Saturday, January 16, 2021

Poem for Saturday, WandaVision, Violette's Lock

Before the Rain
By Lianne Spidel

Minutes before the rain begins
I always waken, listening
to the world hold its breath,
as if a phone had rung once in a far
room or a door had creaked
in the darkness.

Perhaps the genes of some forebear
startle in me, some tribal warrior
keeping watch on a crag beside a loch,
miserable in the cold,

though I think it is a woman's waiting
I have come to know,
a Loyalist hiding in the woods,
muffling the coughing of her child
against her linen skirts, her dark head
bent over his, her fear spent
somewhere else in time,

leaving only this waiting,

and I hope she escaped
with her child, and I suppose she did.
If not, I wouldn't be lying here awake,
alive, listening for the rain to begin
so that she can run, the sound
of her footsteps lost, the sight
of them blotted away on the path.


Friday started chilly, then turned rainy, so it wasn't very eventful here. I have a couple of friends dealing with COVID in the family, which just seems more frustrating when the vaccine should be so close if we were not dealing with massive incompetence and deliberate horrible decisions on a national scale. We got a walk in before the rain started in earnest. 

Most of our evening TV was the women's competition at the US figure skating championships, but first we watched the initial episodes of WandaVision, which is fantastic right down to its fake commercials. The episodes might feel gimmicky if they were longer but they're very well paced, funny, and have great chemistry. Ruins, river and canal at Violette's Lock: 

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Poem for Friday and Leblanc's Etretat

Mon Dieu
By Georgette Leblanc

Mon Dieu,
je ne suis qu'une chose
qui repose
entre vos mains.


 I stayed away from social media and news sites for a lot of Thursday for my mental health, and that was probably a good call, though I still had trouble focusing on getting any writing done and Daniel and I exchanged Space Force memes. It was a gorgeous day, we took a nice long walk, I got the laundry folded and a bunch of cleaning up done, we had Indian food for dinner. 

Then we binged all five available episodes of Lupin, based on Maurice Leblanc's novels about an early 1900s gentleman thief, which I enjoyed a lot. Like Sherlock, it could use stronger women's roles particularly since this version is set in the modern era, but the lead actor is terrific, the dual-era story arc held my interest, and nearly all the violence is offscreen. 

We walked past author Maurice Leblanc's home in Étretat on the way to the Elephant Rock in 2018, and apparently I never posted those pictures, so here are le clos Arsène Lupin, the Detective Hotel and Cafe, an Etretat bookstore with Lupin souvenirs, the cliffs and the beach. (Leblanc was the sister of Margaret Anderson's lover Georgette Leblanc, whose grave I have visited too.) 

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Poem for Thursday, Impeachment, Green Spring Flowers

Winter Flowers
By Stanley Moss

In fresh snow that fell on old snow
I see wild roses in bloom, springtime,
an orchard of apple and peach trees in bloom,
lovers of different preferences
walking naked in new snow, not shivering,
no illusion, no delusion, no bluebells.
Why should I live by reality that murders?
I wear a coat of hope and desire.
I follow fallen maple leaves abducted by the wind.
I declare I am a Not Quite, almost a nonentity.
I fought for that “almost.”
I lift up and button my collar of hope.
I simply refuse to leave the universe.
I’m all the aunts in my father’s house and all my uncles too.
I had fifty great-great-grand-grandmothers
who got to Paradise, like Enoch, without dying.
Once my friends and I went out in deep paradise snow
with Saint Bernards and Great Pyrenees
to find those lost in the blizzard that God made for Himself
because He prefers not seeing what happens on earth.
With touch He can hear, taste, smell, see,
and He has fourteen other senses there are no words for.
Memory, He said, is a sense, not a power.
Who am I to disagree with Him?

There are some vegetarians among you,
so I will tell you what He eats.
It’s green, and cows and sheep eat it too.
He picks His teeth. I think I heard Him say,
“Gentlemen don’t void in swimming pools or the ocean.
I like your dirty jokes, I prefer them in meter.”
He told me to carry on.
I thought “On” was a Norse god. He said, “No,
it’s just a burden that gets heavier,
the burden makes you stronger.”
“Isn’t on the Japanese debt to ancestors?” I countered.
He resents hearing the prayers and praise of sycophants.

“How come you are speaking to me?” I asked.
He speaks Silence, languages I call “Night” and “Day.”
His politics? “Nations” to Him are “a form of masturbation.”
Original blasphemy amuses Him, describes
His coitus with living creatures,
mothers, His self,
a whale, a male praying mantis dying to mate.
He likes to hear, “do unto others
what you would not want others to do unto you.”
Instead of a prayer rug,
I stitch Him a pillow of false proverbs:
“in the house of the hangman talk of rope.”
I asked Him if I ever did anything he liked.
“You planted eggplant too close to the cucumbers
and they married. I blessed that wedding,
sent roses by another name.”
“How come you speak to me?” I asked.
He said He was not speaking to me,
“Consult Coleridge on the Imagination.”
He waved, He did not say goodbye.


Wednesday was one of those insane mood swing days that I'm starting to think of as, well, Wednesdays in January. It had some very nice aspects, like taking a walk in the gorgeous weather to see a bunny and getting to talk to my three good friends from high school on Google Meet, though one of them has a very seriously ill parent and I'm very sad for her. Plus it had the second impeachment of Donald Trump, which would be more satisfying if the cowards in the Senate had any intention of doing the right thing and convicting him, but at least it's on the record forever. 

We watched the news long enough to hear Pelosi speak, then we watched The Masked Dancer because I needed an hour of total mindlessness. Then we finished watching Sanditon, which the entire internet had warned me had a terrible ending so I was surprised how much I appreciated it. Sure, Austen might have intended something else and the producers surely would have had it scripted differently had they known it wouldn't get a second season, but I love a future where a woman might pick the hardworking architect, not the snotty aristocrat. Winter flowers at Green Spring Gardens: 


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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Poem for Wednesday and Green Spring Goddess

Year's End
By Ted Kooser

Now the seasons are closing their files
on each of us, the heavy drawers
full of certificates rolling back
into the tree trunks, a few old papers
flocking away. Someone we loved
has fallen from our thoughts,
making a little, glittering splash
like a bicycle pushed by a breeze.
Otherwise, not much has happened;
we fell in love again, finding
that one red feather on the wind.


My Tuesday was pretty quiet apart from two Zoom/Google Meet calls -- the first in the late afternoon with my father's side of the family, including most of the west coast cousins and their kids, and the second in the evening, with my Voyager fan friends around watching season two premiere "The 37s" (still one of my favorites, which neither time nor bad behavior by any actor has ruined). 

 It was a lovely chilly clear day for a walk. The news came in steadily and stressfully -- I am irate about so many things, it's hard for me to filter out which of those are worth expending my anger on. We watched the first episode of the Canadian Indigenous show Trickster, which is interesting so far, and the sixth of Sanditon, a bit unfocused. Beira at Green Spring Gardens: 


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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Poem for Tuesday and Songbirds

By Babette Deutsch

Silence with you is like the faint delicious
Smile of a child asleep, in dreams unguessed:
Only the hinted wonder of its dreaming,
The soft, slow-breathing miracle of rest.
Silence with you is like a kind departure
From iron clangor and the engulfing crowd
Into a wide and greenly barren meadow,
Under the bloom of some blue-bosomed cloud;
Or like one held upon the sands at evening,
When the drawn tide rolls out, and the mixed light
Of sea and sky enshrouds the far, wind-bellowed
Sails that move darkly on the edge of night.


On Sunday morning, the light in the master bathroom would not turn on, though the fan and outlet worked. So on Monday we had an electrician come fix it (turned out to be a frayed wire) while we hung out downstairs with masks on until the work was finished. And the post office finally found my package that was mailed in early December and has sat in a sorting facility for more than two weeks, so I finally have the Jasmine Keane necklace I got for my birthday. 

Despite the slow progress of impeachment, it was a diverting day online, since the State Department web site was compromised, claiming that Trump was leaving office in a few hours, which sadly turned out not to be true. Apart from a two-bunny walk, that was the only real excitement here today until the Alabama-Ohio State game, which Ohio State did not win even though I was rooting for them. Some pretty birds we met in Fredericksburg a couple of weeks ago: 

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Poem for Monday and Violette's Lock

From 'Canal Life'
By Ian McMillan

The canal tells you stories
The canal sings you songs
They hang in that space
Between memory and water

Once saw a narrowboat raised up,
Like it was cutting through the air,
Between two grass walls and the road below
Like it was sliding through history,
And a tiny vole swam across the water
So a tiny vole swam through history.


Sunday was mostly about chores, a broken light, trying to keep up with the news, and emails trying to convince people that having a link from a doctor for a vaccination scheduling site did not mean they were going to be able to jump the state-established order to get a COVID vaccine, with a break for a walk along the canal at Violette's Lock. We were right across the river from Trump's golf course again, but this time we knew he wasn't there, at least. 


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We were out for the end of the Ravens game, though I am glad they won -- I am sticking with my promise not to sweat any sports event because the election was so much more important -- and we saw most of the Bears-Saints game but had the sound off because I was chatting with my fan friends on Zoom. We had burgers for dinner, then watched the Cleveland-Pittsburgh game, whose beginning was very enjoyable but a blowout always gets boring eventually!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Greetings from Virginia

Adam is back in Seattle -- he reported in from the airport and then from his house, where he and Katherine and Pepper are in the same room for the first time in almost a month. We had a pretty quiet morning during which he packed, we all went for a walk around the neighborhood, we had lunch and played Goatfish while the Bills started playing the Colts, then we drove to National Airport, which thankfully was pretty quiet, so Adam could catch his plane. 

Since we were in Alexandria, we then went to Green Spring Gardens, where the snowdrops and flowering quince were starting to emerge plus a few apricot blossoms. The mansion and greenhouse were closed, but it was a beautiful day to be outside. We had leftovers for dinner and watched most of the other playoff games; I was sorry for Daniel that Seattle lost, but pretty apathetic about the Washington Football Team. While waiting for impeachment: 


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Saturday, January 09, 2021

Poem for Saturday and Family Pics

For the Blind Man in the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence
By Jeffrey Thomson

Our stories can only carry us so far. I know
there are layers beneath the layers and
you haven’t asked but I would describe
a fresco not even finished in the workshop,
discovered beneath damaged plaster here
in the <i>Scuola del Cuoio</i>. A simple Madonna
and child marked off with a draftsman’s
patience, a sketch of faces each etched
with a different kind of cross. Evidence
of a man working out art’s proportions
like a map in the sand: golden mean in
the plaster and articulation balanced
between the bridge in the distance
for scale and the sketched-in step-child
abandoned almost in the foreground,
clutching at the mother’s skirts—all
the necessary work that gets covered over
in the finish, smoothed out and blessed
with plaster and color, that blinding light
cast by the angelic child, mother adoring.  
I would describe it all—but that’s easy
and I am not so foolish anymore. I know
you don’t need me to tell you this.
You know the chittering of swallows as
they fill the courtyard of the cloister and
the weight of sunlight on cypress and stone.
If meaning is made of anything you will
have heard it in the sound of great space
that flows down the stairs of the Pazzi chapel,
in the rattle of the tourist dragging
his bag on the pavers as he moves toward
enormous doors flung open into the heat.


 It's Adam's last night here before flying back to Seattle with Katherine and Pepper -- by way of Reagan National Airport, which you may have seen on the news today when unhinged and unmasked MAGA-wearing rioters screamed in Lindsey Graham's face about what a traitor he is, and although I am constitutionally incapable of feeling sorry for Lindsey Graham in any way after all he's done, I am nervous both about virus spreading and general lunacy from Trump supporters slinking home after their failed revolution. 

We had a pretty quiet day, since Adam had to work and also had an online get-together with the people at the company he left in San Francisco when he moved to Seattle. We did have lunch together and took a walk, and after dinner -- French onion soup, chick'n Provencal, and the leftover chocolate fondue -- we watched Blade Runner 2049 because Adam hadn't seen it and it's definitely worth a second viewing. Some more links about the near-collapse of democracy that I'm adding here for posterity, and some family photos: Poorly aged things Georgia woman trampled to death in Capitol riot brought ‘don’t tread on me' flag to protest "Hey @FLOTUS Great news. Twitter just banned your husband. Your anti cyber bullying campaign is working." "When I find myself in tweets o' trouble Mother Russia comforts me/Giving words of wisdom, covfefe." "On the morning of Jan. 6, Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the protest demanding that Congress overturn the election, then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later." "This is the first time a sitting president has been banned from Twitter going back to 1812" "I also do not have a book deal. This is a violation of my first amendment and I will be suing George Orwell." If impeaching Trump would "further divide the country," as Republicans claim, then what did the GOP think challenging Biden's election win would do? "What’s the difference between the US Capitol and Mordor? One does not simply walk into Mordor" "It’s now safe to turn off your computer."

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Friday, January 08, 2021

Poem for Friday and Hanging with Family

It's all I have to bring today
By Emily Dickinson

It's all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.


My brain is completely fried from trying to keep up with the news the past two days. I didn't get a lot accomplished on Thursday, not even folding laundry, though I probably read more tweets than I ever have before in my life. We put on the TV at lunchtime hoping to see Pelosi's press conference and instead got Biden's on all channels, but that was fine -- forward-thinking, accomplished, a little boring, just the kind of administration we all could use. 

We all took a walk around the neighborhood on which we were eventually joined by Adam's friend Daniel, plus we bumped into the neighbor whose dog he used to walk and her current canine. After everyone was finished working, we had dinner with my parents. When we came home, we watched Pi because we discovered Adam hadn't seen it and a few years ago we'd been in line behind Ben Shenkman in a Brooklyn pizza restaurant with him; it remains very creative. 

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Thursday, January 07, 2021

Greetings from After the Putsch

I was talking to my friend Veronica in London via Google Messenger on Wednesday at about 2 a.m., when the Georgia runoff had been called for Warnock and it was clear that Ossoff was going to win. She said that it looked like things would finally start to get better on January 20th, and I signed off with, "At least until the Reichstag Fire." I was kidding. Mostly. I've been sort of half-expecting a Reichstag Fire since before the September election. If that asshole who broke into Pelosi's office today had had a can of gasoline, we might really have had one. 

Paul had a bunch of work phone conferences, so he was upstairs a lot of the afternoon, but Adam sat downstairs with me and watched the attempted demolition of democracy with me in real time. I watched a lot of 9/11 with him too when he was in preschool, and in a weird way it felt similar, though on 9/11 the word "terrorists" was used a lot and today it was "supporters of the President" even when they had pipe bombs. It was terrifying and exhausting, after a morning when for a few minutes, with the Georgia results in, I felt almost okay about the coming year. 

We watched the end of Avatar during a break from the news and we did manage to take a walk. I'm just going to post a bunch of links here that cover this weeks-long day because other people summed up my feelings in clever tweets: "Rev. Warnock was Congressman John Lewis's pastor.   Ossoff was Lewis's intern.  And somewhere, somehow both near and far, I have to think that Rep. Lewis is saying, "Well done."" ""I think [Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel] and Dr. King are smiling in this moment and we hope to make them proud" - Senator-elect @ReverendWarnock" "Loeffler ran ads darkening Warnock’s skin and Perdue ran ads enlarging Ossoff’s nose and I’m not done thinking about that" "I know it hasn’t been called for Ossoff yet. But I’m starting to get unexpectedly emotional at the the idea of a Black man and a Jewish man, both protégés of John Lewis, walking into the United States Senate as the elected representatives of the Deep South state of Georgia." "After @RepMaryMillercomment about Hitler, @janschakowskycalls on her to resign. Condemned by @CPG_USHMM , other #Illinois lawmakers." "Trump supporters have breached the Capitol building, tearing down 4 layers of security fencing and are attempting to occupy the building — fighting federal police who are overrun" "The Confederate battle flag has reached the United States Capitol building, something that did not happen during the Civil War." "Tammy Duckworth: "I have defended the right of people to protest all my life...but these are not protestors. This is a mob doing the will of a wannabe tin-pot dictator who lost the election."" "Fox News right now is saying that these protesters are peaceful since  “no vandalism” is taking place as live video shows people smashing windows." 25th Amendment or impeach every one of those Republican MFs. Lindsey Graham: "Those who made this attack on our government need to be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their actions are repugnant to democracy." The Hoarse Whisperer: "Lindsey Graham calls for @HawleyMO and @tedcruz to be prosecuted." NAACP: "And you thought "Taking A Knee" was too much!?!" "When Democrats lost in 2016, they knitted pink hats and donated to Planned Parenthood." RepMaxineWaters: "We must investigate the security breach at the Capitol today. I warned our Caucus and had an hour long conversation with the Chief of Police 4days ago. He assured me the terrorists would not be allowed on the plaza & Capitol secured. What the hell?" "As we all take in the staggering fifteen (15) arrests made for today’s attempted coup, please join me in calling for a national commission to investigate the infiltration of US law enforcement by white supremacist groups." "For reference, there were 14,000+ arrests at the George Floyd protests." "Today has shown police don’t need de-escalation training, they choose who to escalate on, that’s not a training issue. Police don’t need unconscious bias training, they are conscious of their bias." "I keep thinking about how "property damage" was such a talking point in so many protests and now that an armed mob is literally breaking into the US Capitol, the police and vigilantes are in no hurry to defend property." "Just to be completely clear today, pointed questions like "Where is the teargas?" or "Why don't we see more choke slams?" are not demands for police brutality. They are rhetorical questions meant to highlight the fact that police *do* know how to avoid police brutality." "Do you remember when like 100 BLM protestors had to hide in that mans house in DC all night cause the police were arresting everyone for not abiding by curfew? Just thinking about this for absolutely no reason." Amazing Reuters photo


This is some of my family in the Capitol in 2015. You can see photos of invaders standing in this spot from the news earlier. I wanted this memory instead.