Monday, March 31, 2008

Poem for Monday

Mock Orange
By Louise Gluck

It is not the moon, I tell you.
It is these flowers
lighting the yard.

I hate them.
I hate them as I hate sex,
the man's mouth
sealing my mouth, the man's
paralyzing body--

and the cry that always escapes,
the low, humiliating
premise of union--

In my mind tonight
I hear the question and pursuing answer
fused in one sound
that mounts and mounts and then
is split into the old selves,
the tired antagonisms. Do you see?
We were made fools of.

And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.

How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?


"As a graduate student in the late 1970s, I watched the tiny, graceful and expensively dressed Louise Gluck ascend to a podium to read Mock Orange,' about the disappointments of marriage. The poem wrung shocked gasps from the audience when the speaker claimed to hate the syrupy aroma of mock orange flowers 'as I hate sex,'" recalled Mary Karr in Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "How small this poem is, for Gluck never wastes the reader's time...the orange blossom is the wedding flower, so mock orange is the faux version of real union. The poem opens when the wife -- kept awake by that sickly sweet odor -- tells her husband that it's not the moon troubling her rest but the fake shine of those cloying blossoms. Only as the poem goes on do we realize the conversation takes place during post-coital tristesse -- the natural sadness after sex that comes from the end of union. It's not sex the speaker despises; it's the fact that physical intimacy can devolve into private lust, and a couple can wind up 'split into the old selves,/the tired antagonisms.'"

We are home from Philadelphia with our poor neglected cats, who appear to have survived our absence. This morning after a big buffet breakfast in the Marriott, we went to the Independence Seaport Museum, which in addition to exhibits on immigration, shipbuilding and underwater archaeology (we'd visited before without the children and I knew they would love all the hands-on exhibits) offers free admission to the submarine Becuna and the USS Olympia -- the former a claustrophobic World War II submarine that once held a crew of 80, the latter the beautifully preserved oldest steel warship still afloat anywhere in the world. From there we went to Penn's Museum of Archaeology, which I used to visit all the time as a student, with its fabulous collection of ancient Canaanite, Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman and Native American artifacts. My parents met up with friends who live in Philadelphia in the cafe while we took younger son to the Phoenecian artifacts because he taught himself to read the letters in World Studies class.

A sphinx and temple ruins from the ancient city of Memphis dating to about 1250 BCE, transported to the University of Pennsylvania and displayed in its museum.

This vase is even older, from 2700 BCE, and has the name of King Khasekhem inscribed in hieroglyphics along with an account of an attack by a vulture goddess.

This crystal sphere, believed to be the second largest in the world, came from the Imperial Palace in Peking after arriving there from Burma in the 1600s. The crystal was shaped in Burma over many years in a cylindrical chamber of emery, garnet powder and water.

From the Independence Seaport Museum, a British pistol circa 1798 retrieved from the wreck of the HMS Debraak, which capsized off Cape Henlopen after taking a wealthy Spanish prize. Treasure hunters searched for the ship for years.

Philadelphia merchant Israel Cope ordered the tea set on the left with Warwick Castle decorating the pot and cup. The city had a historic maritime connection with China due to the porcelain trade.

Here aboard the submarine Becuna is a crewman's bed folded out above a partially dismantled torpedo. During the war, the crew slept above the torpedos in the fore and aft rooms.

And here's Olympia with the Becuna low in the water at right and the ship-turned-restaurant Moshulu, the largest four-masted sailing ship in the world still afloat.

On the way home we stopped at the Delaware Museum of Art, under the mistaken impression that it was open till 5 when in fact it was only open till 4, though at least it was free so we went in for what time we had -- slightly more than half an hour, which was enough time to race through the Pre-Raphaelites and Howard Pyle exhibits. After much debate on the drive back about where to stop for dinner, we ended up at the deli in the shopping center near our house. Then the kids got their last few minutes of vacation Wii and we all watched John Adams, where we got the unexpected surprise of Tom Hollander as George III; I had no idea he was in this mini-series, the IMDb doesn't list him! The kids and I both recognized him immediately, but only a couple of news articles mention him playing the role. I loved John and Abigail's awkward reunion, John's adult kids refusing to listen to him and the very charming Thomas Jefferson trying to recover from personal losses by enjoying Paris. And I loved loved loved Washington taking the oath of office.

We seem to have missed the opening of the Nationals' new stadium, the opening of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the four top seeds getting into the NCAA finals. Hopefully that means we also missed the traffic associated with those events!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Poem for Sunday

27,000 Miles
By Albert Goldbarth

These two asleep . . . so indrawn and compact,
like lavish origami animals returned

to slips of paper once again; and then
the paper once again become a string

of pith, a secret that the plant hums to itself . . . .
You see? — so often we envy the grandiose, the way

those small toy things of Leonardo’s want to be
the great, air-conquering and miles-eating

living wings
they’re modeled on. And the bird flight is

amazing: simultaneously strength,
escape, caprice: the Artic tern completes

its trip of nearly 27,000 miles every year;
a swan will frighten bears away

by angry aerial display of flapping wingspan.
But it isn’t all flight; they also

fold; and at night on the water or in the eaves
they package their bodies

into their bodies, smaller, and deeply
smaller yet: migrating a similar distance

in the opposite direction.


Greetings from Philadelphia, home of my alma mater the University of Pennsylvania, which I am visiting with my family and my parents. We went to the Academy of Natural Sciences to see the terrific interactive exhibit on the North and South Poles, "Ends of the Earth: From Polar Bears to Penguins," plus the dinosaur hall, live butterflies (a larger room than the Smithsonian, though with fewer varieties of butterflies) and wildlife dioramas. Then we went to the Franklin Institute, where we saw the biology exhibit with the giant walk-through heart, the electricity exhibits, the space science exhibits and the Baldwin Locomotive, plus the touring Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition (we had seen it before at COSI but the kids had such a good time that we wanted to go again, and my parents hadn't seen it).

A massive statue of Benjamin Franklin sits just beyond the main entrance to the Franklin Institute.

The Giant Heart is a perennial favorite with visitors -- people walk through the chambers of the heart, into the lungs and back to follow the path blood cells take in the body.

The Star Wars exhibit has artifacts like Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia costume plus R2-D2 and C-3PO models... well as interactive displays on the science behind the film, such as building Maglev trains using Legos to mimic how speeders operate and a design-your-own-R2-unit section where kids can construct, program and test miniature robots.

The Academy of Natural Sciences has live specimens like this gorgeous blue morpho butterfly... well as long-dead creatures like this tyrannosaurus rex...

...and models of animals like this bull moose. ("Moose in the road, moose in the road...")

After the museums, we went out to dinner downtown at a Thai-Malaysian restaurant called Aqua, which had a waterfall and absolutely fantastic coconut shrimp and mango chicken. Then we checked in to a hotel by the airport where the kids went swimming in the indoor pool. I am very sleepy after so much walking and Sunday we are going to several other places -- definitely the seaport museum, possibly the art museum and maybe one of the Brandywine Valley museums or Penn's archaeology museum -- so will post more details when I post more photos later in the week!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Poem for Saturday

The Solution
By Sharon Olds

         Finally they got the Singles problem under
control, they made it scientific. They opened huge
Sex Centers-you could simply go and state what you
want and they would find you someone who wanted that
too. You would stand under a sign saying I Like to
Be Touched and Held and when someone came and
stood under the sign saying I Like to Touch and
Hold they would send the two of you off
          At first it went great. A steady stream of
people under the sign I Like to Give Pain
paired up with a steady stream of people from under
I Like to Receive Pain. Foreplay Only-No
Orgasm found its adherents, and Orgasm Only-No
Foreplay matched up its believers. A loyal
Berkeley, California, policeman stood under the sign
Married Adults, Lights Out, Face to Face, Under a
Sheet, because that's the only way it was legal in
Berkeley-but he stood there a long time in his lonely
blue law coat. And the man under I Like to Be Sung
to While Bread Is Kneaded on My Stomach had been
there weeks without a reply.
         Things began to get strange. The Love
Only-No Sex was doing fine; the Sex Only-No
Love was doing well, pair after pair walking out
together like wooden animals off a child's ark, but
the line for 38D or Bigger was getting unruly,
shouting insults at the line for 8 Inches or
Longer, and odd isolated signs were springing up
everywhere, Retired Schoolteacher and Parakeet-No
Leather; One Rm/No Bath/View of Sausage Factory.
         The din rose in the vast room. The line
under I Want to Be Fucked Senseless was so long
that portable toilets had to be added and a minister
brought for deaths, births, and marriages on the
line. Over under I Want to Fuck Senseless-no
one, a pile of guns. A hollow roaring filled the
enormous gym. More and more people began to move over
to Want to Be Fucked Senseless. The line snaked
around the gym, the stadium, the whole town, out into
the fields. More and more people joined it, until
Fucked Senseless stretched across the nation in
a huge wide belt like the Milky Way, and since they
had to name it they named it, they called it the
American Way.


I rushed this morning to finish a review of Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Survivors" (not deep, pretty scathing, the episode makes me very angry) because I promised, against my better judgment, to take my kids to see Superhero Movie. It made me ask several important questions, such as when did "douchebag" become an acceptable word to say in a PG-13 movie and is Brent Spiner really so desperate for money that he'd rather do a role like this than a couple of Star Trek conventions?

I will admit that I can't help grinning at Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays and other Zucker movie alumni, and I howled at certain scenes -- the Human Torch getting gasoline thrown on him, the fight at the humanitarian convention with the Pope and Nelson Mandela throwing punches, the villain hiding at a comic book convention where everyone is in costume, the Dragonfly hiding on the ceiling after drinking his Super Big Gulp and peeing all over the floor behind the villain -- but the overall number of boob references, ridicule of aging and fart jokes kind of flattened any appreciation I might have had for the parody of superhero movies...I can't really accuse the movie of misogyny, however, as it only reflects the trivialization and victimization of women so common in the major film franchises.

The effects of General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.

Here are his uniform, hats, sword, rifle, canteen, dagger and other belongings, plus a lithograph.

This was the field notebook of Captain James Keith Boswell, an engineering officer on Jackson's staff. Jackson was wounded by the volley that killed Boswell, piercing the notebook and this map of the Rappahannock River.

Jackson's blood stains this handkerchief, which was saved by his aide-de-camp James Power Smith. Smith helped carry Jackson from the field after he was wounded.

The bullet in this photo made the hole in the canteen when it killed the canteen's owner, Captain William Alfred Wright. He died at Frayser's Farm during the Battle of Glendale six days after his promotion to captain of the "Essex Sharpshooters" while Jackson was under fire at White Oak Swamp.

A reproduction of General Robert E. Lee's headquarters tent -- every item in this display belonged to Lee, including the camp bed. When Jackson was dying after losing his arm, Lee told his chaplain: "Give General Jackson my affectionate regards, and say to him: he has lost his left arm, but I, my right."

Stonewall Brigade medals commissioned after Jackson's death in 1863 by Colonel Charles Lamar, struck in Paris and brought through the Federal blockade into the port of Wilmington, North Carolina.

We had dinner with my parents, with whom we are going to Philadelphia early Saturday morning. Then we came home and watched the highlights of the World Figure Skating Championships from Sweden on ESPN -- I follow skating so little these days that I couldn't have named last year's winners, but I saw enough to think that Yukari Nakano was robbed, coming in fourth after skating such a lovely program when the women's gold and silver medalists had major stumbles. I hate the new scoring system and the commentators never explain why it works the way it does, so the sport makes very little sense to me nowadays. And Wisconsin is out of the NCAA tournament, so now I really, truly don't care who wins.

The Friday Five: Food, Glorious Food
1. What type of food do you most like to eat?
Crabs, milk chocolate, nuts, anything in coconut milk, curry or rich cheese sauce.
2. What type of food do you most like to cook? Whatever can be microwaved in under two minutes.
3. What ingredient could you not live without? Vanilla if it's sweet, pepper if it's spicy.
4. What do you never let in your kitchen? Pepsi.
5. What is your favorite drink? Really good Ceylon, Assam or Earl Grey tea. Not too hot.

Friday Fiver: Feedback Baby
1. What have you sold?
Girl Scout cookies, candles for junior high school music programs, magazines...not much, since I've never worked in retail.
2. What do you want to change? The global warming trend. And the infrequency with which my children clean their bathroom.
3. What does your answering machine / voice mail message say? "If you are calling for any solicitation, please take us off your list."
4. Where did you go to school? High school: DC suburbs. College: Philadelphia. Grad school: Chicago.
5. Friday fill-in: If you'd like to reach me, ______. If you'd like to reach me, e-mail or text me and don't use a profanity in the subject line or you may get filtered into my spam folder.

Fannish 5: What are your five favorite redemption storylines?
1. Damar in Deep Space Nine
. He went from being a selfish, despicable person to a passionate freedom fighter allied with someone he once considered an enemy.
2. Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. Everything that follows, up to the destruction of the Ring, is dependent upon the breaking of the Fellowship and his death fighting the orcs.
3. Snape in Harry Potter. It has an incredibly sucky ending but the story up to that point made it worth following; to me, he's by far the most interesting character in those books.
4. Callisto in Xena. I don't particularly like how Christian her salvation is, but it's very moving anyway.
5. Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean. I figured after he went over to Becket that he was done for, and I liked that he died saving Elizabeth.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Poem for Friday

By Mark Strand

Open the book of evening to the page
where the moon, always the moon, appears

between two clouds, moving so slowly that hours
will seem to have passed before you reach the next page

where the moon, now brighter, lowers a path
to lead you away from what you have known

into those places where what you had wished for happens,
its lone syllable like a sentence poised

at the edge of sense, waiting for you to say its name
once more as you lift your eyes from the page

and close the book, still feeling what it was like
to dwell in that light, that sudden paradise of sound.


I had an uneventful day compared to Wednesday. The weather was cooler and rainy, so I had to keep throwing the kids out of the house whenever it was clear enough; they spent lots of time playing Wii, reading, building with Legos and talking in both my ears at once. *g* PerkyPaduan came over around lunchtime and we ate the leftover pizza from yesterday, along with the kids and younger son's best friend, whose parents have gone off to San Francisco over his spring break and left him with a babysitter; I feel very badly for him but it is both loud and exhausting having an extra child in the house all day. She is a few weeks behind me watching Torchwood, so we watched "Meat" and "Adam," neither of which is my favorite where Gwen and Tosh are concerned but they both remind me of things I loved about X-Files and have lovely moments with Jack and Ianto.

Flying Creatures from the Australia Exhibit at the National Aquarium:

Since we were on a roll with Torchwood, we watched "Adrift" and "Fragments" after dinner...the former made me bawl, and the latter I just loved -- finally a really rocking Toshiko storyline! Spoilers: "Adrift" goes beyond every parent's nightmare...I was so pissed off at Jack, though, lying to Gwen instead of telling her the truth (how much does Ianto know exactly?) and then being put in a position where he has to let her find out for herself how much better it is for the loved ones of those who return not to know what really happened to them (can't Torchwood fake papers on that, anyway, pretend it was a quick death during an amusement park ride or something?). The "missing" posters reminded me so much of the 9/11 walls as well as the milk carton photos that I'm sure they were supposed to echo. Because they did it the way they did, it had huge emotional impact but I thought it made Jack look pretty dreadful -- not that a flawed Jack is in any way a bad thing, but he still has the Doctor's "I know better than you" attitude towards pretty much everyone he works with.

"Fragments" made so much more sense of Ianto, his relationship with Jack, how he got away with hiding Lisa and why he's sometimes the coffee boy but sometimes smarter than Tosh. And Tosh's backstory is awesome! I was so glad it was family devotion and not a guy who lured her into crime, because given what we've seen of her so far this season, desperate to find luuurve like Gwen has, I did worry. Instead it's Owen who's damaged by failed love, and how much sense did that make and how wonderfully did Burn Gorman play it! (The idea that he walked away without a scratch even though his body can't repair itself, or for that matter that his lungs that can't cough were able to clear out the dust from the explosion, is ridiculous but I am just trying not to think about how his undeadness works.) I was a bit sorry they played Jack's introduction to Torchwood for laughs, though they certainly had enough horror in the episode...I really liked the evil recruiter women and was sorry they were gone so quickly.

And since it's Thursday, we all watched Smallville together in the midst of this. I must admit that all the new mythology feels completely tacked on to me but at the same time, I like it and wish they'd started it much sooner, so I am ambivalent! Spoilers: I hear that the "someone's going to die" rumors are back and this time I'm pretty sure it will be Lionel, because Dad has to get out of the way for Lex to rise to the status of lone supervillain, and I am so, so sorry about this because Lionel is a major reason I watch the show. (Though I did snort when Lionel said he was chosen by Jor-El to be his emissary, because John Glover wanted to be an emissary on Deep Space Nine so badly that he stole the Dax symbiont from Jadzia.) I cannot feel anything at all about Brainiac sucking out Lana's brain -- I cannot feel anything at all about Lana except hope that she will have as few scenes as possible -- so my favorite moments were Lois and Jimmy working together and the flashbacks suggesting that Christopher Reeve was in Swann's wheelchair.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lyrics for Thursday

Through to Sunrise
By Nate Borofsky & Ty Greenstein

I could stand to go outside
Always keep my options wide
Never mind the blinding skies
It all will up and leave you
You could let yourself feel sad
Government make the good go bad
Broken token and a subway ad
It all will up and leave you

Keep the faith, don't toe the line,
And watch it through your two eyes
Leave the light still on inside
And watch it through to sunrise
Leave the fight and go behind
Where all the stupid fear dies
Keep the light still on inside
And watch it through to sunrise

Bowing towers kinda left me dry
Sittin' pretty in my own pigsty
A little bitty of me wanted to die
It all will up and leave you
Turn the forest to a mud-drenched road
You never tarry to carry the load
It's never funny like it's money you're owed
It all will up and leave you

You sit and watch as the watch keeps time
Treat yourself to a nursery rhyme
Making bacon just to stake your dime
It all will up and leave you
Here we are in a Brooklyn dive
At a one one two twenty-five
Take the two down from one twenty-five
And in the time we have we'll

Keep the faith, don't toe the line,
And watch it through your two eyes
Leave the light still on inside
And watch it through to sunrise
Leave the fight and go behind
Where all the stupid fear dies
Keep the light still on inside
And watch it through to sunrise


I got to spend most of the day with Dementor Delta! We went out for lunch at California Tortilla, where older son talked her ear off, then went for a walk at Cabin John Park, where younger son talked her ear off, then finally sent the kids off with my mother and watched Bride and Prejudice, plus the deleted scenes and extended songs. Gblvr came over and we discussed important matters like which Barbie & Ken clothes would look good on which action figures from which fandoms. PSU Jedi joined us and probably thinks we are completely insane. *g* Then Paul came home and we all had pizza and drove to the Barns at Wolf Trap, where we met Beeej plus Beaniekins and her sister, and went to see Girlyman plus local folk group We're About 9:

Nate, Doris and Ty signing my CD cover after the concert (there are no photos allowed during concerts at Wolf Trap even without flash).

Here's Doris...

...and Nate...

...and Ty...

...and here are the three of them again.

We're About 9's Katie and Brian talking to fans after the concert.

The sun setting on the way to Wolf Trap over the Dulles Toll Road.

Girlyman does a song called "Moose in the Road" that these moose cookies, made by Paul, and this moose trivet, given to me by Dementor Delta, have absolutely nothing to do with, but the real reason for them is much too complicated to explain so here they are. *g*

The concert was fantastic, as Girlyman has been every time I've seen them -- this time they did "Young James Dean" which is probably my favorite of their songs in terms of the lyrics, and they did "St. Peter's Bones," "Kittery Tide," "On the Air," "Through To Sunrise," "Speechless" and many others whose music I love. They also did the moose song, the German song and the backwards song, plus songs about Obama, Clinton and McCain of which one was funnier than the next -- "Hillary Eleison" had its charm but I think my favorite was "John McCain" to the tune of "Purple Rain." And We're About 9's Brian Gundersdorf kissed Girlyman's Nate Borofsky onstage twice, so it was all good!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Poem for Wednesday

The Telecasters
By Estill Pollock

The cyclical nature of violence and time—
this is not taking place in the distant past,
always present.

A variety of puppets are used,
a rod and Bunraku, doll-like puppets originating
in Japanese theatre, double

A shot fired broadside,
a salvo, stating Billy Joe Hobert,
Washington's starting quarterback,
received unsecured loans from a nuclear scientist,
thousands of dollars in cash from boosters,
money from prescription drugs, cocaine,
illegally altered cellular phones.

Scabby skulls look like rotten bark.
The phantom dagger before me, water mimes holding it up,
they name the witches Water, Wind, Fire, make them stage managers,
engineers. Tempters in slinky leather tunics
rising out of the fountain as the lights come up,
shape our perceptions, compelling gestures, devilish.

Yes, my coffee was still hot.
I'd slept but a moment, I could hear my wife on the phone
in the next room.

What you know, you know.


It was a gorgeous, sunny Tuesday around 60 degrees, so since the kids are on spring break, Paul came home early and we went to Great Falls, where we saw a red-shouldered hawk, many turkey vultures, a snake, the first caterpillar of the season, geese pairing off for the spring, the passenger boat Charles F. Mercer off its blocks and ready to cruise down the canal, and the Potomac River much higher on its banks than the last time we saw it, making big foamy waves over the rocks. We also saw a helicopter going back and forth above the water, which along with the current upper river advisory telling boaters to stay out of the water between Cumberland and Little Falls made us wonder what the rafters in the water were doing there -- no wonder there were so many vultures!

A turkey vulture circles over the Potomac River...

...and flies past visitors to the Virginia side of Great Falls National Park.

These photos, however, were taken from the Maryland side.

Most of the turkey vultures were flying high above the treetops... were a few pairs of geese crossing the river.

These geese were in the much more placid water of the C&O Canal.

Adam spotted the first caterpillar we've seen this spring... well as this snake sunning itself on a rock above the river.

We had Punjabi choley and Karahi chicken for dinner, then watched two episodes of Torchwood, "Something Borrowed" and "From Out of the Rain" -- it is a mark of how much I adore this show that I forgave the former for a type of storyline that I usually loathe with a passion, and the latter reminded me of The X-Files in its heyday. I DESPISE unwanted-pregnancy-played-for-laughs -- this one started with a rape, even if it involved penetration of a part of Gwen's body other than her vagina, and then turned into the Star Trek episode where Deanna Troi gets pregnant and doesn't want to terminate the pregnancy but in Gwen's case it's because for some insane reason she thinks it will be less disruptive to her wedding to keep carrying the child in a situation where I personally would be screaming, "GET IT OUT OF ME NOW!"

And yet somehow the funny moments made me laugh anyway -- the in-laws snarking at each other, Gwen trying to explain to her father that it isn't Rhys's baby but she wasn't unfaithful even though we all know she was and it has to be insane guilt about Owen motivating this "must get married NOW" imperative, Rhys punching Jack for calling his mum an ugly bitch when Jack thinks the shapeshifter has taken the form of Rhys's mum, Ianto shopping for a new wedding dress for Gwen and being told by the salesman that they're quite used to men trying on wedding dresses for their "friends," Gwen asking Jack what he'll do while she's honeymooning and Jack saying, "The"

If I think about the storyline too much, I will get irritated the same way I always got irritated with X-Files when it let its misogyny creep through, so I am just going to say that I adored the characters in "Something Borrowed" without exception. Whereas "From Out of the Rain" is just plain creepy...Purple Rose of Cairo meets Carnivale with soul-sucking demons! And Jack blowing his head off for money -- now, that's the Jack I remember from his first appearances on Doctor Who! I like that they're remembering to use Owen's being dead, even though he seems to be living awfully well for a man who should be shedding skin cells and hair and looking horribly tattered by this point. Ah well, I'll let that go too, because I want Owen to stay around -- as Ianto says, I was taught to speak no evil of the dead even if they're still doing plenty of speaking for themselves!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poem for Tuesday

Lincoln's Dream
By Dan Chiasson

It is impossible to state just how in love I am
with my own body, the white snows of me,
the sudden involutions and crevasses of me,
my muscles tensed or slack in anger or fear.

This is why, wherever I go, I am in Lincoln's dream.
A sentry stands by, the stairway is eerily lit,
light is a little milk splash on people's faces,
the faces of my Cabinet, grotesque and funny masks.

Who is dead in the White House? I demand. Who's not?
answers a soldier, pointing to a shrouded head
on my own body, encased like a gangly insect
on the catafalque, and the loud sobs wake me up.

Reader, when you caress yourself in the morning,
amazed that you are made the way you are,
sure that yours is the finest body of all,
remember, you are Lincoln having Lincoln's dream.


The kids' first official day of spring break was not a very exciting one for them. We went to the dentist so older son could have partial veneers put on his front teeth, where the enamel didn't form correctly on the lower part so they looked too skinny. Then we went to Bagel City for lunch, since we were already in Rockville and since we were out of lox spread and bagels at home. I had to fold laundry when we got home and older son, who has been rereading Douglas Adams, wanted to watch The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so we did that...I know the movie is not the book, but I still love it a lot.

We had dinner for Paul's birthday with my parents; my mother made chicken parmesan for him and got a white chocolate birthday cake, and the kids and I got him Steely Dan's Katy Lied, the DVD of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival and Michael Swanwick's fantasy novel The Dragons of Babel, all of which we knew he wanted. Came home and watched New Amsterdam which I liked a lot better than last week -- both the John-as-alcoholic story, particularly getting to see why he became so close with young Omar, and the potential breakup with the increasingly annoying doctor though sadly it doesn't look from the previews like that's going to last. I'm still not much liking the detective story of the week...I wish he'd go back to being a lawyer or furniture maker or musician or something else!

A statue of Lincoln at Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, which supplied Southern munitions during the Civil War. Lincoln visited Richmond ten days before his death.

This foundry produced over a thousand artillery pieces during the war. Several different kinds of cannon are displayed at the site.

Though well-guarded during the burning of Richmond, the iron works still shows some signs of a fire from the 1950s.

Now the interior of the Pattern Building houses Richmond National Battlefield Park, which has interactive displays on the fighting within and around the city.

The iron works also produced steam locomotives for the railroad as well as spikes and track, plus the iron plating for the CSS Virginia.

These are the remains of the spike mill. After leaving this site in the 1950s for Chesterfield County, Tredegar kept producing spikes through the 1980s.

Now the property offers lovely views of downtown Richmond and large grassy fields out back for kids to run around.

Belated The Friday Five: Politics
1. Did you vote in your most recent applicable election?
Yes. I've never missed an election.
2. Have you ever protested or attended a march? Several times, though not as many as I should have, since I live near enough to Washington, DC to go to many.
3. What political issue is the most important to you? The rights of the individual (to privacy, freedom from censorship, reproductive choice, freedom to love and create families according to one's own values, etc.).
4. Are you a member of a party in your country? If so, which? I'm a Democrat, as I expect that everyone who reads this journal has figured out.
5. Do you ever plan to run for office? No.

Friday Fiver: I Promise You I'll Show You
1. Are you a people watcher?
2. Who do you hang out with? My family and very good friends. I don't have a lot of patience for hanging out with people just to say I hung out with people.
3. Did you work hard this week? During the days when my husband was out of town, yes. Friday was totally for fun.
4. How do you show a date a good time? You'd have to ask Dementor Delta. *g*
5. What's your favorite rule to break? The Puritan work ethic.

Fannish 5: What are the five best uses of religion/religious beliefs in canon?
1. The Prophets
in Deep Space Nine's Bajor, balancing science and faith, in perfect keeping with Clarke's third law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
2. The Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, the thing that keeps me watching even though I really don't like most of the characters: did this race kill its creators? What did D'Anna see?
3. Eli in Xena: Warrior Princess's version of the Jesus story, clumsily done at times but brave and moving in its attempt to wrestle with the question of what the events of the New Testament would look like from a woman's point of view.
4. Scully's Catholicism in The X-Files, where they did some stupid stuff with angels but overall managed to keep open the possibility that she wouldn't remain a skeptic because she had a place for the inexplicable in her life.
5. The Luggage in Joe vs. the Volcano, a movie that admittedly ridicules religion (the Waponis who speak Yiddish and practice sacrifice to a volcano) yet at the same time is completely tuned in to the spirituality of life and the fact that your baggage not only goes with you, it sometimes keeps you afloat.