Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

House of Breath
By Ken Gerner

Over the Coast Range, silver horns of cloud
darken to rose. The fire is set. The crackle
and pop of pitch and kindling burn into logs.
I split ribs for dinner, aware of thin muscles
that hold the dark cave of breath. This house

welcomes as winter approaches. There were others.
One of logs in a valley in the Rockies, where
I was raised rough-housing with my father
and brothers. The years winter ran late,
my father's hands cracked from the waters
of calving and wind. Later, that wind
out of the Gulf of Alaska bowed the tops

of second-growth on the peninsula's tip. Inside,
warm, I watched chunks of turnips and spuds
fall into the pot of stew as I talked with
friends in their house of poetry and printing,
of what it is to love something, anything.
Bourbon has never been so smooth. Searing ribs.

Soon my love will return to enter this warmth,
the cascade of smells and she will smile at the half-
empty bottle. I will sit as this house asks her
what she remembers, watch as her children dance
across her eyes. The warmth of other fires
will become her arms curled under her breasts,
around the rise and fall of her breathing.

And then one of us will say something silly,
like 'how's your ass' and laugh at the infinity
of intention and the simple charms we use
to enter the silence. Outside, the wind
will come with its dreams of snow. We will
be shadows crossing shafts of yellow light.

Fat from the ribs will shine our cheeks as
we eat by the fire and coals will glow
as we make love beside bowls of bones and
light echoing in glasses empty of wine.

In the morning, I will leave the warmth of bed.
There will be frost and the cold floor.
The rags of alder leaves droop as I step outside
to sit with the morning, to watch smoke drift
from houses in this hollow. Cold and empty,
my lungs will fill and my ribs shudder around
and hold to the fine precision of breath.


Still not much to say. But I was out of bed before 10:30 this morning, so am making progress! Again my mother was a lifesaver with carpool schlepping, since Tuesday is usually my crazy Hebrew school driving day, and she fed the kids dinner as well. As a result of this I got all my work done (one article involved transcribing an entertaining Patrick Stewart interview, anyway) and put stamps and airmail labels on all my overseas holiday cards. I also read nearly to the end of The Historian, which I am loving so much I don't want to finish.

Since hubby came home with March of the Penguins on DVD, we watched all the extras and most of the film, then watched Commander in Chief (which, oh, please, Steven Bochco, needs stronger scripts, not a larger "family" at the White House and definitely not Mark-Paul Gosselaar trying to be Bradley Whitford). I did not watch the news because I have no energy for real world crises, and I stopped reading my flist six people in because I definitely have no energy for fannish crisis. I'm still on soup, peanut butter toast and Jello but this is really not a bad way to live at the moment.

At the end of the path down the hill at Scott's Run, shining through the trees, the Potomac River.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

Depression in Winter
By Jane Kenyon

There comes a little space between the south
side of a boulder
and the snow that fills the woods around it.
Sun heats the stone, reveals
a crescent of bare ground: brown ferns,
and tufts of needles like red hair,
acorns, a patch of moss, bright green....

I sank with every step up to my knees,
throwing myself forward with a violence
of effort, greedy for unhappiness--
until by accident I found the stone,
with its secret porch of heat and light,
where something small could luxuriate, then
turned back down my path, chastened and calm.


Another quoted in Poet's Choice in Sunday's The Washington Post Book World. Robert Pinsky writes that Kenyon "acknowledges depression's power but defies it...slogging through snow in 'Depression in Winter,' she sees herself unheroically, caught in the cycle where misery loves not only company but itself, literally graceless."

Not much to say. Slept till 11. Focused for long enough to write two articles, then gave up on the third and was too tired even to write editor an "I can't hold my head up, nobody cares about the latest fan film anyway, this can freakin' wait" note. Mother was a lifesaver taking older son to fencing, as came home at noon and slept for three hours with a cat half on top of him. I managed to get a laundry done (sheets, towels and other things rendered in dire need of washing by illness) but this is because, as I may have mentioned, I slept till 11. Tomorrow I must deal with Hebrew school carpools and may not be nearly so mellow.

Because who doesn't love a little weiner dog?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Poem for Sunday/Monday

By Jane Kenyon

In haste one evening while making dinner
I threw away a potato that was spoiled
on one end. The rest would have been

redeemable. In the yellow garbage pail
it became the consort of coffee grounds,
banana skins, carrot peelings.
I pitched it onto the compost
where steaming scraps and leaves
return, like bodies over time, to earth.

When I flipped the fetid layers with a hay
fork to air the pile, the potato turned up
unfailingly, as if to revile me --

looking plumper, firmer, resurrected
instead of disassembling. It seemed to grow
until I might have made shepherd's pie
for a whole hamlet, people who pass the day
dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
hand-me-down clothes on the line.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "I admire the smart whisper of comedy in Jane Kenyon's poems -- not ha-ha witticisms or jokes but rather Kenyon's subtly comic insight into depression, her affliction and frequently her subject," writes Robert Pinsky of Kenyon, who died in 1995. "Although she wrote candidly about severe, merciless depression, her poems demonstrate a joyous alertness to people and animals, to weather and landscape. She is alert even to spiritual dullness and laughs at it in herself...if depression is not dull, what is? It is dull even in oneself. Kenyon explores this insight with the heartbreaking energy of self-mockery. She deflates any sentimentality about depression and declines self-dramatization and self-importance while challenging her nemesis."

"The intricate, humiliating joke" of depression, Pinsky adds, "underlies bits of domestic comedy" in "Potato", where "the word 'redeemable,' placed by a forceful enjambment at the beginning of the second stanza, is echoed by the 'hand-me-down clothes' of the last line. Redemption: to get back what is discarded or spoiled, to salvage something, to do one's work after all. That goal, seemingly available and commonplace, turns out to be as unattainable as the trick wallet pulled back by a fishing line or the coin soldered to the street. Kenyon gives wry, triumphant verve to her unheroic examples of the potato and pumping gas."

Thanks so much everyone for the well-wishes. I am lots better than I was yesterday but figured I had better post this while I'm awake, since the anti-nausea medication seems to cause unconsciousness. The good news is that my husband and I spent 16 straight hours in bed together, uninterrupted by kids; the bad news is that we were both pretty much dead except when running for the bathroom. *g* (Plus, you know, we had cats between us.) He was never as sick as I was, and somehow managed to sit around on hospital floors and things while I was in the ER. I have a family history of ulcers -- mother and sister were both hospitalized with bleeding ulcers at various times -- so I knew as soon as I saw blood that I was going to end up in the emergency room. Turns out they could find no evidence of an ulcer, the gastroenterologist thinks I probably just had a small tear in the esophagus -- he said the lining of my stomach looked irritated but there was no bleeding by the time he looked.

Still, he wants me on Nexium for the next couple of months, and no alcohol, caffeine or spicy food whatsoever -- I hardly ever have alcohol or caffeine and it is a reflection of how gross I feel that the latter does not even make me sad at the moment, though I am sure on my birthday I will be lamenting loudly the lack of Indian food. The really bad news is that I cannot take any aspirin or ibuprofen products. Last night I had an absolutely murderous headache and the only Tylenol we had in the house was the liquid children's kind. They tested me for H. pylori (sp?) and some other things that need to be cultured so I need to see the doctor again in a couple of days. I got lucky in that my parents' neighbor across the street is a gastroenterologist -- he treated my mother and sister -- and even though he tries not to work on Shabbat, he came in just for me to do the endoscopy. The nearest hospital to my house is the one across the street from the National Institutes of Health, so we have excellent specialists in the area.

All suffering is relative, anyway -- my sister's husband's mother had had a benign tumor removed a month or so ago and had recovered so quickly that they said it was all right for her to go to Florida for Thanksgiving. Bad idea, apparently -- she had developed an infection in the meninges (sp?) near where the tumor was removed, and they had to remove a piece of bone to treat it, making the surgery major and scary. But she is fine, though still in the ICU, and my sister and family are home. Apparently my sister screamed at my parents when she found out they had taken my kids back to their house because my husband had gone with me to the hospital (he was in no shape to take care of them anyway) -- she told them that if my kids passed the flu on to her kids and they gave it to their grandmother and she died, it would be all their fault. (My father was also mad that she didn't ask how I was, considering that she had an ulcer and has had all these procedures too.) Now my parents and sister are not speaking to each other -- this is so typical. It wasn't as if there was anyone else I could call at 6 a.m. to get my kids!

The piñata my mother got for the kids for Thanksgiving, just before they whacked its head off.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Have spent past twelve hours in ER and endoscopy unit at local hospital for reasons far too TMI to go into. Anti-nausea medication finally working but I can't see straight from it. Looks like nothing serious (food poisoning or stomach flu -- spouse is not at all well either, though was nowhere near as bad as I was). Sister's mother in law had surgery and is all right for now.

Am going back to collapsing, since I only got up to feed cats who otherwise were going to DIE OF STARVATION and refuse to let us sleep. My parents thankfully have had the kids since 6 a.m.

Poem for Saturday

A Martian Sends A Postcard Home
By Craig Raine

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings -

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.

Model T is a room with the lock inside -
a key is turned to free the world

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.

At night when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves -
in colour, with their eyelids shut.


I spoke too soon about Thanksgiving being relatively calm -- there were small disasters between my mother and sister that I did not witness, and apparently larger quarrels when that branch of the family went downtown together (my kids had plans with a friend and I had to review Star Trek so we missed that trip, wouldn't all have fit in one vehicle anyway), and by the time my immediate family arrived at my parents' for dinner, my sister and her husband were already out, staying in a downtown hotel while my mother, my husband and I tried to deal with dinner for the five children plus my father who is often more complicated than the six-and-olders. In the middle of dessert, the phone rang -- it was my sister's husband's sister, calling to say that their mother, who had come through brain surgery a few weeks ago with flying colors and had gone to Florida for Thanksgiving, was back in New York -- she'd had some swelling, they did a scan, now something is showing up where the supposedly benign tumor was removed. My parents tracked down my sister in Georgetown and her husband was on a plane an hour later; she stayed downtown since she was already camped out there, is planning to grab her kids in the morning and take off. I have no idea what's going on with her husband's mother yet, if they even know.

So yeah, I'm stressed. The Trek review is "The Alternative Factor" and it is a shamefully mediocre review, mostly because it's a bad episode that I happen to like a lot anyway. I mean, the alternate universe business does not hang together at all and there are some horribly over-the-top moments -- Lazarus falling many feet off of Vasquez Rocks, twice! But when Kirk and Spock are sitting around trying to puzzle things out and Spock keeps calling Kirk "Jim" while gently informing him that the radiation source is not in their universe, really does not take a lot to make me happy. Have just folded laundry while watching both commentaries on Smallville's "Red" (in which everyone sees the Clex from Millar & Gough to Rosenbaum & Welling) plus the blooper reel, which has gone some way to mellow me out. So here are some scenes from around the house earlier that might entertain others as well.

Cinnamon, the Dark Cat of Mount Doom, watches Aragorn and Boromir sniffing each other. We were rather worried about Boromir earlier this week, as he had a cut on his belly that was bleeding in the cage and we didn't know whether there was a tumor or what (we couldn't really get close enough to inspect, as Boromir bites when he feels threatened). He slept a lot for a day or so but he ate lettuce when we passed it to him through the cage bars and gnawed some toilet paper tubes, and now he seems fine, back on his wheel and everything. Aragorn seemed concerned about him and kept poking his nose through the bars to sniff him, which we took as a good sign, as I've always heard that rodents will stay away from a very sick rodent nearby. Here, as you can see, they are doing their usual sniff-and-groom routine.

The entire family played LOTR Monopoly before the kids went to bed, and as you can see, I really mean "the entire family" -- Aragorn and Boromir were represented by game pieces, but Cinnamon and Rosie insisted on being present so that Cinnamon could try to bat at the dice when they were thrown and Rosie could nip at the hand of whoever was moving pieces along the red and yellow properties. She tried to hoard older son's $500s, too.

Here Rosie expresses her opinion of younger son's white lion (this is an official Siegfried & Roy lion from the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas from our trip the summer before last). Doesn't she look like a kid who was forced to pose next to someone she doesn't really like?

And here is Boromir amidst his nestyfluff, which consists of shredded paper towels and napkins, gnawed toilet paper tubes, some recycled hamster-and-gerbil cage material and bits of a macaroni box that he somehow managed to drag into his cage and gnaw before we discovered and removed it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Poem for Friday

O This is Not Spring
By Kay Boyle

O this is not spring but in me
there is a murmuring of new things
This is the time of a dark winter in the heart
but in me are green traitors

The dead lie apart with their throats laid full with sorrow
And the blood of the living moves slow in the cold
there is no one
To play the street like a flute with me
For a return on the old footsteps

They say write to me how the snow falls this winter
and if the horse sets out well on the road
And if I answer
This year the blood cannot lie quiet
And the sun goes swift, swift through the hair


Thanksgiving was relatively calm, or maybe it just seems that way to me because I started drinking red wine fifteen minutes after arriving at my parents' and so did my sister so we were totally mellow while our kids were screaming down the basement. (I had a grand total of half a glass, before anyone starts lecturing me, hee!) Said kids got along fairly well despite the fact that four of them were under ten, in-laws and parents were very friendly, sister's husband was in a chatty mood -- he can be very reclusive, particularly when my sister and father are fighting. Friday night sister and husband are staying in a hotel in Georgetown while their kids stay with my parents, so there can presumably be no family feuds then. *g* Dinner was excellent, though the food at my mother's house always is; the question is whether I will have indigestion before I start eating! Must insist that my in-laws attend every Thanksgiving dinner.

So am thankful for Thanksgiving to be thankful for, as opposed to last year when I was thinking about spending this year's Thanksgiving volunteering someplace purely as an excuse not to be with extended family (my father stormed out and declared he was going to see if he could go buy a turkey sandwich somewhere, and that was just the opening salvo). Also I am thankful for the gorgeous weather we had today, cold and a little overcast but no more snow, meaning that people around here could get around easily and my in-laws could get here from Pennsylvania.

And I am thankful to (whom I had better stop mentioning, as thinks I am having an affair with her, when we all know her list of admirers is far longer than just me, heh) for , which was just terribly necessary after all the snake-worshipping in which we indulged in the past week. I am not thankful that CBS has cancelled Threshold after its disastrous Tuesday night ratings (no official announcement but E!'s Kristin is rarely wrong) but on a scale of annoyances, this one is pretty lightweight. And I am thankful I managed to get half a laundry done and watch "The Alternative Factor" tonight after getting home so I do not have to spend all day Friday trying to get chores and work done when I also have family obligations. Hope everyone celebrating had a lovely Thanksgiving!

made this cookie cake for the kids. There was also pecan pie, ice cream mousse cake, a bunch of brownie-pastry type things, See's Candies and leftover German chocolate cake because the latter is my father in law's favorite. But apparently others had vetoed the pumpkin this year, so tomorrow we are having our own!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Addition to Wish List Meme

Here is my wish list. Lots of stuff on there is actually stuff I am trying to remember for my kids and husband; I think the notes are pretty up to date.

Photography: Filters (I have only UV), books you find useful or which contain stunning images, any sort of accessories you think I might not have and should not be without!

Tarot: Decks I covet, listed with my Tarot notes. You can find out in the same post which decks I already have.

Scents: To wear, L'Occitane en Provence's Neroli Eau de Parfum and Ambre Eau de Toilette; Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar & Fig, Fresh Vanilla and Moonlit Path body spray, body wash and creme; for candles, anything that's a food smell but not a berry (vanilla, almond, coconut, peach); and for both candles and lotions, solid and spray perfumes, any subtle patchouli-frankincense, sweetgrass-sandalwood, ylang ylang-chypre-opium-myrrh, nothing that's too flowery (particularly no jasmine, lavender or rose).

Tchotchkes: Crystals, marbles, seashells, animal fetish carvings, folk art from anywhere in the world, anything with spiritual significance (stones from sacred sites, Magen Davids or rosaries from the Holy Land, etc.), miniature books, cat collectibles, anything historical.

Tea: Williamson & Magor, Yorkshire Gold, Twinings Lady Grey from the UK (the US versions of Twinings teas are considerably weaker), PG Tips, Taylors of Harrogate, Marks & Spencer decaf (we can't get really good decaf anywhere in the US!) If it's British and strong I will probably like it, but I particularly look for really good decaf tea because it's so hard to find.

Food: Chocolate. I prefer milk to dark, unless there's mint or raspberry inside. If you live someplace where there is Kendal Mint Cake, Swiss hazelnut chocolate or real Cadbury (as opposed to the less wonderful US versions), you can make me very, very happy. I love marzipan, smoked salmon, cheese popcorn (Smartfood!), pretty much anything that's spicy and pretty much all nuts.

Clothing: I'm all about comfort, not style. Second-hand is lovely, particularly if it's denim since I don't like it stiff. I love hippie stuff. Anything tie-dye, anything velvet or velour, Wahaba Karuna's star tops and skirts, Holy Clothing's blouses, skirts and dresses, Indian cotton skirts (I'm very short, so a "short" skirt is usually long on me!) I like oversized, elastic waist, lounging stuff. I also like glitter and rhinestones and girly stuff but it has to be in something that's comfortable in the first place. I do better in primaries and jewel tones to washed out colors.

Jewelry: Anything silver, particularly charms for necklaces. Magical Omaha has dozens of gorgeous amulets. I also like inexpensive silver rings with interesting designs. My ears are pierced but I can only wear very pure silver or stainless steel wires. I love things from faraway places and cultures.

Book of Shadows: Recipes, herbal potions, seasonal rituals, home purification blessings, Tarot spells, meditations, Jewitch celebrations...I am open to new ideas.

Gift certificates: I shop at Target all the time, prefer Borders to Barnes and Noble but live near both, can always use eBay, iTunes and PayPal. United Frequent Flyer Miles that you're not going to use by their expiration date would be very, very, very much appreciated by my entire family!

Wish List Meme

Unlocked in case my spouse, my best friend or anyone else happens to be reading and wants to get me a Chanukah present. *g*


- Make a post (public, friendslocked, filtered...whatever you're comfortable with) to your LJ. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fun ("I'd love a Snape/Hermione icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.
- If you wish for real possible things, make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.
- Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ, or link to this post so that the holiday joy will spread.


- Surf around your friendslist (or friendsfriends, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:
- If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use--or even know where you could get someone's dream purebred Basset Hound for free--do it. Once a wish has been granted, it will be crossed off my list.

You needn't spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf--to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not--it's your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just...wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special.


1. An icon with Snape and Lucius in the closet in GOF instead of Snape and Karkaroff. Looking guilty, preferably. *g*
2. A DVD burner (the kind that can be connected to a VCR or TiVo). I don't really expect anyone to get this for me but I promise you that if I get one, I will be very generous with burning things for my friends! ETA: Thank you various relatives!
3. Plausible Severus Snape/Remus Lupin/Lucius Malfoy fic, totally consensual and with everyone enjoying everyone else. (Not necessarily in dominance order based on the slashes -- Remus/Lucius/Severus is fine for instance. *g*) ETA: Thank you !
4. From the Noble Collection: Snape's wand. Lucius' cane is a lovely but ridiculous fantasy; if anyone really wants to spend $100 on me, please donate it to my camera fund! ETA: Thank you !
5. Speaking of which: a Nikon D50. Will be happy with equivalent SLR Canon, I have just been really happy with my Nikons so all things being equal would rather have the Nikon. ETA: Thank you , my parents, in-laws and other relatives!
6. The missing scene in Post Captain where Jack and Stephen make up.
7. Any Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar & Fig product -- shower gel, body wash, body lotion, hand lotion, perfume spray, candles, etc. (I love their Fresh Vanilla scent too, but their Warm Vanilla Sugar is a little watery for me and I don't like the holiday Vanilla Bean much at all.) ETA: Thank you again , and my mother too!
8. An illustration of a moment from one of my Snupin stories. ETA: Thank you !
9. A silver snake ring. Would be thrilled to find one with a turquoise eye, as turquoise is my birthstone -- blue zircon, blue topaz and azurite are perfectly acceptable substitutes. My ring size is 6 1/2, but if it's only whole sizes I prefer the 7 to the 6.
10. No one can ever go wrong giving me a Tarot deck, even if it's used or not in its original box. There's a list of the ones I want the most here. I also collect decks of playing cards where there's a different animal or lighthouse or mixed drink or dessert on the face of each card. ETA: Thanks and for the Celtic Dragon and Crystal decks!

I feel like the whole meme is kind of tacky, but I am giving someone a wish so I figured I was entitled to post mine, even the outrageous ones. Heh.

Poem for Thanksgiving

The Pumpkin
By John Greenleaf Whittier

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin, - our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!


In honor of Thanksgiving, I have already gotten 1) my period, 2) a guilt trip from my mother for not guilt tripping my son into playing with his much younger girl cousins when he had been looking forward all week to playing some online game with his brother after school, and 3) a glimpse of the war my father and sister are incapable of averting if they spend more than two hours under one roof. On the positive side, mother had decided to stop snarking by dinnertime, the kids all played very nicely since they were only together for two hours and had all gotten to do what they wanted to do before getting together, and I managed to eat lasagna and stay out of the family feud. kept me sane at a very bad moment for which I thank her profoundly!

The rest of the day was getting work done (Threshold's Tuesday night ratings were poor and that probably spells doom for the show, James Marsters and Jolene Blalock are making a horror movie together and incidentally Marsters will be back on Smallville, woo hoo), picking up older son from the bus which was very very late due to Beltway traffic meaning younger son was very very bored waiting when he wanted to be home playing, returning DVDs to the library, getting home from parents' exhausted and watching Persuasion (the 1995 one) which I enjoyed very much -- Jane Austen with ships and naval captains! It was, as my friend Vera had told me, the missing home life scenes from O'Brian complete with Jack Aubrey's speech about never taking a woman on board, set in Bath which I visited in 2003, thoroughly enjoyable even if I mixed up all the girls' names. I read the book twice and had it all mixed up with P&P and Emma and now I will never forget which one it is. Yeah, I suck when it comes to Austen...bad feminist lit critic! Bad!

Tomorrow will have in-laws as well as sister and her brood and my parents...the food, at least, will undoubtedly be marvelous, even though I am not a great roast turkey fan or even a stuffing or potatoes fan (I do Thanksgiving for the pumpkin pie). My family generally behaves around my in-laws, I think the Lutheran pastor thing creates an ethos that discourages brattiness and anyway my husband's father is generally good at deflecting imminent battles -- last year was a nightmare but last year my in-laws did not come, as my husband's mother was very sick. So I am hopeful. My list of things for which I am grateful is pretty similar to last year's, so rather than subjecting you to redundancy, I shall just link.

And a lovely thing happened tonight for the first time this season while we were at my parents, which did not stick but looked gorgeous in the air, with which I will leave you...

Happy Thanksgiving, people in the US, and everyone else, have a lovely Thursday! Also, : *snugs*

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

To the Present Tense
By W.S. Merwin

By the time you are
by the time you come to be
by the time you read this
by the time you are written
by the time you forget
by the time you are water through fingers
by the time you are taken for granted
by the time it hurts
by the time it goes on hurting
by the time there are no words for you
by the time you remember
but without the names
by the time you are in the papers
and on the telephone
passing unnoticed there too

who is it
to whom you come
before whose very eyes
you are disappearing
without making yourself known


One more by Merwin from the new book, because it was haunting me. I am struck by how despite the similarities in the titles, each of the poems I've seen from the new collection is so different in style and tone.

I have been running around all day -- took younger son to school as hubby was doing a conference call from home with the people in Bangalore from 7-8:30 a.m., then drove hubby to work because the van was being serviced, stopped at Best Buy to pick up a movie (March of the Penguins) that the kids had lobbied for but it turns out is not out till next week...came back home, took a walk, write three Trek articles, got older son from the early bus stop so the kids had a few minutes to gather their books and chill before Hebrew school, took them to Hebrew school, got gas, picked hubby up from work, drove with him to the car dealer to pick up the van, drove home, got the kids from Hebrew school, had dinner, worked on holiday cards a bit, watched Threshold and am now feeling totally zoned out. Not in a bad way though...remember when I was asking about bite guards? I must say that I heartily, heartily recommend them, as I have, knock wood, not had a migraine since I got mine. (I will probably get one on Thanksgiving between the time of the month and my sister and father being in the same room, now that I said that!)

I remain lukewarm on Threshold, liking the ideas better than the execution most weeks despite a very good cast...I enjoy watching them enough that it makes up for the dialogue and alien victim of the week and things that seem ripped off directly from X-Files. This week I was amused too that most of the episode was set in the DC area and my hometown was mentioned by name as the home of one of the compromised women, so whee, maybe I picked up alien signal while shopping in my local grocery, wait, this woman was way too wealthy to do her own shopping, but maybe we passed somewhere somehow and soon I am going to dream of glass forests and a shirtless Agent Cavennaugh which would not be such a bad thing.

EW has made me very happy -- this week's issue is promoting the film of Rent with a free DVD that has, in addition to Rent cast interviews, a whole slew of clips and interviews from current Broadway shows including The Light in the Piazza, Spamalot, Wicked and an interview about the Sweeney Todd revival with my beloved original Evita, Patti LuPone. (Is this on the newsstand or just for subscribers? I get EW because a few times a year they do an issue that I absolutely must have, and it's as cheap to subscribe for those occasions as it is to buy those issues!)

Have sister and her family to visit tomorrow and in-laws coming as well for Thanksgiving so expect to have limited online time. Have read exactly four people on my friends list in the past three days and it will probably stay that way, was already unfriended by one longtime friend in a huff over neglect, but there is just nothing I can do about this and I can't pretend I am going to try to read the whole flist from now on, let's be real, if I get to -100 on my default list I feel good. So I'm sorry, and I hate being out of touch, but some days I have very little time to myself and if I must choose between reading and writing, I need to write for my sanity.

The waterfall at Scott's Run from above, up the rocky cliff above the Potomac River...

...and from below, on the bank of the Potomac where the rapids end.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs
May 25th, 1961
By John F. Kennedy

This is not merely a race.
Space is open to us now;
and our eagerness to share
its meaning is not governed
by the efforts of others.
We go into space because
whatever mankind must undertake,
free men must fully share.

I believe that this nation
should commit itself to achieving
the goal, before this decade is out,
of landing a man on the Moon
and returning him safely to the Earth.
No single space project in this period
will be more impressive to mankind,
or more important
for the long-range exploration of space;
and none will be so difficult
or expensive to accomplish.

We propose to accelerate the development
of the appropriate lunar space craft.
We propose to develop
alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters,
much larger than any now being developed,
until certain which is superior.
We propose additional funds
for other engine development
and for unmanned explorations --
explorations which are particularly important
for one purpose
which this nation will never overlook:
the survival of the man
who first makes this daring flight.

But in a very real sense,
it will not be one man going to the Moon --
if we make this judgement affirmatively,
it will be an entire nation.


You're right: that's not a poem. But that doesn't make it any less poetic. And I always think of it on this date.

My holiday cards arrived -- not the fannish ones which were printed last weekend, but the ones with photos that are being sent to relatives etc. Shutterfly now lets people write an entire holiday message on the upper flap above the greeting and signature, and I am very pleased with how the photo of Castle Howard and the kids came out -- they have much more tasteful borders this year, too. We also had a bunch of prepaid print plan photos that had to be ordered today, since the prepaid plans are only good for two years, so soon we will be getting actual printed photos from our trip to England. I want to do an artsy photo album from that trip but for now having the family photos and friends we met there will be lovely.

Apparently my brain's way of dealing with having to write two long, plotty holiday exchange fics (each of which is already considerably longer than required, and showing no signs of slowing) is not only to provide endless crackfic ideas but to unfold the entire fics themselves, so that all I have to do is write them's a lot of fun, but how am I supposed to write the things I need to write? I want to sit down with my writing partner and work on our two neglected series but we both have guilt-inducing fic responsibilities! Not to mention real work!

News today: Shatner is writing slashy books about young Kirk and Spock, Nimoy says he is Spock except when he isn't, Braga says he should have listened more to the Star Trek fans...oh, news flash! Thank you, Brannon, I no longer feel badly about blowing off Threshold for Boston Legal (say what you will about Shatner, call him whatever you must for his new DVD club, but he has mastered the art of listening to his fans...and apparently Nimoy has too, if he knew enough to take back I Am Not Spock).

Kids today: younger son cannot seem to master the spelling of "restaurant," probably because it is a silly word that always looks wrong to me too, though I do not think it is fair that I had to listen to a temper tantrum about it. Me today: Home writing, because the van was in being serviced and it rained too much of the afternoon for me to go anywhere. Van will still be in tomorrow since there was a recall on one of the parts, meaning I have to drive everyone everywhere instead of being stuck in the house...husband to work, kids from bus stop to Hebrew school, etc.

A puppy slips on the rocks at Scott's Run, one of perhaps 15 dogs we saw there.

A husky and friend by the Potomac River, into which the waterfall at Scott's Run spills.

Here is the husky contemplating a swim.

And I'm not sure what breed of dog this is but she was very friendly.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poem for Monday

To a Few Cherries
By W.S. Merwin

Peter and I are up where the branches
sink and swing out underfoot as though they
were not anchored and with the lightest breeze
the limb one hand is holding pulls away
like someone being called but we go on
reaching higher into the leaves where they
shimmer against the light toward a dark one
set among them for the sweetest they say
are those highest up and now the season
is over the last are the best and we
are eating more as we climb drunk on you
laughing but old Delsol warns us from down
below Don’t trust that tree until we leave you
untasted for all the rest of the story


Morning was a Robert Picardo article and a bunch of news bullets and an attempt to answer comments; afternoon was a hike at Scott's Run along the Potomac, the dropping off the van to be serviced; evening was dinner, laundry and the season finale of Rome. Again it was a crazy-November 60 degrees, which clearly had to be spent at least in part outdoors. Last year we went to Scott's Run on Halloween, so there were more leaves and more color -- there were still some reds among the browns but a lot of the golds and yellows are gone. In the evening going to drop off the van, Venus was high in the cloudless sky and Mars lower -- the moon wasn't up yet, it was clear and still and gorgeous with the remnants of the sunset clinging to the horizon. Moments like this can make any day perfect for a few minutes.

I deliberately have tried out not to find out anything about the historical Vorenus or Pullo, I wanted to be unspoiled for the things I could on Rome because we all knew what was going to happen in the Caesar storyline, even though my recollection of history is hopelessly corrupted by Shakespeare and this isn't exactly literal history -- I sat there for a couple of episodes, going, "Brutus is too young! Where's his wife? How come his mother is the one pulling the strings?" when it is quite possible this is how history records it really happened or it's quite possible that, like the hot lesbian sex, the HBO writers pulled it out of their butts. I realized halfway through the finale that they were planning a cliffhanger of sorts -- oh, not totally, I figured they were obligated to defuse the smoking gun of Niobe's baby and to kill Caesar -- but it was obvious they did not have time for Antony to turn the crowd, for Servilia and Atia to end their catfight and all the rest.

I was pretty happy with where they ended it, though not at all happy about Niobe -- not only because it's terribly sad for her, for him, for them, for their family, but because if there's a moral of the story it seems to be that one mistake can bring about not only your own death but an assassination while your husband is distracted, a great many years later. I couldn't be happy for Pullo about Eirene because really, she isn't a lot better off now than she was as a slave -- she may be free to choose, but she still can't seem to choose anyone besides the man who stole her happiness at the same time he gave her freedom. But none of this is really resolved yet -- Vorenus hasn't figured out what he's going to do about the child, Antony hasn't even begun making plans, and I'm afraid I'm not going to be sorry when Brutus gets what's coming to him no matter what forces led him there. Eesh, I'm tired and I should talk about this more when I'm awake and can be coherent.

Had some stuff happen that put me off reading most of my flist for the weekend. Not Harry Potter stuff, but I decided it was probably a better idea if I skipped some of that, too...yeah, I'm shallow, I really loved the movie. I really loved POA, too. COS nearly put me to sleep, with the exception of the scenes with Snape, Lockhart and Lucius Malfoy, but it was the film of SS that got me to read the books, so no one is ever going to hear me renounce movieverse or its adaptations or changes, even though, obviously, some of them are more questionable than others and some will irk certain viewers more than others depending on who our favorite characters are, which scenes moved us the most in the books, which themes we think are the real meat of the series, etc. I am not sure if I will see the movie again before seeing it on the IMAX at the science center in Harrisburg over winter break (lots of distractions in the meantime -- Brokeback Mountain, Syriana, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and King Kong), so I may have said everything I have to say right at the moment, anyway.

Just one new Scott's Run photo tonight, more tomorrow -- the annual family-crossing-the-creek shot.

Here, from October 31, 2004, the same scenario. As you can see from the clothing, this was also a warm day for the season.

And here, from November 1, 2003, a blurred yet colorful photo because I forgot to change the camera settings. Younger son proceeded to fall into the creek and we had to drive him home drenched.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Poem for Sunday

To My Grandfathers
By W.S. Merwin

You who never laid eyes on each other
only one of whom I met only once
and he was the one whose wife could never
forgive him neither would most of their sons
and daughters for the red list of his sins
mainly drink and slipping off downriver
to leave them and live to be a nuisance
out in a shed that time I was brought over
to meet him before they took him away
and you who died when my mother was four
with your fond hopes your wing collar and your
Bessie there was nothing you had to say
to each other to form an influence
soundless as that of planets in their distance


From The Washington Post Book World's Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky, who says, "Merwin has inspired poets of his own generation and subsequent ones with the purity of his lyric gift: 'lyric' meaning a physical energy coursing through the sounds of words and sentences, fitted together so the effect is a little like singing, or as though the consonants and vowels were part of a stringed instrument, the lyre of speech. In the unpunctuated grace of his lines, Merwin may be the living poet whose imagination is most purely -- and with the most reliable illusion of ease -- poetic. He can seem to think and perceive poetically, as though with no intermediate stage of writing between perception and poem." Merwin's last book, Migration won the 2005 National Book Award in Poetry.

According to Pinsky, in his new volume Present Company, "the emotion expressed throughout is skeptical wonderment...each soul remains more mysterious than comprehended." The "particles of elegy" in the poems "demonstrate the power of imagination to restore conviction. That power is demonstrated all the better when it crosses distances, as the light from far-off stars can confirm certain principles in astrophysics. That simile is more or less explicit in 'To My Grandfathers,' which begins by defining how faint, remote and defective this particular human connection is...this drinking and abandoning man and the other grandfather, known even less, represent the way in which elements that indirectly form us and determine our fates go mostly unperceived. The intimacy of the second-person address in this book yearns across distance. The poems speak much less frequently to actual people than to ideas or objects or the departed. Often, as with the grandfathers, imagining a conversation is a way of acknowledging that it cannot take place...speaking in wonderment at how many things are invisible or absent yet full of 'influence,' the poems imagine speaking as a process of understated incantation: marveling at the unseen, and in a soft voice summoning its presence."

My day consisted of writing one article on how Rick Berman says that, like Brannon Braga, he does not expect to be involved in the next Star Trek television series, and another article on Shawn Piller's eulogy for his beloved father and writing partner. Then I answered some mail, put my book and the kids' Nintendo DSs in my bag and went to see HP:GOF again. This was really an all-day activity, as we had to leave the house before 2 for a 3:15 movie (and we were by no means the first ones in line -- in fact, the 3:25 line was longer when we got there than the 3:15, probably because the 3:15 was open for purchases at the box office and by Fandango many days before they scheduled the 3:25 show, so that was where the walk-ins were being directed).

Unlike Friday, the theater Saturday was absolutely packed, mobbed with both younger children and loud teenagers, yet it was absolutely silent twice: when the Awful Thing happens near the end of the movie, and during the entirety of the King Kong trailer. (It was a particularly rich trailer schedule -- Aeon Flux, Superman Returns, Ice Age 2, Lady in the Water, The Shaggy Dog, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Happy Feet...there were others, I just can't remember.) We weren't out of there till after 6, so we stopped at California Tortilla to grab some free chili and burritos with our coupons, then came home so the kids could finish their Hebrew school homework and I wrote gratuitous smut for . I liked the movie just as much as yesterday, noticed a couple of new things but nothing shattering, mostly had my dislikes reinforced and laughed just as hard at the same moments. And how did I miss that second of Daniel Radcliffe's naked butt the first time, even if he looks so ridiculously young to me in the bathtub that I was embarrassed to be sitting near people who were whistling?

Lucius is still hot. On his knees to Voldemort he is still hot. (Note: I do not read anything sexy/submissive in this at all. He seems rather annoyed that Voldemort has returned and seriously pissed when his loyalty is questioned; this is not a man who is quaking in his boots, he is just this side of defiant. He's much kinkier biting Harry from below with the snake!cane and dragging him forward. He's totally unconcerned about Harry seeing him among the Death Eaters, swearing loyalty to Voldemort, figuring that either Voldemort is going to kill Harry or Harry is going to get away and no one's going to believe him, but I still think he's going to back the winner, whoever it is.

I forgot to mention last time how much Filch's premature cannon problems made me howl. And the scene where the dragon tears through the stands, knocking McGonagall on top of Snape in that big professor pile. I squinted in the background and could find no evidence of Snape and McGonagall dancing at the Yule Ball -- please tell me that I am wrong and can see this in slo-mo on the DVD (or tell me that Snape was dancing with Karkaroff and I will be equally happy). But I did like that Fred and Angelina were making out in the background while Hagrid was snuggled up to Mme. Maxime.

I keep reading people slamming Emma Watson and praising Rupert Grint. This makes me think two things. One is that I agree that Rupert gives the best performance of the three main kids, but that is because all he has to do is 1) look pissed, 2) look worried and 3) look horrified, all of which we already knew were in his repertoire from previous films and clearly the director played to his strengths. His comic timing is quite good but that's about all he's there for. Emma, on the other hand, has to play a very different Hermione than in the past films -- somehow she started mothering Harry as well as being a better friend than Ron -- and she has some absolutely terrible dialogue that is not in the book. Does she overplay Hermione being miserable after the ball? Probably, but it's a moment of actual believable teenage girl emotion, and without SPEW and all the things that make her who she is, I do not begrudge that.

A sign of the end of fall from last weekend, a ladybug.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Russell Crowe's Get Out Of Jail Free Card

Things I missed while squeeing over Goblet of Fire: Russell Crowe is not going to jail! And is free to work in the U.S. but must behave!

I was actually astonished at how small the fine was. It doesn't even pay back the city the cost of incarcerating him overnight. But I am glad that he pleaded guilty, since he was apparently guilty as hell, heh. Danielle looked much calmer than he did going into the courthouse despite the mob scene -- is it wrong of me to be glad he was shaken? Maybe he will manage to stay out of trouble for awhile! *hearts Russell and puts on "One Good Year"*

And while I'm on the subject of Russell, , I wrote to the vidders and one of them sent me the "Favourite Friend" vid! (This is an ABM/M&C crossover that is freakin' brilliant that apparently debuted at Vividcon -- first told me about it.) It is not available online anywhere and I had despaired of seeing it, yet now I have! I am so excited that I must squee some more! Thank you so much for your help!

Poem for Saturday

In Our Old Shipwrecked Days There Was An Hour
By George Meredith

In our old shipwrecked days there was an hour
When in the firelight steadily aglow,
Joined slackly, we beheld the red chasm grow
Among the clicking coals. Our library-bower
That eve was left to us: and hushed we sat
As lovers to whom Time is whispering.
From sudden-opened doors we heard them sing:
The nodding elders mixed good wine with chat.
Well knew we that Life's greatest treasure lay
With us, and of it was our talk. "Ah, yes!
Love dies!" I said: I never thought it less.
She yearned to me that sentence to unsay.
Then when the fire domed blackening, I found
Her cheek was salt against my kiss, and swift
Up the sharp scale of sobs her breast did lift:--
Now am I haunted by that taste! that sound!


You already know where I spent my morning and most of my afternoon so I have not much left to report, nor to say really, except for pete's sake don't read spoilers if you don't want to be spoiled and don't complain to me that I am making you not want to see the movie if you did read spoilers. You are the only person who can ruin a movie for you. I am going to see it again tomorrow, so I expect I will be just as boring. This is not a good time of year to see goslings around the lake, though I could see both the Canadian geese and the big white geese out the rear windows of the complex, and unless we stop at Target for laundry necessities I don't expect much else tomorrow. Tonight we had dinner with my parents, who were relatively calm and only nagged us about minor things like when we will be able to make vacation plans for next August, which is based on older son's Bar Mitzvah rehearsal schedule.

In case anyone missed it in the HP squee, the Theban Band did Vorenus/Pullo art! They are not my number one couple of the series -- that would be either Servilia/Octavia, a guilty Vorenus/Antony, an even more guilty Pullo/Octavian and the most guilty of all, Octavia/Octavian -- but it is still lovely to see them illustrated so.

Oh yeah, and I wrote a rather uninspired review of "Errand of Mercy", distracted beforehand by needing to get things done so I could go to the movie and afterward by wanting to say things about the movie itself. Talk about a guilty pleasure -- Kirk agitating for war, Kor completely charming and villainous at the same time, Spock praising the virtues of cultural imperialism and jumping to the same wrongheaded conclusions as Kirk. And the same citadel as the one from Pike's memory in "The Menagerie"! That style of architecture really gets around!

Our extended summer is finally over; it is in the twenties right now, and the leaves are finally on the way down. I hope everyone gets to see a hillside somewhere like this at some point.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Poem for Friday

By Catherine Doty

Your friends won't try to talk you out of the barrel,
or your brag to go first, which has nothing to do with bravery.
And you're so hungry to earn their love you forget
to claim first your, perhaps, last look at this mountain --
crab apples hanging sour in the sun, abandoned Buick,
a favorite place to play, dismantled and weathered
and delicate as a voting booth. Instead you dive straight away
and headfirst into darkness, the steel drum that dusts you,
like a chicken part, with rust. Looking out, there's nothing
to see of your friends but their calves, which are scabby,
and below them the filthy sneakers, shifting, shifting,
every foot aching to kick you off this cliff.
Their faces, you know, are blank with anticipation,
the look you see when they watch TV eating popcorn.
They're already talking about you as if you're gone,
as if you boarded a bus and roared out of earshot,
when one foot flashes forward and launches you.

You know as you feel that first solid slam you are lost.
The barrel changes shape with each crash to earth,
as you will later, assuming and losing lives, but this
is so true now: ankles flayed to the bone, cracked ribs
and crushed mint, the brittle, pissy sumac. Right now
the pin oaks are popping in their sockets, the hillside
wears your shoes, clouds pleat and buck. You know, of course,
that no one's going second, and friends who tell this story
will use the word idiot, rolling their hands in the air,
but you know you know what your life is for now and rise up,
and just about scalp yourself on that tree limb above you,
another thing you couldn't possibly know was coming,
another which, like your first breath, was not your idea.


Not much to report, as I spent Thursday getting all manner of work done so that Friday I can go to an early showing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with , , and . This was not easy as my cable was out all morning and part of the afternoon, so I posted TrekToday articles as quickly as I could (fairly nice if self-aggrandizing recollection of Michael Piller by Ron Moore, for which I do not fault Moore overmuch because pretty much every recollection of Piller I read by a former Star Trek insider could be described as self-aggrandizing except perhaps Wil Wheaton's), and Patrick Stewart reviving A Christmas Carol in London where I really wish I could go see him. Watched and started writing up "Errand of Mercy" to post after the movie, since I doubt I will be coherent about Star Trek when I want to talk about Harry Potter; also watched Smallville, which was, as is so often the case, bad but entertaining.

First off, any episode in which Lionel brings Chloe flowers must be classified as OMGGUILTYPLEASURE -- ever since she first worked for him snooping around about Clark, I have a secret vice there, and now that she's a grownup and not a virgin it's worse. And Lionel warning Lex that he doesn't want to wind up an eccentric like Howard Hughes -- am now imagining The Aviator with Michael Rosenbaum and am very entertained. The Jonathan-and-Martha scenes were pretty excruciating, and I include the scenes where Clark is with them in that, even if I did howl at "A Kryptonian is teaching history at Central Kansas University?" Clark telling his mommy that she is his heart and soul struck me as cloying, not moving, and Jonathan trying to bond with his super-son at the end while Clark angsts about having been gullible...well, if only he'd watched Buffy he would have known to spike Spike right away. Does anyone know any spoilers about who Jor-El is going to kill? Is it going to be some big copout thing where someone dies and comes back to life a la CPR, or should I start worrying about the one major Smallville character who's outside comic book canon?

Anyway, speaking of Spike on a spike and Kal-El the vampire slayer, I really hope this is not the end of James Marsters on the series because I have so enjoyed him! He can appear as the professor whose place the alien Fine obviously took, since I don't see how he got a job so quickly after coming to Earth otherwise. So if Lionel knows that someone at CKU can run at the speed of light, does that mean that Jor-El is still inside him? He's the other character most expendable if comic canon is to be maintained, which scares me...the only thing is that I can't really see Clark sobbing over his cold dead corpse. "I have no interest in your little baubles and trinkets, Lex" -- mwahaha! And taunting Lex over not being able to find his toys, something I am sometimes tempted to do to my kids when they lose things that were the very most important things in the world to them until they got distracted by the next shiny. I melted when Lex took Lionel's face in his hands and told him he was changed by the meteor shower (eesh, I just typed media shower) though Lionel clearly has all his memories of Lex's mental institution stay...but can he no longer play the piano, was that the point of that bit at the end?

ETA: As points out, one of the nicest things about this episode is that no one mentions or even THINKS about Lana. So much so that I didn't even think about the fact that she was completely absent! Whoo!

I came totally unblocked today on a holiday gift exchange I need to write, with only one problem...the draft I have is nearly 6,000 words plus notes, could easily be 30,000 before it's done, and it ain't going to be done by the deadline at the end of this month even if I neglect all my other holiday gift exchanges and everything else. What should I do -- leave an anonymous note asking the intended recipient if she would mind unfinished but long and plotty fic with an IOU? Ask the person running the exchange whether I can give the recipient something unfinished or whether I should drop out? Just drop out, and write it in my own time so I don't stress about it? And on a completely unrelated note, as I asked , would Snape/Trelawney/Lupin/Squid fic be abbreviated Stupid?

My younger son's sixth birthday cake from his Harry Potter party. We also had a witch's hat pinata and we Sorted everyone, did potions (involving Kool-aid), made wands and Harry Potter glasses...

...and had broomstick races (one of these was a Firebolt and the other a Nimbus 2001, I forget which was which). The owl was one of the party favors.

And look! Shiny!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Poem for Thursday

The Widening Spell of the Leaves
By Larry Levis

    --The Carpathian Frontier, October, 1968
        --for my brother

Once, in a foreign country, I was suddenly ill.
I was driving south toward a large city famous
For so little it had a replica, in concrete,
In two-thirds scale, of the Arc de Triomphe stuck
In the midst of traffic, & obstructing it.
But the city was hours away, beyond the hills
Shaped like the bodies of sleeping women.
Often I had to slow down for herds of goats
Or cattle milling on those narrow roads, & for
The narrower, lost, stone streets of villages
I passed through. The pains in my stomach had grown
Gradually sharper & more frequent as the day
Wore on, & now a fever had set up house.
In the villages there wasn't much point in asking
Anyone for help. In those places, where tanks
Were bivouacked in shade on their way back
From some routine exercise along
The Danube, even food was scarce that year.
And the languages shifted for no clear reason
From two hard quarries of Slavic into German,
Then to a shred of Latin spliced with oohs
And hisses. Even when I tried the simplest phrases,
The peasants passing over those uneven stones
Paused just long enough to look up once,
Uncomprehendingly. Then they turned
Quickly away, vanishing quietly into that
Moment, like bark chips whirled downriver.
It was autumn. Beyond each village the wind
Threw gusts of yellowing leaves across the road.
The goats I passed were thin, gray; their hind legs,
Caked with dried shit, seesawed along --
Not even mild contempt in their expressionless,
Pale eyes, & their brays like the scraping of metal.
Except for one village that had a kind
Of museum where I stopped to rest, & saw
A dead Scythian soldier under glass,
Turning to dust while holding a small sword
At attention forever, there wasn't much to look at.
Wind, leaves, goats, the higher passes
Locked in stone, the peasants with their fate
Embroidering a stillness into them,
And a spell over all things in that landscape,
             That was the trouble; it couldn't be
Compared to anything else, not even the sleep
Of some asylum at a wood's edge with the sound
Of a pond's spillway beside it. But as each cramp
Grew worse & lasted longer than the one before,
It was hard to keep myself aloof from the threadbare
World walking on that road. After all,
Even as they moved, the peasants, the herds of goats
And cattle, the spiralling leaves, at least were part
Of that spell, that stillness.
                    After a while,
The villages grew even poorer, then thinned out,
Then vanished entirely. An hour later,
There were no longer even the goats, only wind,
Then more & more leaves blown over the road, sometimes
Covering it completely for a second.
And yet, except for a random oak or some brush
Writhing out of the ravine I drove beside,
The trees had thinned into rock, into large,
Tough blonde rosettes of fading pasture grass.
Then that gave out in a bare plateau... And then,
Easing the Dacia down a winding grade
In second gear, rounding a long, funneled curve --
In a complete stillness of yellow leaves filling
A wide field--like something thoughtlessly,
Mistakenly erased, the road simply ended.
I stopped the car. There was no wind now.
I expected that, & though I was sick & lost,
I wasn't afraid. I should have been afraid.
To this day I don't know why I wasn't.
I could hear time cease, the field quietly widen.
I could feel the spreading stillness of the place
Moving like something I'd witnessed as a child,
Like the ancient, armored leisure of some reptile
Gliding, gray-yellow, into the slightly tepid,
Unidentical gray-brown stillness of the water --
Something blank & unresponsive in its tough,
Pimpled skin--seen only a moment, then unseen
As it submerged to rest on mud, or glided just
Beneath the lustreless, calm yellow leaves
That clustered along a log, or floated there
In broken ringlets, held by a gray froth
On the opaque, unbroken surface of the pond,
Which reflected nothing, no one.
                    And then I remembered.
When I was a child, our neighbors would disappear.
And there wasn't a pond of crocodiles at all.
And they hadn't moved. They couldn't move. They
Lived in the small, fenced-off backwater
Of a canal. I'd never seen them alive. They
Were in still photographs taken on the Ivory Coast.
I saw them only once in a studio when
I was a child in a city I once loved.
I was afraid until our neighbor, a photographer,
Explained it all to me, explained how far
Away they were, how harmless; how they were praised
In rituals as "powers." But they had no "powers,"
He said. The next week he vanished. I thought
Someone had cast a spell & that the crocodiles
Swam out of the pictures on the wall & grew
Silently & multiplied & then turned into
Shadows resting on the banks of lakes & streams
Or took the shapes of fallen logs in campgrounds
In the mountains. They ate our neighbor, Mr. Hirata.
They ate his whole family. That is what I believed,
Then...that someone had cast a spell. I did not
Know childhood was a spell, or that then there
Had been another spell, too quiet to hear,
Entering my city, entering the dust we ate...
No one knew it then. No one could see it,
Though it spread through lawnless miles of housing tracts,
And the new, bare, treeless streets; it slipped
Into the vacant rows of warehouses & picked
The padlocked doors of working-class bars
And union halls & shuttered, empty diners.
And how it clung! (forever, if one had noticed)
To the brothel with the pastel tassels on the shade
Of an unlit table lamp. Farther in, it feasted
On the decaying light of failing shopping centers;
It spilled into the older, tree-lined neighborhoods,
Into warm houses, sealing itself into books
Of bedtime stories read each night by fathers --
The books lying open to the flat, neglected
Light of dawn; & it settled like dust on windowsills
Downtown, filling the smug cafés, schools,
Banks, offices, taverns, gymnasiums, hotels,
Newsstands, courtrooms, opium parlors, Basque
Restaurants, Armenian steam baths,
French bakeries, & two of the florists' shops --
Their plate glass windows smashed forever.
Finally it tried to infiltrate the exact
Center of my city, a small square bordered
With palm trees, olives, cypresses, a square
Where no one gathered, not even thieves or lovers.
It was a place which no longer had any purpose,
But held itself aloof, I thought, the way
A deaf aunt might, from opinions, styles, gossip.
I liked it there. It was completely lifeless,
Sad & clear in what seemed always a perfect,
Windless noon. I saw it first as a child,
Looking down at it from that as yet
Unvandalized, makeshift studio.
I remember leaning my right cheek against
A striped beach ball so that Mr. Hirata --
Who was Japanese, who would be sent the next week
To a place called Manzanar, a detention camp
Hidden in stunted pines almost above
The Sierra timberline--could take my picture.
I remember the way he lovingly relished
Each camera angle, the unwobbling tripod,
The way he checked each aperture against
The light meter, in love with all things
That were not accidental, & I remember
The care he took when focusing; how
He tried two different lens filters before
He found the one appropriate for that
Sensual, late, slow blush of afternoon
Falling through the one broad bay window.
I remember holding still & looking down
Into the square because he asked me to;
Because my mother & father had asked me please
To obey & be patient & allow the man --
Whose business was failing anyway by then --
To work as long as he wished to without any
Irritations or annoyances before
He would have to spend these years, my father said,
Far away, in snow, & without his cameras.
But Mr. Hirata did not work. He played.
His toys gleamed there. That much was clear to me...
That was the day I decided I would never work.
It felt like a conversion. Play was sacred.
My father waited behind us on a sofa made
From car seats. One spring kept nosing through.
I remember the camera opening into the light...
And I remember the dark after, the studio closed,
The cameras stolen, slivers of glass from the smashed
Bay window littering the unsanded floors,
And the square below it bathed in sunlight... All this
Before Mr. Hirata died, months later,
From complications following pneumonia.
His death, a letter from a camp official said,
Was purely accidental. I didn't believe it.
Diseases were wise. Diseases, like the polio
My sister had endured, floating paralyzed
And strapped into her wheelchair all through
That war, seemed too precise. Like photographs...
Except disease left nothing. Disease was like
And equation that drank up light & never ended,
Not even in summer. Before my fever broke,
And the pains lessened, I could actually see
Myself, in the exact center of that square.
How still it had become in my absence, & how
Immaculate, windless, sunlit. I could see
The outline of every leaf on the nearest tree,
See it more clearly than ever, more clearly than
I had seen anything before in my whole life:
Against the modest, dark gray, solemn trunk,
The leaves were becoming only what they had to be --
Calm, yellow, things in themselves & nothing
More -- & frankly they were nothing in themselves,
Nothing except their little reassurance
Of persisting for a few more days, or returning
The year after, & the year after that, & every
Year following--estranged from us by now -- & clear,
So clear not one in a thousand trembled; hushed
And always coming back--steadfast, orderly,
Taciturn, oblivious--until the end of Time.


California Tortilla had free turkey chili Wednesday with any entree, so we went out to dinner there and I hadn't imagined there would be enough tryptophan in turkey chili to make a difference, especially since I had caffeinated Cherry Coke with the food, but I cannot keep my eyes open and I have one of the early mornings tomorrow so forgive any incoherency. Went out to do a couple of chores Wednesday -- had to return DVDs to the library but they were paving the main parking lot in front of the library and I got somewhat lost on the back streets trying to find the way to the rear entrance. Returned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Brideshead Revisited, found Ragtime and Persuasion -- somehow I did not realize the public library had so many good DVDs! The heck with Blockbuster from now on.

From there I went to the post office, where I had the unexpected pleasure of running into . Then I went to the mall to get gifts for a couple of people overseas that have to be mailed soon, stopped in Bath & Body Works to use a coupon for a free lip gloss and found a cute little faux suede bag with a trio of my favorite shower gel and lotion for less than they would have cost without the bag (originally not the scent I wanted but the saleswoman swapped them for me -- they are very nice about that, and she let me use two coupons). In the hour between leaving the post office and leaving the mall, fall finally arrived; it had been 75 degrees when I left the house in the morning, comical for mid-November, and had dropped into the 50s by the time my kids got out of school. It was also thunderstorming, so I went to pick them both up. Is there a word for that feeling of exhilaration you get right as a thunderstorm hits and the air gets ionized? Maybe I am so tired now because I was so energized before.

We went out for the aforementioned free chili, then the kids finished homework and watched SpongeBob and I read some more of The Historian which I am taking slowly, both because I am enjoying it and because I end up with so little time to read. When they went to bed I folded laundry and watched Rome, which is sadly almost over. The level of bloodiness revolts me -- it's so much bloodier than Gladiator, which I can only watch on a small screen because that is so bloody. It was so predictable that Vorenus would run in and fight with/for Pullo, and yet the way it was set up I was totally rooting for it despite the cliche (is it cliche in a society with rules about honor that allow a condemned man to walk out of the arena after a triumphant fight, any more than it's cliche to show limb-slicing that would have been just as bloody live?) I really hope Niobe ends up all right, because otherwise there is not a single really sympathetic major female character -- I gleefully loathe Atia and Servilia and admire them at the same time, but they are hardly likeable in the way that Pullo is even when he's a hired murderer. We all know how Caesar's story ends, and Antony's, and Brutus and Cassius and Octavian, so they had to make us care about the characters we don't know, and they've done a great job of that despite all the over-the-top dramatics and sex and blood and borderline camp at times. When's the DVD set out?

Leaves on the golden hillside at Catoctin Mountain National Park the weekend before last.

Although there are some reds and oranges and browns, yellow-gold was the predominant color.

The Catoctin Greenstone bursts through the undergrowth and leaves, part of a mountain chain more than a billion years old.

The kids climbed the rocks, and the vines, and occasionally the trees.

And this was the view out the window when we got back to the van. None of those leaves were there when we started hiking, nor the hundreds on the roof!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

By Bei Dao (Zhao Zhenkai)

one generation drops like a curtain
the next is applauding

the lifetime you've known
hiding in dark places
starts gaining attention
groping, hence light
letting half a life empty out
and fill with crane song

someone's swimming in sickness
as autumn wind inspects
the small temperaments of young animals
the road joins sleep
and in radiant light that's defeated you
you stand fast at the nameless fence


I have Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire tickets! With my girlfriends on Friday and my family on Saturday! I am excited! My lunch date, who is also going with me Friday morning, asked whether I would be embarrassed if she dressed up and I had to snicker...perhaps I will wear my Star Trek uniform and see if she is embarrassed! Hahahaha. We had Thai food and bitched about fandom and now my head feels somewhat clearer...I had thought maybe it was just me and mine, but, yes, HP has gotten wonkier of late!

Tuesday afternoon is always schlep-time as the kids have Hebrew school and thus have to be picked up from bus stops, then driven to Hebrew school, but I managed to get up to some evil and after dinner, since my partner in crime had gone to bed, I read several chapters of The Historian which is increasingly difficult to put down. Watched Commander in Chief which continues to frustrate me greatly with its oversimplifications and badly written family is not that I object to teen angst set in the White House, it is that I object to dialogue and staging so clunky that the poor teen actors can't do anything with it, even in nifty locations like a beautifully lit swimming pool. And poor Donald Sutherland! He is trying so hard but they give him only polar extremes. I generally like Natasha Henstridge too...I wish they'd give her the smart press secretary job instead of the evil vixen job.

Had been toying with the idea of maybe watching Threshold when it airs and taping Boston Legal because I'm worried that the former will get cancelled -- not that my non-Nielsen viewing would really help it, anyway -- but, nope, no way, I am not postponing my weekly dose of Crane/Shore delight. Okay, this show's split personality can be even more frustrating than Commander in Chief's -- it can't decide whether it's Ally McBeal or The Practice or some other cracked-out lawyer show. But the LOVE! And how much fun the actors have playing it! Alan invites Denny, well, begs Denny, to sleep with him...platonically, to stop him from injuring himself during a panic attack. "You'll do anything to get me into bed!" Denny declares, to which Alan retorts, "Night terrors. They're potentially life-threatening." Denny says that he will admit to Alan something he is usually reluctant to confess, namely, "I'm homophobic." Alan says, "I'm stunned." Poor Denny, obviously suffering from self-hatred and a compulsive need to womanize to cover up this late-blooming attraction.

The meat of the episode (and not the doctor injecting his own body fat into plastic surgery patients kind) is Shirley confronting her inability to cope with the specter of Alzheimer's, and Denny having to face the possibility of his own. Turns out his father died from it -- or maybe that was said before but I missed it. Her father is going to die of it, too. [I had to write up a Kate Mulgrew article earlier in the week, and while I generally do not believe a word Kate says about anything -- she mixes her true life stories with somewhat exaggerated ones and sometimes pure fiction for dramatic effect -- she spoke at an Alzheimer's luncheon and said things that were utterly devastating about her mother, stories about watching her decline which even if they aren't Kate's personal stories have happened to many others, and concluded by saying very frankly that she wishes her mother was dead, she wishes she had overdosed on pills while it was her decision to make.] Shirley has to get a kid who's guilty of vehicular manslaughter and fleeing the scene off by proving to the jury that the only eyewitness, a woman with Alzheimer's, is unreliable. I find it hard to believe that a judge would allow her to go on for as long as she did trying to confuse this woman, but it was totally shattering to watch and Bergen was phenomenal (and what a bastard Paul was for making Shirley try the case instead of taking it himself!)

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that while Alan is paying his assistant Melissa to sleep with him, platonically, to stop him from hurting himself (and this actress was obviously hired for the show for the same reasons Alan picked the assistant out of a crowd, because she has a great body and a vacant face), Shirley suggests that Denny confide his fears about his own potential Alzheimer's to Alan "because he's your best friend" and when Denny does, Alan asks him to get tested to see whether his brain is actually degenerating or whether Denny's just flakier than usual. Denny is worried but says he'll get tested if Alan will, since Alan's night terrors and fear of clowns clearly indicates "there's something screwy going on." Even though Alan is sure his problem isn't neurological, he agrees, and the two go to the hospital together where Denny finds out that his condition has not worsened but he needs to exercise his brain more in unusual ways, writing with the opposite hand, that sort of thing. He needs to try new things!

So I'm back to giggling after being reduced nearly to tears by Shirley, and then they decide to break me again by playing "Someone To Watch Over Me," first while Shirley is reading to her unresponsive father, then when Denny comes to thank Alan for making him get tested, to which Alan says friends should have friends have their heads examined, then says Melissa quit. Denny finds this worrisome -- Alan could hurt himself! -- and says all right, I'll sleep with your room, but not in your bed. Alan at first thinks this is a silly idea since Denny sleeps like a log (so why did he ask Denny in the first place at the start of the episode, hmm?) but Danny suggests -- I am not making this up -- that Spader could tie them together so he'd know if Spader was trying to get up! From "I'm not having sex with you" to bondage in three short weeks! Then they agree it'll be like a sleepover ("Friends have sleepovers!") with movies, popcorn, ghost stories and pretending they're kids. I think they must mean the British boarding school kind. *veg*

Wow, I don't think I've squeed that much over a show since first season Smallville or something. I still think the formula is cracked but I am not giving up my Boston Legal and its politically incorrect humor and outre stories for anything.

A goat and a listing of the goats' names at Homestead Farms.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

From 'Guilt and Sorrow, or Incidents upon Salisbury Plain'
By William Wordsworth


All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound;
The weary eye--which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
Or on the earth strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms--at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime: in shelter there to bide
He turned, while rain poured down smoking on every side.


Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The Plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep,
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men,
Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
Who in his heart had groaned with deadlier pain
Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now would gain.


Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme;
And, from the perilous ground dislodged, through storm
And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam,
Nor any friendly sound his footsteps led;
Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked guide-post's double head,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of pleasure shed.


No swinging sign-board creaked from cottage elm
To stay his steps with faintness overcome;
'Twas dark and void as ocean's watery realm
Roaring with storms beneath night's starless gloom;
No gipsy cowered o'er fire of furze or broom;
No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,
Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man's room;
Along the waste no line of mournful light
From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.


I had a Monday that was far more hectic than I was anticipating, thanks to a couple of transportation disasters, a couple of miscommunications with kids and a major roadway shutdown for reasons I still do not know. Had a lovely lunch with who brought me audiocassettes and we had Indian food, then came home in what I thought was good time but there were cops everywhere. I had considered staying in Virginia and shopping a bit because my younger son had Mad Science in the afternoon, and it's a good thing I came home because I got here at the same time he did and had to remind him to go running back to school...good thing it's walking distance! Just then older son called requesting a ride home from the bus stop -- the one further from our house, not the one where he usually gets off to walk -- because his stomach felt strange. So I went tearing out to get him, passing even more police cars, only to have his bus arrive very late because it had to avoid a major road shutdown. This was apparently where all the police were headed but I still have no idea why.

Evening was thus very hectic, as I didn't get back here with both kids till late (I went to get younger one after Mad Science in case it was something like a criminal escaped from custody or another nut at the mall), and older son had fencing...rushed through dinner, got indigestion, sat around queasily for awhile. Didn't manage to finish my work because the file I needed to download wouldn't finish downloading (still hasn't, and I am shutting off the computer to go to can get their shit together tomorrow). Was cranky. Evening was quieter...I updated a bunch of web pages, mostly photos that anyone who reads this will already have seen here, and half-watched the Philly-Dallas game which it looks like Dallas may pull out, unfortunately. Saw this article on probable Aquaman series, not a Smallville spinoff necessarily but I bet it ends up being one, which I guess is okay with me though I hope it's true they're going to do a talent search for a lead actor because pecs alone will not carry a series.

I took this photo in April and really, really wish I could be there now. But you all are getting this photo just so I have an excuse to post this quiz...

DRUIDIC - You have to live close to nature to
survive. You dream magick. In the deep woods
you gather, bringing together mysticism and
philosophy, insight and learning. Your spirit
emerges from the the tides of the sea, the
light of the sun, the wind in the Oak, the cry
of the deer.

What is Your Magick Path?
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