for which there is no need for confession. The only thing missing was the organ.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Insurance Rant

My insurance broker who handles my homeowners insurance emailed me last week, saying that there is a new company they're dealing with who offers significantly lower rates, and if I wanted a quote I could get one after sending photos of both the front and back of my house.

So today I heard back from the broker, who said, "Your house is so cute! REALLY CUTE!!" And that I could get a quote if I scraped and painted all the "exposed wood" on the house (it's stained), if I scraped and painted the garage to match the house (it's a falling-down garage that isn't worth even a quart of paint), and if I cut back all the "shrubbery" to allow easy access to the house (the "shrubbery" is a clematis, a rhododendron and a climbing rose that have been painstakingly trained to frame my front steps and front porch and in no way prohibit access to anything.)

Bottom line: shell out $3k+ and we'll cut your homeowner's policy by $20 a month. 

Gee. What a deal.

What a scam. I wouldn't put it past them to supply me with a list of "suggested contractors" who'll do the job at bargain prices.

Looks like I'm staying with my current company.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Excuse me while I meditate —

It's a gritty place. There's glass everywhere, paint tubes, containers of brushes, stacks of cut-up paper towels. Water cups. Linseed oil. Rubbing alcohol. Parchment. Sticky blue photo-resist. Packing peanuts, bubble wrap, shipping boxes, sharpies, tape dispensers. On the kitchen floor is a box with half a dozen hand-blown (and very $$$) blank vessels. Razor knives. A cat. Everything in a different stage, all of it somehow ending in a gallery in Martha's Vineyard, or Beverly Hills. Or Brooklyn.


This week chaos has reigned, a discovery of flaws in way too many pieces. One of my jobs is to troubleshoot, to make a defective piece into a first-quality piece. There's some masquerade that happens, some sleight of hand: make the defect look intentional, embellish it with some irridescent paint, a garnish of maroon. (Works like a charm.) Sometimes I feel like a dentist with my diamond-tipped drills and sharp pokey tools as I gouge-out embedded stones the size of pinheads.  There's UV sensitive glue and a diamond wheel grinder: my bag of tricks.

Today the credit card processing device repeatedly refused to function. Credit cards were declined, gallery owners didn't answer their phones.


(A bit like me, at the end of the day.)

I keep about ten orders in my head at any given time, all in various degrees of completion, with infinite variations of pattern, color, shape. And then there are next week's orders, spilling from their file, with their attendant pre-planning, and early staging. And finding space in an already packed production calendar to fit in yet another thousand dollar order. (Such problems!)

Amidst all this hullabahubbub this afternoon, I suddenly had a vision, a revelation, an aha moment of where I could go for respite, for sanctuary: I could go to the new website, where everything is perfectly finished and perfectly arranged, neat cleaned-up rows of glass minus fingerprints and all the detritus left over from this thunderous production.

I know it sounds kind of wacky, but visualizing the site — without actually getting out of my chair and going over to the computer, but just imagining it — well, my frizzled synapses actually calmed a tiny bit. It's like there's this clean and quiet room, a meditation temple that I can visit any time desired, and all the chaos smooths out.

And seventeen boxes later, it was time for a nap:
photo by M. Wellsandt

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mary-Melinda Website! Live!

At long last, the glass-factory website is up and fully-functioning. Check out the full product range *here*.

It's been a long time coming!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Leaning into the Year

Yesterday was one of those early spring days when the temperature rises to an astonishingly ambient degree, so much that it's almost too much to believe — seems impossible — that there is indeed an end to the persistent grey and waterfalling skies.

It lingered into this morning as I walked to work, petals spilling from cherry trees with nearly every step. But there were clouds lining up in the west, impending.

And now here we are again, hunkered down against the rain.

I want summer to hurry itself up, but then that means that it will be closer to ending. Better, in my eyes, to linger in this anticipation, in these possibilities. Everything seems more possible in the spring, creatures that we are of regeneration, of rebirth. The older I get, the more deeply I slide into winter's chasm, into the darkness whose only respite is the moon on clear nights. But without the contrast of winter, what use would spring be? If I inhabited a more equatorial landscape, I do believe I'd long for the longer winter nights, and then the stretched out dusky midnight hours of June.


Even the trees with nearly imperceptible blossoms are exquisitely beautiful.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

One Tulip, and Peeling Paint

Only one, because I never dug them up in the fall and separated them.
And peeling paint that will not get repainted, because the garage is falling down.

That's how it is.
And it's okay.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I don't seem to be able to write much in this space lately, seized with an atypical silence that is coming from a place deeply embedded in my cells. Or something like that.

The job today was overspilling with April Fool's jokes, starting with a faked bloody hand photo (my hand, perylene maroon paint as blood) on facebook: "On the way to get stitches".

We removed all but one of the "8.2" candy from the tin where it's stashed, sending M. into a minor tizzy.

I taped the toilet seat down with an "OUT OF ORDER" sign.

And lastly, I spun a fictional story to G. about an intimate relationship with a police detective we all know, and had him fooled for a good thirty minutes. G. even gave me relationship advice! I hadn't realized how adept I seem to be at, ahem, lying.

In case there's any question: yes, we also worked! Hard and diligently! Laughing!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm working on a poem about a bird nest, and found this stunning photo and text in the Wikipedia entry "Bird Nest":

"Like many small birds, the Purple-crowned Fairy uses considerable amount of spider silk in its cup nest."

Spider silk!
Ruby-crowned Fairy!
It's a found-poem-fragment!

Botox Ha!

Three times today at work, I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks. Once it was so bad that I had to lay my head down on the table. My stomach hurt. Bad! I tell you!

A NYTimes op-ed piece makes the case for getting botox injections so that your frown muscles cease to function. Apparently, in a study of 74 people, this caused an easing of depression. Kinda turns the case for therapy-to-feel-better on its head. Instead, it's do a happy dance first, feel better second.

Now, if this was the case, I'd never get depressed, because this laughing-until-crying 3x in a day is not unusual for me. Or maybe, if I stopped laughing-until-crying 3x a day, things would get really bad. Maybe this is my version of a control group of one.

Anyway, I would have it no other way, except maybe to bump up my numbers to, oh, 6x a day. Wouldn't want to rush into anything, though. God help us if there's too much laughing.

I'm going away for the weekend with three of my sisters, and I'm actually worried I'm going to laugh too much. We're bringing the game Balderdash, where you make up definitions for odd words and then vote on which one you think is the right definition. Last time we did this on a weekend getaway (about fifteen years ago), my stomach muscles ached for days after.

This is what made me laugh last night (and they sound more than just a little bit like Donald Duck):

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blog Post

One of my sisters complained this week re: my dearth of blog posts, of late. She said I needed some drama, something to write about.

I will say that the past three-month period has been, by far, the most calm period of the past fifteen years. A little weird to settle in-to, but I'm likin' it. Don't need no drama. (Although a little spice would suffice, say, maybe a quarter teaspoon or so.)

But here we are, another spring, another year of ripping the bindweed from the garden. My son and I filled the giant yard waste bin this morning, trimmings from the apple tree mostly, the tree that produces about a half dozen maggoty fruits. I think I like it better for its accumulation of lichen than anything else, and the birds that roost in its branches. Oh, and the short-lived blossoms. And the shade it provides for my kitty graveyard.

There's a hazelnut tree, a volunteer from, I'm guessing, a nut buried by a squirrel. The squirrels also harvest all the nuts. Alas, a the meager yield from my two-tree orchard.

I wish there were still surprises to be found in my garden, but I think those days are past. Once I found two Spanish coins while digging, and they were worth about two cents. Snails are recent migrants, and because their shells are so beguiling, I can forgive their slugginess.

But every plant, every weed has been seen before. Is this what happens when we age? I like to keep parts of my garden a little feral, so as to invite the unexpected. Maybe I need to tunnel into the ivy-rose bramble beneath the fir tree, where the cats hide. Maybe that's where I'll find something worth unearthing, some rusty hinge or remnant of fence that quietly tells its story.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


It's really just a rearrangement of dirt: mopping. Before I mop there are spots and clumps of lord-knows-what on the tiles, and after I mop, it's all spread out evenly.

This is what I think when I mop the kitchen floor.

Other notable events:

1. the quince is blooming

(Should really be "another notable event", but I'm optimistic that there will be more, and I'll come back and add #2.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Praise to the Light

I really can claim no complaining rights when it comes to winter here, considering our more moderate climate, but this winter laid me low, pushed me under the rug, had me gut-punched with what seemed like interminable darkness. On and on.

We are creatures of the light.

And all of a right-now-sudden there's a whole lot of bursting open going on, ornamental cherries and grape hyacinths and daffodils and today I even saw a plum tree fully enlaced in white blossoms, so right out there and in-my-face that at first I thought it was just an overgrowth of lichen on an old tree. And suddenly also there is a scent in the air other than the steel-trap-shut scent of winter.

There's a sweetness, by god.

Painting, this morning, and suddenly, E., a young women who works for us, spontaneously burst out into laughter that went on and on. When I asked her what was so funny, she said, "not funny, but beautiful....  Look at these colors on these leaves! They're beautiful!"

And yes they were. A green with undertones of black to bring depth to the surface of the glass, then an overlay of maroon-bronze, feathered out from the tips. E. is still learning the nuances of this particular painting process, and she gets it — I mean she really gets it, like no one else I've taught.
She understands the subtleties, and how the lightest touch with the brush will alter dramatically the overall effect. It's thrilling to experience her process, how it is opening up to her, and how she rises to the challenge of it. And then today, when she vocalized her utter sense of joy with a full-on laugh.

Walking home tonight — in sunlight! — I counted on my fingers the months ahead of post-5pm daylight. Eight months! Count 'em — eight! To the naysayers re: DST, I say: BAH! I say bring it on. I sing hallelujah and praise to the light.

And there was a moment this morning, when I was walking outside between house/factory and studio, when the day was just emerging from the mist, and sunlight was breaking through from the east, and it seemed as if all of winter was being burned away in anticipation of Official Spring, still ten days hence. The air had a sound, a flat thud of a sound, minus depth or echo, and the light seemed to carry in its photons its own warm fragrance. A synaesthetic moment, to be sure.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winter's Retreat

The sun came out this morning, flaring between gusty rain squalls and, being creatures drawn to light and the drama it creates with color & landscape, all three of us at work rushed to the window to behold what few moments the universe was granting us free of downpour. The year has made that subtle shift away from winter here on this continent's edge, and we who huddle too much in the shadows of mountains and evergreens, awash in infinite gravelly shades of grey — we live for moments like these, where the new greens of the grass appear illuminated, as does the thick coating of moss on the trees.

A. said: I bought [glass] color rods yesterday for my new project, two shades of green, one like the grass and the other like the moss.

And then, just as quickly, the rain blew back in, and we returned to our tasks, that luscious green existing, at that moment, only in a tube of paint. I rustled around for it in the paint box, my brain humming with possibilities.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hangin' with the Tribe

I've been walking around in a funk/pout/sulk all week because the AWP Writer's Conference was in Seattle and I wouldn't be going, all economic things considered. I mean, a serious sulk — I could hardly stand to be with me. I mean, what am I, a two year old? (Well, um.....)


I did go to the AWP Bookfair today, open to the public FOR FREE. Damn it was good. I milled around amidst thousands of people who, like me, treasure the almighty written word above almost everything else. It was like a club meeting of the one club where I'd be a member, except I'd got there at the very end of the meeting, but it was okay because everyone was in high spirits and there was table after table (800+ tables) of letter-press books and poetry mags and just plain people who love the whole shebang as much as I do.

Glory be.

Apart from feeling like I'd missed most of the show, I'm so very glad I went. Saw lots of people I know, made a bunch of new connections, and just plain was in awe of some of the work I saw: hand-crafted books with amazing art and, well, some damn fine writing.

Good stuff on a Seattle grey day.