Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Poem for Tuesday

The Idea of Order at Key West
By Wallace Stevens

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard.
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.

If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.


Kids came home from school in seemingly good moods yesterday, then proceeded to have meltdowns over relatively minor things (one refused multiple servings of junk food, the other having to postpone plans with a friend until today due to homework). Of course there were health forms to be filled out in quadruplicate, requests for yet more binders, spiral notebooks, etc., various other papers to be signed, checks to be written, etc. so it was a rather hectic afternoon. Turned off the RNC because I could not handle my level of frustration and anger. Wonder if it's wrong to loathe McCain more for the ass-suckage than I loathe the typical extreme right-wingers from whom I expect this sort of tripe. And wonder if it's very wrong not to be in the least sorry that an arch-conservative from Virginia has been forced out of politics because his homophobic stance is incompatible with his closeted gay lifestyle, causing some of the people he has been trying to oppress to choose to out him.

The good news is that I inherited an old laptop from my father ("old" meaning 1999 Dell Inspiron). The bad news is that the case is badly cracked and needs to be repaired before it can be used, the single USB port doesn't work, and it has no CD-RW installed so even if it did not weigh a very great many pounds it would not be practical to take on vacations with us. The worse news is that my husband cannot be convinced that it makes more sense to spend a little more and get a newer laptop than to pay to repair this one and lug it around (undoubtedly so it can break again). This is one of those "be careful what you wish for" stories, in that my husband has burned his laptop into the ground making CDs of every Grateful Dead concert on the internet, but of course he can't be bothered to replace the CD-RW drive in that computer so it will be of some use while traveling. Sigh.

Stephen lounging on the deck railing...

...while Jack collects seeds that the birds have knocked down from the crow's nest. I mean, the bird feeder.

These are popular pastimes...here, taken last winter, is Stephen lounging on the deck railing while Jack stands watch...

...though of course once Jack realizes that they're being watched, he is ready to defend his deck!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Poem for Monday

To Autumn
By John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


Last year the Blake version, this year the Keats version. It's the first day of school, which means that summer is officially over. Sigh. Spent today doing all those final things that had to be done -- haircuts, dollar store school supplies and inevitably braving the line at Staples because younger son's scissors from last year were trashed and older son needed graph paper.

Then we went to the pool with my parents (an annual pilgrimage for me -- I hate swimming in chlorine, sitting in the sun, etc.) so I could see my sons demonstrate that they had "learned" to dive watching the Olympics. They do this periodically: see something on TV or in a movie and decide they don't need lessons, they can do it now that they've seen how. So my younger son, who had never set foot on a diving board in his life before yesterday, got up and did a flip.

I have a few links. My favorite Trek story of a busy weekend (at least until the Doohan con reports start coming in): Rene Auberjonois will join William Shatner on Boston Legal. Guess I really do need to watch, even if I didn't like The Practice. The New York Times had this entertaining article on trying to create a porn channel for women that actually features porn women want to watch -- not softcore, not stuff that's really aimed at gay men like Playgirl. And linked to this article that offended her and is certain to offend serious LOTR fans, a loony right-wing reinterpretation of the trilogy using modern American politics for its bad allegory. I must admit that it really made me giggle, especially the idea of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity as Merry and Pippin -- not just WRONG, but a slash couple!

Forward flip off the platform, awarded a 9.8 with deductions for holding the nose. (Photo also receives deductions for being overexposed.)

And this is the very difficult deep-breath flying flailing "What if the water's cold?" Yu-Gi-Oh leap with half-twist.

In the synchronized diving competition, there were a few points taken for a bit of excess splashing on entry.

One of our favorite purchases from Boston -- Yankee Hater hats!

And from this evening, the katydid outside the window that drove my cats insane.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Poem for Sunday

A Happy Birthday
By Ted Kooser

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in this morning's Washington Post Book World. Ted Kooser, the new U.S. poet laureate, is from Nebraska, and Hirsch says that "there is a sense of quiet amazement at the core of all Kooser's work"; he believes that "something about the Great Plains seems to foster...a sturdy forthrightness with hidden depths...the open spaces stimulate and challenge people." Kooser's new book is a collection of portraits, Delights & Shadows, with an epigraph from Emily Dickinson: "The Sailor cannot see the North, but knows the Needle can."

Today we went to the 150th Anniversary Festival of the Sea, the commemoration of the 1854 relaunch of the USS Constellation after the original 1797 Constellation was broken up and some of her timbers used to build this one. The celebration is still going on tomorrow, so if you live within driving distance of Baltimore, you can go! They are particularly interested in having descendants of original crew members attend.

Am posting early because soccer starts tomorrow morning. Then we have haircuts, a last-minute run for the school supplies we have not tracked down yet and hopefully a little while at the pool before the insanity starts in earnest.

USS Constellation docked in Baltimore, where the 1797 original -- a sister ship of the USS Constitution -- was built. You can see other photos I've taken of her here, here, here, here, here and here. The white tents to the right had kids' crafts and live folk music.

There were many crewmembers in attendance, sweltering in Civil War-era costume in 90-degree heat.

There were new exhibits on the weapons and equipment, plus the brig was accessible. For people who have not visited in several months, the restored sickbay is now open to the public, too.

The crew (mostly sailors with a few marines) demonstrated the loading and running out of the guns...

...and practiced firing a broadside. However, they did not actually load and fire the 20 pounders...

...as the port side guns are aimed at Harborplace and the harbor shuttle traffic lanes. Instead they fire the little cannon on the spar deck, loaded with black powder and wads of paper to make an impressive noise without blowing anything up.

Outside the museum were activities for children, including demonstrations of sailor's knots and this make-your-own-ship center. My older son designed this one. Don't ask me to explain the color scheme on the sails.

And I just have to show this off...the first day of issue cover for the USS Constellation stamp...

...which debuted in Baltimore during Sailabration this July! The envelope has a silk print of the Constellation sailing off Naples, Italy in 1856 and the cover has a different painting of Constellation at anchor, both by Thomaso de Simone.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Poem for Saturday

By Arthur Christopher Benson

I have been brave in my way,
Though men did not call me brave;
They deem that I creep away,
If ever a pennon wave
Over the flashing fray.

Yet I have lain through the night
Shuddering, open-eyed,
Straining my aching sight
To see what leant at my side,
Angel or sullen sprite.

Then in the haggard day, --
Cruel and cold it shone, --
Sighing in sad dismay,
I bind my armour on;
I have been brave, I say.


Yesterday there was a veritable explosion of Trek news. Patrick Stewart had an angioplasty, there were spoilers for episodes #1, 2, 4 and 6 of next season, official details, Shatner talking about his youth...it was hideous and I am never going to catch up. My wonderful co-worker Kristine bailed me out with one set of spoilers because she'd already read the stuff about the rest of the arc and could follow what was going on. But I want it to slow down!

Orientation went well. I thought the teacher was overdoing the emphasis to the third graders on the fact that even though they were in a 2-3 combination class, they WERE in third grade, then we walked out and my son ran into two friends, told them whose class he was in, and they said, "Hahaha, you're in second grade again!" Kids. My son appeared quite unaffected however as he really likes the teacher. Then my older son's afternoon play date cancelled out on him, so we had lunch at -- wait for it -- Burger King. Yay Yu-Gi-Oh toys. Fortunately I had a bagel before we left.

Then my parents took the kids to the pool for a couple of hours, and we discovered that my sons, who would generally rather splash around than actually swim, not only have no fear of diving boards but are willing to try to do FLIPS now that they have seen them at the Olympics. My younger one in particular -- he was doing somersaults in midair! (The younger one has a tendency to believe that because he has seen how something is done, he can do it; I don't know whether this is very brave or very foolish and arrogant but it has made him learn some things quickly just because he had no fear of them. This is why he is taking violin lessons -- figured that if Russell Crowe could learn it in six months, so could he -- and wants to take fencing, though he will not take any more tae kwon do because he keeps claiming he already knows how to do it.) And they were swimming fine in the diving well though they have not swum much all summer because of the lack of swimming at camp these past two years.

Have been doing this meme for other people and giggling, so...
1. Comment to this entry with a post you think would be totally out of character for me--something I'd never talk about, never discuss, never say, anything. It has to be completely out of character.
2. Post this in your own journal, if you want.

I'm curious to know what people think I would never say and how I would never say it. I also like this one: Recommend to me: 1) a movie, 2) a book, 3) a musical artist, song, or album, 4) a LiveJournal user not on my friends list, 5) what I should have for dinner, 6) a website, 7) a quote. Now must go eat and, hopefully, go to Baltimore to the Constellation birthday party.

The skyline above a row of skulls at the Museum of Science.

The founding of Boston mural in Boston Common.

Swan boat at the public gardens next to Boston Common.

Fountain decorated with pigeons, Boston Common.

Paul Revere at Paul Revere Mall.

The organ in the Old North Church.

Mounted butterflies at the Museum of Science.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Poem for Friday

The Living Temple
By Oliver Wendell Holmes

Not in the world of light alone,
Where God has built his blazing throne,
Nor yet alone in earth below,
With belted seas that come and go,
And endless isles of sunlit green,
Is all thy Maker's glory seen:
Look in upon thy wondrous frame,--
Eternal wisdom still the same!

The smooth, soft air with pulse-like waves
Flows murmuring through its hidden caves,
Whose streams of brightening purple rush,
Fired with a new and livelier blush,
While all their burden of decay
The ebbing current steals away,
And red with Nature's flame they start
From the warm fountains of the heart.

No rest that throbbing slave may ask,
Forever quivering o'er his task,
While far and wide a crimson jet
Leaps forth to fill the woven net
Which in unnumbered crossing tides
The flood of burning life divides,
Then, kindling each decaying part,
Creeps back to find the throbbing heart.

But warmed with that unchanging flame
Behold the outward moving frame,
Its living marbles jointed strong
With glistening band and silvery thong,
And linked to reason's guiding reins
By myriad rings in trembling chains,
Each graven with the threaded zone
Which claims it as the master's own.

See how yon beam of seeming white
Is braided out of seven-hued light,
Yet in those lucid globes no ray
By any chance shall break astray.
Hark how the rolling surge of sound,
Arches and spirals circling round,
Wakes the hushed spirit through thine ear
With music it is heaven to hear.

Then mark the cloven sphere that holds
All thought in its mysterious folds;
That feels sensation's faintest thrill,
And flashes forth the sovereign will;
Think on the stormy world that dwells
Locked in its dim and clustering cells!
The lightning gleams of power it sheds
Along its hollow glassy threads!

O Father! grant thy love divine
To make these mystic temples thine!
When wasting age and wearying strife
Have sapped the leaning walls of life,
When darkness gathers over all,
And the last tottering pillars fall,
Take the poor dust thy mercy warms,
And mould it into heavenly forms!


More Oliver Wendell Holmes for more Old Ironsides photos (first set here for anyone who missed them). I suppose I really should know more about what Holmes did as a Supreme Court justice as well as a poet.

Still rethinking this journal some. No more Friday Five, I don't think, the questions just haven't inspired me all that much, though I might do it on a week when it excites me. No more personal politics either for the time being. I suppose I'd been operating on the assumption that my friends, the people who comment regularly, are the people who primarily care about what's in this journal and no one else would waste time or energy worrying about it, but have been realizing that is an illusion of safety. Yesterday I got a phone call from a woman in my neighborhood whom I've never met, who had found an address from the Star Trek fan club I used to run and discovered that I live practically around the corner from her. I don't know why this struck me as any stranger than getting e-mail from someone who discovered me the same way, which has happened many times. But I think I need to redraw my online boundaries.

Off to school orientation #2 for the week. School orientation #1 seems to have gone well, knock wood; my son has a class with each of his friends from his elementary school at his new middle school, and he was the only one of the three of them who got off at the right bus stop (my mother ended up having to bring the other two to their destination, since I had made her drive, being unsure of my ankle). Today's is the meeting with the teacher my older son had in second grade, an absolutely wonderful teacher, so it should be a happy reunion. Later they are having friends over and then we are having dinner with my parents so hopefully I can get done the work I could not get done yesterday!

Happy Birthday, !

The USS Constitution from the dock on the far side.

From just past security inside the navy yard.

Carronades on the spar deck.

Some of the paint detail on the front of the ship -- I love the little lion heads.

The rigging from beneath the bowsprit.

Don't Tread On Me.

View of the masts from the visitor's center at Charlestown Navy Yard.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Q: Where have you been all day?
A: (for my editor, my RL friends, people to whom I owe notes, work, etc.) I very cleverly tripped walking out my front door this morning and sprained the hell out of my ankle. So I've been kind of sitting on the sofa with my leg elevated and ice on it, accomplishing precisely nothing. It doesn't hurt much anymore but I can't put any weight on it at all. Sorry about having gotten nothing done.

Sea Walnuts, New England Aquarium. Are these not the coolest things ever? I wish I could have gotten an entirely clear picture, or an animated GIF so you can see how the rainbow phosphorescence moves around!

Poem for Thursday

A Confession
By Czeslaw Milosz
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Hass

My Lord, I loved strawberry jam
And the dark sweetness of a woman's body.
Also well-chilled vodka, herring in olive oil,
Scents, of cinnamon, of cloves.
So what kind of prophet am I? Why should the spirit
Have visited such a man? Many others
Were justly called, and trustworthy.
Who would have trusted me? For they saw
How I empty glasses, throw myself on food,
And glance greedily at the waitress's neck.
Flawed and aware of it. Desiring greatness,
Able to recognize greatness wherever it is,
And yet not quite, only in part, clairvoyant,
I knew what was left for smaller men like me:
A feast of brief hopes, a rally of the proud,
A tournament of hunchbacks, literature.


One son is at orientation, the other's orientation has apparently been moved until tomorrow -- again, nice of them to tell us, as I was relying on a schedule from months ago -- good thing I called the school! Today is a day to track down glue sticks, which have apparently been snapped up by wild glue-stick sniffers or first grade teachers, and to make the kids clean their rooms in anticipation of school. This is a make or break day with the older one, who has been on a kick for the past several weeks announcing that he does NOT want to go to the magnet program but wants to attend the local middle school with his best friend; am hoping the orientation program is fantastic.

In between rushing around, I watched the Hornblower Retribution movie. Oh my god why did no one warn me. *sobs* I still think Horatio mostly has eyes for Pellew, but I completely and totally understand Archie now. Recs for angsty fic, anyone? Please?

Lakeside, Lexington National Historic Site, Massachusetts.

Berries, Pilgrims' Landing, Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts.

Thistle, West Hartford Reservoir, Connecticut.

Anemone, New England Aquarium, Boston, Massachusetts.

Lily, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Hampshire.

Wildflowers, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Massachusetts.

Wildflower garden, Cornish Colony Museum, Mastlands, New Hampshire.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Poem for Wednesday

The Meal
By Sharon Olds

Mama, I never stop seeing you there
at the breakfast table when I'd come home from school --
sitting with your excellent skeletal posture
facing that plate with the one scoop of cottage cheese on it,
forcing yourself to eat, though you did not want to live,
feeding yourself, small spoonful by
small spoonful, so you would not die and
leave us without a mother. You'd sit
in front of that mound rounded as a breast and
giving off a cold moony light,
light of the life you did not want, you would
hold yourself there and stare down at it,
an orphan forty years old staring at the breast,
a freshly divorced woman down to 82 pounds
staring at the cock runny with milk gone sour,
a daughter who had always said
the best thing her mother ever did for her
was to die. I came home every day to
find you there, dry-eyed, unbent, that
hot control in the breakfast nook, your
delicate savage bones over the cheese
curdled like the breast of the mother twenty years in the
porous earth,
                and yet what I remember is your
spoon moving like the cock moving in the
body of the girl waking to the power of her pleasure,
your spoon rising in courage, bite after bite, you
tilted rigid over that plate until you
polished it for my life.


Another rushed entry because my son has a doctor's appointment this morning. I still haven't read anything anywhere in more than two weeks. The Yu-Gi-Oh movie was more entertaining than I expected, even though I had to keep asking my son stupid questions like "Is Pegasus immortal...well, then, how did he invent the game?" and "Is Kaiba's younger sibling a boy or a girl?" But now I have been informed that I must take my children to Burger King for lunch so they can get the tie-in toys! Woe!

This afternoon my in-laws are coming to return the gerbils and have dinner, tomorrow both kids have school orientations (of course, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon), Friday has been reserved for tracking down the school supplies we haven't managed to get yet -- teach us to go out of town for most of August. Am hoping to get to Baltimore for the Constellation anniversary this weekend but we'll see how much insanity is left!

Gull and Bunker Hill Bridge, taken from the deck of the USS Constitution.

Chipmunk along the road from Concord to Lexington, the path of the British retreat to Boston.

Frog in a fountain in the gardens of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.

Spider in a barn, Plimoth Plantation.

Squirrel on a tree Boston Common in front of a reproduction of the Shaw Memorial (there's another at the Saint-Gaudens site and yet another at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC).

Turtles and tree reflections in the West Hartford Reservoir.

Dragonfly at the pond behind the middle school in Bristol, Connecticut.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Poem for Tuesday

A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning
By John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
  And whisper to their souls to go;
While some of their sad friends do say,
  Now his breath goes, and some say, No;

So let us melt, and make no noise,
  No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
’Twere profanation of our joys
  To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears
  Men reckon what it did and meant;
But trepidations of the spheres,
  Though greater far, are innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love,
  Whose soul is sense, cannot admit
Absence; for that it doth remove
  Those things which elemented it.

But we, by a love so far refined,
  That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
  Careless, eyes, lips and hands to miss,

—Our two souls therefore, which are one,
  Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
  Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
  As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixt foot, makes no show
  To move, but doth if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
  Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
  And grows erect as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
  Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circles just,
  And makes me end where I begun.


LOTR always puts me in mind of that poem. Am still not caught up, nor close to caught up, and today I have to undergo torture in the form of the Yu-Gi-Oh movie, to which I promised to take my children since their grandparents are coming down from Pennsylvania tomorrow and they have orientation at school on Thursday. Sigh. In consolation it is a free chips and queso day at California Tortilla, so I get to go out to lunch with my family first.

My younger son, who is going into third grade, has been selected to be in a 2-3 combination class next year. That sounded at first like bad news, as the older kids in combination classes sometimes suffer, but it is being taught by my younger son's wonderful wonderful second grade teacher who is the reason that he is going to a magnet middle school, because she realized that I was not making up his mathematical abilities and really challenged him. Also, the younger one is so used to being the youngest and acting like the youngest that it may be good for him to be in a potential mentoring position. So I am thinking this could be a very good thing.

What photos I could get of the exhibit that aren't actually of the exhibit, as photography in the exhibit was prohibited: