Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poem for Thursday and Brookside Blossoms

To Lucasta, Going to the Wars
By Richard Lovelace

Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind
That from nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True, a mew mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.


I had a bunch to do on Wednesday and I got nearly a third of it done, so I get to feel accomplished. It helped that LiveJournal was dead for a lot of the day, so I couldn't be distracted there. My kids have no school on Thursday, so we're planning to go to Winterthur to see the gardens in bloom, and I had to get going on articles due Friday.

I got to have dinner with Gblvr and do a bit of shopping -- there is now a store in the mall that sells beach-town India cotton sundresses for $10, which makes me ridiculously happy, and Forever 21 has socks for under a dollar with cherry blossoms, turtles, and little birdies. I am in a rush to get to bed, so here are some Brookside Gardens photos:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Poem for Wednesday, Brainstorm, Frankenstein, Ikebana

Prologue of the Earthly Paradise
By William Morris

Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.

But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by,
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die—
—Remember me a little then I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.

The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
These idle verses have no power to bear;
So let me sing of names remembered,
Because they, living not, can ne’er be dead,
Or long time take their memory quite away
From us poor singers of an empty day.

Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.

Folk say, a wizard to a northern king
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,
And through another saw the summer glow,
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,
Piped the drear wind of that December day.

So with this Earthly Paradise it is,
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,
Not the poor singer of an empty day.


It was a pretty, cool Tuesday as the cherry blossoms peaked downtown -- not that I was there to see them, I was at home working and doing laundry and various other chores when I wasn't running out to exchange a cosmetic bag. I had a good day with cable TV. My laundry-folding movie was Brainstorm, which I haven't seen in several years, and while I know I am biased because I love Louise Fletcher in absolutely everything and Christopher Walken in almost everything, I really think it has held up amazingly well; the computers look ancient but the sci-fi hook is still relevant, and it's one of the few cinematic life-after-death sequences that actually works for me. In the late afternoon I took Adam to tennis and took an hour-long walk in Cabin John Park, which was delightful with the sun coming through the trees and daffodils everywhere.

Paul made veggie sloppy joes for dinner, then one of the Encore channels had Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein on just after the UConn women beat the Duke women. I haven't seen that in even longer than Brainstorm and enjoyed it enormously: any film with three hams as big as Branagh, De Niro, and Bonham Carter cannot help but be delightful even in an over-the-top ending like this film has, and I don't know where my mind was before, but it never occurred to me how much Tom Hulce is playing Branagh's boyfriend. Because of Mel Brooks, I cannot watch any version of Frankenstein without looking for Frau Blucher and making jokes about Abby Normal's brain, so even though this is a classic of horror and written by a woman I greatly admire, I always end up snickering at inappropriate moments. Here are some more photos of the Brookside Gardens Ikebana show last weekend:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Poem for Tuesday, Cherry Blossoms, Hunger Games

Mother Night
By James Weldon Johnson

Eternities before the first-born day,
Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame,
Calm Night, the everlasting and the same,
A brooding mother over chaos lay.
And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay,
Shall run their fiery courses and then claim
The haven of the darkness whence they came;
Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way.

So when my feeble sun of life burns out,
And sounded is the hour for my long sleep,
I shall, full weary of the feverish light,
Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt,
And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep
Into the quiet bosom of the Night.


I had an early doctor appointment and spent most of the rest of the day reading The Hunger Games, which I am enjoying so much more than I was expecting; I did my M.A. thesis on feminist ideas of utopia and dystopia, so I've read a lot of great dystopian novels and it takes a lot to impress me, but I really like Katniss and I was fairly unspoiled so I was quite surprised how moving it was. I haven't finished it and I don't know anything about the sequels so please don't tell me spoilery things.

Harry's Law this evening wasn't particularly impressive and next week is the season finale -- it could be the series finale, it sounds like NBC hasn't made any decision -- I love Kathy Bates but she deserves both better cases and better supporting cast members. Have some more cherry blossoms:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Poem for Monday and Brookside in Blossom

Isolation: To Marguerite
By Matthew Arnold

We were apart; yet, day by day,
I bade my heart more constant be.
I bade it keep the world away,
And grow a home for only thee;
Nor fear'd but thy love likewise grew,
Like mine, each day, more tried, more true.

The fault was grave! I might have known,
What far too soon, alas! I learn'd—
The heart can bind itself alone,
And faith may oft be unreturn'd.
Self-sway'd our feelings ebb and swell—
Thou lov'st no more;—Farewell! Farewell!

Farewell!—and thou, thou lonely heart,
Which never yet without remorse
Even for a moment didst depart
From thy remote and spher├Ęd course
To haunt the place where passions reign—
Back to thy solitude again!

Back! with the conscious thrill of shame
Which Luna felt, that summer-night,
Flash through her pure immortal frame,
When she forsook the starry height
To hang over Endymion's sleep
Upon the pine-grown Latmian steep.

Yet she, chaste queen, had never proved
How vain a thing is mortal love,
Wandering in Heaven, far removed.
But thou hast long had place to prove
This truth—to prove, and make thine own:
"Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone."

Or, if not quite alone, yet they
Which touch thee are unmating things—
Ocean and clouds and night and day;
Lorn autumns and triumphant springs;
And life, and others' joy and pain,
And love, if love, of happier men.

Of happier men—for they, at least,
Have dream'd two human hearts might blend
In one, and were through faith released
From isolation without end
Prolong'd; nor knew, although not less
Alone than thou, their loneliness.


My in-laws came from Hanover to have a belated birthday lunch with Paul and to see the kids now that Daniel is finished with the robotics competition. So after Adam got home from Hebrew school, we went to Minerva's Indian buffet in Gaithersburg, where I ate far too many masala eggs, dal, Bombay potatoes, and lots of other things. Then we went to Brookside Gardens, which was having an Ikebana display in the visitor center -- not as many examples as we've seen at the National Arboretum during their seasonal displays, but many beautiful arrangements with cherry blossoms and tulips now that they're starting to bloom. It was cooler than Saturday and we did get a dusting of the forecast snow, but it was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and we saw lots of geese, turtles, and birds around the pond at Brookside.

Since we were all stuffed from lunch and the red velvet cake my in-laws brought, we had sandwiches for dinner very late while watching The Simpsons. Then we watched Mildred Pierce on HBO, which is very well-acted -- I always like Kate Winslet, and is there any accent Guy Pearce can't do completely convincingly? -- but I didn't love the novel or the Joan Crawford movie, melodrama is just not my genre, and I'm not sure I can love a five-part miniseries no matter how well it's done. Next week I won't be watching when it airs because The Borgias premieres in the time slot, and I'm afraid Jeremy Irons may trump even Kate Winslet for me. My in-laws made sure I knew that UConn's women had beaten Georgetown, which is all to the good, and huzzah for VCU, I love a local Cinderella story!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Poem for Sunday and Cherry Blossom Festival

Four Poems for Robin
By Gary Snyder

        Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest

I slept under        rhododendron
All night        blossoms fell
Shivering on        a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck        in my pack
Hands deep        in my pockets
Barely      able      to      sleep.
I remembered        when we were in school
Sleeping together        in a big warm bed
We were        the youngest lovers
When we broke up        we were still nineteen
Now our        friends are married
You teach        school back east
I dont mind        living this way
Green hills        the long blue beach
But sometimes        sleeping in the open
I think back        when I had you.

        A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

        An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,
Breath smoking in the moonlight,
Bitter memory like vomit
Choked my throat.
I unrolled a sleeping bag
On mats on the porch
Under thick autumn stars.
In dream you appeared
(Three times in nine years)
Wild, cold, and accusing.
I woke shamed and angry:
The pointless wars of the heart.
Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.
The first time I have
Ever seen them close.

        December at Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
                where you were--
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
                karma demands.


We still have snow forecast for Sunday, so after sending Daniel off to the last day of the DC robotics competition -- his team finished 7th out of 63, and they're more confident for the competition in North Carolina next month -- we decided not to waste a slightly chilly but perfectly gorgeous Saturday and took the Metro downtown to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival officially began in the afternoon (and since the park service has already postponed Sunday's planned kite festival in case of inclement weather, I think we definitely made the right choice); the trees aren't quite at peak, that's supposed to be Tuesday, but the white blossoms are mostly open and the pinker ones not far behind. We figure they could all be gone by next weekend's Sakura Street Festival, and since it's early in the season and it was cool today, there were no big crowds -- we even got seats on all the trains, and there was plenty of room to picnic in the grass with good views of the Jefferson Memorial. I just wish we weren't looking at Japan's gift while Japan is in such crisis.

We came home in the afternoon as the crowds were growing -- the National Marathon was in the morning, so we figured people would be heading over as it got later. Adam has a cold but he was a good sport so he could take photos, though he got a bit worn out. Then She Found Me was on Lifetime at dinnertime; I wasn't sure I'd like it because I haven't always liked Helen Hunt (or more specifically I've really disliked some characters she's played), and I did want to smack her character a few times in this one, but considering that she directed the movie, she did a nice job of letting Bette Midler and Colin Firth play more colorful people than she was playing. We were all sort of worn out after dinner (I blame the leftover birthday cake), and we ended up watching Curse of the Black Pearl, which we all adore for different reasons. I am finally ready to admit, with shame, that I take this post back.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Poem for Saturday, National Farm, Insurrection, Damned United

The Search
By Shel Silverstein

I went to find the pot of gold
That's waiting where the rainbow ends.
I searched and searched and searched and searched
And searched and searched, and then --
There it was, deep in the grass,
Under an old and twisty bough.
It's mine, it's mine, it's mine at last...
What do I search for now?


It was a cool and overcast Friday, not that I am complaining -- I do reserve the right to complain on Sunday, however, since we are supposed to get snow. Snow! During the Cherry Blossom Festival! This is not right. I am not sure what our weekend schedule will be, since it is contingent on both the weather and Daniel's robotics schedule -- he missed dinner with us entirely tonight, since he decided to stay for the social at the DC FIRST robotics regional competition. We want to get downtown and see the cherry blossoms but between the marathon, the robotics events, and the weather forecast, I have no idea what will happen.

I posted my review of Star Trek: Insurrection, my favorite of the TNG movies, and those of us not at robotics had dinner with my parents, who had a birthday cake for Paul (triple chocolate mousse, mmmmm). The Damned United was on cable, so even though I know next to nothing about UK football, we watched it...I had some trouble following the teams' triumphs and failures especially given the time jumps, but the final scene between Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall -- oops, I mean between Brian Clough and Peter Taylor -- made up for everything. Also, Colm Meaney is a delight, as is the entire cast really.

The Friday Five: Memories
1. What smell brings you a fond memory?
Slightly burnt lunch truck food. You couldn't pay me to eat it, but it reminds me of walking up 34th Street in Philadelphia in college.
2. What song makes you nostalgic? Hundreds of songs make me nostalgic. Tonight it's Marc Cohn's "Walk On Water" because it was on my mp3 player earlier -- that is a spring in Chicago song for me.
3. What taste reminds you of school? Canned tomato soup, which we used to get on plastic school lunch trays with grilled cheese sandwiches made on Wonder Bread (I once got one of the stickers cooked in my sandwich).
4. Which season makes you remember the most things in your past? Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
5. Which memory do you treasure? ONE memory? I don't know whether to choose my wedding or the birth of my younger son; the birth of my older son is something of a blur since they gave me way too much Demerol.

National Colonial Farm Animals:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Poem for Friday, Earthsea, Alexandria Spring

La Chalupa, the Boat
By Jean Valentine

I am twenty,
drifting in la chalupa,
the blue boat painted with roses,
white lilies—

No, not drifting, I am poling
my way into life. It seems
like another life:

There were the walls of the mind.
There were the cliffs of the mind,
There were the seven deaths,
and the seven-bread offerings—

Still, there was still
the little boat, the chalupa
you built once, slowly, in the yard, after school—


I got up early on my husband's birthday so I'd be awake enough to say goodbye to him properly before he left for work, and because Tiara Galleries was having a Vera Bradley summer release party with swag -- I came away with a mini purse, ear bud case, and tape measure, all in the very colorful Viva la Vera pattern. Then I ran to a bunch of the stores in the same strip mall (Whole Foods, Hallmark, Ulta, Child's Play -- a toy store that did not have plastic dingos in their vast collection of plastic wild animals) and came home to take a walk because I thought we were going to pick up Daniel from the Metro after the DC robotics competition and go out to dinner.

But Paul decided that what he actually wanted for his birthday dinner was pizza -- far be it from me to argue -- so he went and picked up Daniel and the pizza while I ran out to the food store for chocolate cake (which he also wanted) and cat food (which we realized we needed to pick up whether we were going out to dinner or not). So we had a glamorous birthday dinner, then we watched Studio Ghibli's Tales from Earthsea -- it has been a million years since I last reread LeGuin, so I can't have a coherent conversation about how much jumping around within the timeline took place, and the women don't kick butt as much as I wanted, but the animation is lovely. Speaking of lovely, Green Spring Gardens flowers and animals:

Thank you Arizona!