Thursday, January 31, 2013

Poem for Thursday and Vader Valentines

By Prageeta Sharma

Clatter into the window this late night.
We were flabbergasted, tired
of the newly-minted drunks or meth-kids
with squeals for fists.

We live downtown,
exposed to the alley.

Nothing dangerous, and we were not alarmed.
But still, every sound turns us into pins on points,

a sleep of figuring out: deeply felt turns:
wrestling with little autocrats

that fly or stick--nothing more than thistles
or wasps, but a sting is always a sting.

It must be us who are having the trouble:
it's our estranged perception of thinking.

Are we actually perceiving?
Do things truly mock us?
Or do we mock ourselves?

We must find our own modernization bill,
a folly stamp that appeases us with its generous
humanizing. We can be reckless, we can overreact.

Let's not be bewildered by the graces
that sometimes leave us,
that our paunches are not always gargantuan,
that we haven't sewn in shame to suit our false selves.

The fit of relief or deferment is near.
What we find next is important.
What would happen if our window
arranged a life for us--
something intentionally
on view.

And we looked out at the reconciliation
of the rest of the world:
The wasps and drunks and meth-kids
arm and arm and arm and arm.


The absurdly warm weather continued on Wednesday, though accompanied by drizzle in the late morning that turned into rain in the afternoon and thunderstorms with flood and tornado warnings at night. I went to Pier 1, Kohl's, and Target looking for bolster and throw pillows that would match our new sofa covers, though I didn't find any that were right. (I did find a $95 dress that was 80% off and a magnetic closure bracelet for $3.20.) Adam biked home (diverting through the park to get exercise) so all my cleaning the rug in the living room was probably pointless, though having the doors open for two days has fixed the cat smell problem.

We watched Arrow, which I am having a really hard time following; I missed the first handful of episodes so that it partly my fault, but they've got all these convoluted family stories going with no effort to catch up new viewers, which I think is probably going to kill the show. Since Nashville was a rerun, we watched the pilot of The Americans, which I didn't like exactly because it was so violent and had a horrible flashback scene, but it certainly held my interest and I've always liked Keri Russell despite not having followed Felicity, so I will watch the second episode next week. From Target, Darth Vader Valentines:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Poem for Wednesday, Swain's Lock Birds, Gunless

Sonnet IX: I think I should have loved you presently
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I think I should have loved you presently,
And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
And caught your hand against my cheek and breast;
And all my pretty follies flung aside
That won you to me, and beneath your gaze,
Naked of reticence and shorn of pride,
Spread like a chart my little wicked ways.
I, that had been to you, had you remained,
But one more waking from a recurrent dream,
Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained,
And walk your memory's halls, austere, supreme,
A ghost in marble of a girl you knew
Who would have loved you in a day or two.


The weather was warm and gorgeous on Tuesday, the perfect sort of day to have the windows open all afternoon, so the house smells better than it has since before Rosie got sick, yay! Today's domestic projects involved installing a litterbox in the downstairs bathroom, which involved cleaning up the sink and under the sink to make room for same, in case our aging cats are having trouble getting to the litterboxes in the basement -- thus far, they have ignored this entirely -- plus starting work on the first floor closet, which will be perfect by 2019 or so.

We watched a terrific PBS show, Pioneers of Television: Superheroes, which had interviews with lots of people involved with the Adam West Batman plus The Incredible Hulk, The Greatest American Hero, and others, ending with all the awesome things about Wonder Woman (I never realized that Cloris Leachman played her mother). Then we watched Gunless, the Paul Gross movie about why Canada's wild west legends are so much better than the U.S. shoot-em-up stories. Here are some photos of wild birds at Swain's Lock on election day:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Poem for Tuesday, Dallas, Muncaster Mill

On Sir Home Popham's Sentence, April 1807
By Jane Austen

Of a Ministry pitiful, angry, mean,
A gallant commander the victim is seen.
For promptitude, vigour, success, does he stand
Condemn'd to receive a severe reprimand!
To his foes I could wish a resemblance in fate:
That they, too, may suffer themselves, soon or late,
The injustice they warrant. But vain is my spite,
They cannot so suffer who never do right.


We didn't get any snow worth reporting, but because freezing rain and flurries fell in the early morning, Adam yet again missed a couple of hours of school. Since he is by his own reporting only about 80% recovered, that was just as well. Paul worked from home so he didn't have to drive to work in the winter weather and helped me clean the furnace filter and afghans -- hopefully very soon I will not have to report on post-sick-cat cleanup measures. I worked from home too, and my only expedition out was to retrieve son after school, which was fine because it rained most of the day.

At lunchtime I watched a bit of the Ravens rally from Baltimore to send the team off to the Super Bowl; in the evening I watched the Dallas season premiere, which makes me hugely happy on so many levels, not least because Elena is all the brains in Ewing Oil and Sue Ellen and Ann bonding is awesome. It is going to be awful however they write Larry Hagman off the show (I'm hoping J.R. doesn't die but simply disappears, leaving chaos in his wake) and if Victoria Principal won't come back to play Christopher's mother, I am hoping that Rebecca's mother (played by the original actress) will show up instead!

Here are some photos from Meadowside Nature Center, at the ruins of Muncaster Mill which are a half-mile hike through the woods to the overpass where the road now goes right past them:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Poem for Monday and Wannabe Deadmobile

All She Wrote
By Harryette Mullen

Forgive me, I’m no good at this. I can’t write back. I never read your letter.
I can’t say I got your note. I haven’t had the strength to open the envelope.
The mail stacks up by the door. Your hand’s illegible. Your postcards were
defaced. Wash your wet hair? Any document you meant to send has yet to
reach me. The untied parcel service never delivered. I regret to say I’m
unable to reply to your unexpressed desires. I didn’t get the book you sent.
By the way, my computer was stolen. Now I’m unable to process words. I
suffer from aphasia. I’ve just returned from Kenya and Korea. Didn’t you
get a card from me yet? What can I tell you? I forgot what I was going to
say. I still can’t find a pen that works and then I broke my pencil. You know
how scarce paper is these days. I admit I haven’t been recycling. I never
have time to read the Times. I’m out of shopping bags to put the old news
in. I didn’t get to the market. I meant to clip the coupons. I haven’t read
the mail yet. I can’t get out the door to work, so I called in sick. I went to
bed with writer’s cramp. If I couldn’t get back to writing, I thought I’d catch
up on my reading. Then Oprah came on with a fabulous author plugging
her best selling book.


I don't have much to report from my Sunday that's any more exciting that my report on Saturday. Adam is feeling much better, which is good news; he ate fairly normally albeit cautiously all day, and we are hoping for his sake that the schools are delayed for the weather we're supposed to get in the early morning hours so he can sleep in. He even came out to Target with us, where I bought an organizer for the closet (the cardboard one had finally disintegrated) and lost a bracelet when the clasp somehow came loose. The rest of the afternoon was spent assembling a lamp and moving clothing into the new organizer.

We watched the SAG Awards, including the red carpet show, which was a long slog for a brief glimpse of Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. I don't have super-strong opinions about who should be winning the acting trophies (I love all the Oscar frontrunners, Day-Lewis, Lawrence, Jones, Hathaway, though I love many of their competitors too). But I think Spielberg and Lee were robbed by the DGA and Producer's Guild even if Affleck was deprived of an Oscar nomination he probably deserved; I have a bunch of issues with Argo's screenplay, which jumps the shark when action movie cliches start overtaking the historical drama.

Since I have no thrilling new weekend photos, here instead are photos of the Band Kamp van, which lives on top of the Art Warehouse building on Randolph Road and. Band Kamp offers music lessons and recording opportunities for kids and has facilities that can be rented for parties and private concerts. I just love looking up and seeing all the hippie colors.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Poem for Sunday and January Snow

By Amy Lowell

You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.


We had a very quiet domestic Saturday -- we did not go to NatsFest to meet President Taft, nor to the National Aquarium's Australia Day festivities. Adam, who got almost no sleep overnight because he was so sick, didn't get out of bed until late morning, Paul and I decided that since we'd started a cleanup project during the week, we might as well do some more of that, so we sorted all the old kids' clothes in Daniel's closet, set up some shelves in there, and moved old board games from shelves in the living room into the closet. Since Adam was exhausted, I walked our neighbor's dog in the snow for him.

In the evening we watched the US figure skating championships to see whether local girl Ashley Wagner could successfully defend the women's title and to see whether Gracie Gold was overhyped because she's blonde and pretty or whether she really had the goods after a terrible short program (without spoilers, let's just say it was a good night -- someone who knows more about skating than me, who's the gorgeous woman who skated to Swan Lake and designed her own costume?). Here are three photos from my day in the neighborhood -- a local snowman, the dog Adam usually walks every day, and cats keeping each other warm!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Poem for Saturday, Facets, Toy Mice

The Hills of Little Cornwall
By Mark Van Doren

The hills of little Cornwall
Themselves are dreams.
The mind lies down among them,
Even by day, and snores,
Snug in the perilous knowledge
That nothing more inward pleasing,
More like itself,
Sleeps anywhere beyond them
Even by night
In the great land it cares two pins about,
Possibly; not more.

The mind, eager for caresses,
Lies down at its own risk in Cornwall;
Whose hills,
Whose cunning streams,
Whose mazes where a thought,
Doubling upon itself,
Considers the way, lazily, well lost,
Indulge it to the nick of death--
Not quite, for where it curls it still can feel,
Like feathers,
Like affectionate mouse whiskers,
The flattery, the trap.


It has not been the best of days around here. I spent the morning using the Rug Doctor to clean up all the parts of the carpet I didn't get to on Thursday while Paul had conference calls about his company's new year changes. Because of the snow forecast, schools closed at lunchtime, so I picked up Adam and Maddy -- who is just getting over the flu that caused her to miss school earlier in the week. Since they were in the house, I let Paul go out to get toilet paper and cat food in case of unexpected major snow, and spent some time chatting with Maddy's mother when she came to pick her up.

We only got the inch or so forecast, but Adam caught the flu and spent the afternoon and evening horribly sick to his stomach. While it snowed, I cleaned out some stuff from Daniel's closet and posted a review of DS9's "Facets". We watched the new Nikita episode, then two fantastic episodes of Shakespeare Uncovered, the one on the Scottish Play hosted by Ethan Hawke and the one on the comedies hosted by Joely Richardson. Adam watched a bit of the latter when he couldn't sleep and eventually fell asleep, perhaps from boredom! Here are some mice from an Ellicott City window display:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Poem for Friday and Richmond's Maymont

My House, I Say
By Robert Louis Stevenson

My house, I say. But hark to the sunny doves
That make my roof the arena of their loves,
That gyre about the gable all day long
And fill the chimneys with their murmurous song:
Our house, they say; and mine, the cat declares
And spreads his golden fleece upon the chairs;
And mine the dog, and rises stiff with wrath
If any alien foot profane the path.
So, too, the buck that trimmed my terraces,
Our whilom gardener, called the garden his;
Who now, deposed, surveys my plain abode
And his late kingdom, only from the road.


Thursday started with one inch of snow and two hours of school delay, plus a quick drive in the cold to give Adam the lunch he forgot, but it otherwise held nothing but work and chores. Paul worked from home except for a farewell lunch out with a long-time colleague who was let go earlier this year by their company; on the way home he rented a rug cleaner so I could attack the post-sick cat carpet even more aggressively. The highlight was an hour on my knees under the dining room table vacuuming with a hose because the vacuum itself wouldn't fit and the table's too big and heavy to move.

News involved being pissed at Virginia and New Mexico over the racism of redistricting and misogyny of trying to force rape victims to carry fetuses to term, plus laughing out loud at the news that J.J. Abrams will be giving Star Wars the reboot treatment -- with Disney producing, can it possibly be worse than what Lucas himself did in Attack of the Clones? Evening TV was this week's DS9 episode, then the still-extremely-enjoyable Beauty and the Beast on which I like pretty much every character. Here are some photos from the gardens at Maymont in Richmond, which we visited with Delta in December:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Poem for Thursday and Beall-Dawson Exhibits

Waifs and Strays
By Arthur Rimbaud
Translated by Jethro Bithell

Black in the fog and in the snow,
Where the great air-hole windows glow,
With rounded rumps,

Upon their knees five urchins squat,
Looking down where the baker, hot,
The thick dough thumps.

They watch his white arm turn the bread,
Ere through an opening flaming red
The loaf he flings.

They hear the good bread baking, while
The chubby baker with a smile
An old tune sings.

Breathing the warmth into their soul,
They squat around the red air-hole,
As a breast warm.

And when, for feasters' midnight bout,
The ready bread is taken out,
In a cake's form;

And while beneath the blackened beams,
Sings every crust of golden gleams,
While the cricket brags,

The hole breathes warmth into the night,
And into them life and delight,
Under their rags,

And the urchins covered with hoar-frost,
On billows of enchantment tossed
Their little souls,

Glue to the grate their little rosy
Noses, singing through the cosy
Glowing holes,

But with low voices like a prayer,
Bending down to the light down there,
Where heaven gleams.

--So eager that they burst their breeches,
And in the winter wind that screeches
Their linen streams.


I spent most of the day doing chores too tedious to describe -- I didn't even have time to play with my new camera, because I wanted to clear off the shelf where I intend to keep it and doing that made it clear that I needed to clean up other things first. Evening TV involved Arrow, which I liked mostly because John Barrowman was on, Supernatural, which I watched because of the Renfaire preview, and Nashville, which I always like for the music and soap opera complications.

When I posted the cemetery photos yesterday I said I would post more photos from the Beall-Dawson House. The park in which the house is located is also home to the Stonestreet Museum of 19th Century Medicine, a one-room doctor's office was built in 1850 for Dr. Edward Elisha Stonestreet, where he worked for over 50 years, though it was originally located on East Montgomery Avenue. Here are photos from several exhibits at the park:

A Civil War-era dress on display in the Beall-Dawson House, which currently has an exhibit on how the war affected Montgomery County, Maryland.

Diaries kept by a Confederate sympathizer who lived in Maryland during the war...

...and a map of Rockville at the time.

This is the Stonestreet Museum, originally Stonestreet's medical facility built beside his home.

The museum has a collection of his surgical tools...

...and homeopathic remedies, including castor oil for corpulence and cocaine derivatives for cough.

There is also furniture and equipment from the period.

Across the street, signs identify the occupants of the original buildings that surround the Beall-Dawson House.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Poem for Wednesday and Rockville Cemetery

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me
By Delmore Schwartz

        "the withness of the body"

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, disheveling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
—The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.


Adam had no school on Tuesday so the teachers could finish report cards and prepare for the next semester, but he went to school for a few hours to work on tech for the winter show. Since it was very cold, I drove him to school, then stopped at the mall to see whether I could find some Ravens souvenirs, though our mall is apparently so fixated on the Ravens that I could only track down stickers (though if anyone wants an RGIII shirt, they're not only in the Redskins store but in several sneaker stores as well). I had no better luck at CVS. Clearly I shall have to go to Baltimore before the Super Bowl.

The rest of my day was not exciting apart from my new Nikon D7000 getting delivered! I have not had a chance to play with it (or even to charge its batteries) since I had to go pick up Adam as soon as it arrived, but that's what tomorrow is for (along with laundry and some unenthralling work). In the evening we watched The Iron Lady, which I thought had much better performances than its screenplay and some odd directing choices but it's worth seeing, then this week's Once Upon a Time which we'd missed on Sunday for football.

Here are some photos from Rockville Cemetery taken in December when we went to visit the Glenview Mansion, which is part of the same public park. You can see the names of many famous local residents on the tombstones -- Magruder, Bradley, Bowie, the mausoleum of the Pumphreys who still run a Rockville funeral home -- but the two I find really interesting here are the headstone of the Bealls, one of the families for whom the Beall-Dawson home is named (more on them tomorrow), and the one for Major Howard Bowie, who died in 1949 and has a double headstone with a blank side...I would love to know the story there, whether his wife remarried or whether she is still alive in her 90s.