Thursday, January 31, 2008

Poem for Thursday

My Lute, Awake
By Thomas Wyatt

My labor that thou and I shall waste
And end that I have now begun,
For when this song is sung and past,
My lute, be still, for I have done.

As to be heard where ear is none,
As lead to grave in marble stone,
My song may pierce her heart as soon.
Should we then sigh or sing or moan?
No, no, my lute, for I have done.

Proud of the spoil that thou hast got
Of simple hearts through love's shot,
By whom, unkind, thou hast them won,
Think not he hath his bow forgot,
Although my lute and I have done.

Vengance shall fall on thy disdain
That makest but game on earnest pain;
Think not alone under the sun
Unquit to cause thy lovers plain
Although my lute and I have done.

Perchance thee lie withered and old
The winter nights that are so cold,
Plaining in vain unto the moon;
Thy wishes then dare not be told.
Care then who list, for I have done.

And then may chance thee to repent
The time that thou hast lost and spnt
To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon;
Then shalt thou know beauty but lent,
And wish and want as I have done.

Now cease, my lute, this is the last
Labor that thou and I shall waste
And ended is that we begun.
Now is the song both sung and past;
My lute, be still, for I have done.


Two candidates out in one day. One I'm not at all sorry to lose, really, except that I can't stand the ones who are left, and the other I am sorry to see gone because he had a lot of good things to say but it's been apparent for a while that he wasn't going to be the nominee and he has a lot going on in his personal life. Last time I voted for Edwards for VP -- it was obvious by the time my state voted that Kerry would get the nomination. This time I don't think that will accomplish anything and I'm hoping his withdrawal will help Clinton whom all things being equal is still my first choice, but if Obama gets the nomination it's fine with me as long as he wins in November. I have a nightmare that one of them will get the nomination based on numbers in states that will then vote overwhelmingly Republican in the national election, like happened in the Mondale election. I honestly can't tell whether Hillary or Barack is more likely to pull in enough Republican voters...I'm terrified that the answer might be "neither" and we'll be stuck with four years of McCain or Romney.

Had lunch with and chatted about this and other issues, stopped at Target and tried on some spring clothes but didn't buy anything. Came home to receive my kids' report cards (younger one's excellent, older one's not as good as it should be and I don't know at this point whether to restrict privileges or if that will just make him more frustrated and less likely to work harder). My mother brought over sweatpants for older one because that's all he'll wear and is too tall for the kids' sizes but too skinny for the men's so it's a regular struggle to find them. Watched The Fountain again, so I could record it and because I told Green Man Review that I wanted to write about it since no one yet has and I don't think that film has gotten anywhere near the critical attention it deserves. They're going to think I'm a Hugh Jackman fanatic -- I reviewed The Prestige for them spontaneously too -- well, that's all right.

Weapons and military drums kept in the magazine in Colonial Williamsburg. (There's a photo of the outside of the octagonal building here.)

These are the state's weapons; in addition, each Virginian was required to own a weapon to form a militia in case of attack by Native Americans or pirates (Blackbeard was ordered hunted down and killed by a Virginia governor).

Historical reenactors explained how the governor had the magazine emptied of gunpowder after reports of violence in Boston.

These weapons could be purchased from the Williamsburg gunsmith.

He told us that nearly every man, woman and child could shoot an animal threatening a farm.

An engraved powder horn was my favorite item in the gunsmith's shop -- I'm afraid firearms are not my thing.

The saddlemaker also made leather accessories for carrying and transporting weapons.

Put on The Truman Show to record late in the evening -- it's the only Jim Carrey movie I really love, I'm definitely not a big fan of his -- and ended up watching more than I intended and finding it a lot more affecting than I did the first time out, viewers ignoring their own crying babies to watch a life unfold on television. Some of what I was thinking about was in terms of gender -- is Hannah, the actress who plays Truman's wife a prostitute, paid by the network to have sex with him and keep him happy, and why do I find that less disturbing than the actress who plays his mother (we don't find out either her "real" name or her name on the TV series) faking the maternal role for his entire life? -- but some of it was in terms of fandom and the roles celebrities play in our lives. Hmm, maybe I'll see if GMR wants a review of that too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Poem for Wednesday

By Katrina Roberts

I stand there under the high limbs of locust
watching my father point a black gun into the air

his arms steepled for the stillness
required to split the proverbial hair

with a BB. I would like to throw a red hat
to catch what will smack from the barrel

but instead the songbird drops fast—a warm
stone through liquid swimming between us.

The stink of yellow sulfur thick. And the twist
of his mouth, like tangled purple boughs or

the crossed legs of what he never dreamed he'd hit.
Years after, I will admit only to so much. Blue

moon tonight. Though we rarely get a second
chance. It’s what I don't say that speaks loudest.


I spent a great deal of the day dealing with phone woes -- T-Mobile can't seem to get my phone running on their EDGE data network from the slower GPRS, they can't figure out why, they tried making me go to the store for a replacement SIM card (and tried to charge me for it), then had me TWICE do a hard reset requiring me to restore all the settings, programs and files on my phone, and finally suggested I need a new handset. This phone worked fine two weeks ago on the EDGE network; they haven't thrown a switch somewhere or input the new SIM card number or something to take the Wing off and put it back. Arrrrrrrrgh. I think all the phone companies collude to get people to buy new phones every two years; they actually seem to want people to switch providers, it's easier and cheaper to do that in a lot of cases than stay on the same network. I am so frustrated.

The prison at Colonial Williamsburg, whose historic conditions were so horrific that hanging was considered more merciful. That's the toilet hole at the top of the steps.

The condemned rode to the execution sitting on top of his coffin, was strung up standing on it and then the wagon rode away. If you were lucky, your neck broke.

The view from outside the dark cells in the walled-in yard.

Here are and myself just before they locked us in for public indecency failing to rein our horses.

By contrast, this is where the jailer slept.

Outside the courthouse where prisoners were sentenced for less than capital crimes...

...where this was a common punishment.

Spent the evening chilling in front of the television: first we watched Nova's "Secrets of the Parthenon," about the current restoration of the Parthenon and discoveries about how it was built using the Golden Ratio and innovative design techniques, with commentary by a University of Bath civil engineering professor and a University of Pennsylvania architecture professor. Then we left PBS on and watched Supernatural Science's "Monumental Mysteries" which was about Biblical history and archaeology -- was there a historic King David and if not who built the Temple, who built the pre-Roman aqueducts in Jerusalem, and a lot of the political issues surrounding the difficulties in excavating. And then Grease was on on cable. It hasn't aged well at all -- it was retro when it was new, but having a Brothers Gibb song at the start and Travolta in the lead makes it so much a product of my junior high school years...eek!

From the mouths of college students, from the college newspaper of which I was once an editor, The Daily Pennsylvanian: "Just because the national candidates avoid discussing race doesn't mean we should do the same here at Penn."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poem for Tuesday

The Crow-Mother Tells All
By Jay Parini

The empty oil drums rattled in the yard
that day in Scranton, and the ham-red hills
would shudder in the distance, thunder-chilled.
My mother shucked a dozen ears of corn,
feeding me stories of the swoop and killings
I could say by heart and still can say.
She hovered in the dust-light, railed
as porch lamps flickered and the power failed,
but not in her. The boom-and-tingle of the storm
was half by her imagined. Hanging on the hard
wings of her apron, always in her sway,
I listened as the green ears all were torn,
her face by lightening cracked and clawed,
her laughter tumbling, beaked and cawed.


"In myth, a hero is a totem animal -- bull or dragon or bear -- and resembles or becomes that animal. So Jay Parini, remembering his mother's storm-dark stories about crows, associates her power with the storm, and with those dark, powerful birds," writes Robert Pinsky in Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Just as in conversation, the symbolic nature of language expresses mixed emotions, fears and desires, mighty or subtle, the unending stream of connotation." This poem is from The Art of Subtraction.

We had no power for several hours today -- first went off early afternoon, flickered for a while, then crashed and stayed out till nearly 9 p.m., so I am hopelessly behind on everything. So I don't have a lot to report. Had started cleaning out my bathroom cabinet but couldn't finish because I couldn't see well enough (and anyone with a cat knows there was no way I could bring candles in to light it). We ended up going out to dinner because it was so dark in the house, Thai food at the mall, and I took my Wing phone back to the T-Mobile store there because it's just not worth what I paid for it. I like the new keyboard and the non-slippery feel of the phone, and there are a couple of small innovations like the Today screen music controls that I appreciate, but the new version of Windows runs so slowly even having removed all the T-Mobile applications that I just wanted my MDA back and I am so grateful that the new battery seems to have done the trick. I did need to spend much of the night restoring stuff to the MDA, so there went the rest of my time.

This woman is playing the role Clementina Rind, the widow who inherited the printing press from her husband when he died in 1773.

She edited the Virginia Gazette (hand-printed issues drying on the line) until her own death. There is still a paper of that name in Williamsburg today.

Here she is demonstrating how the press squeezed each sheet, one at a time, against the type to leave an impression with the ink.

The historical Rind did not set type, beat the ink balls or use the press herself. Slaves and apprentices did most of the labor of printing.

This is a section of a map purporting to show all of North America. The tour guide at the Capitol pointed out the "Extensive Meadows Full of Buffaloes" north of the Missouri River.

The menu at this bakery is written on chalk boards of the sort that children used in school. "This was how they text messaged," as Greenhow's shopkeeper joked.

Sadly, the first English theatre in America has not been restored, though in warmer weather there are outdoor performances on the site.

I did not watch the State of the Union, couldn't bear the thought, so someone else will have to fill me in on all of Bush's achievements in the past year in case I missed any -- has he learned to pronounce "nuclear" yet? Am liking Obama's speeches better but still not liking a lot of the statements coming out of the people working for him -- this is true of Hillary as well -- and I don't know how much to assume they are or should be micromanaging their campaigns and some of the pettiness from regional directors and spokespeople. Nor do I know whether Edwards is avoiding certain kinds of sniping or merely not getting as much media coverage. (I'm sure the Republicans are doing it too but I try to avoid reading anything that might quote Mike Huckabee on any topic.) And I read that Guillermo del Toro is likely to direct the two Hobbit films produced by Peter Jackson so the epic may be very dark as well as very long. Ah well, I will gladly accept a double Hobbit in exchange for a single Deathly Hallows!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Poem for Monday

Malleus, Incus, Stapes
By Katrina Roberts

Six months in utero
my boy's bones begin in middle ear
to harden so sound can conduct:

hammer, anvil, stirrup --
the three smallest of bones though names conjure
bulk and heft (metaphors

make miracles visible)
-- thought's farriers; a word's trickle or timpanic
blow means bones to strike,

taut membranes struck
and that which gently cups beneath to let
language gallop -- so sense,

though not yet his, may be
conveyed. Heartbeats like hooves. I whisper, "Listen!
symphonic we're waiting for you.


"Metaphors, symbols and myths are not arcane distortions, peculiar to poetry," writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "They are part of thought and speech, sometimes buried like the fact that focus is Latin for a hearth, and sometimes as explicit as the names for hardware: an elbow, or a male-to-female connector. Katrina Roberts considers the ripples of significance surrounding the names for tiny bones in the ear...the associations of horsemanship and hammering express both wonder and anxiety."

Again on Sunday, Daniel went to robotics at high school and Adam went to Hebrew school -- this time for class as opposed to volunteering. I spent the morning trying to finish a post I've been trying to write for nearly a week now, still not nearly as coherently as I wanted, and I managed to hurt people's feelings even though I was trying to ask how to talk about stuff without doing so, so I pretty much feel like I suck right now but it's my own fault. After lunch we took Adam and his best friend to Great Falls, which was really fun because Adam's friend had never been and was very excited about everything from the ice on the C&O Canal to the little whirlpools in the Potomac River. Here are some photos (more Williamsburg tomorrow):

The ice on the C&O Canal, nearly thick enough to skate on in places but dangerously thin in others and nonexistent in the sunniest spots.

The ducks in the canal appeared to be enjoying the sunshine and were eating something off the bottom -- I've no idea what's growing at this time of year but they seemed to like it.

In the woods on the road to the park, we saw easily ten deer, maybe more. There was also evidence beside the canal that the deer had been in the park very recently.

There was ice in the Potomac River too, though mostly clinging to rocks above the falls around Olmsted Island.

The main branch of the river appeared to be flowing smoothly.

But a tree that came down the falls was blocking this tributary...

...exposing the concrete spillway below, like a couple of years ago when another river-made dam blocked it up.

After dinner we watched The Simpsons because I got a note last week from my very good personal friend Weird Al telling me that he would be on the episode (Weird Al starts all his e-mails "Dear Very Good Personal Friend of Al"), then watched Mansfield Park on PBS. It was quite pretty and Billie Piper was quite good (about on par with everyone else in the production, though I didn't think the production overall was on par with the BBC's Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion. Though I did get a kick out of the Mansfield and Commander-ness of it, with James D'Arcy and Joseph Morgan in major roles. I have nothing profound to say about it, except that I really don't find Austen as socially progressive as professors and Masterpiece Theatre hosts alike keep telling me that she is and I never really fall for her heroines, though I often fall hard for her heroes' houses. Which conveniently the heroines get along with the men. I know, I'm a bad feminist, no biscuit and all that.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Poem for Sunday

By Henri Cole

Tired, hungry, hot, I climbed the steep slope
to town, a sultry, watery place, crawling with insects
and birds.
          In the semidarkness of the mountain,
small things loomed large: a donkey urinating on a palm;
a salt-and-saliva-stained boy riding on his mother's back;
a shy roaming black Adam. I was walking on an edge.
The moments fused into one crystalline rock,
like ice in a champagne bucket. Time was plunging forward,
like dolphins scissoring open water or like me,
following Jenny's flippers down to see the coral reef,
where the color of sand, sea and sky merged,
and it was as if that was all God wanted:
not a wife, a house or a position,
but a self, like a needle, pushing in a vein.


A low-key Saturday in which I folded laundry while watching A Knight's Tale, spent an hour reading a book about castle evolution in Wales and fixed some code on my web page that used to work fine but apparently something in the CSS disagreed with something on the server. Daniel had robotics and Adam volunteered at Hebrew school with my mother, so after we picked them up, we stopped at Target and Giant for necessities and I was delighted to find unshelled pistachios back in stock after several months of breaking nails on the kind with shells. We also went to Borders to get the second and third E.E. Knight dragon books -- gave Adam the first and he loves it -- and we found Jon Stewart's America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction on the bargain table, where anyone who has never seen it before should go check it out. We bought it for older son, who has spent half the night reading it aloud to us.

The apothecary shop in Colonial Williamsburg, where the shopkeeper was making a traditional cough remedy out of a radish.

Traditionally this shop would have been run by the doctor -- not that a medical degree would have been required -- who would have made house calls with these exotic herbs while colonists grew more common herbs at home and treated themselves.

Given what the medical equipment looked like, it is not terribly surprising that the colonists tried to avoid calling the doctor except in dire circumstances.

Nearby is the silversmith. This one was working on cups...

...while others were working on spoons and jewelry.

And the blacksmith was working on a ring for an ox cart...

...while the shop owner explained apprenticeship and metalworking in the colony. This smithy is named for James Anderson, a blacksmith during the Revolutionary War whose shop once stood on this site, though this is a recreation.

After dinner we watched The Fountain, which is one of the most haunting films I have ever seen. I don't even know what to compare it to -- in some ways it reminds me of Pan's Labyrinth in that you're not quite sure whether what seem to be fantasy sequences are supposed to be real or figments of the characters' imaginations, but it's much more subtle and really breathtakingly sad -- the awful stuff in Pan's Labyrinth and other story-within-story movies like Kiss of the Spider Woman is portrayed as the product of particularly awful people at particular historical moments, but the suffering at the core of The Fountain is really the eternal human condition.

Spoilers: It's also amazingly beautiful, which I knew from the previews -- the fantasia of Renaissance Spain, the walks in the snow, the tree, the nebula. I wish we knew Rachel Weisz's character a bit better; she was troublingly like so many women dying young in movies, ethereal and calm and outrageously beautiful, making no demands for herself and handing her beloved the mechanism for coping with her loss, a bit too much object rather than subject. But Hugh Jackman was phenomenal -- I know I'm using a lot of superlatives, they're really all deserved. His terror and anger and grief are completely believable. I was crying when he was sobbing and tattooing his wedding ring onto his finger, but what's really exceptional is how completely he made me believe how much he loved his wife. It's hard to create believable love, as opposed to chemistry or passion, even in a much longer movie or series.

This may be the most romantic movie of the past twenty years. And on a related note, I must give a big happy sigh to Baldwin and Inoue, who may have lost the gold but I'd rather go see them skate anyway. The Guardian's longtime skating critic, Sandra Stevenson, admitted when Torvill and Dean launched their first multimillion-pound world tour that she thought the story should have ended with a quiet wedding in Nottingham, and even though I know how outrageously unfair it is to expect art to imitate life, I felt exactly the same way. Hey, I was only 18 at the time. I am very grateful to Baldwin for deciding to give us a public engagement!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Poem for Saturday

By Ellen Bryant Voigt

It bears no correlation
to the living world. It is
as if a malice toward all things
malleable, mutable,
had seized the universe
and emptied its spherical alleys.

How could you think it,
that I would choose to stay, or break
under the journey back? Like a dog
I had followed your unravelling
skein of sound —
between me and iridescent earth,
you turned to verify the hell
I was thrown to, and got
what you needed for your songs.
They do not penetrate the grave,
I cannot hear them, I cannot know
how much you mourn.
           But I mourn:
against my will
I forgive you over and over,
transfixed by your face
emerging like a moon across your shoulder,
your shocked mouth calling "Wife, wife"
as you let me go.


When I look back on this week I'm going to remember the first few days and forget the last couple. Not a lot to report from today: wrote a review of "Samaritan Snare", caught up nearly completely on correspondence, got a new battery for my T-Mobile MDA and spent two hours listening to music on it to see how well it holds a charge (very well thus far -- am thinking that if the MDA works with the new battery, I'm going to return the Wing and save the money), had Chinese food out with my father and family because my mother had to go to an event at the synagogue with the lower Hebrew school.

Friday Fiver: I'll show you what I'm made of
1. What are you missing?
My job at before bought them out.
2. How do you feel? Grateful. Sad. Relieved. Cynical. Frustrated. Relaxed.
3. What have you let go? Any chance of returning to grad school and finishing my PhD.
4. Who have you hurt? Lots of people, I'm sure, but the one I regret most was something I said to my grandmother when I was an obnoxious young teenager. I'm sure she forgot all about it but now she's gone and every once in a while I remember it and am so ashamed of myself.
5. What do you deserve? Fairness.

The Friday Five: What are you listening to and on what?
1. What types of portable audio devices do you use?
A Sansa mp3 player and my T-Mobile phone.
2. What format of music do you listen to most often? CDs in the car.
3. How do you get your electronic music files? (pay service [i.e Napster, iTunes, eMusic, etc.], file sharing, artist/label web sites, etc.) Mostly ripping them from CDs we already own. The rest were formerly iTunes until very recently but I've been very happy with Amazon.
4. What type of headphones do you use? External padded ones. I hate ear buds.
5. What is currently on your portable music player that you are using? The first song that comes up is Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat."

A tailor in a millinery shop in Colonial Williamsburg.

Here clothing, accessories and hats are made. I loved seeing that leopard print was fashionable in 1700s America.

Though cloth was woven in Williamsburg, like this from the weaver we saw at work...

...fashionable fabrics would have come from trade. (Note the illustration of corset-tying on the wall.)

I love the big buttons and buttonholes of the period.

This is the shoemaker's shop.

He told us that many men owned one set of buckles that they carried from pair to pair of shoes.

After dinner with my father, we watched Sci-Fi's Friday night minus the rerun hour, when husband was watching some sporting event or other. Flash Gordon did a cheesy Arctic episode, which disappointed my entire family by not having penguins (hey, it's Mongo and if they can have bird men and ice worms, they could have North Pole penguins), but yet again there are new kick-ass female characters ("I would rather be executed for poaching than kiss someone's behind") and Aura told Ming where he could stick it.

As for SGA, what a perfectly delightful episode! Harmony is awesome and for once I found Rodney so adorable that I could squish him, though I found John even more adorable in the end wearing his Long-Suffering Rodney-Lover expression. Spoilers: John wishing Ronon was there, Rodney objecting that John shouldn't say that with Rodney right there, John saying, "Nothing personal but he's a better tracker than both of us combined" and Rodney being forced to agree. Jealous Rodney when Harmony says she thinks she's in love with John -- "Don't get your hopes up!" -- and then promising not to come between her and John since she's actually more mature than the women he usually falls for. And John's Han Solo routine ("We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"). And I want to know: if John can summon the beast, does that make him the queen? No wonder Harmony had him painted as the sniveling coward! Hee!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poem for Friday

One Year
By Sharon Olds

When I got to his marker, I sat on it,
like sitting on the edge of someone's bed
and I rubbed the smooth, speckled granite.
I took some tears from my jaw and neck
and started to wash a corner of his stone.
Then a black and amber ant
ran out onto the granite, and off it,
and another ant hauled a dead
ant onto the stone, leaving it, and not coming back.
Ants ran down into the grooves of his name
and dates, down into the oval track of the
first name's O, middle name's O,
the short O of his last name,
and down into the hyphen between
his birth and death--little trough of his life.
Soft bugs appeared on my shoes,
like grains of pollen, I let them move on me,
I rinsed a dark fleck of mica,
and down inside the engraved letters
the first dots of lichen were appearing
like stars in early evening.
I saw the speedwell on the ground with its horns,
the coiled ferns, copper-beech blossoms, each
petal like that disc of matter which
swayed, on the last day, on his tongue.
Tamarack, Western hemlock,
manzanita, water birch
with its scored bark,
I put my arms around a trunk and squeezed it,
then I lay down on my father's grave.
The sun shone down on me, the powerful
ants walked on me. When I woke,
my cheek was crumbly, yellowish
with a mustard plaster of earth. Only
at the last minute did I think of his body
actually under me, the can of
bone, ash, soft as a goosedown
pillow that bursts in bed with the lovers.
When I kissed his stone it was not enough,
when I licked it my tongue went dry a moment, I
ate his dust, I tasted my dirt host.


Another not-very-eventful day, but my migraine abated and that was all I needed to feel much better about everything. Spent the morning catching up on piles of correspondence, then went out for a bunch of shopping chores (refilling Imitrex prescription, buying bargain kids' books at local toy store that regrettably has been bought out and is no longer carrying an extensive book selection, picking out Valentines for relatives). Watched "Samaritan Snare," which I had remembered as one of the poorer episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation but found that like so many, it holds up vastly more enjoyably than memory -- even my kids thought so.

This is the chamber of the high court of Virginia in the Capitol at Williamsburg, which served as the state's capital until it moved to Richmond.

And this is the House of Burgesses, not as fancy but far more important as the place where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry began to encourage independence from England.

This well-apppointed room ringed with illustrations of Indian tribes is where the Governor's Council met.

Before the Revolution, Williamsburg was a colony governed by and loyal to the British monarch. The modern historical city had to get special permission to fly the Union Jack over its buildings.

Visiting Burgesses patronized and talked politics at Mr. Charlton's coffeehouse, currently being excavated...

...and the Raleigh Tavern, where the disgruntled Burgesses adjourned after the Royal Governor dissolved their assembly in 1769. In 1773, a group including Jefferson, Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee planned a resolution to create a Committee of Correspondence for Continental unity.

Inside the old courthouse where civil suits were heard and non-capital crimes were prosecuted.

I had another coupon for a free Blockbuster rental and went in there with every intention of getting Eastern Promises so I can see Viggo Mortensen's performance before the Oscars. But I had Adam with me, and he noticed Stardust on the shelf, so we ended up renting that instead. I'm not a big Neil Gaiman fan, though Paul is -- I know, I'm probably the only person on LiveJournal who feels that way, let alone the only reviewer for Green Man Review. But I enjoyed the movie a lot; it has a lot of actors I like, Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter O'Toole and Mark Strong and Rupert Everett, and I can be up and down on Claire Danes but I loved her in this, and no one told me that Ian McKellen did the opening and closing voice-overs so that was a nice surprise. But if you need a reason to see it, it's Robert De Niro as the Pirate Captain Shakespeare, who is absolutely delightful dressing in pink and distracting one of the villains while dancing to Offenbach's Can-Can.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Poem for Thursday

At Sea
By Simon Armitage

It is not through weeping,
but all evening the pale blue eye
on your most photogenic side has kept
its own unfathomable tide. Like the boy
at the dyke I have been there:

held out a huge finger,
lifted atoms of dust with the point
of a tissue and imagined slivers of hair
in the oil on the cornea. We are both
in the dark, but I go on

drawing the eyelid up by its lashes
folding it almost inside-out, then finding
and hiding every mirror in the house
as the iris, besieged with the ink
of blood rolls back

into its own orbit. Nothing
will help it. Through until dawn
you dream the true story of the boy
who hooked out his eye and ate it,
so by six in the morning

I am steadying the ointment
that will bite like an onion, piping
a line of cream while avoiding the pupil
and in no time it is glued shut
like a bad mussel.

Friends call round
and mean well. They wait
and whisper in the air-lock of the lobby
with patches, eyewash, the truth
about mascara.

Even the cats are on to it;
they bring in starlings, and because their feathers
are the colours of oil on water in sunlight
they are a sign of something.
In the long hours

beyond us, irritations heal
into arguments. For the eighteenth time
it comes to this: the length of your leg sliding out
from the covers, the ball of your foot
like a fist on the carpet

while downstairs
I cannot bring myself to hear it.
Words have been spoken; things that were bottled
have burst open and to walk in now
would be to walk in

on the ocean.


I have had a migraine crushing my brain since I got home Tuesday night, so I am going to keep this short. I didn't do much today besides research memory problems with T-Mobile's Wing phone and battery problems with the MDA. I am in tears because it sounds like I probably can't fix my old phone and the new one is not worth its price if it's going to keep crashing so often with no way to remove all the Windows Mobile crap that causes the memory problems. I need to stay on T-Mobile because feature for feature in terms of what I use regularly, it's so much better for the money than Verizon or AT&T.

A finished harpsichord built by the Colonial Williamsburg cabinetmakers' gallery.

Here is one under construction in the workshop... unfinished keyboard...

...and the body, with legs to the side.

This desk has many hidden compartments... this pull-out writing drawer...

...that can be taken apart to reveal the perfect place to hide chocolate. Er, that is, secret messages.

We watched Life After People on the History Channel, which has terrific effects of cities crumbling and cats taking over tall buildings. Plus I learned that the New York subway system would be full of water in less than a week without the pumps running -- so much for all the futuristic fiction in which vampires or sub-humans are living in tunnels under the city. Some animal and plant species would be better off without us but some would be extinct rather quickly. All in all, I vote for keeping us on the planet, if we don't find some way to blow ourselves off it. Not least because Three Mile Island will melt down without someone to keep an eye on it.