Saturday, March 31, 2012

Poem for Saturday, Maryland Lambs, X-Men, Cardassians

Remember Egypt
By Jalaluddin Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

You that worry with travel plans,
read again the place in the Qur'an

where Moses is taking the Jewish
nation out of slavery. You so

frantic to have more money, recall
what they abandoned to wander in

the wilderness. You who feel hurt,
remember the pavilions and houses

left behind. You that lead the
community through difficulties, read

about the abundant fountains they
walked away from to have freedom.

You who dress in clothes that appear
to have elegant meaning, you with so

much charm, remember how your face
will decay to dirt. You with lots of

property, "They left their gardens
and the quietly running streams."

You who smile at funerals going by,
you that love language, measure wind

in stanzas and recall the exodus,
the wandering forty-year sacrifice.


Adam and I went out to lunch for his first day of spring break, though we had to stop for gas and stuff at CVS first (and since Adam slept till nearly noon for his first day of spring break, it was nearly 1:30 p.m. by the time we ate!). Before he was up, I wrote a review of Deep Space Nine's "Cardassians", a not-very-well-written episode redeemed by Garak and Bashir, and when we got home I took a walk through our increasingly azalea-filled neighborhood (purples in full bloom, pinks about half, white buds just opening). Adam had plans with a friend for the afternoon, but the friend slept even later than he did and they didn't end up getting together till evening.

At that point we had had dinner with my parents and Paul and I decided to watch X-Men: First Class, for which I didn't have very high hopes because I didn't much love X2 and never saw The Last Stand. In fact, I loved it -- I liked the Holocaust backstory and the Cold War story, I thought the pacing was great, I enjoyed seeing McAvoy, Lawrence, Fassbender, Bacon, and especially Hoult in those roles (I keep seeing the latter as the boy with a crush on Colin Firth from A Single Man), I have no idea what the critics were complaining about. Here are a few more photos of lambs at the University of Maryland, where Daniel is struggling with midterms:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Poem for Friday, TTSS, Brookside in Bloom

Go Gentle
By Linda Pastan

You have grown wings of pain
and flap around the bed like a wounded gull
calling for water, calling for tea, for grapes
whose skin you cannot penetrate.
Remember when you taught me
how to swim? Let go, you said,
the lake will hold you up.
I long to say, Father let go
and death will hold you up.
Outside the fall goes on without us.
How easily the leaves give in,
I hear them on the last breath of wind,
passing this disappearing place.


I don't have much to report from my Thursday. I had a bunch of work to do and a bunch of chores to do, none of which are exciting enough to reiterate here. The good news is that when I finished all that, I watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with the commentary on, and while I wished they had more of the actors than just Gary Oldman and the director had more to say about how some of the acting choices came about -- did he give direction, was it entirely up to the performers -- it was worth watching that way just to hear Oldman go on about how great Firth and Strong are and how much he thinks Jim Prideaux loves Bill Haydon.

Son came home late -- his spring break started after school -- with his girlfriend and his neighborhood friend, then he went to the girlfriend's house for dinner, leaving me and Paul alone to share leftover pizza. It was a perfect evening for walking and I saw both the deer family (four females, almost always together) and the cul-de-sac bunny out among the flowers. We watched a DS9 episode, then Awake, which I would be loving if only it weren't so violent -- the cast is great, it's just so grim having murders every week, not my thing. Now I am urging Daniel to found Terrapins for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow so he can get the Turtles Don't Like Peanut Butter shirt. Brookside spring vistas from two weeks ago:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Poem for Thursday and Flying Foxes

Diving Into the Wreck
By Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.


Above, one of my favorite poems, by an irreplaceable thinker and feminist treasure. Rest in peace, Adrienne Rich.

We had thunderstorms forecast for Wednesday, but other than a few minutes of spitting rain, they never materialized. I had a quiet morning of work, writing, catching up on correspondence, then I folded laundry while watching a bit of Highlander because I was in that sort of a mood. I couldn't handle any more Obamacare arguments.

So not a very exciting day, apart from seeing many deer along with the flowers coming up in the woods as well as our neighbors' yards. Adam was talking about Adam West for some reason so we watched the 1966 Batman movie -- by far my favorite Batman movie, though I still love certain episodes of the TV series more.

Here are some photos of flying foxes not from last weekend but from our previous trip to the National Aquarium in February:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poem for Wednesday and Tulip Library

Vernal Equinox
By Amy Lowell

The scent of hyacinths, like a pale mist, lies
   between me and my book;
And the South Wind, washing through the room,
Makes the candles quiver.
My nerves sting at a spatter of rain on the shutter,
And I am uneasy with the thrusting of green shoots
Outside, in the night.

Why are you not here to overpower me with your
   tense and urgent love?


Tuesday around here was even less exciting than Monday. I had a very early appointment for lab work, meaning I had to have blood drawn on an empty stomach and had a headache for half the day as a result. Adam had a field trip to the Supreme Court and the Capitol, where he saw more protesters than lawmakers but came home 1) entertained and 2) disgusted (I'm not sure which made him roll his eyes more, the paintings of aborted fetuses or the anti-circumcision people who seem to believe that Obamacare will somehow make the practice of circumcision worse).

Despite the early start, I did not get nearly as much done as I did on Monday, not even the laundry folded. I had to pick Adam up from the Metro after the trip downtown and the group was half an hour late; then I had to take him to tennis, which was fine because it was a gorgeous cool day for a walk in the park. I enjoyed Ringer this week despite all the fantasy sequences but I did not enjoy anything about the Maryland women's trouncing by Notre Dame -- I will be rooting wholeheartedly for UConn against them. Here are some photos from the Tulip Library downtown near the Tidal Basin and the cherry blossoms:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DC Cherry Blossom Book

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly photo books offer a variety of layouts and cover options to choose from.

Poem for Tuesday and Brookside Flowers

By Anne Spencer

He trekked into a far country,
My friend and I.
Our deeper content was never spoken,
But each knew all the other said.
He told me how calm his soul was laid
By the lack of anvil and strife.
"The wooing kestrel," I said, "mutes his mating-note
To please the harmony of this sweet silence."
And when at the day's end
We laid tired bodies 'gainst
The loose warm sands,
And the air fleeced its particles for a coverlet;
When star after star came out
To guard their lovers in oblivion —
My soul so leapt that my evening prayer
Stole my morning song!


My Monday was fairly quiet compared to my weekend, which was nice. I spent most of the morning working on a Shutterfly photo book, since I had a coupon for a free book that expired at midnight and photos of the DC cherry blossoms taken over the better part of a decade, and I love all the new cherry blossom borders and stickers that Shutterfly has. I spent lunchtime running out to the mall to exchange a gift. I spent most of the afternoon writing, with a brief break to look at the photos of Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables that showed up all over the internet.

Adam came home on the late side because he was at tech; he brought his girlfriend with him and we all looked for his wallet, which he has somehow lost in the house (not in his suit, the laundry, his track jacket, his pillowcase, etc). I took a walk before dinner (scaring four deer eating in the woods right by the path) and chatted with my neighbors since it was such a gorgeous evening to be outdoors. Then we watched Once Upon a Time and Smash -- the former much more interesting this week than the latter. Here are some Brookside Gardens photos:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Poem for Monday, Hunger Games, Aquarium

By Noelle Kocot

My body is
A little
Green sea.

Bears bathe
In it
Then go to

Sleep in the
A four-wheeler

Slams past,
And then the
Sea splashes

Around and
O little sea,

O my body,
Sit here with me
While I just talk.


Daniel's spring break is over and my mother's birthday celebrations have concluded, so Nicole and her family have gone back to New York and Daniel is back in College Park. Before we took him there, we took him, Adam, and Maddy to see The Hunger Games in the IMAX theater in Silver Spring. It was even better than I expected -- I wasn't sure I'd love Jennifer Lawrence just because I hadn't seen her in much (not an X-Men fan) and I really wanted whoever played Katniss to be perfect in the role, and I thought she was terrific (the sexism of people complaining that Katniss doesn't look "half-starved" enough because the actress isn't anorexic, when the guys look like they've been eating well enough to bulk up, makes me want to scream). I found the film very true to Katniss from the books and in general I thought all the casting choices were great, especially Rue and Cinna. I never cared remotely who Katniss ended up with romantically but having seen this film I'm glad it ended up being who it did.

After the movie we took the kids to College Park, where we stopped in Ikea and had dinner (Paul wanted Swedish meatballs as a late birthday dinner and the rest of us are all happy to eat cheap there). Then we took Daniel to his dorm, though he discovered shortly afterward that he left his laptop cord at home. The Terps are happy tonight because the women's basketball team survived a threat from Texas A&M in the NCAA tournament (and I don't think anyone there is sorry to see UNC out of the men's tournament). Daniel was already making plans to see his former girlfriend before we left, so he was happy too. We took Maddy home and chatted for a while with her parents, who were saving cupcakes for Adam; we chatted right through Harry's Law and Once Upon a Time, then came home and watched two episodes of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr., which like his previous ancestry show is excellent. Some more National Aquarium photos:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Poem for Sunday, Baltimore Aquarium, Doctor Who

Gold River Neck Riddle
By Catie Rosemurgy

What is red and singing on the inside, gray and moaning on the outside?
(The opera house)

What is green, damp, and stuck between the forest's teeth?
(The doctor)

What drags on the floor and catches fire?
What reveals the girl's legs while destroying them?
(The afternoon sun)

What grows tall, blocks the sun, loses everything,
and still darkens the field? (The young man
looking for the idiot boy.)

What spreads out by simplifying further?

What (smoke) was here?
What (government)?

What saves and ruins?
(The museum)

What blooms amongst the rocks?
(A ship)

What opens wide and explains why?
(A burning window)

What is ill-advised in the new world?
(What ends at the treeline.
What split like a lip into two less viable possibilities.)

What shimmers on our bodies when we are warm?
(Our historic burning) What lines both the inside of our coats
and the inside of our mouths?
(Our current burning)
What is the real museum?
What is wet and is yet a wick?
(The tongue, which becomes colorless over time.
Which flakes.)

What is the souvenir we bring home from the flood?
(Our hair)

On what bent and drinking animal are we the pattern?
(The land)
(The river)
(The narrow) The trees
were some stony being's fingers.
We walked easily between them to the wet edge of its face.


We spent most of Saturday with my mother and my sister's family, with whom we went to Baltimore to the National Aquarium and had lunch. The aquarium was very crowded -- the fact that it rained all day probably contributed to that -- but we had good seats for the dolphin show and we got to see the golden lion tamarins, the sloth, the giant Amazon catfish and other animals that are sometimes hiding when we're there:

Everyone got hungry at different times so lunch began erratically, with one of Nicole's daughters going with her to one place and the others going to another with Harris while we thought we were meeting at the Hard Rock Cafe, but the latter had a long wait even at nearly 3 p.m. and we ended up at Chipotle, which my immediate family and my sister all liked a lot. In the evening we went back to my parents' for leftovers and birthday cake for Paul.

We've just spent the past couple of hours watching Doctor Who's "The Time Warrior" -- first time I've seen Pertwee, who's delightful particularly with Sarah Jane Smith putting him in her place when she thinks he's being sexist, and we howled at the cheesy version of medieval history which reminded us more of Blackadder than anything outside a Renfaire. Now we're watching the documentary "Beginning the End" and wishing we had more Pertwee!