Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Poem for Tuesday and High School Art Show

A = A
By Andrew Joron

Mine to ask a mask to say, A is not A.

No one, ever the contrarian, to answer.

The moon is both divided & multiplied
        by water: as chance, as the plural of chant.

O diver, to be sea-surrounded by a thought bled
        a blankness as likely as blackness.

What is the word for getting words & forgetting?

Might night right sight?

I, too late to relate
        I & I, trap light in sound
& sing no thing that breath can bring.


I didn't have a very eventful Monday until the evening. We are going to see my father-in-law get a lifetime achievement award on Tuesday, so there were a bunch of things I needed to get done, like tracking down black pantyhose without a run in them. It rained all day, which made it easier not to want to be wandering around looking at azaleas. Last week was a good one for gay rights in a couple of US states and a couple of other countries, and on Monday we finally got an openly gay NBA player whom I'm pleased to say played most recently for the Washington Wizards, though I haven't followed pro basketball much at all this year. Before dinner, Adam wanted to go over to school for the first day of the art show, where it turned out that there was a reception with snacks and he had several photos on display that he didn't know about. Here are some pics of the art, including one by Adam of Paul with a giraffe for an arm plus another photo hanging next to one of Maddy's photos:

Evening TV involved catching up on the Once Upon a Time we missed on Sunday, which Adam and I were ridiculing aloud, in part because we could predict 3/4 of the lines and in part because we're finally willing to admit we'd like the show better if Henry had died from a poison apple many episodes ago. How did a show that started so creatively descend into such painful cliches, not in the fairy tale world where might be excusable but in the modern era where its women are slotted into ridiculously stilted roles? Afterward we watched the return of Warehouse 13, which made up for every disappointment I've had with genre TV this year: in addition to my love for all the regulars, it brought in a WB favorite and it's like Guest Women of Genre Central -- not just Wagner and Mulgrew but my Rome favorite! The storylines are sometimes like mediocre Doctor Who, except that instead of glorifying the Lone Genius with his pretty little helpmeet, it glorifies teamwork and women who kick ass. And Pete likes Twilight. I can't ask for more.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Poem for Monday and Sunday in Richmond

The Garden
By Andrew Marvell

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays;
And their uncessant labors see
Crowned from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-verg├Ęd shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose.

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men:
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow;
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green;
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name.
Little, alas, they know or heed,
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheresoe'er your barks I wound
No name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our passion's heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat:
The gods who mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race.
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow,
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness:
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide:
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,
While man there walked without a mate:
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But 'twas beyond a mortal's share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises 'twere in one
To live in Paradise alone.

How well the skillful gard'ner drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new;
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And, as it works, th' industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!


Paul, Adam and I spent the day in Richmond with Delta, Lin and another friend, and did not get home till late so this will be quick. We met at Dot's Back Inn for brunch -- most of us had some variety of eggs -- then we went to Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden, which has many hundreds of tulips, azaleas, peonies, violets, pansies and other flowers in bloom, plus turtles and goslings in the lake. It drizzled a bit when we arrived, but then the weather decided to cooperate so it was a nearly perfect afternoon -- not too sunny, not too hot.

Then we went to Maymont Park, which was having an open house with costumed aristocrats and staff, carriage rides, tours of the mansion, and the head gardener discussing the extensive gardens, farm and wildlife park. There were many azaleas in bloom there too, and we got to see the waterfall and koi in the pond that weren't around when we visited in the winter. We had dinner at Mexico, our favorite place to eat in Richmond though we went to a different on than we had previously (the enchiladas del pueblo were still fantastic). A few photos:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poem for Sunday, Lake Whetstone, The Island

Fire and Ice
By Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


The University of Miami held an information session for prospective students at a local hotel on Saturday, so after Adam went to track practice in the morning, we went to the meeting to hear about their school of communications, which is pretty well ranked (and, you know, Miami is not exactly an unattractive place to spend the winter at college). As with all these things, the video of the campus and academic disciplines was enjoyable, the PowerPoint was informative, and the Q&A made us all want to spork our eyes out -- we ended up leaving early after the second question about a point that had been made twice during the presentation. These colleges really need to learn to take a couple of questions, then tell the audience that the student athletes, people concerned about Greek life, people who want to know about specific study abroad options and other things that everyone else at the information session doesn't need to know should talk to the admissions counselors privately afterward.

We had a lovely late afternoon, though, because after we left the college session (and since I'd seen goslings at Washingtonian Lake a couple of days ago), we decided to go to Lake Whetstone to see if they had any goslings yet too. We walked around the entire lake, including the farm that borders Montgomery Village behind it -- which apparently has llamas now -- and saw two families with more than six goslings each, though they were trying to hide from us so I didn't get an exact count! We also saw several herons in the tree where there are a number of large nests and a great many turtles. After dinner we watched Doctor Who -- I didn't dislike it but I'm having a giant case of "yeah, whatever" this season when I'm not feeling deja vu from other episodes or sci-fi series -- and afterward, because of the ad for the show that was on afterward, we got in the mood to watch The Island, which is also definitely not great sci-fi but it has McGregor, Johansson, and Bean, and it's still vastly better than That Awful Literary Clone Movie from last year.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Poem for Saturday and Mount Vernon Estate

By Lewis Carroll

Little maidens, when you look
On this little story-book,
Reading with attentive eye
Its enticing history,
Never think that hours of play
Are your only HOLIDAY,
And that in a HOUSE of joy
Lessons serve but to annoy:
If in any HOUSE you find
Children of a gentle mind,
Each the others pleasing ever--
Each the others vexing never--
Daily work and pastime daily
In their order taking gaily--
Then be very sure that they
Have a life of HOLIDAY.


Very gorgeous weather continued on Friday, with azaleas bursting into bloom all over our neighborhood and chipmunks, bunnies, squirrels, and a wide variety of birds were out enjoying themselves. I was busy at home all morning writing a review of Deep Space Nine's "Crossfire" -- an episode I don't mind admitting I loathe just as much now as I did when it first aired, even though I know that most of the things I feared would be permanent after it were not -- but then I got to go enjoy the sunshine. Adam's girlfriend came over before he got home from track practice, so I hung out with her for a while.

We (plus Adam and Maddy) had dinner with my parents, then we came home, watched Nikita before Maddy got picked up, and after she left we put on Kinsey which I didn't really expect Adam to watch with us because he rarely stays around for movies these days but he actually watched the whole thing. Today in politics/religion I am happy about Women of the Wall won their suit and a Jerusalem court has ruled that women praying out loud in prayer shawls at the Western Wall do not constitute a disturbance of the public order. Some more photos from Mount Vernon last weekend:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Poem for Friday and Washingtonian Goslings

A Greek Island
By Edward Hirsch

Traveling over your body I found
The failing olive and the cajoling flute,
Where I knelt down, as if in prayer,
And sucked a moist pit
From the marl
Of the earth in a sacred cove.

You gave yourself to the god who comes,
The liberator of the loud shout,
While I fell into a trance,
Blood on my lips,
And stumbled into a temple on top
Of a hill at the bottom of the sky.


From Thursday's Poem-a-Day. I've read Hirsch, author of The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems and who used to write Poet's Choice for The Washington Post, since college.

There was a thick layer of pollen on my car when I left the house this morning to meet Vertigo66 for lunch at Tara Thai, but I am loving spring anyway. After we ate, we walked around Washingtonian Lake to enjoy the mid-60s temperatures and to see the turtles, ducks and incipient azaleas. We also got to see the first goslings of the season! (Photos taken with phone, sorry!)

I can never get anything done Thursday nights because it's my must-see-TV night -- Beauty and the Beast and Elementary, both of which have women characters I adore and which pass the Bechdel test pretty much every single week, plus DS9, which always did, even the bad episodes. And the Nationals won, for a change, though neither the Ravens nor Redskins have drafted anyone yet.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Poem for Thursday and Mount Vernon Lambs

Dear Corporation,
By Adam Fell

I don't know how to say how I feel politely, or poetically, or without the jugular and collapse of the immediate heart, so tonight, I won't say anything at all. Just stare out the window at our stunned little writhe. Hold back the strongest urge to knock out a few of the capitol's most critical walls, replace its fiber optic cables with lightning bugs, replace the investment bankers all with bunker busters. I lock eyes with the capitol's bright and empty rooms and admit that, sometimes, deep in my affluent, American cells, I miss my body carved to projectile. I miss trebuchet shoulders and knuckles flaked to arrowheads, miss my hands massive and molded from molten to the bolts of ballistas. I miss blackjack and cudgel and quarterstaff and flintlock. I miss pummel and pike and I am not proud of this. I know it's not a healthy feeling. I try to un-arm, to un-cock. I try to practice my breathing. I try The Master Cleanse, The Stationary Bike, The Bikram Sweat, The Contortion Stretch, The Vegan Meatloaf, The Nightly, Scorching Bath, The Leafy Greens and Venom Television, The Self-Mutilation of a Winter's Run, but we can only cleanse our bodies so much before we realize it's not our bodies that need detoxing.


I am not having an exciting week to report on, sorry -- most of what was truly interesting in my day happened online, like gay marriage gaining ground in Nevada and Rhode Island, this great Washington Post article on Israeli and Palestinian food and politics, and Cara making me think about the hotness of Liam Neeson and Russell Crowe together in The Next Three Days. Otherwise some work got done, some laundry got folded, and I might have rewatched The Confrontation from Les Mis for research purposes.

Once again the weather was spectacular -- temperatures back in the 70s, flowers (and pollen) everywhere, squirrels and chipmunks enjoying our new deck even though we need to refill the bird feeder so the cardinals are boycotting us. We watched an episode of PBS's series on Australia: The First 4 Billion Years, which is really well done, then we watched The Americans, which is also really well done and stressful and sad and it is probably masochistic of me to care about any of the characters. For relaxation, here are some Mount Vernon sheep and their babies:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Poem for Wednesday and Bluebells

The Affidavit
By Anthony Caleshu

The first time I abandoned you was in the port town of D.
I was only one of a number of incidentals interested in

the woman in the blue pinafore with a black beret.
We were getting friendly when she confessed

her love of men was a love of reading about them:
on Wall Street, in organized crime, on whaling ships.

So I confessed my interest in her was only a passing one,
independently wealthy as I was

and without the ties to a livelihood that require so many
to turn to the study of classic American literature.

When the cops stormed the place, I was at the bottom of the bar,
arrested for ruining newly reupholstered furniture.

Instead of re-launching myself as a banker, a mob-boss, a ship's captain
cut away from the stake, the next morning

I began to repeat, over and over, my supposition
of tragedy: how revenge is bad for digestion,

how I knew I would die a dreadful death, how my love for you
was as unspeakable as self-pity ... a mumbling like the mumbling

I'm mumbling now, just out of ear-shot of anyone listening.


Swiped from inlovewithnight, who pretty much always posts poetry that rings my bells.

I have had a night -- nothing terrible, just lots and lots of little things that had to be dealt with while trying to watch Cold Mountain which I'd never seen before because I had a feeling it would be way too violent for me, and guess what, I was right (great acting, impressive directing, not a movie I ever want to see again, some distractions were welcome).

No complaints about my day (Russell Crowe had a worse day on his farm, according to his tweets); gorgeous weather, azaleas opening, laundry washed but not folded, Big Project mostly edited. Plus France legalized gay marriage and made bangers and mash for St. George's Day. Also, spy Colin Firth. And Riverside bluebells. More tomorrow!