October 31, 2005

chiming in

Grr. My PC just ate my entry on iambic pentameter. It was a lame entry, but still a lot of work.

It's very difficult to convince yourself to work hard when you're dressed as a belly-dancer, even in a work-safe version where the skimpy top is worn over a long-sleeved T-shirt. (It's a tight black T-shirt, and my skirt is black, so it doesn't look quite as silly under a red raw silk top as you'd think.) I do like all the chiming sounds from my coin belt and bell anklet as I walk, though it means I can't sneak up on anyone.

Posted by dichroic at 03:57 PM | Comments (2)

another small victory

I forgot to mention another small victory of the weekend: yesterday I paid off my credit card. No more flying debt! I feel very free.

I wasn't going to do this now, because it takes my savings below where I like them to be, but I'd rather pay the interest to me than to a credit card company. So now I have to be nice to my boss (just in case!) until I get the savings back where I want them.

They're still a bit above the amount I spent when I was out of work in 2001, so I don't have to be too nice.

On the downside, I learned yesterday while inspecting it after an oil change and car wash, that my little car is bearing scars from JournalCon (more precisely, from the drive there). There were several paint chips on the hood; I don't remember seeing them before so I think it must have happened when a car ahead of me had a rear tire more or less explode, and a few pieces (small ones, fortunately) bounced up onto my hood and roof.

Posted by dichroic at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2005

I sort of won!

I would say that yesterday's race went swimmingly, but I don't want to give the wrong impression. It went well. I was Dockmaster for the first three hours or so, bullying people in and off the dock to make sure there were no collisions or other problems, then went offshift to rest up before my race. (Last times I was dockmaster was for a local juniors race. Lots of the coxes were novices, I had to help most of them on and off the dock and I was exhausted by the end.) This time the coaches helped out more and there were just fewer entries, so I wasn't too tired. My race was one of the last ones, starting at 11:30. It was a bit hotter than I'd have liked by then, enough so that passing under the bridges was a welcome relief from the sun and so that by the last thousand meters or so I was getting that flushed-face not-unpleasant leaving-my-stomach-behind feeling I do get when working hard in the heat. Still, I was pleased that I was able to keep my speed up and my exertion level reasonably constant. Whenever I was tempted to slack off, instead I'd up my stroke rate while pulling less hard, so that my splits didn't drop.

I did slack off in the last ten strokes or so, for heavage-avoidance purposes, and did in fact have a few small dry heaves just after the end of the race. That's a good place for them. I think it was more about running nose and post-nasal drip than any upset stomach, but it reassures me that I paced myself well and rowed as hard as I was capable of over that distance.

And here's the exciting part: in raw time, I WON!!!!! That is, I finished the race in less time than either of the two women I was racing against. Unfortunately, I didn't win technically: it was a Masters race, with age handicapping. I beat one woman by about 8 seconds, but she is ten years older and had a 40 second handicap on me, so she won the gold medal. (#^%$@ cheapskate regatta only gives medals for first place, no silver or bronze.) The other woman is in her fifties and has about a minute and a half handicap, but I beat her by plenty of time so officially, I came in second. Still: whoo-hoo!!

On the news level of dog-bites-man, Rudder won both of his races, both the Open and Masters singles, so two more medals for his collection. He's one of the fastest rowers on our lake, and his times even beat most of the fours and eights.

Next week's races in Newport and Marina del Rey should give him more challenge. I'll be acing in Newport and am a bit reassured after yesterday; that is, I expected to have my ass handed to me, but I'm reassured that I'll only lose, not lose embarasssingly. Head races aren't too embarassing anyway; rowers start one at a time and race agasint the clock, so only the final times show who won.

Posted by dichroic at 05:39 PM | Comments (2)

October 28, 2005


Gosh. Apparently it's Compliment Dichroic Week. First there were the kind words from other JCon attendees (all of which accounts for my hits here being double and triple the usual for the past few days, though my gratitude has less to do with the increased traffic and more to do with the them coming from such goddesses of the blogosphere). Then there was a very kind reply to an email I sent Batten (not surprising, as she's better than anyone else I've ever met at letting her friends know how she values them), finishing off with the following in an email from Alison (in reference my quitting IFR flying):

But I know you, and the Paula I know doesn't let anything stop her! She can row forever, beat women twice her size and any man that tells her she can't.... Once she puts her mind to something she does it - no matter how painful or how long it takes...

Not entirely true, but much appreciated nonetheless. Plus, there have been various other nice comments from people I met last weekend. And Rudder's taking me out to a very fancy restaurant tomorrow after the regatta in celebration of my taking the IFR checkride even though I didn't pass it, or of completing the training, or something unidentifiable in that direction.

A girl could get used to this.

Posted by dichroic at 01:24 PM | Comments (2)

H is for Hope

H is hard. I wanted to write about Gerard Manley Hopkins' "sprung meter", and about the time I went mountain biking in the dappled light of a forest and his Pied Beauty came to life around me. I wanted to write about the sweetness of Leigh Hunt's poem to Jane Carlyle, Jenny Kissed Me, which inspired one of the very first poems I was ever brave or foolhardy enough to post online. I even wanted to write about A.E. Housman, whose subjects range from cherries in blossom to bad poetry.

Another longtime favorite poet has had occasion to bring himself to my attention over the last few days, though, so I'll write about him instead.

is for A. D. Hope.

The thing that astounds me most about Hope is that he is a he. The first thing of Alec Derwent Hope's that rocked my formative years was his Advice to Young Ladies, possibly in a high-school anthology, back when I was myself a young lady, a feminist from toddlerhood and furious at the idea that anyone might limit me because of my gender. Postumia's fate made me furious, but it's the last verse that is most eye-opening:

Advice to Young Ladies

A.U.C. 334: about this date, For a sexual misdemeanour which she denied, The vestal virgin Postumia was tried; Livy records it among affairs of state.

They let her off: it seems she was perfectly pure;
The charge arose because some thought her talk
Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

The Pontifex Maximus , summing up the case,
Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
To wear less modish and more pious frocks.
She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

What then? With her the annalist is less
Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare-
I see Postumia with her dowdy dress,

Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down.
A vestal virgin who scandalized that town
Had fair trial, then they buried her alive;

Alive, bricked up in suffocating dark;
A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
Preserved the body they did not wish to die
Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
Spirited girls who would not know their place,
Talented girls who found that the disgrace
Of being a woman made genius a crime.

How many others, who would not kiss the rod,
Domestic bullying broke or public shame?
Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
Husbands, St. Paul declared, rank next to God.

Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
Tacitus, writing after both had died,
Showed that whole fabric rotten, through and through.

Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
From great defects of policy - perhaps
The cause is sometimes simpler than they think. 40

It may not seem so grave an act to break
Postumia's spirit as Galileo's, to gag
Hypatia as crush Socrates, or drag
Joan as Giordano Bruno to the stake.

Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
For having shackled the enquiring mind,
Than those who, in their folly not less blind,
Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

Despite the evidence of Postumia and of his reply From his Mistress to Andrew Marvell

To say the least, the scene you paint
Is, what you call my honour, quaint!
And on this point what prompted you
So crudely, and in public too,
To canvass and , indeed, make free
With my entire anatomy?
Poets have licence, I confess,
To speak of ladies in undress;
Thighs, hearts, brows, breasts are well enough,
In verses this is common stuff;
But -- well I ask: to draw attention
To worms in -- what I blush to mention,
And prate of dust upon it too!
Sir, was this any way to woo?

Hope isn't primarily thought of (by people other than me) as a feminist poet; he wrote about love and sex, being human and about his country, Australia. And before he died in 2000, his country recognized him as a great poet.

Posted by dichroic at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2005

forgotten items

There's stuff I keep meaning to write and forgetting, so here is the entry of forgotten things. It jumps around a lot because my brain is like that.

Item: I talked to a lot more cool people at JCon than I managed to link to, but in specific, I can't believe I didn't link to Bozoette Mary in my JournalCon recap entry, not just because of how much time I spent talking to her but because of how much I enjoyed that time. This has now been rectified.

Item: In an entry yesterday, I mentioned four upcoming races: Tempe, this Saturday from about 7-12; next Saturday in Marina del Rey; next Sunday in Newport, and the marathon in Natchitoches, November 12. In Marina del Rey, Rudder will be racing and I'll just watch; I'll race my single in each of the others. The part I forgot to mention was that if you're in the area of any of those, stop by and say hi! We can usually be found by the Arizona flags on our boats, jackets, oars, and unis. In the local Tempe race, I'll be dockmaster so I'll be especially easy to find, though busy.

Item: Another cool thing about JCon that I haven't mentioned was that, though several of the people there deal with serious medical issues, everyone was well enough for this weekend that no walking aids were used, unless you count Ray.

Item: I'm not sure if it was good or bad that I left JCon a little early, wanting to get home early enough to have dinner with Rudder, and so had to skip all the teary goodbyes. I did get to hug a few people, and on balance it's good in a way not to have "closure" for the weekend. Because that way I get to read people's recaps and feel like it's still sort of going on, at least in my head.

Item: My life is going really well just now, except for the work parts of it. For one thing, I'm going to be moved from my nice private office to a (shudder) cube - it's a corporate policy thing, not anything personal. I wonder how much trouble I'd get in for knitting during telecons, if I'm not behind a closed door?

Item: In an article today on Harriet Miers' withdrawal from consideration for the Supreme Court, I read the following sentence: ""The overall lesson of the two nominations taken together is that there is considerable safety in drawing from the very small pool of people who are universally considered qualified for appointment." Um.... Duh?

(Actually, it's even sadder that something so obvious is apparently not that obvious to the White House, or wasn't before all this storm und drang.)

Item: I'm a little worried about the scarf I'm knitting for my uncle. I started it last year, got a few inches in, and put it away to work on other things, since I wouldn't need it until this Chanukah. Problem is, I worked on it during all those panels at JCon and it's still only about 2' long. I've got a looong way to go. I need to finish a baby blanket by December, too, but I only have about 12 rows to go on that. Might add some little baby hats if I have time, since I'll have plenty of yarn left over. Time for the annual buying frenzy to start, too: Chanukah actually begins at Xmas this year, but my mother, brother, and husband have December birthdays. I have yarn for a sweater I want to knit, too - I'm thinking Banff, but with either a deep V neck or maybe the crossover neck from the poncho sweater.

Item: I find I'm still thinking of myself as a pilot. I have no great desire to go flying anytime soon, but I'm actually more interesting in talking about airplanes than when I was taking lessons. And for those who were confused, I AM still a pilot. I just can't fly in instrument conditions. This is not much of a problem, since I don't want to anyway. And at least now I'd know what to do if they did come up suddenly.

Item: I want to dress up for Hallowe'en on Monday. I do have my belly-dancing gear from the Renfaire - wonder if I could just wear the top over something to make it worksafe?

Posted by dichroic at 05:28 PM | Comments (3)

G is for John Gorka

I really didn't feel like writing about Oliver Goldsmith today; I've never managed to finish The Vicar of Wakefield (having spent my life trying to be flexible, rather than in-), though I did once read She Stoops to Conquer, and his poetry doesn't particularly appeal to me (especially the one that says that the only thing a fallen woman can do to wash away her guilt is to die. Yeesh.) I thought about cheating a little and letting G stand for Gwendolen Brooks, but I've already posted my favorite poem of hers, way back in the early days of this site. Instead, I'm going to take a path I'll probably choose a few more times in this series; rather than a traditional poet, I'll discuss a singer-songwriter.

is for John Gorka.

If you are a modern-day poet, you can post your work in the chapbooks and quarterlies and online sites around, and people who know they like poetry will read it. Or you can sing it, and all kinds of people will hear it. (To get the biggest audience, you should probably set it to hip-hop music, but in that case I'm probably not going to be one of those who will hear it.) There are some constraints induced by melody: you're likely going to want rhyme, and you may end up repeating lines more than you would in a poem meant to be read or recited. (Those can be either bugs or features.)

I first encountered Gorka in the late 80s, when I was volunteering at the Cherry Tree Folk Music Co-op and the Philly Folk Fest. I appreaciated his words and tunes at the time, and only later listening to recordings realized how resonant his voice is, as well. Here's the first song of his I fell in love with, and not only because of its twisted logic and the fact that it reminds me of a Muppets routine:

I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair

I saw a stranger with your hair, tried to make her give it back,
So I could send it off to you, maybe Federal Express,
'Cause I knew you'd miss it.
I saw another with your eyes, the flash just turned my head,
I went to try them on for size but they looked the other way,
And they wouldn't listen.

But you're never hard to find in a crowd
The people around you smiling out loud
Their feet don't touch the ground
Their feet don't touch the ground
Their feet don't touch the ground

I heard a stranger with your voice, it took me by surprise,
Again I found it wasn't you, just an angel in disguise,
In for a visit.

By the way, how is my heart? Haven't seen it since you left,
I'm almost sure it followed you, could you sometime send it back,
I'll buy the ticket.

I saw a stranger with your hair
I saw another with your eyes
I heard an angel with your voice
By the way how is my heart
By the way how is my heart

Gorka sings about love and changes, baseball and neighborhoods and factories, and about my home state of Pennsylvania. I live across the country in a much less folk-music-friendly area now, and I haven't seen him live in a long time, so I'm less familiar with his recent music. A lot of his works are more poetic than these, but I like this one because it reminds me of Ogden Nash:


While they fish out the fisheries
I wish on the wisheries
Mixed up in the mysteries
Every night, every night

I pedal hope, now, from port to port
I never stay at the last resort
I'm not tall, but I never come up short
I always pay, I pay and pay

I got arrested and I got away
I met Clint and he made my day
Tarred and feathered in La Brea
What a pit, what a pit

I formed my own government
I cast pearls before the parliament
Got some girls for the ex-president
No, not him, another one

Thought I appear none too glamorous
I have often been amorous
Though I am an ignoramimous
Ignoranimous, that's the word

My chances were ludicrous
She was graceful and luminous
My heart sank bituminous
But I asked anyway

Through the window she kissed my face
Pushed me down and put me in my place
The French would call that the coup de grace
No, that's not my native tongue

Found a raincoat in a London fog
Got a kitten from a catalog
Got a demo from a demagogue
I played it loud, it pleased the crowd

While they fish out the fisheries
I miss the missing and the mysteries
I broke a dish signed by Cyd Charisse
Yeah, I pay, I always pay

I pay and pay

Posted by dichroic at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

October 26, 2005

F is for Eugene Field

In my opinion, Robert Frost is one of the great voices of America. Some of his lines have entered the vernacular: "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in," and "But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep", for instance. I do love many of Frost's poems, and one of my great regrets is that I didn't know The Master Speed, whose final couple is "Life is only life forevermore / Together, wing to wing and oar to oar" before my wedding.

But nearly everyone's familiar with Frost; if you're not, his poetry is modern enough to be in modern English, but not so modern as to be hard to understand, and it's easily accessible online. Instead, I want to write about a lesser known (if lesser-skilled) poet.

is for Eugene Field.

I first met Field in an old anthology my parents had. (How many anthologies are there called "Best-Loved Poems"? This was one of them.) I think it had the usual bits of people like Milton and Keats, but when my age was still in single digits, those were too abstract and boring for me (actually, some still are). Instead, I'd reread Poe's Annabel Lee and the funny ones, like Riley's Little Orphant Annie and Eugene Field'stale of an epic struggle:

The Duel

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I 'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw---
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate---
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

It's not surprising I liked him; he was nicknamed "The Children's Poet", and a lot of his pieces are for, about, or spoken by children. Field, who lived from 1850-1895, also wrote some typically sappy Victorian lyrics, but the pieces I most enjoy are the children's and the vernacular ones. They may be doggerel, but they're fun, and there are some characters worth knowing in them. He wrote Western stories with titles like Casey's Table d'Hôte and The Conversazzhyony and first person stories like Jest 'Fore Christmas, which starts:

Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl---ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things that 's worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake---
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no flies on me,
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be!

There are also some sweet and not overwrought love poems to his wife and family, but even better are those to his books, like this one I came across while researching this post:


Though care and strife
Elsewhere be rife,
Upon my word I do not heed 'em;
In bed I lie
With books hard by,
And with increasing zest I read 'em

Propped up in bed,
So much I 've read
Of musty tomes that I 've a headful
Of tales and rhymes
Of ancient times,
Which, wife declares, are "simply dreadful!"

They give me joy
Without alloy;
And is n't that what books are made for?
And yet---and yet---
(Ah, vain regret!)
I would to God they all were paid for!

It goes on for several more verses. If you sympathize with his bibliomania enough to want to read the rest, or if you want to read some of Field's other work, there's a good selection here.

Posted by dichroic at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)


You know that lancing a blister is the right decision when you stick a needle in (low on the side, as recommended) and the fluid inside squirts out. Ow. (For those of you who might be new here, welcome to the world of rowing.) No idea why I got such an ugly blister this morning; granted I was doing intervals, which are harder on the hands, but I didn't get anything like this either during the last two weeks' interval pieces or the half-marathon I did Saturday before last. It's worrying me a bit, since I plan to row tomorrow and race this Saturday.

JournalCon was, for me, the kickoff to the usual hectic fall. Next weekend is the local Hothead Regatta in which I'll be racing a single and acting as dockmistress. The weekend after is the back-to-back regattas in Marina del Rey and Newport. Rudder will be racing in both, but I'm a weenie and will only race in Newport. The weekend after that (are you keeping track here?) is the Marathon Rowing Championships in Natchitoches, LA, which I'll do in a single this year.

After that I'll take off not quite two weeks, then plunge into my fourth or fifth Concept II Holiday Challenge, which entails doing 200,000 meters on the rowing machine from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. This year it will actually be easy, compared to the mileage I've been doing during the marathon training. It varies every year, according to the number of days between the two holidays, but this year that comes out to 6,666 (!) meters per day. I've been doing 10 or 12 (or 15 or 21) km five days a week, so even if we go to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving (still under consideration) and maybe somewhere else for Christmas (we have lots of use-it-or-lose-it vacation), the distance should be no problem.

Posted by dichroic at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2005

JournalCon pix

When I looked at them again, the photos weren't as bad as I'd thought. (It was a switch in perspective; I needed to se these as snapshots of cool people and a fun time, not as Art to be enlarged and framed. Seeing everyone else's photos helped.) Sorry, but it's close to bedtime and I need to pack clothes for tomorrow, since I'm rowing. No time to get all the links straight. Maybe later.

Getting acquainted Friday night.

Cruel-Irony photographs well in profile:

LA being commanding:

Mary Ann, Purplefishy, and Pratt at the bar Friday night:

Purplefishy and Bozoette Mary over tapas and sangria:

Kevin and the meat hook:

And getting The Look (probably not really, but the expression is priceless)

Biensoul have the duet down:

Weetabix channelling Stevie Nicks:

Karaoke night was a hell of a party:

Cameras were everywhere:

Pablo rocks the joint:

And JournalCon rocks in general:

Posted by dichroic at 08:31 PM | Comments (5)

deaths and victories

First, the obit section. To quote the Neville Brothers, "Thank you, Miss Rosa. You are the spark that started our freedom movement. Thank you, Sister Rosa Parks.

Yeah, our movement. Three reasons:

If you look at me, it's obvious neither of my parents is black. If you look at my dad when he has a good suntan, it's not so obvious. My brother at the age of three asked, "Is Daddy black?" During his hitch in the Air Force in the 1950s, a few Georgians were similarly confused, and he got called "boy" and told not to drink at the white water fountain. So it's personal.

Second, the Civil RIghts movement can be considered as a major wave in the ongoing fight for liberation of all humans and against prejudice that's been going on for at least a couple hundred years now. Any victory in that war has at least some diminishing effect on all forms of prejudice, including some I've faced. So it is personal.

Third, the Civil Rights movement gave me a chance to grow up without acquiring the unthinking endemic racism that was so prevalent in North and South before it - or at least to grow up with less of it. I would never have felt my mind was in chains, but it would have been nonetheless. So it's personal when I say thank you.

Next, for anyone that reads the New York Times and saw the article about the rowers killed and injured when a speedboat ran over their four, you might have been wondering about the repeated mentions that the rowers weren't wearing life jackets. Item: you can't row in a life jacket. More importantly, rowers are not required by the Coast Guard to carry PFDs because the oars are approved floatation devices. The rowers were not being irresponsible by not wearing life jackets (and I've not convinced they'd have helped in this case). It sounds like their lights might have been a little feeble; how to light a rowing shell is an ongoing discussion in the rowing community. Rudder came up with one of the better mounting ideas I've seen, and we have two white LED bike lights in the stern and a red Trek Disco Inferno light in the bow that makes us hard to miss.

Obituaries done, but I'm still in earnest mode. One thing I'd wanted to write about what was happened before JournalCon. I went rowing Friday morning before driving out to San Diego, which permitted me to see the participants in the Three-Day Breast Cancer Walk gathering for the event. They were assembling in Tempe Beach Park, across the lake from where we launch, and they had to park a few blocks east so I got to see them all walking out to the Opening Ceremonies. There were hundreds of them, walking singly and in groups, male and female, many wearing pink, gathering at 5:30 in the morning to embark on a three-day 60 mile walk. It was incredible. I rowed a little extra that morning: partly to get in some extra distance since I wouldn't be rowing over the weekend (or on Monday - either the Westin gym or dancing at the Karaoke at JCon left me sore!) and partly so I could row very close to shore and shout good luck wishes at the participants as they walked to the start of their march.

Posted by dichroic at 04:34 PM | Comments (1)

E is for Elizabeth

I promised that this series would include poems I loved and wanted to share. I lied a little. I don't love these poems (except maybe the first) but they fascinate me. Their author could be described as a minor poet of the Elizabethan Age - no small achievement, given the company. However, she was more commonly referred to as Gloriana, or as The Virgin Queen, or as Her Majesty, by the Grace of God Queen of England and Ireland, Defender of the Faith.

whE.gif is for Elizabeth Regina

Elizabeth was always academically brilliant, and thanks to her (final) stepmother, Katherine Parr, she was as well educated as any prince. Historians are still arguing over just how able a ruler she was, but she has been recognized as a great queen for over five hundred years. Her reign saw the great flowering of both English political power and English literature, and she trod a delicate political balance in which any misstep could have put England under the sway of a man, probably less able and almost vcertainly with divided loyalties. I have always been fascinated that she also found time to write poems that, while not among the finest of their time (and such a time!) are good enough that they are still anthologized five centuries later. The poems are interesting in their own right, as art and as a window into a unique life; they speak of betrayal and balance, the suspicion and resignation that are part of her role and the heartbreak and grief over aging or lost love common to all women.

Written in her French Psalter

No crooked leg, no bleared eye,
No part deformed out of kind,
Nor yet so ugly half can be
As is the inward suspicious mind.

The Doubt of Future Foes

The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects' faith doth ebb,
Which should not be if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web.
But clouds of joys untried do cloak aspiring minds,
Which turn to rain of late repent by changed course of winds.
The top of hope supposed the root upreared shall be,
And fruitless all their grafted guile, as shortly ye shall see.
The dazzled eyes with pride, which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight falsehood finds.
The daughter of debate that discord aye doth sow
Shall reap no gain where former rule still peace hath taught to know.
No foreign banished wight shall anchor in this port;
Our realm brooks not seditious sects, let them elsewhere resort.
My rusty sword through rest shall first his edge employ
To poll their tops that seek such change or gape for future joy.

On Monsieur's Departure

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.

Posted by dichroic at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005


JournalCon, or Snobby WhoreCon if you prefer, was fun. I was a little worried about that, since there would be no one I had met in person and only a few people with whom I'd exchange e-mails. There were in fact no snobby whores present, or if so they kept both facets well concealed. A gratifying number of people knew who I was, and my swag (silvered beads from India, on cords tied in jeweler's knots so they could be shortened or lengthened) went over well.

I was worried about getting there in time to register, but the drive in went smoothly, and I had no trouble finding the hotel. The Westin was nice - fluffy beds, modern decor, helpful staff (a little too helpful; when I was taking my assorted baggage down at the end of the weekend, they wouldn't let me just take a luggage cart. I had to have someone to roll it for me. Not sure if this was meant to make me feel pampered or if they were afraid I'd oll it into people). The Heavenly bed had me waking up sore every morning, but the pillows and the down blanket also had me sleeping like a dead thing (getting to bed 4-5 hours after my usual bedtime may have contributed). Apparently there were some complaints about the room rates, but it was a fairly smokin' deal for being in a hot area, right in the middle of the Gaslamp District. It's a tradeoff: be out in the boonies and sleep cheap, or be in walking distance of good restaurants and bars and near a major airport and pay more. We did take advantage of the walking distance, for a bar Friday night and tapas Saturday, so I think the JCon committee made the right decision. Dinner Friday featured Jingo, JournalCon bingo - I got to talk to a few people then by virtue of being able to sign in several squares: visited Australia, visited South America, used a car to get to JCon, a few others. I think that was when Jen Trance started telling people, "Yeah, Dichroic's done everything." Fortunately, that's not true, or I'd have to go die now.

Dinner was OK but not spectacular. Part of that was my own fault for ordering chicken; if I were running a caterer, I'd make the chicken option relatively bland, too, for people who like that. I should have gotten the salmon or the vegetarian entree, which looked more interesting. People were raving about the dessert, which was a small tower of three flavors that were either heavy mousse or light cheesecake, but I thought it was not only too sweet, but tasted too much like granular sugar. Maybe I'm just spoiled, because I rarely eat dessert and when I do it's for good reason. Also, we were all just getting acquainted, so conversation was a little light at my table. Saturday's dinner was a little better: excellent company and good tapas at Cafe Sevilla. The main problem with the restaurant is that so many things on the menu looked wonderful, and we could only try a few. Still, I got to sample about six different tapas and some paella, so it was definitely a good place for my first tapas experience. LA or CI: do either of you know the name of the other woman at our table? She's the one who had a limp and was hoarding aioli that night. I really liked her, talked to her quite a bit, but never quite got her name or site name and I'd like to read her.

There are several people I want to start reading regularly now, in fact - whoever that was, Mary, Minarae, Pratt, Carol Elaine, Fredlet, a bunch of others. The ones I already knew were mostly as advertised. LA is fabulous - no surprise there - and I was lucky enough to get to spend time with her, shopping and talking, and even got a short reading. Deb and I need to spend some time together comparing musical favorites. Cruel-Irony was about the only person there who was smaller than I am, and was another one I found easy to talk to. Trance is as cool as you probably thought she was.

The panels were OK; there was only one at a time, and they were informal, so mostly ended up as general discussions. They weren't the highlight of the event, but they were interesting. From what I can gather, this has been true of earlier years as well, so the committee chose a JournalCon Lite format on purpose. Given how much stuff there is to do in the area, I also appreciated the breaks between sessions.

The highlight, for me, was the karaoke session. Best party I've been to in a long time. There was also a Texas Hold-Em game going, but since I have very little interest in gambling, I never did stop in there. The karaoke ranged from "Ouch! I need to leave the room" to nearly professional. I don't know who recorded Sin Wagon, but I can tell you she's not much better at it than Jen Trance. And I don't know who Biensoul was channelling, but I'm guessing he's about 6'2", black, and wears big baggy pants and a lot of chains. She had not only the words but all the moves down. Her sister made me wish I had signed up to sing Me and Bobby McGee, except that she did it way better than I would have. I think I was somewhere in the middle; at least no one ran screaming from the room; I got some gratifying comments, and a whole chorus line got up to dance Timewarp with me. AND the DJ had the complete version, so I got to do Columbia. Yay!

It was even worth still having ringing in my ears the next morning.

(I think I told a couple of people I hadn't done karaoke since my wedding. Not strictly true, as I remembered later; the last time I sang karaoke was with a crazy Russian seaman and a couple other American women in the crew's recreation area on the Akademik Ioffe in the Antarctic Sea. But this was a better party, and no one had to be pried off me by soberer people. (Actually, it wasn't the karaoke singer but a crazier Russian who had to be pried off. Just in the interests of accuracy.))

That ended at midnight. Afterwards, some of us headed out to find a bar except then we lost everyone else, so went back to get them and then sat around the hotel, until most of them went out to get pancakes and I went to bed. Considering it was 1AM by then, I was impressed at the turnout at the 9AM session. Clearly these people are far more hardened than I.

I snuck out early in order to get home in time to have a proper dinner with Rudder, but did at least get to hug a few people goodbye. On the drive home I listened to some of the swag CDs, my iPod, which apparently had a little tiny DJ in it playing Twofer Sundays, and audiobooks from the library. I discovered I apparently eat like a French woman, except for all the pretzels. (Maybe a French woman near the German border?) I looked at red rock mountains and cacti, and thought of pulling over to take a picture to document the end of my weekend, but didn't. And for some reason, I did enjoy the drive.

My only regret from the weekend is that most of my pictures came out lousy. In a few cases, this is just because of over- or under-lighting, though. If I can fix them to look better, I'll post a few.

Posted by dichroic at 05:23 PM | Comments (6)

D is for Donne

Don't worry, I'll get to some reporting of JournalCon today too. But first:

whD.gif is for Donne, of course.

The standard view of Donne is that he comes in two parts: the early womanizing years, in which he derailed his career by marrying his patron's niece without permission, and in which he wrote about love and sex; and the later respectable years when he ended up as Dean of St. Paul's, during which he wrote about God and religion. In keeping with pretty much everything else in the world, it's not really that simple.

For instance, "The Flea" is a seduction poem, but not a serious one: Donne seems to be having enough fun playing with words and his pretty conceit ("Look! Our blood is already mingled in this flea that has bitten both of us, so why resist a little more mingling?") that persuasion becomes almost secondary. Look at the words: in the first verse Donne's still thinking mostly about sex, and the words reflect it. He's got sucking and swelling, wooing, and loss of maidenhead. In the second verse, though, he's gotten into what he's doing and started to riff; he's off onto the sacrament of marriage, with an evocation of the Trinity and the cloister. In the third verse, the women is beginning to sound like Herod, with her nail purpled in innocent blood, though it's more of a flirting teasing than a serious accusation. Then he can't resist: in the end he's not blandishing or flirting. Donne's a very bright man, clearly able to outargue his paramour, and just can't resist turning her own logic on her to win the argument. This is not a poem that would have gotten him laid successfully, but he may have gotten more enjoyment in his play on words and logic anyway, leaving serious cozening for anther day.

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

In contrast, some of Donne's religious works are surprisingly earthy. In Holy Sonnet XIV, he begins with what, according to my excellent high school teacher Mrs. Martyska*, is an evocation of a tinker, banging on a pan in order to remove dents. That almost-awkward rhythm conjures up the hammer in the first quatrain:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

Yet though it's only a sonnet, the metaphor isn't big enough to support the whole thing. The rhythm smooths out as he moves on to an image of a beseiged and betrayed town:

I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.

Then, even though he's in his older more sedate years by this point, it's still Donne. When he's writing to God he's still using the same sensual images, only now directed to a new end - also, now the poet is become the ravished instead of the ravisher:

Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

I'll post one more. I don't think this one needs discussion, given how often I've paraphrased its opening lines in my own life. So has Great Big Sea: the opening lines of Boston to St. John's, "Girl, don't tell me that it's morning / Can we keep the curtains drawn?" always make me think of Donne. It's universal, for anyone who's had a night good enough that morning's unwelcome:

BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

* I've never been able to find Mrs. Martyska online; I'd guess she remarried and changed her name. She probably had more effect on me than almost any other teacher, partly because I had her for all three years of high school, and partly because, as an engineering student, I only had three English classes in college (poetry, drama, linguistics) so an outsized proportion of what I know about literature is doe directly to her.

Posted by dichroic at 01:26 PM | Comments (1)

October 20, 2005

C is for cummings

For today's entry I'm going to cheat and recycle something I wrote in 2002, because the correspondence between these two works still amuses me.

whC.gifis for cummings, and the original entry is here.

I probably won't get to 'D' until Monday or so; as a Sayers fan, my choice for that letter should be obvious. (Also, I participated in an online alumni seminar on him, earlier this year.) Let me know, by the way, if you like this series or hate it and wish I'd just stop. I haven't gotten a lot of response on it, but traffic has been down here lately anyway - I think it's just a normal random cycle.

Tonight I'll pack; tomorrow morning I'll get up at 4 and row, then come home, shower, clean my windshield so I can see through it, and head off to JournalCon. The camera is on my list to pack, so if I get any good photos I'll post a couple, along with my report. My laptop is a piece of crap, so I won't be taking it, thus no posting during the weekend unless the hotel has computers. I haven't previously met anyone who will be there, do it should be interesting. Debsiobhan, do you think anyone would mind if we did Barrett's Privateers at the karaoke night? That would be way more fun than singing pop songs, even if I knew any.

Posted by dichroic at 02:20 PM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2005

slightly weepy

I hadn't really been sad at all about failing my checkride or deciding to quit flying today. I left work, and since Rudder is off at a meeting, treated myself to a visit to the library (for audiobooks for the drive to JournalCon) and to sushi. I was feeling pretty good.... until I got home, unloaded my car from the day, and had to put my flight bag and all my flying books away for the last time. That phrase alone is guaranteed to get me dripping tears even if it's about something silly, let alone something I've put a year of my life into. The books had been sitting out in the livng room since I'd been needing them for constant reference. Now they are on a bookshelf with all the other books Rudder and I had amassed over our flying years, in the office where I won't see them much. The last time. If I ever do this again, it's likely to be far enough off that I'll need updated books, so this really is the last time.

There were two things to cheer me up, however: my credit card bill, which was paid off when I started and now has thousands in flight-induced debt on it, and which I can now return to its former status over the next few months, and the cat food bowl. nlike my credit bill, the cat food bowl was empty. I free-feed the cats, filling the bowl each morning and letting them chow on it through the day; by evening there's usually some food left. Today it was empty enough, and the water dish low enough, to let me know I had forgotten to feed them this morning.

They're hardly starving. They've got a fuzzy gut apiece they could well afford to lose, there were a few pieces of food left, and if they ever got really desperate, they could knock over the open cat food bag by the bowl. Still, I'd been feeding them every morning since the older cat and I began living together 16 years ago. If I'm distracted enough to forget something that routine, then I have no business trying to fly an airplane in instrument conditions, and quitting is the right decision.

Posted by dichroic at 08:42 PM | Comments (2)

B is for Burns

I was going to write about both of my favorite two 'B' poets, until I saw just how long the post on the first one had gotten (I couldn't resist the bawdy stuff). So I'll leave Browning for another writer (hint, hint, Swooop) and instead write about oor Rabbie.

whB.gif is for Burns.

Here's the thing about Burns. It's true he was born poor, and that he wrote his first poems while working unsuccessfully as a farmer. (More of his problems may have arisen from his "irregular" liason with the woman who later became his wife, and the resulting kirk censure, than from any lack in his farming, but that's another issue.) But he wasn't uneducated, though much of it may have been self-education, and when he wrote in braid Scots it was through choice, not because it was the dialect he normally spoke. At least when writing to an ENglish audience, he wrote in standard English, though he may have been like the Scots of John Muir's day who spoke in Scottish to the Scots and in English to the English, and who when with the former saved the latter dialect for moments of fury. Burns was lionized in Edinburgh and was offered positions both on a London newspaper and in a Scottish university, though he turned both down.

Here's the other thing about Burns: he left a whole set of poetry that wasn't in your high school anthology. He kept them in a locked drawer, and some of them were eventually published with other material as "The Merry Muses of Caledonia". Some were songs he collected, some he wrote. Here's the version of John Anderson, my Jo, that I first learned, a sweet song reminiscent of Browning's "Grow old along with me / The best is yet to be":

JOHN ANDERSON, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John, 5
Your locks are like the snow;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither; 10
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot, 15
John Anderson, my jo.

But it's set to the tune of an earlier song he'd collected, in which John Anderson's wife is not so happy about his aging:

John Anderson, my jo, John,
I wonder what ye mean,
To lie sae lang i' the mornin',
And sit sae late at e'en?
Ye'll bleer a' your een, John,
And why do ye so?
Come sooner to your bed at een,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When first that ye began,
Ye had as good a tail-tree,
As ony ither man;
But now its waxen wan, John,
And wrinkles to and fro,
I've twa gae-ups for ae gae-down,
John Anderson, my jo.

I'm backit like a salmon,
I'm breastit like a swan;
My wame it is a down-cod,
My middle ye may span:;
Frae my tap-knot to my tae, John,
I'm like the new-fa'n snow;
And it's a' for your convenience,
John Anderson, my jo.

O it is a fine thing
To keep out o'er the dyke,
But its a meikle finer thing,
To see your hurdies fyke;
To see your hurdies fyke, John,
And hit the rising blow;
It's then I like your chanter-pipe,
John Anderson, my jo.

When ye come on before, John,
See that ye do your best;
When ye begin to haud me,
See that ye grip me fast;
See that ye grip me fast, John,
Until that I cry "Oh!"
Your back shall crack or I do that,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
Ye're welcome when ye please;
It's either in the warm bed
Or else aboon the claes:
Or ye shall hae the horns, John,
Upon your head to grow;
An' that's the cuckold's mallison,
John Anderson, my jo.

It's not entirely clear why he felt the need to clean up John Anderson, considering that Burns himself wrote Nine Inches Will Please a Lady. Some of the Scots words may not be clear, but the gist is fairly easy to make out:

Come rede me dame, come tell me dame,
My dame come tell me truly,
What length o' graith when weel ca'd hame
Will sair a woman duly?"
The carlin clew her wanton tail,
Her wanton tail sae ready,
"l learn'd a sang in Annandale,
Nine inch will please a lady."

"But for a koontrie cunt like mine,
In sooth we're not sae gentle;
We'll tak tway thumb-bread to the nine,
And that is a sonsy pintle.
Oh, Leeze me on, my Charlie lad,
I'll ne'er forget my Charlie,
Tway roaring handfuls and a daud
He nidged it in fu' rarely."

But wear fa' the laithron doup
And may it ne'er be thriving,
It's not the length that makes me loup
But it's the double drivin.
Come nidge me Tom, come nidge me Tom
Come nidge me, o'er the nyvel
Come lowse an lug your battering ram
And thrash him at my gyvel!

graith=gear, equipment; clew=scratched, fondled;
tway thum-bread=two thumb-breadths; sonsy=healthy;
daud=a lump, a bit; laithron=lazy; doup=rump;

Posted by dichroic at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)


I failed the checkride again.

It was going fairly well through intercepting a radial, holds, a VOR approach with the autopilot on (harder, in my opinion, than doing it without the autopilot, so I would never do it in real life, but the test requires it). Then it was back in the hold, which I had some problems with this time, but managed to correct. The hold looks like a long racetrack pattern; several planes can be stacked in it at altitudes 500' apart. You fly around it until your turn comes, then exit it toward the airport on whatever type of approach you're doing. When I exited the hold this time for the ILS approach, I had put in the frequency for the ILS but hadn't hit the button to make it the active frequency, so I was still looking at the VOR indication. They're in line with each other, so there was no obvious difference except that the glideslope indicator wasn't coming in. (An ILS has two needles, a vertical one showing if you're left or right of where you should be and an ILS showing if you're above or below where you should be as you follow the glideslope down to the runway.) Someone had mentioned on the radio earlier that the glideslope was "bouncing around a little today" and had recently been down, so I thought maybe it had gone down again, instead of realizing that the error was mine.

Anyway, I've decided to quit. It's not out of pique; I realized that I have just too much going on in my life, with work, flying, and training for the marathon. Further, I know that intensive rowing tends to make me stupider, though one symptom of the stupidity, unfortunately, is that it always takes me a while to realize what's going on. But I think that may be a prime source of my stupid mistakes. I scaled way back on the rowing when I started this; maybe I'd have passed the test if I hadn't ramped up the training again, but the rowing training is going much better and I've been enjoying it much more than the flying.

I'm not stomping off in a huff and declaring that I'll never fly a plane again. Flying is something I can do as long as I'm in good enough health to pass a Class III physical; with luck I have decades and decades left. I didn't particularly miss it during the seven years between getting my pilot rating and beginning the instrument training, when I flew only a few times. Maybe a decade from now my life will be calmer and I'll decide to take it up again then. I won't need to redo all the training: just enough to refamiliarize me, and get me used to anything that's changed. I don't think the FAA reg requires me to take another long cross-country, but a smart CFI would make me take one. Still, I won't have to do that all those cross-country hours again, so it would all be a lot quicker.

So I'm feeling a lot more relief than regret right now.

Posted by dichroic at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

IFR again

Here we go again. I am bearing my rainbow omen in mind, and wearing my pearls (given to me by Rudder, who passed his IFR checkride on the first try) and a signet ring I got to replace one given to me long ago (and lost almost as long ago) by my grandparents, to remind me of how they believed I could do anything. Unlike the other three times I was scheduled for a checkride, the forecast does NOT include a warning of possible moderate turbulence, and the winds are not supposed to be above 3-4 knots. No one else is taking out the airplane before me. All conditions are propitious, and I believe this examiner wants to pass me unless I force him to do otherwise.

So now it's just up to me to Not Fuck Up.

Posted by dichroic at 08:52 AM | Comments (4)

October 18, 2005

A is for Anon

I'm taking up the challenge Sienamystic and Swooop have flung, to do a poetry alphabet to match the wonderful series Sienamystic is doing on Art History. Mine will not be as erudite as hers, mostly because I don't know as much about poetry as she does about paintings. (If you want that sort of information, though, go read Swooop's recent entries on William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, and the Victorians.)

Mine will be more personal; I'm going to focus on poets I like or that mean something to me, whether or not they're important or even great. Some are great, and if others verge on doggerel, it's doggerel that matters to me. Most of them won't be all that obscure because I probably wouldn't know them if they were, but on the other hand I won't write about Shakespeare because anything I can say can be said better by a thousand others. I reserve the right to skip letters, because life's too short to worry about poets beginning with 'X'. I did a quick Google search to make sure I hadn't missed anyone I'd regret, but I do have three or four letters lacking names. I also reserve the right to talk about two or even three poets beginning with a single letter, if I can't decide between them or if they somehow go together well.

This is stuff I like, that's what it is, and I want to share it. I'll be cross-posting to my LJ and my main site. I'm not sure everyone gets the idea that poetry can be fun or meaningful, not just something you're stuck studying, though I think most people probably do. It was fun putting together the alphabet, and I expect it will be fun doing the writing. And I think there's plenty of room for more than one alphabet of this sort, so if you want to try one sharing poems you love, go right ahead.

And with that said, I'll start where most poetry books seem to:
whA.gif is for Anon.

SUMER is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springth the wude nu—
Sing cuccu! 5

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu;
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,
Murie sing cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu, well singes thu, cuccu: 10
Ne swike thu naver nu;
Sing cuccu, nu, sing cuccu,
Sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu!

A lot of chronologically arranged poetry books, like the Norton Anthology of English Poetry and the Oxford Book of ENglish Verse, seem to start here. It's a lyric meant to be sung, and it's a paean to summer. Since it's from 1250 or so, the English needs some translation:

Summer is coming in, loudly sing cuckoo.
Seed grows and meadow blows, the world springs anew.

The ewe bleats after the lamb, the cow after her calf, too.
The bullock starts, the buck farts, merry sings cuckoo.

Cuckoo, cuckoo, well singest thou, cuckoo,
No ceasing you ever knew.
Sing, cuckoo, now, sing, cuckoo
Sing, cuckoo, now, sing, cuckoo

This is a series of images of summer, and if you consider how mild English summers are, compared to a damp, cold winter in a thatched hut, it's clear there is reason to be glad. There was a belief that cuckoos didn't give their calls until well into summer; compare the American Cuckoo song: "She never hollers cuckoo / Til the fourth day of July." On the other hand, thaose growing seeds and blowing meadows sound to me more like spring. The Gaels divided the year into winter half (Samhain to Beltaine) and summer half (Beltaine to Samhain), so this may be a survival of that worldview. I don't know the tune, but I have a feeling there were many, as tends to happen in the folk tradition, and that they were catchy, for this to have survived that long.

Another of my favorites by Anon. is a nearly opposite mood, expressing longing instead of pleasure and plenty, and it's so universal that no further explanation is really required. I've quoted this one myself, omitting the prayer to Christ and the need for a change in the wind, but knowing that the love and the lure of home and bed have not changed. I didn't need to look this one up.

Oh westron wind, when wilt thou blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christe, that my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again.

Posted by dichroic at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

good omens

Nope. No flying this morning. Thunderstorms in the area, turbulence, wind gusts forecast, low clouds - lots of reasons not to fly. We're going to try for the fourth time tomorrow around lunchtime.

This is difficult because every time I think I'll have a checkride I have to rearrange my schedule to try to be rested, alert, well-fed, and unstressed at the time of the test. This has meant skipping rowing or erging, trying to eat something the night before that will leave me well-nourished but not with an upset stomach, trying to eat breakfast ditto, and so on. Tomorrow, as with last week, I'll be flying around when I'd normally eat lunch, so I have to figure out how to make sure I'm not starving by then, but my stomach is predictably made more rebellious than it already is my nerves so I can't eat too much. As for practice, I give up. I've missed too many practices for this, and I'll be at JournalCon this weekend so will already be low on distance for this week. I'm going to row tomorrow, but will just try to row lightly enough so I'm not exhausted at 11.

I saw a great omen yesterday, though it obviously didn't predict today's outcome accurately. I'm not superstitious, but in a matter like this one that largely depends on my own confidence, I'll take any good omen that will help me feel calm and ready for the test. As I left work, it was dark and raining to the east, but the sun was out to the west - we rarely have clouds covering the entire sky. Since the conditions were right and the sun was low enough, I looked for a rainbow, and finally spotted it, just a faint glow and a few degrees of arc over the major airport next to our parking lot. As I drove out of the lot, I looked over and found that the rainbow had popped into brilliance, shining over the clouds, though still not very long. As I watched, an airplane flew right through it.

Sure it's all coincidence, but I'll take any confidence builders I can find - and could anyone really ask for a better image?

Posted by dichroic at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)

October 17, 2005

the weekend that was, the week that will be

It wasn't among the world's greatest weekends. The half marathon on the water on Saturday went smoothly, but the tea incident was just part of a whole series of frustrations with Rudder. I think we have it all ironed out as of this morning, fortunately; I'm not one of those who won't go to bed mad, but I was determined not to go into tomorrow's checkride distracted and annoyed. Yesterday's flight went well enough - one stupid mistake, but I won't make that one again - but I'm a bit worried about tomorrow. They're predicting rain all night and all morning, with thunderstorms this evening. It's supposed to be down to showers, with not too much wind, by the time I go up tomorrow, so I'm hoping for no worse than drizzle out of high clouds. Thunderstorms or strong wind are reasons to cancel; plain rain is not, but I really don't want to do my checkride in actual IMC!!! (Instrument Meteorological Conditions, aka flying in clouds.)

I get to leave on Friday morning for JournalCon, so no matter what happens tomorrow, I have something to look forward to. I haven't decided what to bring - jeans, of course, but like LA I'm not sure about dress clothes. If I have room, maybe my very full black skirt from the RenFaire - and if not, one that's knee-length, stretchy and packs small. On second thought, maybe I'll bring that one anyhow. I expect jeans-and-long-sleeves weather, in the 50s and 60s, and since I'm adapted to Arizona will bring a light jacket, probably either fleece or my rowing one. (Unfortunately, all the other rowers in town will be off at the Head of the Charles - this is especially problematic since the hotel doesn't have a rowing machine.) I'll bring my eensy car, so parking will be easy, and should try to remember to bring at least the small camera. I don't think I'll bring the big one since photo ops are more likely to be snapshots than anything that would need enlarging. I need to remember my swag, which will NOT be mix CDs. (I doubt most people out there really want mixes of Stan Rogers, Silly Wizard, and Great Big Sea.) Hm. What else do I need to bring? It's only two days, so probably not much.

For some reason I'm really looking forward to the solo drive. I've driven from here to LA once, from Worcester, MA to Philadelphia once (both round-trip), and that's about it for long solo drives. I've done lots of other driving trips, of course, but not alone. The only thing is that I really ought to either go to the library for or buy some audio books, in case I get tired of listening to music. The latter makes packing much easier, since I can just download onto the iPod. My cargo space is basically just the passenger seat, which will hold my luggage, drinks and snacks for the trip, so space is a consideration.

Anyone else going to JCon who wants my cellphone number (or wants to give me theirs), email me.

Posted by dichroic at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2005

no Tea

Rudder got up and left before me this morning. (I'm going off to fly, he had to meet some people to work on a boat.) When I got downstairs I found the kettle was hot. I surmise he made Tea and didn't bring me any.

It would take more explanation and past history than I have time to type t explain why this upset me so. Suffice it to say that it did.

Posted by dichroic at 08:17 AM | Comments (3)

October 15, 2005

some more attempted muscle pics

Pics below the cut tag of me attempting to show off my muscles and also that stuff obscuring them. If you're thinking the definition doesn't look that impressive, well, it doesn't. I'm pretty pleased with the size and firmness of my arms, though.

Can't decide which of these is better - but I like the way my hair came out in the outdoor photo!
Please ignore the face - no one has ever called me "photogenic".

And a bonus picture of Rudder:

My stats: 5'2", 128lbs, 28% bf according to the Tanita (note: both times I've been immersion-weighed, years apart and at different facilities, it's shown a bodyfat percentage 6-7 points below the Tanita). This weight is after rowing a half-marathon this morning, but also after eating and hydrating post-row.

Posted by dichroic at 02:06 PM | Comments (2)

October 14, 2005

can I become a superhero without having to drown in toxic chemicals first?

I posted yesterday on my LJ and on the WeirdJews community about the idea of forgiveness, and the discussion on those posts has made me a lot more comfortable with the idea. To take the consensus there and turn it into concrete examples, I don't have to forgive George Bush for the deaths that have happened due to his actions or inactions, for example. I only have to forgive him for the things he has done to me personally, which are considerably more minor, a matter of some embarassment and upset feelings. The forgiveness doesn't have to preclude the sort of righteous anger that drives positive change. In fact, even if he had hurt me personally in a much more substantial way, I wouldn't have to forgive him unless he had actually apologized, though it might be better for my own mental state to do so.

I can live with that. I will endeavor to quit indulging the fantasy in which he comes to visit my company and instead of shaking hands I spit on him, literally or by saying, "Mr. President, you are an evil and despicable excuse for a man." (But I still wouldn't shake hands. I don't think I could ever actually spit on someone anyway, no matter how despiséd, because I would be so appalled if someone did it to me.)

My weekend will include a half marathon again, only this time on the water, on Saturday, and then on SUnday a flight with my instructor that will be a rehearsal for the IFR re-checkride. I don't know what I'll do if I don't pass this one, so I suppose I'd better pass.

It's probably just as well that I'm moving more of my training from the erg to the water. With all those long erg pieces, I think I've been watching way too many superhero movies - even the ones that didn't have heroes with actual superpowers (Daredevil, Catwoman) had heroes who can do cool tricks that normal people can't, like base-jumping off bridges and setting world records (xXx, Without Limits). Last night I noticed they'd left me with a residual desire to go flipping around, jumping onto improbably high objects, and taking down enemies much bigger than I am. This morning at rowing, I was thinking how cool it would be to attach a cape to my spandex uni. Considering that I have no martial arts or other fighting, that my flipping is mostly limited to a half-decent roundoff and a good cartwheel, and that a cape attached to a uni would just get cuaght in the slides or dragged in the water while rowing, this is probably not healthy. Either I need to go watch a movie in which smart people are glorified instead or else I need to switch bodies with one of my cats for a day.

Posted by dichroic at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2005


Today is Yom Kippur. Though so far today I have honored it more in the breach than in the observance (working, not fasting) , one of the most important facets of the holiday is that it ends the Days of Repentance, also known as the Ten Days of Awe. It is traditional at this time to end quarrels and to ask for and offer forgiveness. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I have borrowed some of the words below to ensure I didn't forget anything.)

If I have upset or offended any of you, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If anything I have done has had the effect of hurting, demeaning, or otherwise injuring you, I promise that it was unintentional, and I apologize and beg forgiveness.

If any of you with whom I interact on the Internet or in real life have injured or upset me, I know that it was unintentional and I bear no grudge.

I am not a good person, I suspect. I ought to offer the same words to my coworkers, but I have not due to fear of ridicule or being seen as even stranger than they already think me. (I probably will do so in a few cases, however.) I will probably offer them to my husband. I ought to have forgiven others who have injured me or those I care about, but I am not sure how to bring myself to do that, in cases where there are no apologies or repentance (George Bush springs to mind, and the deaths he and the government he leads have caused.) I don't know whether there is an accepted Jewish opinion on this; that is, I'm sure there are many opinions, because it is so obviously an issue that has come up again and again - and for all I despise Bush and consider him unfit to lead a nation of freedom, clearly he is no Stalin or Hitler - but I don't know if there is one opinion that is accepted by most Jewish theologians.

Posted by dichroic at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2005


I can't quite figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me, but apparently it tinks I'm some how bound. I had two dreams last week about being restrained. The first and worse one was on a morning when Rudder had gone off to row, and I got to sleep in a little longer. I dreamed that he had left the garage door open and that some man had come in to the house. He grabbed me and held me from behind, not hurting me or making any move to do anything else. Still, I assumed he was there for rape, murder, or other mayhem, or at least that I had better assume he was and act accordingly. I fought as dirty as I could, kicking and biting, but he was too strong and I couldn't escape at all. Nothing else happened before the alarm went off.

The other dream wasn't nearly as scary. It started out in some sort of gym / locker room setting. For some reason at first there were no showers. I was trying to take a sort of sponge bath, without being too revealing because I was standing by an opening to outdoors. Then I figured out where the real showers were, spent some time roaming around collecting all my gear, and headed toward them. At that point a woman, much larger than I am (but normally so, not a giant) didn't want me going there so she grabbed me and held me from behind in a bear hug, as the man did in the other dream. This time I wasn't so much frightened as annoyed, but again I fought as hard as I could and wasn't able to escape.

I don't know if my subconscious thinks I'm somehow trapped right now, if this could be about being stuck in my job or with the flying, or if I've just been getting tangled in the bedsheets.

Posted by dichroic at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2005

getting easier

Odd. Despite going out with Rudder to drown my sorrows last night (translation: burgers and one beer apiece, yes, we're lame) this morning's training piece went well. Fifteen kilometers and reasonable times on a weekday morning and I didn't even feel awful coming in to work. I'm feeling reasonably confident about the upcoming marathon except for my hands and forearms. I've done most of my training on the erg and the main difference between the erg and the boat is that on the erg, you just pull the handle straight in and let it go straight out, whereas in a boat you have to feather the blades, that is tuen them so they're parallel to the water so they don't catch on the recovery. (This is what the sheep was telling Alice to do in the rowboat scene in Through the Looking Glass. "Catching a crab" when when your oar gets stuck in the water when you didn't mean it to, or gets sucked downward because the blade wasn't quite vertical, and can result in a flip.) I intend to spend the next month correcting this with more water taime. I'll row tomorrow and Friday and do a half-marathon on the water Saturday. I won't be able to row as much the next week because of JournalCon but I'll race locally the week after that and possibly in Newport the weekend after as well.

I hate to say this, but I'm getting to the point where erging is almost fun. My body feels strong and capable while I'm moving up and down the slide, and able to go on for hours. The movies have helped as well: Hidalgo, about a horserace across the Sahara in the 1880s; Without Limits, about Steve Prefontaine, the runner; xXx, with Vin Diesel (or his stuntman?) doing outrageous stunts. This morning was Daredevil, which is a little too conflicted to be an ideal erg movie, but not too bad. We have Catwoman next, then I think I need to go to the video store if I have any more long erg pieces. I may not, since I need to move those to the water and since next week really begins my taper.

Hopefully I'lll only have two more flying sessions, one with my instructor and one more checkride, and then I can concentrate fully on the rowing. That will make things easier.

Posted by dichroic at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2005

if at first...

Fuck. I blew it. Basically, I had the wrong button pushed nad didn't realize it until it was too late. For any pilots out there, whenpreflighting the GPS I accidentally left the NAV/GPSbutton in GPS mode, and didn't realize it until I was past and off the airway I was supposed to be intercepting.

We didn't get to go until late because two planes came back late and we were frustrated and hurried and the examiner was worried about getting to his next appointment on time. Add to that the frustration of not being able to go as originally scheduled yesterday due to wind. I'm sure all of that contributed to my distraction.

Since I screwed up early in the flight and was already flustered and annoyed, I elected not to do any more flying, though I could have to avoid having to do it later. Instead we just did a GPS approach partial panel (meaning, with some of the instruments covered to simulate instrument failure) into our home airport. If I retest, I don't have to redo the oral part, the partial panel or the GPS approach, since I've done them satisfactorily.

Three options: drop it entirely (and I haven't mentioned this here (wouldn't want to ruin the image) but I haven't been enjoying this training; take a break until after the marathon and then retest; or do one more (required) lesson with my instructor and then try again.

Pros and Cons:

Drop it entirely: Huge savings on money nad time but I feel like I have FAILURE on my permanent record. Plus if I ever do want to do a cross-country flight I can't file an instrument flight plan, which is the easiest way to navigate and gives you better air traffic control service even in clear weather.

Take a break: If I retest within 2 months, I can just redo the parts I missed. On the other hand, next weekend I need to do either 30km on the erg or a long piece on the water (really should also be 30km but I'll probably just do a half-marathon), the week after that is JournalCon, the next weekend is a regatta here, the one after is a regatta in Los Angeles, and then there's the marathon in Louisiana. By then I'd need to do several flights just to burnish off the rust before retesting, and then I'd be pushing that two-month limit.

Retest right away: Gets me an instrument rating if I don't screw up again and the final reimbursement from work of $1500 for the training. On the other hand to get that it will cost me $500 or so more into the hole by the time I pay for instructor, examiner, and airplane fees, and another morning I have to miss from work. If I pass, I don't have to feel like I failed - after all, who cares now that it took me two tries to pass my driver's test way back when? On the other hand, there are no guarantees I'll pass.

There are two factors in my favor, though: the examiner told my instructor that I did everything else very well, and after all, when I passed my driver's test the second time it was a similar situation. I'd goofed once, I was a very timid driver, and I was facing a deadline because I was moving 1500 miles away to a city where I didn't know anybody in a week. So there's precedent. Come to think of it, I probably have more hours in a plane now than I did in a car then.

So I've decided to take the test again. I'll fly with my instructor on Sunday and we'll do everything the examiner would have me do: intercept and track radials, DME arc, hold procedures, one precision and one more nonprecision approach, and some discussion of what to do if I were in instrument conditions and lost communications. And then I'll go out next Tuesday morning and try, try again.

Clarification for nonpilots, I am already a pilot; this was just for the instrument rating add-on.

Posted by dichroic at 04:04 PM | Comments (3)

October 09, 2005


I leave for my checkride in about half an hour. They're predicting "moderate" turbulence over most of the state today, the airport we use most to practice instrument procedures and approaches is closed and the NOTAM recommends avoiding the area (I think there's a fly-in) and the ILS approach at another airport we pratice at often is also closed, I have no idea why.

This should be interesting.

UPDATE: We finished the oral part of the checkride and it went well, but then called off the flying - the wind had been increasing all morning and it seemed likely that during the flight it would reach the predicted 15 knots with gusts to 25. The wind was from 290 degrees, the runway is oriented at 220 degrees, and the Cessna 172SP has a llimitation of 15 knots crosswind, so it was a safety issue. Yeah, we could have gone and just hoped the wind didn't pick up any farther (it was maybe 10 knots when we would have taken off), and I really really wanted to get this over with, but sometimes that's exactlly when you have to err on the side of safety. When I asked him (after making clear that I had made my final decision and wouldn't change it) the examiner agreed that I probably had made the right choice. And when we went out to dinner, the picked had in fact picked up more, so the weather confirmed it.

Also, now the examiner has seen me make a good safety decision (they're strict on safety issues). He could have downgraded me otherwise. So instead, I'll duck out of work for an extended lunch tomorrow. The prediction is for a high of only 87 and wind of about 5 knots, so it should be good flying weather, and with temps that low, might not even be too turbulent.

Posted by dichroic at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2005

the pre-check check

In today's pre-checkride check with the FBO's chief pilot, I totally nailed a few things and screwed up a few others. I flew the prettiest DME arc you've ever seen, flew an ILS approach dead-nuts on the needles, perfectly navigated a GPS approach, and did well enough with recovering from unusual attitudes. On the other hand, I forgot to set the timer on the ILS, didn't put on 10 degrees of flaps for it, did one of the suckiest cross-wind landings ever (that didn't include a groundloop, any damage, or departing the runway, anyhow), busted the altitude limits about three times (though I noticed and corrected quickly, and in my defense there was a little turbulence) and a couple of more minor things. The altitude limits, the timer, and the landing in particular are things the examiner could object to.

Then I erged 25 kilometers, which I hadn't been looking forward to, but it actually felt pretty good. That in concert with the movie xXx that I was watching during the piece got me fired up again.

So here's the pep talk:

They call me Dichroic. I eat thunderclouds and spit hail, and I can fly across the Sonoran desert and back in a day. I'm smarter than most of the other pilots out there and I'm more conscious of safety than any testosterone-laden 20-year-old bucking for an airline job. If they can do this, then I can too. I've put a year of my life and a lot of cash and inconvenience into this and it is NOT going to go to waste. If I'm slow and careful and I do things in order then I have this nailed and no FAA examiner is going to tell me otherwise. Dammit.

(On the other hand, it's very windy right now and it's predicted to be just as bad tomorrow.)

Posted by dichroic at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

te salutamus

Step 1: I have an end of training check with the FBO's chief pilot this morning - sort of a practice checkride.
Step 2: Come home and erg 25km.
Step 3: Tomorrow at 1, the real check ride. They're not predicting thunderstorms any more, but the afternoon is typically much more turbulent as well as hotterr than the morning (but the examiner wasn't available any earlier).

And around all that I have to fit grocery shopping, other errands, and laundry, as usual.

With my shield or on it,

Posted by dichroic at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2005

Friday randomness

While putting my jeans on this morning, I realized the 80s would have been a more comfortable decade if they'd had decent stretch denim back then. These jeans are fairly tight in the thighs, both because they'd just come out of the washer and because of my monstrous muscular legs (well, and that jiggly stuff on top of the montrous muscles!) but they're not uncomfortable at all, unlike what I wore back then (despite having less jiggle at the time).

I'm also thankful that the fashion nostalgia for the 80s has managed to forget and thus not resuscitate such things as high waisted jeans that were skin-tight all the way to the ankles, satin boxer shorts and jackets, enormous shoulder pads and big hair. Those can stay dead, please. Especially the tight jeans and shoulder pads; those other things are easier to avoid.

This will only be funny if you know something about Six Sigma:
Question: what's the difference between FEMA and a FMEA?
Answer: with a FMEA, you try to assess risks and figure out in advance how to deal with any disasters that may occur.

Yes, I am a geek.

Wish me luck with my checkride Sunday. The big question is, if I pass, should I treat myself to new ultralight oars or a rosy red blazer (much prettier in Pomegranate) in an incredibly soft wool? The best answer will be "both" but I need to get the credit card paid back off after all those flying expenses.

Posted by dichroic at 01:57 PM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2005


The things I'm thinking about my boss are probably best not set out in a public forum. Suffice it to say that he's making that whole trailer idea look better and better every day. It sounds like Rudder's boss is having the same effect, possibly more so.

My week began at about 5:15 Monday morning with an involuntary dunk in the lake. It will end with an IR checkride at 1PM Sunday. (Or possibly with said checkride being postponed due to a predicted thunderstorm.) And the parts in between haven't been easy either. Yesterday was nice and quiet, though it was a bit disconcerting when I went to shave my legs in my morning shower and found bruising along the insides of both thighs. I hadn't known they were there until then, though presumably they were a result of Monday's little adventure (on the theory that I'd have noticed if anything else had happened to cause bruises in that location).

The dunking wasn't all bad though: the water could have been much colder and now at least I've gotten my first one out of the wa. (As someone said, there are two kinds of rowers: those who have fallen in and those who will. Actually, most people fall in both categories.) The rest of yesterday wasn't bad either: I got a decent amount of work done and the all-B dinner I made at the same time (brisket, bowties & kasha, and beans, comma, green, with brownies for dessert) was tasty. With luck the checkride will be like that too: probably annoying but ultimately successful.

(My private-pilot checkride wasn't annoying at all; in fact it was a great learning experience and kind of fun, with a salty old guy who'd been a cropduster and who had definite Opinions about the FAA. But the instrument one is supposed to be the most difficult of all checkrides and there's a whole lot of finicky stuff to remember: when to push the OBS button on the autopilot or the GPS button on the VOR receiver, what various symbols mean on a low-altitude airways map, what the different types of NOTAMs and SIGMETs (notices to airmen and significant weather warnings, respectively) and so on and so on and so on.)

Posted by dichroic at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2005

Rosh Hashanah at home

Yay for a day spent telecommuting! I didn't want to use a vacation day, if I wasn't going to visit family or go to synagogue. I had a lot to get done, but most of it was in the form of teleconferences, so I asked if I could work at home today. Yes, I played the religion card; in fact, when one of my managers was giving me grief about having an easy day, I asked him how often he'd called into the office on Christmas or Easter.

Maybe New Year's Day would have been a better analogy. Problem is, there's no such thing as a serious major holiday celebrated by most generic/secular Christian Americans (you know: doesn't go to church but part of the heavily Christian-influenced American culture). Christmas and Easter are joyful holidays for both secular and religious types, Thansgiving's happy for everyone, July 4 is about fireworks, and the more somber and reflective holidays like Veteran's Day or Memorial Day aren't that big a deal. So it all takes a little explaining: yes, it is a big deal, no, it's not a fun holiday. Add in the fact that all I'm doing with my day home other than working is baking brisket (and brownies!) and that it will be just the two of us for dinner and explanations get even more difficult; on the other hand, none of that last bit is really the business of anyone at the office anyhow.

Even when it's just me or just me and Rudder, even the year when my Passover Seder was a bowl of matzo ball soup in a casino on a business trip to Las Vegas, I do feel somehow better when I do something, no matter how small, to mark the major Jewish holidays. I feel more connected not only to my ancestors but to myself and my own past, and as if I have not been assimilated out of all recognition. I don't suppose an Orthodox Jew would recognize what I'm doign as observance of the holiday, but it feels lilke it to me.

Posted by dichroic at 03:31 PM | Comments (1)

October 04, 2005

as the year begins

This got me thinking: what would I wish to my friends, online and in real life, for the year that begins today?

Everyone has an upcoming year, whether you celebrate Rosh Hashana or not, so I don't feel a need to limit wishes to only those who celebrate it. If you're reading this, or if you're anyone else I care about (and you arean't reading this so you won't ever know but) I wish you all:

Life, love, liberty. Happiness, or at least the ability to pursue it. Prosperity.

Dreams and time to pursue them. Adventure, and comfort afterward.

Creative urges and the skills, ability, time, freedom and materials to satisfy them.
Something new to learn.

On a more concrete level, books to lose yourself in. Things to play with. Ideas to play with.

Stimulating arguments and cooperative agreements.

As I think about what I'd want for my friends, I keep coming back to Fred Small's words, and I don't think I can do better than to quote him. From Willie's Song:

May the rain run off your shoulder when you're caught in a storm When the frost comes a-calling may it find you safe and warm May your place be set, may your promises be kept, May you never forget you are loved.

But I still wish you adventure and dreams, too.

Posted by dichroic at 03:22 PM | Comments (2)

October 03, 2005

because when a blogger does something embarassing, she tells everyone about it

This morning I did my first duathlon: rowing and swimming, the latter involuntarily. (Technically, I had "fallen" in once before, but that time I did it in the middle of summer, in broad daylight, specifically to practice getting back into the boat.) It comes to all rowers eventually, usually much earlier in their rowing career - often in their first time or two in a single scull. After fifteen years of rowing during which I always managed to keep the dry side up, today I flipped. Actually, the boat didn't, but I did; in my first thousand meters this morning, I hit a buoy hard (not even a new one but one that's been there as long as the lake has) with my rigger, couldn't hang on to my oars, and went over. The boat stayed right side up, which was a very good thing since I had my flip-flops with me and carrying the boat up barefoot would have been painful.

I had to swim the boat away from the buoy before getting back in or I'd have been trapped. Looked at from overhead a single looks like a plus sign with a short and crooked crosspiece that points in the direction the boat is going. Rowers face backward (which is wy I bumped into the buoy); the boat in the overhead view in the bottom right of this picture would be heading to the left. I had to move the boat and oars far enough from the buoy that I wouldn't just slam back into it. I was able to get in without too much trouble, thanks to that one practice session. My shoes and water bottle stayed in the boat. My seat came off its tracks and went into the water; it floated and I managed to retrieve it without falling in again, but I lost my seat pad and one of my lights. I can get a new light easily enough at a local cycle shop, but the seat pad is rowing specific and the company has gone out of business, so that may be tricky to replace. I carry the boat on top of my head and use the seat to pad my head, so I really need it.

It may be October, and dark now at 5:15 AM, but it's still Phoenix. It was 70 or so this morning, and the water felt warmer than the air, so the ducking was only an inconvenience. (It gets down to freezing here in December at dawn, so falling in two months from now would be far more unpleasant.) After rowing to shore to empty out all the water that had somehow gotten into my boat, I went out for another lap. I'd have liked to do a bit more distance and I had some time, but I came in after that lap because I was getting a little uncomfortable - wet, some of me warm from rowing, some cold. Being warmer after carrying the boat back uphill to the boatyard, I stretched and waited a while for Rudder (having told him I'd fallen in when he rowed past) but finally gave up on him and went to the gym to shower.

Some time standing under hot water followed by coffee when I got to work helped. I'm all right and my boat has only a slight scrape. I've always known this was coming some day and have tried never to be cocky when others have fallen in. (Rudder has, several times, like most people who row singles.) Still, it's the end of an era, and of a fifteen year record.

Posted by dichroic at 01:55 PM | Comments (1)

dear little village, little town

Listening to the ongoing interviews with people displaced from New Orleans, I started to hear something a little different today. The immediate shock of loss is over, and people are beginning to know what they've lost and what they have left. Suddenly I get it on a whole different level. Especially among those who are reluctantly comtemplating making a new life somewhere else, I started hearing a familiar tune.....

"All we found were my wedding rings and a waterlogged videotape..."

"A little bit of this, a little bit of that, a pot, a pan, a stove, a hat...."

People spoke of the difficulty of attending a new church, instead of the one they'd always attended, whose priest had baptized anf married them.

"Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?...."

People spoke of trying to keep in touch with the old neighborhood, whose residents are now scattered across the country.

"Where I know everyone I meet....">

People spoke of decide whether to leave, weighing in the balance leaving of jobs they'd been in for decades and old familiar routine, of leaving a place where they had a place and a role, where they knew who they were and how they fit into the community. And I heard:

"Soon I'll be a stranger in a strange new place, searching for an old familiar face..."

I don't have roots where I live now. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, as my parents were before me, but the generation of my family that immigrated to America ranges from my grandparents to my great-great-grandparents, no farther back. It takes books, movies, plays - stories - for me to understand what leaving means from a place where you do have roots, but though they have more free choice, and though visiting home or even moving back later will be much more possible than it was for immigrants a couple of generations ago, it looks to me like those who decide to leave New Orleans will be feeling something of what their ancestors did for wherever they left in order to settle there. For those who go back and then decide to move away, I suspect the American Wakes that used to be given to Irish immigrants will have a new life.

"What do we leave? Nothing much, only....

Only home. Only knowing who you are and how you fit into where you are. Only the part of you that's part of it. I hope that those who stay will be able to build a new home, and that those who go will find a new home.

Posted by dichroic at 11:16 AM | Comments (3)