By Maureen N. McLane
Sad in bed you read Horace
the ode in which an aging lover pleads
not to be inflamed again
by a perishable love
and a tear escapes his eye
and a tear escaped your eye.
I was wild for you and heedless
I am glad love to say this
I was afflicted and afflicted you.
Be careful what you wish for
you warned. I was not careful
nor in the end thank god were you.
The charms I recited
the songs I sang
were lit by a light
almost completely impersonal.
Yet what are we but vehicles
of waves we never directly perceive
except those days the light bending
around our bodies becomes our body
—the lovers ablaze on the pyre
I knew Maureen McLane briefly when we were both graduate students in literature at the University of Chicago. She was one of three people I knew, out of several dozen in the program, who actually finished her PhD at the U of C in less than 10 years.
There are a pair of woodpeckers who have built a nest inside two holes in a tree across from our house, and there appears to be a little fluffball baby woodpecker inside, discovered by younger son who loves birds (not just penguins, even!). This was the best news of my day, which was otherwise overcast by very bad news from yesterday. My late afternoon involved a bit of schlepping -- Hebrew school carpool, dropping off minivan to have its tires replaced and getting a ride home from Paul -- and a bunch of computer chores.
A young owl butterfly emerges from its chrysalis in the nearby Insect Zoo.
The blue morpho has similar circles on its underside...
...but open, the wings are iridescent blue, like this one flying under the light.
I believe these are paper kite butterfly chrysalises.
I have no idea what sort of caterpillar this is, but as you can see, it's about three inches long and people were allowed to hold it in the Insect Zoo.
And here is giant atlas moth, the largest in the world, which make silk in their southeast Asian homes.
Due to the absence of Boston Legal, we had another evening with the History Channel, watching two episodes of The Universe: "Constellations" and "Colonizing Space." The former was of particular interest to me because although I already knew about the fact that our North Star changes over millennia, they talked about how the signs of the Zodiac were chosen and how Ophiuchus, which is between Scorpio and Sagittarius, was excluded so that twelve signs of 30 degrees could be established. But the sun actually spends only a few days in Scorpio and is in Ophiuchus from November 30th to December 17th -- which means that Sagittarius isn't really my sun sign at all, but Ophiuchus.
And that is one cool constellation -- the Serpent-Bearer, Serpentarius in Latin (which would be its astrological designation to go with the other Latin constellations), which according to Wikipedia is named for the healer Asclepius. Zeus stuck Asclepius in the sky after killing him for discovering the secret to putting a stopper in death. And Asclepius made the discovery by studying snakes, hee! So I was born in the Snape constellation. And I'm Scorpio rising, so I'm starting to wonder whether I should be in Slytherin after all...
In real astronomy, "Colonizing Space" confirmed for me that I am much, much too claustrophobic to survive sanely in space even though I wanted to be an astronaut when I was young...a Star Trek astronaut on a nice big ship with a botanical garden. *g* Plus I was not ecstatic at the idea of breathing water vapor and drinking water made from everyone on the mission's recycled urine. And when I found out that one astronaut lost 14% of his bone mass while living in space, it really lost whatever appeal was left. Even so, I hope we get to Mars in my lifetime and I am thrilled by the photos of the space shuttle Endeavour taking off in the middle of the night last night. Geeky stuff makes me happy.