Thursday, November 15, 2018

Poem for Thursday and Colonial Fair

The Fire
By Katie Ford

When a human is asked about a particular fire,
she comes close:
then it is too hot,
so she turns her face—

and that’s when the forest of her bearable life appears,
always on the other side of the fire. The fire
she’s been asked to tell the story of,
she has to turn from it, so the story you hear
is that of pines and twitching leaves
and how her body is like neither—

all the while there is a fire
at her back
which she feels in fine detail,
as if the flame were a dremel
and her back its etching glass.

You will not know all about the fire
simply because you asked.
When she speaks of the forest
this is what she is teaching you,

you who thought you were her master.

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My Wednesday was pretty uneventful apart from preparations for the snow with which we're being threatened overnight, though I have a good friend dealing with a family health emergency that stressed me out all day on top of worrying about the California fires and the dumpster fire in the White House. When Paul came home, I dragged him to an EX raid at the Shriver Aquatic Center so we could stop at Trader Joe's and World Market to prepare for the snow that did not read the manual that says no snowing till after Thanksgiving.

Katniss decided to help herself to my hummus at lunchtime, which necessitated some research into whether hummus is dangerous for cats because it contains garlic (apparently not enough garlic to be a problem, though garlic cloves are not good for cats). Now she and Effie are sleeping on or under vents while Cinnamon is watching Avengers: Age of Ultron with us and Cheryl because we really wanted a movie with a great Stan Lee cameo. Here are some more photos from the Mount Vernon Colonial Fair last weekend:

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Poem for Wednesday and Mount Vernon Sheep

Achieving Perspective
By Pattiann Rogers

Straight up away from this road,
Away from the fitted particles of frost
Coating the hull of each chick pea,
And the stiff archer bug making its way
In the morning dark, toe hair by toe hair,
Up the stem of the trillium,
Straight up through the sky above this road right now,
The galaxies of the Cygnus A cluster
Are colliding with each other in a massive swarm
Of interpenetrating and exploding catastrophes.
I try to remember that.

And even in the gold and purple pretense
Of evening, I make myself remember
That it would take 40,000 years full of gathering
Into leaf and dropping, full of pulp splitting
And the hard wrinkling of seed, of the rising up
Of wood fibers and the disintegration of forests,
Of this lake disappearing completely in the bodies
Of toad slush and duckweed rock,
40,000 years and the fastest thing we own,
To reach the one star nearest to us.

And when you speak to me like this,
I try to remember that the wood and cement walls
Of this room are being swept away now,
Molecule by molecule, in a slow and steady wind,
And nothing at all separates our bodies
From the vast emptiness expanding, and I know
We are sitting in our chairs
Discoursing in the middle of the blackness of space.
And when you look at me
I try to recall that at this moment
Somewhere millions of miles beyond the dimness
Of the sun, the comet Biela, speeding
In its rocks and ices, is just beginning to enter
The widest arc of its elliptical turn.

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It rained much of Tuesday, keeping me in the house (and in my PJs, ha) until after noon, though I got a decent amount of work done in that time. Then I went out to the park for a little while before Paul came home and we ran out to Giant.

We watched The Gifted instead of The Flash -- it's holding my interest better, though those mutant groups need to put aside their differences and work together -- and Black Lightning -- a bit too diffuse this year, needs more family, less conspiracy.

My west coast in-laws have returned to their home, which is great, though I have two friends having crises this week which is upsetting for me too. Here are some happy sheep at Mount Vernon in the late afternoon during the Colonial fair last weekend:

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Poem for Tuesday, Marvel and Me

Respect
By Stan Lee

When God made man he went all out
As far as we can tell
He made some black, He made some white
And other shades as well
He placed them on the verdant Earth
To live and love and thrive
He favored none, He loved each one
And kept that love alive
Now the Lord’s perplexed and growing vexed
At those who’d mar his plan
Instead of love some practice hate
A practice we must ban
We all must share this tiny sphere
On which we live and die
Respect for all, in every way,
Should be our battle cry
It’s not too late to initiate
Friendship between the races
So let’s heed the call of the Lord of All
With the love that He embraces

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I had a nice Monday -- the rain held off till evening, so I could get to the park, and I met my mother at the synagogue's annual holiday boutique, where I ran into many people I know, including friends from high school, parents of my kids' friends from preschool, and longtime friends of my mother. Plus we caught up on Sunday's Supergirl (still appreciating the sociopolitical bent of this season) and saw tonight's Legends of Tomorrow (was the show always this good or has it really stepped up its game?).

But the day was overshadowed by the news of Stan Lee's death, which I wouldn't have guessed would hit me so hard. It's not like it was unexpected -- he was in his 90s, had been ailing, had lost his wife of seven decades -- and it's not like I grew up a big fan of comic books, I don't think I even knew who he was till I was in college. Still, he is irreplaceable as an entertainer and as a person, a champion of seeing the humanity in villains and accepting flaws in heroes. Here are some moments he gave me personally:

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With Paul at the Science Museum of Virginia's science fiction exhibit.

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With Angela at Captain America: Civil War.

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With my kids on the Walk of Fame.

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With Denise after seeing The Avengers.

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With Noah Syndergaard as Thor in New York after a Mets game.

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With Cheryl at Black Panther.

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With friends at Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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With my family at MoPOP's Marvel exhibit.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Greetings from Mount Vernon

It was a gorgeous day on Sunday, warmer than Saturday with pretty much no clouds. We met Cheryl at Mount Vernon for the annual Colonial Fair, which had been postponed from September because of Hurricane Florence. It's always been held before in late summer, so we're used to being there trying to get out of the heat, whereas today it was in the 50s at the warmest, so although there were fewer vendors because of the rescheduling, it was a lovely afternoon and we got to have the awesome bread and cheese sandwiches and gingerbread sold there.

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After visiting the animals and buying peanuts and honey in the gift shop, we all drove into Alexandria, where we had dinner at Bilbo Baggins, which has the best brie en croute around and right now has absolutely phenomenal butternut squash soup too. Then we came home for Doctor Who, which I loved -- another real historical moment with political implications, portrayed without excess metaphor -- and Madam Secretary -- highly oversimplified as usual but with a lot of heart and a fun side story about international chess, featuring a romance and everything!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Greetings from Wheaton

After a quiet morning, I had a really nice afternoon because we told Adam that we were going to Brookside Gardens and asked whether he and Katherine wanted to join us so she and I could catch Cyndaquil together for Community Day, and to our surprise he said they'd meet us there. So she and I caught a lot of Pokemon while Adam filled us in on his travel plans next week for several more job interviews on the west coast, hopefully outside the fire zone.

It was chilly by the time Community Day ended in the evening, so we all went to Methi, an Indian and Nepalese restaurant in Wheaton that none of us had ever been to before, and while it was not glamorous, the food was great. Then Adam and Katherine drove back to College Park (a campus probably bummed about the Terps' loss that afternoon) and we came home to catch up on Graham Norton and watch SNL, didn't want to miss McKinnon's probable last Jeff Sessions.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Poem for Saturday, Goodbye Paramount Ranch

Walking the Dunes
By Brenda Hillman

In movies when the hero is about to die,
He scatters a few phrases in a place like this,
Hoping the words will come up again
Immortal, or the grasses will reach out for him
As now they do for us.

Someone has planted a row of little trees
To stop the wind. Instead they’ve learned
To bend like the elect
In one direction only; they know
The sea will shatter them.

Isn’t it always like this?
Something uncontrollable becomes the hero,
Taking off its dress, the ice plants
Sunburn from the center out
So we can see that their deaths

Of splendid rust and yellow are not ours,
We are allowed again the glare
Of the sand, the druid hills,
The grasses brushing the legs, though
Just to have felt it once would have been enough.

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My Friday was not exciting compared to my Thursday -- I went out in the rain to do some chores, I did some work on the computer, we had dinner with my parents and are now all caught up on The Gifted. But mostly I watched the news because I was worried about people I know and places I love in California, and the news was not good.

It sounds like the fire in Griffith Park by the zoo was isolated and the relatives on my side of the family are out of range of the big fires, but Paul's brother David's family was evacuated from Thousand Oaks and my nephew is living what is sometimes every kid's dream in that his school has burned down, at least partially.

I know it's just buildings and not even homes, but I was very sad to hear that Paramount Ranch has burned down. Most people know it now as Westworld's Western town, but Westworld hadn't aired when we visited in 2016; we knew it from many older TV shows and movies. These aren't the photos I intended to post today, but I'm sorry it's gone:

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Poem for Friday, Kensington Antique Row, Crazy Rich Asians

I Opened a Book
By Julia Donaldson

I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.

I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.

I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.

I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

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For reasons not worth getting into, I went to Kensington on Thursday after breakfast -- okay fine, the only way to catch a Nincada in Pokemon Go is to complete the research quest to find five bug-type Pokemon, but it's very rare to get that quest from a Pokestop, and someone I knew said he got it at a stop in a park in Kensington that morning. I was just going to stop at the park, spin the Pokestop, and go home, but it was right near Antique Row, which I had somehow never visited despite having lived in the county for many years and driven right past it on the way to University Boulevard.

So since it was a gorgeous day, I decided to take a walk. I looked at books and glassware and jewelry and dolls and rare collectibles and all kinds of fun things in about 10 stores. Plus I visited the historic train station, which has a B&O Railroad station master's house though that's only open when the farmer's market is taking place in the parking lot, and the Antique Row tea shop though I didn't wait in line for food. I don't know why it took me so long to visit but I will certainly be back. Here are a few photos, including a train reflected in the bookstore window and the Maryland National Guard:

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Because I hadn't had lunch by the time I left Kensington after 4 p.m., I stopped for Indian food at Mirch Masala in the mall, so I wasn't very hungry for dinner. We watched Crazy Rich Asians, which is finally streaming, and it is every bit as great as I was told; I'm rarely a fan of any rom-coms, but this is only a rom-com superficially in its structure, it's a family drama with a lot of funny moments, a stellar cast, gorgeous views of Singapore and the locations in Malaysia that doubled for it, and lots of interesting women who I wish had talked more about their lives and less about their men!