Thursday, May 31, 2012

Poem for Thursday and Renfaire Acts

to have been, instead
By Stephen Motika

instead, insulted. to look, in green light. redact. can you read... the oracular, such indifference. failing in the halls of an unknown.

to have powered down. mission. some sort of calvacade, plane flight caucus to indifference. a mission, museum, the night in the unknown. a city.

raked forest leaves, consorted with compost fires, down in steam, walked an incline, slipped to fall. the clatter of bones on buried stones, on those leaves fallen, but not as fast as I fell.

in Turrell's dim light, I realized the failure of the art official. an artificial stance, an impossibility: to speak and listen simultaneously.

the train bed, we call them tracks, where two ties swim beneath. a gossip, these gadgets, soaked in white scrimmed preamble. I made the mistake of coming closer, again.

ihe rejection, a mastication of the brain, those thoughts that fuel the day. I can't, besides, canning involves brine and fish we simply don't have.

in the sea farm, large carp. in the lake, a new cat finds our resources, our swims, those precious summer waters, where the between marks space.

the train from platform; here, everything in an elevated series of windows, lighted, in yellow mirrored fashion. large tower rests on the ground. the pavement gives way, the grinding of breaks.

came across a few seats, edits, and large empty doors. there were paintings, an elderly man. a slipped space to look aside guards and walls. I can't think of how many steps it takes to escape.

platformed, clasped, we waited to circulate, encased, dined within curator's task, lips sown in a silence of those emeriti.

caustic, in bold approach, pallid lips, rouged face, nearly quaffed and ensconced. I edged the red, a rage lost in the linen weave, a time.


Wednesday was the coolest day since before the weekend, which was a lovely relief after the heat of the past several days. I dragged Daniel shopping -- World Market has Diamond Jubilee napkins and tins of Walker's Shortbread, heh -- and took him to Bagel City to make up for this abuse. When we came home I had lots of laundry to fold, so we watched Thor together while I did. I must confess that I like Thor and Loki better in that movie than in The Avengers and I really need to get the soundtrack.

Adam came home for a while, then biked to tennis -- I need to get myself over to Cabin John to hike now that he's doing that because I've only been walking in the neighborhood, which can get monotonous, though today there were three bunnies and two deer so I can't really complain. After dinner we watched three of the last five episodes of Deep Space Nine, which makes me sad that it's ending even though I can always watch it over again! Here are photos of performers at the Virginia Renaissance Faire last weekend:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Poem for Wednesday and Hillwood Queens

By Rudyard Kipling

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!


I had a quiet Tuesday during which my major excitement involved taking Daniel out to get new sandals since his old ones are shredding. It was extremely hot -- we had a heat advisory in the morning, a thunderstorm warning in the afternoon, and a flash flood watch in the evening -- so I wasn't really dying to be outdoors much anyway, and Adam called while we were out to announce that he had forgotten his key and needed me to let him into the house, so any urge I might have had to drag Daniel shopping for more clothes was quashed by that necessity. I did make Daniel come with me to AC Moore, since it's now next door to Target, but he read aloud to me relentlessly from Reddit on his phone while I was buying a bracelet hook in which he had no interest.

My other major excitement for the day was a spider the size of a small mouse that tried to trap me in the laundry room, from which Daniel rescued me since I was doing his laundry at the time. Adam came in long enough to change after walking the neighbor's dog, went running, then went to the pool with a friend. After dinner we watched "The Jubilee Queen With Katie Couric" on 20/20, which was fawning -- I admire the Queen but I wouldn't curtsy to any foreign head of state, or any American leader for that matter -- but I forgave it since it had clips from The King's Speech and The Queen, lots of George VI, and lots of William, Harry, Beatrice and Eugenie being charming and self-deprecating. Speaking of would-be royalty, here are Marjorie Merriweather Post, her daughters and me at Hillwood:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poem for Tuesday and Bowie Baysox

By Cynthia Arrieu-King

A pink dozen sunshine trapezoids—
It's good to be breathing
says an array of rosemary shrubs.
A field of illicit rocks, shrapnel, bees, germs unknown.
Hands held. Back seats checked for sleeping.

I have made a Tuesday monument
of a baby's toothbrush lying on the sidewalk alone.

The far lake no one knows about, bitching its ripples.

In this case it
doesn't matter what other people need
in measures of solitude; You
need a few years, a few more years
alone. And it's such a popular
slur to hurl: You will always be alone.
I've been told that—
(Eight years ago.)

(And knowing slowly as I go how to hold a garden here.)


Memorial Day was my father's birthday, so after a quiet morning while Adam played tennis with him, we picked my parents up around lunchtime and drove to Bowie to see the Baysox play the Altoona Curve. It was an insanely hot day, so despite the fact that we had second-row seats, we sat on the benches many rows back so we could stay in the shade. The Baysox are at the bottom of their division but they won 4-0, and there was a nice breeze out of the sun. We ate lots of peanuts and drank lots of water, and it was Bark in the Park day so the people sitting on either side of us had their adorable dogs with them. I love minor-league baseball -- the silly between-inning fan games, the speed of the innings, and we got to see a home run ball go sailing over the back wall -- so I enjoyed it a lot.

Daniel and my father got hot dogs at Prince George's Stadium.

It was a Bark in the Park day, so bowls of water were out for the four-legged visitors.

Since it was also Memorial Day, an Army officer sang the Star Spangled Banner.

And since it was my father's birthday, we had plenty of junk food.

The Baysox had a good game, including a home run by Zelous Wheeler, and we got to see the Orioles' Brian Roberts... well as Endy Chavez who are both playing AA baseball while on injured reserve from the Major Leagues.

Louie, the Baysox mascot, rhymes with Bowie but we're not sure exactly what he's supposed to be, nor how he didn't collapse from heat exhaustion today.

Later we had strawberry pie for my father's birthday.

After the game, we went to Hamburger Hamlet with my parents, then we watched Hemingway & Gellhorn, which I largely disliked despite very good performances by several actors I like and a terrific performance by one actress I usually don't like. The show-offy filmmaking was not enhanced by the over-the-top dialogue -- yes, I know Hemingway and Gellhorn wrote those lines, but that doesn't mean they talked like that in casual conversation, and it only made the swearing and sex seem contrived for effect rather than real human behavior in the midst of the horrors of war. Owen's Hemingway was exactly as much of an asshole as I would have expected, which made his performance seem kind of predictable if reasonable; Kidman was much more memorable, but they left out so much of Gellhorn's life that it's not a biopic I'd recommend for that.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Poem for Memorial Day and Virginia Renfaire

Decoration Day
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.


Paul and I took the kids and met and Lin at the Virginia Renfaire, where it was as hot as it always seems to be -- there was a bit of a breeze, and it wasn't terrible in the shade of the more open tents or the woods, but I managed to get sunburned despite wearing sunblock. We had fun anyway -- they had full jousting this year, plus the Ship's Company Chanteymen were performing, and we went to see Thunder and Spice, the Surly Mermaids, and various performers around Staffordshire. Adam was unhappy at being dragged around to the jewelry merchants but Daniel was easily placated with cheesecake on a stick.

The Queen and her court walk through Staffordshire.

The Queen's champion in the joust rode in the colors of the Calvert family, so of course we rooted for him.

A few years ago there weren't even horses at this Renfaire, while last year there were only training games, so it was lovely to see jousting.

We did not watch the retired greyhounds racing but we did go visit them to pet them and make a donation for their welfare.

Ship's Company sang maritime songs, largely a cappella with audience clapping along.

Fiber from these alpacas is felted and spun into crafts by this vendor.

We had a friend flirting with us while Thunder and Spice was performing.

The Queen posed and chatted with her young admirers.

My parents called while we were on our way home to ask if we wanted to come over for pizza with them, which we did. Afterwards we came home to watch the finale of Harry's Law, which felt pretty anticlimactic, I suppose since they didn't know when they filmed it that it would be the very last so there was no sense of closure for any of the characters or couples. We then tried to watch the rest of the Memorial Day concert on PBS, but the thunderstorm we were having had caused the evacuation of the National Mall and they were rerunning the second half of last year's concert. Best wishes to all who serve, all veterans, and all families of veterans.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Poem for Sunday and Hillwood Museum

Come My Cantilations
By Ezra Pound

Come my cantilations,
Let us dump our hatreds into one bunch and be done with them,
Hot sun, clear water, fresh wind,
Let me be free of pavements,
Let me be free of the printers.
Let come beautiful people
Wearing raw silk of good colour,
Let come the graceful speakers,
Let come the ready of wit,
Let come the gay of manner, the insolent and the exulting.
We speak of burnished lakes,
And of dry air, as clear as metal.


Paul's parents are going to the west coast for a couple of months to visit all the relatives out there, so they came to spend Saturday with us. We had brunch together, dropped Adam off to work at Glen Echo, then went to the Hillwood Museum, where it was extremely warm and sticky in the gardens but lovely as always in the mansion and visitor center. There were several tour groups going through and we caught sections of their docent-led presentations, particularly in the icon room where Marjorie Merriweather Post kept her Faberge and other Russian imperial treasures and in the upstairs bedrooms where we learned that Post had a closet converted to a soundproof bedroom for a son-in-law who snored too loudly. We also went to see the exhibit on Napoleon, Russia, and the War of 1812 in the Dacha.

The Catherine the Great Faberge egg at Hillwood was created for Czar Nicholas II to give to his mother on Easter morning in 1914.

The piano in the French Drawing Room has photos on top of royals and heads of state whom Post had met.

The miniature painting on the left by William Powell Frith shows three of Queen Alexandra's bridesmaids at her marriage to the future King Edward VII in 1902.

Post collected china and porcelain and used it to show her taste off to guests.

This set has different images from the Russian victory in the Napoleonic wars on each plate.

A Faberge brooch with miniatures of Nicholas II and Alexandra and a large sapphire.

There are paintings and photos of Post and her family in nearly every room at Hillwood.

Here I am taking a photo of the wedding crown of Empress Alexandra at her marriage to Nicholas II in 1894.

When we left Hillwood after walking a bit in the gardens, we went to pick Adam up at Glen Echo, got ice cream and lemonade, and walked around the park since my in-laws had never been there. Volunteers are already setting up for the folk festival next weekend. We came back to the house for a while so Adam could walk the neighbor's dog and Daniel could get out of the heat, then we went to California Tortilla for dinner. After Paul's parents went home, we watched several Deep Space Nine episodes -- we're now in the final stretch, the long arc that ends the series.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Poem for Saturday, Glen Echo, Armageddon Game

The Exaggeration of Despair
By Sherman Alexie

I open the door

(this Indian girl writes that her brother tried to hang himself
with a belt just two weeks after her other brother did hang himself

and this Indian man tells us that back in boarding school,
five priests took him into a back room and raped him repeatedly

and this homeless Indian woman begs for quarters, and when I ask
her about her tribe, she says she's horny and bends over in front of me

and this homeless Indian man is the uncle of an Indian man
who writes for a large metropolitan newspaper, and so now I know them both

and this Indian child cries when he sits to eat at our table
because he had never known his own family to sit at the same table

and this Indian woman was born to an Indian woman
who sold her for a six-pack and a carton of cigarettes

and this Indian poet shivers beneath the freeway
and begs for enough quarters to buy pencil and paper

and this fancydancer passes out at the powwow
and wakes up naked, with no memory of the evening, all of his regalia gone)

I open the door

(and this is my sister, who waits years for a dead eagle from the Park Service, receives it
and stores it with our cousins, who then tell her it has disappeared

though the feathers reappear in the regalia of another cousin
who is dancing for the very first time

and this is my father, whose own father died on Okinawa, shot
by a Japanese soldier who must have looked so much like him

and this is my father, whose mother died of tuberculosis
not long after he was born, and so my father must hear coughing ghosts

and this is my grandmother who saw, before the white men came,
three ravens with white necks, and knew our God was going to change)

I open the door
and invite the wind inside.


I am watching the end of The Fellowship of the Ring with my kids and Adam's friend who had never seen it before when we started the other day, so I will be brief. This Geek Pride Day/Star Wars anniversary morning I wrote a review of Deep Space Nine's "Armageddon Game" while Daniel slept late. It wasn't outrageously hot but it was very sticky, so I didn't take a very long walk, though I now have a theory that rain and humidity causes spontaneous generation of chipmunks because we suddenly have dozens in the neighborhood when we just had a few a couple of weeks ago. The weather also apparently causes ants to break into my kitchen to steal cat food, which makes me much less pleased.

We had dinner with my parents -- my mother made seafood au gratin for the non-vegetarians and made Quorn au gratin for me and Adam, which was awesome. Then we came home and Adam's friend called to ask whether we could watch some more Lord of the Rings, so we finished the first extended edition, which looks fantastic on Blu-Ray (though WB's digital copy download system is crap -- none of the download codes worked at first and then I was told I couldn't play the movies because I'd exceeded my viewing rights even though I'd never watched them). Here are some photos from Glen Echo last weekend, including the standing stones:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Poem for Friday and Great Falls Animals

Forgiving Our Fathers
By Dick Lourie

maybe in a dream: he's in your power
you twist his arm but you're not sure it was
he that stole your money you feel calmer
and you decide to let him go free

or he's the one (as in a dream of mine)
I must pull from the water but I never
knew it or wouldn't have done it until
I saw the street-theater play so close up
I was moved to actions I'd never before taken

maybe for leaving us too often or
forever when we were little maybe
for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous because there seemed
never to be any rage there at all

for marrying or not marrying our mothers
for divorcing or not divorcing our mothers
and shall we forgive them for their excesses
of warmth or coldness shall we forgive them

for pushing or leaning for shutting doors
for speaking only through layers of cloth
or never speaking or never being silent

in our age or in theirs or in their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it -
if we forgive our fathers what is left


I have been threatening Daniel all week with misery and abuse and today I carried out my threat, dragging him clothes shopping. He needed new shorts whether he was ever going to admit it or not. I was nice and let him sleep late because I wanted to run out to the first day of the Vera Bradley sale at Tiara, but I ended up not buying anything -- I need a dark-colored crossbody bag big enough to carry my camera, Kindle, phone, and wallet and nothing fit those requirements perfectly -- then I came home, dragged Daniel out of bed, ate lunch and took him to Kohl's. After such torment I also took him out for ice cream.

It was a three-bunny, one-deer afternoon in the woods, which were warm and humid and feeling very much like summer. We had Indian food for dinner, watched the DS9 episode I need to review this week, then watched the series finale of Awake, which was pretty devastating; I wasn't really expecting a resolution that would also lead to a happy ending, just one that would tie up the storylines and let Michael understand what had happened to him. I am still not positive whether we were looking at multiple realities or a man who experienced a psychotic break (which I assume has to do with the fact that they weren't sure if they were coming back when they filmed the finale, but that ending could be interpreted either way).

Here are photos of animals at Great Falls last weekend, with older goslings, turtles, a large moth, and two skinks: