Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poem for Wednesday, Sand Shark, Lovespell

Toothpaste Kids Sunburn
By Jordan Davis

I tell you I will not make any more raids,
The elusive going-elsewhere motherboard

An electrical sound marking stretches
Afternoon is carving into the wood of us,

That's our modern way of saline allegory --
To make gods of times of day. I won't

Cooperate with this love that steals itself
Into a brand name, preferring to abandon

Like feathers or a rocket stage the moves
Traffic up till now couldn't touch. That's me,

That warm breath dying on the neck,
The only chain they couldn't save in the fire

Everybody but the Buddha called
A day at the beach.


Tuesday was rainy, chilly, and uneventful. I had two writing projects that had to be finished and they got finished, so I am feeling accomplished about that. Also, the laundry got folded, though I must blush and admit that while I was scanning On Demand for a costume drama or something with lovely scenery to watch, I came across Lovespell, which I managed NOT to watch when I was watching all of Kate Mulgrew's movies yet did not manage not to watch today. It wasn't bad -- Richard Burton was entertainingly crotchety, though what woman would pick his nephew over him, I can't fathom, and Kate was hilariously over-the-top and tearful, which was in keeping with the overwrought soundtrack.

Adam had tennis late in the afternoon, so since I hadn't been out all day I went to Old Navy for their 75% off sale and came home with two fleece sweatshirts for about $11. We had Mexican food for dinner, a nice contrast to the weather, and watched Glee (which had awesome music including a Cyndi Lauper cover, an Olivia Newton-John cover, and a Melissa Etheridge cover almost making up for the lesbianism-is-for-titillation! idiocy), Ringer (which is simply crack at this point), and Sanctuary (why was it on Tuesday>?!) So after all that background noise -- please don't ask me to explain exactly what Helen did to the computers -- I ran out of photo time. Here, have a sand shark from Calvert Cliffs:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Poem for Tuesday, B&O Legos, Peter Pan

From 'Tintern Abbey'
By William Wordsworth

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur. -- Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.
                          These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration: -- feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened: --that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on, --
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.


I had a lovely Monday. Jules came over with the terribly arduous request that we watch Peter Pan, which she needed to see for a writing project, so I put myself through the difficult task of watching Jason Isaacs being a pirate with fairies that look like they dropped in out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. I adore that movie, and I also got to have lunch with Jules at California Pizza Kitchen, plus a bit of shopping in stores with things that smell good like Lush and Bath & Body Works. Adam stayed late at school for tech so I had lots of time.

Plus Paul worked from home because they're doing construction at his office and his car was in for an oil change, so in the afternoon we went to pick that up, then I took a walk on yet another absurdly warm gorgeous November day whose only drawback was how dark it was by 5 p.m. Evening TV included Terra Nova -- oh I hope they start tying up or at least explaining things before they get canceled for costing too much -- and the lopsided Saints-Giants game, plus Jon Stewart on American trends in pepper spray. Here are some photos of the history of Baltimore in Legos at the B&O Railroad Museum:

Downtown Baltimore, including the Bromo-Seltzer clock tower.

A waterside vendor selling crabs.

Near the Port of Baltimore, a motel with a swimming pool.

BWI Airport (you can tell this is older Baltimore from the lack of flight delays).

I am not entirely sure where this pastoral ruin is -- perhaps in the Walters Museum?

A downtown news chopper with reporter and cameraman.

Prehistoric Baltimore with cavemen...

...and even earlier, with dinosaurs and, er, mermaids.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Poem for Monday and Great Falls

Garden of Bees
By Matthew Rohrer

The narcissus grows past
the towers. Eight gypsy
sisters spread their wings
in the garden. Their gold teeth
are unnerving. Every single
baby is asleep. They want
a little money and I give
them less. I'm charming and
handsome. They take my pen.
I buy the poem from the garden
of bees for one euro. A touch
on the arm. A mystery word.
The sky has two faces.
For reasons unaccountable
my hand trembles.
In Roman times if they were
horrified of bees they kept it secret


Adam got up early to go to church with his girlfriend and Daniel slept nearly till noon, so Paul and I spent the morning reading and going over some work on the computer. After lunch we took both kids to Great Falls, which had a lot of people because of the gorgeous weather -- hit 70 degrees for the second day in a row, and the Potomac River was gloriously high -- but we had the steep rocky path mostly to ourselves once we got off the Olmsted Island bridges and we saw the most vultures I have ever seen in one place in my life circling over the river. I am sure the Redskins won because we weren't paying attention.

My parents joined us for dinner -- at Daniel's request, we brought in pizza -- then Adam's friend joined us to drive Daniel back to school and help carry his computer and clothes up four flights of stairs. We missed Once Upon a Time, but I watched A Thousand Acres which I hadn't seen since the film was made. King Lear is not my favorite play, but I am not terribly fond of this retelling, and in my defense I would like to announce that I did not know who Colin Firth was when the film was new -- I watched it for Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange -- the acting is great, but it's a pretty grim movie.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Poem for Sunday and B&O Railroad Museum

A List of Praises
By Anne Porter

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods,
At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls
And the rattle and flap of sails
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.
Give praise with the humpback whales,
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas,
Give praise with hum of bees,
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over.

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.

Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river,
Wilderness river.

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities,
Far even from the towns,
With piercing innocence
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes
And four notes only.

Give praise with water,
With storms of rain and thunder
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar
That fills the seaside villages,
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.


Several of us had to get up early on Saturday because Adam had an emergency orthodontist appointment, but we got very lucky: the retainer wasn't cracked, only the wires were damaged and could be fixed, and since the appointment was at 8:30 a.m. before the mall in which the office is located had opened, Adam and Paul were in and out very quickly. We had plans to meet my in-laws in Baltimore after lunch since we'd expected to spend much of the morning getting impressions made for a new retainer, so we had lots of time to read and hang out while Daniel slept. We saw President Obama's trio of helicopters heading to Towson, where he went to watch his brother-in-law coach basketball; we shall not discuss the horror that was the Terrapins-Wolfpack game.

Paul's parents met us at the B&O Railroad Museum in the roundhouse in Baltimore, where the holiday display had just opened -- lots of snowflake lights hanging from the high roof, model train displays (including a fabulous Lego history of Baltimore) in the center surrounded by historic locomotives and an exhibit on the B&O Railroad during the Civil War, with an interactive map showing the major events of the war in four minutes. We had to get back to drop Daniel off at his high school's annual robotics alumni dinner, so the rest of us ate without him, then Adam went to visit friends and after Daniel got home we watched most of the third season of Blackadder. Now we are discussing the advantages of getting a Mech E/Comp Sci dual degree vs. staying in the Scholars program and getting a Comp E degree, a topic on which I fear I am not the most useful adviser.

The B&O Railroad roundhouse behind the outdoor model train display complete with "Go Ravens" car.

Inside, the roundhouse is decorated for the holidays from the top down...

...including seasonal items around the historic train cars.

Some model trains go around Christmas trees...

...but the centerpiece at the moment is a massive Lego display of a holiday parade in historic Baltimore.

Here are my kids in front of one of the locomotives.

And here are Paul and myself in the Civil War exhibit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Poem for Saturday and Black Friday

Balance, onslaught
By Khadijah Queen

after Clare Rojas

(I have a diamond house
with men. I have pierced
men and diamond shoes.
I have shoed horses and
a tilted head. I have a tilted
cart and a flowered scarf.
I have a gray dress and a
hell of a guitar. I play the
guitar and the jukebox jack-
in-the-box gutted brown
bear and canoe landscape. I
play the grayest song and a
cat's yarn game.) I sit in the
forest with a cat and a knife.
(I see the quilted mountains
and long knitted birds. I see
the man limping across the
path of chevrons between
the trees. I sit between trees,
hanging hair and red mouth.
I mouth and sit. The buck
stands by the river. I am in
my paper mask, my wood.)


Post-Thanksgiving Friday around here involved no shopping except a stop in the food store for milk and a stop in the liquor store a few shops down for egg nog. The orthodontist couldn't fit Adam in to fix the retainer till Saturday morning, so while Adam went downtown to museums with his girlfriend, the rest of us had a quiet morning -- I wrote a review of "Dax" -- and ate lunch, then went to Seneca Creek State Park for a bit of a hike. There was nobody else on the trail while we were there and the weather was quite warm, just under 60 degrees, so it was lovely to be walking by the water.

The creek was over its banks in places at Seneca Creek State Park...

...yet quite low and very clear in others.

Fortunately there are bridges over some of the offshoot streams.

pointed out that the stream and stones here looks like an otter.

Daniel found this fallen beehive.

As you can see even in this blurry phone photo, the leaves are mostly down by now too.

We had dinner with my parents and two of my nieces, though it was a bit of a chaotic affair because my sister and her husband had gone out to dinner and my parents had only just arrived home with the girls, while we were running late because Daniel spent the late afternoon fighting with his computer's power supply (which I believe Dell has agreed to replace, since it's making weird noises and the computer is still under warranty). Still, Thanksgiving side dish leftovers are always awesome. Now we're watching Blackadder, who is on a roll with prick jokes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Poem for Friday and Thanksgiving

By John Boyle O'Reilly

Thunder our thanks to her -- guns, hearts, and lips!
     Cheer from the ranks to her,
     Shout from the banks to her --
Mayflower! Foremost and best of our ships.

Mayflower! Twice in the national story
     Thy dear name in letters of gold --
     Woven in texture that never grows old --
Winning a home and winning glory!
Sailing the years to us, welcomed for aye;
Cherished for centuries, dearest to-day.
Every heart throbs for her, every flag dips --
Mayflower! First and last, best of our ships.

White as a seagull, she swept the long passage.
True as the homing-bird flies with its message.
Love her? O, richer than silk every sail of her.
Trust her? More precious than gold every nail of her.
Write we down faithfully every man's part in her;
Greet we all gratefully every true heart in her.

More than a name to us, sailing the fleetest,
Symbol of that which is purest and sweetest:
More than a keel to us, steering the straightest,
Emblem of that which is freest and greatest:
More than a dove-bosomed sail to the windward,
Flame passing on while the night-clouds fly hindward.
Kiss every plank of her! None shall take rank of her;
Frontward or weatherward, none can eclipse.
Thunder our thanks to her! Cheer from the banks to her!
Mayflower! Foremost and best of our ships!


We had a very nice, relatively low-key Thanksgiving day despite being woken earlier than we would have wished by cats who were starving. We watched the Macy's parade, which seems to get more commercial every year -- does anyone appear who doesn't have a new CD or movie out or who isn't advertising for something? -- but had some enjoyable music. Eventually we all showered and Paul's parents arrived as we were finishing lunch, so we sat around watching football and chatting while the tofurky cooked -- my mother did the actual turkey for the non-vegetarians so we were responsible for the fake stuff.

I ate waaaay too much -- appetizers included spanakopita, hummus, brie and crackers, and nuts, dinner included stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, carrot souffle, cranberry sauce, and pineapple, dessert included two kinds of pie and chocolates -- and sat around chatting with my sister and in-laws while my mother had the kids running all over the house on a scavenger hunt. Eventually we were all too full to eat any more and my in-laws had to drive back to Pennsylvania, so we came home for the end of the Ravens-49ers game, which ended just as we wanted for Baltimore. Younger son did manage to break his retainer playing with friends, so Friday I must see when I can get him in to see the orthodontist (who is located in a mall so I am sort of hoping it will NOT be tomorrow). Hope everyone else has had a lovely holiday, or a lovely Thursday if it's not one where you are -- we will NOT be shopping at midnight!

My kids and their cousins at the table, most with stuffed turkeys on their heads.

Earlier they all posed on the couch at my parents' house.

Younger son being a hipster...

...and all the kids with My Little Pony pinata.

These are some of the stuffed turkeys decorating the table...

...and this is Paul's annual cookie cake, a rush job on the decorations this year because he forgot to make the icing till the last minute. Previous cakes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poem for Thanksgiving, IONA, Blackadder

This Kind of Grace
By Pattiann Rogers

Let's bless the body before love.
By rights we should, every detail.
We could use water, spring water
or rose, minted or bay rum. A touch
to the shoulders -- bless these. A drop
behind each knee -- sanctify here. A sprinkle
to the belly, yours, mine -- in heartfelt

I could dip my fingers into oil cupped
in my palm, sweet citronella, lavender,
clove, trace your forehead, temple
to temple, the boldness of that warm
stone -- so glorified -- perfume the entire
declaration of your spine, neck
to tail -- so hallowed.

We'd neglect nothing, ankle, knuckle,
thigh, cheek. And for the rapture
of hair, scented with sweat or the spices
of cedary sages and summer pines,
in which I hide my face -- praise
to the conjoining hosts of all
radiant forests and plains.

And imagine how I'd lay my hand,
move my hand carefully on and around
and under each axil and hummock and whorl
between your legs, the magnificent maze
of those gifts -- thanks to the exploding
heavens, thanks to all pulsing suns.

For these cosmic accomplishments:
this delve of your body, a narrow
crevasse leading into earth-darkness;
this assertion of your hands, light
winds lifting, parting, pressing
upon supine grasses; this rise, the tip
of a swollen moon over black hills;
this sweep of union, hawk-shadow
falling fast across the open prairie
into the horizon; for this whole blessed
body, for what we are about to receive
together tonight...truly, ardently,
ecstatically, boundlessly


Paul worked from home the day before Thanksgiving so that we could go pick up Daniel -- and both his computers -- from College Park in the early afternoon. The traffic was surprisingly cooperative, slow in spots but not horrible. Daniel wanted to stop at Microcenter to get a new graphics card for his computer, so we did that, since Adam had gone to his girlfriend's house after his half-day of school. The cats are very happy that Daniel is home despite all the boxes in his room!

We had ravioli for dinner and watched several episodes of Blackadder, mostly the second series, though we also watched the Christmas special (which we'd seen before) and Back & Forth so we could see Colin Firth as Shakespeare (getting punched in the name of schoolchildren everywhere, hahaha). Below are a few more photos of IONA playing at the Old Brogue last Sunday evening, including Kathleen Larrick dancing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, fellow American celebrants!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poem for Wednesday and King James Bibles

The Harvest Moon
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is the Harvest Moon!  On gilded vanes
  And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
  And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
  Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
  And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
  Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
  With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
All things are symbols: the external shows
  Of Nature have their image in the mind,
  As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer's close,
  Only the empty nests are left behind,
  And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.


Tuesday was a miserable rainy day on which it felt like the sun never really came up. I had work and chores to do. I had a very good time folding laundry, since I was watching the unexpectedly delightful Stone of Destiny, which I'd heard of only because Billy Boyd is in it and whose plot I hadn't known at all (or heard about but thought it was fictional): the theft of the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in the 1950s by a group of Glasgow students as a symbol of Scottish pride. I enjoyed it immensely and was recording it, but for the third time in a week my DVD burner decided to crash instead of closing the disc. *gnashes teeth*

Gblvr and I had tentative plans to see Breaking Dawn, but neither of us was really in the mood for it -- it was more a tradition thing, we saw the first three Twilight movies together...and before anyone gets going on how Twilight is evil, be warned that I have had to listen all day to the great irony of the very same people who are boo-hooing over Anne McCaffrey and her sexist, heterosexist world declaring that Twilight is bad for girls. Well, guess what, kids, Hermione (who has supportive loving parents and teachers who think she's smart) is not the hero of the Harry Potter books, and Eowyn (who is the daughter of Kings, a shield maiden of Rohan) falls apart over Aragorn until Faramir swoops in to finish her healing -- and I won't even get started on Reboot!Uhura. So leave Bella alone already.

Anyway, having decided that we were not up for the movie, we got Indian food in the mall and walked around looking at costume jewelry and things that smell good (and watched Santa run away and got more See's Candies samples, always a good thing). At home I caught up on last night's Terra Nova -- finally the arc gets going, I just hope it's not too late for the show -- and, since Glee and Ringer weren't on, watched a bit of football and listened to some music. Wednesday both kids are home early for Thanksgiving!

A family Bible with genealogy at the Folger Shakespeare Library's Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible.

Elizabeth I's Bishop's Bible.

'The workes of the most high andmightie Prince, James.'

The Humble Petition by the Puritans of Oxford.

Edward Fitchew's 1888 drawing of Hampton Court, where the conference that created the King James Bible was convened.

First Edition King James Bible with Jesus's genealogy.

Scathing Broughton tract condemning KJV.

Newer Bibles influenced by the King James Bible.