Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Poem for Wednesday and Birthday Card

For K.R. On Her Sixtieth Birthday
By Richard Wilbur

Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark,
Who round with grace this dusky arc
Of the grand tour which souls must take.

You who have sounded William Blake,
And the still pool, to Plato's mark,
Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark.

Yet, for your friends' benighted sake,
Detain your upward-flying spark;
Get us that wish, though like the lark
You whet your wings till dawn shall break:
Blow out the candles of your cake.

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I had a nice, fairly low-key day, working on holiday cards and doing a bit of shopping at Giant and CVS, which are right near Goldberg's Bagels, from whom I had a coupon for a free bagel and cream cheese for my birthday, so guess what I had for lunch? Paul had offered to take me out but that might have interfered with dinner, since we had to fight Beltway traffic to get to Adam in College Park. We went with him to the fantastic Woodlands Restaurant, which is all-vegetarian Southern Indian food in Langley Park, where we shared a masala dosa and malai kofta plus chana masala and paneer pakora, all exceptional. Birthdays are so fun in the age of Facebook; I am still catching up on posts and comments from people I doubt knew when my birthday was when we were at school or working together!

I did not, however, do a birthday fundraiser, having realized that if I gave everyone's fundraiser a dollar, I'd be out nearly $800 without ever donating to my own causes. We got home in time for most of the Supergirl part of the "Elseworlds" crossover -- not sure exactly which Earth they were on but I liked Kara and Alex's scenes and I liked Clark vs. Clark, though wanted more Lois (and am sorry they didn't play Remy Zero again). Then we Skyped with Daniel, so we missed this week's Black Lightning and decided to catch up on the Doctor Who season finale, which I liked better than the previous episode though it was a little uneven. Paul got me an awesome present, the Norton Facsimile of the First Folio of Shakespeare which we'd seen at the Folger, and he drew me this:

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Poem for Tuesday and Winterthur Follies

Night Snow
By Po Chu-i
Translated by Burton Watson

I wondered why the covers felt so cold,
and then I saw how bright my window was.
Night far gone, I know the snow must be deep --
from time to time I hear the bamboos cracking.

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I had lunch and went shopping with Maddy on Monday, which was very nice because I haven't seen her except in groups for ages. We were headed to Panera but we had to pass the Silver Diner to get there, then we decided that we wanted breakfast food, and then I remembered that I had a birthday coupon so that worked out very nicely. We went to Five Below and the dollar store, too, to look for holiday stuff, and I got a couple of silly gifts and a Wonder Woman lanyard to hold my driver's license when I run out to Pokemon raids because I am an adult.

In the evening Paul and I watched the second night of "Elseworlds" on Arrow, which was fine and had a John Barrowman cameo but was completely overshadowed by the utterly wonderful Legends of Tomorrow season finale afterward, which started with a character eyerolling over the annual crossover after being told he missed calls from Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, and Kara Zor-El, then had characters turning into Charlie's Angels and Muppets and listening to Indigo Girls, plus a cat flying a ship. More fun, here are some of Winterthur's whimsical follies:

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Poem for Monday, Chanukah, The Favourite

Letter Spoken in Wind
By Rachel Galvin

Today we walked the inlet Nybøl Nor
     remembering how to tread on frozen snow.
          Ate cold sloeberries

that tasted of wind—a white pucker—
     spat their sour pits in snow. Along
          the horizon, a line of windmills dissolved

into a white field. Your voice
     on the phone, a gesund auf dein keppele
          you blessed my head. Six months now

since I’ve seen you. There are
     traces of you here, your curls still dark
          and long, your woven dove,

the room you stayed in: send your syllables,
     I am swimming below the tidemark.
          Words shed overcoats, come

to me undressed, slender-limbed, they have no
     letters yet. It is the festival
          of lights, I have no

candles. I light one for each night,
     pray on a row
          of nine lighthouses.

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Sunday was cold and gray, though I'm not complaining because if I lived an hour south, we'd have had a foot of snow and all the attendant problems living in an area that doesn't know how to cope with winter weather. We thought about going to Mount Vernon to see the Christmas displays, but we ran a bit late and I wanted to stop at the mall for a Pokemon thing, so since we were going to be at Arclight anyway, we went to see The Favourite. The acting is exceptional and the first hour is bitingly funny, though it's a much darker movie than the ads suggest.

We missed the Ravens blowing it while we were at the movies, and DC football proved that they should have signed Colin Kaepernick (it's not too late, but I don't see Dan Snyder of all owners doing that even to save the season). We skipped Doctor Who for the first night of "Elseworlds" on The Flash (reasonably entertaining mostly for the guest cast), plus Madam Secretary (I don't know how Elizabeth doesn't literally smash heads together). And we lit the candles for the last night of Chanukah and exchanged books and DVDs:

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Greetings from Frederick County

Adam and his girlfriend came over in the morning and we went to some of the places on the Frederick Museums by Candlelight tour, starting with lunch at Beans in the Belfry (though sadly the antique store we visited most often in Brunswick is gone), then several farms with animals, food, and yarn. Then we all went to my parents for traditional Chanukah dinner and presents. Here are some pictures:

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Adam and Katherine with a gingerbread man they decorated at Beans in the Belfry...

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...and on the historic caboose near the Brunswick train station.

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Model trains and holiday decorations at the Brunswick Heritage Museum.

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Me being licked by a calf at South Mountain Creamery.

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Adam petting a calf at Kiparoo Farm.

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Katherine deciding which yarn to buy at Dancing Leaf Farm.

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Adam lighting the menorah.

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Post-presents family photo.

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This is what Adam got me for Chanukah, it's like he knows what I like!

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Poem for Saturday and Longwood Library

Snow
By Xi Chuan
Translated by Tao Naikan and Tony Prince

The basic meaning of snow is purity, but what it brings
Is absence: absence of starlight
Absence of horses’ hooves clattering
In the cold streets and alleyways, absence of
The bright red nose of the courier coming from Chang’an

A crackling fire deepens the silence
The soul now has depth, like a well
Should someone venture to peer into it
He will not see himself
But another face that will astonish him

The snow that covers all things
Swirls above them like solemn music
The eyebrows of besieged warriors are frozen
Their hair turns gray, they have entered
The vast domain of what we call ‘darkness’

The snow has brought absence, for this
The fire is singing its quiet song
Dawn sprouts silently, in your ears
There is only snow — you have not yet seen
Anyone to bring you charcoal on a snowy day

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I had a nice, somewhat unexpected Friday. Paul's office was doing a Toys for Tots drive and group breakfast, after which he expected to come home, but when he went to leave, the tire pressure light was on and the gauge couldn't get a reading on which tire was acting up. Meanwhile, I had lunch plans with Alice, who came over and we were deciding where to go when Paul called to ask whether I could pick him up from the dealer. So we all went to the Silver Diner and did a bit of shopping since Alice was looking for things for her family and I took advantage of being in AC Moore while picture frames were all on sale.

After Alice went to retrieve her son, Paul and I did a bunch of cleanup we hadn't gotten to since the kids were home -- everything from sweeping the leaves off the deck to vacuuming the parts of the first floor we often skip. We talked briefly to Adam, who has accepted a job at Hive in San Francisco after graduating in May! Then we went to my parents' for dinner and Chanukah, went to pick up the car which had its tire pressure light fixed, and watched Blindspot and some more Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This year Longwood Gardens had lots of awesome carved book decorations in the library and one in the gift shop:

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Poem for Friday and Longwood Christmas Trees

The Snow that never drifts —
By Emily Dickinson

The Snow that never drifts —
The transient, fragrant snow
That comes a single time a Year
Is softly driving now —

So thorough in the Tree
At night beneath the star
That it was February's Foot
Experience would swear —

Like Winter as a Face
We stern and former knew
Repaired of all but Loneliness
By Nature's Alibi —

Were every storm so spice
The Value could not be —
We buy with contrast — Pang is good
As near as memory —

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My Thursday was not as exciting as my Wednesday out of town, but it was still a good day. Denise drove down from Baltimore and we met for lunch at Mirch Masala in the mall before going to a Pokemon EX raid together, my second of the day. Then we came back to my house, watched some Doctor Who, and ate some candied almonds.

Paul and I ate our excellent leftover Asian food for dinner, then we watched the first two episodes of the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which were uneven; I adored her feminist fury at the sexism of the business, not so much her mother's situation. Some Christmas trees at Longwood Gardens, including the floating ones:

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Greetings from the Brandywine Valley

Because of George H.W. Bush's funeral and national day of mourning, Paul had Wednesday off, and rather than waste a free Wednesday, we got in the car early in the morning and drove to the Brandywine Valley, where we went to Winterthur to see the Yuletide decorations in the mansion and the follies on display on the grounds, then to Longwood Gardens to see the winter train display, fountain decorations, and conservatory flowers and decorated trees.

We started seeing flurries as we drove through Delaware and by the time we reached Winterthur, it was really snowing, though nothing stuck on the roads; the paths were a bit slippery and the wooden walkways at Longwood were even more so though the snow had stopped falling by the time we got there. We had lunch at Winterthur's excellent salad bar and dinner in the cafe at Longwood, which was not mobbed as it usually is on weekends! More photos soon:

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Poem for Wednesday and Countryside Artisans

Dear Melissa—
By TC Tolbert

a curve billed thrasher
is cleaning its beak on the ground—
we are closer now than ever—sitting
in shadow—I never want to scare
anyone—not really—I have a friend
who loves people who come out
suddenly—in the dark—
                                  pleasure
is the same distance as pain from here—
that’s my skin on your sweater—both hands
stripped now—I know I am someone
to you I am entirely—practicing
Spanish on the computer—gesturing to
the neighbor instead of speaking—
                                  to sharpen
the body is never an accident—someone
I know I am not—letters are inseparable
from loss—moving what can be still
moved—one is sweeping the mouth—
what ever isn’t skin—take it off—

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It was an overcast, chilly Tuesday that felt like a winter day, and I felt draggy all morning, like I hadn't quite woken up. I worked on holiday cards and cleaned up a bunch of stuff looking for some art prints we bought in October, then forgot about till we visited the same artist's studio over this weekend. I was going to go to AC Moore to get frames for them, but then I got two phone calls and ended up talking in the parking lot at the mall and never got frames. Paul made jacket potatoes with cheese, sour cream, and fake bacon for dinner, which were awesome.

After dinner we watched The Flash's 100th episode, which involved a lot of time travel and was thus nostalgic and enjoyable, then we watched Black Lightning, where I love the central characters but the story is getting kind of convoluted. Then we caught up on this week's Supergirl and I have to admit I was totally fine with the thought that Manchester might kill Agent Liberty (really I thought he would, and then Liberty would come back somehow with supervillain powers). Here are a few more Countryside Artisans photos, including Something Earthy's animals and Dancing Leaf's yarn:

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Poem for Tuesday and Chanukah Week

Butter
By Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

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Quickie as we unexpectedly got to have dinner with Adam! My day was otherwise relatively uneventful; a walk in the park because it was gorgeous out, and working on labels for holiday cards which as usual are going to get mailed later than I intended before I actually started putting cards in envelopes. I got distracted reading about the impending death (well, murder) of Tumblr and rumors that Chibnall is leaving Doctor Who.

Adam stopped at home to pick up his camera since he was nearby at his NIH internship. We stopped at my parents' to give my mother a Chanukah present, then went to Grand Fusion and ate way too much General Tso's and Thai basil tofu. After he left for College Park, we watched this week's Legends of Tomorrow (awesome and funny) and Doctor Who (surreal and sad, though the frog kind of undercut the emotion for me). Just a few pics:

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