Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

My Photo
Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

For Halloween

The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow will he leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Is it too early to post this one?

The Journey of the Magi

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation,
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky.
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

-- T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Something to think about

Levi's friend Alison who lived in the building across the way moved to Senegal with her family a while ago. One of her moms is in the foreign service, so they'll be there the usual three years. Her other mom is keeping a blog about the experience. There is a link to it under links. You probably don't know her, so it wouldn't be interesting to read regularly, but if you would like something to think about, read these three posts:

Maggie, Mrs. St. Lawrence, Miss Maggie?

Okay, so my son is old enough to start calling the people we know by name. This creates a small dilemma for me. What should I have him call them? This whole Mr./Miss First Name thing is really pretty foreign to me. I think it's a southern thing? As a kid, we had a friend from Louisiana who did that and we all thought that it was pretty funny because we had never heard it before. So, when a child of a friend calls me Miss Maggie, it makes me do a double take. Growing up, I called my mom's friends by their first names and my stepdad's friends Mr./Mrs. Last Name. If it was the mom of a friend, or an adult I didn't know very well I would revert to Mr./Mrs. Last Name, so it's not that I didn't learn to respect my elders. So now I have to walk that fine line between building a comfortable relationship between him and my friends, teaching him to respect his elders, doing what I'm comfortable and familiar with and trying not to offend anyone. So, I have decided to take it on a case by case basis. Please let me know what you would prefer to be called and I will do my best to instill it in my son. As Mr. Fantastic will attest, there are no guarantees. I would also like to add that it is fine for your children to call me Miss Maggie, I may do a bit of a double take, but it's got to be easier to get used to than Mrs. St. Lawrence was.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Poetry Thursday

We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks


We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

On A Telling Reaction

So I was riding in the car with my family the other day and the car in front of us, a nice newer volvo, had the license plate 1PET410. Neither the hubby or I knew the verse off the tops of our heads, so we looked it up later. It says, "Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received". I said, "oh, that's...nice". Something in me was actually disappointed that it was not some ridiculous out-of-context verse about which I could roll my eyes and feel superior. What does that say about me? Something not very good, I'm afraid.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Weaving Analogies


by Edward Taylor

Make me, O Lord, thy spinning wheel complete.
Thy Holy Word my distaff make for me.
Make mine affections thy swift flyers neat
And make my soul thy holy spool to be.
My conversation make to be thy reel
And reel the yarn thereon spun of thy wheel.

Make me thy loom then, knit therein this twine:
And make thy Holy Spirit, Lord, wind quills:
Then weave the web thyself. The yarn is fine.
Thine ordinances make my fulling mills.
Then dye the same in heavenly colors choice,
All pinked with varnished flowers of paradise.

Then clothe therewith mine understanding, will,
Affections, judgment, conscience, memory
My words, and actions, that their shine may fill
My ways with glory and thee glorify.
Then mine apparel shall display before ye
That I am clothed in holy robes for glory.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Toast

This is a toast to a woman that most of you know. Recently, our little corner of the world erupted in rejoicing to find out that she is pregnant. And, with twins, no less. None of us can imagine the existance of anyone who would make better parents than she and her husband. She is one of those strong, beautiful women that all of us want to be like. Only, rather than causing jealosy, she makes each of us work harder to be better people, to be more like her.
This weekend, my little family helped move her soon-to-be-larger family move out of their house. Now, being in her first trimester, this woman was not feeling well. As many of you know, the first trimester of pregancy is surprisingly difficult. You feel sick nearly all of the time, and way more tired than you were prepared for. Do you know what causes the fatigue? Your body is building a placenta. A placenta is an organ that will protect and nourish your baby (or babies) for 40 weeks, give or take (hopefully take 2 exactly). Your body is actually building a new organ. That is freaking amazing. No wonder you're tired. And, on top of that, you have to pee a lot which you didn't expect to happen until much later. And, you are getting more advice than you've ever gotten in your life (this actually gets worse after the baby is born, but it's hard at the beginning when you're not used to it).
So she was exhausted and nauseous the entire day, not to mention feeling a whole lot of emotion regarding recent happenings in her life. And yet, one would not know any of this unless one were to specifically ask. She simply does not complain. I would like to take this opportunity to remind her that while pregnant, one is allowed to be as complaining and self-indulgent as one wants. If she had sat down, put her feet up and asked us to feed her grapes we would have happily complied. I can't really see her ever doing this exactly, but, come on, not even a short nap in a busy, stressful day. I hope that she may come to understand that we all want to help her. We want to feel as if we are doing something to support her little family, to have a part in bringing two wonderful people into the world. So, please, indulge us, ask us to give up our seats or to bring you a glass of water. I promise that we are not pretending to want to help, it is one of the dearest wishes of our hearts that we might be able to make a difference in this for you, to make it one jot easier with a little exertion and attention.
Let's all raise a glass of organic milk to Stacy.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Poetry Thursday

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Memory Lane Monday

This picture is from my 17th birthday. This would have been 1996, my junior year of high school. Man, was I thin, hmm. Anyway, birthdays were a big deal at my house. We always had a lot of fun, but the parties were never the big to-dos that they seem to be today. We always had friends and games and cake and presents, but the parties were always at home and we didn't have themed napkins, and I think that those may be the main differences.
The kids in the picture are my sister Claire and my brothers Peter and George. They are some good kids and I really love them. If you're wondering why George is in his underwear, well, George was always in his underwear. Seriously, up until he was 8 or 9 he would strip down as soon as he got home - 30 seconds, tops. This was especially annoying when we had to leave again soon, because he didn't get dressed nearly as quickly as he got undressed, but there was no stopping the stripping.