Sunday, December 08, 2019

Greetings from Annapolis

I spent most of Saturday in Annapolis with Paul and Cheryl, first to see the awesome Vienna Teng at the Ram's Head Tavern, where we had lunch before the show and dessert in the concert hall, then to walk down to the river and look at the holiday displays and nautical souvenirs before driving home under a gorgeous sunset. Then we watched all of The Mandalorian so far because Cheryl hadn't seen it, followed by The Report, which is very hard to watch, very well acted -- Adam Driver is great and Annette Bening should win an Emmy -- and infuriating in the way most movies about government cover-ups are infuriating. More tomorrow!

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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Poem for Saturday and Brookside Holidays

By Amy Lowell

I cut myself upon the thought of you
And yet I come back to it again and again,
A kind of fury makes me want to draw you out
From the dimness of the present
And set you sharply above me in a wheel of roses.
Then, going obviously to inhale their fragrance,
I touch the blade of you and cling upon it,
And only when the blood runs out across my fingers
Am I at all satisfied.


Friday was World Market's free ornament day for members, so of course I had to go there, though sadly they did not have glass seahorses and beaded jellyfish this year so I got a flamingo snow globe instead. (I also got a couple of gifts, and I don't want to give anything away but all tea and tea sets are 30% off at the moment.) That shopping center parking lot was as much of a zoo as the Aldi-Michael's-BB&B parking lot yesterday, so I ended up not waiting in the long lines at Trader Joe's for hummus since I knew we were eating out a lot this weekend anyway.

After one of those meals out, dinner with my parents (Asian chick'n for me, yay), we came home for the new episode of The Mandalorian, which has fantastic fan service, settings that made me very happy, and lots of adorableness, though it's quite a violent installment. Then we watched the first couple of episodes of the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which my father had warned me at dinner that he didn't like, but except for some annoying stuff with her parents, I did. Here are some photos of Brookside Gardens getting ready for the holiday season:


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Friday, December 06, 2019

Poem for Friday and Space Shuttle

Window Shopper
By Robert William Service

I stood before a candy shop
Which with a Christmas radiance shone;
I saw my parents pass and stop
To grin at me and then go on.
The sweets were heaped in gleamy rows;
On each I feasted - what a game!
Against the glass with flatted nose,
Gulping my spittle as it came;
So still I stood, and stared and dreamed,
Savouring sweetness with my eyes,
Devouring dainties till it seemed
My candy shop was paradise.

I had, I think, but five years old,
And though three-score and ten have passed,
I still recall the craintive cold,
The grimy street, the gritty blast;
And how I stared into that shop,
Its gifts so near and yet so far,
Of marzipan and toffee drop,
Of chocolate and walnut bar;
Imagining what I would buy
Amid delights so rich and rare . . .
The glass was misted with my sigh:
"If just one penny Pop could spare!"

And then when I went home to tea
Of bread and butter sparsely spread,
Oh, how my parents twitted me:
"You stood for full an hour," they said.
"We saw you as we passed again;
Your eyes upon the sweets were glued;
Your nose was flattened to the pane,
Like someone hypnotized you stood."
But when they laughed as at a joke,
A bitterness I could not stem
Within my little heart awoke. . . .
Oh, I have long forgiven them;
For though I know they did not own
Pennies to spare, they might, it seems
More understanding love have shown
More sympathy for those vain dreams,
Which make of me with wistful gaze
God's Window Shopper all days.


On Thursday I went to a bunch of stores in a shopping center that recently acquired an Aldi, and I don't know whether it's the presence of the Aldi or the holiday shopping season in general, but the parking lot was so insane that I am seriously rethinking my plans to avoid shopping at Amazon wherever possible. The main reason I went was because Five Below, which recently moved to this shopping center from further down Rockville Pike, has very inexpensive cardboard scratching posts that Effie loves, but I also went to Michael's, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Tuesday Morning, none of which had anything exciting left on sale at this point.

It was a very shopping-focused day. When Paul got home, we went out to CVS (which sent me birthday coupons including one for free nail polish, which is odd since I don't wear nail polish -- do all customers get one? just women?) and to Giant (because cat food is an ongoing need), plus we ducked into Attman's to get bagels since Goldberg's closes in the afternoon. In between the beginning and end of the Bears victory over the Cowboys, we caught up on Black Lightning, which still could use more humor but at least is more focused on the main family again. From the Udvar-Hazy Center, here are several angles on the space shuttle:




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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Poem for Thursday and Brookside Trolley

By Billy Collins

The boy at the far end of the train car kept looking behind him
as if he were afraid or expecting someone

and then she appeared in the glass door of the forward car and he rose
and opened the door and let her in

and she entered the car carrying a large black case
in the unmistakable shape of a cello.

She looked like an angel with a high forehead and somber eyes and her hair
was tied up behind her neck with a black bow.

And because of all that, he seemed a little awkward in his happiness to see her,
whereas she was simply there, perfectly existing as a creature with a soft face who played the cello.

And the reason I am writing this on the back of a manila envelope
now that they have left the train together
is to tell you that when she turned to lift the large, delicate cello
onto the overhead rack,

I saw him looking up at her and what she was doing
the way the eyes of saints are painted
when they are looking up at God when he is doing something remarkable,
something that identifies him as God.


I had a fairly quiet Wednesday so I have not much to blog about. I was going to go see whether Five Below or Tuesday Morning had heating blankets and/or cardboard scratching pads for the feline members of the family, one of whom is still out of sorts about eating and I can't tell whether Daisy's stomach is off or she misses Daniel -- even Effie has been sleeping on his bed, which she never does.

Evening TV included The Masked Singer, on which it remains so ridiculous that Patti LaBelle went home before whoever the Thingamajig is (they're voting off brilliant black women right and left while keeping mediocre men) and Stumptown (NO DEX NO). We need to catch up on Black Lightning before the Crisis starts. From Brookside Gardens' holiday train display, this is Glen Echo Park:

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Poem for Wednesday and Great Blue Heron

Many Miles
By Mary Oliver

The feet of the heron,
under those bamboo stems,
hold the blue body,
the great beak

above the shallows
of the pond.
Who could guess
their patience?

Sometimes the toes
shake, like worms.
What fish
could resist?

Or think of the cricket,
his green hooks
climbing the blade of grass—
or think of camel feet

like ear muffs,
striding over the sand—
or think of your own
slapping along the highway,

a long life,
many miles.
To each of us comes
the body gift.


My Tuesday was very uneventful, but most of my holiday cards are in the mail -- I'm waiting for Shutterfly to ship the last 10 because I knew they'd have a freebie at some point this past weekend, and those are going to people who are getting packages or who live in the neighborhood so I can hand-deliver them -- and I got some chores done outside the house, so that's all good. My cats all absolutely refused to eat chicken for lunch, making me wonder whether there was something wrong with the can.

We watched The Flash, which wound up the Bloodwork arc with lots of cliches and nothing that moved me, then we watched the end of the season of The Crown, which despite the cast is just so hard to like right now with Prince Andrew all over the news -- their level of denial and self-absorption on the show is insane, I mean, the deaths of children in a mining accident in Wales ends up being all about whether the Queen can cry? Blah. Here's the heron we saw at Brookside Gardens last weekend:









Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Poem for Tuesday and Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park
By Dora Malech

He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them.
—Aristotle, Politics (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

Look out across
the ridges of trees
flushed red
as if holding
their breath
to blue distance,
a wager made
with the sky.

Look out over
the Appalachians'
eastern rampart,
then scrap the word for parts—
before, prepare, fortify
to take possession of again.

On the road in, two wild
turkeys bustle off into
the brush.

Off the trail in wet leaves,
yellow eyes of a box turtle.

What I take
to be the stripes
of common shiner
in a riffle.

Alone, one might intone
whose woods, whose woods,
one might whisper
democratic vistas.

One might say
summit and Summit,
as elsewhere, but near,
are Aristotle’s other
at fenced and guarded
leisure, though the wind

passes as it pleases,
and when it shakes
the trees, it is not
an agreement at all.


This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

December is a stupid month to have a birthday because you have to do all your shopping for the year at once -- most people get holiday coupons in December and birthday coupons some other time, but I get everything in a two-week period between Thanksgiving and my birthday and then I have to wait a year if I want any other big items. Plus there are all these people giving guilt about shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. because Think Of The Workers, so then I feel badly about ordering a camera for which I have been saving for over two years.

And the weather sucked all day on Monday, though we never got the predicted snow, but I'd already planned to stay in and do piles of laundry and vacuum and work on holiday cards, so it was a gloomy sort of a day. I made it almost till midnight without buying anything (I'm still trying to figure out whether to get the camera from one of the New York places or from Amazon which does not screw around nearly as much with the extended warranty), but then Bed, Bath & Beyond sent another coupon while the free shipping was still in effect and I do need a backup comforter.

We caught up on two episodes of Watchmen around the new episode of His Dark Materials, which we probably should not do because the latter is just not engaging me; I never read the books and scarcely paid attention to the movie, but I feel like the TV show is both pretentious and predictable, particularly the dialogue, while Watchmen, though dark and violent, is doing a much better job of using its genre and source material to address scary contemporary issues and create multifaceted characters, women in particular. Pics from Catoctin last weekend:

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Monday, December 02, 2019

Poem for Monday and Virginia Aviation

By Timothy Steele

Our jet storms down the runway, tilts up, lifts:
We're airborne, and each second we see more—
Outlying hangars, wetlands with a pond
That flashes like sheened silver and, beyond,
An estuary and the frozen drifts
Of breakers wide and white along a shore.

One watches, cheek in palm. How little weight
The world has as it swiftly drops away!
How quietly the mind climbs to this height
As now, the seat-belt sign turned off, a flight
Attendant rises to negotiate
The steep aisle to a curtained service bay.


Daniel is on his way back to Seattle, though he will be arriving much later than scheduled because of the chaos caused by weather across much of the country -- his flight was supposed to be direct, but took off more than two hours later than expected and stopped in Minneapolis because the flight crew had logged too many hours. Since we knew there would be traffic on the way to Dulles, we decided to go to the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, which is one exit before the airport on the toll road. It's a little anticlimactic after having seen Boeing's museum in Seattle, but it's free and it does have the space shuttle Discovery!

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After dropping Daniel off at Dulles, we stopped at CVS and Giant for toothpaste, hair stuff, cat food, and cream cheese, then we came home and ate Nicole's excellent leftover Thanksgiving macaroni and cheese for dinner. Batwoman and Supergirl were on -- the former interesting but very dark, the latter formulaic but I'm here for Kara/Lena until the end of the line. Madam Secretary was on late because of football, which I saw little of today but enjoyed following online (the Ravens beat the 49ers, DC beat Carolina), and I have not enjoyed one minute of the "impeachment hearings are political farces" storyline -- I won't actually cry when the show ends!