Monday, November 30, 2015

Poem for Monday and Weekend End

The Kitty
By Elizabeth Prentiss

Once there was a little kitty
Whiter than snow;
In a barn she used to frolic,
Long time ago.

In the barn a little mousie
Ran to and fro:
For she heard the kitty coming,
Long time ago.

Two eyes had little kitty.
Black as a shoe;
And they spied the little mousie,
Long time ago.

Four paws had little kitty,
Paws soft as dough,
And they caught the little mousie,
Long time ago.

Nine teeth had little kitty,
All in a row;
And they bit the little mousie,
Long time ago.

When the teeth bit little mousie,
Little mouse cried "Oh!"
But she got away from kitty,
Long time ago.


Regretfully, Thanksgiving weekend is over and both our sons have been redelivered to Seattle and College Park respectively. We took Daniel to the airport in the morning -- his flight wasn't until after noon, but we wanted to get him there plenty early given the holiday weekend and the weather reports around the country -- then we came home for lunch and hung out watching football with Adam while he worked on a computer science project. The kittens were content to snuggle him and his laptop in place of older son.

By some miracle, Washington beat the Giants -- Daniel even managed to watch the game via United's onboard wi-fi -- and Seattle won as well. We took Adam back to school in the afternoon once his laundry was dry, driving in the rain that continued pretty much all day. We had kittens wondering where everyone had gone all over us while we ate Ethiopian stew for dinner and watched Madam Secretary (how funny to see the leader of District 8 in such a subservient role, hee). Last day of cat pictures for a while, I promise!

Two kittens discover that Daniel's laptop vents out heat, plus he has body heat.

Adam is a good kitten snuggler too.

Cinnamon is not so sure about any of this.

And Daisy has quite a bit to say about it.

Eventually Adam has to extricate himself to go back to college.

At first the kittens are forlorn.

Then they wrestle over a box.

And eventually they come snuggle with me.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Placeholder for Sunday

As you can see from the photos, we have been up late playing Doctor Who Yahtzee so I will keep this brief! We saw Mockingjay, Part 2, which I liked very much -- it's a pretty faithful adaptation from the book, so some of the things I didn't love in print remained on film, though I think the performances improve several of the characters and I totally ship Haymitch/Effie -- and we had dinner with my parents and saw highlights of the Terps victory, then watched Doctor Who because other people wanted to (still meh) and the season finale of The Last Kingdom (which I rather enjoyed apart from women dying to explore Man Pain). My kids return to Seattle and College Park on Sunday, so more when I am caught up!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Poem for Saturday, National Aquarium, Dreadnought, Bye Doctor

A Jelly-Fish
By Marianne Moore

Visible, invisible,
A fluctuating charm,
An amber-colored amethyst
Inhabits it; your arm
Approaches, and
It opens and
It closes;
You have meant
To catch it,
And it shrivels;
You abandon
Your intent—
It opens, and it
Closes and you
Reach for it—
The blue
Surrounding it
Grows cloudy, and
It floats away
From you.


Paul and I both had to work in the morning -- I posted a review of Voyager's just-as-good-as-I-remembered "Dreadnought", both Adam and Daniel slept late -- then after lunch we drove Daniel to Baltimore to see friends from college and took Adam with us to the National Aquarium, since he hadn't been there since the new touch tanks opened. We got to see all the eels who are usually hiding and the puffins have babies!

Moray eel

Shark and ray

Emerald boa


Green sea turtle

With son...

...and with jellyfish!

We went to Blu Bambu for stir fry and bubble tea, then we walked around the Inner Harbor to meet Daniel with his friends at the Kona Grill. It's been unseasonably warm and beautiful for November, a great night for a walk. When we came home, we finally watched last week's Doctor Who, which made me feel...nothing. I was telling a certain character to shut up already. I think I'm done with the show; I don't want to start to hate it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Poem for Friday and Thanksgiving

Try to Praise the Mutilated World
By Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.


I had a reasonably low-key and nice Thanksgiving with my kids, parents, in-laws, and my parents' long-time friend Ruth, who hosts us to break the fast after Yom Kippur. We all slept late -- well, after cats were fed and let us go back to sleep -- and watched most of the Macy's parade. Paul's parents arrived after lunch; we worked on their Christmas letter for a bit while watching Detroit beat Philadelphia and UConn lose to Syracuse.

Then we went to my parents' house and ate an enormous amount (for me it was cheese and crackers, fruit salad, veggie turkey and stuffing, carrot souffle, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberries, apple pie, and chocolate roll -- most others had actual turkey). Everything was delicious. Eventually we made our way home, watched Elementary, and tried to figure out our schedule for Saturday when Daniel wants to visit friends in Baltimore!

Paul's annual cookie cake (previous cakes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Poem for Thanksgiving

By W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


Happy Thanksgiving! I spent Wednesday morning working on a review of Voyager's "Dreadnought" so I don't have to work on Friday (even on a rewatch, when Chakotay was saying "I'm not leaving you!", what he meant was, "I love you!"). We all had a complicated lunch trying to keep two kittens off of three bagels. Then after a bunch of other chores, we drove to College Park, where we picked up Adam to bring home for the long weekend (we gave Christine a ride too).

We stopped at D.P. Dough for calzones to bring home for dinner and Christine played with the kittens while we ate. Then, after Adam drove her home, we watched Starter for 10, which has an entire generation of British actors in its cast (McAvoy, Corden, Hall, Tate, Cumberbatch, Cooper, et al). It's a very blokey story but well-acted and has an awesome soundtrack. We also watched a bit of a special on Einstein, but scientist son declared it mediocre, so now we're bonding over nuColbert!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Poem for Wednesday, Man in the High Castle, Azaleas

Danse Russe
By William Carlos Williams

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
'I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so! '
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?


Mostly my day involved household chores, hanging out with Daniel (except when he was at lunch with my father, when I had lunch with Paul), playing with kittens who also got to play with some neighbors and friends, and finishing our binge-watch of The Man in the High Castle, which ended on, like, six cliffhangers so there better be another season, yet was entirely satisfying in almost every way besides. I'm not sure how much I can say without spoiling things but I ended up rooting for a character I would have sworn I couldn't root for to do anything except die, and for once I didn't feel manipulated by a love triangle. Tonight's Limitless ("Arm-ageddon") had lots of awesome, hilarious gimmicks and a genuinely surprising oh-no development, but was not even close to The Man in the High Castle. Tomorrow Adam comes home! Here are some photos from last spring at Brookside Gardens when the azaleas were in full bloom:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poem for Tuesday and Huntley Meadows

The Banjo Player
By Fenton Johnson

There is music in me, the music of a peasant people.
I wander through the levee, picking my banjo and singing my songs of the cabin and the field. At
    the Last Chance Saloon I am as welcome as the violets in March; there is always food and
    drink for me there, and the dimes of those who love honest music. Behind the railroad tracks
    the little children clap their hands and love me as they love Kris Kringle.
But I fear that I am a failure. Last night a woman called me a troubadour. What is a troubadour?


It should be obvious by now that for a couple of weeks this journal is mostly going to be family and kittens -- less family this year, since my sister's family isn't coming from New York for Thanksgiving because her daughters haven't been home since they left for college and Israel respectively at the end of the summer, but I have Daniel here now and Adam arriving in two days. Daniel is working remotely this week, so I went to Bagel City to get food for him and to CVS to get another blanket for kittens who like curling up on fuzzy fleece and we all had lunch together, including Paul who worked from home as well.

We watched two more episodes of The Man in the High Castle, which is terrific -- different from the book, which I don't remember in that much detail, but I often find Dick pretentious and misogynistic so I wasn't likely to be upset about changes anyway, and the characters are mostly complicated and interesting while the plot is really chilling (more interesting to me than Philip Roth's version). Tonight we got the Supergirl and Legends postponed because of the events in Paris, plus Minority Report which is building its arc wonderfully and it's so sad that the season finale will be the end! Summer at Huntley Meadows:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Poem for Monday, Football, Harvest

My Old Football
By John Milton Hayes

You can keep your antique silver and your statuettes of bronze,
Your curios and tapestries so fine,
But of all your treasures rare there is nothing to compare
With this patched up, wornout football pal o' mine.
Just a patchedup wornout football, yet how it clings!
I live again my happier days in thoughts that football brings.
It's got a mouth, it's got a tongue,
And oft when we're alone I fancy that it speaks
To me of golden youth that's flown.
It calls to mind our meeting,
'Twas a present from the Dad.
I kicked it yet I worshipped it,
How strange a priest it had!
And yet it jumped with pleasure
When I punched it might and main:
And when it had the dumps
It got blown up and punched again.
It's lived its life;
It's played the game;
Its had its rise and fall,
There's history in the wrinkles of that wornout football.
Caresses rarely came its way in babyhood 'twas tanned.
It's been well oiled, and yet it's quite teetotal, understand.
It's gone the pace, and sometimes it's been absolutely bust,
And yet 'twas always full of bounce,
No matter how 'twas cussed.
He's broken many rules and oft has wandered out of bounds,
He's joined in shooting parties
Over other people's grounds.
Misunderstood by women,
He was never thought a catch,
Yet he was never happier
Than when bringing off a match.
He's often been in danger
Caught in nets that foes have spread,
He's even come to life again
When all have called him dead.
Started on the centre,
And he's acted on the square,
To all parts of the compass
He's been bullied everywhere.
His aims and his ambitious
Were opposed by one and all,
And yet he somehow reached his goal
That plucky old football.
When schooling days were ended
I forgot him altogether,
And 'midst the dusty years
He lay a crumpled lump of leather.
Then came the threat'ning voice of War,
And games had little chance,
My brother went to do his bit
Out there somewhere in France.
And when my brother wrote he said,
‘Of all a Tommy's joys,
There's none compares with football.
Will you send one for the boys? '
I sent not one but many,
And my old one with the rest,
I thought that football's finished now,
But no he stood the test.
Behind the lines they kicked him
As he'd never been kicked before.
Till they busted him and sent him back
A keepsake of the war.
My brother lies out there in France,
Beneath a simple cross,
And I seem to feel my football knows my grief,
And shares my loss.
He tells me of that splendid charge,
And then my brother's fall.
In life he loved our mutual chum
That worn-out football.
Oh you can keep your antique silver
And your statuettes of bronze
Your curios and tapestries so fine
But of all your treasures rare
There is nothing to compare
With that patched-up worn-out football—
Pal o' mine.


I spent Sunday with my family, though since Daniel slept till nearly two, the first half of it was mostly catching up on all the things from which kittens have distracted me! We had brunch, watched half of the Redskins loss and the end of the Ravens bittersweet victory, then went over to my parents' for hors d'oeuvres and dinner plus the Green Bay game and as much of the Seahawks game as we could get locally.

There was a gorgeous sunset and we saw deer both munching the neighbor's yard and walking through the woods. After dinner we came home, caught up on Madam Secretary which remains my favorite thing on network TV, and watched episodes three and four of The Man in the High Castle, which thus far is completely gripping and really well acted. Some photos from Homestead Farm's harvest last month: