Sunday, April 23, 2017

Poem for Sunday and Cavaillon Synagogue

Living With Pain
Attributed to Gui de Cavaillon
Translated by Meg Bogin

Good lady, it's your rank that makes me shudder,
your high birth that thwarts my good intent—
because of that alone I'm reticent.
You know I'd rather serve you as a brother
than do anything that would abuse you
(you see, I do know how to state my case).
If only deeds were messengers to you,
and you accepted them in wooing's place:
for noble deeds, as much as words, deserve your grace.

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Our power came back on some time between 2 and 4 a.m., which was lovely! But we still had to throw out a lot of what we had in the refrigerator, so we knew we had to go food shopping (our backs are too messed up to march for science). We were going to go to the park at Lake Frank and then to Roots Market, but it was raining so hard that we skipped the park, and we stopped at Giant as well to get cat treats. I didn't get to walk until dinnertime when the rain finally let up. Our evening entertainment consisted of Doctor Who (good) and Class (not really doing it for me).

Here are some photos of Cavaillon Synagogue, which now also houses the Judeo-Comtadin Museum. The building's interior was designed by Catholic architects for the Jews who were allowed to live and worship in the region outside of the earlier ghettos, where they had been kept as an example of the miserable fate befalling all non-Christians, as long as they also went to church on Sundays. The dark lower room with the matzah oven was the women's worship space, while the rococo sanctuary above was reserved for men. I meant to post these for Passover but I forgot:


Seder plate


Matzah oven


Haggadah


Hanging menorah (can be turned into hanukkiah with addition of two lamps)


Chair for the Prophet Elijah (mounted near ceiling to represent his ascension)


Elevated bimah


Above the door


The street beyond

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Greetings from Sugarloaf

We're at my parents' house watching the end of the Nationals-Mets game after The Americans because our entire neighborhood has no electricity. Earlier, after Maddy left for California in the morning, there was a thunderstorm that was relatively minor where we were, upcounty by Sugarloaf Mountain, but it caused a lot of damage near home, including trees down all through Cabin John Park and another across the main road to our development, taking the power lines with it.

We had a nice afternoon on the Countryside Artisans' spring tour at Heron's Meadow Farm (a tea farm that also sells pottery), Something Earthy pottery studio (where I was bitten by a chicken), Art of Fire (glassblowing and Renfaire artisan sales), and Dancing Leaf Farm (handmade wool), plus a stop at Petco for kitty litter. We were going to go food shopping but learned we had no power, so we had dinner with my parents and are now trying to do our computer chores from here!

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Poem for Friday and Brookside Tulips

Living With Pain
By Angela Davis

Tell me of pain, what you know of it.
Is it to be feared, or guarded against
like a tangible foe?
Do you seek it, or merely accept it
like an unavoidable opponent?
Is it to be welcomed, with open arms
as an enabling experience?
You tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.
Pain… She was my first lover
My most intimate friend,
but a demanding mistress, she is...
The more you fight her,
she more she hurts you
with no safe word in place…
As I struggled against her
she demanded more of me
until there was almost nothing left.
She encompasses me,
cloaks me in her cold embrace.
A cruel master, never meant to rule
has no limits to what she will do.
She is meant to lend you strength,
help you overcome…
If only you can harness her, hold her in check.
Many years ago she escaped her reigns;
now it is I in her shackles
I know of no escape though I must.
I am riddled with the arrows;
arrows that others aimed
that she pierces me with,
each taking a slice of my soul.
Soon there will be nothing remaining;
only a vacant shell in which I once dwelled...

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After morning rain, Thursday felt like summer -- temperature around 80, plenty of humidity -- though we still have so many dogwood and azaleas in bloom that it looked like spring. Paul had an interview, so I took Maddy to the doctor and realized driving home that if my leg kept seizing up, I wouldn't be able to hit the brake, so I called the doctor and demanded to be seen that afternoon (which meant the P.A. on that kind of notice).

Before that appointment, though, Denise came over and we discussed the world and happier thoughts while shopping at Forever 21 and playing with cats. I had not seen her in ages so that was lovely! When she left, I went to the doctor and convinced the P.A. that Advil was not doing it for me, though I am very claustrophobic and the earliest Open MRI appointment is mid-May, so I have to decide whether pain overrules fear of being crushed.

Maddy is going to California for a few days very early Friday morning, so we had Tofurkey ham with her for dinner and took her to the mall to pick up some movie posters for a friend of hers. Since everything we watch is in reruns, we put on a couple of Bones episodes (still not even through season ten and I see what people mean about how gross the murders get). Here are some photos from our April trips to Brookside Gardens, all of which involved tulips:

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Poem for Thursday, Carderock, Designated Survivor

Forty-Seven Minutes
By Nick Flynn

Years later I'm standing before a roomful of young writers in
a high school in Texas. I've asked them to locate an image
in a poem we’d just read — their heads at this moment
are bowed to the page. After some back & forth about the
grass & a styrofoam cup, a girl raises her hand & asks,
Does it matter? I smile — it is as if the universe balanced
on those three words & we've landed in the unanswerable. I
have to admit that no, it doesn't, not really, matter, if rain
is an image or rain is an idea or rain is a sound in our heads.
But, I whisper, leaning in close, to get through the next
forty-seven minutes we might have to pretend it does.

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My week is on a repeat cycle of complaining about my back, going to take a walk somewhere scenic to make my back feel better and enjoy the spring, more complaining about my back, and more walking in the neighborhood to make my back feel better and see flowers and bunnies. Today the walk was at Carderock, mostly on the canal side rather than climbing over the rocks by the river, where we saw frogs, turtles, ducks, and -- far down the hillside -- bluebells:

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Maddy had a friend over after work and went out to dinner with him; the rest of us, except the cats, had pizza and watched Designated Survivor, starting by catching up from last week before the new one came on (I like the wannabe La Femme Nikita parts a lot better than the wannabe West Wing parts). In good news, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, and Orioles all won, so no one has broken local hearts yet, not even in the playoffs!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Poem for Wednesday and McCrillis Flowers

Thirst
By Laura Cronk

Unclouded third eye and lush
red wings.  I'm pouring water
from cup to cup.

This is the water we are meant
to drink with the other animals.
There are daffodils by the water,

a road leading from the water
to the shining crown of the sun.
My white hospital gown —

off-the-rack and totally sane.
My foot unsteady, though,
heel held aloft, missing its stiletto.

Nine months sober emblazoned
on my flat chest in red
below girlish curls and mannish chin.

You can't see my eyes.
You've never seen them.

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"I drew 'Temperance' from a Tarot deck and this poem was born," Cronk told Poets.org, noting that she was inspired by Brenda Shaughnessy's and Megin Jimenez's Arcana poems.

The weather on Tuesday was insanely beautiful, clear and not too warm. After morning chores, I had lunch with my neighbor Carole at Zoe's Kitchen, and though we considered doing some shopping afterward, I'd been talking about local flowers so we decided instead to go to McCrillis Gardens to walk. (Right now my back is happier walking than doing anything else!) The azaleas aren't quite at peak, but there's lots of color, and there are also a lot of camellias, dogwood, and what's left of the bluebells:

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My afternoon was not exciting beyond picking up niece and taking her to the post office to mail her taxes before the deadline. I took another walk in the neighborhood to make my back feel better after sitting and saw a bunny and deer; my mother stopped by and we walked and saw another bunny. In the evening we watched the last episode of Broadchurch, which was much more satisfying than the finale of the second season, and Agents of SHIELD, which feels as out of ideas as every other ABC show I watch.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Poem for Tuesday, Frantz, Damp Brookside

Advice to Myself
By Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

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Cheryl came to visit on Monday, braving rain and traffic to get here, so that we could have lunch at Cava and go see Frantz with Paul. It remains excellent on a second viewing, in some ways more so after knowing where the unexpected things will appear. By the time we were finished, the rain had stopped, so we went to Brookside Gardens to see the azaleas, tulips, wisteria, turtles, geese, snakes, and amphibians (spot the hiding toad in the pics):

We came home late in the afternoon and watched some Robin of Sherwood -- apparently I am the last person in the world to figure out that the Mark Ryan on the show is also the Mark Ryan who created the fantastic Greenwood Tarot, though I can't figure out which deck was used in "The Inheritance"! Then Cheryl had to go home, so Paul and I caught up on Billions (so much ugliness) and Once Upon a Time (if only Charming and Snow could have stayed asleep!).

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Poem for Monday and Easter Parks

On the Fifth Day
By Jane Hirshfield

On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.

The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.

Bound to gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

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From this morning's Washington Post Outlook section, which notes that Hirshfield will read this poem at the March for Science on April 22.

I hope everyone who was celebrating had a nice Easter! After dropping Maddy off at work, we went to see if we could see lambs, but we struck out everywhere: we thought Mount Vernon might take too long with our backs bothering us, the Agricultural History Farm Park only had goats and chickens (plus cats), Butler's Orchard was closed though we stopped to see the Davis Mill ruins on the way, and it started to drizzle as we were walking around Lake Whetstone before we got to the fence overlooking the farm with sheep though there were lots of turtles and geese with nests. Even local bunnies were enjoying the spring flowers:

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We had dinner with my parents (and Maddy, who was let off work early since so few people were going to the movies), then we came home and watched the Grammy Awards salute to the Bee Gees with Barry Gibb, John Travolta, Celine Dion, Keith Urban, et al, which was a lot of fun. Afterward we watched this week's Elementary, which was okay not great, then Last Week Tonight in which John Oliver broke down the French election for US viewers, which was terrific and stressful. Now we're watching the Fifth Doctor on public television, which looks very '70s. The Orioles and Nationals both won and the Wizards won their playoff game!