Monday, December 31, 2007

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gies a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.
--Robert Burns

According to the very interesting Wikipedia article, Burns claimed to have "collected this traditional song", but everybody assumes that's a euphemism for "used some old lines I found somewhere and wrote a poem around them." If you're curious, the article also has a line by line translation and pronunciation guide.

I first heard of this song in a storybook about a mermaid who, unlike all the other mermaids, had a TERRIBLE singing voice. One night, having been pretty much shunned by all the other mermaids, she tried to sing along with the people on a cruise ship (who were singing this song). They all thought that the horrible noise was some alarm saying that the ship was sinking, so they got into the lifeboats and rowed away. There was one little girl left behind, who became friends with the mermaid, and possibly some other sea creatures. At the end of the book, the mermaid saves another cruise ship by sounding an alarm that they were about to crash into an iceberg. She found her purpose in life, and lived happily ever after (or something). Mom--does this book still exist? Or have you purged the picture books already?

So it's New Year's Eve! Grandma's birthday is tomorrow, and Baby still isn't here. As much as I'd like to meet her (and be done with being pregnant), it's probably a good thing she didn't come this weekend. I decided on Saturday that maybe some good hard work would encourage her, so Peter and I went out into the side yard. I pulled weeds, sifted gravel out of the dirt, and leveled ground for Peter to put paving stones down on (I traded my extra set of too big stairs for the pile of paving stones in my next-door-neighbor's yard -- which was a good trade, since I had been secretly coveting the stones for months now, and at the same time, I was annoyed that the guy who made the current set of only slightly too big stairs didn't take the old set of extremely too big stairs away with him). Well, a few more feet of the side yard looks presentable now, but the muscles in my lower back and hips were not impressed. Yesterday when I woke up, they were VERY sore, and they had NO strength (just standing made them go all exhausted-twitchy). I realized then how stupid I'd been -- if I had gone into labor, I don't think there would have been a whole lot of pushing going on. So my job now is to go walking and exercise them enough so they don't go all stiff, but not so much that they're too tired to do what they need to.

PS: Yes, I know the illustration is a hundred years out of date, but I thought it was appropriate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Milk for the Cat by Harold Monro

Milk for the Cat

When the tea is brought at five o'clock,
And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
The little black cat with bright green eyes
Is suddenly purring there.

At first she pretends, having nothing to do,
She has come in merely to blink by the grate,
But, though tea may be late or the milk may be sour,
She is never late.

And presently her agate eyes
Take a soft large milky haze,
And her independent casual glance
Becomes a stiff, hard gaze.

Then she stamps her claws or lifts her ears,
Or twists her tail and begins to stir,
Till suddenly all her lithe body becomes
One breathing, trembling purr.

The children eat and wriggle and laugh;
The two old ladies stroke their silk:
But the cat is grown small and thin with desire,
Transformed to a creeping lust for milk.

The white saucer like some full moon descends
At last from the clouds of the table above;
She sighs and dreams and thrills and glows,
Transfigured with love.

She nestles over the shining rim,
Buries her chin in the creamy sea;
Her tail hangs loose; each drowsy paw
Is doubled under each bending knee.

A long, dim ecstasy holds her life;
Her world is an infinite shapeless white,
Till her tongue has curled the last holy drop,
Then she sinks back into the night,

Draws and dips her body to heap
Her sleepy nerves in the great arm-chair,
Lies defeated and buried deep
Three or four hours unconscious there.
--Harold Monro

At times like these, I wish I had a cat. I'm finally allowed to -- for the first time since I moved out of our house in Ohio -- but they say that it's not a good idea to get (and litter train) a cat while pregnant (because of toxoplasmosis) so I'll have to wait a little longer.

Cats are just so restful -- the rhythm of their purring and your petting, the weight of her on your lap or chest, the complete and utter abandon with which they relax in the sun -- these have always entranced me. They also seem to have a sense about your moods, and even a usually standoffish cat may ingratiate itself onto your lap when you're sad or stressed.

The thing is, I've been stressed lately. I'm not sure why. For about a week and a half now my generalized anxiety level has been slowly creeping up and up. It's getting to the point where I have to tell myself everything is going to be all right in order to sit down and eat a bowl of cereal, and my leg has started doing that nervous bouncing thing more and more frequently. I don't think I'm scared of labor -- I don't worry about it particularly, and I've dealt with enough pain in my life to know that I can handle just about anything for a little while. I don't worry about the responsibility of being a mom, and wonder if I'll be able to do everything OK because I know that I know how to take care of a baby, and I'll be able to get help when I need it.

It could be just the physical exhaustion of being VERY pregnant, combined with the constant unknown of when-will-the-baby-come. I have mixed feelings about when-will-the-baby-come. On one hand, I'm tired of carrying her around, and being constantly uncomfortable, and I want her OUT! I want to have the reward of all my hard work and actually hold the baby and see her and love her. We're within two weeks of the due date, it's perfectly normal for babies to come a little early, so let's get this over with. On the other hand, future convenience dictates that the longer I can keep going, the easier it will be to celebrate her birthday as a separate event from Christmas, which I've heard from people with December birthdays is a VERY important thing.

But...I made it through Christmas, and now New Year's is just a few days away. Following Flylady's advice has made it so I don't really HAVE to do much around the house to keep it running smoothly (though there is a big pile of wrapping paper to go thru if I can convince my body to bend over to pick it up). I only have one chapter of my current Manga to finish by the end of the year. So I really don't have many responsibilities except relaxing and letting the baby finish growing. It would just be nice to have a cat to keep me company and diffuse some of the stress for the next little while.

PS: As I read books about babies, they all encourage breastfeeding -- which I think is great. The thing is, I get SOOOO tired of people telling me that cow's milk is designed for baby cows, and not for people, and that no other animals drink other animals' milk -- like we're some sort of freaks for even considering it. I believe that cow's milk WAS designed for people to drink (though if you don't like it, or if your body doesn't like it, I'm not gonna force you). And anybody reading this poem, or anybody who has seen a cat go after a saucer of milk, has to admit that the second statement is complete bunk. We may be the only species that has figured out how to get another animal's milk on a regular basis, but we're certainly not the only ones that see it as a tasty source of nutrition. That's all. I'll get off my soap-box now.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
--Clement Clarke Moore

Merry Christmas Eve everybody! I couldn't possibly post this poem any other day. It's a very famous poem, and really needs no introduction. I will say that it suffers occasionally when the author leaves narration and turns to poetic descriptions. Luckily they only last a line or two, but I always felt like "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow / Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below," and "As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, / When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky," were out of place in this poem, and I usually forget them when I try to recite it from memory.

In describing our Christmas traditions, I left off yesterday with everybody gathered at the top of the stairs wearing elf hats and waiting for permission to come down. Mom and Dad finally put on some Christmas music and give the word, and everybody rushes to the living room, scooping up their full stocking as they go. The stockings, much too heavy to hang up anymore, have been laid out on the stairs, looking tantalizing to the little ones waiting above.

In the living room, each person stakes out a bit of couch or their own corner for opening presents in. We empty the stockings of their traditional gifts -- lots of chocolate candies like peanut butter cups, peppermint patties and kisses, bags of pistachios and pine nuts and other nuts, some Hanukkah gelt, an apple and finally a tangerine (or orange if Mom knows you like them better) in the toe. Other things in the stocking might include jewelry, little wind up toys, lip gloss, or other small things Mom thinks you might like.

After the stockings are empty, the other presents get opened. This isn't a free for all of torn paper flying everywhere. We take turns (though not strictly in order) opening one present at a time. Everybody admires whatever it is, and whoever got it might spend five or ten minutes fiddling with it before even thinking about opening something else. The younger siblings generally passed out the presents from under the tree, having shorter attention spans. One of the things I liked, was the way Mom (or whoever the present was from) would write a two or three word cryptic explanation on the tag -- like "For Karen and her doll" or "For Doug, who is curious about such things."

As the presents are unwrapped, all the paper and ribbons get thrown behind the couch, and the presents themselves are stacked up in the space staked out earlier. If the present is wearable, it often gets put on right away. Eventually, the box for one thing will be used to store a bunch of smaller things. We hang out in the living room for several hours, opening presents and fiddling with the stuff we've gotten. If we get hungry, there are more cinnamon rolls, Christmas cookies, and candy, nuts and fruit from the stockings. At some point, Mom also puts out the spiral cut ham, veggie tray, and cheese and crackers to snack on. We occasionally had a sit-down supper on Christmas, but breakfast and lunch were just constant snacking.

When it comes time to clean up, everybody takes their piles up to their bedrooms (though stuff doesn't stay there forever, since we want to play with a lot of it again), and Mom starts going through the wrapping paper. The torn stuff goes into garbage bags, but pieces big enough to reuse, gift bags, boxes, ribbons and bows, and certain gift tags get put aside to make their appearance again next year. Along with being thrifty, this ritual has other uses. First, it's kind of fun to see the same bow or box year after year, and then Mom generally found some present or other that had fallen in with the paper and would have been thrown away if she hadn't been looking at each piece. We also find a present or two way back behind the tree, or somebody remembers where they hid something months ago, so gift giving lasts even this late.

The afternoon and evening are spent watching one or more of the videos people got as gifts, putting together the more complicated toys or Lego sets (we got Legos EVERY year at Christmas and birthdays), reading books, trying to install the video games, etc. There are "Merry Christmas and thank you!" phone calls to and from Grandparents, Aunt Shirley (who when we were young sent us McDonalds gift certificates), and various other relatives. I remember going out to visit people a few times growing up, but usually we just stayed home and revelled in the Christmas spirit.

I hope that whatever traditions you celebrate with this year, you'll feel the love and security that I felt as a child at Christmas time!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa Lucia Translated by Paul Widergren

Santa Lucia

The night goes with weighty step
round yard and hearth
round earth, the sun departs
leave the woods brooding
There in our dark house,
appears with lighted candles
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

The night goes great and mute
now hear it swings
in every silent room
murmurs as if from wings.
Look at our threshold stands
white-clad with lights in her hair
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

The darkness shall soon depart
from the earth's valleys
thus she speaks
a wonderful word to us
The day shall rise anew
from the rosy sky.
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.
--Translated by Paul Widergren

Here's an English translation of the Swedish Luciasången which is sung to a Neapolitan tune. Definitely an international song if there ever was one. Garrison Keillor wrote some alternate lyrics which begin:
Santa Lucia
She wasn't Swedish
She came from Italy
Dressed very prettily

If you want to hear the real song and tradition of Santa Lucia day, you can find it here (starting about 17-18 minutes into Segment 4).

In our family, we had never heard of this till I was probably 12 and we started getting the American Girl catalog. We never remembered to do anything on December 13, Santa Lucia day, so we celebrated on Christmas morning. Mom thought that lit candles in my hair was a bad idea, and we had no Lindon foliage to work with, so we made a wreath out of a plastic pine garland, and hot glued some candles in it which never got lit. I had a white dress, and she got a long piece of wide red satin ribbon for a sash. On Christmas morning, Mom would make cinnamon rolls, then wake me up. I'd put on the outfit, and she'd braid my hair and make those cute loops out of the braids. We put the cinnamon rolls on the gold and silver (plated) tray Daddy brought back from Germany, along with hot chocolate in the crayon cups that we got all those years ago from Pat and Dick Rogers. I would then carry the tray upstairs and wake (or pretend to wake since they were often waiting for me pretending to be asleep) each of my siblings with a kiss, cocoa, and cinnamon rolls. They were then allowed to go to the landing at the top of the stairs, put on an elf hat, eat their breakfast, and wait for the signal to come down.

Before we began doing Santa Lucia on Christmas morning, I simply woke up my siblings with a kiss in my role as Christmas Fairy (the Christmas fairy, in case you were wondering, had no special outfit, and no job other than to wake people up with a kiss). When I got older, Heather took over as Santa Lucia, but I still have a special fondness for the whole proceedings, and I think that it's one tradition I'll do with my family.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Kerry Christmas Carol by Sigerson Clifford

The Kerry Christmas Carol

Brush the floor and clean the hearth,
And set the fire to keep,
For they might visit us tonight
When all the world's asleep.

Don't blow the tall white candle out
But leave it burning bright,
So that they'll know they're welcome here
This holy Christmas night.

Leave out the bread and meat for them,
And sweet milk for the Child,
And they will bless the fire, that baked
And, too, the hands that toiled.

For Joseph will be travel-tired,
And Mary pale and wan,
And they can sleep a little while
Before they journey on.

They will be weary of the roads,
And rest will comfort them,
For it must be many a lonely mile
From here to Bethlehem.

O long the road they have to go,
The bad mile with the good,
Till the journey ends on Calvary
Beneath a cross of wood.

Leave the door upon the latch,
And set the fire to keep,
And pray they'll rest with us tonight
When all the world's asleep.
--Sigerson Clifford

I picked this poem for today because it reminded me of a post on Gremhog's Blog where she tells about her family's Christmas tradition of opening the door at midnight on Christmas Eve to welcome the Christ Child in. It seems like a nice idea to me -- though I would probably find another time to do it (I think kids should be in bed (or at least their rooms) long before midnight on Christmas eve).

Our family has several Christmas traditions that have been adapted from older less convenient ones. I have no problem with the adaptation, since without it we probably wouldn't bother at all, and at least this way we can remember what it's meant to be. Probably the best example of this is our Santa Lucia tradition (which I'll write about tomorrow).

Today, I'll write about what our Christmas Eve traditions were. During the day, we'd put on Christmas music, and make last minute preparations for Christmas. There might be some baking -- the spritz cookies and toffee were probably made earlier in December -- but dough for cinnamon rolls ought to be made fresh. Most of the presents we made for each other with Daddy would have been finished by then too, but there might be finishing touches to put on. As the day progressed, Mom would call each of us into her bedroom to take a turn wrapping presents. She shopped for bargains and perfect gifts all year long, so there were always plenty of things to wrap dug out of her hiding places in the attic and top of her closet. The happy pile under the tree would grow and grow until there wasn't room anymore.

After dinner, we would gather in the living room for a Family Home Evening like reading of the Christmas story. Of course we sang some Christmas carols at appropriate times, and when we were younger, we acted it all out. I especially remember one year, I was being Mary (I usually was, being the only girl old enough for most of the years when it mattered), and I rode on the donkey's (Daddy's) back wearing a pillowcase on my head as a costume.

Then each person got to open one present. Mom generally picked out something that would be exciting to get on Christmas Eve. It was usually something like pajamas, or a puzzle, or book, or something that we could use and enjoy that night.

After family prayer, and hugs all around, we hung up our stockings. The stockings were tube socks with red or green stripes at the top. Mom had cross-stitched our initials on them, and each one had a wreath made of a pipe cleaner with those three sided beads strung on. We never had a fireplace, so the stockings got hung up in age order on the balusters -- the posts holding the handrail up -- on the stairs. After that, the kids were all banished to the upstairs until specifically called down in the morning. We were allowed to visit each other's rooms upstairs, but it was absolutely forbidden to come past the landing at the top of the stairs. When we were older, we did occasionally get together and talk or do a puzzle, but mostly, we just went to bed (thinking that the sooner we went to sleep, the sooner we'd wake up and it would be Christmas).

That's all for today, I'll talk about Santa Lucia, the Christmas Fairy, Christmas day, and other December traditions in the next few days.

P.S. We finally got the repair man to come out and look at the furnace today. He called just as I was leaving the house, and said, "I can come over right now, or sometime after New Years." Of course, I called and rearranged my day's appointments so he could come over right now. He arrived, turned on the heater, waited a while (longer than Peter or I had been waiting after the whole smoke filled house incident), and the fan came on. He said, "There's nothing wrong with this. It's working fine." When I asked him about the smoke and such, he said that there's oil inside to keep the parts from rusting during manufacturing. He said that generally the installer will burn that off when he tests the installation. Evidently, our installer never turned it on to see if it would work (I knew that from the gas man who came in July to turn on the oven. They didn't test ANYTHING).

He went to call in and report to the manufacturer and fill out his paperwork, then came back in and said that the manufacturer wouldn't pay for it as a warranty claim since there was nothing wrong with it, and that he should bill ME for his time. I just about died! The Gas company person said not to use it till it was looked at, and the company representative I spoke to agreed that it ought to be looked at. How am I supposed to know that my heater is fine when the experts tell me to get it fixed? I coughed and sputtered a bit, and suggested that he write up the bill and leave it so he wouldn't have to stand around and wait while I got on the phone and yelled at people. Eventually, it all got worked out, but I was mightily annoyed at the whole process.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But his mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
with a kiss.

Enough for him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay.
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
which adore.

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.
--Christina Rossetti

Here's a Christmas carol that definitely started out as a poem. One thing that makes it obvious is the number of musical arrangements that have been written for it (Wikipedia lists at least 6). This poem is all about contrasts: the bleakness of winter with the new spring of hope, the glory of the Second Coming with the humble circumstances of His birth, the adoration of angels with the love of His mother, and the worth of physical gifts with the gift He really wants.

I first really became aware of this poem on a Christmas card that Grandma Stay sent me years ago. I'm sure I had heard it before, but I hadn't really paid any attention to it. The Christmas card had a little shepherd boy and his lamb on the front, and just the last stanza of the poem. I loved the picture and sentiment so much that I kept it for years, and I probably still have it in one of my scrapbooks.

Speaking of Christmas cards, I spent all afternoon addressing Grandma Stay's cards, and writing the checks that go in them. I go down to HB once a week to make sure the bills get paid, and when I went today, she had the Christmas cards out on the table. She had evidently been feeling well earlier in the week, but took a downturn today, and had almost no energy. I could tell that the cards would never even get mailed by Christmas, let alone arrive, without some help, so I offered my services. Three hours later, I had finished everything I could do without her -- she had gone to bed since she was too tired to sit in the chair and write her name anymore. I hadn't really realized what an enormous task sending cards out to 50 grandchildren can be! Here's hoping that she feels better tomorrow. By the way, everybody should make sure to send a nice newsy letter with photos to Grandma for Christmas -- that's what she really wants.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Morning by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

Christmas Morning

If Bethlehem were here today,
Or this were very long ago,
There wouldn't be a winter time
Nor any cold or snow.

I'd run out through the garden gate,
And down along the pasture walk;
And off beside the cattle barns
I'd hear a kind of gentle talk.

I'd move the heavy iron chain
And pull away the wooden pin;
I'd push the door a little bit
And tiptoe very softly in.

The pigeons and the yellow hens
And all the cows would stand away;
Their eyes would open wide to see
A lady in the manger hay,

If this were very long ago
And Bethlehem were here today.

And Mother held my hand and smiled—
I mean the lady would—and she
Would take the woolly blankets off
Her little boy so I could see.

His shut-up eyes would be asleep,
And he would look like our John,
And he would be all crumpled too,
And have a pinkish color on.

I'd watch his breath go in and out.
His little clothes would all be white.
I'd slip my finger in his hand
To feel how he could hold it tight.

And she would smile and say, "Take care,"
The mother, Mary, would, "Take care";
And I would kiss his little hand
And touch his hair.

While Mary put the blankets back
The gentle talk would soon begin.
And when I'd tiptoe softly out
I'd meet the wise men going in.
--Elizabeth Madox Roberts

This is another poem I found in my Children's Lit class at BYU. I don't remember what book it's from, but I photocopied the pages because I really liked the illustration, in soft pastels, of a little girl of about 3 or four tiptoeing in to see baby Jesus. She kind of reminds me of the little angel from mom's porcelain nativity set.

I like how the little girl keeps getting confused about whether she and her mom are looking at her little brother, or Mary is letting her look at the baby Jesus. It's a good reminder that we can find Christ in all kinds of things around us.

Finally I like the fact that it has a definite rhythm and rhyme, it is a children's poem after all, but that they're subtle. You could read this poem to a little child in a soft quiet conversational voice, pointing to each thing in the picture as you read about it, without being forced into a sing-song rhythm and tone like many nursery rhymes have.

I've been thinking a lot about little babies and children lately (I wonder why), and I hope that you'll share this poem with a little one in your life this Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Trees by Robert Frost

Christmas Trees

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.
--Robert Frost

Here is a poem from Robert Frost, written in free verse. Some of the time, it's hard for me to differentiate this type of poetry from prettily formatted prose, but this one feels very like a poem to me. I was looking up the definition of free verse (to make sure I wasn't confusing it with blank verse, which is what Shakespeare generally used for his plays), and found this definition on a page compiled by Google's very useful new define feature: poetry without any fixed pattern of meter, rhythm, or rhyme, but which instead exhibits its own natural rhythms, sound patterns, and seemingly arbitrary principles of form.

This definition finally helped me make sense of what the difference is. This type of poetry is not formless -- the language used is obviously formal and poetic in a way that prose simply wouldn't use -- it's just form based on something other than strict meter. Frost is aware of the rhythm of his words. Take this sentence fragment, "there drove a stranger to our yard, who looked the city, yet did in country fashion in that there he sat and waited till he drew us out a-buttoning coats to ask him who he was." Nobody writing prose would use the phrase "who looked the city" instead of "who looked like he came from the city," but Frost's phrase fits better into the space he wanted to use.

The message of this poem reminds me of something I was thinking about earlier this week. A mailing list I subscribe to has been sending out a lot of "Pay it Forward" stories to inspire us for the holidays. They generally fall into two categories. The first go something like: I saw somebody who looked like they could use some extra cash for food, movie tickets, Christmas presents etc, so I gave them some extra I had, and they looked so very grateful, it made my week. The second category has longer stories, that generally start off with somebody telling why they were in desperate financial straits a few years ago (newly divorced, widowed, lost their job, had medical bills, etc), then how horrible they felt about not being able to provide any sort of Christmas for their young children, and how impossible it was going to be to explain why Santa missed their house, and ends by telling how some anonymous stranger showed up with more than they ever could have hoped for, and saved Christmas.

Now, I don't blame these women for being in dire financial straits--heaven knows we could all end up being there. I don't blame them for wanting to give their children several nice presents--I certainly want to give my family nice things. What bothers me is that they invariably say that there would have been no Christmas -- no tree, no decorations, and not a single present -- without the anonymous benefactor. I'm sorry, but no matter how desperate your financial straits are, you can put together some kind of Christmas if you want to. You can get a small Christmas tree at any dollar store (and cheaper, if you're willing to look hard or scrounge for one). You can decorate it with paper cutouts, costume jewelry, or any number of other things you can find around the house if you don't already own some Christmas ornaments. By really looking at a couple of dollar stores or thrift shops, you can find a decent present for someone of any age for a dollar or less. It's not much, but it is something. Old clothes and toys that are sitting around the house could be cannibalized or refurbished to become presents for free. So a family of four could have some kind of Christmas with presents under the tree for less than five dollars. I can't believe that these women couldn't come up with five dollars no matter how bad things were. Nobody ends up with exactly zero left at the end of the month, and if they had less than zero, then five dollars kept out of some bill that wouldn't be paid in full anyway would be neither here nor there. It makes me sad to think that there are so many people out there with so little imagination that they couldn't come up with a way to have some Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Boar's Head Carol Collected by Wynkyn de Worde

The Boar's Head Carol

The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bays and rosemary
I pray you, my masters, be merry
Quot estis in convivio. (1)
Caput apri defero, (2)
Reddens laudes Domino (3)

The boar's head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all the land,
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland
Servitur cum sinapio. (4)
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino

Our steward hath provided this
In honour of the King of bliss
Which on this day to be served is
In Reginensi Atrio:(5)
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino

The boar's head, I dare well say,
Anon after the eleventh day,
He takes his leave and goes away,
Exivit tum de patria. (6)
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino
--Traditional, Collected by Wynkyn de Worde

When I was about 11 or 12, I started to get very interested in old traditional Christmas carols. I often saw references to songs with fascinating titles like, The Holly and the Ivy, Coventry Carol, The Friendly Beasts, Balulalow, Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella, Gloustershire Wassail, Gesu Bambino, and Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming, but they never got sung at our church meetings for some reason. The strangest of these titles was The Boar's Head Carol. I wondered what on earth a boar's head had to do with baby Jesus (nothing, it turns out, except that the old pagan fertility sacrifices got sucked into Christmas celebrations, which isn't so bad after all, since they probably originated as some kind of corruption of true symbolism in the first place).

Anyway, The Boar's Head carol is sung as the students at any of several schools (most notably Queen's College, Oxford), process into the great hall carrying the delicacy described on a large platter followed by a pot of mustard. I like the image this conjures up. I also like the way they keep switching into Latin at the end of the verse.

By the way, if you aren't fluent in Latin, and who really is nowadays, here are the translations for the numbered lines above:
1) Howsoever many are at the feast
2) I bring the boar's head,
3) Rendering praises to the Lord
4) It is served with mustard.
5) In the Queen's hall
6) He has then left the fatherland.

By the way, the lyrics probably weren't written by Wynkyn de Worde, his 1521 book of Christmas Carols was just the first to include them in print.

PS: This poem was my second choice for today. Unfortunately, I already posted my first choice poem months ago as part of the Subversive Limericks post. Since it's appropriate to a short story I want to tell today, I'll include it as a bonus.
A Decrepit Old Gas Man Named Peter,

A decrepit old gas man named Peter,
While hunting around for the meter,
Touched a leak with his light;
He rose out of sight,
And as anyone who knows anything about poetry can tell you, he also ruined the meter.

It's getting pretty cold here at night (I know it's nothing compared to what you guys back east deal with, but we're still shivering for several hours each morning), so we decided to turn on the furnace. Peter tried to make it turn on, but since it's never been used since it was originally installed, he couldn't make it work. He thought that the pilot light probably wasn't lit, and that the gas might be turned off entirely. He thought he might be able to figure something out if he played with it long enough, but was reluctant to start fiddling with knobs and matches. Fortunately, the Gas Company shares this view, and will happily send out a Gas Man free of charge (they'd much rather pay for Gas Men than have their customers blowing themselves up). So the Gas Man (actually a lady) came today and turned the unit on, lit the pilot light, and asked Peter to adjust the thermostat so it'd kick into gear. Well, the thermostat told the furnace to start burning, but for some reason, the fan never turned on, and got so hot the dust on top started to burn and the whole house quickly filled with smoke, and the fire alarms all went off (and of course with our vaulted ceilings, we can't reach them to turn them off without climbing up on something), and I was very glad that WE hadn't messed with the heater. The lady says that we should be safe if we make sure the fan turns on, but we shouldn't run it at night until we get the service man from the Mobile Home people to come out and figure out why the fan didn't automatically turn on.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Zig-Zag and Venus Haikus by Manga Fans

Zig-Zag and Venus Haikus

"Love, Venus," ended
the zig-zagging note. "No way,"
said the boy. "How did...?"

I zig zag my way
through life, hoping Venus will
favor me with love

Venus sighs up high
Looking down for unfound love
Eyes zig zag with hope

I'm in love with a
girl pretty as Venus who
makes my heart zig zag

The Goddess of Love,
Venus sends her pink love bolts
which zig zag 'tween hearts
-Manga Fans

Okay, talk about ironic, this week Peter was asked to judge a poetry contest! You all know that he really doesn't see the point in most poetry, and the poetry he was asked to judge was especially ill-conceived. In a cross marketing scheme to promote their releases of two manga by the same artist, TOKYOPOP and CMX had people write haiku using words from the titles. Here's a quote from the TOKYOPOP website describing the contest (I've added links to the actual books so you can see what they look like if you're interested):
To celebrate the launch of two new series from manga-ka Yuki Nakaji, TOKYOPOP and CMX are sponsoring a haiku-writing contest!

Use the words "zig zag," "Venus" and "love" in a haiku, and enter to win a free copy of Zig*Zag and Venus in Love!

Five winning haikus will be chosen by the editors of each book, so make sure you give it your creative all because these guys are picky!

Peter's response was, "Honestly, I don’t like any of them very much. Here are the 5 I disliked the least, in order from less disliked to more disliked. :)" (By the way, I changed the order here since the winners haven't been announced yet -- and since he's only one of the judges, this isn't the final list. So if you stumbled on this page looking for the announcement, don't interpret it as saying you've won, ok?)

Honestly though, when you have 17 syllables to work with, and somebody else mandates 5 of them, how creative can you really get?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that over sprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now- now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people- ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells-
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.
--Edgar Allan Poe

You can tell that I'm both slowing down and working harder by the fact that I've been missing more and more days lately. I'm behind on my Manga (I try to get 2 books done each month, but I took about a week off at Thanksgiving, and now I have to do about twice as much per day to get back on schedule. I'm tutoring 3 students a total of 6 hours a week plus prep time and commuting (about 15-20 minutes each way). I've also been hired by a dentist to spend a couple of hours each week teaching her how to use her computer. I also have my weekly trip down to Huntington Beach and Therapy up in Santa Monica. They're both wonderful, but they take time and energy which I'm rapidly running out of since I'm getting less and less sleep at night. Something's gonna give soon, I just don't know what or how long I can keep it up. I hope I can juggle it all till the end of the month at least.

Anyway, enough complaining, let's talk about the poem. I've posted it today because the first stanza brings Christmas to mind. The poem progresses from there, each stanza growing longer and more depressing. Many people say it's about the stages of life (Childhoood, Marriage, Adulthood, and Death), or the four seasons. You can certainly make a case for that, but it's not representative of everybody's life, and paints a pretty bleak picture.

What strikes me the most about this poem is the repetition. Not many poems just repeat the same word seven times in a row. Yet it's appropriate because each bell generally has only one note that it sounds over and over as it rings. That monotony can be either comforting or maddening.

I like bells -- especially jingle bells. They're a major theme among my Christmas ornaments, and there are some I have up all year long. I like to wear them as jewelry and jingle my way through the day (though I learned long ago that they need to be very small--like earrings--or muffled so they don't drive everybody else crazy).

That's all I can think of to say today. Sorry it's not very coherent.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Nun, Gimel, Heh, and Shin by Author Unknown

Nun, Gimel, Heh, and Shin,

Nun, gimel, heh, and shin,
See the wooden dreidel spin.
Nes gadol hayah shin,
If I'm lucky I will win!

I play with my new dreidel
upon the shiny floor.
I ask some friends to play with me-
we must have two or more.

I give the players pennies-
the same amount to each.
We sit down in a circle,
the pennies within reach.

Each player puts a penny
in the proper spot.
The middle of the circle
is what we call the pot.

Next I take the dreidel
and spin it round and round.
Which letter does it land on?
What fortune have I found?

I read the letter facing up-
it tells me how to play.
The letters are in Hebrew,
and here is what they say.

Nun means I do nothing-
I neither give nor take.
Heh means I take half the pot-
what a lucky break!

Gimel means I take it all.
It looks as if I'll win!
But I must put a penny back
when it lands on shin.

We go around the circle-
it's lots and lots of fun,
till one has all the pennies.
Then the game is done!

Nun, gimel, heh, and shin,
See the wooden dreidel spin.
Nes gadol hayah sham,
If I'm lucky I will win!

Here's a poem without any sort of poetic language at all. Yes, it rhymes, and the rhythm is mostly regular, but it exists to impart information rather than to set a mood or express information. I'm posting it because it's handy to be reminded of the rules of the game every once in a while.

We were watching Chuck on TV last week, and one of his co-workers kept cheating everybody at the dreidel game -- if they protested, he's as if they had been through a bar-mitsvah. We got the impression that he didn't really know the rules either, but made them up as he went along. It was pretty funny. You should watch that show if the writers ever stop striking and they make some new episodes.

I remember the year Mom got us all plastic dreidels at Hanukkah and taught us how to play. I put mine in my backpack, and while walking home from school one day (it was about a about a mile and a half), David and I decided to play. It's amazing how quickly one can get good at spinning a top in the palm of one hand while holding a handful of pencils in the other (the other person's spare hand is the pot). It's kind of silly, I know, but it's the stuff memories are made of.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Hanukkah! by Eva Grant

Happy Hanukkah!

Outside, snow is slowly, softly
Falling through the wintry night.
In the house, the brass menorah
Sparkles with the candlelight.

Children in a circle listen
To the wondrous stories told,
Of the daring Maccabeans
And the miracles of old.

In the kitchen, pancakes sizzle,
Turning brown, they'll soon be done.
Gifts are waiting to be opened,
Happy Hanukkah's begun.
-- Eva Grant

Eva Grant has also written a lot of Hanukkah poems (do a Google search to find a thorough sampling), but they mostly fall into the extremely simple category I was complaining about yesterday. This one at least gives you a feeling of holiday domestic warmth, but it still feels like the scene and sentiment belong on a Hallmark card. The picture on the front would be pretty -- They could use cool toned colors to compare the cold snow with the sparkling menorah -- maybe they could even put some glitter on it. Inside, the colors would be warm -- there would be candle light on the awestruck faces of the children around the table listening to Grandpa while Grandma looks on fondly from her station at the stove frying latkes.

Why is there such a dearth of good holiday poems? There are certainly enough lousy ones, so it's not like poets ignore the holidays. It seems to me that holidays are when emotion runs highest, and what is poetry but a way of expressing emotion? When I really think about it, I suppose that most of the good Christmas poems have been set to music, and there are PLENTY of Christmas songs out there. There are also a lot of poems appropriate for Easter, though most of them were written about Christ and his resurrection than the holiday itself. There's no shortage of love poems for Valentines day, or Irish poems and folk songs that can be used at St. Patrick's, but again, those were written about the thing the holiday is celebrating rather than about the holiday itself. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Friday, December 7, 2007

How Explain the Miracle of Light by Nicholas Gordon

How Explain the Miracle of Light

How explain the miracle of light?
A lamp's a miracle, refueled or no.
Nor is there aught that ought be more than night,
Unless some unmade maker make it so.
Know that nothing is but miracles,
Kindled from the void we know not how;
And God, if God there be, the greatest miracle,
Here within the sepulcher of now.
--Nicholas Gordon

I was looking for a poem for Hanukkah and, as usual for holiday poem searches, I found a bunch of simple, trite poems suitable for elementary school children to practice their handwriting on, but not much else. Then I stumbled on Nicholas Gordon's Hanukkah Poems. I was delighted to find even one that had a bit more substance to it, let alone several, so I'll post it today, and then do some simple ones later in the week.

Gordon's poems get a bit repetitive if you read them all, but by itself this poem really hit me. I like how he plays with words like "aught" and "ought" or "unmade" and "maker." I also like that the acrostic part of the poem is subtle -- it's not the "H is for Happiness" kind of poem that gives acrostics a bad name.

On the down side, his language is a bit obscure, and I'm not entirely sure what he's saying all the time. This is a poem that feels like it needs some heavy duty analysis, and I think that kind of language turns many people off to poetry in general.

On the whole though, it's a nice message for Hanukkah: Yes, A Great Miracle Happened Here, but do we really need that miracle to let us know that there is a God? Isn't the mere fact of existence miracle enough?

PS: Yes, I know the menorah in the picture isn't a Hanukkah menorah, but it's close enough, and the rest of the picture was too perfect to pass up.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

There Was an Old Man With a Beard by Edward Lear

There Was an Old Man With a Beard

There was an old man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!--
Two owls and a hen,
Four larks and a wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!"
--Edward Lear

I really have nothing to say about this poem -- it's one of Lear's most famous limericks, but there's nothing especially special about it. I picked it today for precisely that reason. I wanted to revisit my comments on another poem, and didn't want to shortchange a new one that I had something to say about.

A few days ago I was looking through the comments people have left on the site, and found that somebody wrote a very angry (and and offensively worded) comment about The White Man's Burden. I don't mind that -- the poem has indeed been used to justify some truly awful things whether Kipling intended it to or not (which is still up in the air--I personally don't think he did, but I only know his writings, I didn't know him or his intentions). At any rate, I re-read the poem and my own comments, and I was struck once again by the question, "Who did they think they were? Why should their version of civilization and religion be any better than what the people had already? Why couldn't they just go away and leave them alone?"

This has always been a hard question for me because there are obviously some things we know about that can make people's lives better -- things like hygiene practices, methods of farming, irrigating, purifying water, reading, and yes, even the gospel. At the same time, I think it's terrible for people to lose their heritage and forget what it was that their fathers believed and how they lived. The European colonial missionaries did immense social, cultural and historical damage on top of the physical damage done by the conquerors. Knowing that, can I really say that anyone was truly better off after they were taught?

Last night, Peter and I were watching the Stargate SG-1 episode Origin where a missionary from a new set of "gods" show up in our galaxy. Having just defeated one set of false gods, our heroes are naturally skeptical, but essentially tell they guy, "We don't mind if you preach, we don't mind if people in our galaxy choose to worship your gods (who do have real power), but we aren't going to stand for it if you come in here and force everybody to worship on pain of extermination."

Finally, it clicked for me. We claim the privilege of worshipping almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege let them worship how where or what they may (AOF 11). Because we have the knowledge, it's our moral responsibility to teach others. Because God gave us free will, we aren't morally responsible for forcing people to believe us and/or take our advice. We should do our best to make sure they really and truly understand what we have to say, but in the end, they get to choose. When people in Africa refuse to let their local pond or river get treated against malaria and guinea worm, the aid workers don't kill everybody in the village who objects -- they argue, they try to persuade, and then if they fail, they move on to the next village and vow to try again next year.

So that's the burden that people everywhere should take up -- doing your best to make the world a better place while allowing others to make their own decisions.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
--Robert Frost

This poem is arguably one of the most beloved American poems ever written. I think it's because it so beautifully captures a moment that many of us have experienced -- they quiet entrancing beauty of falling snow. It doesn't matter that many people haven't got woods to watch snow fall on -- my most memorable snow watching happened in the middle of St. Petersburg Russia walking past the Cathedral on the Blood (one of the most beautiful buildings in the world) beside the canal and staring directly up into the falling snow as it sparkled in the streetlights.

Most of us don't have horses either, though I think it's an important part of the poem to have something observing the observer. The horse is not quite silent, but the single shake of jingle bells only accentuates how very hushed the world is. There's no wind blowing, no birds chirping, no bustling crowds, and the soft presence of the snow dampens the few sounds that are there.

I haven't got any snow this year (or any prospect of it), and rain, though welcome and hypnotic in its own right is not quite the same. A few of my friends in other parts of the country recently posted pictures of snow and how it changed their perspective, so this seemed like a good day to post this poem that I've been saving.

The end of the poem reminds me that I ought to sign off -- I too have miles to go before I sleep (it's my day to go visit my grandparents in HB, and I also have work to do on my manga rewrites). At the same time it reminds me that it's important to take the time to stop and look at the beautiful things around you -- even if it is just for a few moments. I haven't been doing that this week since I've been neglecting my blog. I've come to realize that it really is a great way for me to find a little bit of beauty every day and really reflect on what I'm feeling.