Saturday, November 30, 2013

Placeholder for Saturday

My day in representative photos, since we didn't get home till after 10 to our poor neglected cats and I'm still completely behind on email and everything else:

Though we all woke up half in food comas, even the cats who did not, technically, eat Thanksgiving dinner...

...we had to take Adam for some medical tests for his sports injuries. There was frost on the windows when we left.

After lunch, we went to see Catching Fire since I was the only one in my immediate family who had seen it. We stepped outside after getting tickets to see Washingtonian Lake with seagulls standing on ice patches.

Then we went into the insanely crowded movie theater -- looked like Frozen was doing a healthy business too.

After the movie we went to my parents' for leftovers with my sister's family. I had to run Adam home between dinner and dessert so he could walk the neighbor's dog, then we came back for more food.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Poem for Friday and Thanksgiving Day

Around Us
By Marvin Bell

We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks -- a zipper or a snap --
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.


I did the same things as many Americans on Thursday: slept late, woke up and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, did some reading, waited for relatives to arrive, hung out with in-laws, went over to parents' house, visited with sibling's family, ate Thanksgiving dinner with full extended family, and watched a bit of football. Because we have both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, we had a huge amount of food -- I had fruit, nuts, cheese, tofurkey, stuffing, potatoes, carrot souffle, sweet potatoes, butternut squash lasagna, cranberry sauce, plus a tiny piece of pecan pie which was all I could manage to eat for dessert though there were five or six other choices. The cousins did a lot of running around together, my mother had a treasure hunt and pinata for the no-longer-really-kids, and we came home to the pleasure of Baltimore beating Pittsburgh!

Paul's annual cookie cake (previous cakes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Poem for Thanksgiving, First Night of Chanukah & Snow

By Richard Blanco


Although Tia Miriam boasted she discovered
at least half-a-dozen uses for peanut butter --
topping for guava shells in syrup,
butter substitute for Cuban toast,
hair conditioner and relaxer --
Mama never knew what to make
of the monthly five-pound jars
handed out by the immigration department
until my friend, Jeff, mentioned jelly.


There was always pork though,
for every birthday and wedding,
whole ones on Christmas and New Year's Eves,
even on Thanksgiving Day -- pork,
fried, broiled or crispy skin roasted --
as well as cauldrons of black beans,
fried plantain chips and yuca con mojito.
These items required a special visit
to Antonio's Mercado on the corner of 8th street
where men in guayaberas stood in senate
blaming Kennedy for everything -- "Ese hijo de puta!"
the bile of Cuban coffee and cigar residue
filling the creases of their wrinkled lips;
clinging to one another's lies of lost wealth,
ashamed and empty as hollow trees.


By seven I had grown suspicious -- we were still here.
Overheard conversations about returning
had grown wistful and less frequent.
I spoke English; my parents didn't.
We didn't live in a two story house
with a maid or a wood panel station wagon
nor vacation camping in Colorado.
None of the girls had hair of gold;
none of my brothers or cousins
were named Greg, Peter, or Marcia;
we were not the Brady Bunch.
None of the black and white characters
on Donna Reed or on Dick Van Dyke Show
were named Guadalupe, Lazaro, or Mercedes.
Patty Duke's family wasn't like us either --
they didn't have pork on Thanksgiving,
they ate turkey with cranberry sauce;
they didn't have yuca, they had yams
like the dittos of Pilgrims I colored in class.


A week before Thanksgiving
I explained to my abuelita
about the Indians and the Mayflower,
how Lincoln set the slaves free;
I explained to my parents about
the purple mountain's majesty,
"one if by land, two if by sea"
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the "masses yearning to be free"
liberty and justice for all, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we would have turkey,
as well as pork.


Abuelita prepared the poor fowl
as if committing an act of treason,
faking her enthusiasm for my sake.
Mamà set a frozen pumpkin pie in the oven
and prepared candied yams following instructions
I translated from the marshmallow bag.
The table was arrayed with gladiolus,
the plattered turkey loomed at the center
on plastic silver from Woolworths.
Everyone sat in green velvet chairs
we had upholstered with clear vinyl,
except Tio Carlos and Toti, seated
in the folding chairs from the Salvation Army.
I uttered a bilingual blessing
and the turkey was passed around
like a game of Russian Roulette.
"DRY", Tio Berto complained, and proceeded
to drown the lean slices with pork fat drippings
and cranberry jelly -- "esa mierda roja," he called it.
Faces fell when Mama presented her ochre pie --
pumpkin was a home remedy for ulcers, not a dessert.
Tia Maria made three rounds of Cuban coffee
then Abuelo and Pepe cleared the living room furniture,
put on a Celia Cruz LP and the entire family
began to merengue over the linoleum of our apartment,
sweating rum and coffee until they remembered --
it was 1970 and 46 degrees --
in America.
After repositioning the furniture,
an appropriate darkness filled the room.
Tio Berto was the last to leave.


The day before Thanksgiving is always weird in terms of work and school both. Paul worked from home, starting early because he wanted to pick up Daniel from College Park after classes but before rush hour; Adam only had classes till lunchtime, at which point he called me for a ride home for himself and Maddy who wanted to go to Tyson's Buffet. Since we had to drive them anyway, we went out to lunch too (the buffet had the vegetarian seafood, yum), then stopped in Mom's Organic Market to get tofurkey for Thanksgiving. Then Paul took us home and went to get Daniel in the snow, which fell all afternoon though the ground was too warm for it to stick.

I stayed home with Adam and Maddy, who got permission to stay for dinner and the first night of Chanukah. My mom originally thought Nicole and her family would be arriving around lunchtime, but weather delayed her flight, so we invited my parents over for dinner too -- Paul made latkes and fried chicken, my mother brought apple pie, we figured we might as well start the weekend of overeating for the holiday early! In the evening I showed Daniel the Doctor Who anniversary specials, then we watched Comedy Central's South Park greatest hits marathon (and got lucky and bumped into the Key & Peele Les Mis parody). Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Chanukah!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Poem for Wednesday and Wheaton Flowers

The Living Beauty
By W.B. Yeats

I'll say and maybe dream I have drawn content--
Seeing that time has frozen up the blood,
The wick of youth being burned and the oil spent--
From beauty that is cast out of a mould
In bronze, or that in dazzling marble appears,
Appears, but when we have gone is gone again,
Being more indifferent to our solitude
Than 'twere an apparition. O heart, we are old,
The living beauty is for younger men,
We cannot pay its tribute of wild tears.


It rained all day, I did work and chores, Adam called for a ride home from school so he didn't have to be out in the rain, I did some Chanukah shopping, that's about all the excitement here. Rosie and Daisy would like to report that they are being starved, but this is not true -- they were fed at 7 and are not yet due.

Evening TV was Agents of SHIELD, whose details I can't even remember because I watched the season premiere of Nikita immediately afterward and liked that better, then we caught up on Beauty and the Beast which had some good moments and some melodrama. Some flowers at Brookside Gardens from late summer:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Poem for Tuesday and Countryside Sheep

Wedding Album 1977
By Tess Taylor

My parents kissing in a kitchen.
In her loop-eyed dress my mother--

enormous in her belly, I loom.
In a commune in Fort Greene

she typed and typed her dissertation.
Upstairs a woman practiced primal screams,

a wild-haired painter mourned his dying wife.
My parents had already made my life

near the mass grave
of hundreds of Revolutionary soldiers,

a cockeyed brownstone full of junkies,
somebody who stripped my parents' jalopy

down to wires and bones.
Soon they sold all they had

and drove to Madison to have me.
Had five people over for pie.

It was done then: They were married.
Weeks later in their bedroom I was born.

In piles my mother's writing
watched us from unquiet bricks and boards.


I had a very fun, very full Monday so this will be a quickie! Cheryl came to visit me, took me out for an early birthday lunch at Tara Thai since I won't see her on my actual birthday next month, then we went to see Catching Fire, which looks gorgeous on IMAX and which is superbly acted, better than the first one I think. I'm of a double mind about the directing -- I've been following the controversy and I understand the point being made by the people who preferred The Hunger Games' less glossy look that it's not supposed to be glorifying the same things the Capitol glorifies in Panem, but I thought that the violence itself was actually less emphasized in this sequel -- we only saw arena deaths that were crucial plot points -- and though I am squeamish about even evil animals in jeopardy, I didn't have serious issues with that in this film. So big thumbs up (and though I thought Peeta and Gale were both stronger characters in the sequel, I am still Team Haymitch).

After the movie, we came back to my house, ate chocolate chip cookies, and watched Hornblower's "Mutiny" and "Retribution" -- probably my two favorites since they involve Hornblower, Bush, Kennedy, and Pellew (plus I needed to see Bush interrupting the three conspirators for reasons that have to do with a different franchise entirely, hee). When eventually Cheryl had to go home, I had dinner with my family and tried unsuccessfully to get Adam an appointment with a neurologist just to be sure he doesn't have a concussion before he starts physical therapy for his leg. Then we watched Almost Human, which I like but am not really in love with, and Sleepy Hollow, which I am completely in love with for a whole bunch of reasons. Now I am watching the Redskins -- big surprise! -- lose to San Francisco (hey, they almost held their own the first half before collapsing). Here are a few photos of the sheep at Dancing Leaf Farm and the farm next door!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Poem for Monday and Locust Grove

Black Glass Soliloquy
By Ben Mirov

There is nothing in my head today.
I think about you everyday.
My head full of blckkk glsss

My head full of bllllk sound.
I think about you every day.
I travel in my love for you.

An outline in the blckkk glsss.
Living in the blllckk glasss.
Time travels in my sound for you.

There is nothing in my head today.
Echo echo bl@@@k gl@{{.
To whom do I deliver sound.

To whom does the shudder render.
I think about you everyday.
I hang you in the B[][][][][] G[][][][][]

I hang you in my head today.
A ravel in the blccckkkkk soundd.
I think about you everyday.

My love for you is bla888888ck s####nd.
Echo echo bl&kk s(((((())))))d.
I travel in my love for you.

I ravel in my love for you.
A bl>>>>K $(0)nd in my love for you.
I think about you every day.

There is nothing in my head today.
I hang you in my bLL^^CC// S______---
][ ravel in the B&&&&& S))))))))d

I go out in the b::::::::::K G::::::::::ss
to see you in the <*++*> gIIIIIIIs.
I hang you in my head today.

I ravel through the <<>> {oun}
Are you in my $[%&]d today?
An echo in my head today.

I think about you everyday.
An echo in the black sound.
An outline in the black glass.


We had some plans for Sunday, but the cold made us kind of sluggish all morning and then we decided we should move our legs a bit in the afternoon. Early on, Adam worked at Hebrew school and I restrung the beads on a necklace; after breakfast, which was close to lunchtime, we were thinking about going to see The Book Thief but we kind of weren't in the mood for a long depressing movie no matter how good it's supposed to be. So we watched some of the Ravens-Jets game, which surprisingly ended well for Baltimore, then we went to Locust Grove to take a walk without Adam, who had homework and still isn't feeling great.

Adam had not watched The Day of the Doctor when it aired -- he was at an all-day cross country meet -- so we watched the internet shorts (The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is a joy forever) and the main episode. Parts of it hold up really well on a rewatch, particularly everything Tennant does both with Smith and with Hurt, and parts of it grate just as much as if not more than the first time (Neville Chamberlain jokes? Really? And don't get me started on Moffat's gender games). There was no Once Upon a Time but we watched Masters of Sex, which remains excellent...and has better sexual politics than futuristic shows despite when it's set.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Poem for Sunday, Day of the Doctor, Glass Birds

Ample make this bed
By Emily Dickinson

Ample make this bed.
Make this bed with awe;
In it wait till judgment break
Excellent and fair.

Be its mattress straight,
Be its pillow round;
Let no sunrise' yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.


Adam was out nearly all day at the Battle of the Potomac cross country race (Maryland vs Virginia vs West Virginia vs DC) -- he couldn't run, but he went to cheer on his friends and eat lunch with them, then he came home exhausted and went to bed before 9. I spent pretty much all day working on our annual photo calendar, which had to be completed and ordered before my two Shutterfly coupons/discounts expired, with a long break in the afternoon for The Day of the Doctor and the pre-show and post-airing chatter plus a few minutes of the miserable Maryland game. Everything that follows is spoilers!




My favorite bit of the preshow was William Shatner (Nichelle Nichols, too) saying happy 50th to Doctor Who -- did Doctor Who wish Star Trek a happy 40th? And I mostly really enjoyed the episode, though I have to admit that I actually found An Adventure in Time and Space more moving. I am always happy to see any incarnation of Elizabeth I, even one who'd put a man ahead of her kingdom which I don't believe for a minute -- I was so hoping Ten was right that that alone meant she had to be a duplicate -- and I love the idea of a secret National Gallery!

And there were many moments that made me howl aloud, including the "it's just a harmless little bunny" bit, "Are you his Companions? They get younger all the time," Ten blaming Eleven for his timey-wimey line, and Captain Jack Harkness bequeathing tech on the occasion of one of this deaths ("Think of it. Americans with the ability to rewrite history? You've seen their movies" -- though I really think that if the Gallifreyans had seen Wargames and the Terminator movies, they'd have done much better as a species). I was nervous about Rose Tyler coming back and delighted that it was Rose-TARDIS instead!

But there was enough gender trouble to niggle at me -- not just Elizabeth I but the nerd archivist in the familiar scarf who wishes she was as pretty as her sister and Eight-and-a-Half's eyerolling about future Doctor smooching sessions, and I knew when it started to turn into Galaxy Quest ("never give up, never give in") that we were in for the new inevitable sci-fi cliche in which everything that matters eventually comes back from the dead, even entire planets. It meant something when Nine said "Everybody lives!" because that was the exception, then; now, everything that made Nine himself no longer happened, and he'll never even know it.

Okay, I forgave a lot for Tom Baker, and I loved all the Tennant and Smith joint interviews and commentaries; we ended the evening watching Graham Norton, where I snickered when Smith pointed out that his sonic screwdriver is bigger than Tennant's but my favorite moment was the fan who needed Tennant's autograph on his arm for a tattoo who announced that he was married to the woman in the Dalek dress who had preceded him in the red chair. I did work in a walk in the chilly evening air and we all had dinner together, but that's about all the news from here! Here is one more Art of Fire pic:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poem for Saturday, By Inferno's Light, Art of Fire

By Elinor Wylie

I always was afraid of Somes's Pond:
Not the little pond, by which the willow stands,
Where laughing boys catch alewives in their hands
In brown, bright shallows; but the one beyond.
There, when the frost makes all the birches burn
Yellow as cow-lilies, and the pale sky shines
Like a polished shell between black spruce and pines,
Some strange thing tracks us, turning where we turn.

You'll say I dream it, being the true daughter
Of those who in old times endured this dread.
Look! Where the lily-stems are showing red
A silent paddle moves below the water,
A sliding shape has stirred them like a breath;
Tall plumes surmount a painted mask of death.


I had a busy but mostly good Friday. I spent the morning finishing a review of Deep Space Nine's "By Inferno's Light", one of the many episodes that was pretty good when it first aired and has somehow become better during the past 15+ years. My father invited me to lunch, but I had to get the review ready for posting, so I just ate oatmeal and cheese; then I went for a walk (too early for bunnies and deer, I didn't see those until we drove home after dark) and took a quick shower so I could take Adam to the orthopedist, where he was poked and prodded all around his left knee. She suspects that he has tendonitis and prescribed physical therapy; if a few weeks of that don't make the pain stop, then we have to talk about MRIs and injections.

Adam and his girlfriend had plans in the evening -- in typical teenage fashion, they did not have a set agenda or time, though they needed a ride -- so when we got back and she asked if he'd meet her at the mall, we told my parents that we were heading there, and we ended up having dinner at California Pizza Kitchen with my parents while Adam and Maddy ate elsewhere in the restaurant. Then we came home and watched Doctor Who Explained, which was good, and An Adventure in Time and Space, which was fantastic; I have never seen the First Doctor except in clips, and I was expecting a straightforward docudrama about TV production, so my delight at seeing in essence a Doctor Who episode about the making of Doctor Who is pretty significant!

A few photos of candy dish-making at Art of Fire during the fall Countryside Artisans Tour:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Poem for Friday and Second Chance Wildlife

Conspiracy to Commit Larceny: A Recipe
By Jennifer Militello

Take the man you think you love and his
fabulous lips. Take him from one place
to the next. Let him drive your car. Let him
drive it through the mood-crazed woods
until it overheats. Let the nights feed
from your eyes as you look at him. Do
not turn on the heat. Do not spill
the flavored oils of the heart. Do not
eat from the palm of your hand
a fluid ounce of what you may need.
Do something illegal. You only have to be
there when they bring the contraband in.
You only have to leave yourself behind.
The stars know. The police will prowl
your neighborhood until the plate number
matches and the car checks out.
When they bring you in, you
must remove your shoes and belt.
You must pretend there was no felony.
Then you must confess. Add your past,
a pinch of the rage you feel, and how
you sit until your father bursts in
and asks whether you have been arrested.
Add a mother who tells you she is
ashamed. An expensive lawyer. The way
you remember the taste of his kiss and
how real he was and how he would
drive dark roads at high speeds through
the back woods with the headlights off.
Remember what the stars see. And how
once it is over the lawyer will send
a letter saying he said you knew nothing,
saying he tried to keep you out of it,
though the police said he had given
you up as they made you say his name.


I had a lot of schlepping to do on Thursday, but most of it wasn't bad schlepping. The car was having its pre-winter checkup, so Paul worked from home since we only had the van. Adam had a morning doctor's appointment, so I picked him up from school and took him to the pediatrician, whose fire alarm went off mid-appointment because someone in the building was testing the sprinklers; she decided that he did not have a concussion, just headaches from too little sleep and too much school stress, but she did think he needs to see an orthopedist about his knee, so we are going there tomorrow. We also had to take his orthotic inserts to the podiatrist to be refurbished after cross country season, so we did that too.

It was the first day Vera Bradley brought back the Pink Elephants pattern and the stores warned that it might sell out very fast, so on the way to pick up the car, after putting gas in the van, I made Paul walk around the mall with me looking for the new cell phone crossbody bag, but neither the Vera Bradley store nor the Hallmark store had even gotten it in. So I dropped him off to get the car and went over to Tiara Galleries, whom I had already asked to hold one to me; meanwhile, he ordered a pizza which we had for dinner. I only half-watched Once Upon a Time in Neverland but Elementary always rocks, especially when Watson does. Here are some photos from the Second Chance Wildlife Center's fall festival last month:

I wish I had something profound to say about JFK, but it was before I was born and I feel like it's overprocessed in all of our imaginations. Maybe tomorrow.