Finding Words


In writing poetry with objects, Mela joins other poets in constantly expanding her vocabulary. She calls this "shopping." It also happens to be her job. Clients rely upon her uncanny ability to scan acres of corny consumer goods and find the one magical and perfect selection amongst them.

Today I joined Mela and Deva on a safari to LaConner and Anacortes.

"My favorite period is the time in England after the Romans left, leaving their art and architecture behind, and the Gaelic tribes they had been ruling took over. This is the time of the Arthurian legends. Arthur was half Roman, you know," Mela tells me. "For me, Roman art in Italy isn't nearly as interesting as seeing it in England."

"The Romans poisoned themselves by drinking wine out of lead chalices," Deva answers to my question of why the Romans left England and everywhere else.


A street of quaint storefronts in La Conner fills with summer tourists


In a courtyard off the Caravan gift store, a trio plays hypnotic pieces on
digeridoo, marimba, and percussion


View from the waterfront porch behind the bakery from which we bought a picnic
lunch. We sat at a picnic table and admired the view while we dined.


The neighborhood seagulls lobbied for a portion of our meal, and we humored them.


After we ran out of sandwich crumbs, the seagulls gave us a scolding.


We spent several hours in the antique shops of La Conner and Anacortes, and then headed for the statuary on the outskirts of Anacortes to find cement planters and garden benches. I asked Mela whether she added colored finishes to the cement. "Here in Washington, mosses grow on the cement, which is so much more beautiful,"she told me. She likes the look of ancient mystery.

Purusing the statuary. A Roman style planter was pronounced
perfect and purchased not only for a client, but for home.


Scanning ceramics at a Japanese gift shop


The clerk at the Japanese shop saw me photographing the store and
offered to take a group shot, so we lined up.


On our way back to Bellingham, we visit Tannia and Emil
Hecht at the home they designed and built on the shores of
Chuckanut Mountain. Both dedicated athletes, Emil is a
surgeon, and Tannia, the skin care guru to a devoted flock
including Mela and me. In 1971, she was the cover model
on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Their son, Aviram, is about
to turn eighteen. They owned the land for ten years before building on it.

Emil explained that the house is heated partly by passive solar design.
The dining room, facing south, with a cement floor under a greenhouse roof,
captures afternoon heat and holds it. Tannia adds that they chose the locations of
the windows to face the sun and moon at solstices and equinoxes, so that
the house is a sort of calendar, in the manner of Stonehenge.


Tannia and Emil collected and set the beautiful stones of their
massive central fireplace and interior stone walls, which hold
the sun's heat and disburse it.


The view from the living room window.
Mela calls this house "the quintessential
Pacific Northwest home."


The southwest view from the porch.
Tannia raises lettuces, herbs and flowers in pots on the deck.


Front entrance. The rough siding on the house maintains the
original bark on each slab of wood.


A chocolate-scented dendrobium orchid completes the living room.
Tannia's tip of the day to me and Mela: Take alpha lipoic acid, glucosamine
condroitan, and MSM for your skin.