Monday, February 28, 2011

Poem for Monday, Longwood Gardens, Oscar Joy

Listening To Jazz Now
By Jimmy Santiago Baca

Listening to jazz now, I'm happy
     sun shining outside like it was my lifetime achievement award.
                I'm happy,
with my friend and her dog up in Durango, her emailing
     me this morning
no coon hound ailing yowls
vibrant I love yous.
        I'm happy,
        my smile a big Monarch butterfly
        after having juiced up some carrots, garlic, seaweed,
        I stroll the riverbank, lazy as a deep cello
in a basement bar--

                   smoke, cagney'd out patrons
                   caramel and chocolate women in black
                             shoulder strap satin dresses,
                   and red high heels.


I spent most of a lovely Sunday in the Brandywine Valley with my family and the lovely Dementordelta, where we went to the Brandywine River Museum to see N.C. Wyeth's Civil War paintings, then to Longwood Gardens to see the orchids in the conservatory and the grounds (not many plantings yet but the weather was magnificent), but you will have to wait until tomorrow for most of the pics because we had a busy evening of sitting in each other's laps with our triangle of man-love (though here we are looking adorable in the greenhouse):

Really, I do not have a single complaint. This is because the major award The Social Network won was in a category The King's Speech wasn't eligible in -- adapted screenplay, which the overrated Sorkin can have -- and as much as I adore Geoffrey Rush and would have loved for him to win a second Oscar, I think Christian Bale is one of the best actors alive and he was certainly due. I'm sorry Helena didn't win, too, but she really could not lose this evening -- her face was everywhere, she was in three of the films up for art direction (Alice in Wonderland, which won, plus HP and TKS). I am still irritated that Nolan was overlooked so I am really glad Inception won cinematography, visual effects, sound mixing and editing.

I was not expecting to love the show, though, so what a completely delightful surprise Franco and Hathaway turned out to be -- my favorite moment probably being Hathaway insulting Jackman via "On My Own" followed by Franco coming out on stage in drag, with the Year of the Musical (HP and Twilight mixes utterly hilarious) but the presentations, too -- hahaha Russell Brand translating Helen Mirren's French as saying that Dame Helen claimed her performance as a queen was more realistic than Colin Firth's as a king, then rejecting her alleged proposition on the grounds that he's married, after she called him an idiot in French And Melissa Leo forgetting herself and dropping the F-bomb after being all flustered by Kirk Douglas, then David Seidler (YAY) accepting his King's Speech screenplay award by thanking the Queen for not throwing him in the Tower for "using the Melissa Leo F-word."

You all could probably hear us shrieking when Tom Hooper won Best Director, which was the first time I really felt sure the movie was going to take home the top trophy -- especially after he didn't win the BAFTA, I was nervous -- and then you probably heard us again when Colin won and yet again when Colin threatened to go indulge his impulses backstage (please please send pictures). My kids fortunately stayed up to see what won (interestingly younger son was as opposed to The Social Network winning as I was, though he hasn't seen it), so we did not wake them shrieking in joy, and I love that the producers brought Colin, Geoffrey and Helena up on stage with them. Now we are hoping for the backstage speeches to surface before we go collapse!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Poem for Sunday and Hanover Visit

Let Birds
By Linda Gregg

Eight deer on the slope
in the summer morning mist.
The night sky blue.
Me like a mare let out to pasture.
The Tao does not console me.
I was given the Way
in the milk of childhood.
Breathing it waking and sleeping.
But now there is no amazing smell
of sperm on my thighs,
no spreading it on my stomach
to show pleasure.
I will never give up longing.
I will let my hair stay long.
The rain proclaims these trees,
the trees tell of the sun.
Let birds, let birds.
Let leaf be passion.
Let jaw, let teeth, let tongue be
between us. Let joy.
Let entering. Let rage and calm join.
Let quail come.
Let winter impress you. Let spring.
Allow the ocean to wake in you.
Let the mare in the field
in the summer morning mist
make you whinny. Make you come
to the fence and whinny. Let birds.


We have been in Hanover all day for Paul's father's birthday (and had horrible traffic coming home because part of Route 15 was closed, meaning we had to go through downtown Gettysburg) so this will be short. It was a lovely Saturday: beautiful mild sunny weather, fabulous pepperjack tomato soup and half a black bean burger wrap for lunch at Isaac's Deli, walk by the lake at Codorus State Park where we saw waterfowl and played with a friendly dog, visit to Hanover Shoe Farms to see mares and their day-old foals, veggie chili and cheese for dinner made by Paul's mother at her house where we also saw a groundhog! I have a super-busy day tomorrow (Longwood Gardens, Oscars, Dementordelta) so here are a few quick pics:

I cannot swear that this is Maximus the Groundhog, first spotted in my in-laws' backyard more than five years ago, but I like to think it is.

A turkey vulture at Codorus State Park, where a dam created the enormous lake that is now home to a great many animals.

This is Casey, whom we met with his owner at the park. Younger son seems to be a magnet for dogs, and got followed and played with for quite a while.

One of the newborn foals at Hanover Shoe Farms nurses in the barn with other mothers and babies.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Poem for Saturday, 'STV: The Final Frontier', Aquarium

O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair
By Robert Burns

O were my love yon Lilac fair,  
  Wi' purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,  
  When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn        
  By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,  
  When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd.
O gin my love were yon red rose,  
  That grows upon the castle wa';    
And I myself a drap o' dew,  
  Into her bonie breast to fa'!
O there, beyond expression blest,  
  I'd feast on beauty a' the night;
Seal'd on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
  Till fley'd awa by Phoebus' light!


I have no idea how it got to be 11:30...this Friday just flew by. We had a rainy morning, then high winds in the afternoon that caused fallen trees and power lines all around the area, though very thankfully not here -- we just lost the internet for a few minutes, though some of my programs have been flaky all day. It took me till late in the evening to get my review of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier posted...not one of my better ones because it's definitely not one of the franchise's better movies, but I refuse not to love it anyway.

I got to take a walk despite the iffy weather and it was glorious -- not too cold, rather exhilarating in the wind. We had dinner with my parents, then came home for Smallville, which continues its trend of being wonderful this season -- spoilers -- of course I am delighted to see Oliver in a showgirl outfit, but I also love that Chloe knows Batman and Wonder Woman, and after a few minutes of thinking I was going to hate hate hate the end of the episode with her leaving, they ended it perfectly instead -- oh heck yes she and Oliver should be married! Then, even though I don't watch the show, we left on Supernatural's "Visit To a Weird Planet" episode, which was enormous fun even for a non-fan like me (Misha Collins tweeting for the WIN). I appreciated the Hercules-Xena versions of these more because I was more familiar with the writing and production staffs, but Jensen and Jared's willingness to make fun of themselves and their careers is really quite delightful. I ran so late that I have only a couple of not-great National Aquarium central tank photos tonight:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Poem for Friday and Springiness

Last Words
By Jane Shore

    Once the patient stops drinking liquids, he's got
    up to 14 days to live. If he takes even a sip
    of water, you reset the clock.

Eleven days without a drop. The rabbi
made his rounds. They stopped her
IV and her oxygen. I asked them
to please turn off the TV's live feed
to the empty hospital chapel, lens
focused on the altar and crucifix—
it seemed like the wrong God watching
over her, up there, near the ceiling.
And because hearing is the last
sense to go, the nice doctor spoke
to me in a separate room. He said
it's time to say good-bye. Next day,
he returned her to her nursing home
to die. Her nurses said just talk
to her; let her hear a familiar voice.
I jabbered to the body in the bed.
I kept repeating myself, as I'd done
on visits before, as if mirroring
her dementia. I rubbed her hand,
black as charcoal from the needles.
I talked the way a coach spurs on
a losing team. Suddenly she opened
her eyes, smiled her famous smile,
she knew me, and for the first time
in a year of babbling, she spoke
my name, then, in her clearest voice
said, "I love you. You look beautiful.
This is wonderful." I urged her
to sip water through a straw. Then
two cold cans of cranberry juice,
she was that thirsty. Her fingertips
pinked up like a newborn's.
I wanted the nurses to acknowledge
my miracle, to witness my devotion
although I'd been absent all spring.
They reset the clock, resumed her oxygen.
I was like God, I'd revived her. Now
I'd have to keep talking to keep her alive.


I thought it was a really lovely Thursday -- overcast but not rainy, cool but not cold, though I have been assured by a couple of people that in fact it was gray and gloomy and chilly, so I may be wrong. I had to run out to a couple of stores -- we were out of my favorite cereal and imitation chicken patties, for starters -- and I was too warm in my jacket, which I didn't even wear when I went for a walk in the afternoon (no bunny today but lots of squirrels). In the late afternoon I went to meet for dinner and shopping -- I was good and did not buy the Ga'hoole Beanie Babies.

I missed last week's Nikita watching my boyfriends the cast of The King's Speech on Piers Morgan (I'm so glad the mainstream media has picked up the porn set photos story), so I am really lost what's going on with Alex, but it was a great episode anyway and there needs to be more Amanda in the mix more often! Does anyone know why $#!% My Dad Says appears to be on hiatus? I wanted a Shatner fix to go with my Trek V review! I am running late so here are some Brookside Gardens conservatory flowers from last weekend:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Poem for Thursday and Underwater Glory

I Rose From Marsh Mud
By Lorine Niedecker

I rose from marsh mud,
algae, equisetum, willows,
sweet green, noisy
birds and frogs

to see her wed in the rich
rich silence of the church,
the little white slave-girl
in her diamond fronds.

In aisle and arch
the satin secret collects.
United for life to serve
silver. Possessed.


Very little happened on Wednesday worth reporting except that I saw a bunny while I was taking a walk -- I didn't even realize it was there at first, since it was sitting in a pile of leaves near what's left of the snow from the other night, and it was brown like the leaves with a white tail like the snow, but then it went hopping away across the path. It was only a tiny bit warmer than the day before, but the squirrels were very active and there were even deer. Also, I watched all three parts of this interview -- it's wonderful -- and celebrated Obama finally telling the justice department to stop defending the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act.

In the evening I had to watch the nearly-as-indefensible Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which I need to review by Friday. I have actually only seen the entire movie three times, which is an absurdly low number for me where anything Original Series is concerned. I had blocked out huge sections of it -- the ridiculous Klingons with their big hair, the Star Wars cantina scene, the Uhura/Scotty romance -- and the Kirk vs. God storyline is as incredibly ridiculous as ever, but I keep coming back to the fact that William Shatner wrote and directed something so slashy that if a fan had written some of those lines, we'd have snickered about it. Not just "Not in front of the Klingons," which is my favorite line in all of Star Trek, but Spock saying "I have found my place" when he refuses to leave Kirk's sides and Kirk pointing out that of all the beautiful things to see in Yosemite, Spock picked him. Bliss! Here are some more National Aquarium photos from the weekend:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Poem for Wednesday, National Aquarium, Firthfest

Sleep Is Supposed To Be
By Emily Dickinson

Sleep is supposed to be,
By souls of sanity,
The shutting of the eye.

Sleep is the station grand
Down which on either hand
The hosts of witness stand!

Morn is supposed to be,
By people of degree,
The breaking of the day.

Morning has not occurred!
That shall aurora be
East of eternity;

One with the banner gay,
One in the red array,—
That is the break of day.


The kids had a two-hour delay due to the ice storm last night, so everything was slow here from the get-go. I had a bunch of work chores to get done in the morning, which I did diligently because I wanted to fold laundry. Why did I want to fold laundry? So I could watch Colin Firth movies while doing so, of course. I made the mistake of starting with Apartment Zero, which I'd been told was really homoerotic, which it is, but it's also really homophobic, though really none of the characters are sympathetic much. I had to put on What a Girl Wants to get rid of the bad taste it left.

Paul decided we needed hoecakes for George Washington's birthday, since we missed them at Mount Vernon. We watched Glee, which had mediocre music -- with the exception of finally giving Brittany another big number -- plus not enough Sue and too much After-School Special tone despite overall encouragement of underage drinking, which my kids both found hilarious. At that point we put on St. Trinian's, figuring it couldn't corrupt the kids any further, and howled through the whole thing, not just playing count-the-references-to-other-Colin-Firth movies, though that was fun too.

Here are some photos from the Australia section of the National Aquarium in Baltimore:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poem for Tuesday and Gunston Hall

Occasioned by General Washington's Arrival in Philadelphia,
On His Way to His Residence in Virginia
By Philip Freneau

The great, unequal conflict past,
   The Briton banish'd from our shore,
Peace, heav'n-descended, comes at last,
   And hostile nations rage no more;
      From fields of death the weary swain
      Returning, seeks his native plain.

In every vale she smiles serene,
   Freedom's bright stars more radiant rise,
New charms she adds to every scene,
   Her brighter sun illumes our skies;
      Remotest realms admiring stand,
      And hail the Hero of our land:

He comes!—the Genius of these lands—
   Fame's thousand tongues his worth confess,
Who conquered with his suffering bands,
   And grew immortal by distress:
      Thus calms succeed the stormy blast,
      And valour is repaid at last.

O Washington!—thrice glorious name,
   What due rewards can man decree—
Empires are far below thy aim,
   And sceptres have no charms for thee;
      Virtue alone has thy regard,
      And she must be thy great reward.

Encircled by extorted power,
   Monarchs must envy thy Retreat,
Who cast, in some ill fated hour,
   Their country's freedom at their feet;
      'Twas thine to act a nobler part
      For injur'd Freedom had thy heart.

For ravag'd realms and conquer'd seas
   Borne gave the great imperial prize,
And, swelTd with pride, for feats like these,
   Transferr'd her heroes to the skies:—
      A brighter scene your deeds display,
      You gain those heights a different way.

When Faction rear'd her bristly head,
   And join'd with tyrants to destroy,
Where'er you march' d the monster fled,
   Tim'rous her arrows to employ;
      Hosts catch'd from you a bolder flame,
      And despots trembled at your name.

Ere war's dread horrors ceas'd to reign,
   What leader could your place supply?—
Chiefs crowded to the embattled plain,
   Prepaid to conquer or to die—
      Heroes arose— but none like yon
      Could save our lives and freedom too.

In swelling verse let kings be read,
   And princes shine in polish'd prose;
Without such aid your triumphs spread
   Where'er the convex ocean flows,
      To Indian worlds by seas embrac'd,
      And Tartar, tyrant of the waste.

Throughout the east you gain applause,
   And soon the Old World, taught by you,
Shall blush to own her barbarous laws,
   Shall learn instruction from the New:
      Monarchs shall hear the humble plea,
      Nor urge too far the proud decree.

Despising pomp and vain parade,
   At home you stay, while France and Spain
The secret, ardent wish convey'd,
   And hail'd you to their shores in vain:
      In Vernon's groves you shun the throne,
      Admir'd by kings, but seen by none.

Your fame, thus spread to distant lands,
   May envy's fiercest blasts endure,
Like Egypt's pyramids it stands,
   Built on a basis more secure;
      Time's latest age shall own in you
      The patriot and the statesman too.

Now hurrying from the busy scene,
   Where thy Potowmack's waters flow,
Mayt thou enjoy thy rural reign,
   And every earthly blessing know;
      Thus He* whom Rome's proud legions sway'd,
      Beturn'd, and sought his sylvan shade.

Not less in wisdom than in war
   Freedom shall still employ your mind,
Slavery shall vanish, wide and far,
   'Till not a trace is left behind;
      Your counsels not bestow'd in vain
      Shall still protect this infant reign,

So when the bright, all-cheering sun
   From our contracted view retires,
Though fools may think his race is run,
   On other worlds he lights his fires:
      Cold climes beneath his influence glow,
      And frozen rivers learn to flow.

O say, thou great, exalted name!
   What Muse can boast of equal lays,
Thy worth disdains all vulgar fame,
   Transcends the noblest poet's praise,
      Art soars, unequal to the flight,
      And genius sickens at the height.

For States redeem'd— our western reign
   Restored by thee to milder sway,
Thy conscious glory shall remain
   When this great globe is swept away,
      And all is lost that pride admires,
      And all the pageant scene expires.


Even though we didn't get to Mount Vernon for President's Day weekend, we decided to go to nearby Gunston Hall -- the home of George Mason -- and I got Dementordelta to come meet us. Perhaps since Mount Vernon is free for Washington's birthday so everyone went there, Gunston Hall had very few people. We were disappointed to find that they no longer have farm animals (apparently wild animals killed several sheep a few years ago) but we saw the film, went through the visitor center, and took the house tour, plus sampled food in the outside kitchen and walked to the Masons' graves. We had intended to picnic afterward, but it had started to drizzle, so we ate in the van.

Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, author of Virginia's Declaration of Rights, from which Thomas Jefferson borrowed liberally when writing the Declaration of Independence.

We met actors portraying Mason and his second wife -- his first wife died after giving birth to their 12th child.

Photos weren't allowed in the house, which has beautiful reproduction wallpapers and quite a bit of Mason's original furniture and dining implements. These are the kitchen, well, and wash house.

And this is the schoolhouse for Mason's nine children and many grandchildren.

Staff members in the kitchen were making beef stew and ginger cookies for visitors...

...over the large fire in the hearth.

Delta and I were happy to keep warm in there after the rain started.

But we did walk to the family graveyard.

Daniel had a late afternoon date (to go see The King's Speech with his girlfriend, heh), so we dropped him off, then came home with younger son after dragging him into a couple of stores. It was a quiet evening -- we watched Chicago Code and Harry's Law, both of which are enjoyable though I have no idea whether either is likely to be on the air in ten weeks, both are well-acted but very stylized and not terribly realistic, and I suspect both skew older than the networks would like. Now we're watching the disaster area in Christchurch, hoping for the best in Libya, and waiting to see whether our county announces a school delay due to the snow and sleet that are falling, rather than waiting till 5:30 a.m. to tell us!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poem for Monday, Maple Sugar Fest, Dorian Gray

Horse's Adventure
By Jason Bredle

The horse discovered a gateway to another
dimension, and with nothing else to do, moseyed
into it just for grins, and man, you
don’t even want to know what happened
next—it was just, like, Horse at the French
Revolution. Horse in Franco’s living room.
Horse on the moon. Horse in a supporting role
in an episode of ER. Horse being shot
out of a cannon. Horse on The Price Is Right.
Horse in a Whitesnake video. Horse
at Kennedy’s assassination. Horse in the Tet
Offensive. Horse at the Gap gawking at some
khaki pants. Horse in Julie Piepmeyer’s
bathroom. Horse being tossed out of an airplane
with a parachute strapped to its back, plummeting
toward Nebraska. Horse on Capitol Hill
(Yes, I’d like the floor to recognize
the distinguished horse from Arizona). Horse
on the subway. Horse authorizing a peace treaty
between the U.S. and Iraq. Horse
in the Evansville State Hospital. Horse caught up
in a White Hen robbery. Horse in the Kentucky
Derby. Horse staring at the merry-go-round
at King’s Island in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The list goes on and on. And so goes
the horse’s adventure, where one minute
it’s standing next to Pat Sajak and with a violent
flash like that of a murderous camera or the twirling
screen and music of a Batman episode
it’s standing in the middle of US-23
with a screaming motorist speeding toward it.
And this horse, whirling through dimension
after dimension, spiraling carmines, suicidal
jasmines, and mathematical theorems tornadoing
past it, being placed in situation
after situation—what had it learned
when all was said and done and it was back
at Tom Wallace’s farm? Nothing is better
than Rachel Wallace while they stand in the barn
in the middle of February and she draws pictures of it
to take to school tomorrow.


While Daniel was at robotics, we took Adam to Brookside Gardens at Wheaton Regional Park for the annual maple sugar festival...or, to be more precise, we took Paul there, since he was determined to get free pancakes and maple syrup and we knew we couldn't get to Mount Vernon early enough to get THEIR free hoecakes and syrup. Adam felt a bit tricked when he realized we weren't only there so he could photograph geese and flowers, though he was a good sport about it, even though he picked on me all day because I called him a "failer" at one point which he cited as ample proof of my failure. The maple sugar festival was quite crowded with kids watching the sap being boiled and pancakes being made inside the log cabin, but the greenhouses weren't crowded at all and the trails either -- there were more geese than people.

Paul checked out the sap on one of the trees at Wheaton Regional Park.

Volunteers were boiling down the sap...

...and handing out pancakes and homemade syrup to visitors.

Families sat around the fire by the cabin, though it was nearly 50 degrees, so not very cold.

We also visited the greenhouses and took a walk to see the geese, who scurried away whenever people came up their hillside.

Adam photographed them when they refused to get off the bridge so we could cross.

Like the geese, the ducks were starting to pair off.

And since most people and geese were where the food was, I got to walk the labyrinth in peace.

We came home to watch 60 Minutes because I wanted to see Lionel Logue's grandson, who was fabulous -- he had Logue's diaries and said he was struck that the King and his grandfather were obviously good friends and pointing out that Logue had edited Churchill's speech for the King to get rid of some of the more hard-to-pronounce words for a stammerer, and Colin Firth said he found the "you still stammered on the 'W's" bit while he was reading Logue's diaries in bed, and in general I am just so happy to see a major news venue treating The King's Speech like the absolutely wonderful film it is instead of "Oh, this just isn't as young and hip as James Franco cutting off his arm or The Social Network," which just makes me seethe. Also, Colin Firth explaining that he did Mamma Mia because you can't dangle spandex and a bit of mascara in front of him without him dying for them because he's such a drag queen is my favorite quote of 2011. (Also, I haven't particularly followed Scott Brown's voting record and I'm sure he's done things that would enrage me, but I found him very impressive.)

We took a break from Colin Firth to watch The Simpsons for the Ricky Gervais-Russell Brand angle, but it was the Toy Story and Wallace and Gromit parodies that make this week's episode an instant absolute classic. Then we watched Dorian Gray, which it's probably a good thing I haven't read in decades or the screenplay would have made me screech even more than it did...I really liked Ben Barnes' performance, which I wasn't sure I would, having only seen him in the Narnia films and Easy Virtue which makes a delightful contrast in father-son dynamics to this one, and Colin really, really needs to play the devil more often because he does it better than Jack Nicholson or Gabriel Byrne and nearly on par with Viggo Mortensen. I laughed a lot that in the commentary, Emilia Fox and everyone else was talking about how homoerotic Henry's feelings for Dorian were while Colin was insisting, oh, no, it's very destructive, he just did not want to go there. Come on, Colin, where was your inner drag queen? I also loved when they asked the actors whether Oscar Wilde would like cinematic adaptations of his work, and Colin said oh, definitely, and Fiona Shaw said no, he'd hate it, and Maryam D'Abo said yes, he'd love it...must have been a fun set!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Poem for Sunday, National Aquarium, Fires

Goldfish Are Ordinary
By Stacie Cassarino

At the pet store on Court Street,
I search for the perfect fish.
The black moor, the blue damsel,
cichlids and neons. Something
to distract your sadness, something
you don't need to love you back.
Maybe a goldfish, the flaring tail,
orange, red-capped, pearled body,
the darting translucence? Goldfish
are ordinary
, the boy selling fish
says to me. I turn back to the tank,
all of this grace and brilliance,
such simplicity the self could fail
to see. In three months I'll leave
this city. Today, a chill in the air,
you're reading Beckett fifty blocks
away, I'm looking at the orphaned
bodies of fish, undulant and gold fervor.
Do you want to see aggression?
the boy asks, holding a purple beta fish
to the light while dropping handfuls
of minnows into the bowl. He says,
I know you're a girl and all
but sometimes it's good to see.

Outside, in the rain, we love
with our hands tied,
while things tear away at us.


My Saturday has been entirely concerned with fish and fire. After getting Daniel to robotics early for a meet downtown, we set out for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which we hadn't visited in a few months -- Adam just got a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens and wanted to test it on something interesting -- but as we approached Laurel, we saw a huge amount of smoke on the horizon and traffic slowing ahead. We quickly got off I-95 to take local roads over to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, but that was very slow as well, since heavy smoke covered the road and the air was hard to breathe. We managed to get to Baltimore, where we learned that brush fires all over Maryland had shut roads and caused evacuations. The aquarium itself was crowded but fun -- the flying foxes and lorikeets were on display in the Australia region, the puffins were jumping around the Atlantic seabird exhibit, the sloth was on a low branch where he was easy to see in the top floor rainforest, the sharks were circling.

Then we started heading home, only to find signs on I-95 warning us that the highway was closed in both directions. We got off onto Route 29, figuring we needed to go directly to Daniel's school to pick him up from the robotics meet, but it took us nearly two hours to get there, at which point we decided to go have dinner at Subway across the street since it was 7 p.m. I was pretty fried when we got home, so rather than challenging my brain, I made my family watch Finding Nemo, which of course had everything to do with all the kids at the aquarium looking for clownfish and nothing to do with Geoffrey Rush voicing Nigel. Then we watched the news, where we finally got details on the fire that disrupted our day so much -- it started at a mulch plant, then the high winds that also toppled the National Christmas Tree and caused 150 acres of Shenandoah National Forest to burn sent it into the local brush, hence the choking smoke. I am pretty fried, though I did manage to avoid the migraine I usually get from smoke inhalation...however, I didn't have time to play around much with the photos I took, so here is one adorable image, with more to come:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Poem for Saturday and Maryland in Glass

By Richard Tayson

I’m late for the birth-
day party, it’s one
of those cool after-

noons when the world
is clear, is made
of glass, the sky

so blue you want to
look up at the very
center of its pupil

in case you get
a glimpse of what
comes after

we leave here. I’m
thinking my lover’s
sister is thirty-two

today, but I want
to let time stand
still, let the tourists

go on waving their
America the Beautiful
flags across 49th

Street, let the three
ladies whose hair
is the color of smoke

rising and ghosts
taking leave of their
senses go on laughing,

near the fountain, may
we all not have
a care in the world. But

it’s August 23rd, I must
get on the train, yet
a tree keeps holding

my attention, its leaves
luscious from the summer
rain, there’s a canopy

beneath which the Pakistani
man I talked to last
week sells his salty

sauerkraut, lifting
the lid and letting out
steam each time he

serves it over hot
dogs, and the man
pays him then turns

toward me, his thick
muscled arm tan
in the sun, the tattoo:

WAR. The day

is gone, the people
around me gone, I am
trying not to forget

that I’m a pacifist,
trying not to pay
attention to his name-

brand shorts and sun
glasses that won’t
let you see a glint

of eye behind them,
I’m trying not to watch
him eat the hot dog in two

bites and nudge the woman
beside him who pushes
a stroller, his arm around

her waist as he pivots and
sees me staring. Yes he might
leap to the right, grab

my throat punch
me shoot me gut
me clean as a fish

taken from the black glass
of the city’s river street, but
the church bells are tolling,

people are saying
their prayers three blocks
from here in the hushed

dark. So I take a deep
breath and am no longer
here, I haven’t been

born yet, there is no state
of California, no Gold
Rush or steam

engine, electricity hasn’t
been invented, people
cross open spaces

on horses, no Middle
Passage, and I watch
the Huns kill the Visigoths

who slice the throats
of every living
Etruscan, a crowning

city is razed, the virgins
raped, one nation
fights for land

to walk on, then are
walked on until
someone carves on a cave

wall, then someone
writes on papyrus,
until we do it all

again, right up to
concentration camps, rivers
flowing with nuclear

waste. 49th Street
floods back, and the man
with the tattoo turns

away, as if he’s decided
not to crack my skull
open and drink me

today, the 965th day
of the new century. War
goes into fifth month. The church

bells stop and the ladies
get up and walk
toward Radio City

and while I don’t believe
in an eye for an eye, I have
a flash lasting no longer

than it takes for a nuclear
blast to render this city
invisible, shadow

of a human arm I’ve torn
from its socket, its left
hand gripping the air.


I had a terrible horrible morning at the doctor's -- she ran late, the procedures were horrible, the only good news is that everything looked fine to her. I collapsed for a while when I got home, then dragged myself up and finished a possibly-incoherent-due-to-meds review of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which was fun to rewatch but Gillian is still a problem for me. Ah well, the movie's not really about her.

Congress enraged me -- what else is new. We had dinner with my parents, came home for Smallville, which is clearly reaching its endgame, which makes me sad, though I've really loved this season, even mediocre storylines like this one, because the characters have been delightful -- then we watched Easy Virtue, which has a fantastic soundtrack and lots of very good actors playing fairly unpleasant characters. If I married someone and Colin Firth turned out to be his father, I'd have a big problem.

Here are some photos of the Maryland window at National Cathedral, with symbols of the state and images from its history: