Thursday, July 31, 2003

Poem for Thursday

From The King Must Die
By Mary Renault

It is the task the gods allot us,
and the share of glory they allow;
the limits we must not pass;
and our appointed end.

It is not the sacrifice, whether it comes in youth or age,
or the god remits it;
it is not the bloodletting that calls down power.
It is the consenting, Theseus.
The readiness is all.
It washes heart and mind from things of no account,
and leaves them open to the god.


has images from the ROTK trailer and link to one of its current homes on the web. Yay! And has made screen caps of naked Sean Bean in Lady Chatterley. Yum!

Speaking of whom, I may have quoted this before but I ran into the quote and it bears repeating.

FHM: As an actor, you must spend a lot of time in hotel bedrooms. Ever been tempted to turn on the adult channel?

Sean Bean: No, not since I saw that Alan Partridge episode, anyway. The worst thing is when you think you've put the porn channel on accidentally. I mean you can't ring down and say I pressed the button by mistake, because they'll just laugh at you. And if you only have it on for a few seconds, they'll think you're a premature ejaculator. It's a dilemma, that.

For some reason TT has sent me no work to do this morning. Maybe I have been fired for being so late yesterday with the all-important DS9 season four DVD review wrap-up (or for having been out of town for a month). I get paid so little that it would hardly really matter. This is the fault of and I am horrified that I didn't cheat more and try harder to be Beka or Rommie! Eek!

You are Captain Dylan Hunt!
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Brave, courageous, but somewhat foolhardy.
You should look before crossing the road!
Take the Test.
Brought to you by Andromeda UK

I'm reading Sallie Nichols' Jung and Tarot and really enjoying it. Can't believe I never read it before.

Am off to get ready to have lunch with and . We are going metaphysical bookstore-hopping. Much slash will be discussed. Joy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Poem for Tuesday

I do not love you...
By Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I do not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.


is responsible for my having found the above poem, for which I thank her greatly.

REJOICE! "Hardman SEAN BEAN is to play a homosexual Nazi in disturbing new movie Venetian Heat...

I barely saw my children yesterday -- they had sports camp until four, then since I had no transportation (the van needs all sorts of little things and a few big things after our trip), my mother drove them to swimming lessons and kept them at her house through dinner. You'd think I would have gotten more accomplished, but noooo.

It is very difficult to write news bullets when one is a month behind on news and can't tell the major stories from the minor ones, nor can one keep in one's head all 100 or so news bullets posted in absentia already.

I'm sure everyone has seen this already but my uncle sent me the link and I had not, so just in case: Caution: Wizard at Work (from the set of Prisoner of Azkaban).

Was reasonably pleased about being
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The idealistic speechwriter is well-liked by just about everyone. He's known for his excellent writing, sense of humor, and tendency to be clutzy. Although being younger than the rest of the staff, he's often treated as so, much to his dismay.
:: Which West Wing character are you? ::

Badlands, South Dakota

Monday, July 28, 2003

Poem for Monday

Lot's Wife
By Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward

And the just man trailed God's shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
"It's not too late, you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed."

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.


Back to work. My editor suggests that I catch up on such important news as Activision suing Viacom over the demise of Trek and Brannon Braga being a moron as usual. I see I didn't miss anything.

Grasshopper, Clinton, Oklahoma

Sunday, July 27, 2003


Through some miracle of negotiation, I talked my family into going to see Seabiscuit instead of Johnny English (which I wouldn't mind seeing, but in my limited theater-going movie time I would really rather go to movies I really want to see). It was wonderful. I haven't read the book -- am now wondering why I haven't read the book, as I love horse stories nearly as much as baseball stories (am having huge urge now to revisit Marguerite Henry's King of the Wind, a childhood favorite), so everything in the film was a surprise to me other than the endings of major races, and even though I knew when the horse was going to win I was biting my nails anyway.

Structurally the film reminded me so much of The Natural -- underdog with devastating injury, kindly mumbo-jumbo talking trainer, good guy manager who really deserves a win, villain who's way overweight, overdressed and obsessed with his wealth and position, kid in role of replacement son, reporter as catalyst, women all saints or whores, period setting, Randy Newman soundtrack swelling at appropriate moments, glorification of American heartland and American spirit -- not that I am complaining as I absolutely adore The Natural. I also adore Jeff Bridges, so even though he was playing a character quite similar to the one he played in Tucker I thought he was wonderful. And Tobey M. was a revelation, because I really didn't like Spider-Man all that much -- thought it was quite overrated.

I'm going to have to read the book now. Is Frank Hopkins' autobiography still available anywhere? I can't even track down the title. Meanwhile, got this from , made me quite happy:

Anne of Cleves
Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by the lycanthropes at Spookbot

Poem for Sunday

Sonnet LXXVII: Soul's Beauty
By Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Under the arch of Life, where love and death,
Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw
Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe,
I drew it in as simply as my breath.
Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath,
The sky and sea bend on thee,—which can draw,
By sea or sky or woman, to one law,
The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath.

This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise
Thy voice and hand shake still,—long known to thee
By flying hair and fluttering hem,—the beat
Following her daily of thy heart and feet,
How passionately and irretrievably,
In what fond flight, how many ways and days!


A month away and I had forgotten how unbearably hot and muggy Washington can be in the summer...the 120 degrees without humidity of the southwest is easier to breathe, though I must admit that being here and seeing all the different shades of green in the woods, I missed the deciduous trees.

Yesterday in the warm but tolerable afternoon we went to see the hugely fun Pirates of the Caribbean and I need someone to explain to me, if Will's father knew to send him the cursed piece of Aztec gold that the pirates shouldn't have been stealing, how come he wasn't also cursed and therefore still alive where they marooned him at the bottom of the ocean and could in theory have been rescued before the curse was lifted? But it wins lots and lots of points for style and enthusiasm. (And the Hidalgo trailer was still attached! I'm such a sucker for movies where people talk to, you know, Viggo.)

All four leads look like they are having the best time, there are lots of bits of imagery from the amusement park ride (which I've been on three times in two different Disney parks), the swordfighting and boat chases are beautifully done and the eye candy factor is, well, superb. I liked the women, which is unusual in historical action-adventure where usually there's some horrible stereotype or other being perpetrated, though of course no one had a living mother. Johnny Depp is so delightfully, shamelessly swishy! I'd slash Jack with Kevin Kline's Pirate King from The Pirates of Penzance if it weren't so utterly ridiculous on so many levels. As it is, I might have to write something about Jack and Anamaria teaching Will what women want.

Today the boys are clamoring to see Johnny English and since they hadn't seen a film in five weeks and it looks like rain, we may indulge them. I am sure Seabiscuit will still be around next weekend and it sounds like I can wait for T3 on DVD -- I don't want to watch the violence on the big screen anyway. Then I must get cracking on the book reviews I owe GMR before I check in with TT and say yeah, what have you got for me?

Pirate Ship and Settlement, Treasure Island, Las Vegas

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Poem for Saturday

High School Senior
By Sharon Olds

For seventeen years, her breath in the house
at night, puff, puff, like summer
cumulus above her bed,
and her scalp smelling of apricots
--this being who had formed within me,
squatted like a bright tree-frog in the dark,
like an eohippus she had come out of history
slowly, through me, into the daylight,
I had the daily sight of her,
like food or air she was there, like a mother.
I say "college," but I feel as if I cannot tell
the difference between her leaving for college
and our parting forever--I try to see
this house without her, without her pure
depth of feeling, without her creek-brown
hair, her daedal hands with their tapered
fingers, her pupils dark as the mourning cloak's
wing, but I can't. Seventeen years
ago, in this room, she moved inside me,
I looked at the river, I could not imagine
my life with her. I gazed across the street,
and saw, in the icy winter sun,
a column of steam rush up away from the earth.
There are creatures whose children float away
at birth, and those who throat-feed their young
for weeks and never see them again. My daughter
is free and she is in me--no, my love
of her is in me, moving in my heart,
changing chambers, like something poured
from hand to hand, to be weighed and then reweighed.


Had my lovely Thai lunch with Perkypaduan, discussed how right Sex and the City was about "He's not into you," plus Latin-derivative names for wizard sex toys that might helpfully appear in the Room of Requirement if a werewolf and an animagus stumbled in there. Why were we thinking about the latter, you might ask? I blame Ashinae. I also blame her for the fact that I went here and here. I am so going to Hell, even more than usual. Had serious discussion with my parents about the last 30 pages of HP:OOTP and had to keep myself from blurting out, "theirloveissocanon!"

Today: finally taking kids to Pirates of the Caribbean. And then maybe the pool, where they had swimming lessons yesterday. They start sports camp Monday; if only I didn't have to work!

The Ghost of Mount Rainier Behind the Stadiums, Seattle

Friday, July 25, 2003

Poem for Friday and <a href

One Art
By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


The above is the fault of by way of .

Friday Five

1. If your life were a movie, what would the title be?

Sentimental Schlock

2. What songs would be on the soundtrack?
Oh, wow, the soundtrack would be continuous and endless. There would be lots of Billy Joel and disco during my junior high school years, lots of Beatles and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals during my high school years, lots of Madonna and bad '80s music from college, lots of folk rock from grad school, disco revival from the late '90s, a brief foray into Britney and N'Sync from when my kids came home from camp demanding them, and for the past year thanks to it's mostly been October Project.

3. Would it be a live-action film or animated? Why?
Really beautifully animated, everything vaguely Pre-Raphaelite in appearance (especially my naturally curly hair *g*).

4. Casting: who would play you, members of your family, friends, etc?
I wouldn't object to Winona Ryder a la Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael playing me when I was younger. As for now -- damn, Gilda Radner's not around. Marina Sirtis could play my mother if she lost the accent and I suppose Paul Sorvino should play my father seeing as they went to high school together. One of the women from Friends should play my sister. I've been told that Matt Damon looks like my husband, and even though I don't see it and am not attracted to Matt Damon, I guess that would give it box office appeal, huh? Keifer Sutherland would be playing his younger brother as they look very much alike. As for the rest, oh, let's just borrow the cast of Dawson's Creek. Hah! Oh, and Kate Mulgrew would be playing my freshman English prof (those of you who understand this may stop laughing whenever you wish).

5. Describe the movie preview/trailer.
Lots of travel scenes. Mary Beth's "Hold On" and Colin Hay's "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin" as the music. Sheesh this is silly!

And now I am off to prepare for lunch with . Later!

Rainbow near Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Poem for Thursday

Einstein & Freud & Jack
By Howard Nemerov

Death is a dead, at least that's what Freud said.
Long considering, he finally thought
Life but a detour longer or less long;
Maybe that's why the going gets so rough.
When Einstein wrote to ask him what he thought
Science might do for world peace, Freud wrote back:
Not much. And took the occasion to point out
That science too begins and ends in myth.
His myth was of the sons conspired together
To kill the father and share out his flesh,
Blood, power, women, and the primal guilt
Thereon entailed, which they must strive
Vainly to expiate by sacrifice,
Fixed on all generations since, of sons.
Exiled in London, a surviving Jew,
Freud died of cancer before the war began
That Einstein wrote to Roosevelt about
Advising the research be started that,
Come seven years of dying fathers, dying sons,
In general massacre would end the same.
Einstein. He said that if it were to do
Again, he'd sooner be a plumber. He
Died too. We live on sayings said in myths,
And die of them as well, or ill. That's that,
Of making many books there is no end,
And like it saith in the book before that one,
What God wants, don't you forget it, Jack,
Is your contrite spirit, Jack, your broken heart.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World on Howard Nemerov, who "associates an unknown figure, a sort of everyman, one of us, with two of the greatest instigators of our modernity, whom he links together in their failure to save us from ourselves, to rescue us from historical catastrophe."

Laundries done for the moment, am now tackling the unpacking of souvenirs, brochures, toys, notebooks, decks of cards, binoculars, etc. Tomorrow I go back to work. Am I ready? What do you think?

Spires at Crater Lake, Oregon

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Poem for Wednesday and <lj comm

The Kraken
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.


, the "broken" challenge: Two Griefs

Laundries all folded but not yet put away. 2/3 of the packing undone but there's no room in the house to put away the rest of the stuff, it seems. And my kids have decided to distract me by asking to watch the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, since I stuck on the beginning on Starz last night while folding clothes.

I'll be caught up someday!

Peace Monument, Little Bighorn

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Poem for Tuesday

Into the Dusk-Charged Air
By John Ashbery

Far from the Rappahannock, the silent
Danube moves along toward the sea.
The brown and green Nile rolls slowly
Like the Niagara's welling descent.
Tractors stood on the green banks of the Loire
Near where it joined the Cher.
The St. Lawrence prods among black stones
And mud. But the Arno is all stones.
Wind ruffles the Hudson's
Surface. The Irawaddy is overflowing.
But the yellowish, gray Tiber
Is contained within steep banks. The Isar
Flows too fast to swim in, the Jordan's water
Courses over the flat land. The Allegheny and its boats
Were dark blue. The Moskowa is
Gray boats. The Amstel flows slowly.
Leaves fall into the Connecticut as it passes
Underneath. The Liffey is full of sewage,
Like the Seine, but unlike
The brownish-yellow Dordogne.
Mountains hem in the Colorado
And the Oder is very deep, almost
As deep as the Congo is wide.
The plain banks of the Neva are
Gray. The dark Saône flows silently.
And the Volga is long and wide
As it flows across the brownish land. The Ebro
Is blue, and slow. The Shannon flows
Swiftly between its banks. The Mississippi
Is one of the world's longest rivers, like the Amazon.
It has the Missouri for a tributary.
The Harlem flows amid factories
And buildings. The Nelson is in Canada,
Flowing. Through hard banks the Dubawnt
Forces its way. People walk near the Trent.
The landscape around the Mohawk stretches away;
The Rubicon is merely a brook.
In winter the Main
Surges; the Rhine sings its eternal song.
The Rhône slogs along through whitish banks
And the Rio Grande spins tales of the past.
The Loir bursts its frozen shackles
But the Moldau's wet mud ensnares it.
The East catches the light.
Near the Escaut the noise of factories echoes
And the sinuous Humboldt gurgles wildly.
The Po too flows, and the many-colored
Thames. Into the Atlantic Ocean
Pours the Garonne. Few ships navigate
On the Housatonic, but quite a few can be seen
On the Elbe. For centuries
The Afton has flowed.
                       If the Rio Negro
Could abandon its song, and the Magdalena
The jungle flowers, the Tagus
Would still flow serenely, and the Ohio
Abrade its slate banks. The tan Euphrates would
Sidle silently across the world. The Yukon
Was choked with ice, but the Susquehanna still pushed
Bravely along. The Dee caught the day's last flares
Like the Pilcomayo's carrion rose.
The Peace offered eternal fragrance
Perhaps, but the Mackenzie churned livid mud
Like tan chalk-marks. Near where
The Brahmaputra slapped swollen dikes
And the Pechora? The São Francisco
Skulks amid gray, rubbery nettles. The Liard's
Reflexes are slow, and the Arkansas erodes
Anthracite hummocks. The Paraná stinks.
The Ottawa is light emerald green
Among grays. Better that the Indus fade
In steaming sands! Let the Brazos
Freeze solid! And the Wabash turn to a leaden
Cinder of ice! The Marañón is too tepid, we must
Find a way to freeze it hard. The Ural
Is freezing slowly in the blasts. The black Yonne
Congeals nicely. And the Petit-Morin
Curls up on the solid earth. The Inn
Does not remember better times, and the Merrimack's
Galvanized. The Ganges is liquid snow by now;
The Vyatka's ice-gray. The once-molten Tennessee s
Curdled. The Japurá is a pack of ice. Gelid
The Columbia's gray loam banks. The Don's merely
A giant icicle. The Niger freezes, slowly.
The interminable Lena plods on
But the Purus' mercurial waters are icy, grim
With cold. The Loing is choked with fragments of ice.
The Weser is frozen, like liquid air.
And so is the Kama. And the beige, thickly flowing
Tocantins. The rivers bask in the cold.
The stern Uruguay chafes its banks,
A mass of ice. The Hooghly is solid
Ice. The Adour is silent, motionless.
The lovely Tigris is nothing but scratchy ice
Like the Yellowstone, with its osier-clustered banks.
The Mekong is beginning to thaw out a little
And the Donets gurgles beneath the
Huge blocks of ice. The Manzanares gushes free.
The Illinois darts through the sunny air again.
But the Dnieper is still ice-bound. Somewhere
The Salado propels irs floes, but the Roosevelt's
Frozen. The Oka is frozen solider
Than the Somme. The Minho slumbers
In winter, nor does the Snake
Remember August. Hilarious, the Canadian
Is solid ice. The Madeira slavers
Across the thawing fields, and the Plata laughs.
The Dvina soaks up the snow. The Sava's
Temperature is above freezing. The Avon
Carols noiselessly. The Drôme presses
Grass banks; the Adige's frozen
Surface is like gray pebbles.

Birds circle the Ticino. In winter
The Var was dark blue, unfrozen. The
Thwaite, cold, is choked with sandy ice;
The Ardèche glistens feebly through the freezing rain.


I have 47 e-mails to answer, two more laundries to get through the machine (four already done), all six loads to fold, at least a hundred items to put away, thank-you notes to write, a book review to start and kids' rooms that already need cleaning. See you all in a few days!

Petroglyphs, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, Washington

Monday, July 21, 2003

Poem for Monday and End of Trip Notes

The Poem
By Daniel Hoffman

Arriving at last

It has stumbled across the harsh
Stones, the black marshes.

True to itself, by what craft
And strength it has, it has come
As a sole survivor returns

From the steep pass.
Carved on memory's staff
The legend is nearly decipherable.
It has lived up to its vows

If it endures
The journey through the dark places
To bear witness,
Casting its message
In a sort of singing.


Daniel Hoffman taught poetry at Penn while I was a student there and I took two superb classes from him. This is from Beyond Silence: Selected Shorter Poems, 1948-2003.

Sunday was Adam's birthday. We had breakfast with Deborah and had planned to get on the road relatively early, but then we made a fateful discovery: the Museum of Science and Industry had an exhibit on monster trucks. Because it was Adam's birthday, he voted to go see them, so we drove back to Hyde Park once more and went to what was once the art pavilion of the White City -- the only remaining structure from the 1893 World's Fair. The museum has been expanded extensively since we lived in the area, and we saw the giant walk-through heart, a full-size walk-through Boeing 727, an enormous model train exhibit that spans an enormous corridor from a model of Chicago to a model of Seattle with the Rocky Mountains in the middle, and chicks hatching alongside miniature monster trucks.

The big trucks (including Gravedigger, Daniel's longtime favorite from Microsoft's Monster Truck Madness) were in a separate wing in an exhibit that began with a movie on the history of monster truck racing, followed by the dramatic opening of the wall on which the film was projected to reveal an enormous blue monster truck right there. The exhibit offered some science on how turbines work and how new alloys have permitted the building of lighter trucks, but the main points of excitement were virtual monster truck driving, a demonstration of acceleration in a spinning chair, and one of those carnival rides that twist kids backward, forward and upside down though unfortunately Adam wasn't tall enough to ride it, birthday or no.

After lunch in the museum cafeteria, we finally left Chicago, took one more trip down Lake Shore Drive and headed through Indiana to Ohio, finishing 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' aloud on the way. We camped east of Toledo in Perrysburg. Our cabin was nicely surrounded by trees but also by mosquitos; however, given the ominous weather forecast, we were just happy to have relatively clear skies. We took the kids swimming, made s'mores and sang happy birthday to Adam (who had already gotten a Yu-Gi-Oh Game Boy game, and, of course, a model monster truck at the museum).

The clear skies, sadly, did not last through the night. We had pouring rain from about 10 p.m. all through the morning, when we backed the van as close to the cabin as possible so as to load it up with a minimum of soaked belongings. Unable to eat breakfast at the picnic table, we resorted to McDonalds for the first time all trip and drove through Ohio under miserable gray skies and heavy downpours. The spray from the trucks was terrible. This let up at least when we got to Pennsylvania, where we had a relatively pretty trip through the Allegheny Mountains and into Maryland and the Catoctin Range. Having read 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' for the previous several days, we watched 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' as we traveled.

We had saved our longest driving day for last...over 420 miles from Toledo to home. No time to stop for anything other than lunch (Sbarro on the Pennsylvania Turnpike) if we wanted to get home in time to pick up the cats. We got in around 6 p.m., unloaded the van, Paul ran out to get the pets while my mother took the kids swimming and I put in the first of half a dozen laundries. It was close to 90 and horribly humid...a typical Washington in summer welcome home!

Chicks Dig Monster Trucks!

Friday, July 18, 2003

Poem for Friday and Corniness

Parting at Morning
By Robert Browning

Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain's rim:
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.


We woke to a sight we hadn't seen in weeks...heavy cloud cover with ground fog! We drove in cool temperatures through South Dakota, passing roadside attractions like an 1880s town and a giant metal dinosaur. For lunch we stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the third time I've been to this dubious institution...a large stadium converted every summer into an attraction covered in tens of thousands of ears of Indian corn, arranged to illustrate South Dakota history, embellished with wheat and grain sheaves.

After a brief walk through the auditorium where we bought popcorn-on-the-cob to take home, we picnicked in the shade of the little park across the street and had ice cream. Then we drove into Minnesota, which is much greener than South Dakota outside the mountains; we drove by fields and fields of corn and other crops as well as many of the lakes for which the state is known. We are staying in Albert Lea, in a hotel with a nice pool and huge suites, where we made macaroni and cheese in the microwave for dinner and watched part of the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon on TNN ("The Game," which we warned our kids was a metaphor for too much GameCube!).

Tomorrow: Chicago, our onetime home. Sunday: camping near Toledo. New icon: the legend of the bear that chased Native Americans up a mountain and thus created the gouges in the side of Devil's Tower. More photos: on my web page here, terribly cropped and compressed because I don't have Photoshop on the laptop, just Microsoft editing software, but it'll give you a better idea of how Devil's Tower looks from other angles and what our relatives look like!

The Pride of Mitchell, South Dakota

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Poem for Thursday and Wild Landscapes

By Rainier Maria Rilke
Translated by Robert Lowell

The bone-build of the eyebrows has a mule's
or Pole's noble and narrow steadfastness.
A scared blue child is peering through the eyes,
and there's a kind of weakness, not a fool's,
yet womanish -- the gaze of one who serves.
The mouth is just a mouth . . . untidy curves,
quite unpersuasive, yet it says its yes,
when forced to act. The forehead cannot frown
and likes the shade of dumbly looking down.

A still life, nature morte -- hardly a whole!
It has done nothing worked through or alive,
in spite of pain, in spite of comforting . . .
Out of this distant and disordered thing
something in earnest labors to unroll.


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post Book World.

On Wednesday morning we drove past the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, making me nostalgic for Yellowstone -- the first time we went there the Beartooth Pass was closed due to snow, and we could see snow on the peaks even under the 90-degree Montana sun as we drove through hills nearly as dry as the southern desert. We stopped to have lunch at Little Bighorn National Monument. Though it was a beautiful day with a spotless blue sky and we ate in the shade of a tree, it's one of the saddest places I have ever been.

The museum reminded me of Holocaust museums I've been in more than Native American cultural centers; it's a documentation of the extermination of the people who lived on those plains for centuries, though it was originally built in commemoration of Custer and the U.S. soldiers who died fighting there. Now there's a Peace Monument in tribute to the Indian guides, but the site is still biased toward the invading army and the U.S. flag looks all wrong. The kids, interestingly, recognized the similarities between the history and the movie 'Spirit' -- when I learned about Little Bighorn, it was from the perspective of Custer and the westward expansion as the important history and the Indians as the impediment to American progress.

From this sad place we drove past the Bighorn Mountains to my favorite spot on the planet: Devil's Tower. For anyone who has never been there, photos don't do it justice, nor does 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. The colors of the landscape -- red bricklike stone making up the low rocky cliffs, mottled gray stone higher up, and the browns and beiges of the vertical rock of the tower -- constrast gorgeously with the leafy green trees ringing the campground, the dark green trees on the cliffs and the lighter green-gold grasses growing by the river. The tower dominates the landscape, looking slightly different from each angle. In the open areas the sky looks enormous. It was filled with dark thunderheads when we arrived, and in fact it drizzled a bit as we wound around from Gillette, Wyoming toward the park. Then, as we pulled into the campground parking lot, a huge rainbow spread across the eastern sky opposite the Tower, above the horses and behind the American flag.

We stayed in a cabin next to the one where we stayed four years ago on our Yellowstone trip. The tent sites are right underneath the mountain, while the cabins are just behind those, separated by a circle of trees, backing up to the Belle Fourche River. Devil's Tower is high enough to be visible from every place in the campground, including the pool, the playground, the general store and the bathrooms -- all places we visited. Thunderheads continued to gather periodically but didn't storm while we made our campfire and toasted hot dogs and marshmallows. As the sun set, the sky turned a brilliant dark pink with spots of purple-gray cloud and a distant line of blue storm clouds flashing occasional lightning. The temperature remained in the low 70s through the night, and it was glorious; I sat outside on the laptop and downloaded photos of Little Bighorn and Devil's Tower as night fell.

Once the sky was fully dark, the wind picked up fiercely and we had trouble getting our things off the table before they blew away. But the wind was warm, and when it finally died down -- cooling off the cabin which had gotten rather stuffy inside while the kids were falling asleep -- the sky was clear and brilliant. We sat and watched the stars, including a few meteors and a couple of artificial satellites. The Milky Way was clear and obvious right over our cabin. The campground store was showing 'Close Encounters' on their outdoor screen as they do every night, so in the distance we could hear the famous five-note alien theme over and over...making the whole scene rather eerie, as the spaceship landing was filmed on the site of the campground. When eventually we went to bed it remained very warm in the cabin so we left the windows open and I was awakened around 6 a.m. when the sun cleared the horizon.

We had intended to hike the circuit trail around Devil's Tower early in the day before it got really hot, but when we woke, after watching deer race across the campground, making pancakes over the griddle and taking the kids to the playground, we discovered that there was a puncture in one of the van's tires and it had flattened overnight. Someone on a neighboring campsite pumped it up enough for us to drive into Hulett, six miles away, to get it patched. We saw buffalo grazing the grasslands on the way.

Then we went back to the monument and walked the circuit trail that passes through the pine forest surrounding the remains of the volcanic cone. Many of the trees were destroyed by fire a couple of years ago, but the grasses and shrubs had returned. The guys on the campsite next to us were climbing to the top, and we watched the small dot-people creeping up the tower to see if we could spot them. It was 98 degrees in the park, according to the rangers at the monument, so the kids were completely fried after walking the mile-and-a-half trail.

After stopping for drinks, we drove through the grasslands in the park and stopped briefly to see the prairie dogs. Then we continued through Wyoming into South Dakota, parallelling the Black Hills, passing through Rapid City en route to Wall and the legendary/infamous Wall Drug. Thunderheads were gathering so we didn't spend all that long in the backyard taking photos on the jackelope, bucking bronco, etc. (and the lady of the night was nowhere to be seen -- Wall must be cleaning up its image) but we did walk through the newer section of animatronic history displays and get our free ice water. It's just as tacky as it was when I first visited in 1992, though somewhat expanded.

Our serious destination for the afternoon was the Badlands, which thanks to the thunderheads (which thankfully never did more than drip occasionally upon us) could be viewed in less than 90-degree heat for the first time in my experience. The kids had a great time climbing on the sandstone cliffs and we walked through the visitor's center, which has information about the Ghost Dance movement and the local reservations as well as about the spectacular rock formations which look rather like one thinks being on the moon must look, or maybe Mars with all the reddish layers of dusty rock. Like Devil's Tower, the Badlands really have to be seen -- photos don't do the area justice -- and I felt very lucky to have been there under cloudy skies rather than melting like the last two times we were there!

By the time we got to the hotel, we decided we should go out to dinner rather than wrestle with the microwave, so we are headed out now to eat in lovely downtown Kadoka and plan an early night in preparation for heading out early to offset losing an hour to the time zone upon entering Minnesota tomorrow. I know I owe a ton of e-mail, will do my best to get to some of it, but it might have to wait till we get to Chicago!

Close Encounter of the First Kind

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Poem for Tuesday/Wednesday and Idaho/Montana

By Shel Silverstein

Standing on my elbow
With my finger in my ear,
Biting on a dandelion,
And humming kind of queer
While I watched a yellow caterpillar
Creeping up my wrist,
I leaned on a tree
And I said to me,
"Why am I doing this?"


Monday we had to check out by 11, so we had breakfast at the buffet in the hotel and then packed up the van. We met Paul's parents at Jean and Bob's house, where we picked up Granny and all went out to a fabulous Chinese buffet in Bothell. Afterwards the boys walked Ginger -- my in-laws' dog -- and we said goodbye. We drove to Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, where there's a huge preserve of petrified trees, a wider variety than are seen in most petrified forests which they suspect is the result of ancient floods that dragged trees down-river from the mountains and through the area. The park is small but very informative, and there's also a collection of Native American petroglyphs that were rescued from a valley that was later dammed in to create a lake.

Then we drove to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, where we stayed at one of the most beautiful campgrounds I have ever seen. The tent area is on the shores of the river and offers boating and fishing in addition to a teepee, miniature golf and a playground, but the cabin area -- where we were, as we had decided before leaving that tent camping over a month with the possibility of rain just meant that everything we owned could end up mildewed -- was high on a hillside with a fabulous view of the mountains and lots of open space. Since we'd had such a big lunch, we had turkey sausage and cheese for dinner and then did a little hiking, a little swimming, a little mini-golf, and a campfire for s'mores.

The stars were glorious but we were surrounded by trees on all sides so we couldn't see Mars as it rose, though it's supposed to be large and spectacular in the northeast sky this month. I didn't mind, as there's nothing like being surrounded by massive pine trees and forest noises. We didn't see a lot of animals, just deer and chipmunk in the hills and red-winged blackbirds and assorted sparrows by the swamp. It was quite cool at night, temperatures in the 50s, and though the campground was quite full it was absolutely silent after 10 p.m. except for birds and insects.

Tuesday we had breakfast, hiked partway up the mountain so Adam could see the stratified rocks, then packed up and headed to Montana through the beautiful Idaho panhandle, on a road that wound through a pine forest between mountains past the oldest building in the state and the Cataldo Mission, a huge old church on a hillside that looked like a model train design. The entire town of Wallace in Shoshone County struck us that way as well -- as something concocted by someone setting up an HO-gauge model railroad. We stopped after lunch at the site of the onetime Bear Mouth trading post, then visited the Grant-Kohrs ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in Montana in its day and now a cowboy history museum. It's in Deer Lodge, also the site of the Montana Territorial Prison -- which appears to have been modeled partly on the Tower of London, at least the outer wall, and is truly atrocious.

After an ice cream break we checked into a motel in Livingston, Montana. I was a bit puzzled as to why Paul wanted to stay in a motel instead of camping so close to Yellowstone...until I realized that the baseball All-Star Game was on. Not that it matters since we have plans to camp at Devil's Tower tomorrow night anyway. The kids swam in the little hotel pool, we cooked dinner in the little hotel kitchen, and we are watching the goings-on at Comiskey Park, which I hope to visit in a few days when we reach my onetime home, Chicago!

Sunset colors, Coeur d'Alene

Monday, July 14, 2003

Poem for Sunday/Monday and Zoo

From The Gardener
By Rabindranath Tagore

I try to wreath all the morning, but the flowers slip and they drop out.
You sit there watching me in secret through the corner of your prying eyes.
Ask those eyes, darkly planning mischief, whose fault it was.

I try to sing a song, but in vain.
A hidden smile trembles on your lips; ask of it the reason of my failure.
Let your smiling lips say on oath
how my voice lost itself in silence like a drunken bee in the lotus

It is evening, and the time for the flowers to close their petals.
Give me leave to sit by your side,
and bid my lips to do the work that can be done in silence
and in the dim light of stars.


Sunday morning we went over to Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob's house for brunch, along with Paul's parents, Jon, Brooke and the babies, and cousin Craig and his wife Lisa. Jean made French toast casserole and some kind of quiche as well as apple-chicken sausage and other goodies. We sat around eating and chatting while the kids played Legos down the basement. I rocked Holden to sleep, and when he woke up on my shoulder he promptly threw up all over me -- I tried not to take it personally.

In the afternoon we went to the Woodland Park Zoo, where I met the lovely ChrisMM whom I had previously known only online. We chatted about fandom, life in Seattle and stuff around listening to my kids make excited pronouncements about things the animals were doing. It's a small but very nicely laid-out zoo where we saw a baby gorilla, a houseful of bats and other nocturnal animals, elephants in a replica of a Thai village, an aviary, a bug collection, and lots of snakes, which made my boys very happy.

From there we drove to Paul's parents' trailer at Lake Pleasant campground on a lake near Bothell, where we had hot dogs and s'mores on the grill and watched ducks waddle to the water. It was another beautiful, clear, cool evening and though the boys had been invited to sleep at the campground, they opted to return to the hotel so that they could swim in the indoor pool one more time and eat a big buffet breakfast the next morning. So after a trip to the grocery store to pick up provisions for camping in Idaho and Wyoming, we went back to swim.

Tomorrow night we will be camping in Idaho so I'm not sure when I will be online next; I might check mail in the morning, but will definitely have no computer access between noon tomorrow and late Tuesday evening when we will be in Montana briefly en route to Devil's Tower, my favorite place in the U.S. So have a good Monday!

Gorillas through glass

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Poem for Saturday and West Seattle

In the Waiting Room
By Elizabeth Bishop

In Worcester, Massachusetts,
I went with Aunt Consuelo
to keep her dentist's appointment
and sat and waited for her
in the dentist's waiting room.
It was winter. It got dark
early. The waiting room
was full of grown-up people,
arctics and overcoats,
lamps and magazines.
My aunt was inside
what seemed like a long time
and while I waited I read
the National Geographic
(I could read) and carefully
studied the photographs:
the inside of a volcano,
black, and full of ashes;
then it was spilling over
in rivulets of fire.
Osa and Martin Johnson
dressed in riding breeches,
laced boots, and pith helmets.
A dead man slung on a pole
--"Long Pig," the caption said.
Babies with pointed heads
wound round and round with string;
black, naked women with necks
wound round and round with wire
like the necks of light bulbs.
Their breasts were horrifying.
I read it right straight through.
I was too shy to stop.
And then I looked at the cover:
the yellow margins, the date.
Suddenly, from inside,
came an oh! of pain
--Aunt Consuelo's voice--
not very loud or long.
I wasn't at all surprised;
even then I knew she was
a foolish, timid woman.
I might have been embarrassed,
but wasn't. What took me
completely by surprise
was that it was me:
my voice, in my mouth.
Without thinking at all
I was my foolish aunt,
I--we--were falling, falling,
our eyes glued to the cover
of the National Geographic,
February, 1918.

I said to myself: three days
and you'll be seven years old.
I was saying it to stop
the sensation of falling off
the round, turning world.
into cold, blue-black space.
But I felt: you are an I,
you are an Elizabeth,
you are one of them.
Why should you be one, too?
I scarcely dared to look
to see what it was I was.
I gave a sidelong glance
--I couldn't look any higher--
at shadowy gray knees,
trousers and skirts and boots
and different pairs of hands
lying under the lamps.
I knew that nothing stranger
had ever happened, that nothing
stranger could ever happen.

Why should I be my aunt,
or me, or anyone?
What similarities--
boots, hands, the family voice
I felt in my throat, or even
the National Geographic
and those awful hanging breasts--
held us all together
or made us all just one?
How--I didn't know any
word for it--how "unlikely". . .
How had I come to be here,
like them, and overhear
a cry of pain that could have
got loud and worse but hadn't?

The waiting room was bright
and too hot. It was sliding
beneath a big black wave,
another, and another.

Then I was back in it.
The War was on. Outside,
in Worcester, Massachusetts,
were night and slush and cold,
and it was still the fifth
of February, 1918.


Saturday was beach day. After breakfast Paul's parents met us at the hotel and we drove to Paul's brother Jon and his wife Brooke's apartment in West Seattle, which took us around the hills on another perfect sunny day. After meeting our new nephews/cousins Holden and Noah, we drove to the beach at Alki, where we had lunch at Sunfish Seafood (fish and chips, salmon), then walked through a boardwalk art fair to the rocky shoreline where the tide was coming in. We could look across the water and see the Space Needle, downtown and far in the distance the outline of Mount Baker before clouds obscured it. The kids played in the water and built sandcastles while the adults took turns wandering through the stalls of artwork and getting iced frappacinos and chai at Starbucks -- we were told we could not pass through Seattle without at least one visit to a Starbucks.

Late in the afternoon we went back to Brooke and Jon's and sat around talking until our boys began to get restless, so we took them back to the hotel to the pool. The sky opened up for about three minutes as we drove -- the only hint of the rumored Seattle rain since we arrived -- and afterward a rainbow lit up the city as we drove away from the shore. We had to visit a food store to grab supplies for dinner and I was delighted to find both decaf Stash's licorice tea and Sun Dog hemp oil lotion, which I haven't seen in a store since Bar Harbor two summers ago. As I have said in every city with a waterfront that I have ever visited, I would move to Seattle in a minute if I could live on Puget Sound.

Tomorrow I am hoping to hang out with and to meet whom I have known online for years and years!

Baby on the beach!

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Poem for Friday and Seattle Stuff

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.

Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.

But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And -- sure enough! -- I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.

I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.

I saw and heard, and knew at last
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
But could not, -- nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out. -- Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of soul.

All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the hate
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.

And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire, --
Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each, -- then mourned for all!

A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
And every scream tore through my throat.

No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.

Ah, awful weight! Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird,
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die.

Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth beneath
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the crushing weight,
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under ground did lie,
And sank no more, -- there is no weight
Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
That all about me swirled the dust.

Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the brow
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly dead.
And all at once, and over all
The pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
To one who's six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
A grave is such a quiet place.

The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new home.
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain,
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver line,
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done,
And then the broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
Until the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round drop
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.

How can I bear it; buried here,
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over me,
That I shall never, never see
Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad magics through,
Close-sepulchred away from you!
O God, I cried, give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
In one big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!

I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the far-off rush
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the vibrant string
Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash!
Before the wild wind's whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
And plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black wave
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.

I know not how such things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as never clings
To aught save happy living things;
A sound as of some joyous elf
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and over everything,
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain's cool finger-tips
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my sealed sight,
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.

Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;

Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e'er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!

Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.


On Friday morning, Paul's parents met us at the hotel and we drove downtown. The whole area seemed very green, a more consistent forest green than D.C. given the preponderance of evergreens, ringed by high white-capped mountains. We parked near the Space Needle and took the elevator ride to the top.

The sky was cloudless, though the unusual lack of rain had left some hazy pollution that somewhat obscured our views of Mount Rainier and Mount Baker. We had a great view of the water, the buildings, the peninsulas and the stadiums, though. We also walked by the enormous and bizarre museum of music, a multicolored twisted metal building, that I really wanted to go inside but it would have cost over $100. So we skipped it and took the monorail to Pike's Market, from which we walked to the waterfront.

We had Malaysian food for lunch in one of the food courts dotting the market area, then got fantastic macaroons at Three Girls bakery which we ate on a bench overlooking the water, where a boat was towing a guy on a parachute high in the air above. Then we walked to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop (where I got my inevitable sculpture of Mount St. Helens made from volcanic ash), Occidental Square and Pioneer Square, which houses the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park as well as a lot of homeless people.

From there we took the trolley back to Pike's Market, where we had lemonade and browsed a bit among the fruit and fish stalls. We took the monorail back to the Needle in the late afternoon and the kids ran around in International Fountain at the site of the Seattle World's Fair -- an enormous erupting dome of water that sprays over a hundred feet in the air and creates rainbows all around. I also wandered into the Seattle Children's Theatre, which is also in the vast Seattle center complex.

After an hour of getting drenched in the fountain, the kids were so tired and the adults were so fried from sitting in the sun that we decided to come back to the hotel and just have packaged macaroni for dinner. We made that while doing laundry for the first time in over a week -- an absolute necessity! -- and the kids watched Jimmy Neutron on Nickelodeon.

Rainbow in the International Fountain

Friday, July 11, 2003

Poem for Thursday and Volcanoes

Late Afternoon: The Onslaught Of Love
By Anthony Hecht

For William and Emily Maxwell

At this time of day
One could hear the caulking irons sound
Against the hulls in the dockyard.
Tar smoke rose between trees
And large oily patches floated on the water,
Undulating unevenly
In the purple sunlight
Like the surfaces of Florentine bronze.

At this time of day
Sounds carried clearly
Through hot silences of fading daylight.
The weedy fields lay drowned
In odors of creosote and salt.
Richer than double-colored taffeta,
Oil floated in the harbor,
Amoeboid, iridescent, limp.
It called to mind the slender limbs
Of Donatello's David.

It was lovely and she was in love.
They had taken a covered boat to one of the islands.
The city sounds were faint in the distance:
Rattling of carriages, tumult of voices,
Yelping of dogs on the decks of barges.

At this time of day
Sunlight empurpled the world.
The poplars darkened in ranks
Like imperial servants.
Water lapped and lisped
In its native and quiet tongue.
Oakum was in the air and the scent of grasses.
There would be fried smelts and cherries and cream.
Nothing designed by Italian artisans
Would match this evening's perfection.
The puddled oil was a miracle of colors.


Thursday we drove toward Portland, where I had hoped to meet up with but she had to pick a friend up from the airport at lunchtime and we couldn't get the timing worked out. But by sheer chance, , a friend with whom I worked at and later for nearly two years, had read my post yesterday saying that we would be passing through Portland. I thought she was still living in Seattle and had planned to call her when we got there, but she wrote to tell me that she was in Portland and asked whether I wanted to meet for lunch.

So we drove into Portland and met her at Papa Haydn, a restaurant with some of the best desserts I have ever seen -- after a big lunch of salmon and pasta, Adam and I split a big piece of mint chocolate mousse and Daniel and Paul split some kind of triple chocolate concoction while Viola had a chocolate square filled with chocolate mousse. We wandered a bit afterward in the "Alphabet District" in the northwest. We chatted a great deal about fandom though at the time I knew her, Viola was a Harry Potter dilettante and to the best of my knowledge had produced no fic, though she knew about my Voyager vice. The city looked fun and funky and I wished we had more time to see both it and Viola. Since I didn't get to see Tanya, I called her from the car so that at least I could hear her voice as we waited in traffic to cross the Oregon-Washington border.

Once across, we drove to the most accessible of the Mount Saint Helens information centers, five miles off the highway -- the national monument is another 40 miles in, so we didn't have time actually to drive up to the volcano. Still, it could be seen from the road (against yet another perfect blue sky, broken only by the clouds converging above the mountain) and we watched it over the tops of pine trees. Some of the lower hills had been hacked up by loggers; we would pass one green hill next to another barren brown one. We paused at the information center to take a few photos and read the history of the volcano, whose eruption Paul and I both remember vividly from the news.

Then we headed on to Seattle, dwarfed by Mount Rainier on the horizon. Paul's grandmother, Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob, and cousin Craig and wife Lisa live in Bothell, so we are staying in a SpringHill Suites five minutes away from them (the proximity, indoor pool, continental breakfast and most importantly the huge suite make up for additional driving time to visit Paul's brother Jon, his wife Brooke and their twins). Paul's parents are staying at a campground nearby in their trailer and came over after we improvised dinner of tuna on bagels -- we were still full from lunch -- before we all headed out to see Granny, Jean and Bob at their house. The boys ran around like lunatics in the back yard with Paul's parents' dog Ginger, then chased Jean and Bob's two cats around the house. The western horizon was still light when we left after 10 p.m..

Mount Saint Helens from the state visitor's center

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Poem for Wednesday and Pacific Northwest

To Waken an Old Lady
By William Carlos Williams

Old age is
a flight of small
cheeping birds
bare trees
above a snow glaze.
Gaining and failing
they are buffeted
by a dark wind --
But what?
On harsh weedstalks
the flock has rested --
the snow
is covered with broken
seed husks
and the wind tempered
with a shrill
piping of plenty.


On Wednesday morning we progressed through Northern California into Oregon, watching a landscape of roadside cows and sunflowers with pink bushes in the highway meridian slowly give way to pine and spruce forest. By the time we could see Mt. Shasta towering over the road, the trees were taller than they grow in my part of the Mid-Atlantic. We drove along upper Route 5 through gorgeous, mountainous lake country, stopping to take photos of Black Butte (a dark volcanic cliff covered with small rocks that tumble regularly down the steep sides) and Mt. Shasta (snow-covered and gleaming against a painfully blue sky) at a rest stop in Weed, California -- possibly my favorite city name ever.

From there, after a thrilling *ahem* lunch at Taco Bell, we drove to Rogue Gorge, where volcanic activity over thousands of years carved caves and passages which now enclose a hidden river. We hiked from the 90-degree parking lot to the much cooler embankment where the river emerges churning from a cave, creating rainbows with the spray. From this lovely vista we went on to Crater Lake, housed in the collapsed cone of another volcano, with water that seems unnaturally blue, and astonishing promontories and rock formations ringing it. As we drove up to the rim to look down at Wizard Island and the Phantom Ship -- both creations of underground lava flows that pushed up rocks in the lake -- we saw snow on the ground sheltered by the trees from the July heat. So of course we had to get out and have a snowball fight.

After making several stops around the rim of Crater Lake to see the cliffs, the water, the chipmunks and the birds (including a turkey vulture), we drove alongside a churning river through deep woods for a long stretch until we got to Roseburg. Here we checked into one of the nicer roadside motels, took the kids swimming, cooked noodles in the microwave and downloaded nearly 100 pictures of scenery from the digital camera.

Phantom Ship, Crater Lake

My sons, 10 and 7, concocted this 'Mad Libs' out of a page in Off The Wall Mad Libs (underlined words filled in by them, spelling not corrected). It's practically fan fiction. *g* (Addendum: the ten year old would like me to point out that all spelling errors are the fault of the seven year old, and that he did not say "poopily" or anything like it. *ggg*)

Mad Libs: Elizabeth The First

Elizabeth, the Tudor Poop (noun) of England, was probably the gradest (superlative adjective) ruler the British ever had. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn. Later, Anne had her butt (noun) chopped off by Henry.

Elizabeth was born in 1533 and became queen when she was 2000 (number). She was a small (adjective) Protestant and persecuted the stinky (adjective) Catholics poopyly (adverb). In 1588, the American (nationality) Armada attacked England. But the British fleet, commanded by Shawn Bean (celebrity) and Vigo Mortnson (another celebrity), defeated them.

Elizabeth ruled for 45 years, and during her reign England prospered and produced Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, and Mommy (name of person). Elizabeth never married, which is why she is sometimes called the Stuppid (adjective) Queen.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Poem for Tuesday and SoCal

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing
By Margaret Atwood

The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn.


Monday morning we drove into Hollywood, where we met my beloved for lunch. It was so good to see her after all this time -- last time was in New York! We stopped in a bunch of tourist shops and the store at the Hollywood Museum, then took a few pictures in front of El Capitan (currently showing 'Finding Nemo' to huge crowds) and with Darth Vader's autograph and Harrison Ford's footprints in front of the Chinese theater (Harrison Ford has VERY big feet), but all the museums were quite expensive and we'd been in several on the last trip, so we decided to skip the Guinness Book of World Records museum and Ripley's Believe It Or Not in favor of going back to swim again and hang out with the cousins. Though it was very hot on the Walk of Fame, in the shade of the backyard it was cool and delightful, and I spent a lot of time just lounging in the pool on a noodle watching dragonflies. We had dinner at Maria's, an excellent Valley restaurant, with my Aunt Carol, her husband Jeffrey, and my cousin Felicia and her baby, as well as David, Molly and their kids. Carol took everyone out even though she had never met Paul's relatives before; I think she was impressed with my brother in law's credentials as a chef, as she's a caterer locally.

Though it was after 8 when we left the restaurant, we then drove to Santa Monica. Paul and I had never been there and wanted to see it before we left, since we weren't sure when we'd be back despite our track record of four trips west in three years. It was fully night by the time we parked and took about 15 minutes to walk to the pier. Once we arrived I immediately walked down the boardwalk steps to put my feet in the Pacific; no amusement park was going to tempt me away from the ocean, even at night on a beach where I doubted I wanted to know what some of the things stuck in the sand might be. It smelled strongly of ocean and boardwalk -- fried food, popcorn, sweat -- and the crowds were substantial even though it was a weeknight. I tried taking photos of the light displays from the pier, which rivaled Vegas in places. Santa Monica is a study in contrasts: expensive stores and lots of tourists alongside the largest homeless population I've seen anywhere outside certain sections of D.C. After we walked on the beach while David and Molly took Maddie on one of the rides, we stopped in McDonald's because Adam needed a bathroom and I got into a conversation with two very young, clearly homeless kids who said they had moved there (I suspect ran away to there) and found that none of their L.A. dreams came true. Really sad.

Tuesday morning we woke, at breakfast, packed, said sad goodbyes to Paul's relatives and drove out of L.A. toward the north. The landscape changed slowly from mountainous desert to less mountainous desert to farmland (we passed a huge cattle farm that could be smelled for miles before it could be seen) to green fields to hilly irrigated agriculture until finally, as we approached Sacramento, there were more evergreens than palms and large green bushes instead of brush. We continued on to Willows, where we checked into an interim motel, took the kids swimming and ate for dinner the lunch we had packed for a picnic, only to discover that the mid-state rest stops were closed.

Santa Monica Pier from the beach

Monday, July 07, 2003

Poem For Monday

( Poet's Choice: Asian-American Poets )

By conservative estimates the mangroves will not return
in this century. Neither will the eyes, the limbs twisted like roots.
Today Viet lies deep in the mosquito sickness -- if he dies,
Duc dies too. There will be no time for separation, no time to airlift
the split being into surgery. Instead, the living half will wait passively
for what invariably will come rolling on, the roofs filling with people.
I didn't ask to survive.

--Quan Barry

We're at my brother-in-law's house in Sherman Oaks, back from dinner (vegetarian Mexican) and playing in a local park after an afternoon swimming in their pool; we headed briefly for the zoo, which was very hot and very crowded, and when they gave us a hard time about accepting our reciprocal membership with the National Zoo, we said the heck with it and came back to swim. The kids are getting along in stellar fashion despite the fact that they only met once before, at David and Molly's wedding sixteen months ago. But Lukas, the baby, is adorable, Adam and Maddie are having a great time torturing each other and Noelle and I have been discussing our mutual desire to see Pirates of the Caribbean.

Tomorrow I'm seeing and then my cousin and her mother, hopefully at David's restaurant!

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Poem For Sunday

California Plush
By Frank Bidart

The only thing I miss about Los Angeles

is the Hollywood Freeway at midnight, windows down and

radio blaring

bearing right into the center of the city, the Capitol Tower

on the right, and beyond it, Hollywood Boulevard


--pimps, surplus stores, footprints of the stars

--descending through the city

fast as the law would allow

through the lights, then rising to the stack

out of the city

to the stack where lanes are stacked six deep

and you on top; the air

now clean, for a moment weightless

without memories, or

need for a past.

The need for the past

is so much at the center of my life

I write this poem to record my discovery of it,

my reconciliation.

It was in Bishop, the room was done

in California plush: we had gone into the coffee shop, were told

you could only get a steak in the bar:

I hesitated,

not wanting to be an occasion of temptation for my father

but he wanted to, so we entered

a dark room, with amber water glasses, walnut

tables, captain's chairs,

plastic doilies, papier-mâché bas-relief wall ballerinas,

German memorial plates "bought on a trip to Europe,"

Puritan crosshatch green-yellow wallpaper,

frilly shades, cowhide


I thought of Cambridge:

the lovely congruent elegance

of Revolutionary architecture, even of

ersatz thirties Georgian

seemed alien, a threat, sign

of all I was not--

to bode order and lucidity

as an ideal, if not reality--

not this California plush, which


I was not.

And so I made myself an Easterner,

finding it, after all, more like me

than I had let myself hope.

And now, staring into the embittered face of

my father,

again, for two weeks, as twice a year,

I was back.

The waitress asked us if we wanted a drink.

Grimly, I waited until he said no...

Before the tribunal of the world I submit the following


Nancy showed it to us,

in her apartment at the model,

as she waited month by month

for the property settlement, her children grown

and working for their father,

at fifty-three now alone,

a drink in her hand:

as my father said,

"They keep a drink in her hand":

Name Wallace du Bois

Box No 128 Chino, Calif.

Date July 25 ,19 54

Mr Howard Arturian

I am writing a letter to you this afternoon while I'm in the

mood of writing. How is everything getting along with you these

fine days, as for me everything is just fine and I feel great except for

the heat I think its lot warmer then it is up there but I don't mind

it so much. I work at the dairy half day and I go to trade school the

other half day Body & Fender, now I am learning how to spray

paint cars I've already painted one and now I got another car to

paint. So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all

this. I know how to straighten metals and all that. I forgot to say

"Hello" to you. The reason why I am writing to you is about a job,

my Parole Officer told me that he got letter from and that you want

me to go to work for you. So I wanted to know if its truth. When

I go to the Board in Feb. I'll tell them what I want to do and where

I would like to go, so if you want me to work for you I'd rather have

you sent me to your brother John in Tonapah and place to stay for

my family. The Old Lady says the same thing in her last letter that

she would be some place else then in Bishop, thats the way I feel

too.and another thing is my drinking problem. I made up my mind

to quit my drinking, after all what it did to me and what happen.

This is one thing I'll never forget as longs as I live I never want

to go through all this mess again. This sure did teach me lot of things

that I never knew before. So Howard you can let me know soon

as possible. I sure would appreciate it.

P.S From Your Friend

I hope you can read my Wally Du Bois

writing. I am a little nervous yet

--He and his wife had given a party, and

one of the guests was walking away

just as Wallace started backing up his car.

He hit him, so put the body in the back seat

and drove to a deserted road.

There he put it before the tires, and

ran back and forth over it several times.

When he got out of Chino, he did,

indeed, never do that again:

but one child was dead, his only son,

found with the rest of the family

immobile in their beds with typhoid,

next to the mother, the child having been

dead two days:

he continued to drink, and as if it were the Old West

shot up the town a couple of Saturday nights.

"So now I think I've learned all I want

after I have learned all this: this sure did teach me a lot of things

that I never knew before.

I am a little nervous yet."

It seems to me

an emblem of Bishop--

For watching the room, as the waitresses in their

back-combed, Parisian, peroxided, bouffant hairdos,

and plastic belts,

moved back and forth

I thought of Wallace, and

the room suddenly seemed to me

not uninteresting at all:

they were the same. Every plate and chair

had its congruence with

all the choices creating

these people, created

by them--by me,

for this is my father's chosen country, my origin.

Before, I had merely been anxious, bored; now,

I began to ask a thousand questions...

He was, of course, mistrustful, knowing I was bored,

knowing he had dragged me up here from Bakersfield

after five years

of almost managing to forget Bishop existed.

But he soon became loquacious, ordered a drink,

and settled down for

an afternoon of talk...

He liked Bishop: somehow, it was to his taste, this

hard-drinking, loud, visited-by-movie-stars town.

"Better to be a big fish in a little pond."

And he was: when they came to shoot a film,

he entertained them; Miss A--, who wore

nothing at all under her mink coat; Mr. M--,

good horseman, good shot.

"But when your mother

let me down" (for alcoholism and

infidelity, she divorced him)

"and Los Angeles wouldn't give us water any more,

I had to leave.

We were the first people to grow potatoes in this valley."

When he began to tell me

that he lost control of the business

because of the settlement he gave my mother,

because I had heard it

many times,

in revenge, I asked why people up here drank so much.

He hesitated. "Bored, I guess.

--Not much to do."

And why had Nancy's husband left her?

In bitterness, all he said was:

"People up here drink too damn much."

And that was how experience

had informed his life.

"So now I think I've learned all I want

after I have learned all this: this sure did teach me a lot of things

that I never knew before.

I am a little nervous yet."

Yet, as my mother said,

returning, as always, to the past,

"I wouldn't change any of it.

It taught me so much. Gladys

is such an innocent creature: you look into her face

and somehow it's empty, all she worries about

are sales and the baby.

her husband's too good!"

It's quite pointless to call this rationalization:

my mother, for uncertain reasons, has had her

bout with insanity, but she's right:

the past in maiming us,

makes us,


is also


I think of Proust, dying

in a cork-linked room, because he refuses to eat

because he thinks that he cannot write if he eats

because he wills to write, to finish his novel

--his novel which recaptures the past, and

with a kind of joy, because

in the debris

of the past, he has found the sources of the necessities

which have led him to this room, writing

--in this strange harmony, does he will

for it to have been different?

And I can't not think of the remorse of Oedipus,

who tries to escape, to expiate the past

by blinding himself, and

then, when he is dying, sees that he has become a Daimon

--does he, discovering, at last, this cruel

coherence created by

"the order of the universe"

--does he will

anything reversed?

I look at my father:

as he drinks his way into garrulous, shaky

defensiveness, the debris of the past

is just debris--; whatever I reason, it is a desolation

to watch...

must I watch?

He will not change; he does not want to change;

every defeated gesture implies

the past is useless, irretrievable...

--I want to change: I want to stop fear's subtle

guidance of my life--; but, how can I do that

if I am still

afraid of its source?


Still at my uncle's in Santa Clarita, leaving in a little while for my brother-in-law's in Sherman Oaks, then we're all taking all of our kids to the zoo and maybe out to dinner at my brother-in-law's restaurant, Real Food Daily (superb vegan food). I forgot to mention that on the Fourth we got the amusement of seeing him on a local morning news show where they had invited several chefs to talk about grilling for the holiday; David was there to represent the alternative food contingent, though they kept upstaging him with a bikini fashion show and he looked most bemused! He was in full chef regalia and must have been melting even at that early hour. Below, one of the Foleys' dogs dealing with the heat.

Yesterday we had a big get-together with most of my L.A. relatives, including both my cousins, their husbands and the older one's new baby, my uncle's wife's brother and all the kids. It's VERY hot and the kids wilted at the park with the pirate ship jungle gym, but the hills are beautiful and I love seeing all the spiny flowers blooming everywhere. We're off right now before it gets absurdly hot to see Mickey and Lesley's new house that they're building up in horse country.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Poem for Saturday

By Reetika Vazirani

Mussoorie, Uttar Pradesh, India, 1947

When I am nine, the British quit
India. Headmaster says, "The Great
Mutiny started it." We repeat,
The Great Mutiny of 1857
in our booming voices. Even
Akbar was Great, even Catherine,
Great! We titter over History. His back
turns: we see his pink spotty neck.

Sorry, the British leaving? we beg.
"This is hardly a joke or a quiz --
sit up and stay alert," he spits.
"It is about the trains and ships
you love and city names. As for me,
I'm old, I'll end in a library,
I began in trade." But you must stay,
we tell him. He lived here as we have lived

but longer. He says he was alive
in Calcutta in 1890. He didn't have
a rich father. A third son, he came with
the Tea Company: we saw a statement
in his office. The company built
the railroads to take the tea "home
to England" so that Darjeeling and Assam
could be sipped by everyone, us and them.

They sold our southern neighbor Ceylon,
silk, pepper, diamonds, cotton.
We make a trade of course. In England
there is only wool and salt and
snobs and foggy weather, Shakespeare.


Have seen fireworks from a bridge in L.A.! We are going out to breakfast in the Valley, then are off to visit relatives in Santa Clarita for the rest of the day. Have a lovely Saturday everyone!

Trees in the Bonito Lava Flow, Sunset

Friday, July 04, 2003

Poem For Friday and Happy Independence Day

Survey of Debris
By Harriet Levin

Why wasn't I angry
when the east wind shifted
and everything that was about to be
stopped? That lull intensified,
grew to an uneasiness,
a fraying at the bottom of your jeans
where the denim drags.
Somehow I misunderstood,
took the tension for sport.
My body can buffet me
like a wall against the wind,
against the bleakest of weather.
Can station me in a citadel
garrisoned against the faces
in cliffs and clouds.
Summon the janizaries,
who stalk the ground
upon which we fustian loved.
Mix equal parts of water
and cement to a thick adobe.
Shepherd such a mixed flock.
Contain the threshold
of continuance herewith.


Greetings from sunny SoCal, where we have just gotten out of the pool and are getting ready to barbecue. I am not sure yet where or if we will be seeing fireworks tonight, as the local ones have been cancelled due to increasing restrictions on which organizations may possess and launch fireworks, but I expect we will all be sitting around bashing Bush's policies or some other patriotic activity. This has been a very low-key day, swimming, eating and catching up on news with old friends.

Touristy Ghost Town, Calico

Fellow citizens: Happy Independence Day! Non-U.S. residents: Have a great weekend! : see you Monday!

Poem for Thursday and Far West Report

To You
By Walt Whitman

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your
    feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners,
    troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops,
    work, farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating,
    drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you
    be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better
    than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have chanted
    nothing but you.
I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no
    imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will
    never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better,
    God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.
Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-
    figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of
    gold-color'd light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its
    nimbus of gold-color'd light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it
    streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber'd upon
    yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
    mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the
    accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from others or
    from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if
    these balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, greed,
    premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied
    in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good
    is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits
    for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like
    carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than
    I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at an hazard!
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are
    immense and interminable as they,
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of
    apparent dissolution, you are he or she who is master or
    mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements,
    pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
    whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided,
    nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what
    you are picks its way.


On Thursday morning we met my relatives for breakfast at one of the restaurants in Treasure Island, where we gorged ourselves on pancakes and eggs (mine were poached with hollandaise). Mickey and Paul chatted about relatives, Lesley and I played a couple of cards of Keno and Garrett and the boys discussed GameBoy and Yu-Gi-Oh, the universal language of children at present. Then we said goodbye to them for a couple of days, as they were off to a shark show with their friends who were in town, and we took our kids over to the Mirage via the tram connecting the two hotels so we could see Siegfried and Roy's white tiger and the huge gardens in the atrium.

While there we decided that we really could not leave Vegas without playing at least a couple of slot machines, so I won -- wait for it -- $1.25, thus allowing us to break even. Lesley had lost about $100 the night before at the card tables so I was just as glad not to have gambled. We were still full from breakfast so instead of lunch we had Ben & Jerry's and wandered into a few of the shops in Treasure Island, where the kids bought pirate toys.

After one more ride down the strip, we headed toward L.A., stopping at the onetime ghost town of Calico which is now a restored tourist trap but at least didn't cost anything to visit. There's a good collection of artifacts and most of the buildings are original, though they now house shops selling contemporary Old West collectibles, candles, candy, etc. It was worth spending an hour visiting, but I'd advise anyone with more travel time to look up the locations of actual (non-renovated) ghost towns, which are surely much further off the highway than convenient Calico.

In case anyone is wondering why there aren't more reports on Native American sites in this trip account, it's for similar reasons of time and accessibility during our rush down I-40 and I-15. Even at reservation visitor centers and at the Grand Canyon, the museums and shops are geared for tourists, and you don't get much of a sense of contemporary Native American life beyond what can be gleaned from conversations with people working there; real Navajo culture can't be assimilated at a roadside stand filled with beadwork and pottery, though we did enjoy what we saw.

We made it to L.A. in the early evening (yes, we were singing "Ventura highway in the sunshine..." as we drove in, though we watched 'The Fellowship of the Ring' most of the way in the car). We went out for dinner at the mall in Northridge because we were too tired to look for anything more exciting. Driving to the Foleys' house felt like a sort of homecoming at this point, as this makes four times in three years we've stayed with them, in every season now -- first for family weddings and now to see the babies resulting from those weddings. Because we knew our friends had concert tickets for the evening, we drove around and did some sightseeing in the Valley near CSUN. The kids, who were completely fried from staying up much too late in Vegas, became insanely rambunctious, so after awhile we went back to the house to throw in laundry and get organized for the Fourth of July.

Star Trek: The Experience upstairs, Quark's Bar downstairs!

From the sublime to the ridiculous: the entrance to the Star Trek Experience (Quark's Bar downstairs, the extravaganza upstairs). A Trekkie fantasy in the middle of a city built entirely for entertainment, where parking is free, drinks are cheap and the swimming pools are incredible...