Thursday, June 30, 2005

Poem for Thursday

From 'Evangeline'
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,--
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?


Poem fragment in honor of an afternoon spent in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington.

I'm back from nearly two days without internet, though it was well worth it as we were on beaches and mountains, near waterfalls and in hot springs. We had breakfast Tuesday morning with all my in-laws staying at the same hotel as we were, then said goodbye and drove to the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston, which we took across Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula. We went first to the Olympic National Park Visitor's Center in Port Angeles, then we drove up Hurricane Ridge to the visitor's center at the top, where we had lunch overlooking Mount Olympus and a host of other glacier-topped mountains. There were deer drinking from one of the many small waterfalls trickling through the pillow lava. From there we drove to Madison Falls by the Elwha River, a waterfall deep among evergreens. Not far past the exit to the national park, a tree had fallen across the road, and we and several other travelers all stopped and worked to clear it; fortunately one of the campers had an axe, and it wasn't one of the enormous evergreens! The road from there to Sol Duc went past Lake Crescent, a bright turquoise glacial lake surrounded by lupines and dozens of other wildflowers and birds.

At Sol Duc we tossed our stuff inside our cottage and went to the pool complex, which in addition to a large swimming pool has three hot spring pools ranging from about 100 to nearly 105 degrees and smelling strongly of sulfur. We were advised not to spend more than 20 minutes in the hot springs but none of us lasted even that long, going to swim instead in the 81-degree swimming pool that looked up at the nearby hills. It was a cool evening and we got back in the hot pools before washing off and coming back for dinner in the cottage -- they all come equipped with picnic tables and plenty of room to barbecue, and the store in the resort had a variety of desserts and wine. In the evening, since the sky doesn't get dark until after 10 at this time of year, we took a hike to Sol Duc Falls, a two-mile walk in the woods. There were enormous evergreens all around and a great many birds including ravens, robins and some kind of shiny dark blue western jay, though to my sorrow we did not see a marmot, just chipmunk.

Wednesday after breakfast in Sol Duc we drove to Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean, after a short wait for a mountain goat to cross the road going through the deep woods. At the shore we saw the sea stacks that used to be the Washington coastline back before it was Washington, and walked along the driftwood, which in this part of the country means "enormous downed spruce and red alder trees that form a barrier along the beach." We wanted to walk closer to the sea stacks and the rocks were slippery, so I took off my shoes to walk in the ocean and ended up getting soaked above the knees since the tide was coming in. After rummaging in the suitcase for dry pants and eating a picnic lunch near the driftwood, we drove through another part of the Olympic National Forest, where we saw lots of logging trucks and sections that had obviously been stripped in the past, but also signs identifying how often each area had been harvested, when it had last been harvested and replanted and when the current trees were due to be harvested.

We went after lunch to the Hoh Rainforest, where many of the trees are nearly 500 years old and the ecosystem is extremely carefully preserved -- backcountry campers are not even allowed to take a dump in the woods without taking their droppings with them. The trees there are hanging with moss, ferns and epiphytes that live on the moisture in the air, so very little sunlight gets through even when it's not dripping (of course we had rain in the mountains and sunshine in the rainforest). We did not get to see any flying squirrels -- nor elk, from which the ranger station was warning everyone to stay away from as they recently reproduced and have been attacking perceived threats to their offspring -- but we saw quail, some kind of black rodent crossing the road and assorted beetles, slugs and whiny flies. None of my photos do any justice at all to the size and shape of the Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees in this spectacular region.

Sol Duc Falls, a mile in the woods from the road to the resort, seen at twilight which this particular evening was after 9 p.m.

A deer peeks out from between trees near one of the little waterfalls along Hurricane Ridge.

Clouds hover above Mount Olympus and smaller peaks in the Olympic Range. There are many active glaciers on the peaks.

A field of wildflowers leads to glacial Lake Crescent. That amazing blue is the actual color of the water, which is full of runoff from the contemporary glaciers and is over 600 feet deep.

Sol Duc Resort's hot springs and swimming pool in the shadow of the mountains. Sol Duc and Elwha are valleys that Native American legend says were inhabited by dragons that, unable to conquer the entire region, crawled underground to cry and their tears create the hot springs in each valley.

Driftwood and stones litter Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean with sea stacks in the background.

Tree branch in the Hoh Rainforest hung heavily with clubmoss, which lives off water vapor and air.

We are spending the evening in Forks in a motel that isn't nearly as scenic as our cottage in Sol Duc, but has separate bedrooms with three queen-sized beds, plus a big living room, a full kitchen with stove and microwave and a bathroom that's off a hallway so what it lacks in glamour it makes up for in space. It also has a little pool, which, again, while not as exciting as hot springs was enough to keep the kids happy for an hour before dinner and baths. (And this motel has internet-capable phone jacks!) We cooked macaroni and cheese and watched a little baseball earlier and are going to bed early so that we can fit in both Olympic Peninsula beaches and Tacoma tall ships tomorrow.

Speaking of tall ships, sent me this good news from The Hollywood News: Billy Boyd says that there may be a sequel to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Peter Weir may be involved! I was hoping Fox had asked the San Diego museum to restore the Surprise to sailing condition for a reason. Hopefully tomorrow I shall have photos at least from a distance of the Lady Washington and other ships coming into Tacoma for the tall ships festival!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

By William Stafford

Tomorrow will have an island. Before night
I always find it. Then on to the next island.
These places hidden in the day separate
and come forward if you beckon.
But you have to know they are there before they exist.

Some time there will be a tomorrow without any island.
So far, I haven't let that happen, but after
I'm gone others may become faithless and careless.
Before them will tumble the wide unbroken sea,
and without any hope they will stare at the horizon.

So to you, Friend, I confide my secret:
to be a discoverer you hold close whatever
you find, and after a while you decide
what it is. Then, secure in where you have been,
you turn to the open sea and let go.


Poem snicked from . We are off to the Olympic Peninsula and tomorrow will have several islands, so it seemed appropriate.

Monday we spent the entire day with family -- breakfast with 's parents, brother and family at the hotel, then two lovely hours at Bothell Country Village Shops to get a gift for Granny before the party at the church, lunch with the extended family and some friends, swimming back at the hotel with cousin Todd's children, a quick dinner and then the evening at Jean and Bob's with the family again. The kids all got along very well and the older one watched the toddlers as they explored the backyard, where they discovered strawberries, worms, snails and all sorts of other excitement.

The Country Village Shops are a beautiful complex of cottages, converted old railroad cars and an inn surrounded by a marsh and creek, with individual craft stores, including Pacific Northwest-specific crafts, candles, glass-blowing (that can be watched or participated in), wood-carving, metal sculpture, etc. There's a store called "Hobbit Iron" that specializes in ornamental metalworks if that gives you an idea what kind of place it is. *g* There are also chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and a variety of other birds and small mammals running around the grounds, plus dispensers to feed the waterfowl. I had forgotten how many varieties of evergreen there are here, and the hills are beautiful this time of year. We got Granny a sculpted basket for all her 90th birthday cards filled with chocolate covered cherries, flowers and other things she likes.

's parents have told me terrible news! Maximus is gone. He has been relocated by a wildlife group out in the wilderness with his family. It seems that some of the nervous old ladies in the neighborhood had taken to screaming and jumping on their deck furniture whenever they saw a groundhog, which was quite frequent after Maximus and his wives reproduced this spring, so the neighborhood committee hired a humane society division to come trap and move all the groundhogs to an area that has not yet been overdeveloped with condos and Wal-Marts. This is probably good news for Maximus and the family as one presumes they will have more room to play, but I am very sad that I will not see them again. Already the rabbits have overtaken his old stomping ground, scaring the old ladies since the rabbits are even more fearless than the groundhogs, so I imagine they will be the next to be relocated. I am never retiring near people who prefer concrete lawn ornaments to live groundhogs!

So here is the runaround we are currently getting from United: we are flying home through Denver, and we all have seats on the flight to Denver. Younger son and I have tickets that were bought using frequent flyer miles; we have seat assignments from Denver to BWI. Older son and husband are frequent flyer members under the same account number but United is telling us that 1) the flight is oversold, so they cannot give out seat assignments for non-frequent flyers, 2) if we are all on the plane to Denver, we will all get seats on the flight from Denver to Baltimore even if the plane is oversold; 3) we will not be able to get seats until we arrive in Denver because United does not actually control the seats on the flight, the airport authority does, and 4) we can't talk to the airport authority (note: the two people we talked to BOTH gave their names as Jack Stephenson and from their accents we strongly suspect that they were not in the continental US -- I don't like to think of myself as someone who stereotypes, but really, how many Jack Stephensons with Pakistani accents can there be working for United Airlines?!) Now the question is what we do if we get to Denver and two of us have been bumped from the flight, which we may not even know when we leave Seattle. Do I need effing legal representation to get seats we paid for on the flights for which we bought them now?

Northwest caboose and tugboat at the Country Village Shops which until recently housed a pet store and Sea Faeries store, though the shops have since moved into the larger Town Hall Antique Mall. As you can see the ducks have not moved anywhere -- nor the roosters, robins, bunnies, etc.

Tuesday we go to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort with no phones or television, so no update at night. Have a great mid-week!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Poem for Monday

Bantams in Pine-Woods
By Wallace Stevens

Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Of tan with henna hackles, halt!

Damned universal cock, as if the sun
Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail.

Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal.
Your world is you. I am my world.

You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat!
Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines,

Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs,
And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos.


Another Stevens poem from this week's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "By writing a profound poem that also resembles a playground rhyme, with a ribald joke in it, Stevens comments on the grandiose or pompous nature of formulation," writes Robert Pinsky. "In a way that is characteristic of poetry, he lets us both feel moved by the language and enjoy it as ridiculous. His lines are as gorgeous and fierce and silly as the feathers of his rooster...this is the language of animal pedigrees, of poetry, and of the chants we enjoy and respond to even before we begin thinking about them."

Sunday our plan was to sleep in, but the hotel only serves breakfast till 9, so since we were up and fed and ready to go at 9:30 we went to the celebration for 's grandmother's 90th birthday at her church. This is my father-in-law's mother; he was the oldest of five children, though one of them passed away a few years ago and his widow could not attend, though we are all still close with her. Granny lives with the middle daughter and husband (my husband's Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob) outside Seattle, so they were there along with my in-laws, as was the youngest daughter (whose husband and son could not attend for reasons too horrific to go into), Jean and Bob's younger son and his wife, Jean and Bob's other daughter-in-law and her three children (her husband, Jean and Bob's son Todd, manages a minor league baseball team and could not get away). My husband's youngest brother, his wife and their twin toddlers were there as well (his middle brother just opened a restaurant in Los Angeles and has been swamped). We missed the actual church portion of the church reception and were just there for the cake and celebration so that was very nice!

Then we went downtown and met , whom I last saw at the Seattle Zoo two years ago; this time we went to the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, something and I have wanted to see since it opened! There were unfortunately no photos allowed inside -- it's housed in the infamous Experience Music Project complex, one of the most interesting buildings I have ever seen, which people either adore or utterly loathe and which is also the brainchild of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen. Fortunately for us less wealthy geeks, Allen is a rabid Star Trek fan and had amassed a phenomenal collection including Shatner's and Nimoy's uniforms, Kirk's chair from the bridge, a host of phasers, communicators, bat'leths, etc.

The book collection is also wonderful, and there's an interactive starship exhibit where the kids made numerous famous vessels fly by one another (the Enterprise, Moya, E.T.'s ship and an X-wing all together!), plus at least a dozen other video screens including a round one near the entrance that shows clips from dozens of movies and TV shows; a discussion of the worlds of The Matrix, The Jetsons and Blade Runner by film critics; interviews with writers about zines and fandom; a Lost in Space episode; Spielberg discussing alien tech; Cameron discussing Aliens; and I can't even remember what else, but these are interspersed among various costumes, weapons, movie posters and stills, props, plus the entire enormous alien from Alien vs. Predator, a full-size stormtrooper, Robby the Robot, Schwarzenegger's Terminator costume, Fonda's Barbarella gun and far more besides than I can recall at the moment. There's quite a decent collection of SF by women, which pleases me, and a curious history of SF timeline with world events worked in that I'd love to know who authored.

The kids had wanted to play in the International Fountain, but it was turned off for repairs (and it was a cool gorgeous day besides) so after lunch at a food court -- the usual chaos where everyone wanted to eat something from a different stall -- we walked over to the fountain, which is in a courtyard between the city ballet and the Key Arena where the Supersonics and WNBA champion Storm play. Then we said farewell to and went back to the hotel so the kids could swim for awhile before the dinner barbecue in honor of Granny attended by all the relatives in town. Jean and Bob have a big house with a good-sized yard so the kids could run around without getting into things, and when it started to rain late in the evening, the kids went down the basement to play Xbox and Transformers while the adults sat around talking!

The Space Needle behind the pirate ship ride at the Fun Forest Amusement Park in Seattle Center. Arrrr!

Monday there will be another big celebration for Granny at the church and then a family dinner, so the report may be entirely domestic!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Poem for Sunday

The Pleasures of Merely Circulating
By Wallace Stevens

The garden flew round with the angel,
The angel flew round with the clouds,
And the clouds flew round and the clouds flew round
And the clouds flew round with the clouds.

Is there any secret in skulls,
The cattle skulls in the woods?
Do the drummers in black hoods
Rumble anything out of their drums?

Mrs. Anderson's Swedish baby
Might well have been German or Spanish,
Yet that things go round and again go round
Has rather a classical sound.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Poetry is in some ways lordly or aristocratic," writes Robert Pinsky. "The rectangular blocks of print embodying its young, middle-class nephew, the novel, seem too confining for poetry, which prefers speed and glamour. Yet at the same time it feels at home in the street, the kitchen, the playground and the tavern. It likes a good time, and it sometimes mocks or parodies solemnity. These two historic elements of the art persist -- and frequently combine." He cites the above poem by Stevens as an example, adding, "The poem makes both more and less sense than a prose discourse might make on subjects Stevens keeps in the air like a master juggler: the circularity of experience, the absence of transcendent meaning, the arbitrariness of death, the mysterious, primitive power of incantation. But it is the play that makes the poem: not merely the playful joke about Mrs. Anderson's love life in the last stanza, but also the poem's serious play between high and low, sophisticated and naive, reality and talk about reality -- above all, between the cycles of life and our ancient, deep need to make word music about them."

Have had a long, tiring but ultimately satisfying day, mostly taken up with planes and airports. We flew out of BWI, managed to finagle two seats together in row 13 and two seats together in row 24, so our kids were nearly half a plane away from us -- they insisted on sitting together because the Game Boy wireless adapter wouldn't work so many rows apart, and I was thankful for small favors. *g* Then we had a layover for awhile in Chicago, our old stomping ground where our older son was born, and walked around O'Hare for awhile before boarding the next leg of the flight where we were only separated by one row and an aisle. It was a turbulent flight for about half an hour -- not in the emotional sense but in the plane-shaking-all-over sense -- but otherwise also uneventful, as the kids were well-behaved until the absolutely interminable wait to exit the aircraft for reasons that were never explained.

I saw enough of Million Dollar Baby on the plane to be very grateful that 1) I never paid to see it and 2) I was in a situation that made it easy to pull off my headphones and not watch the end -- I knew it would bother me on a whole host of levels but sheesh, I expected an Oscar winner to be a better movie! The dialogue was full of cliches, and the cinematography and lighting were so predictable as to be painful: I said to my husband that we were going to get That Scene in excruciating slow motion, and we did, and that we were going to get That Other Scene in a nearly dark room with one of the characters then walking out into the sunshine, and sure enough...! I never thought I'd see an Oscar winner I'd resent more than Forrest Gump but I was actually in the mood for Forrest Gump after stopping paying attention to MDB.

And I stand by my request for movies where women are heroic and rewarded rather than punished for it. We were talking about what if Ron Howard had directed MDB and Clint Eastwood had directed Cinderella Man (Hilary Swank would have overcome all obstacles and inspired a nation; Russell Crowe would have met a poignant fate that allowed some other guy to come to terms with his life), or better yet what if Ron Howard had directed The Passion of the Christ and Mel Gibson had directed Apollo 13 (Jesus would have survived triumphantly and married a supportive Mary Magdalene; the astronauts would have died tragically for the betterment of their followers)...

The kids fortunately were not interested in MDB and were quite well behaved in the end looking out over Mount Rainier before the endless wait to enter SeaTac. Once we finally had our luggage and our rental car we came to the hotel only to find that my husband's parents had been given the room with two queen beds while we had one and a sleep sofa...fortunately they were amenable to switching! So we took the boys to the pool (which had been the bribe to get them to behave all day) and are about to crash.

Mount Rainier seen from the plane flying into Seattle from the east. We had a gorgeous view of the Space Needle, too, but it was after they asked everyone to turn off electronic devices so I couldn't take a photo.

Oxbow on the Snake River (at least, we are pretty sure it was the Snake River based on the nearby lakes and hills). There were cloud shadows on it the whole time we were over it but this is the most lovely oxbow I have ever seen, easier to see even than The Oxbow in Holyoke, Massachusetts, so I had to try to take a photo.

The brachiosaurus in O'Hare Airport.

What, you didn't believe me? Okay, actually it's a life-size cast to try to attract visitors to the Field Museum but it's still a fun thing!

And probably the most famous image people carry around from O'Hare -- the moving walkway between the United Terminal and the rest of the airport.

Tomorrow I am going to see both and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame! And have dinner with a great many in-laws. So I shall probably be delinquent on replying to mail and comments all trip, for which I apologize in advance!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Poem for Saturday

Night Journey
By Theodore Roethke

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.


Leaving town. Drove my father to the airport in the morning so he could fly to my sister's where my mother is already visiting, had lunch with my beloved who has now been subjected to my charming children and who told us that there is going to be another Highlander movie with Adrian Paul executive producing, whoo! Then I came home and drove myself crazy and sort of got packed and tried to keep my aforementioned charming children from using the furniture as jungle gyms and had dinner and stuff, and now I am pretending to be organized to go to Seattle in the morning.

Oh, my wonderful *coughs* husband remembered today that he had never bothered to get our seat assignments from the airline, nor did he mention to me that we did not have seat assignments, so when he called today he discovered that we are in four different sections on the plane. I am sure whoever ends up with my eight-year-old in the center seat with no parent within three rows will be just thrilled about this. :p

Ummmyeah stressed. Hopefully will be better tomorrow posting from the west coast! And now I must go figure out whether I have a bathing suit in which I can be seen in front of my husband's 90-year-old grandmother. Everyone have a great weekend!

Patuxent River crossing from St. Mary's to Solomons, early evening.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Poem for Friday

...And the Indivisible Universe...
By Pattiann Rogers

...and the withered universe
of toad hulls and cracked crusts
of winter mushrooms, black fallen
ferns and mildewed cresses and the dead
summer flight of hatchling sparrows
spilled from their field nest in May
and the multiple-titted breasts
of one-eyed witches...

...and the bursting universe
of ripe plums, bloated carcasses
of drowned cattle and butchered
dogs, the rages and cores of super
novas and hatchet murderers and orange-
white molten rock boiling forth
like day at the night-bottom
of the sea and bedded lovers
in the loving hands of their lovers...

...and the one dizzy universe
of spindles and suns and suns
through swarms of dixa midges, suns
spun by waterspouts and whirlwinds
and circling seeds of green ash
and silver maple and the wheeling
molecules of their varied arts
and equations and suns like circus
rings and suns like ponies tethered...

...and the closed system
of the aerial, arboreal universe
of lemurs, dusky titis, pollinating
bats and monkey-eating eagles,
strangler figs and woody lianas
all twining and swooping together
with the separate strands of the wretched
universe and the stalwart universe
and the wayward universe piercing
and tangling through the defiant
universe of forest canopies
consequently resulting...

...and the faltering universe
filled with crutches and braces, rusted
nails, staggerings and stutterings, cement
patches, mucilage, mending rubber glue,
bandages, bolsters and buttresses, putty,
paste and the universe of festival
and the universe of faith...
...and the sublime universe existing
inside the universe of sleep awake inside
the dens of cactus owl and stag-horn
beetle nest, pack rat hovels, inside
the buried ova of crocodiles, cicadas,
green turtles and ridley turtles
and likewise inside the biding
of the new moon and likewise
inside the biding of the unknown
existing inside the waking universe
asleep inside the universe
of the sublime...

...and the momentary before the first
categorically, seamless universe
of universal categories, and the momentary
immediately after...


Thursday was a chore day since we are going out of town -- had to stop at Target to get shampoo and deodorant and exciting things like that, had to stop at Barnes and Noble to get older son that bargain-rack Douglas Adams anthology because we can't find our copy of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, had to stop at Bath & Body Works to get semiannual sale Moonlit Path body wash, had to get ice cream and walk around the lake to see the geese as long as we were in the shopping complex, had to do laundries, had to get younger son to violin, had to review "Mudd's Women" (yeccchhhhhhh), had to take older son over to play with neighbor who is moving back to Taiwan this weekend after nearly six years in the U.S., had to make a great many phone calls...yeah, thrilling. And tomorrow I have to drive my father to the airport before coming home to pack so we can get to the airport bright and early Saturday morning.

Tonight while folding the laundry and sorting various piles of paper we watched Apollo 13, which we picked up on DVD the day we went to Udvar-Hazy. The kids had never seen it and we all enjoyed it a lot -- I am far too much of a space geek for it to be otherwise -- but I must admit that watching it this time really brought home to me all the things that are wrong with Cinderella Man and why, despite how much I love Russell Crowe, I'm really not sorry that tanked at the box office. I am really sick of Ron Howard making the same movie over and over. Yeah, the visuals are great and the acting is excellent, but it's the same damn screenplay here and in A Beautiful Mind: man triumphs over adversity while supportive wife weeps and applauds and the nation cheers as he accepts accolades for his struggle. No wonder I felt so sorry for Renee Zellwegger in CM; her lines were clones of Kathleen Quinlan's in A13 and she didn't even get as many good scenes as Jennifer Connelly in ABM, since Connelly at least got to throw a tantrum.

Why has no one made a recent major film about Amelia Earhart or Marie Curie or Sally Ride or Golda Meir? No wonder I fetishized Eva Peron after Evita when I was 15 -- with all her horrible aspects, how often do we get a triumphant movie about a woman? And even Eva falls into the category of women who pay for their moment in the spotlight by dying young and horribly (I will not name the most recent highly acclaimed fictional example of this but I'm sure a lot of you know what I mean). We don't need the Max Baers of the world set up as straw-man bad guys so some boxer looks like more of a hero, and we definitely don't need any more plucky male underdog stories. I wonder if part of my bias against the younger generation in HP is that I really want Hermione to be the hero of the tale.

Ahem. See what "Mudd's Women" did to me? *g* Anyway, thanks so very much for all the comments in the past couple of days and sorry I have not gotten to them, again...when I get back from Seattle and the kids are in camp I shall do better!

And damselflies for .

P.S. Go look at 's latest Christian Bale!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Revenge of the Geese!

Remember the adorable goslings that live near the multiplex and Barnes & Noble? Well, look what happened!

I stand by my belief that there has been either cross-species hanky panky, adoption or duckie day care going on. (There are four large white geese that live among the Canadian geese at the office park...they appear to have no children, but they have the same orange bills and feet as the lighter geese here...)

Poem for Thursday

By Carol Ann Duffy

She woke up old at last, alone,
bones in a bed, not a tooth
in her head, half dead, shuffled
and limped downstairs
in the rag of her nightdress,
smelling of pee.

            Slurped tea, stared
at her hand--twigs, stained gloves--
wheezed and coughed, pulled on
the coat that hung from a hook
on the door, lay on the sofa,
dozed, snored.

            She was History.
She'd seen them ease him down
from the Cross, his mother gasping
for breath, as though his death
was a difficult birth, the soldiers spitting,
spears in the earth;

            been there
when the fisherman swore he was back
from the dead; seen the basilicas rise
in Jerusalem, Constantinople, Sicily; watched
for a hundred years as the air of Rome
turned into stone;

            witnessed the wars,
the bloody crusades, knew them by date
and by name, Bannockburn, Passchendaele,
Babi Yar, Vietnam. She'd heard the last words
of the martyrs burnt at the stake, the murderers
hung by the neck,

            seen up-close
how the saint whistled and spat in the flames,
how the dictator strutting and stuttering film
blew out his brains, how the children waved
their little hands from the trains. She woke again,
cold, in the dark,

            in the empty house.
Bricks through the window now, thieves
in the night. When they rang on her bell
there was nobody there; fresh graffiti sprayed
on her door, shit wrapped in a newspaper posted
onto the floor.


The plan Wednesday was to take the kids to a reptile show at a local library, but when we approached the library parking lot, we found ourselves sitting in a long line of cars waiting to get in and find spaces...soon people were letting their children out onto the sidewalk to run ahead, some clutching rubber lizards, and we concluded that the reptile display was far more popular than we had anticipated and it was likely to be crowded and noisy inside the library. So we took the road of least resistance: we went to a local pet store to look at reptiles there...and birds, and rabbits, and hamsters, and there were kittens for adoption at discounted prices and I had to tell my younger son that, adorable as the little black-and-white one was, and the gray one who looked just like Cinnamon, and the fluffy one, we could not get another cat while we're trying to figure out what's going on with Rosie and are about to go out of town. So I was public enemy number one until I took everyone out for ice cream and my evils were forgiven.

Somehow it turned into a very hectic afternoon and I'm still not sure why because it's not like I accomplished any of the cleaning or organizing I meant to do for our trip this weekend. We had dinner with my father, who arrived just as the sky opened up for our second thunderstorm of the day -- the first had my cable on the fritz a good deal of the morning, which had made work impossible, so I was very behind and didn't get it done till after some very good Greek food which my father decided to treat us to despite the fact that this meant rushing out in pouring rain and cramming into his car. I meant to watch "Mudd's Women" for review in the evening but ended up writing boring Trek articles instead, so that will have to get done at some point tomorrow along with whatever other work lands in my lap...hopefully not a lot as I expect to be crazed Friday before we leave!

So, yeah, no exciting news or squee or anything. I am 85% done with Snape/Lupin part three, hope to have it posted before I leave town (will likely be unbetaed given the timetable). And I've been meaning to say thank you to everyone who stuck with me here in the likely hope that I would shut up about real life and get back to posting fic, which I haven't done all spring, really. I've been doing some reassessing of my priorities, particularly when it comes to time spent online, writing and online friendships. I feel like I got myself in knots last year, where I didn't know who were my friends, who was sticking around just for the squee and I was confusing that with real conversation, and what the differences were between writing for my own pleasure, writing for a fic audience and writing things that aren't necessarily for my pleasure and aren't for a fannish audience but need to be worked on more seriously if I ever intend to publish anything again.

I'm still in a bit of a weird place, and I know I haven't been around a lot on AIM or commenting in journals. It's strange and still upsetting to discover the ease with which I can be replaced in people's lives as their fannish interests change, where in one case my nickname has been bestowed upon someone else and in another someone I thought I knew quite well had constructed a new identity out of concern that her friends from one area of her life would laugh at her if they knew of a new interest that apparently embarrasses her and she didn't tell me about it. I'm really bad at the whole public/private line business, the multiple personality business, the meaningless-RP-relationship business...I've given up worrying about the people who think I am the meanest and most evil person in the world over political arguments, and I've even given up keeping my old RPS identity under full lock, I just haven't got the energy for it. Today I got curious who would tick a box saying "Yes, I am reading your journal." It was very enlightening to discover that some of the people I thought were ignoring me are not. *g*

Farmhouse and yard at the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation in Historic St. Mary's City. I am no fan of the stuff but it was a huge crop for the state of Maryland -- there's even a town between here and St. Mary's named Upper Marlboro.

The plants get very spoiled -- spaced several feet apart from one another with grasses in between, and checked every day for worms.

Here is drying tobacco. Visitors learn all about how it is grown, harvested, dried and exported from an actor playing the original Godiah, who talks about his enormous number of children, his crops, his exports, the marriage he arranged for his 15-year-old daughter to a nice Catholic boy and various aspects of farming.

He also has very impressive chickens. There are cats, too, but apparently the chickens chase the kittens as they arrive and the cats learn very fast to leave them alone.

This is how the herb garden is watered...using scooped-out dry gourds as watering cans.

The upper level of the house is scented by drying herbs and has two for him and his wife, the other for the children they keep popping out.

And this is how most of the other "houses" in Historic St. Mary's City look...just frames, not yet rebuilt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

De Occulta Philosophia
By Charles Simic

Evening sunlight,
Your humble servant
Seeks initiation
Into your occult ways.

Out of the late summer sky,
Its deepening quiet,
You brought me a summons,
A small share in some large
And obscure knowledge.

Tell me something of your study
Of lengthening shadows,
The blazing windowpanes
Where the soul is turned into light—
Or don’t just now.

You have the air of someone
Who prefers to dwell in solitude,
The one who enters, with gravity
Of mien and imposing severity,
A room suddenly rich in enigmas.

Oh supreme unknowable,
The seemingly inviolable reserve
Of your stratagems
Makes me quake at the thought
Of you finding me thus

Seated in a shadowy back room
At the edge of a village
Bloodied by the setting sun,
To tell me so much
To tell me absolutely nothing.


Because it was a nearly-90-degree Tuesday and because we were in the mood for it after the George Lucas tribute on Monday night, I took the kids to the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. Unlike the last time we were there over winter break, the vast hangars were nearly empty, so we were able to go up all the ramps and stairs for more interesting views of the planes and the orbital shuttle without waiting in lines and we took the elevator to the top two floors for views of the airport runways and the air traffic control exhibit. I was a space geek long before I was a ship geek, and getting to stand under the Enterprise for as long as I wanted was bliss. Plus my kids are interested and chatty about astronomy and some planes -- am debating whether I could show them The Aviator the way I showed them Gladiator and The Matrix, with my finger on the fast-forward button for the non-PG parts -- so it's a lot of fun to go with them to museums like this.

The shuttle orbiter Enterprise in the space hangar at The National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. I previously posted photos of her here.

From the upper ramp, an Air France Concorde retired in 2003 and a Boeing 307 Stratoliner built circa 1938 and restored in 2001. The Clipper Flying Cloud flew for PanAm, but Howard Hughes had one of these silver beauties modified for his personal use at TWA. I posted photos of her before too, here.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and P-40E Warhawk "Lope's Hope" in the main hangar. My son wanted to know whether the Air Force got the idea for the Blackbird from Star Wars or The X-Men.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, named after the mother of its first commander, Colonel Paul Tibbets; first bomber to house her crew in a pressurized compartment, first bomber to drop an atomic bomb in combat. She's one of the prettiest planes at Udvar-Hazy. It's hard to look at her, and hard not to.

Travel Air D4D Pepsi Skywriter, one of more than a thousand open-cockpit biplanes built between 1925 and 1930, combining the fun of barnstorming, the utility of crop dusting and the value of advertising.

One of Amelia Earhart's flight suits. (You can see her Lockheed Vega at the main Smithsonian Air and Space Museum here.) I have no words for how much it excites me to see anything that actually touched Earhart... these. Oh but I wish they had the hair. I know it is ridiculous to fetishize what she had rather than who she was, but I'm like that and she is so much more worthy of that kind of adoration than movie stars anyway.

On the way home we were talking about Apollo 13, which had come up in conversation while looking at rockets, and about Spaceballs since the boys were extremely amused by the clip shown during the Lucas tribute, and I remembered that I had $25 in gift cards that had been sitting in my purse since we got them for Christmas from various relatives, so we stopped at Blockbuster and got both those films. Spaceballs was this evening's selection by popular acclaim: it was about as stupid as I remembered (my favorite Mel Brooks movies are Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety and Young Frankenstein, with To Be Or Not To Be getting a boost up because of Bancroft and Robin Hood: Men in Tights winning bonus points for its cast, so Spaceballs is pretty far down there). My kids found it utterly hysterical and I am going to be hearing, "Your schwartz is as big as mine!" for the rest of the week.

I forgot to mention my squee at seeing Mark, Carrie and Harrison in a group hug and Harrison's "I love you," and earlier I watched a Shatner interview conducted outside the Kodak Theater before the AFI tribute in which he was asked who was cooler, Captain Kirk or Han Solo, and he said "Han Solo is cooler than Nimoy but no one is cooler than Captain Kirk!" I also watched a long Threshold preview, which made me wail because the pilot actually looks good...I really like Carla Gugino and Brent Spiner, but I don't want to watch a Braga show! Hope everyone has had a lovely Litha/Midsummer/solstice/longest or shortest day of the year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

By William Empson

It is the pain, it is the pain endures.
Your chemic beauty burned my muscles through.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

What later purge from this deep toxin cures?
What kindness now could the old salve renew?
It is the pain, it is the pain endures.

The infection slept (custom or changes inures)
And when pain's secondary phase was due
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

How safe I felt, whom memory assures,
Rich that your grace safely by heart I knew.
It is the pain, it is the pain endures.

My stare drank deep beauty that still allures.
My heart pumps yet the poison draught of you.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

You are still kind whom the same shape immures.
Kind and beyond adieu. We miss our cue.
It is the pain, it is the pain endures.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.


Michael Dirda writes a column each week for The Washington Post Book World. This week it's on a biography of Empson, whom Dirda calls "the greatest English literary critic of the 20th century." Dirda notes that even the worst of novelists is generally remembered longer than the best of critics, and notes that Empson is all but forgotten: "Occasionally, his first and most famous book still faintly registers in older memories: Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930)...Empson's later critical works -- as casually brilliant, wayward and commonsensical as the man himself -- are even less often recalled...yet each of these can be legitimately claimed as his masterpiece." He published a small number of poems as well, "notorious for its gnarled syntax, multilayered allusions to modern science and haunting verbal melodies...suffused with real melancholy and heartache, as well as a stoic determination 'to learn a style from a despair.'"

We had a quiet Monday after a hectic weekend. Older son refused to wake up till 10:30, no one had breakfast before 11, we went hiking at Locust Grove, then stopped at the food store and brought stuff home for a very late lunch. In the afternoon I wrote a bunch of articles while the kids entertained one another, then we had dinner and watched the pilot of Wildfire because I've written three articles on it for TrekToday so I know all about it and I could not resist the combination of Nana Visitor and Michael Piller even though I suspected it would be a WB clone young teen chick flick, which it was...not that that bothered me particularly, as there was lots of pretty outdoor scenery, a likeable lead even if she doesn't have all that much range yet, Dennis Weaver in the Chris Cooper role from Seabiscuit, the very hot Greg Serano as the oh-this-is-wrong-he's-the-father-figure-I-should-not-be-shipping-them mentor, and Nana, who is pretty much incapable of not being good.

My father called during the 9 p.m. commercial set to tell us to turn on USA, and there was William Shatner singing "My Way" at the George Lucas AFI tribute that I've had to write up but did not realize was going to be televised. So as soon as Wildfire was over, we put it on, just in time to hear Bill Murray singing "Star Wars, gotta watch Star Wars..." from that Saturday Night Live clip. There was lots of other fun, including Harrison Ford explaining that he has his current life (including Calista Flockhart, who unfortunately showed up in practically every shot of Lucas, as George was sitting between Harrison and Steven Spielberg and it's so hard not to slash those three and Calista was on Harrison's other side) because Tom Selleck, George's first choice to play Indiana Jones though Steven favored Harrison, couldn't get out of doing Magnum P.I. (so we all owe that Magnum P.I. producer thanks!) Just about everyone else in Hollywood was on the special, including Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss, Jimmy Smits, Tom Hanks, Warren&Annette, John Williams, Ron Howard, and Peter Jackson having lost so much weight that he looks like Dominic Monaghan - now we know which was his Mary Sue hobbit. *snerk* Anyway, the show reruns and we started taping it at 11 because this one is definitely a keeper for the Shatner and stormtrooper Rockettes line alone.

P.S.A.: has informed me that not everyone knows that there are USB-powered vibrators. So I am doing my civic duty and informing all my fic-reading friends. *g* Speaking of porn, I was told by an evil influence that I had to do this month's , and I am embarrassed that I capitulated so I will just warn everyone to check the challenge and then decide if you want to look at the comm or not (mine's still the newest entry I think). I realized today that I am still insane (of all the things I've lost this year, I miss my mind the most) because I was wondering why I have never seen a Harry Potter songvid to Styx's "Fooling Yourself." And I have just discovered that my trip to Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula will miss Tall Ships Tacoma 2005 by a day -- someone please go and take pictures for me!

Children in the stocks outside the reconstructed State House. The original was built in 1676. (That food truck and tent in the background were there for the maritime heritage festival and are not usual features at Historic St. Mary's City!)

This was the first capital of Maryland, before Annapolis was built, where the first African-American served in a US assembly. It was reconstructed in 1934.

The historic graveyard beyond the state house, seen from one of its windows.

The volunteer militia between musters. They discussed tactics and fired those rifles.

The kitchen at Smith's Ordinary, which could sleep eight upstairs and another eight downstairs with the tables pushed into the corners and bedrolls spread on the floor. This was high-class accomodation -- look at the real glass in the window.

Outside of Smith's Ordinary, one of the reenactors roasts a chicken on a spit. Behind him is the frame of the original printer's shop which will be rebuilt on the site after excavation is completed; they're still finding letters and numbers.

Wolf and bear skins hanging in one of the Woodland Indian homes.

Part of the Maryland 350th Anniversary quilt in the visitor's center -- the state bird and flower, the first church and state house, and the Ark and the Dove which brought the Calvert colony from England to St. Mary's.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Poem for Monday

The Hammer
By Gerald Stern

What did a foot of snow matter when I
Was upstairs with my hammer banging against
the radiators; and what good was my threadbare
camel's hair coat and white silk scarf inside
that freezing office I paid seven dollars a month
for, including heat; and what did it matter that I
grew up on the wrong side of the Alleghenies
and got the news from New York, oh five, ten years
too late, and was the hammer well balanced or not?
And did I wear my coat when I read and did I
wear the scarf like a babushka or wasn't there
a green beret somewhere, and what did my moustache
have to do with it, and wasn't it fine,
that waiting, and wasn't the floor covered with paper
the way a floor should be, a perfect record of
a year or so in that ruined mountain city
where I spoke out on my side of the burned-over slag heap?


Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in the Sunday The Washington Post Book World on the subject of sonnets. Like Williams, notes Pinsky, Stern gives the form "another kind of affectionate dismantling" in his book American Sonnets, stretching the form to "'twenty lines or so' -- 'Who's counting?'" and asking "what the Muse of Poetry might be up to in an American setting."

I am behind on everything but have had a perfectly lovely weekend with lots of tall ships and water and fun with my kids. Sunday we went to the Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival, where the schooner Sultana (a replica of a 1767 ship from Boston) and the barkentine Gazela (built in the late 19th century in Portugal, restored in 1974) were visiting from Chestertown and Philadelphia respectively, and where the Virginia Marine Science Center brought a traveling aquarium in a truck with Chesapeake Bay creatures and a touch pool. We also saw The Sterling Playmakers (several of whom are members of The Noble Blades) perform pirate sword antics and heard the jazz ensemble Double Digit (the rock portion of the musical entertainment, including 10,000 Maniacs and Lifehouse, played the night before).

We had to leave relatively early in the afternoon to pick my father up from the airport -- my mother is staying at my sister's in New York for the week and keeping the car so he flew home -- and from there we went out to dinner for Father's Day. So I have eaten a great deal over the course of the weekend and been on three tall ships...what more could anyone ask?

Gazela Philadelphia with parrots rescued by the Wilson Parrot Foundation.

Gazela from Sultana. We had seen her dismasted at Penn's Landing, near the Independence Seaport Museum where she docks for the winter, in December.

The Coast Guard brought a ship too. You can see her colorful flags through Sultana's rigging.

A skate in the traveling Virginia Aquarium Ocean in Motion truck.

This festival includes a ferris wheel, merry-go-round and some other rides.

Here is Double Digit performing on the Miller Stage.

Gazela and Sultana again (you can see photos of them from last year as well here). This is from the direction of the stage and fairgrounds, near low tide.

And as I asked yesterday...what's a waterfront festival without pirates?