Saturday, May 31, 2014

Poem for Saturday, Far Beyond the Stars, Free Enterprise, Longwood Cats

California Prodigal
By Maya Angelou


The eye follows, the land
Slips upward, creases down, forms  
The gentle buttocks of a young  
Giant. In the nestle,
Old adobe bricks, washed of  
Whiteness, paled to umber,
Await another century.

Star Jasmine and old vines
Lay claim upon the ghosted land,  
Then quiet pools whisper  
Private childhood secrets.

Flush on inner cottage walls  
Antiquitous faces,
Used to the gelid breath
Of old manors, glare disdainfully  
Over breached time.

Around and through these  
Cold phantasmatalities,  
He walks, insisting
To the languid air,
Activity, music,
A generosity of graces.

His lupin fields spurn old
Deceit and agile poppies dance
In golden riot.   Each day is
Fulminant, exploding brightly  
Under the gaze of his exquisite  
Sires, frozen in the famed paint  
Of dead masters. Audacious  
Sunlight casts defiance
At their feet.


I have both my boys home at the moment, albeit briefly, since Adam is leaving for beach week on Saturday morning and spent Friday morning getting himself ready while I worked on a review of Deep Space Nine's legendary episode "Far Beyond the Stars". Then we had lunch with Paul before Adam went to run a Burrito Mile with friends -- run a mile to Chipotle, eat a burrito, run back -- and the rest of us went to pick up Daniel from his summer job in College Park.

I briefly saw a bunny, but my plan to take a longer walk was disrupted by my tablet insisting on running a bunch of updates that required reboots and new passwords and things that took until dinner was ready. We all ate together, then we all watched Free Enterprise because the kids had not seen it and we all love The Shatner. It's pretty sexist but no worse than many more contemporary nerd culture celebrations. Cats we saw at Longwood Gardens last month:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Poem for Friday and Great Falls Herons

June Light
By Richard Wilbur

Your voice, with clear location of June days,
Called me outside the window.  You were there,
Light yet composed, as in the just soft stare
Of uncontested summer all things raise
Plainly their seeming into seamless air.

Then your love looked as simple and entire
As that picked pear you tossed me, and your face
As legible as pearskin’s fleck and trace,
Which promise always wine, by mottled fire
More fatal fleshed than ever human grace.

And your gay gift—Oh when I saw it fall
Into my hands, through all that naïve light,
It seemed as blessed with truth and new delight
As must have been the first great gift of all.


Since we only had one vehicle, Adam and I slept late and Paul worked from home. I wrote some stuff and folded some laundry (and watched the first episode of Teen Wolf on Amazon Prime, which I hope I do not come to regret, heh; I've read about it yet never seen it). All of us went to the bank and Giant -- Adam to get stuff for beach week -- and we picked up the van in the afternoon.

It rained all day, which put an end to Adam's plans to go kayaking. Instead he went bowling with friends, came home briefly for dinner, then went to a late show of Neighbors. I watched Mean Girls long distance with Cheryl, then Paul and I caught up on The 100, which hasn't finished its season yet. Last weekend we saw seven herons on the central rocky area in the Potomac River at Great Falls:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Poem for Thursday and Lake Whetstone Goslings

On Arranging a Bowl of Violets
By Grace Hazard Conkling

I dip my hands in April among your faces tender,
O woven of blue air and ecstasies of light!
Breathed words of the Earth-Mother, although it is November,
You wing my soul with memories adorable and white.

I hear you call each other:
"Ah, Sweet, do you remember
The garden that we haunted--its spaces of delight?
The sound of running water--the day's long lapse of splendor,
The winds that begged our fragrance and loved us in the night?"


We spent Wednesday recovering from graduation. Adam slept late, went running with a friend, then played tennis with my father, who was celebrating his birthday. I did a bunch of work, washed a bunch of clothes, answered a bunch of mail and exciting things like that. Paul worked from home after dropping off the van to have its side mirror repaired, and we all went out for a late lunch -- Indian food at Minerva.

In the afternoon I did a bunch more chores, went for a walk looking for bunnies, and worked on some jewelry projects. We went over to my parents' to have birthday cake with my father, then we came home and watched The Big Lebowski, which Adam had watched half of recently and wanted to see the rest. And Daniel got his grades --straight As! Here are the geese at Lake Whetstone earlier this month:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Poem for Wednesday and High School Graduation

Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
By Maxine Kumin

How did we get to be old ladies--
my grandmother's job--when we
were the long-leggèd girls?

--Hilma Wolitzer

Instead of marrying the day after graduation,
in spite of freezing on my father's arm as
here comes the bride struck up,
saying, I'm not sure I want to do this,

I should have taken that fellowship
to the University of Grenoble to examine
the original manuscript
of Stendhal's unfinished Lucien Leuwen,

I, who had never been west of the Mississippi,
should have crossed the ocean
in third class on the Cunard White Star,
the war just over, the Second World War

when Kilroy was here, that innocent graffito,
two eyes and a nose draped over
a fence line. How could I go?
Passion had locked us together.

Sixty years my lover,
he says he would have waited.
He says he would have sat
where the steamship docked

till the last of the pursers
decamped, and I rushed back
littering the runway with carbon paper...
Why didn't I go? It was fated.

Marriage dizzied us. Hand over hand,
flesh against flesh for the final haul,
we tugged our lifeline through limestone and sand,
lover and long-leggèd girl.


Adam has graduated from Winston Churchill High School! That event has taken up nearly the entire day -- we drove to DAR Constitution Hall with all four grandparents to attend the ceremony where speakers included a Churchill graduate who's now a White House staffer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who represented nearly all Churchill families until redistricting in the last election.

Adam was wearing the sashes and cords of the National Honor Society, Academy of the Creative and Performing Arts, Certificate of Meritorious Service, National English, Chinese, and Art Honor Societies, and National Merit Commended Scholars (he was supposed to have one for the International Thespian Society, too, but they didn't order enough cords and he already had many). So we feel justifiably proud!

We watched him and his friends get their diplomas, took pictures, hung out with other families while waiting to pick up our cars from the garage, and went to Founding Farmers for dinner, where we watched the lightning and rain that had held off all afternoon. My in-laws have gone home and Adam is at a get-together at a friend's house, and I have uploaded a few photos and am trying to get through mail and all the rest!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Poem for Tuesday, Days of Future Past, The Normal Heart, Bunny

By Melissa Stein

Control was all
I wanted: a handle
on the day, the night
when it curved,
when it swayed,
when I could sense
the teeming stars
in light, in dark
the sun's bare wire.
Some switch
to turn it off:
each shadow
pinned to each tree
like a radius
of some infant's
milk it spilled.
And the leaves,
their gossip
of claw and beak
and wind and heat
and wing. Tether
lake to bank and
cloud to peak.
And weather it.
Weather it. All this
to say I've
taken off my ring.


Cheryl drove up Monday morning to go with my family and several of Adam's friends to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'm not sure it was a better movie than The Wolverine or First Class, but I enjoyed it more on many levels -- I loved the crossover cast, the visual humor, all the reunions, the inside jokes from the '60s-'70s including the use of music and TV -- "Time in a Bottle" and "Star Trek" in particular -- the gratuitous butt shot, the Charles-and-Erik saga. I loved Mystique though I wished her friends would have considered that maybe her total isolation from other women, given the movie's near-Bechdel fail, might have contributed to her unreachability -- still, lots to enjoy, and only a couple of minor performances that fell flat for me. It was a fairly full and enthusiastic theater crowd, and afterward we peeked out to see the goslings and heron in the lake.

Adam went with his friends to play frisbee, then to a graduation party, so the rest of us came home and took a walk to see the neighborhood bunnies, then watched A Dangerous Method because we were in the mood for Michael Fassbender and the entire cast of that movie is terrific. Eventually Paul took Daniel back to College Park to start his summer job, then Cheryl drove home, and when Paul got back, we watched The Normal Heart, which is phenomenally acted and heartbreaking, regardless of how you feel about Larry Kramer or straight actors playing gay characters or whatever else tumblr is upset about. I haven't read the play since grad school and it seems to me that the political fury been toned down somewhat -- no one gives any credence to the AIDS-as-CIA-conspiracy theory -- but the horror of the sickness and death remains.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Poem for Monday, Mount Vernon, The Parent Trap

Memorial Day
By William Henry Clay Dodson

Hither we come to scatter flowers
This thirtieth day of May,
Upon our fallen heroes' graves
On this Memorial Day;
We cherish now no bitter thoughts
In this fair land of ours,
But on all fallen heroes' graves
We come to scatter flowers.

The rank and file in North and South
Believed their cause was just;
We find upon each battle flag
Inscribed, "In God We Trust;"
And in this sunny land of ours,
Now sleeping side by side,
The Union Blue and Southern Gray
Lie buried where they died.

Since we have come to scatter flowers
This consecrated day,
We cannot cherish bitter thoughts
Toward those who wore the "Gray;"
Believing that their cause was right,
Freely their blood they shed;
Then, let us strew-alike-the graves
Of all our sacred dead.

And those who for the Union fought,
In scattering flowers to-day
On heroes' graves, would never dream
Of passing by the gray;
And heroes of the "Southern Cause,"
In paying homage true,
Will not forget the graves of those
Who wore the Union Blue.

Thrice welcome, then, this sacred day.
That binds our hearts anew;
Our country undivided stands,
For all-now love the Blue;
On resurrection day,
Linked arm in arm, we'll find the boys
Who wore the Blue and Gray.


Since Daniel will be back in College Park working on my father's birthday, we spent most of Sunday with my parents, first at Mount Vernon, then out to dinner at Il Porto and back to my parents' house for birthday and graduation cake. We watched the introductory movie, took the house tour (with restored "new room"), and went to see the animals in the upper pens:

After we came home, I convinced Adam to watch The Parent Trap with us -- the remake with Lindsay Lohan, which I had never seen, though I saw the original in my youth decades ago, and was surprised how well I remembered some of the identical dialogue. Son's commentary was funnier than the movie, especially concerning the treatment of the fiancee.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Poem for Sunday and Great Falls

[I Failed Him and He Failed Me]
By Katie Ford

I failed him and he failed me—
Together our skinned glance makes a sorry bridge
For some frail specter who can't get through.

I failed him
              but maybe it was the lamp that failed,
Maybe it was the meal,
Maybe it was the potter
Who would not intervene, maybe the clay,
Maybe the plateau's topaz, too steady to help,
Or was it the meat cut two days late, was it
The deciduous branch and its dull wait for bloom—

But I remember the small thing rotating in us
Towards hunger, how it did not fail to guide,
And that we made no request of our souls or all souls
Or the one perfectly distant soul
                                    and so did not fail in what we did not do,
Never begging at the sky but moving
On the islands beneath it, hungry together by its rivers and bones.

Who told us we had failed
If not the human world gone wrong?

It was the world?

Ah, then we will fail again and again in the waters apart,
Bridging nothing, bridging nowhere
Towards what we, failures, are.


Adam played tennis with my father in the morning while Daniel slept in and I did chores; then Adam went to a friend's graduation party while we had lunch with Daniel and took him to Great Falls. The weather was magnificent and the water was still pretty high from last week's storms. We saw lots of animals -- geese with goslings, three little red skinks, two big black snakes, several turtles, at least a dozen great blue herons in the sky and sharing the big rocks in the middle of the river:

Paul smashed the passenger side mirror of our minivan while trying to pass another van, so we tried to find a dealership that could replace it before graduation on Tuesday (not anywhere in our county). Our neighbors for whom Adam does yard work invited us to their barbecue; we had dinner there and hung out with other neighbors. Then we came home to watch The Lego Movie, which remains awesome, on VOD with Daniel Wigle, plus we caught up on The Colbert Report with Patrick Stewart.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Poem for Saturday, Longwood Flowers, Who Mourns For Morn

Incomplete Lioness
By Linda Bierds

Or lion. Too little marble left for certainty:
affixed to a bone-like armature, just a flank
and scored shoulder, and far down the missing,
crouching shape, a single, splay-toed paw.
The companion, or mate, is better formed
and offers a template to trace a bit, image to absence
to memory, until the lioness fills.

The exhibit is Fragments and Dislocations:
Sight and Sightlessness. Across the room
in Renaissance, the painter, retinas tattered
as a saint's hem, might have filled a lioness
differently: absence first, then memory,
and then the lines around his own vision, its crags

and wilderness. His century failed him,
a placard says. Just eye-lid balms
and powdered rhubarb. What retina remained
must have caught his subject's chosen states--penitence
and ecstasy--nearsightedly, which would explain
the perfect stones, less perfect trees. Or perhaps
his partial sightlessness was corneal, and thus

the painting's mood, front-lit through gauze.
In either case, what the painter knew--that his saint
and tiny crucifix would not adorn an altarpiece--
comes to us more slowly. Wood grains,
punch patterns, and the small keyhole
beneath a varnished leaf, suggest a sacristy cupboard,

not worship's place, but preservation's.
Chosen states, the placard said.
Vacancy and memory. Ecstasy and penitence.
And then, His partial vision of the whole
produced a partial masterpiece:
a saint--Jerome--and grizzled robe, flawless
in its dust. The rest is incomplete, but zero-mass

radiography, its lights and darks reversed,
reveals a shape beneath the scene:
Jerome as just two simple lines, white arc
across white axis--before they both were white-
washed over, and the saint began,
and umber brought the lion to him.


I had a bunch of work to do on Friday, distracted by gorgeous weather and various kid-related chores, like picking up Adam from the slumber party he was at watching movies all night and bringing him home to go out to lunch with my father and Daniel. I finished a review of Deep Space Nine's "Who Mourns For Morn" and finished a dorky Barbie jewelry project too. The bunnies were hiding during the day but two of the babies were chasing each other around toward evening.

Adam went to a graduation party in the evening; the rest of us had dinner with my parents, then came home and watched the second half of the Labyrinth miniseries, which would have been rather confusing had I not read the books, since a lot was compressed or left out. Then, since Daniel had not seen it, we watched X-Men: First Class (yes that's twice this week, shut up). Here are some pictures of flowers from Longwood Gardens earlier this spring: