Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poem for Tuesday, Butterflies, Olympics

Horses at Midnight Without a Moon
By Jack Gilbert

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.


My Monday was mostly a catch-up chore day. Adam went biking and running, Daniel had lengthy discussions about the new Persona game with his friends, I had the Olympics on TV on and off while I was rearranging our DVDs (all Star Trek: The Next Generation videotapes have been removed from the collection since we have them on DVD, first three awesome seasons of La Femme Nikita gifted me by a generous friend have been added). It was less hot than the previous couple of days, the bunnies looked pleased. I hope the Democrats are serious.

I spoke to Adam's friend with the injured arm, he said he was still achy but better, so hopefully all is well there. After dinner we watched more Olympics, mostly swimming and men's gymnastics where NBC's America-centric coverage was as annoying as ever, taking a break for Warehouse 13, which brought back two characters I wasn't sure we'd see again (I still shriek a little when Kate Mulgrew shows up on my TV). I love when Myka gets to save Pete from his own doofiness. Some more butterflies from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden yesterday:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Poem for Monday and Virginia Trip

Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly
By Li Po

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil, what for?


We spent a lovely yet somewhat crazy day in Richmond after dropping off Adam and four friends at Kings Dominion near Fredericksburg -- crazy because an hour or so after we left them to the roller coasters and water park, the girlfriend of one of the friends called to say that she thought her boyfriend had sprained his wrist, though then they went to lunch and we assumed they must be all right. When we next spoke to the girlfriend, she had put him in an ambulance and called his mother to pick them up, an hour and a half from home! Meanwhile Adam, Maddy, and Daniel W were riding Intimidator and Dominator and the Lazy River, and we were in Richmond with Delta and Lin at the excellent Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibits on Maharajas, Indian silver, and Walt Whitman and the Civil War.

We had lunch in the VMFA restaurant before going to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which in addition to lots of crepe myrtle and summer roses has live butterflies in the conservatory. From there we went to Delta's bookstore for a bit, then to the Mexican restaurant nearby for dinner. Adam's friend and girlfriend were at that point with the friend's mother, so we picked up Adam and the other two at Kings Dominion, getting home just in time to watch Political Animals, then the women's gymnastics at the Olympics which I will watch next time with the idiotic NBC commentary off. Here are a couple of photos from the butterfly exhibit and the conservatory, more tomorrow:


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Poem for Sunday and Carderock Animals

Drawing from Life
By Reginald Shepherd

Look: I am building absence
out of this room's air, I'm reading suppositions into
summer's script snarled on a varnished floor.
It looks like a man. That knot's his hand
waving good-bye, that stippled stripe of grain's
the stacked-up vertebrae of his turned back.
Small birds (sparrows or finches, or perhaps)
are cluttering the trees with blackened ornaments (burning
in the remnant light of August eight o'clock), and noises
I can't hear. Chirring there, chittering. The window's closed.

I am assembling a lack of sound
in this locked box, and dotting all the i's
these floating motes present (my composition), I am not lonely
for the palpable world (midges I dap hands for
and kill), shivering into darkness underwater outside glass:
what's left of light sinking from zero down to less,
cobalt down to zaffer, deeper to purple-black
where divers drown. The swimming landscape's
all mistake (one world that shuts air into
my submerged terrarium), and I am luck.


Our Saturday morning was quiet, mostly watching Olympic fencing (Daniel even woke up for it) while Adam was running and biking. After Adam went to work at Glen Echo, the rest of us went hiking at Carderock, where there were lots of climbers anchoring their ropes over the rocks and lots of five-lined skinks scurrying around the fallen trees from the storm at the beginning of the month. The trail there is high above the Potomac River, hence all the climbers, but we walked along the towpath where we heard though did not see many bullfrogs and we walked through the campground.

We knew the results of several swimming events by dinnertime, so afterward we took a break for a while to watch The Hollow Crown production of Richard II with Patrick Stewart as John of Gaunt, Lindsay Duncan as the Duchess of York, James Purefoy as Mowbray and lots of other wonderful actors. I sometimes think Richard's soliloquys go on too long and the play is quite humorless, but Ben Whishaw is riveting and the directing is superb as well -- actual fighting instead of threats and wonderful visuals, actually showing the crown itself as the well and weight it's described as being.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Poem for Saturday, Phoneography, Crossover, Olympics

In This Light
By Matt Hart

nothing and nothing
gets by you, but I get
so distracted
that my notice
has been put on notice
for birds and for traffic
For instance,
the constant
slap of the sound
of waves
against gutters
gets by me
Grass stain on my hands
from falling down
at the hospital
gets by me Physics
Sequined dresses
The Olympics get by me
the mountains are,
so far, only distant,
and some days
I am even making my way
through them
with my pants on,
which is lucky,
though at other junctures
sunflowers and pine tree
needles my arms
in full blossom
as you appear
around a corner
The day looking up
between us
pink clouds


From today's Poem-A-Day at Poets.org.

We had a nice Friday -- Paul worked from home, so I had most of the family around for most of the day. Adam went running and biking, Daniel told us all about Google Fiber, I wrote a review of Deep Space Nine's "Crossover", always great fun to watch (the only thing hotter than Kira/Kira being Kira/Sisko).

We had an early dinner with my parents, then went with them to the Phoneography exhibit at Photoworks in Glen Echo Park. Adam had two photos in the exhibition and they had a reception with judge Andrea Dylewski and other staffers at Photoworks (plus chocolate, yay).

Then we came home to watch the Olympics opening ceremonies, which had many highlights -- Kenneth Branagh reading Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling reading J.M. Barrie, ROWAN ATKINSON FOR THE WIN, the Queen making a James Bond film. And I loved the celebration of the NHS with all the children and feting of the working class. Have they kicked Mitt Romney out yet?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Poem for Friday and Colonial Fair

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
By Christina Rossetti

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.


Thursday was uneventful, mostly involving chores, like putting clothes away in my room while Adam and his girlfriend were discussing my failures as a parent and objecting to being overheard since I require Adam to keep his door open when his girlfriend is in there. We had Papa John's pizza for dinner because there's always a big discount when the Nationals score more than five points and win the day before.

Evening involved watching a Star Trek episode, then watching a Relic Hunter episode, then watching Stewart and Colbert eviscerate the Vatican's treatment of nuns and London's preparation for the Olympics ("Harry Potter and the Death of the Franchise!" "Get your geography straight, Doctor Who!"). Here are some more photos from the Colonial Fair at Claude Moore Farm last weekend:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Poem for Thursday, Longwood Lights, Thor

It Is a Small Plant
By William Carlos Williams

It is a small plant
delicately branched and
tapering conically
to a point, each branch
and the peak a wire for
green pods, blind lanterns
starting upward from
the stalk each way to
a pair of prickly edged blue
flowerets: it is her regard,
a little plant without leaves,
a finished thing guarding
its secret. Blue eyes—
but there are twenty looks
in one, alike as forty flowers
on twenty stems—Blue eyes
a little closed upon a wish
achieved and half lost again,
stemming back, garlanded
with green sacks of
satisfaction gone to seed,
back to a straight stem—if
one looks into you, trumpets—!
No. It is the pale hollow of
desire itself counting
over and over the moneys of
a stale achievement. Three
small lavender imploring tips
below and above them two
slender colored arrows
of disdain with anthers
between them and
at the edge of the goblet
a white lip, to drink from—!
And summer lifts her look
forty times over, forty times


My major Wednesday activity involved taking Adam to the pediatrician for his annual physical, so he could get his permission forms for school sports signed and get the latest in the inoculations that kids get nowadays -- I feel so lucky that I only got shots like once every four years in my youth, he gets 2-3 a year. Despite this, and despite the fact that they tested his vision (he doesn't wear glasses so he doesn't see the ophthalmologist yearly as the rest of us do) and made him lie down for 15 minutes and eat a granola bar so he wouldn't get dizzy after the shots (he rejected the preservative-filled Kelloggs granola bar offered by the nurse so I went down to the store and got him a Nature's Valley bar), we were there for less time than we were at the MVA the day before.

I had four loads of laundry to fold when I got home, and had very generously brought me a used DVD copy of Thor when I saw her on Monday, so I put that in thinking I'd watch half of it, then Daniel came home and sat down to watch, then Adam came in and sat down to watch, then got home and sat down to watch, so we all ended up watching the end of the movie and the deleted scenes. Why did no one tell me about "Now give us a kiss"? My new favorite scene in the movie! After dinner we watched Dallas, where I can't decide if I want Sue Ellen to have an affair with Walter Skinner (whatever Mitch Pileggi's character's name is) or if I'd prefer that they just brought Dusty Farlow back. Here are a few more Longwood lights photos:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Poem for Wednesday, Hillwood Gardens, Contagion

Making Shelves
By D. Nurkse

In that lit window in Bushwick
halfway through the hardest winter
I cut plexiglass on a table saw,
coaxing the chalked taped pane
into the absence of the blade,
working to such fine tolerance
the kerf abolished the soft-lead line.
I felt your eyes play over me
but did not turn—dead people
were not allowed in those huge factories.
I bargained: when the bell rang
I would drink with you on Throop
under the El, quick pint of Night Train
but you said no. Blood jumped

from my little finger, power
snapped off, voices summoned me
by name, but I waved them back
and knelt to rule the next line.


My major event for Tuesday was taking my kids to the MVA -- Adam to get his learner's permit, Daniel to renew his since he won't be taking the driving test before it expires and no way am I waiting at MVA for nearly two hours twice in one summer. Did I mention two hours? First we waited in the line to be sorted, then we waited for an hour and fifteen minutes for each son to be called to get processed and photographed, then they each took the written test (which they both passed -- I had warned them I was NOT taking them back this month if they failed), then we had to wait for the permits to be printed and pay $50 each for them. Add in the time it takes to get up and down I-270 and park, and there went the afternoon. I read some more mediocre historical fiction and tried to catch up on internet news but except for Christian Bale visiting the shooting victims, it either depressed me or infuriated me.

My uncle had sent me an e-mail telling me to watch Contagion, so even though I generally hate medical horror stories (I end up having every symptom in the movie, even if it involves a prostate or something I can't possibly have), we did watch it. I enjoyed it more than I expected, in large part because 1) an actress I dislike was nasty and had a revolting autopsy, 2) an actress I like did something brave to try to save the world, and 3) most of the cast of The Talented Mr. Ripley was reunited in the movie, plus loads of other interesting performers. It reminded me quite a bit of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Then we watched the Adrian Paul episode of Relic Hunter with vampires and Sydney dreaming of Adrian's fangs (meanwhile Kristen Stewart is allegedly cheating on Rob Pattinson and making the internet melt down). Here are some photos from Hillwood's gardens during the heat wave:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poem for Tuesday, Longwood, Lost in Austen

If You Go into the Woods You Will Find It Has a Technology
By Heather Christle

This tree has a small LED display
It is glowing and it can show you words
and it can show you pictures and it can melt
from one choice to another and you are looking at it
and it wants you to share the message
but it can't see that you are the only one around
and that everyone else is hibernating
which you love You are so happy and alone
with the red and yellow lights It's a nice day
to be in nature and to read up on the very bland ideas
this tree has about how to live This tree says
grow stronger and this tree says fireworks effect
This tree is the saddest prophet in history
but you don't tell it that You are trying to show it respect
which gets tiresome but then it flashes
a snake at you It's a kind of LED tree hybrid joke
and you could just kiss it for trying For failing
But it can't see you and it starts to cry


I got to spend Monday having a movie day with Delta -- actually a miniseries day, since we watched all of Lost in Austen, then all of Queen and Country. I liked but did not love the first; the acting is terrific, especially Hugh Bonneville and Alex Kingston, and the concept is fun if rather self-indulgent for my tastes -- one character falling in love with you is fine, two is acceptable, but by the time even women were flinging themselves at the main character, I felt like she might as well be on the Starship Enterprise where Uhura and Sulu were duking it out over Ensign Mary Sue while Spock and Kirk plotted to get them both out of the way to fight over her themselves -- and I really did not like the ending. I'm quite comfortable with a certain amount of Jane Austen revisionism, but even a non-Janeite like me does not approve of trashing certain characters just to make others look better, particularly when it's women made to look bad so men can be "improved." However, it was worth watching for the line, "Even Colin Firth isn't Colin Firth. They had to change the shape of his head with makeup."

Queen and Country doesn't make anyone look bad, whether they're royals, royalty, or royalists, though whenever I see a comprehensive feature on the British monarchy and the Commonwealth, I want to know how people feel not just about the sovereign herself -- who truly does seem to be above reproach -- more the direct line of succession -- whose appeal in a constitutional monarchy I can understand -- but the rest of the royal dukes and hereditary peers and the rest of the apparatus of aristocracy, whom I'd resent just as much as the political and financial dynasties here (do the Queen's descendants get to stay on the Civil List no matter how much they get from sleazy rich foreigners who want to meet a prince?). After Delta left we had dinner and when younger son got back from his art class we watched the season premiere of Warehouse 13, which I enjoyed though I would have enjoyed it more if I'd refreshed my memory of what happened at the end of last season. Suffice to say that a certain actor's return was enough to guarantee that I'll watch this season (and I don't mean Kate Mulgrew hahaha).

Some more of Longwood's light exhibit: