Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Poem for Tuesday and Son's New Car

Poems Done On A Late Night Car
By Carl Sandburg


I am The Great White Way of the city:
When you ask what is my desire, I answer:
"Girls fresh as country wild flowers,
With young faces tired of the cows and barns,
Eager in their eyes as the dawn to find my mysteries,
Slender supple girls with shapely legs,
Lure in the arch of their little shoulders
And wisdom from the prairies to cry only softly at
the ashes of my mysteries."


Lines based on certain regrets that come with rumination
upon the painted faces of women on
North Clark Street, Chicago

Red roses,
In the rain and wind
Like mouths of women
Beaten by the fists of
Men using them.
O little roses
And broken leaves
And petal wisps:
You that so flung your crimson
To the sun
Only yesterday.


Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:
I heard it in the air of one night when I listened
To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry
in the darkness.


The big event of our Monday was going with Adam to pick up his first car, which he bought all by himself: a 2003 Hyundai Sonata that he basically needs to keep running for five months to get him to his NASA internship from his apartment in College Park and back again, plus some visits to Bethesda and downtown for his part-time programming job and weekend road trips (he is hoping it will survive his final year in college next year as well).

We went to Minerva for Indian food before getting the car and to Duck Donuts after we had also gone out to get an ice scraper and jumper cables for Adam, since we have snow in the forecast. After he packed up and headed for College Park, we had bagels for dinner since we were still kind of full from lunch, then watched Supergirl; we tried to watch last night's Madam Secretary too, but CBS had a freaking paywall so we caught up on The Gifted instead!

With son before he headed off to go climbing with a friend in College Park.

Here he is with his father and his new car!

We met this dog in the reception area of the car dealership while he was signing papers.

After bringing the car home, we stopped for donuts.

Son did not want his picture taken but happened to be standing there when I was trying to take a pic, since we haven't been in a Duck Donuts since we last went to the Outer Banks.

Son took this picture of Effie. I made him send it to me.

Here he is taking the car for his first trip in it around the Beltway.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Poem for Monday and Renwick Gallery

You Were You Are Elegy
By Mary Jo Bang

Fragile like a child is fragile.
Destined not to be forever.
Destined to become other
To mother. Here I am
Sitting on a chair, thinking
About you. Thinking
About how it was
To talk to you.
How sometimes it was wonderful
And sometimes it was awful.
How drugs when drugs were
Undid the good almost entirely
But not entirely
Because good could always be seen
Glimmering like lame glimmers
In the window of a shop
Called Beautiful
Things Never Last Forever.
I loved you. I love you. You were.
And you are. Life is experience.
It's all so simple. Experience is
The chair we sit on.
The sitting. The thinking
Of you where you are a blank
To be filled
In by missing. I loved you.
I love you like I love
All beautiful things.
True beauty is truly seldom.
You were. You are
In May. May now is looking onto
The June that is coming up.
This is how I measure
The year. Everything Was My Fault
Has been the theme of the song
I've been singing,
Even when you've told me to quiet.
I haven't been quiet.
I've been crying. I think you
Have forgiven me. You keep
Putting your hand on my shoulder
When I'm crying.
Thank you for that. And
For the ineffable sense
Of continuance. You were. You are
The brightest thing in the shop window
And the most beautiful seldom I ever saw.


Adam's good friend Robert, whom those of you who have read this blog for a long time have seen in photos from track meets and school dances and vacations and college, lost his battle on Saturday with the brain tumor from which he has been suffering for several years. So we had a sad, distracted Sunday, though we did some nice things too. We had brunch with my parents, sister and niece, then we went downtown to the Renwick Gallery to see exhibits including Rick Araluce's The Final Stop, in which a gallery is filled with a model of an underground subway platform complete with sound and vibration; Murder Is Her Hobby, a collection of Frances Glessner Lee's miniature crime scenes to train homicide investigators; Parallax Gap, an architectural firm's experiment to portray iconic American buildings from skewed vantage points; and, from the permanent collection, Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery:









Adam took a nap in the late afternoon and I went out to pick up some DVDs about astronomy that a neighbor was freecycling, then we watched the end of the delightful Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game until the Jaguars had it well in hand. We went out to dinner after halftime of the Minnesota-New Orleans game, had lots of excellent Thai basil and orange tofu at Grand Fusion, then came home for the amazing end in which we thought the Vikings had it won, then thought the Saints had it won, then saw the Vikings win on the last play followed by chaos since the extra point had to be snapped if not kicked. We debated watching several serious dramas but decided we needed a mindless, shamefully rude movie and we ended up watching Tropic Thunder, which it's hard to say whether the movie is stupidly offensive or is just bang-on at pointing out and scoffing at things serious dramas do in Hollywood over and over that are offensive.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Placeholder for Sunday

After a fairly quiet morning, we went to Great Falls with Adam and had dinner with my sister and her oldest daughter at my parents' house, where we half-watched the NFL playoffs and stayed till nearly 10 p.m., but we also got some terrible news about a family friend while we were there so we're all having a sad, stressful night, so I will keep this short.




Saturday, January 13, 2018

Poem for Saturday, Machine Learning, Painting Shakespeare

Sonnet XCIX
By William Shakespeare

The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair:
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both
And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.


Paul's boss invited Adam to come speak to their work group about machine learning, so after morning chores and leftovers for lunch, we went to Paul's office, where Adam talked for an hour about how TensorFlow and Matlab are used to mine and process data and about his own research during jobs and internships at UMCP, Texas State, and the NIH (and starting next week at NASA) enabling computers to identify emotional expressions, evaluate images, and various mathematical things I don't dare try to explain. It was very interesting even for me who doesn't understand the math involved.

I stopped at the bank with Adam to pick up a cashier's check to pay for his new car, then he went to the Walk the Moon concert downtown with friends and I waited for Paul for dinner, then Blindspot (great this season) and Agents of SHIELD (started strong, now is juggling a lot of new characters I don't really care about, needs to refocus on the team). Plus we watched the pilot of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (free on Amazon Prime this weekend) to see if the Golden Globes were right, and we enjoyed it; will certainly watch some more. Some photos from the Folger Library's Painting Shakespeare exhibit last month:

The Zuccaro Shakespeare, now widely believed to be an unknown man with Shakespeare's name added later (and not painted by Federico Zuccaro).

Imogen entering the cave of Belarius from Cymbeline by Richard Westall.

The Folger's First Folio, now back from touring with a collection of the Folios.

A fanciful interpretation of Macbeth meeting the witches in a lush fantasy landscape by Francisco Zuccarelli.

The Infant Shakespeare Attended by Nature and the Passions by George Romney, for which Henry Clay Folger paid over $51,000 in 1927.

A statue of Shakespeare on permanent display (with temporary holiday decorations).

Devoted Shakespeare actor and theater manager David Garrick posed with a bust of his hero.

And me posing with Shakespeare, with props.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Poem for Friday and USBG Monuments

Caged Bird
By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind  
and floats downstream  
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and  
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings  
with a fearful trill  
of things unknown  
but longed for still  
and his tune is heard  
on the distant hill  
for the caged bird  
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams  
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream  
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied  
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings  
with a fearful trill  
of things unknown  
but longed for still  
and his tune is heard  
on the distant hill  
for the caged bird  
sings of freedom.


Adam borrowed our car on Thursday morning to go put a down payment on what hopefully soon will be his car, so I worked until he got home, after which I went to meet Karen and Angela for lunch at Tara Thai. I hadn't seen them since before the holidays! Then Adam and I went to see Lady Bird since we had both read that it was great, though I have to admit that the screenplay, which is winning the bulk of the awards, seems a bit...well, full of coming-of-age cliches and elements more likely to ring the bells of adult critics than viewers the age of the protagonist. The acting pulls up the writing, but I know I'm old because I thought the mother was the best character.

Paul made jambalaya for dinner, which Maddy was here to eat with us. Then we were going to all watch a movie together, but Adam's jetlag caught up with him and he went to bed early. So instead we watched some 11th season Bones, which I am still liking even though everyone I know who was a fan was pretty burned out before this point. Now Adam is working on a presentation on deep learning for Paul's team at work. Here are some photos from December of the US Botanical Garden's annual display of models of the major DC monuments made out of natural materials and plant fibers, including the new African museum and accompanying holiday poinsettias:










Thursday, January 11, 2018

Poem for Thursday and Son's Trip to Israel

The Amen Stone
By Yehuda Amichai
Translated by Chana Bloch

On my desk there is a stone with the word "Amen" on it,
a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed
many generations ago. The other fragments, hundreds upon hundreds,
were scattered helter-skelter, and a great yearning,
a longing without end, fills them all:
first name in search of family name, date of death seeks
dead man’s birthplace, son’s name wishes to locate
name of father, date of birth seeks reunion with soul
that wishes to rest in peace. And until they have found
one another, they will not find a perfect rest.
Only this stone lies calmly on my desk and says "Amen."
But now the fragments are gathered up in lovingkindness
by a sad good man. He cleanses them of every blemish,
photographs them one by one, arranges them on the floor
in the great hall, makes each gravestone whole again,
one again: fragment to fragment,
like the resurrection of the dead, a mosaic,
a jigsaw puzzle. Child's play.


This is a sleepy post because Adam arrived in D.C. around 6 a.m., so I have been awake for a lot of hours, though it's all good because he had a great trip and brought back lots of photos and stories. I went out briefly to take Maddy to CVS while Adam was in the shower, then Adam took the van to go look at cars because he needs to drive to his internship at NASA (Paul had the car at work) and I got some writing done, folded laundry, and did thrilling chores.

Rose stopped by to see us and the cats, then we went to dinner with my parents so they could see Adam (they brought in Thai food). He was exhausted before we finished dessert, so we came home, he went to bed, and I watched The X-Files, which I liked a whole lot better than the season premiere though knowing Gillian Anderson says she won't come back makes me hope it ends (and ends on a hopeful note) this season. Then we watched a special on black holes. From Adam's trip:










Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Poem for Wednesday, Blindspot, Walters Museum Faberge

I Loved You Once
By Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
Translated by Madeleine Edgar

I loved you once, nor can this heart be quiet;
For it would seem that love still lingers there;
But do not you be further troubled by it;
I would in no wise hurt you, oh, my dear.

I loved you without hope, a mute offender;
What jealous pangs, what shy despairs I knew!
A love as deep as this, as true, as tender,
God grant another may yet offer you.


Adam is back in the U.S., though I have not seen him yet because his plane landed in Newark and he is taking an overnight bus to the D.C. area! And Daniel is back at work in Seattle, though he discovered he left some computer stuff here so I went to the post office to mail them back to him. This was fortuitous, as the post office is next to the mall, and when I went to see if any of my friends were raiding the Pokemon at the gym there, I got to see several people I haven't talked to in person since before Christmas and my friend Mel and I went out to lunch after we caught Groudon.

I still have not organized all the things left over from having Daniel here, and I'm trying to decide how much of Adam's stuff to clean up for him versus how much to leave where he left it before he gets home; I could ask him, but right now we're discussing President Winfrey over Messenger instead. Paul and I just caught up on four episodes of Blindspot so we're ready for the new season. From the Walters Art Museum's Faberge exhibit, here are some items owned and commissioned by the Russian royal family: