Sunday, April 27, 2014

Incessant Fall Rains

What’s with all this rain? Makes me feel like I live in a gnome zone. I just came back after a wonderful week in the Bay Area.  Every morning I saw the sun rise outside my bedroom window and if my sister was already up and her door was open I could look to the west to see the Mt. Tam dressed in morning hues.  Everything looked so colorful, the fall tress dressed in oranges and gold, the air clean and blue forever. Not a cloud in the sky.

I would take a walk along the lagoon and although the air was cool enough for a sweater, walking into the sun was warm.  The early morning Marin Rowing Club members were skimming across the flaccid water in their skinny boats.  Cattle egrets skipped along the shore looking for worms and tiny fish.  Old eucalyptus trees trying to shed their bark in strings reflected the pink pastels of the early morning.  How I love this climate!!

Now I come back to the northwest and wonder why I live here in the winter. It is dreary; overcast with a constant drip of fall rains washing off dead leaves of summer past. The sidewalks are slick, the storm drains over flowing and the temperature hovering around 40 degrees. I truly feel like the winter gnome, the tiny knurly creature hold up in a small cave poking her nose out to test the temperature and
humidity, scooting back into her snug abode, not venturing out into the sloppy transformation from fall to winter.  I long for sun. I long for warmth.  I long for none interrupted blue sky.

Does this come with old age?  Wanting to become a snowbird, fleeing to the desert with all its splendid dryness. This sends me to the Internet to look for rentals and I start with Tubac.  An old casita that was once the home of the postmaster is now owned by a “well known novelist” and one wonders why he/she wants to rent a place where they could write away unencumbered by big sloppy city life.  It is less space than my own place, but with outside seating on a patio in the sun, mind you, would be heavenly.  I really find this dreariness of Seattle like a very heavy cape, dragging me down, buckling me to my knees, and too heavy a load to move around. I really must get a grip and change my mind.  Things could be worse I guess I could be living in Iceland with only five hours of sun this time of year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Doing Business

Illustration by Lucy Hart

The letter read:

Dear Mr. Tucker:

We regret to inform you that the hot air balloon you ordered on September 1, 2013 will not be ready for delivery as scheduled on July 4, 2014.  We have had several technical problems beyond our ability to solve in a quick fashion.  I know this will be a great disappointment to you, as I know you were looking forward to the Balloons over the Mississippi Race in August. It may be of help if I explain the series of events that necessitated our stopping production.

First the silk fabric shipped to us from China, although of quality, did not take the special brown color that you had requested for your envelope. It turned out to be a rather insipid green, which given your design of Mr. Potato Head, I don’t think you would have liked it.

Also the wicker basket construction stopped when there was a bamboo long-horned beetle infestation in the bamboo forests of upper Daziangling so that the plant materials rotted on the mountain side before we could get up there to pluck them down. The basket is only half finished.  We thought about using rattan but because of the international market going bust we can no longer obtain this as a reasonable substitute.

To compound these problems the burners being built in the Ukraine by our best Russian sheet metal workers, came to a grinding halt during some political upheaval, plus the bending machine broke down, unfortunately with the lead worked caught up in the springs.  It was very messy but he should be able to return to work after several months of physical therapy.

As you know the cost of propane has gone sky high, so to speak, so we will have to add the difference to your original order.

Do you still want to stick with your original design of Mr. Potato Head given the difference in the color?

Please let us know at your convenience if you still want us to continue with production, as I am sure that we can meet a 2015 deadline for sure.

I remain your devoted servant,

Mr. Ashar Wantan.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lunch with Otto.

Time spent with my nonagenarian friend, Otto, is always an adventure.  It was pouring rain so we thought that it was a perfect day for clam chowder and headed for a Seattle waterfront eatery, specializing in seafood.

The place was packed with holiday weekend families so we had to wait a short time for a table. Once seated our waiter quickly placed two water glasses filled with ice on our table and scurried off to help others.  I was about to take a big swig when I noticed a shark tooth size piece of glass was chipped out of the rim.  I waved down a busboy who quickly took the broken glass away.  

Moments later the head hostess appeared at our table said, “That chipped glass was entirely unacceptable and we want to buy you an appetizer on the house.” Taking her up on her offer we then opted for calamari.

The waiter dashed back to our table, apologizing profusely.

Otto and I each ordered big bowls of Boston clam chowder, what with their excellent chunks of herb bread made a hearty lunch.  

When we were finished with our lunch waiter came by to apologize yet again. “Believe me, this will never happen again.”

Otto, trying to make light of the matter said,  "We keep a case of broken glasses in our car and bring in one to each restaurant we visit!"

The waiter said, “Again, I am so sorry that happened and I am paying for your entire lunch.”

Otto looked a little disappointed, and even though we were stuffed, he said to me, “We should have ordered dessert too considering lunch was free."

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Contessa

The letter arrived with a postmark of Venice, Italy and I wondered if it might be from the Contessa.  I was afraid to open it thinking what promise would be inside. 

The Contessa of Campo S. Margherita, Venice
I am transported to Venice at the Campo Santa Margherita sitting at the Margaret Du Camps Cafe with a plate of tramezzini, white bread stuffed with home made mayonnaise, chopped hard boiled egg and mushrooms, with a glass of cold prosecco.  I watched the campo hoping to see the Contessa come out for her noon walk. And there she is coming out with her ill-bred little terrier scampering ahead of her and threatening all the other dogs in the plaza. There she is stately in a two-piece suit, in brilliant blue, a black top hat and now a cane. 

She walks with an outstanding elegance, stopping now and then to talk with a neighbor. She wears a diamond and emerald ring, her hair done to perfection her make up flawless.  Is she really a contessa or just the kept woman of a rich Milano businessman?  There is no mistaking that she is out of this world with grace and stature.  I asked the waitress “Who is that woman?,” and she says, "Oh, she is just the crazy lady in the neighborhood". And this comment is from a young woman with too many face piercing and tattoos on her arms.  The Contessa is from another era.  Will I see her on my net visit to Venice? Will she be wheel chair bound?  Will her little dog be hobbling about an ancient canine in an ancient city? I hope I will see her soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Italian Guard Dog

Outside the window is the sweetest old dog in Italy, I swear. I have seen him for several trips now always at the same place in front of the paper store.  He is getting on in years, with that white snout and is very slow to get up, staggers a few feet and then collapsing into a fury heap, to watch the parade of pilgrims heading down the hill to the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. He watches the Filipino
My watercolor of the dog in Assissi.
women in their prim starched baby blue outfits, looking more like nurses than brides of Jesus.  Will they so honor the Poor Clares, too, just down the street? 

He watches the irreverent tourists, in tank tops, and way too short shorts, slurping gelatos around the central fountain, shy boys eyeing the beautiful young Italian women.  I want to shout them a warning, “Before you become too infatuated take a look at their mothers – dumpy, overweight, dour women, many in mourning black".    

I head inside the paper shop and am engulfed in the smell of paper and leather.  The handmade journals of beautiful paper, exquisite binding and gold letters on covers are so soft to the touch.  I admire the Murano glass pen handles, silver plated inkwells, embossed stationary, deckle edged sketchbooks and lovely little thank you cards with “Grazie” written in a beautiful script.  I long to fill my bag with such treasures but most of them come with a dear price, so all I can do is admire the manufacturing craftsmanship that only the Italians can do.  Such elegance, such superb taste is all things made of paper.  I salivate over the lovely little books with accordion pages printed with tiny images of Italian scenes.  If I had one I would make friends wear white gloves to look at them.  I suspect they are a limited edition by a local artist, painstakingly printing, and each one by hand.  I want to sweep up an armful to take back to friends.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cats are Princesses

The thing about cats is that they suffer from major character flaws for which they are completely unaware. One, they completely lack a sense of humor.  When they unwittingly do something hilarious they pretend it never happened. While we are doubled over with gales of laugher they pretend like they don’t know what is so funny. 

And talk about beauty queens they are so haughty, continually posturing like some trained ballerinas subtly look over their shoulders to see if others appreciate their grace and beauty.  Their narcissism makes them in capable of understanding others plights.  They have no loyalty other than to people who feed them. 

And they hate, hate, hate to be taken to a vet for a check up and will shriek like they are being eviscerated and love to keep up the racket especially in the waiting room to embarrass their owners.  Then they like to drive their owners nuts by scratching and meowing to be let out the front door, and when the door is opened they stand back and just look out not wanting to cross over the threshold.  I have been known to “encourage “ my cat out the front door with a strong nudge to the butt.  Once the door is closed they stand out on the porch scratching to be let in.  They also time taking their baths just as the owner is trying to go to sleep.  They will snuggle into the owners chest and then begin to bath themselves with prolonged licking and licking until the owner jumps out of bed and throws the cat out the window onto the roof where it has to wait until dawn to be let in.

Cats have a radar and the moment someone who steps into the house who is allergic, the cats will run over to them demanding that they be petted.  Cats demand frequent pats and hardly ever return to the favor to its owner.

And cats hate change.  Everything has to have its place and if anything is the least bit out of place they go nuts thinking it is a personal affront to them.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why Write?

Writing is a nymph of imagination dancing with no boundaries, exploding heartfelt desires without censor, unlimited exploration careening fearlessly into the unknown. 

Writing is fuel for passion, energy for unrestricted speed, food for the starving soul.  Writing is a tranquil harbor after a frightful storm.

Writing is sanity ‘s tether, is hope out of desperation, laughter over sadness, strength over weakness, a shield against depression, sunshine in the darkness, comfort in chaos, hope over hopelessness.

Writing is butterscotch pudding, warm muffins, a lap full of puppy, a soft wing of peace, gifts tied with bright ribbons, corn snow falling on bamboo.

Writing is my spirit guide, brings me safe comfort, unlocks concepts scattering energy to the earth.  Writing is the sun in darkness.  Writing unlocks buried treasures.

Writing brings order to turmoil, power over weakness, music over cacophony.  Music protects my inner soul and greases creative wheels over rough terrain.