Monday, May 22, 2017

Poem for Monday and Brookside Butterflies

A Person Protests to Fate
By Jane Hirshfield

A person protests to fate:

“The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me.”

Fate nods.
Fate is sympathetic.

To tie the shoes, button a shirt,
are triumphs
for only the very young,
the very old.

During the long middle:

conjugating a rivet
mastering tango
training the cat to stay off the table
preserving a single moment longer than this one
continuing to wake whatever has happened the day before

and the penmanships love practices inside the body.

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Quickie because we're watching some Genius with Adam, who didn't get to see the first few episodes while he was finishing his semester. Earlier, after a quiet but somewhat upsetting morning following the news from the University of Maryland of an on-campus murder that appears to be a hate crime, we went out in the lovely cool weather to Brookside Gardens for the butterfly exhibit and so Adam could see the goslings and turtles.

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We had turk'y roast for dinner and watched the season finale of Madam Secretary, which was, as it often is, a bit pedantic but a happy world. I got $15 sandals delivered from Kohl's and three cats spent a lot of time fighting over the box they came in. On Monday Adam starts his internship and Paul has work-related chores to do, on Tuesday I get to see the orthopedist who hopefully can tell me how to fix my back!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Poem for Sunday, Goslings, Beauty and the Beast

Love
By James Russell Lowell

True Love is but a humble, low-born thing,
And hath its food served up in earthen ware;
It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand,
Through the every-dayness of this work-day world,
Baring its tender feet to every roughness,
Yet letting not one heart-beat go astray
From Beauty’s law of plainness and content;
A simple, fire-side thing, whose quiet smile
Can warm earth’s poorest hovel to a home;
Which, when our autumn cometh, as it must,
And life in the chill wind shivers bare and leafless,
Shall still be blest with Indian-summer youth
In bleak November, and, with thankful heart,
Smile on its ample stores of garnered fruit,
As full of sunshine to our aged eyes
As when it nursed the blossoms of our spring.
Such is true Love, which steals into the heart
With feet as silent as the lightsome dawn
That kisses smooth the rough brows of the dark,
And hath its will through blissful gentleness,—
Not like a rocket, which, with savage glare,
Whirrs suddenly up, then bursts, and leaves the night
Painfully quivering on the dazed eyes;
A love that gives and takes, that seeth faults,
Now with flaw-seeking eyes like needle-points,
But, loving kindly, ever looks them down
With the o’ercoming faith of meek forgiveness;
A love that shall be new and fresh each hour,
As is the golden mystery of sunset,
Or the sweet coming of the evening-star,
Alike, and yet most unlike, every day,
And seeming ever best and fairest now;
A love that doth not kneel for what it seeks,
But faces Truth and Beauty as their peer,
Showing its worthiness of noble thoughts
By a clear sense of inward nobleness,
A love that in its object findeth not
All grace and beauty, and enough to sate
Its thirst of blessing, but, in all of good
Found there, it sees but Heaven-granted types
Of good and beauty in the soul of man,
And traces, in the simplest heart that beats,
A family-likeness to its chosen one,
That claims of it the rights of brotherhood.
For Love is blind but with the fleshly eye,
That so its inner sight may be more clear;
And outward shows of beauty only so
Are needful at the first, as is a hand
To guide and to uphold an infant’s steps:
Great spirits need them not; their earnest look
Pierces the body’s mask of thin disguise,
And beauty ever is to them revealed,
Behind the unshapeliest, meanest lump of clay,
With arms outstretched and eager face ablaze,
Yearning to be but understood and loved.

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It was gloriously cool on Saturday and no cats woke me early. We picked up Adam from his movie marathon, ate lunch, and went to Kohl's because he needed some new clothes before starting his internship and I had a pile of coupons and Kohl's bucks, though I used some of that to buy myself a pair of Skechers super-bouncy flip flops because my feet are killing me from standing all day and the flip flops are spongier than any of the slippers! We also took a walk so we could see the goslings:

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Christine came over for dinner (vegetarian crab cakes) and movie-watching, which included Beauty and the Beast (not my favorite fairy tale by a long stretch for a whole list of reasons; the cast is okay but whose bright idea was it to let Emma Thompson and not Audra McDonald sing the title song?) and an old Aussie TV video from when Hugh Jackman played Gaston. Then we saw Graham Norton and now we're on to the season finale of Saturday Night Live. I'd vote for Dwayne Johnson over many Republicans...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Poem for Saturday and Early Cicadas

O, Shrill-Voiced Insect
By Meleager of Gadara
Translated by Rory Egan

O, shrill-voiced insect; that with dewdrops sweet,
Inebriate, dost in the desert woodlands sing;
Perched in the spray-top with indented feet,
Thy dusky body’s echoing harp-like ring.
Come, dear cicada, chirp to all the grove,
The Nymphs and Pan, a new responsive strain;
That I, in the noontide sleep, may steal from love,
Reclined beneath the dark overspreading plane.

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Adam is home for the summer! Well, technically he isn't home now, since he's at an all-night movie marathon with the friends with whom he's doing all-night movie marathons since they were in high school together, but he starts his NIH internship on Monday so he will be staying here when he isn't traveling to Greece for an academic conference. We picked him up in College Park late in the morning after his last exam (he doesn't have all his grades yet but it sounds like he did very well), took him to the food store to get lunch food for the week and ice cream for the party, and dropped him off at the movie marathon.

Apart from that, it was a fairly ordinary day which started much too early when one of my cats knocked over my jewelry box, requiring an hour of restoration. Friday also involved vacuuming and laundry, a visit to the neighbor's fish pond to see the frog living there for the summer, finally evolving a Kabutops, and dinner with my parents. We watched the first episode of American Gods but I have to admit it didn't grab me. The other exciting thing around here has been the surprising noisy emergence four years early of many Brood X 17-year cicadas, which is probably from warm winters but could be a sign of the End Times!

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Poem for Friday, Blindspot, Brookside Reptiles

Of History and Hope
By Miller Williams

We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.

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I can't bear to deal with politics or celebrity deaths so I'm just not talking about them. It was very hot on Thursday, so hot that I thought maybe I'd skip taking a walk, though then Pokemon Go started an Adventure Week event with Indiana Jones hats and extra rock type Pokemon and I had to go chase down some Kabutos and a Shuckle. Because we had to go shopping since Adam is coming home for the summer tomorrow, Paul and I decided to go to Sheba for Ethiopian food for lunch, which was fabulous. We also went food shopping and went to look at the Brood X cicadas emerging four years early all over our county.

We watched this week's The Handmaid's Tale, which represents a significant departure from the book, but is very effective -- the story feels much less timeless, much more anchored in our specific political moment, but that also makes it utterly terrifying rather than generally unnerving. We also caught up on Blindspot, which was so tech-girl powerful and shipper-perfect that I'm almost sorry the show is coming back -- it could have been one like Forever and Limitless that I remembered as never doing a bad episode. Here are some Brookside reptiles from our visit in cooler weather earlier in the week, including the rescued baby turtle:

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Poem for Thursday and Montgomery In Bloom

Disarming of Shadow, Arming of Light
By Rachel Eliza Griffiths

I wish I were like Johnny Cash
& thought my heart was mine.

I've worn a black suit
my entire life. It suits the war
my eyes ignite.

My sins sit on my lap,
bald, blind, desperate
for the mercy of lost roads,
glottal white lines.

Only smoke will take me
far to nowhere--

a woman living
between
her own burning road

& a charmed God--

the unmarked sky
where a plague of blackbirds

fell across my back
like an unlit cross.

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I am still having trouble driving myself anywhere -- if I have to keep my foot on the brake for too long, my whole hip and leg cramp up, as I discovered the other day driving barely half a mile away to try to catch a Seadra so I could evolve a Kingdra -- so since Paul had work-related chores to do, I had him drop me off at the mall so I could have lunch (considered Indian but ended up at Cava again) and take a walk there (plus I bought a couple of things I needed, like a new USB cable, and a couple I did not strictly need, like perfume and a sleeveless blouse with miniature birds of paradise on it). The mall is having a spring flower exhibit with artificial topiaries and cherry blossoms:.

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When Paul picked me up, we went briefly to the park, but the weather was beastly so we came home and I did things like hang a mirror and put up some bedroom decorations. We are still behind on Blindspot so we didn't watch it, but we watched the penultimate episode this season of The 100, which I am starting to get worried is going to kill one or the other of my favorite characters (especially since one actor's on the new Inhumans show and the characters have declared their love, which in dystopian drama usually means someone's about to die). Then we watched the cracky Designated Survivor, which gets a pass on everything because of Maggie Q, though I miss regular Virginia Madsen sightings.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Poem for Wednesday and Brookside Turtle & Raccoon

Raccoon
By Mary Ann Hoberman

Crash goes the trash can! Clatter and clacket!
What in the world can be making that racket?
I hurry to look by the light of the moon,
And what do I find? Why, a fine fat raccoon!
All through the garden the garbage he’s strewn,
And he’s eating his supper, that robber raccoon,
Eating so nicely without fork or spoon,
Why, his manners are perfect, that thieving raccoon!
And wasn’t he smart to discover that pail?
And wasn’t he smart to uncover that pail?
And isn’t he lucky he won’t go to jail
For stealing his dinner and making a mess
For me to clean up in the morning, I guess,
While he, the old pirate, abundantly fed,
Curls up in a ball fast asleep in his bed?

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Because we can't go visit Daniel for Memorial Day since I can't sit long enough to brave a plane, Daniel is coming here, yay! So I spent part of the day getting his former room, which is also now Maddy's former room, ready for him (it's much bigger than Adam's room, so we're thinking that Adam may want to sleep there for the summer as well). After putting together chairs, Paul and I decided that -- since it was hot but not insanely hot the way it's supposed to be tomorrow -- we should go to Brookside Gardens while there are still fuzzy goslings instead of dinosaur goslings, and we saw those plus the usual wildlife and, unusually, a raccoon. I even got to rescue a baby turtle flipped on its back in a drain:

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We watched The Flash, which was not any better written this week than most of this season (I can't feel anything about death on a show with tech that can make anyone look like anyone else, and though someone finally suggested putting Iris on a plane, it was dismissed with a handwave). But I'm appreciating it better now after the shitshow that is Agents of SHIELD, which I am not watching next season unless there's a shakeup in the writing staff. Things are so bad that Daisy is now my favorite character! It doesn't help either show that Genius is sandwiched in the middle; while it's tough to watch Einstein be a jerk, it is at least well written and well acted plus amazingly interesting material!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Poem for Tuesday and Washingtonian Goslings

Instructions on Not Giving Up
By Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor's
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it's the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world's baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I'll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I'll take it all.

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"It was a hard winter...but right as the world feels uninhabitable, something miraculous happens: the trees come back," Limón told Poem-a-Day. "I wanted to praise that ordinary thing as a way of bringing myself back too."

Paul had lunch plans with a former co-worker with whom he's been talking about possible future jobs, so I got him to drop me off at Washingtonian Lake, where I meant to shop and maybe get Starbucks but I got distracted because I found two families of goslings, whom I fed (fish food from the machines, nothing illegal) with the help of a couple of small children who were happy to toss food while I photographed the geese. So I only briefly made it into Charming Charlie and back to Pier 1 where the Easter stuff is now 90% off, though the adorable bunny glass etchings now on sale for $4 are impossible not to ruin while removing the styrofoam packed behind the glass -- I am very irritated I scratched up a bunny even if I got it 90% off, and I broke a little glass penguin while moving it to put up a witch ball, woe.

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It was so gorgeous out (and forecast to be so hot the rest of the week) that after Paul came to meet me and took me home to grab a late lunch, we went to Cabin John Park to walk before a stop at Home Depot because we discovered that we'd left our electric screwdriver at older son's apartment when we moved him out to Seattle and assembled various IKEA items. When we got home we started assembling our new kitchen chairs and did various other household chores. After dinner, we watched Supergirl, which was utterly fantastic as it had Lynda Carter, Teri Hatcher, Brenda Strong, AND Calista Flockhart in addition to the usual awesome women, followed by the season finale of Once Upon a Time, which wrapped up the past six years' character arcs in a reasonably satisfying manner (two Reginas forever! Whoo!).