Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poem for Wednesday

Heaven's Eel
By Charles Wright

A slight wrinkle on the pond.
Small wind.
                  A small wind and the rumpled clouds' reflection.
Ho hum . . . What's needed is something under the pond's skin,
Something we can't see that controls all the things that we do see.
Something long and slithery,
                                      something we can't begin to comprehend,
A future we're all engendered for, sharp teeth, Lord, such sharp teeth.
Heaven's eel.
                      Heaven's eel, long and slick,
Full moon gone, with nothing in its place.
A doe is nibbling away at the long stalks of the natural world
Across the creek.
                            It's good to be here.
It's good to be where the world's quiescent, and reminiscent.
No wind blows from the far sky.
Beware of prosperity, friend, and seek affection.
The eel's world is not your world,
                                            but will be soon enough.


Another from this week's New Yorker.

Tuesday was much better than Monday, in large part because my head had stopped pounding by about 2 p.m. One of the things I really want from health care reform is affordable Imitrex -- thinking, "Shit, if I take another pill, that makes this a $36 migraine instead of an $18 migraine" really does not help my headache at all. I feel accomplished in that I got out of the house long enough to pick up ceramic manatees from a Freecycler -- shut up, you know you wish you had ceramic manatees, I know Adam does -- and stop at CVS for Halloween decorations mouthwash. Plus I got the laundry done. Here is the billy goat trail and canal from Sunday:

In the evening we watched the cheerful shows on the Science Channel -- Parallel Universe, which ominously warned that our gravity may be weak because our matter phases in and out of another universe, Supermassive Black Holes, which ominously warned that a huge black hole could be approaching us even now, and Killer Asteroids, which ominously warned...well, you've undoubtedly seen Armageddon or Meteor or Deep Impact or one of those National Geographic specials about what happened to the dinosaurs. They weren't really that ominous -- the first one in particular was very interesting, since it was about problems with string theory when it came to the Big Bang -- but they all had a penchant for overly dramatic music whenever black holes or asteroids were mentioned, which just makes me snicker. If I have to choose between dying in a nuclear holocaust or a human-caused environmental crisis versus dying from a giant meteor, I'll take the meteor.

I wrote a whole rant about Polanski that I somehow lost when I saved a draft of this entry, which is fine because I don't actually feel like arguing the point -- let me just say that if you want to call me an American philistine or whatever Mitterrand called us, fine, I'd much rather be a philistine than a confessed rapist whining that he's being unfairly persecuted just because he drugged and brutalized a child. The fact that she would rather get her name out of the news once and for all, rather than making sure he is brought to the justice he has eluded for so long in the hope of making an example so other famous men don't believe they can do the same thing to other young girls and get away with it, does not change a thing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poem for Tuesday

First Leaf
By Lia Purpura

That yellow
was a falling off,
a fall
for once I saw
it could
in its stillness
still be turned from,
it was not
yet ferocious,
its hold drew me,
was a shiny switchplate
in the otherwise dark,
rash, ongoing green,
a green so hungry
for light and air that
part gave up,
went alone,
chose to leave,
and by choosing
got seen.


From this week's New Yorker.

It has been a monumentally craptastic day and I have a splitting headache that I haven't even taken good drugs for because I don't think it's a migraine -- it's lower, much more sinus-specific, seems related to my clogged ears and nose, and is making me miserable. I felt too crappy to go break the fast (not that I fasted) at the home of the friend of my parents' where we usually go, which is a shame because I get to see some old family friends there with whom I otherwise really never get to chat.

Instead I celebrated with the traditional baconnaise and lobster wait, that was Jon Stewart, though I did have moments where things were so atrocious that I actually thought it might be preferable to be in synagogue where I could do my usual seething quietly and feeling more like an atheist than at any other place or time during the entire year. Here are some photos of the high point of my day hiking along the canal and on the billy goat trail, except that hiking over rocks with a dizzying headache might better be described as disorienting than exhilarating:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Poem for Yom Kippur

The Good Son
By Jason Shinder

If God had come to me and said,
if you are willing to forget your self

you will find the cure for heart attacks and compose
the greatest symphonies,

I wouldn't have been sure of my answer.
Because there wouldn't have been enough

attention to my suffering. And that's unforgivable.
But I keep on forgiving myself

with God's love. And it's strange I should say this
because my mother died of a heart attack

after months in a hospital room full of a silence
that lodged itself like a stone in her throat.

And she thought I was wonderful
and would do anything for her.


I went looking for another Shinder poem after Edward Hirsch wrote about him in this week's Poet's Choice and came upon this really stunning poem for the Day of Atonement.

We woke Sunday morning to ongoing drizzle after the long, hard rain of the day before, and decided reluctantly that it was probably crazy to drive the 2+ hours to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire when there was more rain forecast for Lancaster for the afternoon and the joust was apparently postponed on Saturday because the ground was already so muddy. Instead Dementordelta and I went to check out the Halloween collections at Target and Pier One -- lots of bats and owls, from classy glass to glittery-sparkly glitter -- then went out to lunch at Uncle Julio's.

In the afternoon we came home and watched Proof -- the wonderful 1991 movie with Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe, not the 2005 movie with Gwyneth Paltrow -- one of my favorite films, which Dementordelta had not seen so I thought that needed to be remedied immediately. Then we watched the pilot of Eastwick because of Paul Gross. (He made us. He's the devil, so it's not like this is our fault.) Then, sadly, she had to go home, so I had dinner with my kids and made them clean their bathroom before Kol Nidre, because even though we did not go to services, I wasn't going to make them do chores after sundown. The Redskins justified my decision not to call myself a fan of theirs -- the name must go -- by losing to "the losingest team in football," as only Brent Musburger could declare, while the Ravens won well over the Browns, yay!

I have no appropriate Wheel of the Year photos, so even though it's technically edible, I'll post a photo from Rosh Hashanah for the season:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poem for Sunday

By Jason Shinder

A poem written three thousand years ago

about a man who walks among horses
grazing on a hill under the small stars

comes to life on a page in a book

and the woman reading the poem,
in the silence between the words,

in her kitchen, filled, with a gold, metallic light,

finds the experience of living in that moment
so clearly described as to make her feel finally known

by someone -- and every time the poem is read,

no matter her situation or her age,
this is more or less what happens.


"Jason Shinder describes the experience of intimate connection in his stunningly direct and forthright last book, Stupid Hope," writes Edward Hirsch in this week's Poet's Choice. "The entire book was written under the shadow and stigma -- the mortal terror -- of a deadly cancer. Shinder tries to come to grips with dying too soon, and his testament shines with the light of last things...this gives special poignancy to the experience he names 'Eternity.' The entire poem is one sentence long -- 12 lines, which alternative between one and two-line stanzas. These create elastic units within the lyric, speeding up and slowing down the rhythm, isolating and intensifying individual moments...the poem recreates a moment so radiant and piercing that it expands and overflows ordinary time. It dramatizes one of the luminous mysteries of lyric poetry."

Daniel turned 16 on Saturday. When pressed about what he would like to do for the day, he hemmed, hawed, and finally said he wanted to play miniature which point it began to rain. So instead we took the kids to Best Buy and Borders, where Daniel declined to purchase The Beatles: Rock Band and asked for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters -- I guess it's 50-50 whether we've raised him well or not. He did ask to be taken out to Cici's Pizza, and again I don't know whether to celebrate his frugality or weep at his lack of taste (Adam was pulling for The Melting Pot or at least Legal Seafood). We got Daniel one of the Simpsons' box sets, an XKCD collection, and whatever the latest Mario and Luigi DS game is. He doesn't seem to mind that his birthday was low-key, so I am considering it a nice calm family day.

In the evening, after catching up on the disastrous Terrapins score -- we saw a bit of the much more encouraging Virginia Tech-Miami score -- we watched some Due South, first "Asylum" from the third season, then the first three episodes of the second season because Dementordelta arrived. The plan, technically, is that we are going to the Pennsylvania Renfaire on Sunday. Whether that happens given the rapidly deteriorating weather forecast remains to be seen. At any rate, she brought pie and Paul made a cookie cake, so we celebrated with birthday candles!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Poem for Saturday

Coffee & Dolls
By April Bernard

It was a storefront for a small-time numbers runner,
pretending to be some sort of grocery. Coffeemakers
and Bustello cans populated the shelves, sparsely.
Who was fooled. The boxes bleached in the sun,
the old guys sat inside on summer lawn chairs,
watching tv. The applause from the talk shows and game shows
washed out the propped-open door like distant rain.

It closed for a few months. The slick sedan disappeared.
One spring day, it reopened, this time a sign
decorated the window: COFFEE & DOLLS.
Yarn-haired, gingham-dressed floppy dolls
lolled among the coffee cans. A mastiff puppy,
the size and shape of a tipped-over fire hydrant,
guarded as the sedan and the old guys returned.

I don't know about you, but I've been looking
for a narrative in which suffering makes sense.
I mean, the high wail of the woman holding her dead child,
the wail that filled the street. I mean the sudden
fatal blooms on golden skin. I mean the crack deaths,
I mean the ice-cream truck that cruided the alphabets
and sold crack to the same deedle-dee-dee tune as fudgesicles.
I mean the raw scabs of the beaten mastiff, and many other things.


Still feeling rather icky, but I took it easy today so I really can't complain. Wrote a review of Next Gen's not great but reasonably entertaining "Power Play", did some reading, fought with the Post's Friday Sudoku. We had dinner with my parents and celebrated Daniel's 16th birthday, which is on Saturday -- my mother had threatened to get him socks and underwear if he didn't tell her what he wanted after many queries, so she hid money for him in socks and underwear. Daniel has a cold too (he had it first), so he has been sort of apathetic about this birthday, and we haven't had an easy time figuring out what to get him, either.

Fannish5: Name your five favorite fictional kids. Having Harry Potter oversaturation, so no Hermione (I'm not sure she deserves to make the list after book three, anyway).
1. Meg Murray, A Wrinkle In Time
2. Maria Jackson, The Sarah Jane Adventures
3. Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
4. Bran Davies, The Grey King
5. Micah Sanders, Heroes

A girl dressed for the 18th Century Craft Fair at Mount Vernon last weekend.

The restored barn and stables at the pioneer farm.

The inside of the barn.

One of the chickens behind the slave cabin.

The interior of the slave cabin.

Cattle seeking a shady spot on a sunny afternoon.

The horses that work in the barn treading the grain.

Cooking in a cauldron by the Potomac River in a tent on the farm.

We came home from son's birthday dinner to catch the season premiere of Smallville, which now has three women I like and no Lana, plus Oliver, and Callum Blue and Brian Austin Green as apparent regulars, so that's all to the good. Not sure how I feel about a Zod storyline or Clark's self-imposed emotional exile, but I'm also figuring the latter won't last and the former will give the regulars something to do while they figure out how they're going to reconstruct the relationships. I'm more optimistic at the start of this season than I was the past couple of years, anyway.

After that, we watched Castle in the Sky, because we were in a Miyazaki mood and Paul had discovered that the library had it. I love the steampunk ships and the World Tree imagery, though I've never been able to place the film geographically (starts out looking like Wales but then there's a hurricane to the east) and the villain's just plain annoying rather than terrifying. The kids said they think it's better than Ponyo, though. Really, I love all of them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Poem for Friday

The End of Love
By Kathleen Raine

Now he is dead
How should I know
My true love's arms
From wind and snow?

No man I meet
In field or house
Though in the street
A hundred pass.

The hurrying dust
Has never a face,
No longer human
In man or woman.

Now he is gone
Why should I mourn
My true love more than mud,
than mud or stone?


Am feeling icky so this may be even more incoherent than usual. I had a reasonably nice day despite sleeping terribly because of my sinuses -- dentist appointment in the morning, which was more unpleasant than usual because of aforementioned sinuses, but I had no cavities and I got the really good hygienist, so that was nice. I had plans to meet Gblvr for lunch but she was driving all the way down in my direction, so I did a little shopping (well, browsing), then went to Lebanese Taverna with her for hummus and cheese fatayer, and then browsing in Ulta -- she brought me my favorite shade of 1970s glittery blue eyeshadow, yay!

I came home, collapsed, and slept for about an hour, then took Advil, which got me through the rest of the day. My stomach finally seems to be recovering from the zinc, which I am now certain makes me sicker than being sick. We watched Flash Forward, which I went back and forth about -- had good initial reviews though the premise seems certain to run it into the ground after half a season, has a lot of female characters though has Brannon Braga as executive producer, has many cast members whom I really love though has Joseph Fiennes in the part I wish Jack Davenport was playing (I adore Sonya Walger and hope she gets to make out with both of them). We all really enjoyed the to see if they can sustain interest. I just hope it gets more of a wrap-up than Threshold did, if not.

Enchanted Forest, Clark's Elioak Farm

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Poem for Thursday

A Yes-or-No Answer
By Jane Shore

Have you read The Story of O?
Will Buffalo sink under all that snow?
Do you double-dip your Oreo?
Please answer the question yes or no.

The surgery—was it touch-and-go?
Does a corpse's hair continue to grow?
Remember when we were simpatico?
Answer my question: yes or no.

Do you want another cup of joe?
If I touch you, is it apropos?
Are you certain that you're hetero?
Is your answer yes or no?

Did you lie to me, like Pinocchio?
Was forbidden fruit the cause of woe?
Did you ever sleep with that so-and-so?
Just answer the question: yes or no.

Did you nail her under the mistletoe?
Will you spare me the details, blow by blow?
Did she sing sweeter than a vireo?
I need an answer. Yes or no?

Are we still a dog-and-pony show?
Shall we change partners and do-si-do?
Are you planning on the old heave-ho?
Check an answer: Yes o No o.

Was something blue in my trousseau?
Do you take this man, this woman? Oh,
but that was very long ago.
Did we say yes? Did we say no?

For better or for worse? Ergo,
shall we play it over, in slow mo?
Do you love me? Do you know?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.


Daniel has definitely shared his cold with me, sigh. And zinc, I keep rediscovering, makes me feel worse instead of better...maybe it's kept my sinuses clearer than they might otherwise be, but it makes me feel like my tongue is swelling and that in turn makes me gag, which upsets my stomach. So I stayed home and drank tea and finished my rather wordy review of The Lost Symbol for the Green Man Review, then I folded laundry while watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical because 1) Sarah Michelle Gellar just had a baby so I was reading about her and 2) the other night I dreamed a friend of mine might be marrying Anthony Stewart Head. I feel robbed that BtVS was on at the same time as The X-Files, La Femme Nikita, and so many other shows with awesome women that I failed to appreciate it properly. Now, with Twilight and Heroes flapping around, I really miss Buffy.

Since I have nothing significant to report otherwise, here is a meme for which Dementordelta tagged me. The rules are that if you've been tagged, you must write your answers in your own LJ and replace any questions that you dislike with a new, original question, and then you must tag eight sexy people. I hate tagging people, so if you like memes, consider yourself tagged, and if you don't, consider yourself off the hook!

Who sleeps in bed next to you? Paul, often with cat(s) between us.

What's one of the strangest things that has ever happened to you? I got a paying job in which one of the advertised requirements was "expertise in Star Trek" and where my first interview question was, "Who's a better captain, Kirk or Picard?"

What kind of magazines do you read? Outdoor Photographer, Smithsonian, Astronomy, Entertainment Weekly, to name a few.

If you could see one band in concert right now, any band, dead or alive, which would it be? The Beatles. Preferably all alive now in 2009 and friends again.

What's really creepy? People who don't think they need to warn for dub-con and chan.

Name one odd item within five feet of you. The Touchstone Tarot.

What's your current fandom/obsession/addiction? Evidently Paul Gross, since I am liking Eastwick better than Glee and feeling vaguely guilty about it.

Where would you like to go right now if you had enough money? Cornwall.

What are you most excited for? To see whether the world actually ends when the Mayan calendar suggests it will.

What websites do you always visit when you go online? Gmail, Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter.

What was the last thing you bought? A mini-photo book (free except for shipping, which is why I bought it).

What's your favorite season? The one that started yesterday -- autumn.

Does the weather affect your mood? The light or lack thereof much more than the temperature or storms.

What is your zodiac sign? Sagittarius, Scorpio rising.

Do you want to learn another language? I wish I could speak French as well as I can read it, and I wish I knew as much Spanish as my son does.

5 Things (not people) you can't live without? Cell phone, laptop, car, refrigerator, pillow.

Do you have any siblings? One younger sister.

What's something you'd like to say someone right now? I told you so.

What's your earliest memory? Playing with my grandmother on the blue rug in our house in Silver Spring, from which we moved in 1972.

Say something to the person who tagged you. Pennsylvania Renfaire next weekend!!!

One of the pigs at Homestead Farm last weekend.

Adam with two baby goats.

The turkey in the hen house.

A goat traipsing across the goat walk.

Adam with Elmo the calf.

Apples coming ripe on the trees.

Bees enjoying someone's discarded apple peel in the orchard.

Seasonal gourds for sale in the farm store.

So I may as well confess: I enjoyed Eastwick more than Glee tonight. That is not to say that I think Eastwick is better in any quantifiable way -- certainly it doesn't have uniqueness or originality going for it. In fact, it is possible that it has nothing going for it besides Paul Gross, which I am embarrassed to admit may be enough for me at the moment. But I like the fact that the main characters are adult women, that even the ditziest of those women annoys me less than the two women competing for Will's attention -- it's very sad that the teens seem more mature than the ostensible grownups, though I suppose that's the convention on teen shows -- and I love the set design on Eastwick, the town, the art fair, the glimpses of pagan iconography. I reserve the right to despise the series eventually as much as I hate the book and film that preceded it, but right now I'm happy to have it on!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poem for Wednesday

Waiting and Finding
By Jack Gilbert

While he was in kindergarten, everybody wanted to play
the tomtoms when it came time for that. You had to
run in order to get there first, and he would not.
So he always had a triangle. He does not remember
how they played the tomtoms, but he sees clearly
their Chinese look. Red with dragons front and back
and gold studs around that held the drumhead tight.
If you had a triangle, you didn't really make music.
You mostly waited while the tambourines and tomtoms
went on a long time. Until there was a signal for all
triangle people to hit them the right way. Usually once.
Then it was tomtoms and waiting some more. But what
he remembers is the sound of the triangle. A perfect,
shimmering sound that has lasted all his long life.
Fading out and coming again after a while. Getting lost
and the waiting for it to come again. Waiting meaning
without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out,
sometimes being taken away. Meaning that often he lives
silent in the middle of the world's music. Waiting
for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence
as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much.


My mother and I went Tuesday morning to meet with the photographer from younger son's Bar Mitzvah, because though we had both seen the event photos on her web site, we were having a hard time comparing photos on our small computer screens to decide which we wanted in albums and which we might want to get framed. It was a lot of fun, both seeing the photos on her big TV monitor and just talking photography -- some of my favorite photos that she took aren't pictures that I'd put in the album except perhaps as low-contrast page backgrounds, like the wide shots in the sanctuary and the restaurant before the guests started arriving, but they're really interesting to me in terms of the composition and lighting. I told her that she should take them to the Melting Pot and ask if they'd want her to do their advertising, because I was ready to go out for fondue as soon as the pictures of the steaming cheese pots came up.

Instead my mother took me to the nearby Praline Bakery & Bistro, where I had excellent tomato barley soup and an even more excellent salad with poached pear, bleu cheese, port wine vinaigrette, and grilled chicken, all while sitting on the terrace in the gorgeous first-day-of-fall weather. Then I did laundry and tried to encourage younger son to study for his math test and older son to study his history while they found ways to distract themselves with YouTube videos. Paul and Daniel thought their allergies were bothering them this weekend, but I now suspect that they had colds, because I think I caught it...either that, or allergy season came roaring in with the equinox this afternoon. Ah well, at least I don't have to go to the dentist till Thursday.

A stalking green heron in the ruins of the canal at Riley's Lock.

The old bridge and aqueduct on the Potomac River.

Herons and cormorants in the river.

A spider by what's left of the canal wall.

There are snapping turtles, red-eared sliders, and painted turtles in the sunny still water.

A male cardinal singing in the trees.

Another green heron fishing in the duckweed.

An old wagon at Poole's General Store, Seneca.

I liked the Warehouse 13 season finale a lot -- good balance of all the characters, interesting spin on Claudia and Leena, and for everything that's derivative, X-Files-Relic Hunter-Indiana Jones ripoff, any show that can pull off with the line, "This place is full of like the worst guys ever...Hitler, Mussolini, Michael Vick..." is a keeper as far as I'm concerned. It'll be back in 2010, right?