Sour Notes : A Writer Wednesday Post

June 26th, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (6 Comments)

Simple sour sink

 SourSink, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Sour Notes

Cleaning out my art utility room and moving things upstairs to my new studio, I took a picture of what is essentially the last remnant of the former disheveled sorrow of this metamorph-house we’ve been transforming for 17 years. During that time we’ve had to tolerate some sad, ill-functioning spaces. This was one.

I thought of those who are drawn to play musical instruments, who love music so much they want to create it. But in learning to do so, sour notes abound. Playing poorly and hearing others do so is frustrating, and especially assaultive to musical sensitives, but it is sine qua non to playing well, and playing together.

Creators who persist develop a high pain-threshold and keep practicing, for they perceive a future in which their creations satisfy them. It’s what we saw in this house, and how we forgave ourselves  when, for example, our color sense failed a room and it had to be repainted.

What hope this holds for all of us who play the tricky magnificent instrument of human existence in all her octaves—physical, emotional, psychic, intellectual, spiritual! As we learn to create our lives, we all hit sour notes. But the orchestra is improving.


Sweet sink

The new SweetSink upstairs, with space to clean calligraphy nibs.





Admit you perceive

This phrase came to me last week. It’s the first piece I have done with pen, brush and ink (instead of  markers) in a long time, but since my nibs were clean…




Using up Paper & Ink #1

Using up the rest of the ink –“Using Up Ink and Paper, # 1.”


What’s your sweet and sour this week?





Frontknocker, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Proportion in Perspective


The light is frank as ever through the windowpanes.  Cabinet latches squeak and snap just as they did. The attic is still a hot, stuffy, slightly scary place of boxed-up memories and discards, though my parents’ wartime loveletters live elsewhere now.

Last week we visited the house I grew up in.  A few years ago, I discovered I had sentimentally taken its original blueprints when we moved in 1974.  I realized they belong with the house, and sent them to my old address. The present owners were delighted and invited us to visit when next in Minneapolis.

Guided by two charming young girls and their mother, we learned they dry mittens on the same radiator, toss pajamas down the same chute, yank and dangle off the same banister.

All is not the same of course. Both are healthier by far than I was, with a mother who can express what mine was unable to.  But what a warm old joy to look beyond my Boogeyman closet out my old bedroom window to my three tall hemlock friends still swaying there, to walk across the street to the original “Forest, What Would You Like?” forest.


Knockerback, photo © Irene O’Garden, 2013


Experiencing memory through the other end of the telescope–so very small, so very dear—gives perspective to proportion. The lives we now live, so big and important, will themselves feel small, one day– small as an early classroom, small as a kitchen’s forgotten dimensions, small as a dividing cell.  It’s the nature of expanding consciousness. But large or small, then or now, feeling’s bright needle stitches it ever together.


Did you ever visit a former house?


Incidentally, two of my poems have just been published here in the Summer 2013 Issue of Summerset Review.




Peachnipples, Photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

 To listen to this post, please click here:Poets and Cicadas

For days we’ve been veiled in a lovely hum. It floated in and out with cooling clouds and warm visitors on Saturday’s garden tour, and keeps us company even now.

A wonderful mystery, these cyclical singers. Seventeen years ago, to the score of their ancestors’ welcoming whirr, we moved into this house. Such spokes rolling round on the wheel of time show us both changes and stay-sames. (We no longer wash our faces in the horse-trough as we had to the first night, but wind still combs the cedars and catalpas.)

A friend recently sent this:

“Do you know the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.”  —John Berger


In the interest of my soul, here’s a newborn–



Primavera: velvet-nippled peaches.

Sun-buffed oak-shoulders.  Slim-


kneed lean green grasses: fragrant

fate. Silver etching childhood-scented


fields. Apple elbows dogwood nudging

juniper. Young magnolia graduates.


Yes, lullabying doves. Yes, autumn vision

losing her precision. Yet, impeccable. Impeccable.






 Springveils, photo © Irene O’Garden, 2013

Hope you are “writing the poems” you want to—



Sprucing Up: A Writer Wednesday Post

June 5th, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (6 Comments)


 Shadowmask, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Sprucing Up

Sprucing up for a charity garden tour this weekend. Projects postponed resurrect with the peonies. Workers are buzzing about like our prancing polka-dot terrier Bee. Electricians hardwire outdoor fixtures we sought for 15 years; handyfolk screw shiny new black strap-hinges on potting-shed doors.  Planting, pruning, mulching.  A sand, a prime, a coat of paint.  In between specs and requests, I must gently disincline the finches from nesting in the awning, coax two panicked Carolina wrens out of my kitchen, answer the jingling phone, email my husband the file he needs in LA. Can I really post this week?

Yes, for the arresting, quiet moment yesterday morning.

While our second floor windows have shutters, for reasons unknown our first floor never did.  Sprucing up called for them. Up they went Monday. Yesterday, coffee mug warming my knuckles, I stepped out the door into sunrise at play.




 Shadow-moebas, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013

Just a simple morning image, just another mask dawn dons, these multiplying shadow-moebas, this smattering of scattered shadows flattering the wall and shutters. But the eye never tires of light’s unceasing joy in expressing herself.

The sun greets our wall every morning, but sprucing up makes us sit up and take notice.


Incidentally, thinking about light this week, my husband told me scientists are hard at work trying to create travel that’s faster than light. I think it’s a great idea, except it will always be dark when you get there…



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