Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lyrics for Saturday and Final Fantasy Distant Worlds

Tsuki no Akari (Light of the Moon)
By Nobuo Uematsu

I muttered your name
Inside my heart
Although my feelings
Won't reach you there

Now it's distant
That beloved face
Floats in this night sky
Even with my eyes closed

Those pleasant days
When we laughed together
Are still now warm in my heart

The light of the moon
Glows in the blue night
As though bringing to light
The radiance of those days

Not even able
To wipe away your tears
These two hands of mine
Can only tremble here

Now I am alone
On an unending journey
I do nothing but wander
On these weary feet

The glow we encountered
That day we spent together
Is still now warm in my hands

The light of the moon
Simply shines on silently
As though stirring up
This rusted heart


From Final Fantasy IV. A friend sent me these lyrics but I have no idea who translated them from Japanese. I think you can find the originals at The Opera House.

Quickie because I didn't get home till after 11 p.m. from Distant Worlds: Music from 'Final Fantasy' played by the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap. We took the kids as a surprise...well, actually we mostly took Daniel as a surprise since he's the one who plays Final Fantasy. Adam complained about being dragged to a lame concert before he even knew what it was, and when he found out, he pronounced all of us n00bs, though he later acknowledged that the concert, and I quote, "didn't actually suck." We had seats inside the Filene Center but the bigger crowd was on the lawn, along with the bigger screen showing visuals from FF (the early ones with 8-bit graphics were pretty hilarious, while the never-before-shown clips from FFXIV looked fantastic). I am not a gamer and know the characters and music only in tiny bits from my kids, so I cannot comment intelligently on the adaptation, but only note that the music was quite lovely, particularly "Zanarkand" (which also had gorgeous graphic accompaniment) and "Vamo' alla Flamenco." The Chocobo evolution sequence was great, too.

The mascot of Wolf Trap greets concertgoers and while volunteers direct them to information, souvenirs, etc.

My family awaits the concert. Adam is wearing his "my parents are n00bs" expression.

Many visitors came in costume, some as subtle as a tail, others as elaborate as full armor with an enormous (though presumably styrofoam) sword.

The front of the Filene Center was outfitted with a screen... that concertgoers on the lawn could see the video. It was an absolutely gorgeous, low-humidity, relatively cool evening.

The screen on the stage wasn't quite as large but the visuals looked great.

Absolutely no photos were permitted during the concert while video was being shown. I snuck this one during a break.

Otherwise, my day was less eventful -- writing a review of Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Interface", stopping by Tiara Galleries' Vera Bradley and Brighton sale before all the good 70% off items were gone, having dinner with my parents, doing various chores. Daniel was ambivalent about the fact that he was not heading to Otakon where many of his friends from school are spending the weekend, so he consoled himself with chatting via computer and Shin Megami Tensei; Adam went to the pool and hiking by the creek in search of local wildlife, plus working on fractals and the audio for his Life in a Day video. On Saturday I am having lunch and going downtown with a longtime friend from Trek fandom, yay!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Poem for Friday and African Animals

By Alice Fulton

It's just me throwing myself at you,
romance as usual, us times us,

not lust but moxibustion,
a substance burning close

to the body as possible
without risk of immolation.

Nearness without contact
causes numbness. Analgesia.

Pins and needles. As the snugness
of the surgeon's glove causes hand fatigue.

At least this procedure
requires no swag or goody bags,

stuff bestowed upon the stars
at their luxe functions.

There's no dress code,
though leg irons

are always appropriate.
And if anyone says what the hell

are you wearing in Esperanto—
Kion diable vi portas?

tell them anguish
is the universal language.

Stars turn to train wrecks
and my heart goes out,

admirers gush. Ground to a velvet!
But never mind the downside,

mon semblable, mon crush.
Love is just the retaliation of light.

It is so profligate, you know,
so rich with rush.


From this week's New Yorker.

After having to cancel plans earlier in the week due to much of my region having no power, I finally got to see Dementordelta! Who brought me souvenirs from Infinitus and lots of leftover convention food, for which I am not sure I am grateful but my kids are! We went to the mall to get crepes and samosas, though first we sent the kids to play in the Apple store and went to be girly in Claire's and Hot Topic (we may have purchased some very blingy bracelets and seahorse keychains). Then we brought the food home and watched the Clash of the Titans remake, which I must admit I found nearly as cheesy as the 1981 version, though I enjoyed it; the women's roles were still pathetic, the dialogue ranged from bad to Zeus-awful, and I swear Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes made a bet about who could be more over the top. I think it would have been more fun if they broke typecasting and had Aslan play the evil god and Voldemort the benevolent one. My kids watched too and were less than impressed, though I note that they stayed for the whole film (of course, the fact that there was a thunderstorm and they couldn't go to the pool may have had something to do with that).

We went looking for Sherlock on BBC America On Demand, but being unable to find it, we settled for the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. I had found it a pleasant surprise in the theater after being warned that it was kind of silly and violent; I can't argue about the silliness, since the plot isn't precisely intellectual, but the violence doesn't seem excessive to me and I still love the performances, particularly Rachel McAdams as Irene (I also love her character's story arc). Plus it's fun to see the recreation of historic London, sepia-tone at all. Naturally we also had to watch some Due South. Adam (who made this, and said of Titans, "If the writers of "And The Children Shall Lead" and Ron Moore teamed up to write a movie about a bastardization of multiple Greek myths, and then they all fell into a woodchipper and were blended together, the monstrous amalgamation of failure that came out would write this GARBAGE") eventually went to the pool and Daniel to work on his summer project. Eventually my family had Indian food for dinner and watched Futurama, which had some hilarious parodies of both The Time Machine and Planet of the Apes. Speaking of apes, some Maryland Zoo photos from the Africa region last weekend:

A chimpanzee tries to balance a ball on his nose.

Zebras unfazed by 100-degree heat.

A tiny deer called a dik-dik.

A stork marching through tall grass.

Tortoises enjoying their lunch.

A hornbill heading to the water to cool off.

The lioness settles down in the shade.

The Colobus monkey gets to live indoors with the rock hyrax, so it doesn't overheat quite so much.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poem for Thursday and Blue Ribbon Alpacas

By Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Translated by Naomi Lazard

India-Pakistan War: 1965

Since our lights were extinguished
I have been searching for a way to see;
my eyes are lost, God knows where.

You who know me, tell me who I am,
who is a friend, and who an enemy.
A murderous river has been unleashed
into my veins; hatred beats in it.

Be patient; a flash of lightning will come
from another horizon like the white hand
of Moses with my eyes, my lost diamonds.


The above was found while looking for a blackout poem; it's not really what I was hunting for, but it's very powerful, so I kept it.

I love having power! And internet! And air conditioning! I have several local friends, including Cidercupcakes, who still don't have power back, and some of them have been told it may take until Friday, which is horrible to contemplate. After a quiet morning during which both my kids slept late after a somewhat erratic sleep schedule when we had no power, we went out after lunch, first to Mom's Organic Market to get tofu and bean dip, then to Trader Joe's to get hummus and fakin' bacon, though Trader Joe's on Rockville Pike had lost power on Sunday and was still cleaning up -- half the freezer section was empty and the store smelled like rotting food. I felt very sorry for the people who worked there.

Then we came home and I folded laundry while watching Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, just because it had been too long. Both kids ended up watching with me and afterward we watched several of the making-of features because I knew my son the filmmaker would be interested in seeing how the miniatures and special effects were created and used. Both the movie and the extras are as wonderful as ever. In the evening we watched Paul McCartney in performance at the White House on PBS, which was fun though uneven (the Jonas Brothers singing "Drive My Car" is a travesty; Emmylou Harris accompanying herself on guitar on "For No One" is a revelation; McCartney performing "Let It Be" remains unparalleled; he very much deserved his Gershwin Prize).

I believe I mentioned that when the storm that knocked out our power hit the region, we were on the Montgomery County Farm Tour visiting Star Gazing Farm. Before that, we had gone to Blue Ribbon Alpacas, which has lots of adorable, slightly skittish but fairly friendly alpacas plus other animals and a small shop with alpaca woolens. Here are some photos:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Poem for Wednesday and Post-Storm Catchup

The Match
By Chad Davidson

The burner and the blackout crave you: pilot
of heat, purveyor of the innocent
candle and cigarette, light we tamed
then fed to the night. Cupped, inviolate,
a winter moth, a prayer we never sent
away, you live in seconds what we name
a life, a sudden cleansing. You Prometheus
come as toothpick, the false fire lent
to our fingertips, lightbulb of the lame
idea: may your phosphorus forgive us,
old flame.


Our power came back on around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, huzzah! This after a night during which my kids slept on the couch and floor in the living room because it was so hot upstairs; we'd considered sleeping in the basement, but there's so much stuff down there right now waiting to go out to VVA, National Children's Center, etc. that we can't even open the sleep sofa. One of the downstairs lights came on when the power returned and got us up but apparently the kids slept through it. It took several more hours for the house to cool off, but really, I am not complaining, considering that my parents' power was out for 12 hours longer than ours, I have friends who still don't have power, and there are several county public schools and parks that will be closed indefinitely for repairs. (One of the local storm deaths was from a tree falling at Claude Moore Farm, which we had visited the weekend before.) Hopefully the temperature won't reach the weekend highs in the 90s.

We had gone out Sunday after dropping Daniel off to work on his summer project on the Montgomery County farm tour; we'd seen lots of animals at Blue Ribbon Alpacas and had just arrived at Star Gazing Farm in Boyds when the sky turned dark and it started to rain. We went back to the car, and it poured buckets for about 15 minutes, with leaves and small branches raining down as well. When we tried to leave after the downpour, a tree had blocked the dirt road out of the farm and had to be moved by four farm volunteers before cars could get in or out. The farm's tents had blown over and the animals taken inside. Meanwhile, the county text message alert system had sent a tornado warning for Silver Spring and told everyone county-wide to seek shelter.

Many of the traffic lights were out as we approached Germantown, and when we stopped at Baskin Robbins, the entire shopping center's power was out. So were the anchor stores at Lakeforest Mall. Trader Joe's had power but they were out of Mediterranean hummus, which ended up being a good thing since we'd have ended up throwing most of it out. We picked up older son and came home, only to discover a tree blocking the main entrance to our development. When we turned up the nearest street, a tree was blocking that, too. We finally got in the back way, seeing branches scattered all over the roads and sidewalks. My parents had no power either and invited us out to dinner -- we ended up at American City Diner in DC, since the District wasn't hit as hard as our county. When we got home, we took a walk around the neighborhood and the kids and their friend tried to help move the trees in the road, though eventually the police were called since it had gotten too dark and the trees were too big.

We got a lot of mosquito bites, but at least the temperature had dropped 15 degrees, the only reason we could sleep in a house with no air conditioning. On Monday, after determining what was open and what was not in Rockville, we went to Panera seeking lunch (since we didn't dare open the refrigerator, still hoping we'd be able to salvage the contents) plus air conditioning and free wi-fi -- Panera has lots of places to plug in, but their wireless is hopelessly slow. Even so, we ate our sandwiches and cookies very slowly just to stay indoors. We stopped at Target in search of additional lanterns but they were completely out. I showered by candlelight and for dinner we ate the veggie bacon we had bought the day before at Trader Joe's and put in a cooler, very glad we had a gas stove that could be lit manually. Since we had all gotten tired of Yahtzee and Uno, we went back out after dinner, this time to Washingtonian, where we tried Dick's Sporting Goods for a lantern and listened to the jazz band playing at the bandstand by the lake.

Tuesday was spent mostly doing damage control and chores that had to be postponed for two days: laundry, Bagel City for fresh food, picking up Adam's violin from the shop where the bow was being rehaired, stopping at Home Depot to get the kids noise-canceling earmuffs, more laundry, emptying the entire refrigerator and some of the freezer, scrubbing the fridge cleaner than it's been since Hurricane Isabel caused a similar purge, more laundry, running the dishwasher to clean all the emptied bottles and containers, trying to put away the sleeping bag that a cat had claimed for her own, more laundry, finally a proper shower with the discovery that shaving one's legs with 30 mosquito bites is a real pain, Warehouse 13's terrible episode in which we find out all girls no matter how smart want to be supermodels and have boyfriends, and more laundry, none of which is folded yet. But it's clean!

Adam and his friend Daniel attempting to move the trees blocking the road into our neighborhood. Adam got some great news -- a TV producer wants to buy a funny clip he made of Daniel falling over on rollerblades!

Earlier in the day, Star Gazing Farm volunteers attempted to move branches off their access drive...

Lakeforest Mall was open an hour or so after the storm, but none of the restaurants or big stores had power and many of the smaller ones were closed as well.

We had dinner at this downtown diner. Note the relative lack of tree branches, leaves, and debris on the road.

When we got home from dinner, the tree blocking the entrance to our neighborhood had been sawed into pieces but the glass from the car it hit when it fell was still on the road.

My family and friends tried to move the trees off the road leading to the other entrance, but ultimately had to leave it to the pros.

Some of our neighbors, fed up with being in a house that was too hot even with windows open, slept here.

Not everyone was fazed by the power being out. Bunnies, bats, a fox, and many squirrels made appearances during our many walks through the neighborhood to see the cleanup.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Placeholder for Tuesday

Still have no power, as is the case for tens of thousands in the region. Got some novel experiences today -- showered by candlelight, watched an old oak tree being cut down before it could fall on a neighbor's house -- but although it was thankfully not too hot in the morning when I walked through the neighborhood to see how the cleanup was coming, the novelty of being without power, AC and internet is really gone. I took the kids to Panera for lunch in search of wi-fi but though we got lucky and got a table with an outlet, the wi-fi was really too slow to use. We did have quality family bonding time at least playing Uno and Yahtzee when not out walking in the woods. We ate the stuff we bought yesterday and dumped in the cooler for dinner since we'll have to throw out everything in the fridge/freezer, then went to Target, Dick's, etc. in search of lantern mantles, propane, and assorted necessities. Again I must go save phone power. Some neighbors are sleeping in a tent in the parking lot. I'd really love my power back!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Placeholder for Monday

A massive storm knocked out most of the power in my county around 3 p.m. and it's still out in most places. We were on a farm tour and avoided getting drenched or struck by lightning but we had to fight our way through traffic lights that were out and work our way past downed trees, including one blocking access to our neighborhood. More tomorrow when hopefully I won't have to post via phone!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Poem for Sunday and Breakfast with the Penguins

Sunday Night
By Sharon Olds

When the family would go to a restaurant,
my father would put his hand up a waitress's
skirt if he could -- hand, wrist,
forearm. Suddenly, you couldn't see
his elbow, just the upper arm.
His teeth were wet, the whites of his eyes
wet, a man with a stump of an arm,
as if he had reached behind the night.
It was always the right arm, he wasn't
fooling. Places we had been before,
no one would serve us, unless there was a young
unwarned woman, and I never warned her.
Wooop! he would go, as if we were having
fun together. Sometimes, now,
I remember it as if he had had his
arm in up to his shoulder, his arm
to its pit in the mother, he laughed with teary
eyes, as if he was weeping with relief.
His other arm would be lying on the table --
he liked to keep it motionless, to
improve the joke, ventriloquist
with his arm up the dummy, his own shriek
coming out of her mouth. I wish I had stuck
a fork in that arm, driven the tines
deep, heard the squeak of muscle,
felt the skid on bone. I may have
met, since then, someone related
to one of the women at the True Blue
or at the Hick'ry Pit. Sometimes
I imagine my way back into the skirts
of the women my father hurt, those bells of
twilight, those sacred tented woods.
I want to sweep, tidy, stack --
whatever I can do, clean the stable
of my father's mind. Maybe undirty
my own, come to see the whole body
as blameless and lovely. I want to work off
my father's and my sins, stand
beneath the night sky with the full moon
glowing, knowing I am under the dome
of a woman who forgives me.


We got up early Saturday on an insanely hot July day -- the county sent out an emergency heat advisory in the morning, and Baltimore reached 100 degrees in the afternoon with a heat index of 110 -- to go to Breakfast with the Penguins at the Maryland Zoo, which we've done each year for the past five years for Adam's birthday. It's always fun to see the penguins, though the ambassador penguin whom we got to pet last year was extremely cranky, having been yanked out of the pool and dragged in a cat carrier to perform; she bit the hand of the volunteer taking care of her, so petting was out of the question and even photos were dicey. The penguins on Rock Island weren't happy about the heat either and ate few of the fish we threw to them, though the cormorants in the exhibit were more than happy to dive after the food. We ate very well, though, listening to the penguins squawk and honk at each other and watching them take turns diving into the water to cool off.

Adam, a zoo volunteer, and the cranky penguin Ascot, who had to do ambassador duty since her sisters were moulting.

As in previous years, we arrived bright and early, before either we or the penguins were fully awake...

...and were served eggs, waffles, sausages for the carnivores, potatoes, pastries, fruit, orange juice, and lots of water since it was already nearly 90 degrees.

Many of the penguins were swimming, but the cormorants gobbled up most of the fish we fed them. The zoo staff explained that because it was so early and so hot, the penguins were just not that hungry.

This moulting penguin appeared to wish for air conditioning as much as we did.

The visiting adult humans were given coffee mugs as souvenirs while the kids were given stuffed penguins. Some of the adults managed to beg a stuffed penguin, too.

Kids also got to practice catching fish like a penguin would.

These are the two youngest penguins currently at Rock Island -- sisters who preferred each other's company out of the 50 or so penguins living there. More photos of the breakfast are here.

Of course, since we were at the zoo, we visited nearly all the other residents, starting with the African animals in the same area as the African penguins: elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees, warthogs, cheetahs, gazelles, zebras, birds, and more. Then we went to the Arctic exhibit, which unfortunately is not kept at Arctic temperatures, though there is an air conditioned explorer vehicle overlooking the polar bears; there are also snowy owls and arctic foxes, plus the Baltimore Ravens mascots live in this area of the zoo. We stopped for Italian ice before we went to the Maryland wilderness exhibit, which thankfully has caves, an underwater otter tunnel, and a shaded barnyard area as well as local birds, snakes, frogs, and foxes. We saw local wildlife all around the zoo as well -- frogs in the marshy area near the penguin enclosure sang to us as we ate, there was a snake near the giraffes, and a chipmunk had taken up residence in the warthog enclosure.

It was so hot that we gave up on the idea of having lunch in the picnic area at the zoo and came home for lunch in the middle of the afternoon. Adam worked on his Life in a Day movie -- I got to film him a couple of times and appear in a couple of scenes -- and Daniel needed to get in some quality Shin Megami Tensei time since he'll be working most of Sunday on his summer research project. We watched the Doctor Who season finale on BBC America, then were planning to watch a nature documentary but our PBS station had the listing wrong, so instead we watched a documentary about the history of Hershey, Pennsylvania -- how the chocolate factory built the town and how the town built the amusement park -- which was actually quite interesting considering how many times we've visited!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Poem for Saturday and Claude Moore Colonial Farm

The Sabbath
By Anthony Carelli

We weren't speaking. It was snowing, temps dipping
into the teens. You and I were playing Frisbee
because we'd fought all day, and it's a tonic
to get outside and throw the sharp disk at one another
with cold dumb hands. Then the animals appeared.
Horses—male, I think—a pair of grayish steeds climbed
the man-cleared path to the softball field
in Prospect Park, where we stood at a distance.
"Wow," you said, "horses," but I missed them at first.
I was chasing down the disk that overshot, banked
above, and hissed in the sky, a flattened apple.
I had had it. "Baby," I almost said, "I'm trying
to make a catch here." But I was stopped instead,
lofted like the Frisbee. It was the word "horses"
in Brooklyn air. It was their bodies in Brooklyn in 2007.
Though what is the good of horses in Brooklyn in 2007?
As the first came he bowed his head with one step
and hoisted with the next, nodding like a drunk to nobody
he knows, so slowly that, within the machinations
of a single nod, I revised this scene a dozen times
and made a fine behind-the-back Frisbee snatch
to boot. And yes, I remembered the horses of Achilles,
the chariot of Israel, and Emily's toward Eternity. . .
Sometime I'd like to discuss the horses at length.
Meanwhile the second horse did whatever I say
the first horse did, which is walk, and smoke breath,
glimmer, and gloom. They both shouldered through
the intermittent aeons of twilight as mitigated
by black tree shafts. There were riders, too—
there must have been. They wore fancy sweaters—
red, or was it blue? I even thought to go to them,
gently, and stare into their eyes (the horses, I mean)
to see the candles on the horse-shaped altar inside—
horses are, perhaps, more lovely than a Frisbee—
but that's not what happened, honey. This
is our life: we fought until dark, we mastered
our timing, you made that magnificent cartwheel toss.


Another from this week's New Yorker.

My kids had another good day on Friday. Adam's friend from Venezuela returned, along with his local best friend, to go swimming at the pool and explore the neighborhood -- the three boys apparently went for a hike, discovered a crevasse, played with the fish in the creek that runs through our town, found a turtle, and saw lots of bugs before coming here to play their favorite video games from second and third grade, when they were last all in school together. Meanwhile, my father took Daniel out to lunch and to play miniature golf, where apparently they were pretty evenly matched.

I knew I had only the couple of hours they were all out of the house to use the treadmill down the basement and get the bulk of my work done, so I wrote a somewhat rushed review of Star Trek: The Next Generation's terrible "Liaisons". Adam was bummed when his friend had to leave, but he is planning to film for Life in a Day tomorrow, so he spent quite a bit of time preparing for that. We had dinner with my parents and had a fairly quiet evening, since we're getting up early on what's expected to be a record-setting hot July day in Baltimore for Breakfast with the Penguins! Here are some more photos from the colonial market fair at Claude Moore Farm last weekend:

Visitors can buy 18th century style cloth and clothing at the colonial fair.

And they can watch wooden goblets being created by craftsmen...

...track down herbs and spices...

and eat chickens cooked over an open fire.

Tobacco is the farm's main crop.

There are also chickens and geese to provide eggs...

...sheep to provide wool...

...and piglets, because they are adorable.

Fannish5: List 5 works (where work could be a series, movie, book, episode, or even a character) that you feel are misunderstood, and why.
1. Deep Space Nine
. It's hardly a new or original complaint, but I know Trekkies of every stripe -- original series fans, TNG fans, Voyager fans, reboot fans, plus B5 fans and BSG fans -- who are all to willing to dismiss this series, which I think episode for episode had the best long run in the history of television and still has my very favorite female character of all time.
2. The Sarah Jane Adventures. I've lost count of how many Doctor Who and Torchwood fans have told me they don't like it because it's for/about kids. It's the only installment in the franchise that has women first and foremost at all time, and rather than having gratuitous kids who serve as plot devices like Torchwood does too often, it has young people with intelligence and agency.
3. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. For reasons I don't quite understand, people forgive Xena for being ahistorical and just plain ridiculous at times (not to mention sexist at times) yet ridicule Herc mercilessly. I must admit that, episode for episode, I loved Hercules just as much, and if that makes me a bad feminist, so be it.
4. Dawson's Creek. People complain that the characters don't talk like real teenagers. They aren't supposed to talk like real teenagers; they're supposed to be the teenage selves who live in our heads, who actually have the perfect comeback, two decades later. Yet they still don't have all the answers. I really loved this series all six seasons of its run.
5. Relic Hunter. I think a lot of people thought it was supposed to be Tomb Raider, or at least a female Indiana Jones, which it never was, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. And Sydney Fox is awesome.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Poem for Friday and Longwood Color

The Origin of Order
By Pattiann Rogers

Stellar dust has settled.
It is green underwater now in the leaves
Of the yellow crowfoot. Its vacancies are gathered together
Under pine litter as emerging flower of the pink arbutus.
It has gained the power to make itself again
In the bone-filled egg of osprey and teal.

One could say this toothpick grasshopper
Is a cloud of decayed nebula congealed and perching
On his female mating. The tortoise beetle,
Leaving the stripped veins of morning glory vines
Like licked bones, is a straw-colored swirl
Of clever gases.

At this moment there are dead stars seeing
Themselves as marsh and forest in the eyes
Of muskrat and shrew, disintegrated suns
Making songs all night long in the throats
Of crawfish frogs, in the rubbings and gratings
Of the red-legged locust. There are spirits of orbiting
Rock in the shells of pointed winkles
And apple snails, ghosts of extinct comets caught
In the leap of darting hare and bobcat, revolutions
Of rushing stone contained in the sound of these words.

The paths of the Pleiades and Coma clusters
Have been compelled to mathematics by the mind
Contemplating the nature of itself
In the motions of stars. The patterns
Of any starry summer night might be identical
To the summer heavens circling inside the skull.
I can feel time speeding now in all directions
Deeper and deeper into the black oblivion
Of the electrons directly behind my eyes.

Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.


I had a pretty good Thursday -- I wasn't sick, for starters -- but Adam had a truly great Thursday. My mother took us to Bagel City for lunch, where she and Daniel had tuna, Adam had a veggie melt, and I had walnut raisin cream cheese on a cinnamon raisin bagel, which is one of my favorite things; then we went to the violin shop for the final inspection before we own the instrument we've been renting for the past few years, and the shop offered to rehair the bow for free since they'd have done it under the rental warranty if we'd come in a couple of weeks earlier. So we left the violin there and came home, at which point Adam's best friend from first through third grades, who had moved back to Venezuela with his family five years ago, dropped by -- Adam had known he was in the U.S. because he'd left a message on Facebook. On Friday they are going to the pool together along with Adam's good friend Daniel W who is also from Venezuela.

As if that wasn't enough good news, a producer from TruTV wrote to Adam about a video he had made of Daniel W being a klutz on rollerblades, asking if he'd let them use it on an America's Funniest Videos-type show called It Only Hurts When I Laugh. She needs my permission too since he's underage. So even though he had some technical problems with a video he was working on today (microphone failure, video editing problems), he gets to have fun with his friends on Friday and Breakfast with the Penguins is on Saturday. Daniel played video games with them in the afternoon and went in the evening to work with my friend Kay's husband on his summer project, which he enjoys, so it was a good day for everyone.

In the evening while Daniel was out, the rest of us watched The Attenborough Collection's "Elephant: Spy in the Herd" and Nature's "Andes: The Dragon's Back," both of which were wonderful -- the former followed an African elephant herd and demonstrated that elephants apparently grieve for their dead, the latter showed all the species that live in the Andes from penguins to foxes to guanacos to little bunny-like rodents. I loved seeing Humboldt penguins running through a rainforest making vuvuzela noises. It was over 90 degrees on Thursday and is supposed to be even hotter Friday through Sunday, so here are some photos of the outdoor flowers at the equally warm Longwood Gardens last Sunday, a more green palette than the blossoms of spring and leaves of fall: