Monday, June 30, 2014

Placeholder for Monday

We spent all day with both kids in Richmond, plus significantly more time in the car than we expected getting there and home due to lots of stupid drivers! We met Cheryl and Lin at Maymont's nature center, where we ate lunch overlooking the wildlife park, then we walked through the park (the bear was hiding, but we saw the bison, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, lynx, fox, raptors, and lots of local residents like frogs, turtles, and herons) and visited the Japanese garden with its waterfalls and flowers.

Then we went with Cheryl to Dogwood Dell to see the Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare perform The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and afterward to Mexico for dinner, where we also watched the end of the Costa Rica-Greece World Cup game while eating lots of chips, salsa, and various enchiladas and burritos. We came home the long way around so we could drop Daniel off in College Park. Here are a couple of photos from Maymont and one from the Shakespeare, more soon!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Poem for Sunday and Pennyfield Lock

By Ana Bozicevic

Skinny dirt road
In the middle of the ocean.
That led to the house of art.
I took it. The engine nearly
Drowned. I lied that it was fun
That I'd do it again. When I got to
That shore
The house was gone and when
I looked back, so was the path.
Now I'm old. Drown in my bed
A thousand miles inland.
For years I thought
I could
Art my way back. Cats sing
Of rose dawns. This country's a
Mirror image
Of the one I left, except
I've bad dreams. And
You're the only
Person who's not here.
Is it the same
For you.


We actually had both kids around for lunch, though they both slept late after staying up late, so since it was a gorgeous hot-but-not-insane Saturday, we went to Pennyfield Lock to see the canal and river. There were adolescent goslings and a unicyclist, lots of turtles and lots of kayakers, and it's a very lush green summer because we've had so much rain!

Adam went out to dinner with a friend; the rest of us watched Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland with Cheryl who was watching at her own house. We want our own frog servants, pig foot rests, and wise blue Alan Rickman caterpillars, and we promise to treat them better than Helena Bonham Carter does. The Nats won a double-header!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Poem for Saturday, UMCP, Wrongs Darker Than Death, Moonrise Kingdom

Love in the Morning
By Annie Finch

Morning’s a new bird
stirring against me
out of a quiet nest,
coming to flight—

breath-filling body,

clean as clear water,

kindling companion,

mystery and mountain,


My morning was mostly taken up with finishing a review of Deep Space Nine's problematic yet still riveting "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night". Right after lunch, we went back to College Park, first to retrieve Adam from his orientation-and-registration weekend and to stop in the bookstore for some shirts and college paraphernalia, then to pick up Daniel so he could come home and do some driving over the weekend. Here are a few more photos of the University of Maryland:

There are supposedly only eight Fear the Turtle statues left on campus and now that I've seen this one near the rec center, I believe I have taken photos of all of them.

Here I am with the bronze Testudo in the student union yesterday.

I know I've posted pictures before of the bench outside the student union honoring alumnus Jim Henson and Kermit. Here's the view of it from inside the building.

Though the dairy has produced ice cream for many years, it is now sold in the student union, both scooped and in quarts!

We stopped to see the sheep on the campus farm...

...and, across the street from the farm, the new physical sciences building.

There are many black squirrels on the campus. They are just as eager as the gray squirrels to beg for food.

The view toward McKeldin Library past the big sundial above the fountain.

We had dinner with my parents and came home in time to watch Moonrise Kingdom, which none of us had seen and which is excellent, if odd -- I don't love Anderson the way hipsters tell me I should, many of his films are inexcusably sexist, but this one is really charming -- and then watched the last two episodes of Orphan Black. Those are worthy of a post of their own, but I'm very sleepy now from two days of walking around College Park (and closer to home, where we had several bunnies!).

Friday, June 27, 2014

Poem for Friday and University of Maryland Orientation

Woman on Twenty-Second Eating Berries
By Stanley Plumly

She's not angry exactly but all business,
eating them right off the tree, with confidence,
the kind that lets her spit out the bad ones
clear of the sidewalk into the street. It's
sunny, though who can tell what she's tasting,
rowan or one of the serviceberries--
the animal at work, so everybody,
save the traffic, keeps a distance. She's picking
clean what the birds have left, and even,
in her hurry, a few dark leaves. In the air
the dusting of exhaust that still turns pennies
green, the way the cloudy surfaces
of things obscure their differences,
like the mock orange or the apple rose that
cracks the paving stone, rooted in the plaza.
No one will say your name, and when you come to
the door no one will know you, a parable
of the afterlife on earth. Poor grapes, poor crabs,
wild black cherry trees, on which some forty-six
or so species of birds have fed, some boy's dead
weight or the tragic summer lightning killing
the seed, how boyish now that hunger
to bring those branches down to scale,
to eat of that which otherwise was waste,
how natural this woman eating berries, how alone.


We spent the entire day, literally dawn till dusk, at the University of Maryland, where Adam was attending the Honors College orientation. We went with him to the big group meeting, then they sent the kids off to one set of panels and the parents to another, plus they fed us lunch which we ate with the mother of one of Adam's friends who is also going to be in the program in the fall. We also walked all over campus so we could see the farm, the creek, and the big central fountain. Then we met Daniel when he finished work for the day and went out for Mexican food with him, leaving Adam for the dorm sleepover which included a chance to use the rec center that has the climbing wall, a selling point for the university!

McKeldin Library at the top of the hill above the fountain in the center of campus.

Adam and two friends from school whom he met at the orientation.

A Fear the Turtle statue I had never seen before -- at one time there were several dozen such decorated statues on campus, and now there are eight.

Here I am with the Kermit the Frog statue, a.k.a. Kertle.

There are also several bronze terrapin statues on campus. I believe the one in front of McKeldin Library is the original, though it might be the one by the stadium (stolen by UVA fans at one point). This one is in the student union.

Here are the orientation students doing some kind of school spirit exercise after lunch.

And here are Daniel and myself at Azteca, which has excellent salsa and cheese enchiladas.

I only saw the World Cup game in bits, since guests can't get onto the university wi-fi so trying to stream ESPN on my phone ate my battery and I could only sneak out to the coffee shop so many times to watch on the big screen. If the US team could not win, at least they got lucky (more than the Nationals could say in their game against the Cubs -- the Orioles won last night in the 12th). When we got home and rescued the cats from their all-day starvation, by which we mean their dishes were still 1/3 full but the food was stale, we watched more Orphan Black -- Rachel uttered what must surely be the series' theme, "Nurture prevails." What will we do two episodes from now when we're all out and have to wait a year?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Poem for Thursday and Canal Wildlife

By Claude McKay

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.


Quickie because I have to get up crazy early to go to College Park for Adam's orientation overnight (he stays over, we do not, though we are going to what will undoubtedly be repetitive meetings and having lunch with other parents before having dinner with Daniel). I had chores to do on Wednesday morning, then I took Adam to Giant to get ice cream to bring with him when then he went to watch to watch the World Cup with friends, and I went to AC Moore to use my one-day 50% off coupon on marbles and letter beads.

When I got home, I made a Washington Nationals bracelet since I didn't have one, repaired a ring that had lost a fake ruby stone, and used the marbles for my pagan wall of squee (since I have a fannish corner of squee, I need one of those too). Then I went for a brief walk to see the bunnies (the frog was hiding), had dinner, watched the Deep Space Nine episode I need to review this week because I have lots to do the next two days, and watched more Orphan Black! C&O Canal animals we saw last month:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Poem for Wednesday and MD Zoo Lion Cubs

Why Nobody Pets the Lion at the Zoo
By John Ciardi

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
(If he’d been closer) have tried a bite.

I think that’s as it ought to be
And not as it was taught to me.

I think the Lion has a right
To growl a growl and bite a bite.

And if the Lion bothered Adam,
He should have growled right back at ’im.

The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite.

True, the Lion is better fit
For biting than for being bit.

But if you look him in the eye
You’ll find the Lion’s rather shy.

He really wants someone to pet him.
The trouble is: his teeth won’t let him.

He has a heart of gold beneath
But the Lion just can’t trust his teeth.


Tuesday was the quietest primary election day I ever remember -- we were literally the only people voting when we arrived, and with over 50% of votes in, the Republicans are saying that only about 4% of eligible voters showed up to choose their nominee for governor (this is probably because 2/3 of registered voters in my state are Democrats, so the Democratic primary has far more influence on who ends up in office). Primary apathy in non-presidential election years runs deep; even my own kids have no faith that local politicians can make a difference. So far I have seen no unpleasant surprises but all the votes haven't been counted.

Apart from going to the kids' elementary school to vote and seeing several bunnies and a frog while walking around the neighborhood, my day did not have a lot of excitement. Adam went to play mini-golf and out to dinner with friends, and the rest of us watched the first three episodes of the second season of Orphan Black (how are we going to wait till the third season after we binge the rest?). Here are the lion cubs at the Maryland Zoo, Luke and Leia, who lost their mom to infection when they were a few days old so they were hand-raised, and Zuri, who came from the Miami Zoo when her mother rejected her after losing two other cubs:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Poem for Tuesday, Maryland Zoo Swimming Elephants, Restaurant Crisis

Sky Burial
By Ron Koertge

Q. You're Such a Disciplined Writer. Were You Always That way?

A. When I was in graduate school, I worked part-time at a local library. I ran the used bookstore in the basement. The money came in handy. There was plenty of time to study.

I learned to know the regulars who talked about living with pain and waiting for bland meals to be delivered.

One sweltering afternoon I read about Tibetan body breakers who dismember corpses with their hatchets and flaying knives so the vultures will have an easier time.

I imagined my own body and the monks asking, "What did this one do?" And the answer would be, "Not much." As the hand I could have written with flew away from the wrist.


On Monday, Adam and I were victims of a horrible trend occurring in our region. We had stopped at the bank, then at the local rec center (which, back in the day, was my elementary school) so Adam could buy a summer gym membership with a friend, watching some World Cup soccer while we waited for the paperwork. Then we headed to Ambrosia for lunch, because I have been craving their tyropitas and fire feta for three weeks...only to discover that it was CLOSED. Apparently its last day was Saturday, just like the Invertebrate House at the National Zoo.

This trend MUST STOP. First it was Tyson's Buffet, the Chinese restaurant with an entire table of vegetarian options. Then it was Vince & Dominic's pizza, the only pizza I really love in the entire state. Is a higher power trying to tell me to go on a diet, and if so, why is everyone else in the region being punished? It isn't working anyway, since we ended up going to Tara Thai and having Thai iced tea with our pad see ew and panang tofu! Then we stopped at Target, where Adam found some shirts and I got laundry supplies and mouthwash.

We finished binging the first season of Orphan Black (around this week's Beauty and the Beast, which made us realize that we had missed last week's Beauty and the Beast, but it was not difficult to catch up except in a "Wow, Gabe really IS crazy this time, not faking it" sense). Orphan Black may be the best thing on TV; I'm not sure it's as well-acted or written overall as The Americans, but Tatiana Maslany's performances are truly incredible -- I keep forgetting it's one actor! Elephants swimming and playing at the Maryland Zoo:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Poem for Monday and Maryland Zoo

By Louise Gl├╝ck

On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry,  
the boys making up games requiring them to tear off  the girls’ clothes  
and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer
and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones  
leaping off  the high rocks — bodies crowding the water.

The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet,
marble for  graveyards, for buildings that we never saw,  
buildings in cities far away.

On cloudy nights, you were blind. Those nights the rocks were dangerous,  
but in another way it was all dangerous, that was what we were after.  
The summer started. Then the boys and girls began to pair off  
but always there were a few left at the end — sometimes they’d keep watch,
sometimes they’d pretend to go off  with each other like the rest,
but what could they do there, in the woods? No one wanted to be them.  
But they’d show up anyway, as though some night their luck would change,  
fate would be a different fate.

At the beginning and at the end, though, we were all together.
After the evening chores, after the smaller children were in bed,  
then we were free. Nobody said anything, but we knew the nights we’d meet  
and the nights we wouldn’t. Once or twice, at the end of summer,  
we could see a baby was going to come out of all that kissing.

And for those two, it was terrible, as terrible as being alone.  
The game was over. We’d sit on the rocks smoking cigarettes,  
worrying about the ones who weren’t there.

And then finally walk home through the fields,  
because there was always work the next day.  
And the next day, we were kids again, sitting on the front steps in the morning,  
eating a peach.  Just that, but it seemed an honor to have a mouth.  
And then going to work, which meant helping out in the fields.  
One boy worked for an old lady, building shelves.  
The house was very old, maybe built when the mountain was built.

And then the day faded. We were dreaming, waiting for night.  
Standing at the front door at twilight, watching the shadows lengthen.  
And a voice in the kitchen was always complaining about the heat,
wanting the heat to break.

Then the heat broke, the night was clear.  
And you thought of  the boy or girl you’d be meeting later.  
And you thought of  walking into the woods and lying down,  
practicing all those things you were learning in the water.  
And though sometimes you couldn’t see the person you were with,
there was no substitute for that person.

The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:  
You will leave the village where you were born  
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though  
you can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.


My genius younger son, who made such good decisions in school, decided last night to play Capture the Flag with no shoes on so he didn't get his shoes muddy and managed to slice open his foot, thus preventing him from playing tennis with my father on Sunday morning and requiring him to use crutches in the afternoon when we went to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore to see the lion cubs. Fortunately the cubs were adorable, the weather was sunny but not too hot and we got to see the elephants swimming, something we have never seen there before! (Adam did not want to pose for the silly group photo so I dropped a picture of him in the face hole, heh.)

We came home in the late afternoon because we all wanted to watch the US vs. Portugal World Cup match, though Adam went to do that at a friend's and stayed there for dinner while Daniel watched with us here. We had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, and we nearly made Daniel stay in the kitchen for luck when the US scored, which in hindsight was a superstition we should have followed because things did not end as we hoped. At least the Orioles trounced the Yankees! I walked the neighbor's dog since Adam's foot was hurting him, and Daniel went back to College Park to find that his roommate had had to deal with a refrigerator leak. Better luck Monday!