Thursday, June 30, 2016

Poem for Thursday and Covered in Birdies

By Timothy Steele

Our jet storms down the runway, tilts up, lifts:
We're airborne, and each second we see more—
Outlying hangars, wetlands with a pond
That flashes like sheened silver and, beyond,
An estuary and the frozen drifts
Of breakers wide and white along a shore.

One watches, cheek in palm. How little weight
The world has as it swiftly drops away!
How quietly the mind climbs to this height
As now, the seat-belt sign turned off, a flight
Attendant rises to negotiate
The steep aisle to a curtained service bay.


Maddy's flight from Albuquerque to Houston on Wednesday was cancelled due to engine trouble, meaning she could not have made her connection to DC, so she's coming through Chicago on Thursday instead. Since she did not arrive and we have VVA coming tomorrow to pick up a big donation, we did more cleaning and sorting, plus we spent hours in Home Depot getting a new screen door, shower door, kitchen fixtures, bathroom fan, and exciting things like that!

In the evening, we caught up on Endeavour and Houdini and Doyle, both of which were great though I'm worried about Thursday making it through the season -- I must have more Roger Allam -- and I always prefer Thomas Edison to be the villain, but I appreciate seeing less Doyle and his man-pain, more Houdini and his secret mushy side, and much more Stratton and her secrets. From the Richmond Zoo's Budgie Aviary, where we went to feed birds and got nibbled:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Poem for Wednesday and Virginia Football Exhibit

The Ecchoing Green
By William Blake

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John, with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say.
‘Such, such were the joys.
When we all girls & boys,
In our youth-time were seen,
On the Ecchoing Green.’

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end:
Round the laps of their mothers,
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen,
On the darkening Green.


I spent nearly all of Tuesday doing chores and work because our niece Maddy is coming tomorrow evening and we had a huge amount of cleaning to do -- which will not be finished by the time she arrives, but we didn't want her to take one look at the room and burst into tears, nor did we want Daniel to disown us because we packed away his Nintendo DS games someplace he couldn't find them if he ever wanted them again. We still have an insane amount of clutter, but if we get rid of too much of that, the cats just jump on the shelves in the open space and start flinging the rest onto the floor, so we're waiting for Maddy to start piling her own stuff up!

Our cats got to climb into both a bedroom closet and the linen closet, where they're normally not allowed to go, so they had an entertaining afternoon. We had big thunderstorms in the evening, so I did not see any bunnies, though I saw two that live on exhibit in the zoo plus one who'd snuck into their enclosure on Monday in Richmond, so I can't complain. Here are some photos from the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit currently at the Virginia Historical Society, including Paul comparing his muscles to a tackle's, me comparing my thigh to a lineman's, both of us trying on shoulder pads, and some of the collectibles from the teams of my youth!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Poem for Tuesday and Richmond Metro Zoo

Epitaphs of the War: A Dead Statesman
By Rudyard Kipling

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?


Another quickie now that Paul and I are home from Richmond but did not arrive till 10 p.m., to find cats who claimed to be ravenous though our catsitter Rose had fed them so recently that they didn't even eat when we gave them food. We spent most of the day at the Richmond Metro Zoo with Cheryl and Kevin, where we got to feed giraffes and goats, take a skyride over the cheetahs and rhinos, take a tram through the African plains, and walk around so many monkey and lemur enclosures that I got sunburned despite sunblock.

We ate lunch at the zoo, went out for ice cream late in the afternoon when we left, and collapsed at Cheryl's for a while before going out to dinner at Mexico with Kevin's wife Valeria and son Teddy as well as with Lin, whom we'd seen the day before at the museums. It was getting dark by the time we drove home and we got drizzled on a bit, but the predicted storm never arrived. We saw most of BrainDead and all of The Daily Show, which tried to make sense of Brexit and couldn't make it funny; now Colbert is doing the same with the Pope.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Greetings From Richmond

Quickie -- Paul and I are in Richmond with Cheryl and her cat Tippy, where we went to the VMFA for lunch and to see various art exhibits, then then to the Virginia Historical Society to see the NFL Hall of Fame exhibit, then to Great Shiplock Park to see the canal and river, then to Elephant Thai for dinner, then to Dogwood Dell for an outdoor production of Arsenic and Old Lace. I got to see Lin and Cheryl's sister and nephew, and the weather was gorgeous, so it was a great day! A few pics, more tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Poem for Sunday, Wings of Fancy, Independence Day

Mysticism for Beginners
By Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

The day was mild, the light was generous.
The German on the café terrace
held a small book on his lap.
I caught sight of the title:
Mysticism for Beginners.
Suddenly I understood that the swallows
patrolling the streets of Montepulciano
with their shrill whistles,
and the hushed talk of timid travelers
from Eastern, so-called Central Europe,
and the white herons standing—yesterday? the day before?—
like nuns in fields of rice,
and the dusk, slow and systematic,
erasing the outlines of medieval houses,
and olive trees on little hills,
abandoned to the wind and heat,
and the head of the Unknown Princess
that I saw and admired in the Louvre,
and stained-glass windows like butterfly wings
sprinkled with pollen,
and the little nightingale practicing
its speech beside the highway,
and any journey, any kind of trip,
are only mysticism for beginners,
the elementary course, prelude
to a test that's been


I had a million things to get done on Saturday, not all of which happened because I had plans with people, some of which fell through but I had a lovely day despite still having a lot to get done! Christine was going to come over for brunch, which she ended up not being able to do because of family plans, but Annmarie came over for blueberry pancakes and then we went to Brookside Gardens, where we saw many animals including groundhogs, geese, turtles, frogs, robins, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, and the caterpillars and butterflies at Wings of Fancy. I stupidly forgot my camera so have some phone pics:

We walked extensively in the gardens, where many roses are in bloom, and we stopped in both gift shops, plus we stopped for ice cream on the way back and went to see whether Rodman's had any foreign foods we needed. Then we came home to feed the cats, Annmarie went home to her own cats, I dyed my hair and did a bunch of cleaning, and eventually we had burgers and shells for dinner. Since we might go see the sequel over the weekend, we spent the evening watching Independence Day and then catching up on the Ghostbusters on Graham Norton, who spent an awful lot of time drooling over Chris Hemsworth.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Poem for Saturday and Evita

I Have a Seat in the Abandoned Theater
By Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by Fady Joudah

I have a seat in the abandoned theater
in Beirut. I might forget, and I might recall
the final act without longing ... not because of anything
other than that the play was not written
skillfully ...
as in the war days of those in despair, and an autobiography
of the spectators’ impulse. The actors were tearing up their scripts
and searching for the author among us, we the witnesses
sitting in our seats
I tell my neighbor the artist: Don’t draw your weapon,
and wait, unless you’re the author!
Then he asks me: And you are you the author?
So we sit scared. I say: Be a neutral
hero to escape from an obvious fate
He says: No hero dies revered in the second
scene. I will wait for the rest. Maybe I would
revise one of the acts. And maybe I would mend
what the iron has done to my brothers
So I say: It is you then?
He responds: You and I are two masked authors and two masked
I say: How is this my concern? I’m a spectator
He says: No spectators at chasm’s door ... and no
one is neutral here. And you must choose
your part in the end
So I say: I’m missing the beginning, what’s the beginning?


My Friday morning and afternoon were all about chores (mostly cleaning out older son's room and reorganizing his collectibles) and discussing Brexit with people (since I know people who voted both ways, and I know we're not getting the whole picture on our news). My lunch date had to cancel, family obligations, but that's all right because we went to the Big Greek Cafe for dinner (fire feta and a falafel-and-hummus pita sandwich, whoo!), and after a brief stop at Roots Market since we were right near it, and a brief walk around Olney Theatre Center during which we spotted deer in the woods, we saw the Olney production of Evita.

It's not the best I've ever seen, but it's the first professional staged production I've seen since the movie, and now I need the 2012 recording so I know whether most productions substitute "The Lady's Got Potential" for "The Art of the Possible" and whether most include "You Must Love Me" -- two huge improvements in the film as far as I'm concerned, so I heartily approve. Plus Peron's mistress sang "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" to Eva rather than to Peron or to Che, so the show practically passes the Bechdel Test. The singing at times sounded very shrill, though I think that was the sound system, which made the show start half an hour late!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Poem for Friday, Favorite Son, Olympus Has Fallen, Squirrels

Child Of Europe
By Czeslaw Milosz


We, whose lungs fill with the sweetness of day.
Who in May admire trees flowering
Are better than those who perished.

We, who taste of exotic dishes,
And enjoy fully the delights of love,
Are better than those who were buried.

We, from the fiery furnaces, from behind barbed wires
On which the winds of endless autumns howled,
We, who remember battles where the wounded air roared in
paroxysms of pain.
We, saved by our own cunning and knowledge.

By sending others to the more exposed positions
Urging them loudly to fight on
Ourselves withdrawing in certainty of the cause lost.

Having the choice of our own death and that of a friend
We chose his, coldly thinking: Let it be done quickly.

We sealed gas chamber doors, stole bread
Knowing the next day would be harder to bear than the day before.

As befits human beings, we explored good and evil.
Our malignant wisdom has no like on this planet.

Accept it as proven that we are better than they,
The gullible, hot-blooded weaklings, careless with their lives.


Treasure your legacy of skills, child of Europe.
Inheritor of Gothic cathedrals, of baroque churches.
Of synagogues filled with the wailing of a wronged people.
Successor of Descartes, Spinoza, inheritor of the word 'honor',
Posthumous child of Leonidas
Treasure the skills acquired in the hour of terror.

You have a clever mind which sees instantly
The good and bad of any situation.
You have an elegant, skeptical mind which enjoys pleasures
Quite unknown to primitive races.

Guided by this mind you cannot fail to see
The soundness of the advice we give you:
Let the sweetness of day fill your lungs
For this we have strict but wise rules.


There can be no question of force triumphant
We live in the age of victorious justice.

Do not mention force, or you will be accused
Of upholding fallen doctrines in secret.

He who has power, has it by historical logic.
Respectfully bow to that logic.

Let your lips, proposing a hypothesis
Not know about the hand faking the experiment.

Let your hand, faking the experiment
No know about the lips proposing a hypothesis.

Learn to predict a fire with unerring precision
Then burn the house down to fulfill the prediction.


Grow your tree of falsehood from a single grain of truth.
Do not follow those who lie in contempt of reality.

Let your lie be even more logical than the truth itself
So the weary travelers may find repose in the lie.

After the Day of the Lie gather in select circles
Shaking with laughter when our real deeds are mentioned.

Dispensing flattery called: perspicacious thinking.
Dispensing flattery called: a great talent.

We, the last who can still draw joy from cynicism.
We, whose cunning is not unlike despair.

A new, humorless generation is now arising
It takes in deadly earnest all we received with laughter.


Let your words speak not through their meanings
But through them against whom they are used.

Fashion your weapon from ambiguous words.
Consign clear words to lexical limbo.

Judge no words before the clerks have checked
In their card index by whom they were spoken.

The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason.
The passionless cannot change history.


Love no country: countries soon disappear
Love no city: cities are soon rubble.

Throw away keepsakes, or from your desk
A choking, poisonous fume will exude.

Do not love people: people soon perish.
Or they are wronged and call for your help.

Do not gaze into the pools of the past.
Their corroded surface will mirror
A face different from the one you expected.


He who invokes history is always secure.
The dead will not rise to witness against him.

You can accuse them of any deeds you like.
Their reply will always be silence.

Their empty faces swim out of the deep dark.
You can fill them with any feature desired.

Proud of dominion over people long vanished,
Change the past into your own, better likeness.


The laughter born of the love of truth
Is now the laughter of the enemies of the people.

Gone is the age of satire. We no longer need mock.
The sensible monarch with false courtly phrases.

Stern as befits the servants of a cause,
We will permit ourselves sycophantic humor.

Tight-lipped, guided by reasons only
Cautiously let us step into the era of the unchained fire.


On Thursday I kind of kept thinking it was Friday, so much so that I posted my review of Voyager's "Favorite Son" a day early and it was up for several hours before I realized what I had done. (Don't even bother, the episode doesn't deserve that much attention.) I stayed up too late the night before, watching both the Democratic sit-in and the run-up to the Brexit vote -- it's not looking good for Remain right now, which makes me sad -- and I have plans for a lot of the weekend so I'm all thrown off.

We had dinner with my parents on Thursday since we have plans to go out on Friday, then came home and watched Olympus Has Fallen, which I disliked about as much as London Has Fallen (which at least had the virtue of being in London) and more than I disliked White House Down (which probably had a stupider screenplay but had a lot less random killing of civilians, plus the terrorists weren't representing a particular country or ethnicity). Once the rain stopped this afternoon, we had squirrels frolicking on our deck:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poem for Thursday, White House Down, St. Patrick's

By Emily Hunt

There are these flowers
with centers like liquid

hollows up close
and the outline

melts like a trick.
An illusion is usually

dark by the end.
An illusion is thin

curving for some
spark, along it to trace

a straight
shot to the rigged

bones of the plot,
to drink the quiet, like dirt.


I have nothing exciting to say -- my whole Wednesday was work, chores, and rooting for the Democrats taking a lesson from the Occupy movement, plus a visit from a handyman who hopefully can fix the upstairs hall bathroom before our niece Maddy moves in next week. I managed to finish one of the two Shutterfly books I need to get done by the 26th, so there's that too! Our evening entertainment, if it can be called that, was White House Down, which made London Has Fallen seem both realistic and restrained.

My neighbor Rose visited to play with the cats, and Pandora very kindly replaced my out-of-warranty broken bracelet with a brand new one. From downtown a couple of months ago, Saint Patrick's Catholic Church, built in 1794 for the stonemasons building Washington; Homeless Jesus by Tim Schmalz, blessed by Cardinal Wuerl; an atheist pride poster outside the Freedom From Religion Foundation; and the 1896 Adoration of St. Joan of Arc by J. William Fosdick at the Smithsonian American Art Museum: