Saturday, October 31, 2015

Poem and Pictures for Halloween

The Haunted Palace
By Edgar Allan Poe

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion—
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute’s well-tuned law,
Round about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well-befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh—but smile no more.


I had a very nice Friday, though it involved several hours of work, as I needed to review Voyager's "Prototype" and hadn't seen it in a couple of decades. I forgot that I really loved that episode; I wouldn't say it's great, since it's very predictable and the androids look like they wandered in from a '50s movie, but it's a great Janeway-Torres story with lots of traditional Trek arguments and women doing science.

I had a shirt I needed to return at Macy's, so I went to see what was on sale and got a fuzzy poncho at a huge bargain. Then I stopped at Locust Grove on the way home because I could see that the leaves looked very pretty as I was driving by. There were lots of squirrels and chipmunks hoarding acorns and making irritated noises at me as I walked along the creek, plus painted pumpkins outside the nature center.

We had dinner with my parents and watched Billy Joel sing the Star Spangled Banner, then came home and watched the Mets victory around the Bones-Sleepy Hollow two-parter, which was hilarious -- I had never seen an episode of Bones before and now I have no idea why not, Emily Deschanel's reactions to Tom Mison are awesome. Some Halloween photos, including one from Locust Grove and another with my mother after dinner:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Placeholder for Friday

I spent all day Thursday with Paul (who woke up very early to work half a day) and Cheryl (who woke up very early to drive to my house) in the Brandywine Valley, first at Winterthur, which in addition to gorgeous changing leaves has exhibits on Tiffany Studios and Tiffany & Co., then at Longwood Gardens, which in addition to gorgeous changing leaves and chrysanthemums has Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective , which I can only liken to a walk through fairyland or possibly Pandora, the planet from Avatar. Here are a few pics -- more tomorrow!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poem for Thursday and Huntley Turtles

Analysis of Baseball
By May Swenson

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn't
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.
Ball hates
to take bat's
bait. Ball
flirts, bat's
late, don't
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(thwack) to mitt,
and goes out
(thwack) back
to mitt.

Ball fits
mitt, but
not all
the time.
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
meets it,
and sails
to a place
where mitt
has to quit
in disgrace.
That's about
the bases
about 40,000
fans exploded.

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
the mitt,
the bases
and the fans.
It's done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
It's about
home, and it's
about run.


The remnants of Hurricane Patricia moved over us for 24 hours here, so it was a dark, gloomy day with periods of pouring rain. Paul was working from home, so in the afternoon we watched Trainwreck, which I was surprised at how much I liked -- I love Amy Schumer as a public figure, but sometimes her comedy makes me cringe, especially her racially based stuff (I know she says that her intentions is to parody racist girls but the line gets really thin and it doesn't feel so sex-positive).

Karen asked if I wanted to meet her for dinner, so since I begged not to have to drive far in the rain, we met at the mall and had Blaze Pizza and a bit of shopping. I got home for Arrow (reasonably entertaining) and Nashville (OMG everyone is eleven, which is easiest to forgive in the actual eleven-year-old, but as usual Scarlett's singing redeemed the episode), both watched around the Mets-Royals game. Snapping turtles spotted last time we were at Huntley Meadows, in August:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poem for Wednesday, Limitless, Brookside

By Patricia Spears Jones

The man with the black feather tattoo pares this space
Between fantasy and the memory of a man’s carved
Torso, designed for stroking and celebration.

Today the sun’s brightness is like that lover’s kiss,
Wonderful in the present and greater in memory.

A memory that brings me back to that black feather’s
Flutter. Stars dazzle in some other part of this world
Where the sun has set and the moon illuminates
Swans diving into voluminous waters.


"The black feather on the Brazilian dancer was a mark that could not be unseen," Spears wrote in this morning's Poem-a-Day column. "It is always interesting to write about desire, what sparks it...the dancer's movements, that tattoo, his beauty -- ah the sparks."

I had a very uneventful Wednesday, the highlight of which was folding laundry because I watched Limitless while I was doing it, in large part because the TV show had me confused whether Bradley Cooper played the hero or the villain and I wanted to see for myself instead of reading a Wikipedia entry. Though the female characters leave much to be desired, the movie had me rooting for him at first, and I liked the way it was filmed -- as in A Single Man, the world turns technicolor when he's seeing clearly -- but he's unnerving by the end, and tonight's episode of the show (which has much better women) has done nothing to make me think he might not be rotten at the core!

Not much else to report. Lovely clear cool weather today, to be replaced tomorrow by the remains of Hurricane Patricia which means hard rain and thunderstorms, but this evening we got to walk and talk to neighbors though the deer weren't around. We are caught up on Madam Secretary, which remains my favorite show on TV (timely, topical, a bit didactic but everything about it is feminist, even the way the characters question their own feminism) and we watched The Flash, which I enjoy a lot, and Agents of SHIELD, which I don't enjoy recently more often than not, but yay, they let Simmons be something beyond Fitz's love interest! More photos of fall at Brookside:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Poem for Tuesday, Supergirl, Brookside Mums

The Prairie Town
By Helen Santmyer

Lovers of beauty laugh at this grey town,
     Where dust lies thick on ragged curb-side trees,
And compass-needle streets lead up and down
     And lose themselves in empty prairie seas.

Here is no winding scented lane, no hill
     Crowned with a steepled church, no garden wall
Of old grey stone where lilacs bloom, and fill
     The air with fragrance when the May rains fall.

But here is the unsoftened majesty
     Of the wide earth where all the wide streets end,
And from the dusty corner one may see
     The full moon rise, and flaming sun descend.

The long main street, whence farmers’ teams go forth,
Lies like an old sea road, star-pointed north.


The temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees on Monday so it was a lovely cool fall day, and apparently the neighborhood animals don't mind because we saw three bunnies and two deer in the evening while we were walking around the block. Otherwise it was an uneventful day; I spent a lot of hours on an organization project that no one who did not live in this house would even notice, and I got some Sugru to try to repair my camera grip since Nikon is giving me obnoxious runaround.

We had Indian food for dinner, having discovered that Mom's Organic Market has curry jackfruit that has the texture of meat, which is awesome. Then we watched Supergirl, which I liked for many reasons from sister issues to kick-ass women to Calista Flockhart practically stealing the show, and we haven't even really seen Kara's adoptive parents yet. It's much cheerier than Blindspot, which I like but it's so dark. Some photos from Brookside's chrysanthemum exhibit yesterday:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Poem for Monday, Brookside Gardens, Man in the High Castle

On Her First Ascent to Helvellyn
By William Wordsworth

Inmate of a mountain-dwelling,
Thou hast clomb aloft, and gazed
From the watch-towers of Helvellyn;
Awed, delighted, and amazed!

Potent was the spell that bound thee
Not unwilling to obey;
For blue Ether’s arms, flung round thee,
Stilled the pantings of dismay.

Lo! the dwindled woods and meadows;
What a vast abyss is there!
Lo! the clouds, the solemn shadows,
And the glistenings–heavenly fair!

And a record of commotion
Which a thousand ridges yield;
Ridge, and gulf, and distant ocean
Gleaming like a silver shield!

Maiden! now take flight;–inherit
Alps or Andes–they are thine!
With the morning’s roseate Spirit,
Sweep their length of snowy line;

Or survey their bright dominions
In the gorgeous colours drest
Flung from off the purple pinions,
Evening spreads throughout the west!

Thine are all the coral fountains
Warbling in each sparry vault
Of the untrodden lunar mountains;
Listen to their songs!–or halt,

To Niphates’ top invited,
Whither spiteful Satan steered;
Or descend where the ark alighted,
When the green earth re-appeared;

For the power of hills is on thee,
As was witnessed through thine eye
Then, when old Helvellyn won thee
To confess their majesty!


We had plans for most of Sunday, nearly all of which got altered, but the weather was gorgeous and there were beautiful leaves everywhere so it all worked out. We were going to drop off Adam in College Park early and meet a friend at Mount Vernon, but Adam's sleep schedule and traffic made us late getting to the University of Maryland, by which point our friend wasn't feeling well and said she thought she'd take a rain check. We were headed toward Mount Vernon anyway but the Beltway was at a crawl, so we changed our itinerary and went to Brookside Gardens, where we saw mums in the conservatory and lots of color all over the park:

We visited Huckleberry Fine Arts because Rob Gonsalves was there signing his new book, and we stopped at Mom's Organic Market, getting home just in time for the last play of the Washington football game, which they won after coming back from 24-0! After dinner we watched Once Upon a Time, which bores me and irritates me except when Regina is onscreen -- the whole show should just be Regina and Emma snarking at each other with a few minutes of Old Gold -- then the pilot of The Man in the High Castle, which is very enjoyable so far, though very different from the book (less literary, less concerned with the banality of evil).

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Poem for Sunday and Catoctin Climbs

The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain
By Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.


We spent Saturday in the Catoctin Mountains with Adam and Christine, first at Cunningham Falls State Park, where we hiked to the waterfall and had a picnic among the leaves, then at Catoctin Mountain Park, where we hiked to Hog Rock and the Blue Ridge Summit before we met Paul's parents at the nature center and walked around the Spicebush Nature Trail and the sawmill replica. We tried not to be too upset that Maryland only lost by one point to Penn State, since we did not see any of the game!

Since the Cozy Inn has closed, much to our regret, Paul's parents took us to dinner at the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, which does not have anything like Cozy's ambiance nor as many choices, though the desserts were good and we left before the Saturday night gospel choir arrived. Adam had homework to get done, so we took Christine home and brought him back here, where he worked and did laundry while the rest of us watched Doctor Who, which at least has good acting this season.