Polish solidarity with Ukraine.
March 8, 2014
Winter wonderland in Krakow, Poland.
Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
Thing, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can’t find them. Someone’s terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine.
Today is the birthday of pharmacologist Gertrude Elion, born in New York City in 1918. She was a bright girl who loved every subject in school and agonized when she had to choose just one path in college. The death of her beloved grandfather of cancer tipped the scales in favor of science; she wanted to use her intellect to fight the disease. She majored in chemistry at Hunter College, and then hit a brick wall when she tried to enter the job market in her field. “Nobody … took me seriously. They wondered why in the world I wanted to be a chemist when no women were doing that. The world was not waiting for me.” She went to secretarial school so she could pay the bills, and finally she got a job as an unpaid lab assistant. With World War II came more opportunities for female scientists, and in 1944, she went to work for the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome. It was there that she formed a research partnership with Dr. George Hitchings that would last more than 40 years. Over the course of her career, Elion developed drugs to treat leukemia, malaria, herpes, and AIDS. She won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1988.
To know that the atoms
of my body
to think of them rising
through the roots of a great oak
to live in
leaves, branches, twigs
perhaps to feed the
the blue iris
or rest on water
freeze and thaw
with the seasons
some atoms might become a
bit of fluff on the wing
of a chickadee
to feel the breeze
know the support of air
and some might drift
up and up into space
star dust returning from
whence it came
it is enough to know that
as long as there is a universe
I am a part of it.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door —
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; —
This it is, and nothing more,”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you” — here I opened wide the door; —
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Adventures in Krakow. :)
(Not our car, and we didn’t take the bags. She just wanted to illustrate the size of the car.)
One of the things I love about Krakow, is that I feel really safe (this picture was taken around 1:30 a.m. on a Friday night/Saturday morning). Also, everything is an adventure for me because Krakow is so different from where I grew-up or have lived.
Thank you Krakow for an amazing time so far! Looking forward to more adventures. :)
France’s King Louis XVI was beheaded in Paris on this date in 1793, one of tens of thousands of victims of the French Revolution. He had ascended to the throne in 1774, when he was 20 years old, and he had inherited a mess. The kingdom was nearly bankrupt, the result of lavish spending by his predecessors. He was well liked by his subjects at first, although they were unhappy with his wife, Marie Antoinette of Austria, because she was a foreigner. He was intelligent and compassionate, but he was indecisive, and conservative in military action.
By 1788, the unemployment rate in Paris was approaching 50 percent. Crops were failing and food prices were skyrocketing. Crippling bouts of depression left the king unable to make important decisions. The Estates-General, which was a national legislative assembly, curtailed his powers to such a degree that he was virtually under house arrest. He and his family attempted an escape in 1791, but were captured; in 1792, the newly elected National Convention declared France a republic, and formally arrested the king for treason. He was indicted in December, tried and convicted on January 15, 1793, and sentenced to death by guillotine on January 20, with the sentence to be carried out the next day. He spent his last evening with his family.
The former king arose early, around five o’clock, on the cold, wet morning of January 21. Louis’s valet helped him dress, and he was brought to an Irish priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, who heard his last confession and administered the Mass. By eight, he was brought to a green carriage in the courtyard of the Temple prison; he asked Father Edgeworth to accompany him, and the two men took their seats in the carriage, opposite a pair of gendarmes, for the two-hour ride to thePlace de la Révolution. They recited psalms together as the carriage moved in procession, led by drummers to drown out any expressions of support for the king. Citizens armed with pikes and guns lined the procession’s route, shouting epithets.
The king stepped out of the carriage and removed his outer garments, refusing any offers of help, and folded them neatly. The gendarmesmade a move to bind his hands, but Louis recoiled, and a struggle seemed imminent, until Father Edgeworth reminded him that Jesus had suffered his hands to be bound on Good Friday. Louis said, “So be it, then, that too, my God,” and offered his hands to be bound. He ascended the steps to the scaffold alone, with strength and determination. Upon reaching the top, he addressed the people:
"I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France."
He would have said more, but a man on horseback called for the drums, and the crowd called for the execution, which was hastily carried out. A young guard picked up the severed head and promenaded it around the scaffold. The silence was broken with a cry of “Vive la République!" and thousands began cheering the death of the king.
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dangled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.