Sunday, December 31, 2017

Poem for Sunday and Snowy Saturday

December Snow
By Effie Waller Smith

The falling snow a stainless veil doth cast
Upon the relics of the dying year —
Dead leaves and withered flowers and stubble sere —
As if it would erase the faded past;
So on our lives does death descend at last,
Hiding youth's hopes and manhood's purpose clear,
And memories faint, to dreaming age most dear,
Beneath its silence, blank and white and vast.
The sun shines out, and lo! the meadows lone
Flash into sudden splendor, strangely bright,
More fair than summer landscape ever shone;
Thus, gleaming through the storm clouds faith's clear light
Transforms death's endless waste of silence white
To beauty passing all that life has known.


It snowed overnight Saturday, so while Adam was enjoying warm weather in Haifa, we were slugs and watched bowl games. We went out for a while in the afternoon because it was the last day I could use my Krispy Kreme free donut-and-coffee (well, hot chocolate) birthday coupon, and we stopped at the food store, but it was a fairly quiet snow day.

Having watched our low-quality Die Hard DVD on Christmas Eve, we decided to get all the movies on Blu-Ray with holiday gift cards, so we watched Die Harder after dinner. I haven't seen it in ages and I still don't like it as much as the original and Die Hard with a Vengeance but it was fun to see Willis and Sadler so young. Happy last day of 2017!








Saturday, December 30, 2017

Poem for Saturday and Edison's Library

By Kevin Young

The honey bees’ exile
     is almost complete.
You can carry

them from hive
     to hive, the child thought
& that is what

he tried, walking
     with them thronging
between his pressed palms.

Let him be right.
     Let the gods look away
as always. Let this boy

who carries the entire
     actual, whirring
world in his calm

unwashed hands,
     barely walking, bear
us all there

buzzing, unstung.


The final poem in the poet's new collection, which "takes up boyhood and brownness, moving through Kansas and the South," he tells "In this boy remembered or imagined, the poem offering a kind of winged benediction -- a song that summons suffering, but does not succumb, I hope."

Alice had an appointment at Walter Reed on Friday morning, so after she was finished, she and Avery came over for an early lunch at Cava with me, Maddy, and Daniel (Adam sent photos from Israel of art by David Friedman, whose work I have loved for years, whom it turned out he met at a talk on Kabbalah at his studio). Maddy went to work, Avery and I went to a Pokemon raid, we stopped at CVS and Starbucks for sustenance and whey protein, eventually Alice went home.

Daniel worked out in the afternoon while I screamed on the phone at CVS Caremark literally for two hours because their policies when one gets new insurance are beyond ridiculous, and when Paul got home, we went to dinner at my parents' before going to see I, Tonya, which is wonderful -- great acting, touches all the feminist and class issues bound up in coverage of Harding's story without trying to idealize her. From Thomas Edison's library in West Orange, New Jersey:









Friday, December 29, 2017

Poem for Friday and Edison's Laboratories

By Kimiko Hahn

after William Carlos Williams's "Queen-Anne's-Lace"

Remote purple lays claim to stem,
beside routine stripes of green and brown.
Dark as a patch of shade
in the marsh across the path
that the neighborhood kids and I,
were forbidden to pass. It is
that hue that overtakes,
the marsh that sucks in boots
and offers up skunk cabbage and cattails.
Nests here and overhead.  Who named this plant—
also called bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, wake robin,
Arisaema triphyllum
and who told me I cannot name. But
his purple — all shadow, all remote and not-remote,
all question marks,
craving. Yes?
This herbaceous perennial, growing from corm
vertical and swollen as it is underground.
Even in late summer, it is not nothing, William
(or Jack),
turning from purple to red before his scattering.


Thursday was a chore day that felt like a Monday, since we were away the two days previously, plus I had a morning checkup requiring that I go out in the cold and get on a scale days after the holidays. Adam landed in Israel in the morning East Coast time (it was late afternoon there); Daniel slept in and went out to lunch with my father while I did laundry. I had my leftover Greek food for lunch, yay!

In the afternoon when Daniel got back, we watched Blackhat, which he had not seen. Since he had not seen Blade Runner recently, we watched that after dinner while I sorted trip photos. Here are a few from Edison's laboratories, including his backyard motion picture studio plus the wall behind which the first motion picture camera was tested, his machine shop, one of his chemistry labs, and me in his library:









Thursday, December 28, 2017

Greetings from Newark

Our day in pictures, after driving through Westchester County with snow on the ground (and past the Bronx Zoo, which we thought about visiting but which we decided was just too cold to enjoy), into New Jersey:

Here we are at the Liberty Science Center, a kid-focused museum where we waited in line for a very long time to see the Starfleet Academy Exhibit.

After more than half an hour, we finally gave up, took a couple of photos, and left the mobs of families to drive to West Orange.

There we went to Thomas Edison National Historical Park on the grounds of his laboratory (his home is there too but closed on weekdays).

One of the big lab buildings burned down during his lifetime (no, Tesla didn't do it, as they made sure to let us know), but the major facilities and a replica of the onetime movie studio remain.

See, Tesla and Edison were friends! Here I am with both of them!

After pizza at Johnny's across from the spectacular ruins of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, which burned in a fire on New Year's Day last year, we discovered via a street sign that we were not far from the birthplace of Grover Cleveland.

So we went to visit, and it was surprisingly fun and informative! (His wife was a barely legal hottie! His granddaughter invented the Trolley Problem!)

We tried to find the mall near the airport to have dinner and get Adam new shoes, but after Google Maps got us lost twice, we gave up and had dinner at Newark Airport before sending Adam off to Israel around 7 p.m. Then the other three of us drove home!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Greetings from Tarrytown

Paul and I are in New York with our kids to take Adam to the airport here to fly to Israel on Wednesday evening (Maddy has to work, unfortunately). We had an early lunch at Cava in the mall after dropping her off and taking Adam to exchange his dollars, then drove in miserable traffic to Westchester County, where we met my college roommate Tracey at Santorini in Sleepy Hollow and had fantastic Greek food. Now we're watching the South Park marathon in our hotel. Some pics from shopping, the Susquehanna and Delaware Memorial Bridges, the new Tappan Zee Bridge, and the restaurant. More tomorrow!







Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Poem for Tuesday and Christmas Celebration

Winter Trees
By William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.


We spent Christmas at Paul's parents' house in Hanover, where we drove with Daniel, Adam, Maddy, and my parents after everyone got their morning exercise and email time. As always, we had Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, and farmer's cheese, plus various potatoes, breads, and lots of cookies for dessert. Our attempts to Skype with extended family were somewhat chaotic due to equipment and connection failures but we did speak to most of them!





We got home in time for the rerun of last season's Doctor Who finale before the Christmas special, which was kind of middling for me -- nowhere near the heyday of Ten which we've been watching in the BBC marathon but not as bad as several of Moffat's. I like Capaldi but I haven't felt like they've had great ideas for him at any point, though I found the historical tie-in more moving than Twelve's lengthy departure speech. I love Whittaker though!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Poem for Christmas, Beans in the Belfry, South Mountain, Die Hard

By Walter de La Mare

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there.


Daniel slept in, Adam went for a walk with a friend, and Paul took Maddy to the doctor for a checkup early on Sunday, then we all went to Brunswick to have brunch at Beans in the Belfry (it was supposed to have live jazz too like last time, but the jazz musicians were off for Christmas, so Adam threatened I mean offered a cappella). We also visited Gathland, since we'd missed it in the fall, and went to South Mountain Creamery to see cows and get cheese.

Then we came home, took Maddy to fill out a report on her concussion at work, cheered as the Seahawks beat the Cowboys, had fajitas for dinner, and watched Die Hard, the greatest Christmas movie that is not The Poseidon Adventure. Now we're showing our kids the greatest science documentary ever made, Eric Idle's The Entire Universe. Tomorrow we're all going with my parents to Paul's parents for dinner. Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and happy Monday if not!









Sunday, December 24, 2017

Poem for Sunday and Kids Home

Taking My Father and Brother to The Frick
By Derrick Austin

Disembark the Turners seem to say,
those starburst barges glowing in the dusk,
but I can’t read old Rembrandt,
his guarded eyes are jewels, like black men.
Even the loaned, marble busts
of kings and soldiers fail to arrest you.
It’s nearly closing time. The elderly linger,
rapt. Who has looked at either of you lately
with such tenderness?
                                Entering the narrow hall,
I ignore my favorite portraits, their ruffles
and bodices, carnations and powder puffs,
afraid to share my joy with you,
yet your bearing in this space—the procession
of your shoulders, the crowns of your heads—
makes them sing anew.
                                You are both good men.
Walk into the Fragonard Room. You both seem bored still.
It’s fine. Perhaps we can progress like these panels,
slowly and without words, here—the city
where I first knew men in the dark—
in this gold and feminine room.


Paul and I picked up Adam from his all night movie marathon, checked on Maddy who still has a headache but is no longer nauseous from her concussion, and went to get Daniel from the airport. After hanging out at home for a bit, we all went with Maddy to have dinner at my parents' (and watch the Ravens win!), then came home and watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle which the kids had not seen. Now we're watching Chopped's holiday competition. Just a couple of pics: