edison: part 1

 it was on our first trip out to orcas together to visit james' sister, i'd say about ten years ago, that i really noticed edison.  on this particular day, we drove those familiar curves, james cutting all the corners like a racecar driver in his band-aid beige loaf-of-bread westfalia.   he lived on orcas once, and had spent many a day commuting to and from bellingham via chuckanut.  he pointed out the crucial historical landmarks, his favorite hikes, and places he almost lived in.  "good thing you didn't", i'd say, "or you wouldn't have met me."  we let the dog out at clayton beach, then stopped for breakfast in the tiny red cafe on the corner, the one with sloping floors and ceiling, the trademark red and white starburst formica table, and the outdoor closet of a restroom. the bar seats were filled with salty old farmers mulling over the season, reading the paper or rolling dice for their coffee, and good-ol julie reliably filled their cups right on cue.  they looked at us suspiciously out of the corner of their eye:  tourists.   this was a locals' place.  "what'll ya have", julie growled.  she ran the place right: you could tell those farmers came partly for the food, but mostly for the company, the daily ritual.  the menu wasn't fancy, a humble plastic menu board filled with red and black plastic letters plainly delineating things like grilled cheese 3 or hamburger 5. "two eggs over easy, potatoes and toast," we stammered, slightly self-conscious.  the coffee was terrible, but the atmosphere, just perfectly old fashioned.  completely authentic.

"i've always wanted to live here."  james confessed.
that was the beginning.


some days

some days are not made for painting.  some days are instead made for doing the dishes while james cooks fried eggs, then video latin dance aerobics followed by a bath.   some days are made for baking chocolate cake and making hummus simultaneously whilst drinking black tea and spacing out to the sound of water dripping off of the metal roof.  some days are made for closing the store due to a snow day, even when there ain't no snow,  then attending two baby showers in one night. yes, some days should be spent holding babies on your lap and eating more sweets than you should be allowed to.  days like these, they aren't made for painting, so forgive this sad excuse for my one-a-day, rushed and poorly executed. yes, it's so bad, i won't even show you the whole thing.  because, in the words of my video aerobics instructor:  "not all days are created equal."

luckily, there's always tomorrow.


places to go

 when i was first forming words, i used to pronounce it "nohss".  snow, those notorious microscopic fractal flakes that combine in an effort to drastically change your entire environment.  i've always loved the snow, for it's beauty first, but also as an excuse to hunker down and bundle up, to skip school or work , do projects at home and sip hot beverages while watching the flakes fall.   i love the way crystalline icicles form on the eaves, how the windows fog up from the heat inside, i love how everything stops for a minute while everyone reconfigures.  the inclement weather requires people to slow down, which they don't always appreciate. 

yes, snow can be an inconvenience.  i know that story well.  growing up, my dad worked as director of operations in transit, and so snow days were filled with a bit of dread.  living in the northwest, i'd venture to say that most people aren't accustomed to driving in the ice.  those snow days represented days he would get up long before daylight and spend his day chasing around buses in crisis.  those were the days of chaining and sliding and towing out of ditches and crashes and busy urgent walkie talkie conversations between hissing, the days before cell phones.  on those days, my dad worked extra long and hard.  because in the city, life didn't exactly stop for the snow.  it couldn't.  most folks just didn't have that luxury.  and people always have places to go.


technical difficulties

my patience wears thin easily when the computer won't do what i tell i to do.  i just won't do it, i just won't sit here and trouble over it, i won't wait while things pretend to load for minutes on end.  it will make me crazy.  so today, this is all you get.  be forewarned:  on the day the internet dissolves, collapses, and falls apart, so will my blog.  so will everyone's blog about thissity-this and thattity-that.  but i will continue on.  as will we all.  and i will be thankful.  because on a day when the computer doesn't work like it's supposed to, i can really begin to imagine a life without the damn thing.  wouldn't that be refreshing dose of reality?



tonight, driving home from dinner, we saw two huge flashes of blue in the sky.  lightning? we thought.  no, clear starry skies above.  and then we knew:  explosions.  the refinery.   as we approached town we could see them, two large flares, tiny from a distance like the tips of matches, but in reality, fires larger than a house.  i remembered my friends pieter and gunther describing their perilous work in the refineries, and how one false move could mean death: 

"...After five minutes of trying not to think about where the bus is going, everybody piles out of the bus into the changeroom where everybody puts on orange jumpsuits and chemical resistant suits... it takes at least  20 minutes to get ready. You have to remember to pee first because......there are no breaks for five hours. Yes I have thought about wearing depends... In the training orientation we basically watched "1000 ways to die in a refinery.... so yea I am scared of every move I make. Yes I have made mistakes but so have the people that have many years of experience and have yelled at me for making mistakes that could kill me and everybody around me..... I have gained a new appreciation for life. I wish I could take pictures but it would get me fired instantly. I need to survive at least a week before I get fired.  It is completely unacceptable to have cell phones, cameras, Ipods or any gadgets that could distract you from your task at hand.  I am glad I don't  have any kids that wouldn't have a father if I pushed the wrong button or sniffed the wrong fumes..."  from gunther's myspace page

i hope nobody got hurt.


pancakes for all!

presenting painting number two hundred! woohoo!



reserved for shirley t.

 one of my favorite parts about here is the vantage points.  atop the hills that surround the valley, you can see out for miles.  it makes you take a deeper breath, and quiets the inner beast, seeing out that far does, that endless ocean kind of far, infinity far. for me, the natural beauty somehow has the power to make everything okay.  today, driving west down bow hill, the sky was illuminated creamsicle orange, the setting sun glowing through a snow drift in the sky thick like ice cream, with just a sliver or bright shining ocean, a bracelet of gold, peeking through at the bottom.  and i found myself saying aloud, wow.  nature is pure magic; there's no way my amateur poetics could do it justice.  it's beautiful here, beyond words, every day.   



clean sheets

it's amazing how much work cleaning my room can be, every time.  and how after spending all day on it, it's still not clean. am i the only one who struggles with this?   it's amazing, the little piles of receipts and coins and feathers and screws and nails and twist ties, flotsam that collects and collects on the sills and nightstand and begs to be sorted. and it's amazing how socks can sneak into the corners behind shelves or shoes, disappearing to keep the dustbunnies quiet company for months on end.  and it's quite remarkable, when doing laundry, the treasures i find in pockets, and the quantity of sawdust i find in the cuffs of james' jeans.  this cleaning, it could be a full time job if i let it.  but it's worth the work when i've got the time.  so today, after taming my explosive clothing collection and vacuuming the shit outta stuff, my bedroom looks a little less like a hasty eviction or an episode of hoarders.   and after changing the sheets, i know tonight i will slip slide into the clean bright fresh smelling bed, and i won't be inhaling cat hair or smelling old smells or feeling bits of sand collected from socks or between the toes.  i'll probably sleep more soundly, and dream better dreams.  ahh.  just what the doctor ordered.


the art of self-promotion

it's always a little awkward for me when i'm sitting there in the store, painting or knitting or tidying up or paying bills or eating a sandwich, and someone starts thumbing through my humble basket of loose leaf watercolors.  lately, it's been happening a lot, and every time, i feel just as vulnerable as any time before.  so maybe i overhear the customer say something to their friend, like "hey did you see these little watercolors?""ooh, that would be great for a kids room."  or  "this would be perfect in my kitchen".   they'll ask "how much?" and one of us will say "sixty dollars".  usually at that point i begin to get self-conscious and embarrassed, so i'll delve down into my work hoping the it will swallow me until i'm invisible.  then james might say something like, "aren't those amazing?  the girl who does those paintings has a blog where she posts one a day..."  he'll be speaking about me as if i'm not sitting right there behind him, in an effort to embarrass me publicly with showers of compliments, something he lovingly loves to do.  at this point i can feel my face turn a darker shade of hot.  i might find an excuse to leave the room.  or i might laugh awkwardly, which inevitably gives away my hiding spot in the low chair behind the counter.   

"did you paint these?"  the customer might say, peeking through to see me hiding there.  
shit.  i've been found out.  "yes, i did.", blushing, beet colored cheeks
"i just love them.  they're great."

"thank you"
no, really, seriously: i thank you. for noticing.



this morning i cracked my eyes to the creaking of the bedroom door opening.  and there he stood, steaming white mug in hand.  on the mornings he brings me tea in bed, i get so happy, i feel so nurtured, i know i'm off to a good start, and i just know its going to be a good day.  good, like the kind of day where the bright morning sun radiates through the windows while you stretch, and the first fire in the woodstove is already hot, and breakfast is already made and waiting.  yes, today was that kind of day, the kind of day that makes you close the store early to go for a long walk along the river, scouring the ground with your eyes for signs of nettles and shouting out the speculative names of birds as they fly by.  to someone like me, who for so long has been wound up tight like a new spool of thread, and who has been worn down like an old pair of work gloves, how precious these kinds of days seem. regenerative.




what's better than getting commissioned to do a cool odd job?   loving that job so much you can hardly keep your hands off of it.  surprising and impressing yourself with the finished product.  working faster and charging way less than your client expected to pay.  delivering it by a succinct deadline.  having your client call you, gushing joyfully when she receives it, tries it on, and it fits like a glove



it's not everyday you get hired to cut up a hundred dollar t-shirt.  so i guess i was a little apprehensive when i put the scissors to work the last several days, cutting and stitching away on a plain, heather-grey, rodarte t-shirt.  the shirt is for my client paige, who works closely with jeffrey deitch.  deitch recently took the reigns of MOCA in la. and paige will be attending the opening for the rodarte show at MOCA, chatting with the ladies of rodarte, wearing that shirt...  that shirt which i've cut to shreds, then woven and sewn back together, meticulously beaded and sequined and appliqued, that shirt unto which i've hand-stitched hand-dyed vintage lace.. the shirt is scarcely recognizable anymore, after all of my dirty work.   what better way to pay homage to rodarte, which consists of two self-made ladies, making waves in the fashion and art worlds by pushing the boundaries of textile.  i feel honored to participate, to collaborate, if only vicariously through a t-shirt.



today i went trail running in the woods at cornet bay.  i ran swiftly, through old growths and wetlands... through grasses, mosses, and ferns... through cedars, firs and alders. trees upon trees, thick fingers of ancient bark stretching toward the sky.  i was feeling strong and healthy, heaving the fresh ocean air, sun sparkling through the branches, fronds of green gently sweeping my legs as a ran through.  i headed uphill then down, headed northeast, then west, then southwest, then east, then south again.  jumping across mud pits in the trail, i noticed paw prints and hoof prints deeply embossed; dog or horse or elk or deer or coyote or cougar, i wondered.  i went as far as i figured i would go, a couple few miles in, then i stopped to stretch.  there, i turned around to go back.

i soon realized i was lost.  there was a Y in the road i didn't notice before. i followed my intuition down one leg, and ended up face to face with a private property: go no further sign.  that moment, when i realized i was lost in the woods, a cloud covered the sun, and the forest became a dark place, a foreboding place.  i became worried.   i turned around, ran some more, then turned around again, and ran some more.  just before panic could set in, i happened upon a lady with four barky dogs.  "who are you?"  she said suspiciously.  "my name is jessica and i'm lost."  

"well, i figured as much", she said.  "take a left, then a right, then a left."

"thank you," i said, and kept running.



there are the things that she would do unapologetically.  like eat cheesecake for breakfast, or eat an entire avocado with salt and a spoon.  or "rest her eyes" sleeping in the corner of the couch.  or devour sappy teen romance movies.  or stink up the whole kitchen with the smell of pickled herring or stinky cheese.  or go-go dance and do the monkey like a mom and embarrass me in front of my friends. or sing awful harmonies to the oldies or gordon lightfoot or the indigo girls in the car.  they were the things that, as her daughter, you couldn't ever get away from, because the were so diana.  and they were the idiosyncrasies that made me, and my dad, and everyone she ever met, fall madly in love with her.  my mom, sharp as a knife, slapstick knock down funny, turn-heads gorgeous, loving beyond limits, and brilliantly, skillfully talented. days like today, i miss her more than ever, how a presence so gigantic could vanish right before my eyes is still beyond understanding.

happy birthday mom.  i'm hopelessly devoted to your legacy of love, art, and laughter, today and everyday.  thank you for teaching me how to take life by the horns.  i'll be damned if i don't make you proud.


dinner date

collection of james reisen

after we picked up my craigslisted valentine's day present, a table loom, from some nice folks in the parking lot of northgate mall, we went searching for dinner along northgate way.  we accidentally happened upon indian food, hidden away in a nondescript trashy-looking strip mall.  we decided to risk it, entered, sat, and scoped the scene. the richness of the east indian textiles and decor, gold and burgundy, cut-out dome windows, ornamental beaded lights and tassels, effectively masked the crappy stained acoustic ceiling tiles and all-american plainness of the strip mall.  we felt a little bit like tourists in a far away land.  the menu was an overwhelming array of long descriptives, so we opted for the chef's choice platter.  while we waited, we were passed by plate after plate of sizzling steaming aromatic delicacy.  there was an obvious amount of loving care put into the meals and their presentation, which were both simple and elaborate at once, and filling in their earthy wholesomeness. i've never before had better chickpeas. or spinach. or rice pudding.

something about that food, that place, and those people, tucked away safely, making their own little east indian island in the middle of white-trash mall-style consumer-urbanity, gave us hope for humanity, and made us feel a little safer in this weird world.



some part of me is a dancer.  i grew up dancing.  and yes, something in me needs to dance.  just to let it all out.  it feels right.  it's a release.  and so when the music suits me, i do.  i flail around, and sweat, and twist and churn, and surely embarrass myself, rhythmically.  yes, i guess tonight i finally figured it out: i'm a dancer.  for sure.



reserved for heather malcolm

it was an evening of sweeping wins by team lucky dumpster at tonight's annual edison women's club bingo fundraiser. the edison women's club is in charge of running the town streetlights, and so i suppose the money from the fundraiser goes towards keeping those streetlights lit and maintained.  a good cause, yes, but moreover, an excuse to see your neighbors and their children and friends all gathered together for the sake of fun in the blue flourescent light of the elementary school cafeteria.

anticipations were high as we splayed the vintage bingo cards,one dollar each and scented with the familiar mildew of history, across the squat cafeteria table, james and tom with five each, heather and i with three.   we practiced sliding the little plastic window shutters over the numbers, inspected the cards, some with dates and old inscriptions on the back. mine had a poem, barely legible in a formal old lady's style of cursive, something about purity and snow.   

heather surprised us all, taking the game by storm and scoring the first bingo of the evening, choosing a lucky dumpster gift certificate as her trophy from the table full of treasures.  tom followed close behind with two wins, choosing first a hot glue gun and then a magic trick set.  james's good karma served him well, with a record four bingos, coming home with a harmonica, vice grips, an edison women's club recipe book, and "the club" car security device.  i won twice, scoring a gift certificate to slough food and a hand thrown ceramic bowl by women's club member christine skinner.  we snacked on all the cookies and brownies and tuna and egg salad and peanut butter banana tea sandwiches we could stuff down, washed it down with some sugary lemonade in a paper cup, and returned to the homestead full, drunk off of our wins, buzzed on sugar, high on our cozy community, and altogether happy as clams.


coming soon

 the nettles have sprouted, and something in the hint of a season change has got me eagerly shopping for swimsuits online.  i've found a few i like, vintage looking high-waisted gidget-style bikinis. maybe i'm jumping the gun on the whole swimsuit thing, but what's life worth if you don't have something to look forward to?   

in preparation for good weather, i've started doing the dorkiest regimen of online latin and hip-hop dance aerobic videos that anyone could imagine me doing in the privacy of my own room. spring hails the perfect time to get back into tip top shape, to spend lots of time in the outdoors enjoying my own health and the blue sky and the beautiful hikes right in my neighborhood.  i'm ready to move out of sweaters and into shorts, to not clench or shiver against the feel of tepid air, to lay on the salty beach with a sun hat and feel the sand between my toes.  i'll go waist high in the frigid sound waters,  and maybe all the way under, fondling the luscious emerald green kelp and sea grass shining in the sun.  summer in edison is gloriously beautiful, and i can't wait.  i can't wait to not light fires every day, to swing the doors open all day long, to shake the rugs outside and watch the dust from all winter long drift through the air.   i've been checking the garden regularly, and today all the perennials had confident buds.  a blueberry bush had even begun to spread her leaves.  in the garden, it's time to cut back the dead black remnants to make way for living green.  and soon, it will be time to plant.  it's time to plan, buy seeds, prepare soil. in our store, it's time to stock up, solicit more artwork, and get to crafting in preparation for another busy season of tourists and travelers in our tiny hamlet.  spring, she's on her way.  already too much to do.


good night

tonight, we drove into our back driveway and spooked a gigantic owl from beneath our awning.  i gasped in surprise as the white undersides of his wings flashed one, two, three, four, times.  i imagined those wings woosh woosh woosh-ing in resistance against the wind every time they flapped. he was quickly out of sight.  james says he roosts there, that owl does, and sometimes lights on the power lines above our backyard.  he hunts for rodents in the night.  i felt comforted by the idea of an owl, just tending to his own business in my very backyard, while i went about mine, painting and sewing and writing and playing music and cooking and doing the dishes.  yes, something about having that owl for a neighbor makes me love my home even more.


begin again

 there are the things that were automatic.  like how we would check the square cutout of a cat door to see if her little brown snout was poking through the curtain, asking for a walk.   or how we would tiptoe quiet as mice so as not to disrupt her peaceful slumber.  and how we were always in a hurry to get home from wherever, because she needed our attention.  or how we would fill our grocery cart with great quantities of organic meat mostly for her, a little for ourselves.  and as she got older, how we'd check the floor or bed to see if she'd had an accident, often camouflaged by the busy patterns of our paisley rug.  automatic.  those automatics, i'm finding, still resonate even though she's gone.  we were doting parents, loving parents, bordering on obsessive parents.  yes, i still look straight for her bed every time i walk in the room, and i still turn on her heated blanket.  i still check my shoes to make sure i'm not tracking around dog doo, and i still peek up from my bed to get a glimpse of her beautiful soft snow-grey face closed eyes sleeping.  because after a while, having our dog was so automatic, the stresses and the joys and everything in between.  a labor of love.  truly a labor.  three days ago, it was a constant presence.  and now, it's time to untrain myself.  today, in the earliest morning, james chopped wood loudly in the room, stomped his feet around, and did a handstand, just because he could.  things are different now.

so far we're finding that leaving the house is the best remedy for the new quietude.  out there in the busy and colorful world full of cars and stores, distracted from our tiny fortress, life begins to feel new, like a clean slate.  in some ways, leaving the house is a chance at freedom that we've never had before.  just three days ago, having our dog was our responsibility, perpetually.  nobody was going to do that work for us.  as she got older, and things started to go, it was a lot of work, tons of work, it became very stressful, an emotional roller-coaster that was almost unmanageable at times. now, without that worry, we're different people.  i guess the worry is just another thing we have to unlearn.  but then, coming home from an adventure, it's lonely and quiet all over again, no sad golden eyes gazing into mine, no brown wet snout to gingerly nudge my leg and say "hey, here i am."  suddenly, it's all so different.


one day at a time

waking up unanimously at six am to a room without a dog was an alien feeling. we automatically grabbed our mugs and went on the royal blue early morning ritual walk, sans dog today, lifting the back gate for her anyways, just in case.  it was a slow walk, and yes we looked back to see if she was trailing us, just in case.  when old farmer leonard waved from his window, we knew he knew.  upon our return home, james made the ritual meal, the smell of cooked turkey signaling the cats to hover round the kitchen door waiting for their chance at leftovers.  sans champ, the cats were confused, no leftovers today.   james transmitted the meal via blazing woodstove to the sky, hoping somewhere up there she would know by the smell of the smoke, feeling full of the love and dedication it took to make those hand-hewn meals, twice a day, every day.  he hung the dish on the wall ceremoniously, and chachie licked the corners still searching for a crumb.  afterward, full of emptiness, we both knew we needed to get out of the house as soon as possible.  we loaded the van and drove away.

first we filled our bellies with the finest breakfast around. we then drove the sky high bridge over the gurgling waters of  deception pass, around the bend to cornet bay.   there, we fished for smelt,  on the edge of a dock reaching its arm out in the most beautiful ash green ocean waters ever.  we delighted in the dance of our poles against the weighted jigs, the screeching honks of geese like car alarms.  we watched our neighbors catch one or two, but once our fingers got numb it was decided that our two cats would have to divide the single six inch catch of the day.  we ventured to oak harbor, and accidentally found every thrift store that clusterfuck of a military town had to offer.  we bought a few things: ten cent toys for the toy chest, some old books with good pictures, pillowcases from the 80's with geometric patterns, a paper lantern for the van...  the eye candy culture shock was enough of a distraction to keep us in good spirits.  watching through the windshield as b-52's circle, streaming black smoke tails...at least we don't live here.  we drove the back roads home, venturing up the winding steep roads to the top of a massive boulder called mount erie, just to catch some sun on our face and glimpse a panoramic view of the great archipelago.  reminding ourselves: no hurry to get back, no dog walk tonight.  upon our return, we lit the fires once again, ate a hasty meal of tofu plus fridge remnants.  after eating, snuggling on that orange velour couch full of dog and cat hair blankets, we were sucked into the vortex of deep sleep like a black hole. we slept an urgent sleep, of grief and exhaustion and love and release.  today was our first day without champ.  she was a fixture in our landscape, a ritual, a member of our family, an obsession, a love, a companion.  starting now, we learn what it's like to live without her.  one day at a time.



rest in peace, sweet champ.  you were the best.  the absolute best.


american girl

i admit it: i couldn't care less about the superbowl.  to me football is a gruesome sport reminiscent of the battles of gladiators long ago, scarcely more entertaining than commercials.  i don't like the smashing, or the silky shoulder-padded outfits, or the obnoxious screaming painted crowd.  i don't enjoy watching the players get hurt, or getting glimpses of the scantily clad bouncing cheerleaders, scarcely visible amidst the chaos.  it can't even keep my attention at the bar.  i cringe at the thought of brain cells lost from head trauma, just for a big paycheck and an audience thrill.  

when i was a kid, my parents used to enthusiastically hoot and hollar and scream bloody murder at the television during football games.  hearing them from my bedroom would startle me, and i would hurriedly run downstairs to see if they were okay.  yes, they were okay.  they were watching football.  somehow, i didn't inherit that gene.  

but a couple few years ago, when i accidentally caught the halftime show, tom petty played.  i was actually moved to tears.  yes, i cried.  at the halftime show.  even today, watching it again, i got that little lump of emotion in my throat.  that, my friends, is meaningful entertainment i can get behind.

..she was an American girl
raised on promises
she couldn't help thinkin'
that there was a little more to life somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
And if she had to die tryin'
She had one little promise she was gonna keep

..god it's so painful when something that's so close
is still so far out of reach..



a busy couple of days full of friends and festivities leave me feeling exhausted, wiped out and overflowing full, bursting, like how full you feel after thanksgiving dinner, so full you flop on the couch and sleep with the football game on, the crowd roaring through your dreams, cheering you on in your deliriously cozy slumber.  yes, i feel that full tonight, so full of love and gratitude, i can hardly stand it.  life is so so good.  thanks for everything.  your kindness makes life worth living.



reserved for tal connor
you know you're officially out of your twenties when you start complaining about bodily aches and pains.  this year, at the ripe old age of thirty, i have struggled with sore feet, sore wrists, sore hips, a sore back, sore shoulders, and a sore neck.  in chinese wisdom, this could mean my kidneys and liver are tired, or that i'm hanging on to emotional baggage.  in western medicine, they might tell me any number of things to get me to start taking pain medicine.  not gonna happen.  even though i may rough it up once and a while, this body is a temple, and i have to live here for a while.  either way, i'm starting to realize why, at ninety four, my great uncle earl says his trademark norweigian phrase: it's rough to get old.  health and feeling good is something i just don't take for granted anymore: with the prevalence of diseases like cancer in our society, i don't feel quite as invincible as i used to.  still, it's difficult to make all the right choices for my body...i know the old addage is true.  you are what you eat.  i keep telling myself:  cut out the caffeine, sugar, dairy, high fat processed and fried foods, and alcohol...drink more water.  lots more water. a sip is not enough.  take your vitamins, eat your greens. exercise. stop stressing out.  when i follow my own recipe, the aches and pains magically start to dissipate, and i feel great.  shouldn't everything in life be so obvious.

informative blog entry by karin taylor wu


the jokers

i like to think of myself as the daffodils band secretary.  i not only play drums for our live shows, i do lots of other jobs too.  i run our interweb band pages, i organize shows, i make t-shirts...you get the idea.  today, i set up an official bandcamp page for the band, which will soon contain the three albums worth of material that james has officially recorded to date. i work for the band because i love the music.  i work for the music, and i work for james, because i believe in the magic of his songwriting.

back when i first met james, after our first hungover breakfast date at the horseshoe cafe, he gave me the tiniest burned cd i had ever seen, denoted with a little sharpie star on the top.  it was no more than four inches in diameter, containing three of his songs under the moniker clamdust.  those songs melted my hard little heart and i listened to them over and over again.  i'm so tired of lookin out the window at the yard, growin flowers for the girls, cuz i know i'm never gonna pick em out.  from that point on, i couldn't get him out of my head.  i guess you can say in some ways it's the music that brought us together. 

before the daffodils were a three-piece band of best friends, we were just an idea, a name to attach to the music that james wrote and recorded the basement of a tiny house in northeast portland, the dingy dark basement fondly named "lelkoland", after our honorary knob spinner, brian lelko.  before we moved to portland, james and tom lived together in that famous sinking bellingham house called "jersey street" and played music together almost nightly, usually after stumbling home from an evening of jokery and libations.  when they played shows out on the town under the moniker language arts, i wasn't sure if i liked their music or their witty antics more.  those boys, inseparable, always smokin and jokin.  tonight, practicing for our show tomorrow night, the same still holds true.  i guess that's what makes it work: we can still have fun together, we've been through a lot together, and miraculously, we still like to hang out.  


postage paid

today's real victory was a diorama made out of a cardboard box for JINX gallery's mail art show.  it was a last minute addition; the show opens this friday.  for my piece, i finally put to use some newspaper clippings i had been storing for over two years.  the newspapers were discovered long ago, beneath the carpet when we gutted the upstairs in our old portland house. they were from the christmas season, somewhere around 1950, yellowed and brittle.  when we discovered the papers, i felt as if i'd struck gold.  i was able to glean from the advertisements that television had just become a hot commodity because nearly every ad was for a different tv.  i dug through the pages to find as many as i could, cut them all out meticulously, and snuggled them away with other flotsam into an envelope in a flat file.  today, i finally found a use. i mounted them on manila folder, cut them out, used corks to space them out at different distances from their background, and made a three-dimensional collage with a produce box.  i wrapped the front in clear plastic to form a screen, then brown paper and packing tape, addressed the thing and drove it to the post office.  the postman was amused, and set it aside so it wouldn't get kicked. or even worse, sent to everett.  

so if you happen to be in bellingham this friday for the artwalk, you can go visit my piece, and watch my band the daffodils play! all this and more, at JINX.


well hung

 phew.  they're up. the new oils are hung oh-so-officially on the red-brick wall of the old town cafe, wet-paint signatures and all.  today, i made a list, checked it twice, and did just about everything except eat breakfast in just the nick of time.  yesterday, me and my number one guy spent the day framing, using the old grey cedar fence boards from the former fence of our portland house.  once framed, those paintings looked finished, and almost antique, like they could have been painted forever ago, pulled from the loft of a dusty old abandoned barn.  fittingly nostalgic and rustic, considering the time period of the imagery. and today, i signed each one with my little trademark b in a box, each b in a different color, hand mixed to compliment the colors in the painting and stand out just enough from the background.  finished.  i hand wrote a little statement, and printed out the officialest looking business cards i could muster.  i loaded those paintings, strategically stacked and leaning in our trusty old van, and up the chuckanut we gingerly drove.  it's funny, every show is just as nerve-racking as the next; even after doing it for years i still get butterflies and act like a crazy lady for the few days leading up to a hang.  upon our arrival, we were met by the sweetest family of friends and childrens i could have ever imagined.  i made tea, took off my boots, helper james balancing like a marsupial hanging the lines from the hooks on the up-high picture rail.  said and done, it looked great, like those paintings were supposed to be there, like the art had been there all along, watching over the people and their breakfasts and lunches and coffees and conversations.  it's funny, i've always preferred my work on the walls of a cozy restaurant, as opposed to some stuffy gallery.  there, in the company of good people and their daily lives, it just seems so at home.