By Constantine Cavafy
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard
Too bad that, cut out as you are
for grand and noble acts,
this unfair fate of yours
never helps you out, always prevents your success;
that cheap habits get in your way,
pettiness, or indifference.
And how terrible the day you give in
(the day you let go and give in)
and take the road for Susa
to find King Artaxerxes,
who, propitiously, gives you a place at his court
and offers you satrapies and things like that --
things you don't want at all,
though, in despair, you accept them just the same.
You're longing for something else, aching for other things:
praise from the Demos and the Sophists,
that hard-won, that priceless acclaim --
the Agora, the Theatre, the Crowns of Laurel.
You can't get any of these from Artaxerxes,
you'll never find any of these in the satrapy,
and without them, what kind of life will you live?
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, who writes, "Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), as a Greek in his Egyptian city of Alexandria, was both native and alien. His work creates an Alexandria where neighborhood bars adjoin eternal mythology, and personal desires reflect the communal pageant of history. He considers large matters like the birth of Christianity and the decline of Rome as they are revealed in particular lives....a great poet of human imperfection and exaltation. His poems devise beguiling combinations of candor and mystery, plain speech and elevation."
I'm not at my sister's house, because of the weather forecast. I refuse to try to drive over New York and Delaware bridges and on the New Jersey Turnpike in snow or freezing rain, and apaulled was already anticipating potentially unpleasant traffic on Monday getting home because of the holiday, and given that my sister's family is leaving town to go to Florida either Sunday night or early Monday morning so we were barely going to have one full day with them anyway, we've decided to put it off. Two of my nieces are performing in a production of Peter Pan (one is playing Tiger Lily, the other is playing the Crocodile) in a couple of weeks so we may go up then, though my parents may also go up which could make things quite crowded!
Since we did not go to New York today, we ran out on a couple of shopping missions (picture frames, chips) and spent most of the afternoon at Wheaton Regional Park, which encompasses both Brookside Gardens and Brookside Nature Center, the latter of which was having a maple sugaring festival today. There is a pioneer homestead behind the nature center itself, where there are the usual snakes, turtles, toads, bees, etc., and they were cooking pancakes on a griddle over a fireplace in one of the cabins while outside the sap was being boiled to make syrup, of which there were samples. We stayed close to the fire for awhile because it was so cold, then walked over to the greenhouse, where azaleas we won't see for months are already in glorious bloom, along with numerous other, more exotic flowers and a display of sculpture by local artists. Since we were quite warm from the greenhouse, we walked around the grounds (the same place we saw the Garden of Lights near the holidays), watched the geese walk on the ice over the pond, saw numerous robins (take that groundhog) and looked at the new memorial for the sniper victims from two years ago. To make up for having been deprived of a meal with my sister's family, we used the gift card we got for the holidays from relatives and went to Red Lobster, where I devoured coconut shrimp and Cajun salmon.
I came home to piles of mail from TrekUnited members -- the group that's trying to raise money to buy a fifth season of Enterprise for $36 million. Apparently the fact that I said StarTrek.com had "warned" against giving money to unofficial groups, rather than "advised using caution," had one of their admins very upset, and he recommended on their bulletin board that people "send polite messages" to set me straight, saying that "it's easy for these people to bash us" and declaring that he was sure I didn't understand what I was saying. (They also had their lawyer throw around the word "libelous" in a note about how we really should take that warning off in the name of fan solidarity.) Need I tell you what "polite" means to rabid fans? I have locked a couple of entries in this journal because I don't know everyone who reads it and I'm actually a little scared of some of these people. They may be the best-connected and wealthiest fans in the world, but if their "Forum Admin & Creative Coordinator" is going to encourage fans to harrass people if they fail to sing the praises of their efforts without expressing any concerns, I don't see why anyone should trust them with money. If it's part of Trek ideology now to use intimidation tactics against other fans in the name of saving the show, Roddenberry must be rolling in his grave.
Two visuals I had to share: subliculous' version of the shower scene from Psycho, and the greatest icon I have seen in months, property of kijikun who credits biichan for it. Thank you both for making me howl!
Trees with taps drip into buckets (though the dripping was very slow today due to the nearly-freezing temperatures)...
...and visitors are recruited to help carry the sap up to the homestead, though in this case the buckets are empty -- it's just so the kids can get the feel for it.
Inside the historic cabin, pancakes are cooked over a fire.
And outside everyone gets to try the sap, homemade red maple syrup and a couple of commercial variations.
And on a related topic, thefridayfive from yesterday:
1. If you could have anything you wanted to eat for a day, what would you choose for your meals and snacks? Eggs benedict without the bacon and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, Indian buffet for lunch with rice pudding for dessert, an entire bag of Smartfood cheese popcorn for a snack, fresh bay crabs with red bliss potatoes and caesar salad for dinner and mint chip ice cream for dessert.
2. Is there ever a dish/food or dessert you wanted to try but never had the opportunity, what is it? I want to taste Rogan Josh the way it's made at home instead of in restaurants.
3. What's a dish/food or dessert you've tried that you wish you hadn't? Tongue. This was over 30 years ago and I am still traumatized.
4. Ever watch cooking shows? (i.e. "Great Chefs," "Epicurious," etc.) Only Iron Chef when William Shatner hosted it.
5. Are you hungry yet? Duh!</center>