Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poem for Thursday

By Constantine Cavafy
Translated by Rae Dalven

Like beautiful bodies of the dead, who had not grown old
when they shut them with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet --
that is how desires look that have passed
without fulfillment; without one of them having achieved
a night of sensual delight, or a moonlit morn.


I believe I have found a dress for the Bar Mitzvah! Rather by accident, as it happens: I was meeting for lunch at a big shopping complex, got there a little on the early side, went into Kohl's without realizing they were having a one-day sale, found a petite skirt and top that's a little dressier than the very simple black dress I got in Pennsylvania (though I think I am going to keep that one for the High Holy Days and another Bar Mitzvah later in September). Also found this year's Target exclusive Halloween Barbie when and I wandered in there after having Mexican food, so it was quite a successful shopping afternoon. Wrote articles on the likely composer for Star Trek XI and Scott Bakula's appearance at the 40th anniversary Trek convention, drove up nearly to the county line to meet in-laws driving down from Pennsylvania to return our children. Had excellent Middle Eastern food, then had too much chocolate purchased by in-laws at the Hershey factory which they visited with the kids.

And learned that my husband's grandmother, his father's mother whose 90th birthday party we attended in Seattle last summer, is dying. They're holding out some hope that she may rally, but she has a pretty bad infection that apparently isn't responding to antibiotics and everything else is slowly shutting down under the painkillers that make it tolerable. 's younger brother and his family visited her last weekend and she barely recognized them; his cousin who was in our wedding party and his family visited two days ago and she wasn't responsive at all. My in-laws have various other stress -- my mother-in-law's brother has pancreatic cancer and isn't doing well -- and now they are trying to figure out how to juggle schedules for a possible funeral around Bar Mitzvah rehearsals. Granny wants to be cremated, so the funeral doesn't have to be on any particular schedule, and her ashes will be interred beside those of her husband in Jamestown, New York sometime next year when hopefully everyone will have had time to make travel plans. But this is really miserable for my father-in-law in particular and my husband, who are going to have this hanging over them all month even if she rallies temporarily -- it sounds like Granny herself is resigned, at nearly 92, as she told my mother-in-law when she last saw her earlier in the year that if she didn't see her in the fall, she would see her in Heaven. At least we were all there to see her last summer while she was still doing well, and all the kids will remember her that way.

Watched the penultimate episode of Brideshead Revisited. Howled when Julia explained that her father knew Charles was visiting because Charles seemed to have a passion for his children. Though I disliked Charles' shallow, appearance-based judgment of Cordelia, who serves mostly as a plot device in this bit to remind him that Sebastian, not Julia, was his original obsession (he says himself that he has Sebastian with him always now in Julia, though maybe it's the other way around and he had Julia always with him in Sebastian). Cordelia is the one of the four children who is actually doing something useful to others with her life, rather than living high as Bridey does, living in sin as Julia does or living on the verge of a nervous breakdown as Sebastian does...I really don't like these characters too terribly much when I think about it at all.

Deer wander freely all over Valley Forge National Park. We saw more than 20 the day we were there.

This snake was in the grass not five feet from the demonstration of Colonial weaponry.

Where there are oaks and other trees with acorns and nuts, there are always squirrels.

People ride horses in the park.

And, of course, there are commemorative horses like this one.

Tomorrow we're going (with my mother) to meet with the DJ to discuss what music son wants played at the Bar Mitzvah and what the order of events at the reception will be. Am hoping this will be relatively easy, as we have a rehearsal at the temple with the rabbi immediately afterward.

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