Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Poem for Wednesday, SHIELD, Longwood Gardens

Poem In Which Words Have Been Left Out
By Charles Jensen

        —The "Miranda Rights," established 1966

You have the right to remain
anything you can and will be.

An attorney you cannot afford
will be provided to you.

You have silent will.
You can be against law.
You cannot afford one.

You remain silent. Anything you say
will be provided to you.

The right can and will be
against you. The right provided you.

Have anything you say be
right. Anything you say can be right.

Say you have the right attorney.
The right remain silent.

Be held. Court the one. Be provided.
You cannot be you.


As predicted, it rained all day Tuesday. This made me want to sleep, and indeed I kept catching myself dozing off at my computer, having very strange brief dreams based on whatever I'd most recently been reading (like Michael Jackson secretly having a child named after the preferred yaoi site of a LiveJournal friend of mine). Caffeine and chocolate helped somewhat. Since I was already having trouble concentrating, I was easily distracted by The Stories Exploding The Internet, which started out being the Tony nominations (by which I mean snubs of most major actors who keep Broadway solvent), shifted to the Star Wars Cast Reunion, then was overtaken by The Best Way To Punish a Racist Asshole. (Side note: YAY WIZARDS!)

Because it was raining, Adam needed a ride home from school. I folded laundry and we watched Mean Girls together in honor of the movie's tenth anniversary on Wednesday; because of internet memes, it actually seems more relevant now than it did when it was new. We were going to have pasta for dinner because Adam was supposed to have a Wednesday track meet, but that has been postponed, so instead we had faux chicken cordon bleu and watched Agents of SHIELD, where I hoped that Skye would end up working for The Wrong Team, but no such luck. At least we had other kick-ass women with more than two minutes of screen time. Some photos from Longwood Gardens earlier this month:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Poem for Tuesday and Green Spring Gardens

A Feeling of AND, a Feeling of OR
By Sherod Santos

The window in mid-summer raised, and where
the screen intersects with the frame, a web of circular
tensile silks radiating outward from the central lair
where a yellow spiny-backed spider waits, its six
thorn spurs protruding rose-like from its abdomen,
its casing imprinted with a wax seal ring. Attached
to the foundation lines, clusters of white cottony tufts,
lures, I suppose, for insects, and suspended
from a single thread, a much smaller egg-shaped
spider (the male?) swaying imperceptibly in the air:
an image from childhood that reminds me of "childhood,"
a word that so often crosses my mind that it long ago
ceased to mean anything other than a period of time
when things occurred not to me so much as him,
and all of them linked only by AND. As in the span
of a single moment, the afternoon after the all-clear
when the sun rose on a bloated, fly-stung pygmy goat
in a gravel slough he crossed to wave to a woman
with a Red Cross band on her arm. AND: the red
pinball bumper cap ("5000 when lit") in a tented
arcade on Brighton Pier when he was twelve.


We are supposed to have four straight days of rain, which began on Monday afternoon. Our car was in getting routine service, so Paul worked from home, we had lunch together, I finished some work and started laundry and made a bracelet with little ceramic sea turtle beads I got on sale at Michaels. After we picked up the car, I sent Paul home, went to the mall, and bought myself a present, a second pair of prescription bifocals; the ones I got last week, which are for the computer and reading, are so awesome that I realized there was no reason apart from lack of full insurance coverage to pay that I couldn't get another pair with my distance prescription that will also allow me to read my phone screen, price tags, etc.

Paul has been in the mood to make French onion soup for a week, so he did, for dinner, along with faux chicken coq au vin, causing Adam to ask whether it was the anniversary of the day Jean Valjean lost the French Revolution or something. He disappeared after dinner to do homework, while Paul and I watched Star-Crossed (which I am sort of enjoying but supposedly it's going to be canceled) and Warehouse 13 (which I've heard is definitely ending this season, so I will miss it but they're obviously running out of artifact ideas and I'd rather it end while it's still so enjoyable). I love Essie Davis on Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries but the plots never fully grab me. Green Spring Gardens flowers and turtles:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Poem for Monday and Meadowlark Gardens Weddings

Marriage: A Daybook
By Nicole Cooley

From the window the river rinses
the dark. I twist
the wedding beads around my neck. I've lost
my ring, silver and antique, bought from the night market
in the other world across
the ocean, color of dull lead,
color of the pan I scrub and burn
in the sink.


Catullus wrote, I hate and love, and he wasn't talking about marriage.


Not talking about the blacked-out
window crossed with hurricane tape,
like a movie screen, a page redacted,
your hand erasing a blackboard
with an eraser's soft compliant body.


Sunday was a(nother) stunningly beautiful day, temperatures in the 60s, sunny and breezy. Adam had plans to bike into DC with friends for lunch, then bike home, so since he was out most of the day, Paul and I went to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in northern Virginia. They're famous for their cherry blossoms, which are almost all gone now, but we got to see many tulips and the first of the azaleas, plus lots of animals in the three ponds, including frogs, turtles, fish, and geese sitting on eggs. We also got to see the completed Korean Bell Garden, which has several beautiful enclosures and sculptures, plus a fountain full of tadpoles. Next week there will be many more azaleas in bloom.

But we also got crazy lucky, because unbeknownst to us, the garden's atrium -- which hosts weddings and other events -- was having an open house to display their facilities. Hence, in addition to indoor flower displays to demonstrate decorative possibilities for events there and some local vendors showing wedding rings and albums, there were free appetizers -- lots of fruit and cheese, grape leaves and hummus, strawberries with goat cheese and chocolate, stuffed mushrooms, lots of other things I can't eat since I'm a vegetarian but they obviously have many vegetarian options. Everything was delicious, including the cake from Edibles Incredible in Reston and the mix-your-own popcorn and sweets!

Adam got home not long after we did, having taken the Capital Crescent Trail and Beach Drive back after taking the C&O Canal towpath downtown. We had to run out after dinner to drop the car off for routine service and a stop at the food store, then we came home for Once Upon a Time, which is crappier than ever, Cosmos, which finally did an episode about neglected women of astronomy, and the second episode of BBC America's The Real History of Science Fiction, which we are enjoying so much...excellent use of material, lots of film and TV clips, lots of writers as well as actors (LeGuin! Robinson!). Now we are watching John Oliver's new show, which so far is a cross between Stewart's and Colbert's.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Poem for Sunday and Canal Wildlife

Lines on Nonsense
By Eliza Lee Follen

Yes, nonsense is a treasure!
   I love it from my heart;
The only earthly pleasure
   That never will depart.

But, as for stupid reason,
    That stalking, ten-foot rule,
She's always out of season,
    A tedious, testy fool.

She's like a walking steeple,
    With a clock for face and eyes,
Still bawling to all people,
   Time bids us to be wise.

While nonsense on the spire
    A weathercock you'll find,
Than reason soaring higher,
    And changing with the wind.

The clock too oft deceives,
    Says what it cannot prove;
While every one believes
    The vane that turns above.

Reason oft speaks unbidden,
    And chides us to our face;
For which she should be chidden,
    And taught to know her place.

While nonsense smiles and chatters,
    And says such charming things,
Like youthful hope she flatters;
    And like a syren sings.

Her charm's from fancy borrowed,
    For she is fancy's pet;
Her name is on her forehead,
    In rainbow colors set.

Then, nonsense let us cherish,
    Far, far from reason's light;
Lest in her light she perish,
   And vanish from our sight.


After the rain on Friday afternoon, we had a gorgeous early Saturday with the threat of more rain in the evening, so after lunch we decided to go to the C&O Canal to see what was blooming and what was hanging out in the water. The canal had been completely drained around Lock 10, but at Lock 8 and below, there was plenty of water and there were plenty of animals, plus more in the river. In addition to bluebells and many other flowers, we saw painted and snapping turtles, frogs, geese, herons, cardinals, wrens, hawks, northern water snakes, a rat snake, and a groundhog:

FoxConnect had the director's cut of Avatar for $13.99 for Earth Day a few days ago, and since we all love the movie and none of us had seen the extended edition or the Blu-Ray extras, I ordered it. We watched it after having salisbury steak for dinner. Though it has the same script cliches as the shorter version, it also has an extended opening and sequences on Pandora that I liked a lot, including an explanation of why Grace's school closed. There are two more discs of extras, and since the visual effects in this movie are my favorite ever, I am looking forward to those.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Poem for Saturday, Brookside Cacti, Resurrection

Useless Landscape
By D.A. Powell

A lone cloudburst hijacked the Doppler radar screen, a bandit
hung from the gallows, in rehearsal for the broke-necked man,
damn him, tucked under millet in the potter's plot. Welcome
to disaster's alkaline kiss, its little clearing edged with twigs,
and posted against trespass. Though finite, its fence is endless.

Lugs of prune plums already half-dehydrated. Lugged toward
shelf life and sorry reconstitution in somebody's eggshell kitchen.
If you hear the crop-dust engine whining overhead, mind
the orange windsock's direction, lest you huff its vapor trail.
Scurry if you prefer between the lime-sulphured rows, and cull
from the clods and sticks, the harvest shaker's settling.

The impertinent squalls of one squeezebox vies against another
in ambling pick-ups. The rattle of dice and spoons. The one café
allows a patron to pour from his own bottle. Special: tripe today.
Goat's head soup. Tortoise-shaped egg bread, sugared pink.
The darkness doesn't descend, and then it descends so quickly
it seems to seize you in burly arms. I've been waiting all night
to have this dance. Stay, it says. Haven't touched your drink.


Friday morning had gorgeous cooler weather, so I took a walk early with my camera so I could get some photos of the dogwoods, crabapples, and hyacinths before the rain arrived in the afternoon. Then I finished a review of Deep Space Nine's "Resurrection", an episode I liked the first time and I really adore now that we know the full story of Kira's and the Intendant's relationships. Plus Bareil looks really hot in this one.

We got rain, wind, and even some thunder late in the day. Younger son, who was given a little book of Winston Churchill quotes as a reward for tutoring so many English students, asked me to pick him up after track, which I did. We had Chinese food for dinner with my parents, then came home and watched Inspector Gadget for the first time in maybe 12 years. Here are some photos of the cactus show at Brookside Gardens from months ago because I am disorganized!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Poem for Friday and School Winding Down

Because it looked hotter that way
By Camille Dungy

we let our hair down. It wasn't so much that we
worried about what people thought or about keeping it real
but that we knew this was our moment. We knew we'd blow our cool

sooner or later. Probably sooner. Probably even before we
got too far out of Westmont High and had kids of our own who left
home wearing clothes we didn't think belonged in school.

Like Mrs. C. whose nearly unrecognizably pretty senior photo we
passed every day on the way to Gym, we'd get old. Or like Mr. Lurk
who told us all the time how it's never too late

to throw a Hail Mary like he did his junior year and how we
could win everything for the team and hear the band strike
up a tune so the cheer squad could sing our name, too. Straight

out of a Hallmark movie, Mr. Lurk's hero turned teacher story. We
had heard it a million times. Sometimes he'd ask us to sing
with him, T-O-N-Y-L-U-R-K Tony Tony Lurk Lurk Lurk. Sin

ironia, con sentimiento, por favor, and then we
would get back to our Spanish lessons, opening our thin
textbooks, until the bell rang and we went on to the cotton gin

in History. Really, this had nothing to do with being cool. We
only wanted to have a moment to ourselves, a moment before Jazz
Band and after Gym when we could look in the mirror and like it. June

and Tiffany and Janet all told me I looked pretty. We
took turns saying nice things, though we might just as likely say, Die
and go to hell. Beauty or hell. No difference. The bell would ring soon.


I did lots of unexciting running around on Thursday. I had a morning dentist appointment, and I was going to dye my hair first, but someone who shall remain nameless texted to say that he had forgotten his lunch, so instead I ran over to the high school to leave it in the office for him. (It was, at least, a pretty drive, since the crabapple trees along the school's street are in full bloom.) I had my dentist appointment in the new office with a new hygienist who went to the same high school I did, came home for lunch, took a walk, and sorted my dresser and gathered a big bag of stuff to donate.

We ate a quick dinner, dropped off Adam to see Shatner's World with friends, and went to the high school's meeting for parents of graduating seniors to warn us of Things Our Kids Had Better Remember To Do, like attending first period before the senior breakfast, completing volunteer hours before the senior banquet, swearing off drugs and alcohol before the senior prom, and going to the mandatory rehearsal before graduation. The art teachers were setting up the end-of-year art show -- photos below -- so I stuck my head in to see what the fashion class had done. Then we came home to catch up on Wednesday's Nashville concert and tonight's Elementary.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem for Thursday and Cherry Blossoms in the Air

Towards Kiyomizu
By Yosano Akiko
Translated by Dennis Maloney and Hide Oshiro

Towards Kiyomizu, crossing Gion
under moonlit cherry blossoms
this evening, everyone passing
is beautiful.

The passionate gaze of the bride
contradicts the white Hagi flowers she holds;
the god of love slyly
smiles this evening.

Listen, Lord!
Love is the voice of admiration
for violets
in the purple evening.

Hair unbound from this hot house
of lovemaking scented with lilies
I dread the night
fading to pale rose.


I had to be out of the house very early on Wednesday for the blood tests my doctor told me to get at my physical -- they had a cancellation, so I could make the appointment quickly. But I got the nurse who can't find a vein with a road map, who stuck me once, couldn't get anywhere, and summoned an older nurse who was in and out very quickly, though at that point I was lying down because I get dizzy and nauseous very, very easily when blood is involved. So it took a bit before I felt well enough to drive home on my empty stomach.

Then I went home, had some breakfast, and did chores, after which I was still ravenous so it's a good thing I had lunch plans with Kay. We had our usual at Tara Thai and lamented the state of college finances and political idiocy, plus fannish wankery. Afterwards I stopped in Target to get laundry detergent and came out with $13.99 purple sandals technically designed for girls, but their girls' size 6 fits me fine. I tried on a bunch of their spring dresses but none of them inspired me -- and too little cotton.

It was a perfect day for walking outside, with lots of color on the neighborhood trees and tulips everywhere. After dinner we watched The 100, which hasn't gotten particularly great but is still holding my interest, and The Americans, which is sad and stressful and I'm not loving the Jesus-freak-daughter storyline. Daniel had a good day -- he got the summer job he wanted at a UMCP lab, which will carry over through the next school year. Here are some photos from the National Cherry Blossom Festival, including raining petals, romantic ducks, several DC sights, and beautiful women: