Monday, October 31, 2011

Poem for Monday and Kings Dominion

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

She is neither pink nor pale,
    And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
    And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs;
    In the sun 'tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of colored beads,
    Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
    And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
    And she never will be all mine.


We spent nearly all of Sunday at Kings Dominion with Adam and his friend Daniel Wigle, a trip we had promised them before Adam's birthday in July but couldn't make work for any weekend in the summer or early fall. That worked out well, because we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day -- mid-50s, not a cloud in the sky, red-gold leaves still on the trees all around the park -- and until late afternoon, when people started to arrive for the Halloween-themed Haunt activities, it wasn't crowded at all, meaning the lines for the rides were quite short. Adam's priority was roller coasters; they went on Flight of Fear, Intimidator, Volcano, Dominator, Shockwave, Avalanche, and the classic from my youth, the Rebel Yell, plus a bunch of flying rides. We "old people" stuck to the ferris wheel and were passengers on the Blue Ridge Tollway (on which we sat in the back of a car driven by Daniel W, since driving is the one thing we can do that he can't).

We all shared a pizza for lunch, had some cotton candy and drinks late in the afternoon, went up the 1/3-scale Eiffel Tower together, and looked at the Halloween decorations that were all around the park (tombstones, "bloody corpses" and skeletons, ravens, etc.). I played a couple of rounds of skee-ball, winning a pair of small rubber sea turtles, and left shortly after Adam tossed a quarter onto a dish and won a four-foot stuffed whale, which pleased him greatly. The food in the park is ridiculously expensive, so instead of staying for dinner, we stopped in Fredericksburg at Carlos O'Kelly's for enchiladas, which were yummy. Then we came home and Paul and I watched Case Histories, which continued to be fairly depressing but really well acted. I will not mention the embarrassment that was the Redskins game, which we followed on Sportacular -- frankly I'm more annoyed that the Cowboys didn't manage to beat the Eagles. At least the Ravens won!

Adam and Daniel W about to ride the Volcano, which belches fire when it isn't flipping people upside down...

...and sitting across from me on the Ferris Wheel as it rises above the Rebel Yell.

Here they are near the end of the Intimidator ride, which they went on twice (and apparently blacked out on).

The Halloween decorations include ghouls under the Eiffel Tower...

...and lots of graveyard imagery, most less cheesy than this!

There are also very tall pirates, even when it isn't a holiday.

And cotton candy in the usual pink and blue.

Adam won this whale at a Quarter Toss. Daniel W was envious but the cats are suspicious of it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poem for Sunday and October Snow

By Alfred Kreymborg

When trees have lost remembrance of the leaves
that spring bequeaths to summer, autumn weaves
and loosens mournfully -- this dirge, to whom
does it belong -- who treads the hidden loom?

When peaks are overwhelmed with snow and ice,
and clouds with crepe bedeck and shroud the skies --
nor any sun or moon or star, it seems,
can wedge a path of light through such black dreams --

All motion cold, and dead all traces thereof:
What sudden shock below, or spark above,
starts torrents raging down till rivers surge --
that aid the first small crocus to emerge?

The earth will turn and spin and fairly soar,
that couldn't move a tortoise-foot before --
and planets permeate the atmosphere
till misery depart and mystery clear! --

And yet, so insignificant a hearse? --
who gave it the endurance so to brave
such elements? -- shove winter down a grave? --
and then lead on again the universe?


Pretty much my entire Saturday was taken up with the freak October snowstorm that struck the east coast. We had it very easy here -- my in-laws got several inches piled on their street, my sister's area lost power, my friends in New England got a foot of snow -- but we had precipitation from before dawn (which was not apparent, as it was still quite dark outside at 9 a.m.) until evening, with snow showers on and off during the morning and quite hard snowfall for several hours in the afternoon, though thankfully it only stuck to metal surfaces like cars, not to streets and more importantly not to local tree branches which could have fallen on roads and power lines. I blame the snow for the terrible conditions in College Park that caused the Terps to fall to Boston College.

Anyway, after our late start in the darkness, it was a pretty quiet day. Except for a brief shopping trip to the mall, which was unsurprisingly mobbed with people like us who decided it was the only safe place to take a walk given the weather, we mostly hung out, read, and watched football. Adam was in and out with friends (and apparently earned the approval of his maybe-girlfriend's parents during an after dinner visit), but the cats lounged on the couch with us all afternoon and evening. We watched the third and fourth episodes of the current season of Merlin, which I'd thought would make me sad but were instead so amazingly slashy that I couldn't work up any real unhappiness. I am more annoyed that Ohio State beat Wisconsin! And now I must sleep so we can take Adam to King's Dominion tomorrow as a late birthday present.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Poem for Saturday and Autumn into Winter

In the Airport
By Eleni Sikélianòs

A man called Dad walks by
then another one does. Dad, you say
and he turns, forever turning, forever
being called. Dad, he turns, and looks
at you, bewildered, his face a moving
wreck of skin, a gravity-bound question
mark, a fruit ripped in two, an animal
that can't escape the field.


I got to spend quite a bit of Friday with Paul, though not for the best of reasons -- his eye has been bothering him and he had a late-morning doctor appointment, so he worked from home in the morning, then returned and worked from home in the afternoon after he had an infection diagnosed and a prescription. Hopefully this is it for ALL of us with eye infections for the foreseeable future! It sounds like we may have an enforced quiet day tomorrow due to snow (SNOW! NOOO!) so everyone can recover.

I posted my review of DS9's "A Man Alone", which I loved SO much more this time around, and got out to enjoy the gorgeous weather before we went to dinner with my parents (Adam having belatedly informed us again that he had plans with week we may make plans with our own friends, though he is home now and we watched Sanctuary together which should always end just the way this one did, heh). I actually preferred it to Nikita for a change. Congrats to the Cardinals, and here are some Brookside Gardens autumn photos:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Poem for Friday and Riley's Lock

By Herman de Coninck
Translated by Kurt Brown and Laure-Anne Bosselaar

What you do with time
is what a grandmother clock
does with it: strike twelve
and take its time doing it.
You’re the clock: time passes,
you remain. And wait.

Waiting is what happens to
a snow-covered garden,
a trunk under moss,
hope for better times
in the nineteenth century,
or words in a poem.

For poetry is about letting things
grow moldy together, like grapes
turning into wine, reality into preserves,
and hoarding words
in the cellar of yourself.


Thursday was nearly as rainy as Wednesday. I spent the morning having Issues burning backup discs (apparently there is a maximum number of files a DVD can hold regardless of the size of the files, or at least there is in the programs I use). In the afternoon I took a brief walk and took Adam along with his friend Daniel to Hot Topic to get pink hair dye for Halloween. His hair is so dark that it's only moderately pink, but that may be just as well when it comes time to wash it out.

Adam wanted to go to his high school's Got Talent show in the evening, so we had dinner early, then I watched DS9's "A Man Alone" to review -- an episode I think I only saw when it originally aired. I love Odo almost as much as I love Kira. Then we watched the World Series, which has seemed endless, I suppose because I don't passionately care who wins! Here are some photos from Riley's Lock last weekend, both the C&O Canal and the view across the Potomac River toward a Virginia golf course:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poem for Thursday and Beaver Dams

Hawthorne in Tuckerton
By Stephen Dunn

Like the other great ones he wouldn't vanish
into his own destiny, kept showing up
in different parts of America, small pious towns
like this one, wooded, where he trusted
that what thumped in the human heart
would manifest, make its old nightly rounds.

"Scratch an American," he was overheard saying
at the diner, "and you'll find a Puritan."
And one man nodded while another
in a John Deere cap swallowed hard,
changed the subject to the Phillies.
Hawthorne still loved the repressed, the avoided.

Nothing made him more alert than a large passion
twisted, coiled in the recesses of an innocent.
But something had changed.
People camped without fear in the piney forest,
were simply amused by tales of the Jersey Devil.
And Tuckerton now had its Seaport. Its Dimmesdales

and Rappacinis had a stake in the market.
Their daughters wore lipstick and openly danced
to loud music. Hawthorne began to feel like the ghost
he was. Grace, he lamented, was once so poignant
before this democratization of the sacred. Adultery
so much more interesting when everyone didn't commit it.


It was a quiet, rainy Wednesday that I spent working and backing up files, so I have nothing exciting to report. I kept trying to motivate myself to clean up the downstairs bathroom, whose sink doesn't work so everyone else uses it as a dumping ground, but I'd just end up having to move people's piles of stuff somewhere else, so I kept stalling and ended up reading pretty much the entire Washington Post instead. Are there actually people who read the paper cover to cover every day who don't have a two-hour commute on public transportation? How do people find the time?

I have no idea where the evening went...I was cleaning up some files and the next thing I knew it was dinnertime, then we went to watch the World Series only to find it was rained out, then we went to watch Boardwalk Empire only to find that this week's episode STILL is not On Demand. So we decided to record The Lost World, since it's the only Jurassic Park movie we didn't have a copy of, and we ended up watching and really enjoying it. It's as silly as ever but has a really great cast and the dinos win. Here are a few photos from Huntley Meadows last weekend, including the beaver lodge and dams:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poem for Wednesday, Christmas Carol, Homestead Farm

By Herman Melville


Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
I saw a Banner in gladsome air--
Starry, like Berenice's Hair--
Afloat in broadened bravery there;
With undulating long-drawn flow,
As rolled Brazilian billows go
Voluminously o'er the Line.
The Land reposed in peace below;
   The children in their glee
Were folded to the exulting heart
   Of young Maternity.


Later, and it streamed in fight
   When tempest mingled with the fray,
And over the spear-point of the shaft
   I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
Valor with Valor strove, and died:
Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride;
And the lorn Mother speechless stood,
Pale at the fury of her brood.


Yet later, and the silk did wind
       Her fair cold for;
Little availed the shining shroud,
   Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm
A watcher looked upon her low, and said--
She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead.
   But in that sleep contortion showed
The terror of the vision there--
   A silent vision unavowed,
Revealing earth's foundation bare,
   And Gorgon in her hidden place.
It was a thing of fear to see
   So foul a dream upon so fair a face,
And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud.


But from the trance she sudden broke--
The trance, or death into promoted life;
At her feet a shivered yoke,
And in her aspect turned to heaven
   No trace of passion or of strife--
A clear calm look. It spake of pain,
But such as purifies from stain--
Sharp pangs that never come again--
   And triumph repressed by knowledge meet,
Power delicate, and hope grown wise,
   And youth matured for age's seat--
Law on her brow and empire in her eyes.
   So she, with graver air and lifted flag;
While the shadow, chased by light,
Fled along the far-brawn height,
   And left her on the crag.


I don't have much to report. Late morning, after reading newspaper and various computer chores, was spent folding laundry while watching Disney's A Christmas Carol -- the one in which Jim Carrey does half the voices -- because it was On Demand and therefore readily available. I don't like even excellent versions of A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart's, Bill Murray's, etc.) so I may as well simply admit that I watched this one to see Animated Colin Firth and Animated Colin Firth was pretty much what I liked about it, apart from Animated St. Paul's, Animated Big Ben (in a very clean period Animated London), etc.

Adam is taking tennis lessons again now that the cross country season is over, so I spent a lovely hour walking in the woods at Cabin John Park while he was playing. I am bummed that the class is at 5 p.m. meaning that after the clocks go back it will be too dark to walk in the woods during his lesson. Public television was rerunning the first part of Britain's Royal Weddings, so we watched that, then we were going to watch last night's Boardwalk Empire but that isn't on the On Demand schedule yet. Here are some photos from Homestead Farm last weekend:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Poem for Tuesday, UMCP, Farewell Sarah Jane

By Peter Cooley

I'd like to see the tree as it once stood
before me, childhood, the branch and leaf
a single form of transport, ecstasy
shaking my body I give to the leaves,
the leaves return, my stare all interchange.

But that was when I had a sky to name
since I had a belief in constancy
like everyone. The sky was my background,
the drama of the tree and me, one act,
then three, then five, a Shakespearean play script.
some tragic flaw in hero, heroine,
yet to be discovered.
                            But now the sky
clouds even dawn with a black mist that falls
from all things and all imaginings.

The tree in my backyard is caught in this.
When I look for the sky it is still there
but now a matter of my memory
or prophecy.
                Where is the root, bough, stem
set clearly against a morning, clearing?


I did not have the best of Mondays. I got two pieces of potential bad news, neither of which I am at liberty to discuss because they primarily affect other people, and I got a rather hilarious piece of propaganda in the mail from someone I used to know very well, containing information that reminded me how many true dorks rise to the top. Here are some more photos of the University of Maryland from Family Weekend on Saturday, since that was a lovely day and Daniel is apparently enjoying fencing even more now that he's doing sabre rather than foil.

Evening TV was excellent but depressing too -- we watched the final season of The Sarah Jane Adventures in one gulp, being unable to sit through another full night of baseball or football (of course, as I type this, the Ravens are still playing and the World Series is still going). I know most people in the U.S. haven't seen them yet so I will just say that the Clyde episode is surprisingly moving and the "Steve Jobs' Real Secret" final episode, which should be quite funny, is just doubly painful with both Jobs and Elisabeth Sladen gone. She looks radiant in all the episodes and the stories remind me of how original Star Trek made me feel -- utter optimism about human nature and the universe. I will miss that show so much.