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Christmas in Maine: 51ƒ and pouring rain.

Hi all from Maine, where I -- still sick, but on vacation at least -- have settled in with my family. They all say hello, and wonder why exactly you guys read this thing.

We were discussing Websnark, and I mentioned the Sestina that I did for Narbonic. This made my father, the Professor, quite happy. My mother blinked, and said "oh, you wrote a Sestina? So did I!"

I blinked in answer -- we're a blinking kind of family, and said "really? Was it about Gerbils?"

"No," she said. "But Isadora Duncan was in it." And she and Dad disappeared into the basement. They returned after a few moments with a tan magazine, The Maze, from 1974. And she showed me her Sestina.

My own Sestina I thought was higher level because I didn't just do the end-line things -- I also made it Iambic Pentameter. My mother didn't just do a Sestina, and do it in Iambic Pentameter... she made it rhyme.

With her permission... here is my mother's Sestina:


to decadence

Here! Stop a bit and watch our play;
And wait now for the perfect chance
To join the game. this is the day
We've planned to start our ritual dance.
So don't hang back, Ducks; What pleasure
To move within this tidy measure.

No doubt you could stand a measure
Of bubbly, or some such, to play
Your part with wild abandon: Pleasure
Often needs some help lest the chance
For spontaneity be lost. Dance
And draft, then, will create the day.

Still shy? Hesitate and the day
Is lost. Now's the time to measure
Your worth, the time to prove through dance
The stuff you're made of. If you play
The innocent here, Lady Chance
Must think you need no pleasure.

And now, my friend, it is my pleasure
To present the cast: Lil Here (Day-
Light is her bane) devours the chance
For youthful pranks by dark. Full measure
For our Dennis, there; he'll play
If the cup o'erflows throughout the dance.

This is Dora; her ; her frenzied dance
Has cast its spell on pleasure
Seekers of every sphere. Her play-
Mate here, Dear Aubrey, spends his day
In elfin merriment. Measure
Well his effects. Leave none to chance.

The rest you see did merely chance
To pass this way, saw how the dance
Progressed, and fell within the measure
As though entranced. Life's sweet pleasureñ
Principle we claim; and no day
Of reckoning shall menace our play.

So, will you play? Hey grab the chance
This judgment day; for in our dance
Macabre, pleasure eludes measure.

--Dian Burns, 1974

Dora refers to Isadora Duncan, Lil to Lilith of Hebrew myth (she wrote a Sestina and included Lilith -- we're bonding on so many levels tonight. And no, my mother's not a Goth), and Aubrey is Aubrey Beardsley. She doesn't remember who "Dennis" is, though he sounds like a musician who drinks. Anyone who has a theory as to Dennis's identity (Wednesday -- I'm looking at you) feel free to chime in. It would likely be someone from the turn of the 20th century. It could possibly be John Dennis, but he doesn't fit the time period) feel free to chime in.

I just think I have the coolest mother on Earth.


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Depends on who you ask. I have a friend that would call her a stiff, but he thinks his mom is cool andÖ never mind. But do mind that it is incredibly cool that you think your mom is cool for writing (weird) cool thinks like Sestinas about cool stuff, so Iím cool with that.

It was 56 and raining here earlier today. Tomorrow promises to be in the 30's, and the teens on Saturday. Woo and also Hoo.

Hooray for the sestina. Tell your folks I said hello, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

It runs in the family, I see.

And by "it", I mean pretty much anything you could apply that pronoun to (within the bounds of the entry).

I mean, really.

You may come down here to Texas, collect your Maine weather, and take it with you back UP to Maine where it belongs.

33 degrees, not going to get any higher, and in a little while I'll have to go shut off the water in a probably vain effort to prevent burst pipes when the temperature gets below 20 tonight.

Would it not be in the Christmas spirit to point out that that's actually iambic tetrameter? Extremely skilled iambic tetrameter which I am in awe of, to be sure.

What if it's Dennis the Menace? Then you'd have a Tribond. (Ow!)

Every year I find myself less surprised when I realize just how cool my parents are. Granted, "cool" in my family tends to refer to things like making terrible puns around the holidays (don't get me started on the nuns at Thanksgiving) and the like, but still. Whatever they are, it's always wonderful to find undiscovered talents that your loved ones possess.

I will have to sit and think about the Dennisness tomorrow. Brain occluded by parents' Golden Girls DVDs.

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