Friday, April 09, 2010

Poem for Friday and Scottish Rite Temple

Arbolé, Arbolé...
By Federico García Lorca
Translated by William Logan

Tree, tree
dry and green.
The girl with the pretty face
is out picking olives.
The wind, playboy of towers,
grabs her around the waist.
Four riders passed by
on Andalusian ponies,
with blue and green jackets
and big, dark capes.
"Come to Cordoba, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
Three young bullfighters passed,
slender in the waist,
with jackets the color of oranges
and swords of ancient silver.
"Come to Sevilla, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
When the afternoon had turned
dark brown, with scattered light,
a young man passed by, wearing
roses and myrtle of the moon.
"Come to Granada, muchacha."
And the girl won't listen to him.
The girl with the pretty face
keeps on picking olives
with the grey arm of the wind
wrapped around her waist.
Tree, tree
dry and green.


Thursday morning and most of the afternoon were pretty quiet -- I got up early when the kids left, then dozed off for what was going to be just a couple of minutes and didn't get up till after 9, so I had a slow start. Sorted and gave away two huge bags of clothing to VVA, including maternity clothes and stuff I've owned since college; rearranged my jewelry drawers because I got this gorgeous Tree of Life necklace with an gift certificate (I'd seen it at As Kindred Spirits, a local store with beautiful jewelry and Judaica, but only just learned that Amazon carries the entire collection). It was, yet again, a very warm day, and though local cherry blossoms are falling like snow, there are now crabapple blossoms turning trees pink all around with azalea buds looking like they're going to pop very soon.

I got a good view of the beautiful flowering trees while I was driving Adam to tennis, then continuing on to meet Paul at the place where we get the Chrysler repaired, since his A/C broke the day after mine did. We stopped at Trader Joe's to get hummus on the way to pick son up, then chaos ensued -- the low tire pressure light came on again, we called Toyota, and briefly we had both vehicles in for service while Toyota tried to figure out why a van that was serviced just two days ago was having such a problem. I called my mother and begged her to pick up our kids, since it was dinnertime; fortunately, the Toyota place is directly behind the mall, so we all ended up at the food court eating thrilling things at Subway and Sbarro. Ultimately Toyota concluded that they couldn't find anything wrong and had no idea why our low tire pressure light kept coming on, so we came home, watched FlashForward which made me very unhappy where two major female characters are concerned, then watched Next Gen's terrible "Aquiel" which I must somehow review tomorrow.

The Executive Chamber of the Scottish Rite Supreme Council's House of the Temple in Washington, DC, a smaller version of the stunning Temple Room.

The skylight of the Temple Room which played a key role in the climax of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, though that left it a bit worse for wear. It's much, much larger and higher overhead than I'd imagined from the book -- really stunning.

The Tyler's Chair outside the Temple Room. Since only Freemasons are allowed inside during rituals, one trusted Mason is supposed to sit outside holding a ceremonial sword to keep the rites secret. As our tour guide explained, this is usually an older member who's sat through many ceremonies before, so there's usually an old guy asleep in the chair when a ceremony is taking place. ("Know Thyself" comes from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.)

A glimpse into the banquet hall in honor of one of America's most famous Masons. The painting on the left depicts President Washington taking the oath of office on a Bible, a tradition he adapted from a Masonic initiation; the painting on the right depicts him at the ceremony to lay the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol, wearing a Masonic apron and other symbols.

Downstairs are rooms devoted to the charity and other work of prominent Masons. Here are paintings of three who reached the elite 33rd degree: Gene Autry, Bob Dole, and Harry Truman (the latter admired by a visiting Robert Langdon in The Lost Symbol).

Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland, was a proud Freemason who wrote poetry about the proud Masonic heritage. The Temple in DC has a library devoted to him.

The Library Reading Room of the Masons was the first free library in the District of Columbia. It now has a quarter of a million books, including the first Masonic book printed in America by Benjamin Franklin in 1734.

Our tour guide showed off two popular books with visitors, Freemasons for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry, both of which were worked on by people who work in the Temple.

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