Friday, May 31, 2013

Poem for Friday and Virginia Renfaire

By Deborah Landau

At night, down the hall into the bedroom we go.
In the morning we enter the kitchen.
Places, please. On like this,

without alarm. I am the talker and taker
he is the giver and the bedroom man.
We are out of order but not broken.

He says, let's make this one short.
She says, what do you mean?
We set out and got nearer.

Along the way some loved ones died.
Whole summers ruined that way.
Take me to the door, take me in your arms.

Mother's been dead a decade
but her voice comes back to me now and often.
Life accumulates, a series of commas,

first this, then that, then him, then here.
A clump of matter (paragraph)
and here we are: minutes, years.

Wait, I am trying to establish
something with these people.
Him, her, him. We make a little pantomime.

Family, I say, wake up. The sentences
one then another one, in a line. And then
we go on like that, for a long time.


It is HOT. That fact was the big distraction of my day. I pretty much did not leave the house except to walk outside to decide whether I wanted to walk or just stretch indoors (indoors won). So other than work and reading I did nothing worth reporting, apart from getting an invitation from a neighbor to watch Arrested Development, woohoo! Have only seen the first two episodes but really enjoyed them; I'm not sure what the disappointed people are disappointed about, apart from Never Enough Tobias.

Paul was showing Daniel how to make chicken parmesan so he'll be able to make it next year when he's in an apartment instead of a dorm and has to cook his own dinners (he has been warned that he can't order pizza every night). Adam came and made the veggie version, so dinner was good. Then we watched the second episode of Spies of Warsaw, which is well-acted but I'm not finding the script all that engaging. Some photos of animals from the Virginia Renfaire (warning: includes Brood II cicadas):

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Poem for Thursday and Gettysburg Battlefield

Oh What a Lantern
By Mary Sidney Herbert

Oh, what a lantern, what a lamp of light
Is thy pure word to me
To clear my paths and guide my goings right!
I swore and swear again,
I of the statutes will observer be,
Thou justly dost ordain.

The heavy weights of grief oppress me sore:
Lord, raise me by the word,
As thou to me didst promise heretofore.
And this unforced praise
I for an off'ring bring, accept, O Lord,
And show to me thy ways.

What if my life lie naked in my hand,
To every chance exposed!
Should I forget what thou dost me command?
No, no, I will not stray
From thy edicts though round about enclosed
With snares the wicked lay.

Thy testimonies as mine heritage,
I have retained still:
And unto them my heart's delight engage,
My heart which still doth bend,
And only bend to do what thou dost will,
And do it to the end.


The storms late Tuesday night brought down a large tree limb on our parking lot, and now we are having a heat wave, which does not bode well for the rest of the summer -- it isn't supposed to be this miserably hot in the DC area until the end of July at least. Perhaps this is why it appeared to be Drive Like An A$$hole day when I went out with Daniel to get bagels; I swear that everyone on Rockville Pike decided to have a competition to see who could be the most dangerously aggressive or just plain clueless driver. If the miserable summer weather here has anything to do with Michele Bachmann's decision to leave Washington, though, I'll put up with it.

It was not an eventful late afternoon. I put together a pair of earrings with Green Man charms, watched some old Arrested Development while folding laundry (sadly I have no Netflix, so I have no new Arrested Development), had dinner with the family. Adam was finishing homework; the rest of us watched Casanova, the 2005 version with Heath Ledger, which we hadn't watched in several years and I don't think older son had ever seen. It's beautifully filmed and has a lot of awesome women (Helen McCrory, Sienna Miller, Natalie Dormer, Lena Olin) plus Jeremy Irons chewing scenery even more than he does in The Borgias. Some Gettysburg photos from the weekend:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Poem for Wednesday, Bunny and Dad's Birthday

Detail of the Hayfield
By Richard Siken

I followed myself for a long while, deep into the field.
Two heads full of garbage.

Our scope was larger than I realized,
which only made me that much more responsible.

Yellow, yellow, gold, and ocher.
We stopped. We held the field. We stood very still.

Everyone needs a place.

You need it for the moment you need it, then you bless it --
thank you soup, thank you flashlight --

and move on. Who does this? No one.


Tuesday was my father's birthday, and Adam had no school because it was his high school's graduation day -- congratulations Churchill students! -- so Paul worked from home and we all went to lunch at Normandie Farm, a lovely restaurant that none of us had been to in years. It was pretty quiet (I suspect everyone ate too much over the weekend, as we did) and we were all very happy with the food; the place is famous for their popovers, which are excellent, though the fish, the eggs, the quiche, and all the desserts got good reviews too.

My parents' pool club opened for the season over the weekend, so after we gave my father his birthday presents and came home to change, he took my kids swimming and Paul and I finished work and various chores. We were so full from lunch that we really didn't eat dinner; we watched Carole King on In Performance at the White House, then the first episode of Spies of Warsaw with David Tennant, then a South Park episode none of us had ever seen about how cash cures AIDS which was kind of brilliant when it wasn't totally offensive, like all South Park!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Poem for Tuesday and Washingtonian Goslings

A Thousand Martyrs I Have Made
By Aphra Behn

A thousand martyrs I have made,
   All sacrific'd to my desire;
A thousand beauties have betray'd,
   That languish in resistless fire.
The untam'd heart to hand I brought,
And fixed the wild and wandering thought.

I never vow'd nor sigh'd in vain
   But both, tho' false, were well receiv'd.
The fair are pleas'd to give us pain,
   And what they wish is soon believ'd.
And tho' I talk'd of wounds and smart,
Love's pleasures only touched my heart.

Alone the glory and the spoil
   I always laughing bore away;
The triumphs, without pain or toil,
   Without the hell, the heav'n of joy.
And while I thus at random rove
Despis'd the fools that whine for love.


We had a bunch of chores we needed to get done on Memorial Day, so after sleeping late, catching up on uploading photos to Flickr, and having lunch, we went to a bunch of stores in Washingtonian Center, which was pretty crowded with people at the Kohl's and Target sales (we avoided those) but lovely around the lake, where only the playground had a lot of people. It was as gorgeous a day as the previous two this weekend, and to my delight we saw not only the goslings I'd spotted a few weeks ago, who are now in the awkward adolescent dinosaur phase, but a new Canada goose family with at least ten babies!

The Orioles beat the Nationals, which I'm sure neither my parents nor my in-laws are happy about, but I am (for Father's Day we are going to see the Orioles-Red Sox game in Baltimore, where Adam and I may be the only Orioles fans in our group of 8). We had homemade pizza for dinner -- which I had nothing to do with making -- and ended up watching South Park because they were rerunning the one where Obama and McCain only ran for President so that no matter who won, they could steal the Hope Diamond with the help of British criminal genius Sarah Palin. Hope everyone had a relaxing Memorial Day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Poem for Monday and Virginia Renfaire

Panels for the Walls
By Cedar Sigo

Leave the long fall between us (peak after peak)
Here were my paints and there were my powders
And then I was drunk and we lost each other
My shadow tumbled after
Soaking cinnamon leaves in the lake of the moon
The roll of the damned drum calls me to duty
The dice in the light of the lamp
I hear a stone gong
I lean full weight on my slender staff
Yellow leaves shaken and petals confused to my garden
The hard road is written to music
How lovely locks, in bright mirrors, in high chambers
The moon shows further a gold and silver terrace
The northern grass is blue as jade
(A dream) venting in the pit of heaven


The weather was perfect on Sunday and we spent it at the Virginia Renfaire, which is having Pirate Weekend! We drove down after lunch (Adam was going to a funeral with his girlfriend, a crew coach passed away, they are having a really rough couple of weeks) and met and Lin at Lake Anna Winery, where we did not buy any wine until we were leaving but we got to see lots of musical groups including Ship's Company, meet the Queen and Captain Jack, eat cheesecake on a stick, and see lots of animals including horses, rescue dogs, alpacas, ducklings, and a falcon. We have none of this year's cicadas in my area but they were all around the winery making phaser-type noises in the trees!

With Delta, Lin and Queen Elizabeth.

Delta with one of the Brood II cicadas...

...and Adam threatening to eat one.

Me and Captain Jack aka TallPirate.

Ship's Company performing on the Woodland Stage.

Me feeding an alpaca...

...and the alpacas out for a walk.

Hungry ducklings.

Since we were near Fredericksburg, we went to Carlos O'Kelly's for dinner. When we got home we watched the first hour of the national Memorial Day concert (thankfully Alfie Boe sang during that part), then the final episode of Smash (which had a great opening but there's really nothing at this point that I'll miss, characters less mature than those on Glee, if I'd never seen a Broadway musical I'd never believe from this show that any of them were worth my money), then HBO's Liberace movie, which is almost too horrifying for words (Douglas, Damon, Bakula, and Lowe give amazing performances, but I think even the characters on Smash are more sympathetic). Have a good Memorial Day if you celebrate it!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Poem for Sunday and Gettysburg National Battlefield

Our Country's Call
By William Cullen Bryant

Lay down the axe; fling by the spade;
Leave in its track the toiling plough;
The rifle and the bayonet-blade
For arms like yours were fitter now;
And let the hands that ply the pen
Quit the light task, and learn to wield
The horseman's crooked brand, and rein
The charger on the battle-field.

Our country calls; away! away!
To where the blood-stream blots the green.
Strike to defend the gentlest sway
That Time in all his course has seen.
See, from a thousand coverts--see,
Spring the armed foes that haunt her track;
They rush to smite her down, and we
Must beat the banded traitors back.

Ho! sturdy as the oaks ye cleave,
And moved as soon to fear and flight,
Men of the glade and forest! leave
Your woodcraft for the field of fight.
The arms that wield the axe must pour
An iron tempest on the foe;
His serried ranks shall reel before
The arm that lays the panther low.

And ye, who breast the mountain-storm
By grassy steep or highland lake,
Come, for the land ye love, to form
A bulwark that no foe can break.
Stand, like your own gray cliffs that mock
The whirlwind, stand in her defence;
The blast as soon shall move the rock
As rushing squadrons bear ye thence.

And ye, whose homes are by her grand
Swift rivers, rising far away,
Come from the depth of her green land,
As mighty in your march as they;
As terrible as when the rains
Have swelled them over bank and bourne
With sudden floods to drown the plains
And sweep along the woods uptorn.

And ye, who throng, beside the deep,
Her ports and hamlets of the strand,
In number like the waves that leap
On his long-murmuring marge of sand--
Come like that deep, when, o'er his brim,
He rises, all his floods to pour,
And flings the proudest barks that swim,
A helpless wreck, against the shore!

Few, few were they whose swords of old
Won the fair land in which we dwell;
But we are many, we who hold
The grim resolve to guard it well.
Strike, for that broad and goodly land,
Blow after blow, till men shall see
That Might and Right move hand in hand,
And glorious must their triumph be!


Sorry about the bombastic poem, but we spent the afternoon at Gettysburg National Battlefield, where there's a great deal of recorded explosions of all sorts. We drove up with my parents and met Paul's parents at the visitor center, whose parking lots were packed in honor of Memorial Day weekend, but whose theaters and exhibits weren't particularly mobbed and whose monuments weren't crowded at all. We saw the introductory film narrated by Morgan Freeman and the cyclorama, went through the Civil War museum, then drove to Little Round Top and several other monuments. The weather could not have been more gorgeous.

It's my father's birthday weekend, so we decided to go to dinner at the Cozy Inn in Thurmont, which has an enormous buffet (I shall not mention how many different kinds of pie I had for dessert). It's very near Catoctin Mountain and has a small Camp David museum with lots of photos of the Carter-Begin-Sadat negotiations and the Kennedy kids playing, though in the alcove reserved for Obama, people had written racist crap on the letter explaining that the museum has no Obama photos yet. Here are a few family photos from Gettysburg; will post museum and monument pictures on a day when I don't get home so late!

Daniel and Adam seen from atop the 12th & 44th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiments monument on Little Round Top.

Family surrounding one of the battlefield cannons.

Adam looking out over the Slaughter Pen and Devil's Den.

Family at the State of Pennsylvania monument.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Poem for Saturday, Philadelphia Zoo, Accession, Prometheus

House or Window Flies
By John Clare

These little window dwellers, in cottages and halls, were always entertaining to me; after dancing in the window all day from sunrise to sunset they would sip of the tea, drink of the beer, and eat of the sugar, and be welcome all summer long. They look like things of mind or fairies, and seem pleased or dull as the weather permits. In many clean cottages and genteel houses, they are allowed every liberty to creep, fly, or do as they like; and seldom or ever do wrong. In fact they are the small or dwarfish portion of our own family, and so many fairy familiars that we know and treat as one of ourselves.


Friday was a quiet day, which I mean in the best way. I got bunch of work done, I posted a review of DS9's "Accession". A Comcast technician came to see if he could figure out why our internet and TV both have been glitching for the past several days; he thinks our router is the problem, though the router can't possibly be responsible for our missing the critical moments of the Nashville season finale and lots of good lines on Stewart and Colbert. We probably need Wireless N rather than the Wireless G we have, based on the number of connections we often have at a time.

We had dinner with my parents, then came home and watched Prometheus, which I didn't find hard to follow as some people complained but that "birth" scene was every bit as horrific as I'd heard. I'm not much of a fan of horror and most of what I liked about the old Alien movies was Sigourney Weaver, so missing future installments won't be a hardship. Here are a few last photos from the Philadelphia Zoo, including cheetahs, a polar bear, a flamingo pretending to be a flower, a snake, some porcupine, and a douc langur -- Philly's is the only zoo in North America with these Vietnamese monkeys: