Friday, February 28, 2014

Poem for Friday and Fort Washington

Strange are the Decrees of Fate
By Mirabai
Translated by A.J. Aston

Strange are the decrees of fate.

Behold the large eyes of the deer!
Yet he is forced to roam the fore.

The harsh crane has brilliant plumage,
While the sweet-voiced cuckoo is black.

The rivers flow in pure streams,
But the sea makes them salt.

Fools sit on thrones as kings,
While the wise beg their bread.


It did not snow on Thursday morning! In fact, it was sunny most of the day, though every time I went out I was kind of bummed because my Russian neighbors with two young children who are a lot of fun to watch as they chase each other and ride their tricycles up and down in front of my house were packing up their things into a moving van. We aren't particularly friendly with the parents -- they both work long hours, so we see the nanny and grandparents more often -- but I will be sorry not to see the kids, whom we have known since they were babies. Now who will tell me about toy cars?

Otherwise my day mostly involved uninteresting stuff, though I did manage to get hideous malware while trying to open a .zipx file, which required running lots of cleanup on my desktop (note: there cannot possibly be anything in a .zipx file worth either paying for a program to open or risking the garbage that comes bundled with the program). And I dissected two bracelets and put together some beads so now I have a train charm bracelet and a Terrapin charm bracelet. Yay, Elementary is back! Here are some more photos of Fort Washington after the last big snow melted:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Poem for Thursday, Great Falls, The Americans

One Sweeps By
By Walt Whitman

One sweeps by, attended by an immense train,
All emblematic of peace—not a soldier or menial among them.

One sweeps by, old, with black eyes, and profuse white hair,
He has the simple magnificence of health and strength,
His face strikes as with flashes of lightning whoever it turns toward.

Three old men slowly pass, followed by three others, and they by three others,
They are beautiful—the one in the middle of each group holds his companions by the hand,
As they walk, they give out perfume wherever they walk.


It snowed all morning. (Yes, I did just copy and paste that from my post from yesterday.) Again, school was not delayed, though we got an inch and a half on the ground and there was a five-car accident in front of son's high school as wheels went skidding. Because it's much colder, the snow stuck to the sidewalks and in our neighborhood, making it difficult to take a walk since it's hard to see the ice patches on the road. (At least one bunny was unfazed, nibbling what grass it could find through the snow.)

Paul worked from home to avoid driving in the snow after getting Adam to school, so we had lunch together when not on our respective computers around the corner from each other. He had found a tofurkey roast on sale, so we had a big dinner, which pleased Adam. Then we watched a show about Irish wildlife and the end of Captain America before the season premiere of The Americans, which remains as ulcer-inducing, well-written and well-acted as ever. Great Falls, Virginia in snow:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Poem for Wednesday and Washington County Waterfowl

Fixed Interval
By Devin Johnston

When he turns fifteen, you'll be fifty-four.
When he turns thirty, you'll be sixty-nine.
This plain arithmetic amazes more
than miracle, the constant difference more
than mere recursion of father in son.
If you reach eighty, he'll be forty-one!

The same sun wheels around again, the dawn
drawn out and hammered thin as a copper sheet.
When he turns sixty you'll be gone.
Compacted mud, annealed by summer heat,
two ruts incise this ghost-forsaken plain
and keep their track width, never to part or meet.


It snowed all morning. Though only about half an inch stuck -- and not on the roads, just the sidewalks and grass and windshields -- it made me not want to drive, and we're supposed to get at least three times as much tomorrow morning before rush hour. I don't really mind the cold, but I have really had enough of winter and am ready for flowers! I have nothing else exciting to report from the work-and-chores part of the day, other than I now know why Disney Movie Rewards was giving away Enchanted on DVD for so few points: it's the Fullscreen version.

In the evening we caught up on the Downton Abbey Christmas special/season finale, which was my favorite of the year -- of course, I am completely biased because George V and Edward VIII were in it, there was not nearly enough Dowager Countess. Then we caught up on Almost Human, which I wish had fewer murder cases but had my favorite line yet this season ("Do you want me to come to a bar with you and watch you drink?"). Here are some photos of the waterfowl and fish in the park at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Poem for Tuesday and Indoor Track Banquet

Why I Am Not a Buddhist
By Charles Bernstein

Reality cons me as it spur(n)s me.
This is the road to eternal
Consanguinity, eloping with
Hope and leaving me to pick
Up the proverbial bag.
But that's the argument for.


I rushed to get various work and chores done early on Monday -- it was colder than the weekend but too gorgeous not to take a walk, and it was a Kate and Leopold sort of day to fold laundry -- because the indoor track banquet was held at Adam's school in the evening. Some pictures:

Adam with his varsity letter certificate for indoor track and his scholar-athlete award for maintaining an A average while on the team.

Adam and a friend (in school colors) getting food from the potluck...

...and eating it (the boys and girls always seem to sit segregated at the sports banquets).

Adam making his senior speech...

...and posing with the other seniors on the track team.

Getting a hug along with the equipment bag all the seniors received.

Getting a handshake from the coach along with a pin for the varsity letter (since son already has a letter, he has received pins to mark subsequent sports achievements).

Here are the team members who received varsity letters, pins, and certificates.

We got home in time to see most of the season premiere of Dallas, which remains a joy forever. Pure soap, everyone cheating on and backstabbing everyone, lots of Sue Ellen! I am a bit ashamed that I love this more than Downton Abbey, but not nearly ashamed enough to stop watching.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Placeholder for Monday

We had beautiful weather on Sunday, when after Adam was finished working at Hebrew school we went to see Paul's parents in Hagerstown for Clair's birthday. Here is our day in photos:

A goose and fish in the park around the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Artist Mort Kunstler speaks about his work in conjunction with the exhibit For Us the Living: The Civil War Art of Mort Kunstler at the museum.

Clair, Cinda, Paul, and Adam at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

If you live near Maryland and you have train-crazy kids, this is well worth a visit. In addition to a dozen or so old train cars outside the museum, there are two huge indoor model train layouts...

...some of which can be operated by visitors, and there are places to play conductor, too.

In the winter, there's also a big model holiday village with two skating rinks, a ski slope, a movie theater, and at least four trains running at once.

After the trains, we drove through Catoctin National Park, which still has lots of snow on the ground, and went to the Cozy Inn's big buffet in Thurmont for dinner. I behaved very well in that I only had six desserts out of the sixteen available.

We got home in time for the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, which I enjoyed, though Russia reclaiming Chagall, Diaghilev, and its exiled writers is ironic. Congratulations on your hockey victories, Canada!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Poem for Sunday and Canal Lock 10

By Benjamin Franklin

Some have learn't many tricks of sly evasion,
Instead of truth they use equivocation,
And eke it out with mental reservation,
Which, to good men, is an abomination.
Our smith of late most wonderfully swore,
That whilst he breathed he would drink no more,
But since, I know his meaning, for I think,
He meant he would not breathe whilst he did drink.


We had thought about going down to the zoo early on Saturday to see the baby panda -- the weather forecast was for magnificent spring temperatures, which we got -- but Adam had plans that required transportation, first to run a Burrito Relay (run 800k, eat a burrito, run some more), then see if his photos won prizes in a county art show. So instead we watched the U.S. hockey team lose the bronze medal, then went to pick him up and went to the C&O Canal's tenth lock to walk along the muddy towpath by the swollen river, which had many geese and ducks but no turtles yet.

Adam is reading The Importance of Being Earnest in AP English, so since he had never seen it, we watched the film version with Colin Firth and Rupert Everett (Susan, you will be pleased to know that he disapproved of the changes from the play and could recite several of them, though I still enjoy the cast so much that I can let them slide). Then Cheryl suggested that we watch National Treasure since she had never seen that -- I adore both those films, and I love that Abigail is a George Washington fangirl who falls in love with a guy for being a history nerd!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Poem for Saturday, Call To Arms, Brookside

A Different Kind of Person
By Stuart Dischell

I encounter a woman from a long way off
Almost every morning when I walk my dog
In a certain park between certain hours
That have not changed the whole season long.
She owns several coats, all of them
The same length, yesterday a gray one;
Today deep red, and she smoothed her
Cheek as she went by. She sees me
At my worst, unshaven, in my sweats,
Bagging dog shit, my son's skateboard cap
Pulled down to my eyebrows. Hers arch
When she says "Good morning" which is all
I have ever heard her speak with her accent
From somewhere between the Danube
And the Don, where I bet she modeled coats
In a capital city. How she got here or what
She does is none of my business, and I
Do not wish to say to her more than, "Good
Morning," or ask, "How are you today?"
And spoil the peace we have found among
The ornamental trees native to our region.


From Tikkun.

Paul worked from home on a Friday enlivened by a state-wide tornado watch so that we could watch the U.S.-Canada hockey game live at lunchtime, so I had company while I was working on my review of Deep Space Nine's "Call To Arms" and watching the U.S. lose (I am not even going to pretend to be devastated about this; pretty much all these guys are NHL players, while the Washington Capitals' most famous player was playing for Russia). Congratulations to Canada on all the hockey and curling victories, but I confess those are the Winter Olympics sports I watch the least!

I took Adam out for froyo because he took a ride with me to the post office to mail a package to a friend overseas. We had dinner at my parents' house, where we celebrated a very belated Valentine's Day with them. Then we came home and watched Warm Bodies, which despite my general aversion to all things zombie was pretty enjoyable; Nicholas Hoult is always adorable, even undead, and John Malkovich is always entertaining, and the film is fast-paced, not bogged down with a long zombie apocalypse battle. Some pics from Brookside last weekend: