Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fountains, Hartlepool, Durham

We had a very full day Thursday starting at Fountains Abbey, whose enormous tower is more intact than any of the buildings at Rievaulx, Whitby or St. Mary's and which is set in a gorgeous valley on the Skell River amidst the woods and adjacent to water gardens. The abbey was Cistercian -- founded by monks influenced by what they perceived as the lax living at St. Mary's heading for Rievaulx, which was in turn founded by monks from Whitby -- and its aesthetics were more austere, but because of the good condition of the stones there are actually more intact angels and figures in the architecture. The quarters and infirmary of the lay brothers is almost completely in ruins, but the monks' quarters and larger structures remain standing.

After eating lunch at the abbey we drove to Hartlepool, which has England's equivalent of Connecticut's Mystic Seaport -- a reproduction of a historic quay and the refitted HMS Trincomalee, built in 1817 and restored with nearly 20 percent of her original timbers. We did not take the lengthy audio tour but had a knowledgeable (and cute) guide, an O'Brian fan, who chatted with me about Jack Aubrey but had nothing good to say about the USS Constitution, which he claims cheated in the battle with the Java (hmmph). A publisher was doing a shoot for a book cover in the great cabin, so there was a model in a captain's costume there as well. The quay features recreations of Trafalgar-era stores, including a chandler, a nautical instruments shop and a nobleman's rooms, plus a number of exhibits on everything from press gangs to fighting ships to prisons. The sun had come out by the time we arrived there and the light on the water was beautiful beyond the old town.

I could have spent all day in Hartlepool but we wanted to see Durham Cathedral, so even though we knew we would arrive too late to tour the castle, we left to go to Durham. Leaving the car park and crossing the footbridge over the river was like stepping back several centuries; we ended up on the grounds of the university whose buildings are former civic and church structures from the 1600s, and the streets are cobblestone. Nonetheless the cathedral felt more alive than any other we've visited, though it dates from before 1100; some of the damaged ancient stained glass has been replaced with more modern designs, and the grave of St. Cuthbert, which has made Durham Cathedral a pilgrimage site for nearly a thousand years, has a beautiful modern screen painted with Cuthbert's image over it. This cathedral is also where the bones of the Venerable Bede rest, and John Washington, an ancestor of George Washington, served as prior of the church for thirty years.

and I had discovered last week that my family would be staying only a few minutes away from where she lives in a beautiful old town with a castle, and she had told us that there was a public swimming pool in her town, so we met up with her and three of her children at the pool, where the kids got along famously considering they had never even heard one another's names until that very day. She invited us back to her house for dinner, and my kids were highly entertained with the backyard trampoline, older son's Playstation and hide-and-seek with the younger children while we chatted with and her husband, who are utterly lovely people and we are hoping to be able to see them in the US at some point! By the time we got back to the cottage it was well after 10 and we had to throw the kids into bed so we can go to Hadrian's Wall tomorrow.

Spiral staircase that no longer leads anywhere, Fountains Abbey.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Tuesday we drove into the magnificent walled city of York to find both and -- the latter an uncanny experience for me since I first met her online at the tender age of 13, though I didn't know her age at the time! I am pleased to report that she seems to have survived corruption by myself, , and others and it was so much fun to finally meet her across the Atlantic from our homes. We all met up at Clifford's Tower, built by Henry III after the original was burned during riots in 1190 when the Jews who had taken refuge in the tower committed suicide rather than being taken alive by an anti-Semitic mob. The views from the tower are amazing, but knowing this history, it was hard not to feel ambivalent about the tower itself and about York Minster, the spectacular medieval cathedral with the most beautiful, stories-high stained glass I have ever seen, and with huge Gothic western towers that are seen most impressively from the city walls, though there's no clear view for a photograph without trees or roofs in the way. Many people had said that we should walk around the walls, which we did, with and pointing out the architecture and important buildings.

We had planned to eat lunch at the pub above the ruins of a Roman bath, but after touring the museum below the ground with the artifacts from the baths themselves, we ended up eating in the Italian restaurant in the renovated Grand Assembly Rooms, where we had pizza and pasta amidst gilded marble columns. From there we walked to the Yorkshire Museum, which has a collection of Anglo-Saxon, Roman and Viking artifacts from the area, plus part of the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey whose larger structures remain standing outside, by the River Ouse. We had tea and scones (well, some of us had scones and some of us had ice cream sundaes) at one of the many local places serving afternoon tea, then walked to the National Railway Museum underneath the tracks by the York station. This place is fabulous -- in what little time we had, we saw the Mallard which once set a world record for steam speed (and was the basis for the Thomas the Tank Engine train that Son #1 called "tipped blue diesel" in his extreme youth), a big green train on the roundabout, mail and military cars and -- most importantly to the kids, who have outgrown Thomas -- a sign for Platform 9 3/4 in a huge warehouse of train memorabilia.

and had both departed earlier and we wove our way back across the city to where we had parked, stopping at the World War I memorial obelisk, different spots along the walls and bridges and a quick look at the amusement park beside our parking spot near Clifford's Tower. Once again, though it was overcast for most of the day, we saw no rain. Because we had had a big lunch and afternoon tea, we came back to the cottage and made sandwiches for dinner. Tomorrow we have had a change of plans: originally we were going to go to the art museums in Leeds and Nottingham, but we decided to skip Leeds and go to Sherwood Forest on the way south on Saturday so that tomorrow we can go to the east coast of northern England and see the sea at Whitby and Scarborough Fair!

Heading into York beneath the city walls.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Rievaulx Abbey and Castle Howard

Quick update as we are getting up early tomorrow. After all these months of knowing her online, I have finally met ! And we met at Rievaulx Abbey -- a place I heard of first because of photos that she had posted in her LiveJournal. The place is soaring and magnificent, better preserved and grander in scale than the Glastonbury Abbey ruins which we saw last trip to England. To get there one must drive almost straight down a hill in the moors, past what's left of the similarly crumbling Helmsley Castle. It is really hard to articulate the grandeur of Rievaulx, which we saw overcast and with relatively little blooming on this early spring day; I would love to see it in all the seasons. , who has been there many times and gave us a guided tour.

From Rievaulx we drove to Castle Howard, the great house that was the setting for Brideshead Revisited, which was not originally on our schedule -- we were going to drive to the sea at Whitby, where the Endeavour docks, though she is sailing in the Pacific now -- but absolutely everyone we knew who had ever been there insisted that we needed to go to Castle Howard, and they were right. Leeds Castle in the south bills itself as the most beautiful castle in Britain, and as fortress-style fairytale castles go, its moat and gardens are glorious, but Castle Howard (which is much newer, dating from about 1700) has a fantastic collection of furniture and art, original wallpapers by William Morris, and a chapel that alone is worth the price of admission with stained glass windows by Burne-Jones and gorgeous painted ceilings and walls. The grounds are spectacular too, with flowers, fountains and sculpture near the castle and a lake a bit further on. Son #2 had wanted to return to Leeds Castle to see the peacocks and was pleased to find four walking around the courtyard. The Temple of the Four Winds, mausoleum and obelisk are lovely too, and there is a big playground on the lake that the kids loved and got very muddy in.

We were all pretty tired from a long day yesterday and needed to stop to buy food on the way back, so we returned to the cottage relatively early and watched Billy Elliot on the BBC (a neat movie to watch with kids, despite a lot of cursing, as the story is about a father coming to terms with his son's desire to study ballet rather than boxing in the midst of a miner's strike in a Northern town where there aren't many options for children with unconventional interests). The news is very different here; five minutes on the Indonesian earthquake and ten on a Parliamentary scandal. Now we are going to sleep so we can go to York tomorrow and see both and . Again, apologies about the long delay on answering comments; I promise I am reading them, I just can't stay online long enough to answer!

Rievaulx Abbey, founded 1132, stripped during the Dissolution

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Dove Cottages, Castles and Castlerigg

This morning I was awoken for the first time in my life by sheep bleating. When we arrived last night in the fog, we did not realize that the farm run by the people who own the Dove Cottage where we're staying is literally our backyard; we have chickens, sheep, two donkeys and an unseen yet heard cow in close proximity. The owners had said that it was fine to feed the hens, who will eat anything, so after breakfast we brought them the burnt toast ends and the kids had a wonderful time feeding them and petting the sheep, who have several lambs. The hillsides all around here are covered with sheep and their babies; we saw thousands as we traveled, plus geese, rabbits, dozens of other birds and some horses, donkeys and cows.

We drove this morning to the Lake District visitor's center, where we went through the exhibits, walked a bit around Lake Windermere, watched an Easter Egg roll, let the kids play on the playground and ate a picnic lunch. Then we went to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in Grasmere on the River Rothay, where we toured the museum and the cottage where Wordsworth lived in his young married life. It has a number of wonderful paintings of the area by people associated with the Romantic poets and some of their artifacts, including some of Wordsworth's drafts and an original painting of William Godwin -- Mary Wollstonecraft's husband, Mary Shelley's father. The day had been cloudy with intermittent drizzle and some fog, and it was easy to look at the hillsides and see what the poets had seen in them. We walked into the town to the church where Wordsworth is buried, for famous (and excellent) gingerbread baked in the building that was once his school. We had expected a lot to be closed today for Easter, but several of the towns we drove through were having street fairs and most of the dining establishments seemed to be doing good business.

In the mist high in the moors, we drove to the stone circle at Castlerigg -- a much more scenic locale than the Rollright Stones, with taller and wider standing stones that look more like the ones at Avebury. I would have liked to stay longer, as we had the place all to ourselves and got the same kind of chills from it as I did at Avebury and Stonehenge, but the kids were cold in the rain and I managed to slip on the hillside and slide flat on my back until I was covered in mud. We stopped on the way back to the cottage at two decaying castles, Brougham and Brough, before coming back to the cottage for a late dinner and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves which happened to be lying around on video and which the kids requested.

Tomorrow I am meeting at Rievaulx Abbey! Then we are going to Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisited fame, and the train station that stands in for the one at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.

The Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hello From Barningham!

Where we are currently drinking whiskey and eating Cadbury Eggs. We are having a fabulous trip and this is the first chance I've had to sit down with any sort of internet connection in two days! So I am attaching a report, but will beg forgiveness for not answering comments -- I need to make plans to see , and others who might prefer to remain anonymous. *g* In the meantime here's the long-form report:

Dulles was its usual madhouse – we flew out of Kennedy in New York last time and the security lines seem much shorter but that may have been because we took the red-eye and not a morning flight. It was strange to lose an entire day over the Atlantic; they fed us hot croissants and fruit soon after we boarded, and then lunch/dinner two hours out of London, when it was already getting dark outside. I had hoped to see the Irish coast, which was overcast the last time we flew over it, but this time it was entirely dark by the time we got there. We did get to see a spectacular sunset hitting the clouds from above.

The kids watched The Incredibles and whatever was on United’s Disney channel; and I watched The Village, which neither of us had ever seen, and out of sheer boredom I watched most of The Princess Diaries 2, which was actually quite entertaining in a total guilty-pleasure way (Julie Andrews singing, one Prince Charming and one Mr. Not-So-Charming, plus a feminist campaign to stop the princess from having to marry to ascend the throne). We missed the ending because they collected the headsets so I suppose the hype in London over Charles and Camilla’s impending nuptials will have to stand in for my royal wedding.

Our cab driver gave us the scenic route into town, past Harrods, around Picadilly Circus and through the theatre district. We were staying at the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square, which is enormous and had about fifteen busloads of foreign tourists pull up right before we did. So it took almost an hour to check in, after which we were completely exhausted despite having lost several hours of our day, so we slept. Only drawback: no internet, either in the rooms or in the hotel’s public areas.

We got up pretty early Thursday for the hotel’s massive continental breakfast machine; they move several hundred people through with countless eggs, bowls of cereal, ham, sausage, toast, etc. Son #1 ate enough food for three people and spent the rest of the day complaining about his stomach. We went first to Westminster Abbey via the waterside, where we walked up to Cleopatra’s Needle and down across the river from the London Eye and the aquarium before turning inland at Big Ben. I was pleased to see war protests in full swing across from the Houses of Parliament. Last time we were in England, the abbey was closed for Easter services on the days we were in London, so this time we made sure to go on Maundy Thursday when we’d checked to make sure it would be open. I have always wanted to see the tomb of Elizabeth I –- the image of her face is the only one made from an impression, her death-mask –- and really there is a discovery every two steps in there, from Aphra Behn on a side corridor to the statue of Shakespeare in the poet’s corner.

From there we went to lunch; we’d planned to eat at the Cheshire Cheese, a pub dating back to 1667 where we ate last time with my friend Vera and which was a favorite of Dickens and Boswell, but it was overcrowded and understaffed, so we just grabbed sandwiches and went to the Temple Church, which was also closed the last time we were in London. The stained glass is spectacular, but son #2’s favorite thing was the giant Ten Commandments at the front of the church in which it spelled out that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ass. Here, as at Westminster, I was in the church when the dean/abbot/vicar (I have absolutely no idea of the correct titles for these people) took a moment for prayer in honor of Holy Thursday and for peace. Having already seen the two churches, we headed back via St. Paul’s, which we did not go inside this trip but walked around. We stopped for a bathroom break in a McDonald’s because it was the closest restroom we could find when son #1 demanded one and discovered that the British not only have chicken curry McChicken sandwiches, but Cadbury Egg McFlurrys. If the US is going to have McDonalds, we should get these too!

After a brief stop in an internet cafĂ© so I could send an “I’m alive” message to our relatives, we had a relatively quick dinner in the hotel from the same sandwich shop where we grabbed food the night before so that we could go to the British Museum, which is open late on Thursdays. We saw the Parthenon exhibit, which we had missed last time looking at the British and northern European rooms, and we saw the parts of the Egyptian and Assyrian exhibits still open so late. (And of course the Rosetta Stone.) I am ambivalent on the issue of who should have the Greek relics, since the British Museum did acquire them legitimately whether or not the late Ottomans had any business letting them go, and since the British Museum has preserved them and kept them on display free to the public. I am certainly grateful that they were in London rather than at the Acropolis Museum.

When we came back Vera stopped by to make plans for the next day because apparently the hotel had not been relaying her messages. She had promised us a tour of the Greenwich museums, and we had promised son #2 that, like last time, we would take a boat in at least one direction. Because there were so many tourists in town for Easter weekend, we decided that we should take the boat back from Greenwich to Westminster and take the bus there on Friday, which also made the kids very happy as they had wanted a double-decker bus ride.

When we arrived in Greenwich via the bus, we walked through the touristy part of the city to the hill in the park where Queen Elizabeth's Oak and the ruins of a Roman temple are located; the last time we were in Greenwich two years ago they climbed the trees for so long that the Maritime Museum had closed by the time we got there. This time we walked down to the water to eat lunch in a restaurant called Trafalgar (which seemed entirely appropriate for eating in Greenwich, where we figured we should have fish and chips), took the tour of the Cutty Sark which fortunately was open despite the fact that it is undergoing extensive repairs, and went to the Royal Naval College and Maritime Museum for extremely rushed views of the chapel and exhibits -- the Nelson anniversary display goes up in July but there was still plenty of memorabilia on display, swords and silver and the like.

We took a cruise back down the Thames, with both Vera and the boat's guide pointing out sites of interest including centuries-old inns, the Gherkin, the Tower of London, the various bridges and Big Ben, which we learned from the guide is really the name of the bell in the clock tower and not the clock itself. From Westminster we took the Tube back to the hotel for a quick dinner, then rushed back to the Tube to get to Her Majesty's Theatre for The Phantom of the Opera. The theater is stunning; the production looks great; the Phantom was good, though not as good as Michael Crawford or Colm Wilkinson, but that may be because he was saddled by a Christine who overacted extremely to compensate for her limited singing skills. This did not bother the kids, however, who despite having seen the movie twice were riveted, particularly when the Phantom showed up in the angel on the roof which doesn't happen in the film. Despite a crowded late night Tube ride back, we got none of the earlier complaints of sore feet.

Saturday after a ridiculous wait for our rental car and a nearly two-hour delay, we set off from London. Our first stop was the Rollright Stones in Great Tew, a circle of stones, megalith and burial chamber from the Bronze Age. The stone circle is considerably smaller than those at Stonehenge and Avebury but because the stones are small and more porous, one can walk right up and see the flowers and fungi growing on them. (Unfortunately they are also easier to vandalize; someone had recently splattered yellow paint around much of the circle.) The visitor's center has divining rods for loan and people were dowsing in the center of the circle, a form of divination about which I know nothing. Across the road is the larger King Stone, fenced in to avoid similar vandalism problems, and a bit further on are the tombs called the Whispering Knights.

We stopped for lunch at one of the many inns we passed in the various towns we drove through; this one was called the Red Lion and I'm not even certain whether it was in Great Tew, Chipping Norton, Longcompton or Lesser Rollright (do town names anywhere in the world get better than this?) where we had sandwiches with excellent chips and vinegar. Then we drove to Birmingham, where the original plan was to go to the reservoir to see the two towers that might have inspired Tolkien on The Two Towers, but after getting lost twice and with the sky clouding up, we gave up and went to the art museum, where there are several rooms of Pre-Raphaelite paintings among a number of other collections including an exhibit on the art of historic Palestine -- Jewish, Christian and Moslem. I had been told that Birmingham was a very industrial city and was surprised at how pretty I found the parts of it we saw; there's a giant ferris wheel, not on the scale of the London Eye but still impressive, that dominates the skyline, and many beautiful old buildings. I thought it was prettier than Bath, which we saw two years ago and which seemed rather drab to me outside of the baths themselves.

During our three hour drive north past Sheffield and through Richmond to get groceries, the sky clouded over and we saw the first real rain I have ever experienced in England despite rumors of bad weather on a regular basis. We had forgotten to pack our CDs, and the only one we had with us was a freebie from that morning's Daily Express with one-hit wonders -- such disparate tunes as "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "99 Red Balloons." The various BBC stations we picked up were covering the death of a former government official (I think a Prime Minister; I am ashamed to admit that I was not paying attention) so we listened to it over and over and now I will associate all those songs with grazing sheep and the bunnies by the side of the road on the way into Yorkshire.

We stopped for groceries, as we are staying in a cottage in Barningham -- two bedrooms, a living room, an upstairs den, a kitchen -- altogether an entirely civilized arrangement since there are plenty of places the kids could go hide from us and vice versa. The cottage is quite isolated, down a gravel path from a farm, with two fireplaces, and is well-stocked with books, videotapes, games, puzzles, and that all-important convenience while traveling, a washer and dryer...a very nice blend of cozy and modern. In addition to an already-well-stocked kitchen, the proprietors left us fresh eggs, milk and wine. I had my first internet connection in days and sent quick notes to all the people with whom I needed to check in, and we ate non-restaurant food for the first time since arriving in England!

Temple Church, London, just before Holy Thursday prayers. Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Hello from London!

We have had a marvelous day mostly church-hopping (Westminster, Temple Church, St. Paul's) plus museums in Guildhall and downtown (Pre-Raphaelites), and are on our way to the British Museum after dinner because it's open late. We have no internet access in our hotel, either from the room (the phones won't let us dial AOL) or from the lobby (where all five machines in the hotel itself and coffee shop are down) so I am in a pay through the nose internet cafe and must keep this short; am only technically online to tell our relatives that we got here safely. I will probably not answer any notes until next week at least and that's assuming I can get access more easily/cheaply from Yorkshire -- hope everyone has a great Easter-Purim-Spring this weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

Prayer To Escape The East
By Christopher Buckley

Ash ascending the altitudes of dawn--
and all along these tarnished clouds
have refused to accept our suffering.
Down a side street, the wind goes on
tuning its violin, a pizzicato off
the thin strings of hope, a melody
of dust.
       If you knew anything
as true as a bird's magnetic heart,
where wouldn't you be instead of here,
looking out on the blank grey measure
of another year, a street lamp
at the outpost of dusk?
                     All the old failings
circling in the moth-spattered light,
ones you've held on to so long now
they just about shine, like the sparrows
in evening's rusted trees--
                        almost the same
birds above Rincon or Malibu, the trees
still simmering in that '60s, slow,
Pacific sun, the glassy waves repeating
their incomplete sentences about the present,
and the past--surfboards spiked upright
in the sand like totems for the last city
of gold.
       And looking off
in that lost direction, back that far west,
the string section in the palms picks up,
and who's that on Coast Highway One,
blond as Tab Hunter or Sandra Dee
pulling up to Trancas in a convertible
          If there were angels,
why would they come forward now
to acknowledge another complaint?
And what small comfort could there be
in their terribly bright memories
of everything?
             It's the same future
waiting there regardless, unthreading
through the blue eucalyptus--your guess
as good as the birds', singing their hearts out
for nothing but the last crumbs
of daylight pinpointing the small space
of their lives?
               What use asking what more
you could ask for. You might as well
look out there to where they said
the big picture was and watch the credits roll
before the bandages and plastic bottles arrive
on the tide
          with the grainy underbelly
of industrial light. What's left to contribute
to the dark? The echo and chum of the waves?
Only that to confirm the eternal at your back.
So why not
          pick up this dust-colored feather,
carry it to your rented room and open the glass
doors above the river, unclench your fist and let it
float out in the and direction, as unlikely as luck.


In an airport hotel waiting for pre-dawn wakeup and flight...and for the kids to finally fall asleep (how long can two boys keep themslves awake?!) so I went looking for reading material and found this. Spent all of today before leaving the house doing last-minute chores like the bank, the grocery store and last-minute laundries. I think we remembered everything...if not we will find out on the other side of the Atlantic. *g* Watched Veronica Mars at the hotel, ate fast food for dinner (I did get to have lunch with before I left and talk fannish stuff, so yay!) I can't settle down with a book yet, though my older son has already finished one of his.

Tomorrow before this time I will hopefully have seen the coast of Ireland from above. My favorite thing about the flight last time was seeing it at sunrise; this time hopefully it will not have gotten dark too soon!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

Now Voyager
By May Sarton

Now voyager, lay here your dazzled head.
Come back to earth from air, be nourish-ed,
Not with that light on light, but with this bread.

Here close to earth be cherished, mortal heart,
Hold your way deep as roots push rocks apart
To bring that spurt of green up from the dark.

Where music thundered, let the mind be still,
Where the will triumphed, let there be no will,
What light revealed now let the dark fulfill.

Here close to earth the deeper pulse is stirred,
Here where no wings rush and no sudden bird,
But only heartbeat upon beat is heard.

Here let the fiery burden all be spilled,
The passionate voice be calmed and stilled,
And the long yearning of the blood fulfilled.

Now voyager, come home, come home to rest,
Here on that long-lost country of earth's breast
Lay down the fiery vision and be blest, be blest.


I posted this the last time I left to go to England, in 2003. We had a wonderful, wonderful trip, so it seems appropriate to post it again. As I said last time, I am sure many people reading this know the significance this poem has for me (if not, there's an explanation here, from Now Voyager, the newsletter of KMAS, the Kate Mulgrew Appreciation Society). It's interesting that I can think of ways to make it relevant to every fandom with which I've been involved since then, from LOTR to M&C to DS9 to HP.

Speaking of HP, Moonshadow, the Lupin/Snape archive, is open! All hail , our archivist, and , who did the artwork! And speaking of artwork, look what drew!

Severus Snape by mamadracula, Image hosted by

Please go leave her lots of feedback here and maybe she will be inspired to draw Lucius or something. *g*

While waiting to go pick up my kids after eating at California Tortilla earlier, and I watched Highlander's "The Darkness," which was very sad (I hated the Silence of the Lambs-ripoff elements but loved everything else). I did not recall that there was a montage to one of my least-favorite songs, "Dust in the Wind," and when came home I played it for him. The kids watched too and then wanted to see what happened to Tessa and Richie and what happened afterward, so while we were running around packing, we had "Eye for an Eye" on. I absolutely loved it -- the Richie scenes in particular, the training sequence, and I must admit that Sheena Easton is EXACTLY my type there (I have a thing for red-haired Irish women) and seeing her with Duncan was hormone overload for me!

Plane reading material: Hornblower and the Hotspur, Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons, and the second half of Walking to Canterbury. I read the first half the last time we were in England, forgot all about it, found it not long ago and vowed that I would finish it this trip. I was going to bring M&C in case I was overwhelmed by the urge to reread it, then remembered that I have an eBook copy that I can put on my Palm. Yay!

I'm expecting to be pretty incommunicado for the next two weeks, though I will try to post some photos and updates on our travels. will be pet-sitting for Rosie, Cinnamon, Aragorn and Boromir so please write lots of porn fic to keep her entertained while we are gone! If you're going to e-mail me, please use my username at my domain name; I have my work addresses set with autoresponders to tell people I'm away. And have a great couple of weeks!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Poem for Monday

Dover Beach
By Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!

Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


The Remix Redux III: Reloaded archive is now open! I kind of expected that the person remixing for me would gravitate toward either Star Trek: Voyager or Lord of the Rings, since I've written so much more in those fandoms than others, but my writer remixed "Stolen", one of my rare DS9 stories and Bashir/O'Brien no less, from Molly's POV which is really quite brilliant as that little girl must have been so confused about Daddy being more interested in playing games with Julian than with her. Hers is a much more interesting story than mine was, much more show-not-tell. *g* It's here.

Dover Beach. See the white cliffs and the pebbles, despite the commercial interruptions? It was a very sunny day in town and misty over the Channel, and we spent most of our time here in the castle and walking the streets with all the naval collectibles that I didn't know enough then to seek out, but I insisted on setting my feet in the water here. Yes, the poem is perhaps overused, but I was looking over my Dover photos from 2003 and was in the mood for it. Besides, it's an utterly stunning use of rhyme.

The suitcases are out and we're slowly sorting stuff to go inside. There's a little washer and dryer in the cottage where we're staying in Yorkshire, so we don't need to pack two weeks' worth of clothes, but as we learned from our last trip the temperature could be anywhere from the 30s to the 80s and apparently anything from pissing rain and sleet to brilliant burn-worthy sunshine. This requires careful strategies involving layers, something I suck at. I am not bringing any jewelry worth more than $10 except my wedding ring, which means I have to wear the same gold studs the whole trip. Last trip I lost a silver earring with a moonstone in it, one of my favorites, on the ground somewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon -- not that I have ever for a moment regretted being there that day, but I don't want to lose any others.

This afternoon my in-laws, who have just returned with their trailer from several months on the west coast, drove down from Hanover, and we went out with my parents to Taste of Saigon for Vietnamese food to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday since we'll be away on the actual day. It was very nice and I am absolutely stuffed on black pepper and caramelized chicken, salmon, duck and hot and sour shrimp soup, plus the German chocolate cake for which we went back to my parents' house. Have given hubby all the small presents I have for him and tomorrow must come up with a Real between giving a tour of my cats' litter boxes and shopping for last minute items we can't live without!

Notes on 'Lieutenant Hornblower'

I bet you thought I was done quoting naval fiction after the Patrick O'Brian posts, huh? But I just have to cite a few passages from Lieutenant Hornblower, because apart from the lovely descriptions of the sea and the workings of the ship, the Hornblower/Bush adoration drips from the pages. How come I find so much TV-based Horatio/Archie fic, but not nearly enough Horatio/William? This is a very charming love story! And hey, : hand fetish!

Page numbers from the Back Bay Books paperback edition of Lieutenant Hornblower, copyright 1998.

68-70: "Bush watched as Hornblower's capable fingers worked the parallel rulers across the chart; Hornblower had long bony hands with something of beauty about them, and it was actually fascinating to watch them doing work at which they were so supremely competent. The powerful fingers picked up a pencil...Bush was curious about this junior lieutenant who had shown himself ready of resources and so guarded in speech...He looked at Hornblower with an interest which he knew to be constantly increasing. Hornblower was a man always ready to adopt the bold course, a man who infinitely preferred action to inaction; widely read in his profession and yet a practical seaman, as Bush had already had plenty of opportunity to observe. A student yet a man of action; a fiery spirit and yet was not right or fit or proper that he should feel any admiration or even respect for Hornblower...yet as he stirred uncomfortably in his chair he could not wholly discard those notions."

119: "Hornblower's hands were at his sides, in the 'attention' position, but Bush noticed how the long fingers tapped against his thighs, restrained themselves, and then tapped again uncontrollably. It was not cool judgment that finally brought Bush to his decision, but something quite otherwise. It might be called kindliness; it might be called affection. He had grown fond of this volatile, versatile young man, and he had no doubts now as to his physical courage. 'I'd like Mr. Hornblower to come with me, sir,' he said; it seemed almost without volition that the words came from his mouth; a softhearted elder brother might have said much the same thing, burdening himself with the presence of a much younger brother out of kindness of heart when contemplating some pleasant day's activities. And as he spoke he received a glance in return from Hornblower that stifled at birth any regrets he may have felt at allowing his sentiments to influence his judgment. There was so much of relief, so much of gratitude, in the way Hornblower looked at him that Bush experienced a kindly glow of magnanimity; he felt a bigger and better man for what he had done."

215: "'Bush! Bush!' That was Hornblower's voice, pleading and tender. 'Bush, please, speak to me.' Two gentle hands were holding his face between them. Bush could just separate his eyelids sufficiently to see Hornblower bending over him, but to speak called for more strength than he possessed. He could only shake his head a little, smiling because of the sense of comfort and security conveyed by Hornblower's hands."

232: "The lob-lolly boy ushered in another visitor, the sight of whom drove away the black thoughts. It was Hornblower, standing at the door with a basket in his hand, and Bush's face lit up at the sight of him. 'How are you, sir?' asked Hornblower. They shook hands, each reflecting the pleasure of the other's greeting. 'All the better for seeing you,' said Bush, and meant it."

262-3: "Bush was quite sure there was some further information that was being withheld from him. And he was not actuated by simple curiosity. The affection and the interest that he felt towards Hornblower drove him into further questioning...a recollection arose in his mind, as clear to his inward eye as this pleasant room was to his outward one. He remembered Hornblower swinging himself down, sword in hand, onto the deck of the Renown, plunging into a battle against odds which could only result in either death or victory. Hornblower, who had planned and worked endlessly to ensure success -- even in that last conflict -- and then had flung his life upon the board as a final stake; and today Hornblower was standing with chattering teeth trying to warm himself beside a fire by the charity of a frog-eating gambling hall keeper with the look of a dancing master. 'It's a hellish outrage,' said Bush, and then he made his offer. He offered his money, even though he knew as he offered it that it meant most certainly that he would go hungry, and that his sisters, if not exactly hungry, would hardly have enough to eat. But Hornblower shook his head. 'Thank you,' he said. 'I'll never forget that. But I can't accept it. You know that I couldn't. But I'll never cease to be grateful to you. I'm grateful in another way, too. You've brightened the world for me by saying that.' Even in the face of Hornblower's refusal Bush repeated his offer, and tried to press it, but Hornblower was firm in his refusal. Perhaps it was because Bush looked so downcast that Hornblower gave him some further information in the hope of cheering him up."

271: "There could be no doubt about Hornblower's pleasure at seeing him. His face was lit with a smile and he drew Bush into the room while shaking his hand...they talked indifferently for a space, with Hornblower asking questions about the Chichester cottage that Bush lived in with his sisters. 'We must see about your bed for tonight,' said Hornblower at the first pause. 'I'll go down and give Mrs. Mason a hail.' Mrs. Mason lived in a hard world, quite obviously; she turned the proposition over in her mind for several seconds before she agreed to it. 'A shilling for the bed,' she said. 'Can't wash the sheets for less than that with soap as it is.' 'Very good,' said Bush. He saw Mrs. Mason's hand held out...Hornblower had dived for his pocket when he caught sight of the gesture, but Bush was too quick for him. 'And you'll be talking till all hours,' said Mrs. Mason. 'Mind you don't disturb my other gentlemen. And douse the light while you talk, too, or you'll be burning a shilling's worth of tallow.'"

310-12: "What he was looking at now jarred on him unbearably -- perhaps it rasped his aesthetic sensibility, unlikely though it might seem that Bush should have such a thing. Perhaps he was merely irritated by the spectacle of uncontrolled hysteria, but if that was the case he was irritated beyond all bearing. He felt that if he had to put up with Maria's waterworks for another minute he would break a blood vessel. 'Let's get out of here,' he said to Hornblower. In reply he received a look of surprise. It had not occurred to Hornblower that he might run away from a situation for which his temperament necessarily made him feel responsible. Bush knew perfectly well that, given time, Maria would any case he did not see why he and Hornblower should concern themselves about something which was entirely Maria's the time Bush was on the staircase he realised that Hornblower had not followed him, would not follow him. And Bush did not go back to fetch him. Even though Bush was not the man to desert a comrade in peril...even though he would stand shoulder to shoulder with Hornblower and be hewn to pieces with him by an overwhelming enemy; for all this he would not go back to save Hornblower. If Hornblower was going to be foolish Bush felt he could not stop war was coming again, and Hornblower was Bush's superior officer."

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Poem for Sunday

Fast Break
By Edward Hirsch

In Memory of Dennis Turner, 1946-1984

A hook shot kisses the rim and
hangs there, helplessly, but doesn't drop,

and for once our gangly starting center
boxes out his man and times his jump

perfectly, gathering the orange leather
from the air like a cherished possession

and spinning around to throw a strike
to the outlet who is already shoveling

an underhand pass toward the other guard
scissoring past a flat-footed defender

who looks stunned and nailed to the floor
in the wrong direction, trying to catch sight

of a high, gliding dribble and a man
letting the play develop in front of him

in slow motion, almost exactly
like a coach's drawing on the blackboard,

both forwards racing down the court
the way that forwards should, fanning out

and filling the lanes in tandem, moving
together as brothers passing the ball

between them without a dribble, without
a single bounce hitting the hardwood

until the guard finally lunges out
and commits to the wrong man

while the power-forward explodes past them
in a fury, taking the ball into the air

by himself now and laying it gently
against the glass for a lay-up,

but losing his balance in the process,
inexplicably falling, hitting the floor

with a wild, headlong motion
for the game he loved like a country

and swiveling back to see an orange blur
floating perfectly through the net.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in the Sunday Washington Post Book World. "March, the month of college basketball's annual NCAA tournament (and preceding Poetry Month), gives me an opportunity to begin honoring predecessors in this column," Pinsky writes. "Edward Hirsch's justly celebrated poem 'Fast Break' captures and epitomizes the speed and brilliance of an inspired moment when things go right -- in the rhythms of a sport or in the charmed exertions of sentences and lines. Hirsch's single long sentence courses sure-footedly to its ultimate goal: the noun 'net.' The movement through the couplets, unfettered and purposeful, demonstrates what it describes: the grace of improvisation working through a plan. The elegiac dedication in the subtitle emphasizes charges of mortality in certain phrases -- above all in the past tense of 'loved.'"

Now everyone has shoes, and all computer files that I need have been burned to disc, and we have equipment so that tomorrow, in between Hebrew school and the Purim carnival in the early part of the day and going out to dinner for 's 40th birthday in the evening, we can make a mobile using wire and pine cones using Calder's algebraic formulas. Also, I have cleaned two of the bathrooms so that when comes over to bond with my cats, she does not run screaming out the door as soon as she has to pee. Does this constitute preparedness? Fine, go ahead and laugh.

Otherwise Saturday was sorting and fretting and calling people and pretending to pay attention to basketball...and taking a walk with my older son because it was so completely gorgeous out that how could I not? And now I have two days left, so utter insanity sets in. This is the first time in my life I am really mad NOT to have my period; I want it over with! And I keep thinking I almost kind of have a sore throat, which makes me panic, except then I drink a lot and suck some mints and feel better. Shall try liquor next. *g*

From ...I loved this quiz despite the silly questions about ambrosia and such.

You scored as Kabbalistic Pagan. Kabbalistic study derives from Judaism, and acknowledges that the divine is vast and unknowable. The Torah was reinterpreted because of this idea, to gain a greater understanding of the sacred text. Kabbalistic mysticism is still alive in our world, specifically in tarot cards; symbolic color is a Kabbalistic belief and study. Those who follow this path are generally those who are open to the concept that we cannot know the Divine, and accepts the connection of all things, even religion, itself.

Kabbalistic Pagan


Eclectic Pagan


Shamanic Pagan


Sumerian, Babylonian, and Mesopotamian Pagans


Celtic Pantheonic Pagan


Egyptian Pantheonic Pagan


Eastern Pagan


Zoroastrian Pagan


Greek Pantheonic Pagan


Norse Pantheonic Pagan (Asatru)


Roman Pantheonic Pagan


Catholic (Pagan?)


What kind of Pagan are you?
created with

And speaking of Paganism, here is Sulis Minerva in Bath. There are all kinds of interesting theories about how a Celtic god and a Roman goddess became conflated in this image, which appears to be part-Medusa, part-Green Man.

Harry Potter Tarot Notes

drew me a fantastic Snape/Lupin Tarot card and we got to talking about how she should do an entire deck or at least the Major Arcana. She asked me which cards I would associate with which images. This response is really completely off the top of my head and based as much on 's and my Star Trek Tarot as any real research, but if anyone is interested, some notes on a Harry Potter Major Arcana:

0-The Fool-Harry Potter
Traditionally the symbol of courage, innocence, faith, and adventure, the Fool is also the Seeker -- the prime mover on the path.

1-The Magician-Albus Dumbledore
For obvious reasons. Of any of the wizards we've seen, he's the one who most embodies the balance of the elements. He is prepared, dedicated, committed to his spiritual path.

2-The High Priestess-Minerva McGonagall
A figure of formidable power, focus and mystery, concerned with mystical matters, balanced.

3-The Empress-Molly Weasley
This is the most maternal card in the deck, showing a beautiful, mature woman sitting in the midst of fertility symbols in most decks. Molly is the closest thing to a mother figure Harry has.

4-The Emperor-Rubeus Hagrid
An older man often surrounded by animals, sometimes holding a shepherd's crook. It tends to be a very traditional image of masculinity -- oversized, paternalistic, yet benevolent.

5-The Heirophant-Lucius Malfoy
This is the figure that's traditionally portrayed as a Pope -- the formal religious leader rather than the spiritual guide, the one invested with earthly powers. Patriarchal but not benevolent, though sometimes a trained healer. I could make a case for either Fudge or Filch for this card, too.

6-The Lovers-James and Lily Potter
I know, it's wimping out to pick a canonical heterosexual pair, but I wanted them in the Majors, they're no longer living, they're almost archetypes rather than individuals of whom the Fool has intimate knowledge. I'd put them here, on the card that often shows Adam and Eve, the parents.

7-The Chariot-The Weasleys' Enchanted Car
Moves between the Muggle world and places visible only to wizards. This card is associated with pride -- sometimes hubris -- and when Harry and Ron take it upon themselves to fly it, they are arguably guilty of those things as well.

8-Strength-Hermione Granger
The traditional image on this card is a woman holding open the jaws of a lion. It's a card of passion and commitment as well as power and physical prowess.

9-The Hermit-Severus Snape
This is a card of contemplation, introspection and wisdom in its positive aspects and of isolation, secrecy and disguise in its less positive aspects, all of which suit the potions master perfectly.

10-The Wheel of Fortune-Sibyll Trelawney and her Crystal Ball
The Wheel itself is often portrayed surrounded by symbols of power -- a sword-wielding sphinx, a serpent, a book -- and astrological symbols. The implication is that what goes around comes around, and that destiny and fortune can't fight prophecy and the elements.

11-Justice-The Time-Turner
Traditionally the image is the balanced scales and sword being held by a blindfolded figure, but the meaning has as much to do with balance and the punishment for transgression and overreaching as with anything legalistic. I thought about reversing this and the Wheel, since the Time-Turner obviously works more like a wheel of fortune, but Trelawney isn't really blind justice with a sword in her hand, she's the receptacle of the fates speaking through her.

12-The Hanged Man-Sirius Black
This card represents an end to old patterns and a transformation of life. The figure has pretty evident parallels with Christ -- he's often portrayed hanging upside-down, suspended by one foot from a tree - yet he appears relaxed, pensive, not at all terrified or in pain. It's a card of trial and sacrifice, altered perspectives and new insights. And sometimes it represents being scapegoated, taking an unpopular position, being isolated.

13-Death-The Dark Mark
Often a skeleton holding a scythe or just a skull dominates this card. It doesn't usually mean literal death, but an end to old cycles, old beliefs. I imagine anyone who takes the Dark Mark has to cut off a lot of his or her past to commit to Voldemort.

14-Temperance-Ron Weasley
The central figure in this card is frequently an angelic figure with a halo, pouring water from one chalice into another without losing any drops. The image suggests that which completes, moderates or makes sufficient the querent (the Fool). It also suggests inner qualities of balance, and satisfaction with one's assets.

15-The Devil-Tom Riddle/Voldemort
Classically, a bearded male figure with horns, pointed ears, bat-wings and talons sitting over an inverted pentacle. He's the inverse of the Heirophant, and the Lovers are sometimes illustrated as his prisoners (Adam and Eve after the fall). I might choose Riddle over Voldemort because it's also a card of carnality and passion, not necessarily evil; uncontrolled desire, being trapped by lust or greed.

16-The Tower-Gilderoy Lockhart
The Tower is almost always portrayed as shattered or falling so I would NOT use Gryffindor Tower for this. It's the Tower of Babel, the card of arrogance and overreaching oneself until everything comes crashing down.

17-The Star-Luna Lovegood
This card often depicts a young woman (naked, but you can probably work around that, heh) kneeling beside a pool, pouring water onto the flowering ground while above her head, a large star dominates the sky. It suggests brilliance, bright prospects, self-sufficiency, benevolence.

18-The Moon-Remus Lupin
I know it seems rather odd to put him on the card of the thing he fears the most, but the moon in the Tarot is associated with renewal and regeneration as well as secrets and mysteries. It concerns hidden emotions, shedding light on unexpected paths, revealing what is hidden -- both the good and the bad -- perfect for a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher as well as a werewolf.

19-The Sun-Draco Malfoy
In Rider-Waite based decks this card shows a beautiful child riding in a walled field with an unsmiling, brilliant sun above. The child might be the Son as well as the sun, which looks stern, as if suggesting that happiness is contingent upon remaining within the walls, obeying the rules.

20-Judgment-Priori Incantatem
This card is not judgment as in justice, but the Last Judgment when the dead will rise.

21-The World-The Sphere of the Prophecy
The World is often portrayed not by the planet but by a young naked woman in the center of a garland, sometimes suspended between heaven and earth, with symbols of the elements around her. It can represent so many things: the union of heart, mind, body and soul; carnality, intellect, emotion and spirit; wit, determination, stubbornness and strength; past, present, future, full circle; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin; fire, earth, air and water. At the center is the individual or object that can integrate all these aspects. There are a million ways you could go with this one, from making Ginny the girl in the middle if you believe that Harry is destined for her to putting the Mirror of Erised there is you think it's all a grand illusion!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Poem for Saturday

His Pilgrimage
By Sir Walter Raleigh

Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
  My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
  My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gage;
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

Blood must be my body's balmer;
  No other balm will there be given:
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer,
  Travelleth towards the land of heaven;
Over the silver mountains,
Where spring the nectar fountains;
        There will I kiss
        The bowl of bliss;
And drink mine everlasting fill
Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before;
But, after, it will thirst no more.


Had a lovely lunch with and (deli; I ate a bagel and lox on the theory that Nova lox is probably not available cheaply or easily in Great Britain), and brought us desserts -- the boys and their friends thank you greatly for the cupcakes and my entire family thanks you for the pie, sweetie! Picked up the kids who had a friend over, older son's bus was very late, posted articles, went to parents for dinner (Greek food). So eating-wise and socially, it was a good day. The news depressed me so much I stopped watching. Forgetting more controversial issues, I don't know if I want Joss Whedon to direct the Wonder Woman film -- I am not really in the mood for revisionist Wonder Woman in which she's a more compromised heroine, which I imagine is what we'll get with him.

Came home to fold laundry and do various other chores while watching "The Watchers" -- I have always wanted to write that phrase, heh. Not nearly as dramatic in scope as its predecessor, "The Hunters," but I loved the "When Duncan Met Joe" aspect. All right, it would have helped a lot if they had hired an actress with some small modicum of talent to play the villain's daughter; we were going, "Daddy! Please protect me, I CAN'T ACT!"

Since I know there must be Desperate Housewives fans reading this: my editor at TrekToday and CSI Files has launched a new DH site, Get Desperate!, very similar in format to the other sites. Check it out if you're interested in the show!

: Gawker
1. What's the first physical feature that attracts you to another person?
Often it's a smile.
2. Do you read the tabloids (i.e. The National Enquirer, The Mirror)? Only when I'm in grocery store lines, which pretty much limits me to the headlines.
3. Have you ever snuck a peek at someone else's paper while taking an exam? In high school French class, I'm afraid so.
4. How would you describe your vision? Astigmatic. When driving I often have the sense that other cars are much too close to me. I also tend to perceive heights as higher and scarier than they are, though I am not afraid of heights per se -- just cautious climbing down things.
5. What's the scariest thing you've ever seen? A truck that had skidded off a highway bridge right through a guard rail and crashed onto the road below.

: Friday Five, Times Five
1. What are your five favorite all time TV shows?
Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, Xena, Dallas, Dawson's Creek.
2. What five things you want to do before the year is out? See Hadrian's Wall, hike in the Olympic Peninsula, stand in the Atlantic Ocean, drive into the mountains to see the leaves changing color, take the kids to the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
3. Who are five people (alive, dead, or otherwise) you would want to have dinner with? My four great-grandmothers and my step-great-grandmother, the one my father grew up knowing.
4. Where are five places (cities, states, countries, etc.) you would like to visit? France, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Nepal.
5. What are your five favorite desserts? Chocolate eclair, German chocolate cake, Nubian chocolate roll, chocolate cheescake, plain old unadorned chocolate bars.

From :

Is maith liom bananai
'I like bananas.'
You're laid-back and you enjoy the simple things in life. Some might say you're a little too laid-back. Just what is it you're smoking, anyway?
Take the quiz: "Which Random Irish Gaelic Phrase Are You?"

From :

Which Pagan Goddess Are You? by kira_may
You are:Gaia
You favourite trick:Appearing in the sky to scare the enemy's army
Your feeling towards mortals:They are entertaining, like puppies.
When you sleep with mortals, your lover is:Boromir
Mortal you'd most like to smite:Ashley Judd
Quiz created with MemeGen!

To go with the poem...Sir Walter Raleigh's desk in the Tower of London.

How many days does it usually take me to go through a tube of hair conditioner? That is the question for the day. Also, is ibuprofen available over the counter relatively cheaply and easily in Great Britain? How about preservative-free contact lens solution? Forgive me if these are extremely ignorant touristy questions, I am trying to figure out how much of our medicine chest we need to pack...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Poem for Friday

I'm Too Alone in the World, Yet Not Alone Enough
By Ranier Maria Rilke
Translated by Anita Barrows

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing --
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones --
I want to mirror your immensity.

I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.


I couldn't decide which translation I liked better, so today you get two versions of the same poem. This is from Rilke's The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother's face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.


You know you have it bad for Highlander when you're out driving and you catch yourself composing a songvid in your head to Survivor's "Man Against the World." *facepalm*

Had another nice and completely insane day which has given me a horrible case of indigestion but was otherwise pretty fun. After another morning of chores, I met for lunch, to exchange some stuff and do some last-minute shopping (I think I now have enough camera bags for all the members of my family bringing cameras to England) and try, without success, to find an inspirational 40th birthday present for . Know how I asked when Valentine's Day had turned into Halloween? Now I have to ask: when did Easter turn into Valentine's Day? I thought Easter was a pretty religious holiday by comparison to Christmas, and except for eggs and a couple of bunnies not so much of a commercial orgy, but based on the hundreds of different varieties of pastel candy, stuffed animals, baskets, candles, ceramics, lawn ornaments, etc., I am obviously misinformed! I did make one happy discovery, however. My younger son has been very annoyed since he got braces that he could not eat Peeps, since the marshmallow is deadly to the wires. But now there are Peeps-brand pens and pencils, and I got him a set of pencils with Peep-shaped erasers and he was quite happy.

Good thing, too, because he got dragged around like crazy from the time he got home from school, when he had to rush through his homework so he could be taken to violin by his father while I was picking older son up from the late bus after the math team; then we all rushed out to the middle school for the science and technology fair tonight, eating sandwiches in the van before rushing inside. There were at least a dozen rooms of exhibits by students, with an emphasis on science rather than technology because -- get this -- the state decided not to fund the technology expo so the competition at the upper levels was only for strictly scientific categories. (My son's project that he's been working on is technology -- an invention that I must say is a very clever one.) There were speakers as well on everything from environmental issues to the Department of Energy. We convinced our kids to forego the high-speed photography demonstration and the Hubble telescope show because the local TV meteorologist whom Paul and I have watched for nearly 20 years was speaking on weather forecasting. He was very friendly, signing autographs and posing for pictures after his child-friendly talk on thunderstorms and tornados. There was a camera crew in the room which I had thought was the school's AV crew because the guys seemed very young, but apparently they were from Channel 7, because when we turned on the late news, there was my younger son! You could see all of us for a second but he got a closeup. *g*

I have barely had time to sit today let alone start controversy, and I hate to agree with Jeb Bush, Mel Gibson and a whole host of other despicable would-be ethical dictators on anything, but the more I read about Terri Schiavo and the legal ramifications of what her husband calls her right to die with dignity and her parents call medically-sanctioned murder, the less I think that a man who wants to be completely free for his new family and a bunch of neurologists who've spent far less time with her than her condition warrants have a right to dictate that she should be starved to death. Prisoners on death row get more consideration from the courts than she's had. I am a hundred percent in favor of people who choose to die being assisted (my rants about certain movies notwithstanding -- that was about the presentation of euthanasia in film, not the underlying right to it). But Schiavo doesn't have a living will, her wishes are not at all clear (and even if they were, death by starvation is hardly one that most people would choose). She's neither brain-dead nor in what all doctors agree is a persistent vegetative state; she isn't hooked up to machines that keep her alive except for assistance in feeding her. There's evidence that she enjoys her life, and -- although this really shouldn't be a concern anyway -- enough offers of assistance that keeping her alive won't deprive other patients of money or care.

As much as it scares me to have the courts overrule a husband's wishes, it scares me even more to say that in all cases, a husband's statement about what he believes his wife would wish should override all other concerns. There are times when court intervention is the only way to save a woman's life from an abusive spouse. (The same goes if the genders are reversed, of course.) This husband has sought to end his wife's life without seeking treatment for her, putting her in hospice care instead of rehabilitation. Without evidence in writing that she would want to die, I find it appalling that the courts will deny her the right to live. And that may mean rooting for a bill that will have far more sweeping implications, which may make euthanasia more difficult than it is already for patients, their family members and doctors. It pisses me off so much that all the rest of us are caught between these extremes, having to decide whether to support a decision that will lead to the painful death of a woman with a family that wants to care for her and treat her or whether to hope that the right to die remains inviolable and in the hands of spouses, the presumed next-of-kin.

Friday I am having lunch with two of my favorite women, and , and having dinner with my parents in between more chores. I am hoping to remain sane for a few more days!

WJLA meteorologist Doug Hill talking about weather at my son's school.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Poem for Thursday

A Traversing
By Pattiann Rogers

The easy parting of oaks and hickories,
bays of willows, borders of pine and screens
of bamboo down to the crux, grasses, bulrushes
and reeds parting down to their fundamental
cores, the yielding of murky pond waters,
layer upon layer giving way to the touch

of the right touch, the glassy, clear
spring waters, bone and gristle alike
opening as if opening were ultimate fact,
the parting of reflection allowing passage,
and the cold, amenable skeleton of echo,
the unlatching of march becoming as easily

accessible as the unlocking of mercy,
as the revelation of stone splitting
perfectly with the sound of the right
sound, everything, a nubbin of corn,
a particle of power, the pose of the sky
relenting, and the sea swinging open

like the doors of a theater giving entrance
to everyone, no fences, no barriers, no blinds
to the parting of the abyss, not bolted,
not barred from the utmost offering
of the dusk, enigma itself falling away
until all may enter all and pass among them.


First, because it is foremost on my mind, my obligatory Wednesday night West Wing squee, beginning with The Hollywood Reporter's report that the show will return next season! I don't really have a lot of comments on tonight's episode because I was trying to do several other things and watch at the same time, but I will say 1) I love Kate and I always have because I missed that one early episode from which lots of people seem to dislike her, but it gets almost as complicated to insert her backstory at this late date as it was with Dawn on Buffy, 2) any time Hemingway is read on television for any reason whatsoever, it cracks me up and gives me unpleasant grad school flashbacks, and 3) "Forensic Entomologists" should be a television show -- I'd rather watch that than CSI!

Had another insane but enjoyable day: managed to finish both the chores I needed to do and the articles I needed to write, had lunch with the lovely (who probably thinks I am the biggest klutz in the world, I wouldn't blame her if she does not want to be seen in public with me anymore) and (who is having dinner tonight with her gentleman friend, so I get to say "A big hello to Perky and Hottie!") Younger son had an orthodontist appointment before school ended, so I took him there while my mother picked up older son from his bus stop, then I took younger son over to her house so I could come home and get work done for a couple of hours. We picked up the kids there in the evening and debated because my mother believes we have some sort of obligation to have a great big 40th birthday celebration for , when all he wants is to go out for Chinese buffet or something and then go to England. He has specifically told me NOT to buy him an iPod or anything expensive for his birthday. Any suggestions what I can get him that costs under $20 and he will adore?

St. George fighting the dragon over St. George's Gate at Windsor Castle. Okay, this is the wrong saint for today, but I am starting to get excited to be in England!

I must pimp 's history lessons, which make me howl. But I just have to admit that I'm giving up: there is no way I can keep up with my friends list and get ready to travel at the same time. So deepest apologies but until the end of this month, I am not even going to pretend. I apologize, and I really would like to hear people's news, so if anything wonderful and momentous happens to you or you read something that you know I would love, please tell me? I will answer comments, at least, I promise! I must get up very early in the AM for my usual Thursday morning so I must go collapse. Enjoy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

By David Morton

Men who have loved the ships they took to sea,
   Loved the tall masts, the prows that creamed with foam,
Have learned, deep in their hearts, how it might be
   That there is yet a dearer thing than home.
The decks they walk, the rigging in the stars,
   The clean boards counted in the watch they keep --
These, and the sunlight on the slippery spars,
   Will haunt them ever, waking and asleep.

Ashore, these men are not as other men:
   They walk as strangers through the crowded street,
Or, brooding by their fires, they hear again
   The drone astern, where gurgling waters meet,
Or see again a wide and blue lagoon,
And a lone ship that rides there with the moon.


A 1920 poem whose beginning reads like porn to me -- men who have loved the prows that creamed with foam? I am surprised there is not more sailor/ship slash, now that I'm thinking of it. Or would that be het, because of the relentless insistence on referring to the ship in the feminine as if that makes the infatuation more acceptable? *g*

I have had a perfectly insane day. The morning wasn't terrible, I got all three loads of laundry done and various other chores, and I saw for lunch which always makes my day a happy one. But then I had to go in twelve different directions carpooling -- picking up younger son from school to avoid bully who has been causing trouble on the walk home, picking up older son from the bus, taking him to Hebrew, picking him up from Hebrew and taking both kids to the doctor, coming home from the doctor and taking both kids to the evening book fair event with author signings at the school...I managed to write two out of three articles I was supposed to in and around this, and I got the laundry folded (watching Veronica Mars, laundry-folding is so my favorite chore). But now I am completely zotzed.

I had asked the fabulous , whom I have known for close to ten years from ASCEM and K/S, for Highlander recommendations, since must have power lunches instead of pimping lunches with me and from now on and I figured I was unlikely to be able to watch the entire series chronologically. She wrote up ratings and recs on seasons one and two, seasons three and four and seasons five and six! Anyone interested in HL, go look at this wonderful resource!

Yesterday when I was grumpy, cheered me up with this: How about a game of I'll show you mine, you show me yours? I'll give you a list of things that make me happy to the point of excessive squee, and you can tell me yours? So, in her honor, because this is a simply wonderful idea:

Ten Things That Never Fail To Make Me Smile
1. "Y.M.C.A." by the Village People.
2. When a certain adored person from my distant past answers my e-mails or remembers to send me a Christmas card.
3. The dog who adopted a fawn, and the tortoise who adopted a hippo.
4. Drawing the Nine of Cups in a Tarot reading.
5. Kevin Kline sniffing his own armpits in A Fish Called Wanda.
6. Finding my cat and my son asleep together on his bed.
7. Internet serendipity: discovering, or being discovered by, people I have known for years but lost track of.
8. The Chambers Candy Company's Shakespeare mints. Also their violet and rose tins.
9. The Messiah's Handbook in Richard Bach's Illusions.
10. The way Spock grins when he says "Jim!" in "Amok Time."

Your turn! Everyone tell me what makes you squee excessively! Better yet, post this in your journal and tell everyone!

Rosie peers at her reflection in a bell left on the bed.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

Jerimoth Hill
By Tom Chandler

812 feet, the highest point in Rhode Island

You will not recognize any bald knob of granite
or sheer cliff face silhouetted against clouds,
in fact, you won't realize you're anywhere at all
except by this bullet-riddled sign by the road
that curves through these scraggled third growth
woods that was once a grove of giant pines
that were cut down for masts that were used
to build ships to sail away to the rest of the world
from the docks of Providence Harbor, their holds
filled with wool from the sheep that grazed
in the field that had once been the giant pines
till the shepherds died off and the applers took over
and grew orchards of Cortlands and Macintosh
Delicious to fill the holds of the ships that sailed
to the rest of the world from the docks of Providence
Harbor with masts made from the giant pines till
the orchards moved west along with everything
else to less glacial land and the fields became
overgrowth of berries and hobblebush crisscrossed
by walls made of stones that had slept beneath
one inch of topsoil for twelve thousand years
till the settlers found when they tried to plant crops
that this was a country that grew only rocks which
they made into walls to pen in the sheep that provided
the wool that filled the holds of the ships that sailed
to the rest of the world from the docks of Providence Harbor.


Got a bunch of drabbles written tonight while I was being frustrated: "Matchmaker" for , the "Snape's unwanted advisor" challenge; "Leftovers" for , the "with sauce" challenge; "Delays" for , the "late" challenge; and "Outtake", a sequel to "Combustible" for the "You want me to put that where?" challenge, by request for .

Today when my kids came home from school, they wanted to show me the Pokemon episode that ripped off Titanic, involving a ship called the S.S. Anne, and it was obvious to me that The Poseidon Adventure was a point of reference for the animators -- ship upside down, characters have to climb to the top which is really the bottom of the vessel to escape, and they used a Pokemon instead of a Christmas tree to ascend and things like that. So now I have "The Morning After" in my head (though in the credits it was called only "The Song from 'The Poseidon Adventure'" -- I guess Maureen McCormick or whoever it was had not yet had a huge hit with it when it was released), and amusing speculation on the problem of trying to do a Jesus allegory in the format of a '70s disaster movie. Really it works rather well, though I get tired of the bad girls dropping off...aren't ex-hookers supposed to be forgiven, not sent directly into the flames of perdition? But it made a nice coda to our ocean liner disaster weekend.

I'm having a shitty night online -- all sorts of old fannish bullshit has risen from the ether and is reminding me how close I came to deleting this journal a few months ago, and that the reasons for it have not gone away; I've just mostly chosen to ignore them, but there's still all sorts of crap out there, things that have been said about me that were never true, people operating under false identities and people inventing wank when they didn't have enough in their own corners...this happens too often. I am going to England in a little over a week, will have nearly two weeks without LiveJournal or any fannish crap, and when I get back I can get serious about changing my life instead of falling into the same stupid online ruts. For now I am going to go ignore. Tell me something cheerful. *g*

The Savannah Monitor lizard in the dinosaur exhibit at the Maryland Science Center.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Poem for Monday

A Place
By Alan Williamson

It doesn't really matter where it is.
Chickens get fed, that will be eaten later.
Dogs die from poisoned meat left in the woods
by the hunters whose gunshots echo early,
shrunken old men waiting for the songbirds
at the far end of the olive grove. Winter is real here,
the hearths well-built and enormous, telling of
well-being and exposure, in a very old way.
Wild boars root out the vipers, and the porcupines
are as big as dogs back home.

Enough has been said of the beauty, but the hills
do wear the sun on their shoulders, long before
it softens the ice, down here.
                                          And I, for a while,
am almost no one, a well-dressed foreigner,
and something inside flows clear, from the dream-time.


Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in the March 13th Washington Post Book World. Pinsky calls Williamson "a contemporary American master at illustrating the aura of place," saying that this poem both steps back from the tradition of imprinting emotions onto landscapes and into it at the same time.

Sunday, as has become usual these past few weeks, we took older son to Hebrew school, then to meet with his science group at the home of one of the kids in Silver Spring (most of the kids are from nearer to the middle school than we are so the meetings are always out there). The kids took turns presenting their science fair project, which is actually quite a wonderful invention that they are patenting and I am not sure I should talk about it in public until the paperwork is finished! The presentations left something to be desired in terms of focusing on the audience, not fidgeting and all those good things, but that will probably come with practice. Tomorrow for reading class each student is supposed to dress up like the person of whom he or she read a biography for a class assignment and perform a monologue in character as that person, and my son is doing Steven Spielberg. It did not occur to me until he started talking about Spielberg and Amy Irving and Kate Capshaw and George Lucas how much this has in common with RPF. *g* At least he picked someone whose preferred clothes we can imitate fairly easily (checkered shirt, glasses, baseball cap, ancient Super 8 camera) and not Julius Caesar or Elizabeth I.

and I are all a-squee because Penn has received a #13 ranking in the NCAA tournament, though they must beat Boston College to advance. My in-laws will undoubtedly be miffed that UConn is not a top seed, neither the men nor the women, but I cannot sympathize, as Maryland blew it in the ACC championship and is only going to the NIT. Hopefully will not rub in the fact that Duke got a top ranking and the Terps blew their chance at the big show, since of course I will root for Duke over NC if it comes to that. I do wonder, though: if Duke wins the NCAA, and Maryland wins the NIT, does that mean that Maryland is really the best team, since they beat Duke twice this year? *g* At least Georgetown isn't in the big tournament either -- my father went to law school there and, having grown up in the DC area, I dislike them on principle.

So is anyone else having a problem loading their own userpic and others' on their friends pages due to malformed URLs on LJ's part? That fic commentary meme: I would be happy to comment on any of mine, if you want me to just leave a note. And what a relief:

None of the graphics on this site appeared to be working, either at the site or on my friends' page, so these results are not pretty but here is what they said:

Trekkie Nerd
Congratulations! You scored 96%!

Congratulations - your designation as a Trekkie Nerd means that you are statistically more likely to be a virgin, socially inept, live at home in your mother's basement and have no chance of scoring a chick like Seven. Still, if knowledge of temporal paradoxes, the repercussions of the Janeway effect and an intimate knowledge of Klingon history made big bucks, you'd be a millionaire. Ah, tis the sweet irony of life.

You scored higher than 99% on Trekkies

Link: The Trekkie Test written by MadameBoffin on Ok Cupid

Because the kids were interested after the IMAX yesterday, we watched Titanic tonight (first half before dinner, second half after). I have only seen the film twice through, having avoided it for a long time because I was positive it was overrated and would be ahistorical and overblown and annoying, and then when I saw it -- completely oblivious to the undersea archaeology that opens the film, as I had somehow managed to hide from the previews and everything -- I absolutely loved it. It holds up very well; definitely a little too Poseidon Adventure at some moments and a little too West Side Story at others, but I am very fond of both of those movies as well, even the former's equally despised theme song.

You don't think I went to Baltimore without taking a few photos of my ship, do you? I had to walk over to see her now that she's docked with her bow facing the harbor, since I've only seen her from the Light Street Pavilion since they brought her back from Annapolis and docked her this way.

This is the closest I have ever been to the stern of the USS Constellation. The bowsprit used to jut out over the sidewalk in front of the Pratt Street Pavilion, but now the cabin at the rear shines its lights over the sidewalk instead.

Here's the whole ship from in front of the Light Street Pavilion -- not a great photo, too dark in the foreground, but I like the color of the twilight sky and the ship dominating the harbor.

And an evening shot from the upstairs balcony of the Light Street Pavilion outside City Lights, where we ate dinner.