Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Poem for Wednesday and Me at Longwood

Approach of Winter
By William Carlos Williams

The half-stripped trees
struck by a wind together,
bending all,
the leaves flutter drily
and refuse to let go
or driven like hail
stream bitterly out to one side
and fall
where the salvias, hard carmine,—
like no leaf that ever was—
edge the bare garden.


There has really not been an appropriate day all season to post this poem so I might as well post it today. It was slightly colder on Tuesday than on Monday, when I believe it hit 60 degrees; it was only in the 50s when I went walking in Cabin John Park while younger son was at tennis, but that's perfect weather for walking by the creek (very low -- it's been a dry winter as well as a warm one) watching a pair of deer trotting along the opposite bank to stay away from one of the many dogs that people walk without leashes in the park.

I have little else to report; work, laundry, lots of work on a silly project, being driven crazy by people who shall remain nameless about something that should be a good thing rather than a big source of stress but it's not turning out that way. Paul watched Beginners with me because it was a 48-hour rental and he figured he'd watch it while we have it for free, then we watched Ringer which remains entertaining fluff (I don't miss Glee when it's not on but I do miss the double dose of SMG). I ran late again so here are photos of me, Paul and Dementordelta at Longwood Gardens on Sunday, flower photos to come:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poem for Tuesday and Delaware Art Museum

By Sara Teasdale

It will not hurt me when I am old,
    A running tide where moonlight burned
        Will not sting me like silver snakes;
The years will make me sad and cold,
        It is the happy heart that breaks.

The heart asks more than life can give,
    When that is learned, then all is learned;
        The waves break fold on jewelled fold,
But beauty itself is fugitive,
        It will not hurt me when I am old.


I spent an awesome post-Oscars Monday with Dementordelta, beginning with Beginners, which we decided while watching the ceremony on Sunday that we should get on Amazon Instant Video, so we did. I have no idea how, say, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close got an Academy Award nod for best picture while Beginners did not; it's superlative on every level, and as good as Christopher Plummer is, I thought Ewan McGregor was just as good and the narrative and direction were really exceptional, quite different from most of what's out there (and while I wish the female characters were more fully developed or at least that we got more details about their backgrounds, the film shows them sympathetically without making them pushovers).

We went out to lunch at Uncle Julio's where I ate fourteen thousand tortilla chips, then we went to Charming Charlie's where Delta's sweater disappeared for a while but we found lovely super-cheap earrings and necklaces. Then we came back to my house, ate chocolate cake that Delta had brought, and watched the first two episodes of Lost Empires, with baby Colin Firth and aging Laurence Olivier. After Delta had to go home, I watched Smash while trying to catch up on two days' worth of e-mail but I am still hopelessly behind -- will try again tomorrow! Here are a few photos from the Delaware Museum of Art on Sunday:

"Witches' Tree" from Edward Burne-Jones' The Flower Book, in the temporary exhibit A Secret Book of Designs.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Water Willow from the permanent collection.

Howard Pyle's The Mermaid, which is on permanent exhibit in the museum...

...but is currently on display in an exhibit on Pyle and American illustrators.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Placeholder for Monday

While Adam worked at Hebrew school and on tech for his school's show, Paul and I spent most of Sunday in the Brandywine Valley with Dementordelta, first at the Delaware Art Museum to see A Secret Book of Designs: The Burne-Jones Flower Book, Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered and Dana Pyle's Howard Pyle Miniatures, then to Longwood Gardens for lunch in the excellent cafeteria and to see the Orchid Extravaganza in the conservatory.

Then we came home to watch the Oscars, about which (unlike last year) I had no extremely strong opinions except that Octavia Spencer should win Supporting Actress and I was really hoping Viola Davis would win Best Actress (you win some, you lose some). I didn't think Billy Crystal was so much better than other hosts, but Colin Firth looked adorable, we love Christopher Plummer, and we didn't particularly covet anyone's dresses. Here is one photo from Longwood, more to come later in the week:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Poem for Sunday and Saturday Downtown

By Maureen N. McLane

Again the white blanket
icicles pierce.
The fierce teeth
of steel-framed snowshoes
bite the trail open.
Where the hardwoods stand
and rarely bend
the wind blows hard
an explosion of snow
like flour dusting
the baker in a shop
long since shuttered.
In this our post-shame century
we will reclaim
the old nouns
If it rains
we'll say oh
there's rain.
If she falls
out of love
with you you'll carry
your love on a gold plate
to the forest and bury it
in the Indian graveyard.
Pioneers do not
only despoil.
The sweet knees
of oxen have pressed
a path for me.
A lone chickadee
undaunted thing
sings in the snow.
Flakes appear
as if out of air
but surely they come
from somewhere
bearing what news
from the troposphere.
The sky's shifted
and Capricorns abandon
themselves to a Sagittarian
line. I like
this weird axis.
In 23,000 years
it will become again
the same sky
the Babylonians scanned.


Despite the daffodils starting to bloom all over the place, the DC area flirted with winter on Saturday. We had thought about going to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, but there were wind advisories and a biting chill when the sun was behind clouds, so instead we took Adam and his friend Thomas downtown to Reptile and Amphibian Day at the National Aquarium in the Department of Commerce. The albino alligator, Oleander, is now staying through April, and there are two newly rescued loggerhead sea turtles there as well. We suspect the cherry blossoms are going to be early this year because there were pink flowers on trees along the streets between the Commerce building and the Smithsonian.

We went to the National Museum of American History to eat lunch and to see the Jefferson Bible, of which they'd had replicas when we visited Monticello but the original has been in back rooms being restored for several years. We also went to the exhibit on Jefferson and slavery, which is fascinating and sad, and to the Star Spangled Banner, the Gunboat Philadelphia, and the maritime displays. Plus I found this year's cherry blossom festival pin in the gift shop. Adam had to get home in the late afternoon to do tech for the play again in the evening, so we watched the UConn game (condolences ) and a totally silly History Channel special on how many of the Founding Fathers might have seen extraterrestrials. Given that Jefferson cut up Bibles until he had created a version of which he approved, how could anyone believe that he wouldn't simply have written about it if he saw aliens?

The albino alligator at the National Aquarium.

A young loggerhead sea turtle.

A big hermit crab.

I'm told that this fish is actually brown and back, but in the greenish water of the tank, we were sure it was American flag-colored.

A statue of Thomas Jefferson in front of a list of people enslaved to him during his lifetime.

The American Revolution recovered ship Philadelphia, pulled up from the river where she had sunk along with the shot (at lower left) that sank her.

The skylight and plaster panels from the White Star Liner R.M.S. Majestic, which adorned the first class dining room before the ship was broken up in 1914.

One of the many signs of spring popping up in the city.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Poem for Saturday and Robins Everywhere

Good night!
By Emily Dickinson

Good night! which put the candle out?
A jealous zephyr, not a doubt.
   Ah! friend, you little knew
How long at that celestial wick
The angels labored diligent;
   Extinguished, now, for you!

It might have been the lighthouse spark
Some sailor, rowing in the dark,
   Had importuned to see!
It might have been the waning lamp
That lit the drummer from the camp
   To purer reveille!


Other than running younger son back and forth and back and forth to school and home because the play for which he is doing tech, Is He Dead?, opened tonight, and posting a review of one of Deep Space Nine's many masterpieces, "In the Hands of the Prophets", I spent most of the day doing things either too boring or too stupid to be worth posting about, and not feeling great besides. So rather than belaboring how we ran out of milk at breakfast or thanking everyone who sent me a blue dragon on LiveJournal, I shall post proof that spring is here and go to bed:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Poem for Friday and Flower Color

A Young Poet
By Jane Miller

For begging beauty
one can hardly blame the artist

sleeping like butter in the sun
taking no action for action

some prefer being a yellow rose petal
I learned when I traveled

the young poet saying a prayer
is a form of panic


We had yet another gorgeous afternoon of sun and warm weather on the day when the Maryland state senate passed the gay marriage bill and sent it to the governor, who has promised to sign it (opponents have vowed to put a referendum on the November ballot to overturn it, but I am cautiously optimistic based on polls and the voters who picked our legislators in the first place that the law will stand). So despite various nitpicks about my life I must account Thursday a very good day. Even the state of Virginia attempted to redeem itself in the eyes of America, as the governor wailed that he couldn't have been expected to understand the physical realities of the anti-choice law he had promised to sign, and the legislature dropped the "violation with a medical implement" bit.

Adam had a late rehearsal for the show for which he's doing tech, so Paul and I were going to go see The Artist before the Oscars this weekend where it is expected to clean up the awards, but AMC Loews Rio had it in the tiny theater and no way were we going to pay $11 a ticket to see the Oscar frontrunner on essentially an oversized TV screen. So we took a walk around the lake at Rio to see the geese in the sunset, then came home and had peanut soup. The National Geographic Channel had America Before Columbus on, so we watched that after retrieving son. Since spring is apparently arriving on Friday with 70-degree temperatures, here are some more photos from Brookside's not-quite-that-warm conservatory:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poem for Thursday, National Aquarium, Pride and Prejudice

The Danger
By Hafiz
Translated by Coleman Barks

Love seems easy in a circle of friends,
But it's difficult, difficult.

Morning air through the window, the taste of it,
with every moment camel bells leaving the caravanserai.

This is how we wake, with winespills
On the prayer rug, and even the tavern master
is loading up. My life has gone
From willfulness to disrepute,
And I won't conceal, either, the joy
That led me out toward laughter.

Mountainous ocean, a moon hidden behind clouds,
The terror of being drawn under.

How can someone with a light shoulder-pack
Walking the beach know how a night sea-journey is?

Hafiz! Stay in the dangerous life that's yours.
THERE you'll meet the face
That dissolves fear.


It was over 60 degrees on Wednesday and I enjoyed it very much -- I am long past wishing for a proper winter and am ready for spring. I met Vertigo66 for lunch at Tara Thai, where we both had pad see ew, then I took a walk around Washingtonian Lake to see the Canada geese and seagulls and stopped in Charming Charlie to admire the $7.99 shiny bracelets. Adam is doing tech for a show that goes up this weekend so I knew he wouldn't be home till late, so I had lots of time to wander before I had to get home, fold the laundry and get work done.

My father came over for dinner since my mother is visiting my sister in New York; we had pizza and, for George Washington's birthday, cheesecake with cherries. Since Harry's Law is moving to Sundays, we watched the second part of the Pride and Prejudice miniseries, which really only improves with time though I still think it's a pretty cynical story in which the size of a man's estate makes all the difference. Okay, fine, seeing him coming out of that pond doesn't hurt, but that's because it's Colin Firth canon and hardly counts. Here are some more photos from the National Aquarium on Monday:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poem for Wednesday and Brookside Flowers

By David St. John

   Vivian St. John (1981-1974)

There is a train inside this iris:

You think I'm crazy, & like to say boyish
& outrageous things. No, there is

A train inside this iris.

It's a child's finger bearded in black banners.
A single window like a child's nail,

A darkened porthole lit by the white, angular face

Of an old woman, or perhaps the boy beside her in the stuffy,
Hot compartment. Her hair is silver, & sweeps

Back off her forehead, onto her cold and bruised shoulders.

The prairies fail along Chicago. Past the five
Lakes. Into the black woods of her New York; & as I bend

Close above the iris, I see the train

Drive deep into the damp heart of its stem, & the gravel
Of the garden path

Cracks under my feet as I walk this long corridor

Of elms, arched
Like the ceiling of a French railway pier where a boy

With pale curls holding

A fresh iris is waving goodbye to a grandmother, gazing
A long time

Into the flower, as if he were looking some great

Distance, or down an empty garden path & he believes a man
Is walking toward him, working

Dull shears in one hand; & now believe me: The train

Is gone. The old woman is dead, & the boy. The iris curls,
On its stalk, in the shade

Of those elms: Where something like the icy & bitter fragrance

In the wake of a woman who's just swept past you on her way

& you remain.


I don't have much to report from my day, other than work and politics as usual and unseasonably gorgeous weather, again -- not that I am complaining about the latter -- and several loads of laundry that must be folded tomorrow. The high point of my day was walking in Cabin John Park while younger son was at tennis, during which hike I was greeted enthusiastically by four dogs (they're supposed to be leashed, but few in the park listen) wanted to lick my hands, one wanted to follow me instead of his owner, one wanted to grab the wire for my headphones and run off with it, and one jumped up and nearly knocked me over while his owner shouted, "NO POUNCING!" So my exercise was erratic but I have been very well sniffed indeed.

We had veggie jambalaya for Mardi Gras dinner. Evening TV included Glee, which I was appreciating until Regionals and its songs started; Ringer, which was something of a letdown -- I thought they were building up to a much more direct reason for the rift between the sisters and thought they chickened out; and the Kamchatka episode of Wild Russia on Animal Planet, which was fascinating and I love that unlike a lot of nature documentaries, Animal Planet's tend to cut away before one animal eats another. Here are some flowers from the conservatory at Brookside Gardens:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poem for Tuesday and Baltimore Aquarium

Postcard from Rockport
By April Lindner

Cold as a slap, this indigo sea,
where we clamber on blonde-fringed rocks,
where someone's tarted up the fishing shacks
with red paint and artful nets.

The sun floats like ice in a highball.
Condos train their plate-glass gazes
on the horizon, amnesiac
to past conspiracies of cloud,

storms that shook homes and swallowed boats.
Just north, a granite wall's etched with the lost—
decades of their half-remembered names.

Imagine waking always to this spread—
each day the ocean swelling
to loll at your feet, exotic pet.

The galleries glow, ripe with impasto,
sunsets we could be bite into:
raspberries, marzipan, seafoam like cream.

Their artists shoot for the numinous,
overlook the jagged and impermanent:

barnacles overtaking the dock,
clustered mussels, tangled kelp
and the steady lament
of pebbles tugged senseless from shore.


Since we did not receive the predicted snow on the day before President's Day, we spent Monday in Baltimore at the National Aquarium -- with Adam's girlfriend, with Dementordelta who managed to drive up into Maryland even though southern Virginia did get several inches of snow on Sunday (Paul made us hoecakes to make up for the ones we didn't get at Mount Vernon for George Washington's birthday), and with Hufflepants who came over and met us in Baltimore (we were hoping to see Emynn too but traffic thwarted that). The aquarium was as crowded as I have ever seen it -- packed exhibits, completely full dolphin show -- but the flying foxes and sloth put in appearances and all the puffins were out, so it was a lovely afternoon.

We all had dinner at the Noodles & Company in Harborplace, which is looking very different than the last time we were there -- Phillips Seafood has moved into the old Power Plant building across the harbor, there are a bunch of new clothing stores in what used to be the main food building -- but the food was good and the company was too. Then we came home to watch Smash, which I'm enjoying greatly apart from how horrid they're making Tom's assistant. Now we are watching Jon Stewart's wonderful commentary on the contraception debate -- nothing shockingly original but he has a much bigger audience than people passing around memes on Facebook, and he's trying to drag Brian Williams into the debate and HE has an even bigger audience.