origami penguin

Stickie introductory post

Characters frequently appearing in this drama:

  • I - your humble narrator, sometime writer and poet (preferred pronoun: he/him/his)

  • Janni - spouse and writer (preferred pronoun: she/her/her)

  • Eaglet - nom de internet of our child, formerly known as TBD, not yet a writer (preferred pronoun: they/them/their)

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/632515.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.
origami penguin

(no subject)

For Poetry Monday:

Anchorage International, Clive James

In those days Russia was still closed. My flight
Would cross the Pole and land at Anchorage
To refuel. Many times, by day or night,
I watched them shine or blink, that pilgrimage
Of planes descending from the stratosphere
Down some steep trail. As if I’d come to stay,
I lived in that lounge, neither there nor here:
The still point of transition. I would pay
For drinks with cash, it was so long ago –
But now, again, it is a place I know.

I’ve changed a lot, but these seats look the same,
Except there are so few of us who wait.
It’s like a party but nobody came.
There is no voice that calls us to the gate,
For there is no procession in the sky.
It seems that this time I will not move on.
I have arrived. With nowhere left to fly,
I need not leave: I have already gone.
There’s almost nothing left to think about
Except the swirl of snow as I look out.

Here in this neutral zone at last we learn
That we were going nowhere from the first,
Except here: no way forward, no return.
Such silent stillness we once thought the worst
Way that our lives could end, but it was there
From the beginning. Darkness gave the dawn
Its inward depth. The lights in the night air
That came down slowly were us, being born
Alive. The silver points in the pale blue
Of daylight were us dying. Both were true.

I bought your small white boxes marked Chanel
At Anchorage. I must have used a card.
Did I? I can’t remember very well.
In these last, feeble days I find it hard
To fix a detail of the way things were
And set it in its time. Soon there will be
Only one final thing left to occur,
One little thing. You need not fear for me:
It can’t hurt. Of that much I can be sure.
I know this place. I have been here before.


Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/743738.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.
origami penguin

A brief Eaglet update

Achievement unlocked: tying shoelaces.

(They claimed this morning they've reached level 2 ka-ching! -- which is also knowing a double knot.)

This is something they deliberately challenged themselves to learn -- they chose to get laces shoes during the latest equipment upgrade* in order to force figuring it out.

* We're at the OMG-need-new-shoes-every-three-months stage of growth, eep.


Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/743548.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.
origami penguin

(no subject)

For Poetry Monday:

Sestina, Elizabeth Bishop

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It's time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.


Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/743197.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.
origami penguin

“Air stilled and thrilled by the tempest that thundered between its reign and the sea’s”

For a Reading Wednesday of the day after being laid off:

Read aloud:

Cleopatra in Space #3: Secret of the Time Tablets, story and art Mike Maihack -- The plot thickens, as do the personal stakes. We have the next volume in hand but stalled out in the talky-talk story setup scene.

Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure, story Eileen Campbell, various illustrators -- Technically a picture book, but it's a very long one so I’m counting it. Illustrates the basic ideas of how evolution works using an adorable kiwi stuffie with a time machine. Adult bonus content: the identity of Charlie’s great^n-grampa.

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot books #1 and 2 and 8, story Dav Pilkey, art Dan Sanat -- Eaglet is almost up for reading these by themselves, but they want the one-on-one time. That this much engaging story is told in this small a space is a tribute to Pilkey’s writing ability.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, story and art by Dav Pilkey -- The original hit book, which had no story surprises given the Netflix adaptation, but it's interesting to see just how faithful the adaptation is to Pilkey's written voice. Remember that now. Of note: this copy is the 135rd printing of paperback.

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, story and art John Himmelman -- Awesome stories about an anthropomorphic martial arts student, which are more often about resolving conflict rather than overpowering it. Wise and humane and all of us love this thing. There are three sequels, none of them available at our library :-(((

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl volumes 1 & 8, story Ryan North, art Erica Henderson -- Speaking characters who are about resolving conflict instead of always fighting it out. The first volume is technically a reread aloud, but it's been a long time so I'm taking credit for this. I have the next couple volumes somewhere around here, but I can't find them, otherwise I wouldn't have skipped forward like this. Despite the talky-talk, Eaglet really enjoys the jokes pitched to their level.

Zoe and Sassafrass volume 7, Asia Citro -- Not the most engaging installment in the series, despite the gardening concerns. That there is no hypothesis & experimentation doesn't help.

In progress:

Night Ranger, Dark Blue Coconut Milk -- Reincarnated into a MMORPG fantasy adventure, western fantasy type. I don't usually want to read Asian takes on D&D tropes refactored through video games, since there's enough similarly diluted Western fantasy already available in English, but I was sick and fevered and needed brainless adventure. Despite many powerful female characters with their own agency, not great on that front, but the adventure has otherwise been entertaining. Up to chapter 231.

Gourmet of Another World (异世界的美食家), Li Hongtian -- Silly xuanhuan transmigration-with-system fantasy, with a protagonist given a tiny back-alley restaurant and the goal to become the God of Cooking. Does not interrogate the setup in any satisfying way, especially after exposure to The Empress's Livestream, but I was sick and fevered and needed brainless silliness. We'll see how well it keeps up the silly as the protagonist levels up and world opens out, but staying with it for now. Up to chapter 237.

Discoveries: Search for Ancient China, Corinne Debaine-Francfort -- Slender and heavily illustrated summary of our archeological knowledge of China through the Han Dynasty, as of 20 years ago. Getting visuals for certain broad currents was good, as was seeing the state of the terracotta warriors on discovery (as opposed to how they are displayed today), but as a way of boning up on history it wasn't the best.


Emperor's Domination, Yanbi Xiaosheng -- With the protagonist's leveling up, he's had less need to be clever and just curb-stomps everyone. The bloodthirstiness is tiresome, his outpowered companions are losing their slivers of agency, and I dropped this at chapter 658.


Subject quote from A Channel Crossing, Algernon Swinburne.

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origami penguin

“salt water unbounded—/The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-hounded”

Three links of stunning beauty:

MOCEAN: slow-motion oceans, with an emphasis on breakers. Whoa. (via)

Robert Lang illustrates 11 levels of complexity in origami using successively more complicated models of cicada. Level 7 is already a little past my technical skill (and I learned several things just from watching that segment). Disclosure statement: Robert Lang fanboy here. (via, which has more Lang links)

Solo dulcimer cover of “I Wanna Be Sedated”. (via, where more covers are highlighted in comments)


Subject quote from The Sea and the Hills, Rudyard Kipling.

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origami penguin

“Its tones come winding ... / Telling of woe and wrong / And he must listen till the stars grow dim”

For Poetry Monday, some Wallace Stevens, because it's been a while:

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm, Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.


Subject quote from The Buccaneer, Richard Henry Dana Sr.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/742037.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.
origami penguin

“And while the day died, sweet and fair, / I lit the lamps again.”

For Poetry Monday, something a little late, but better late than never:

To the Light of September, W.S. Merwin

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

A late poem, from 2003.


Subject quote from The Wreck of the Pocahontas, Celia Thaxter.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/741886.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.
origami penguin

“for we have years and days and hours left to kill / and the means to make them pay”

For Poetry Monday, a day late because I spent much of the day asleep on the couch:

Falling Asleep, Siegfried Sassoon

Voices moving about in the quiet house:
Thud of feet and a muffled shutting of doors:
Everyone yawning. Only the clocks are alert.

Out in the night there’s autumn-smelling gloom
Crowded with whispering trees; across the park
A hollow cry of hounds like lonely bells:
And I know that the clouds are moving across the moon;
The low, red, rising moon. Now herons call
And wrangle by their pool; and hooting owls
Sail from the wood above pale stooks of oats.

Waiting for sleep, I drift from thoughts like these;
And where to-day was dream-like, build my dreams.
Music ... there was a bright white room below,
And someone singing a song about a soldier,
One hour, two hours ago: and soon the song
Will be ‘last night’: but now the beauty swings
Across my brain, ghost of remembered chords
Which still can make such radiance in my dream
That I can watch the marching of my soldiers,
And count their faces; faces; sunlit faces.

Falling asleep ... the herons, and the hounds....
September in the darkness; and the world
I’ve known; all fading past me into peace.


Subject quote from Draw the Curtain, Cats Laughing.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/741606.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.