Sunday, August 31, 2014

Poem for Sunday, Sports, Silly Cat

Prairie Spring
By Willa Cather

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.


We spent most of Saturday doing major chores -- we are planning to rearrange and get some new furniture for Daniel's room, which requires organizing and cleaning the room, which is a massive project, plus we watched most of the Maryland-JMU game, which Adam attended in College Park and which the Terps won by a very big margin! The Orioles and Nationals won too!

Now we are watching Doctor Who, which we missed when it aired earlier (Zawe Ashton!), because we were out having Indian food at Curry Mantra with my friend Annmarie, who has moved back to the DC area after several years in North Carolina. This is our Renfaire weekend (PA on Sunday, MD on Monday), so I will be mostly gone for the rest of it. Here is Daisy begging for attention:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Poem for Saturday, Time's Orphan, OBX Animals

To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death
By Lloyd Schwartz

In today's paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

made me ache to call you--the only person I know
who'd still remember his talent, his good looks, his self-

absorption. We'd laugh (at what haven't we laughed?), then
not laugh, wondering what became of him. But I can't call,

because I don't know what became of you.

--After sixty years, with no explanation, you're suddenly
not there. Gone. Phone disconnected. I was afraid

you might be dead. But you're not dead.

You've left, your landlord says. He has your new unlisted
number but insists on "respecting your privacy." I located

your oldest son, who refuses to tell me anything except that
you're alive and not ill. Your ex-wife ignores my letters.

What's happened? Are you in trouble? Something
you've done? Something I've done?

We used to tell each other everything: our automatic
reference points to childhood pranks, secret codes,

and sexual experiments. How many decades since we started
singing each other "Happy Birthday" every birthday?

(Your last uninhibited rendition is still on my voice mail.)

How often have we exchanged our mutual gratitude--the easy
unthinking kindnesses of long friendship.

This mysterious silence isn't kind. It keeps me
up at night, bewildered, at some "stage" of grief.

Would your actual death be easier to bear?

I crave your laugh, your quirky takes, your latest
comedy of errors. "When one's friends hate each other,"

Pound wrote near the end of his life, "how can there be
peace in the world?" We loved each other. Why why why

am I dead to you?

Our birthdays are looming. The older I get, the less and less
I understand this world,

and the people in it.


I'm not sure where all of Friday went, but really I feel that way about the entire week! In the morning I was finishing a review of Deep Space Nine's "Time's Orphan", an episode I had remembered better than it played  mostly because I was confusing one detail with something that actually happened in the superlative Star Trek: New Voyages fan episode "World Enough and Time."

After lunch, Paul and I went to College Park for the fourth time in six days, this time to pick up Daniel, who finished his last week of work before fall classes start and wanted to come to the Renfaire this weekend. I took a walk, we had dinner with my parents, then we came home and watched The Island because it's that kind of a night.

Plus the Orioles were winning by a lot, and now the Nationals are too, and the Ravens had an undefeated pre-season! If it has to be fall, I want the sports at least to be enjoyable. Here are some pics of the wildlife from the Outer Banks -- we got back only a week ago but it already feels like much longer!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Poem for Friday and Maryland Move-In

Tackle Football
By Dan Chiasson

Snow up to our waists and coming down still.
There was a field here once, when we began.
We marked the end zones and set up the goals.

Now nobody can even move, much less tackle.
I am Ganymede fleeing on a temple frieze.
We stand around like lovesick Neanderthals.

We're Pompeian before Pompeii was hot.
We have the aspect of the classic dead
Or of stranded, shivering astronauts.

It was early in the era of the pause button:
We paused and paused the afternoons away
Indoors, blasting our ballistic erections

At the blurred bikinis of celebrities,
Then, splaying on the linoleum floor,
Awaited the apportioned pizza delivery.

Now, someone has paused us, or so it appears,
But they didn't pause the snow, or the hour:
As the one gets higher, the other gets later.


Another quickie as I am quite sleepy after a pretty insane week -- I had expected to have kind of a quiet nostalgic couple of days while Adam was away at Turtle Camp, followed by an evening of packing and a fairly standard move-in day. Instead I spent many hours picking Adam up from a hospital, then getting up early and spending nearly 12 hours getting his broken arm examined and repaired, followed by a day of trying to help him pack around a visit to the end of Turtle Camp while he was on serious painkillers.

So on Thursday, we went with my mother to bring the rest of his things to his dorm and get them organized, probably with more micromanaging than Adam would have preferred under normal circumstances, but he didn't want to take too many painkillers while trying to do various activities so he let us. When he was ready to go meet up with people in his program, we left College Park and stopped at the mall for froyo. Then we came home, did some cleanup, and caught up on Legends and Dallas! A few pics:

The wait for carts outside the dorms.

On Wednesday, son dropped off the bulky things...

...and on Thursday the cats helped pack the clothes.

You will all be happy to know that there is good free entertainment on the big outdoor screens.

One of son's RAs listed Gladiator as his favorite movie, whoo!

The triple, all organized...

...and the outside of one of the honors dorms.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Placeholder for Thursday

Extreme quickie, am watching The Hangover (never saw it before and other people picked it) with Adam who is leaving for college tomorrow. We took him to the University of Maryland today to drop off some of his stuff and let him go to the end of Turtle Camp, which had returned to College Park; while he was having his cast admired, we went to Ikea, then picked up Daniel from work right near the historical College Park Airport and took him out for Pakistani food. After we took him back to his apartment, where he and his roommates are playing the new Wii, we met up with Adam who came home to finish packing. Now we are all trying to relax after several crazy days before another crazy one on Thursday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Poem for Wednesday and Arm Repair

The Fire
By Katie Ford

When a human is asked about a particular fire,
she comes close:
then it is too hot,
so she turns her face—

and that’s when the forest of her bearable life appears,
always on the other side of the fire. The fire
she’s been asked to tell the story of,
she has to turn from it, so the story you hear
is that of pines and twitching leaves
and how her body is like neither—

all the while there is a fire
at her back
which she feels in fine detail,
as if the flame were a dremel
and her back its etching glass.

You will not know all about the fire
simply because you asked.
When she speaks of the forest
this is what she is teaching you,

you who thought you were her master.


I got up early Tuesday morning to take Adam to the orthopedic surgeon, an activity that ended up taking up pretty much the entire day, though that was a good thing -- our goal was to get him taken care of as much as possible so he can move to college on Thursday. We went to the same practice where Daniel had his arm set when he broke it three years ago (a similar injury, though not as severe). The first doctor who examined him and his x-rays felt that it would be better to use pins than screws to set the bones and thus avoid more significant surgery, but he couldn't perform the procedure until Wednesday, which would have made move-in on Thursday pretty much impossible.

Thankfully, he contacted another colleague at the practice who agreed to do the procedure on Tuesday, so we stopped at home very briefly at about 11 a.m. and a couple of Adam's friends dropped by for moral support, then we went to the surgical center, where Paul came to meet us (the office conveniently had wi-fi, so he could work while we waited). The procedure itself only took about half an hour, but between prep and recovery time and all the rest, we were there till late afternoon. When we finally got home, Adam ate to make up for missing three meals, then fell asleep for several hours until we had a late dinner. My parents stopped by with ice cream for him.

Adam couldn't take his heavy-duty pain meds for another couple of hours, so after we had dessert, we went looking for something that was funny, not too long, and free to watch in case we ended up being too tired to finish it. We settled on The Dictator, which was actually much funnier than we expected and less offensive (yep, the Middle Eastern stereotypes are terrible, but the America-bashing is pretty strong too, and I am going to go around reciting "My great-grandfather fought in the American Civil Jihad" all week). On Wednesday Adam wants to rejoin his orientation group in College Park for the afternoon and dinner, so I have to recover my energy to get him there!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Poem for Tuesday and Cumberland Hospital

asameshi wo kami ni soyo-soyo neko
By Kobayashi Issa
Translated by David Lanoue

breakfast rice
stuck in his whiskers...
lover cat in a rush


Paul and I got to take a lovely two-hour drive out to scenic Cumberland, Maryland through the gorgeous Appalachian Mountains on a clear, cool August day! Unfortunately, this was not at all on our agenda for Monday, but occurred because Adam -- who was on an orientation kayaking trip a.k.a. "Turtle Camp" for the University of Maryland -- fell out of the tree he climbed at lunch, broke his wrist, and was taken by ambulance to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center. He needs surgery to put screws in the radius bone, and he is supposed to move into his dorm on Thursday, so the next couple of days will be extremely complicated for him and me both.

The beautiful Allegheny Mountains on the way to Cumberland.

The exposed rock strata of Sideling Hill.

Adam, still wearing his kayaking clothes, waiting for us to get his prescriptions so we could take him home.

Post-sunset sky in Washington County.

Adam is home now after our equally scenic two-hour drive home past Sideling Hill, the exposed rock strata full of fossil records, sleeping under the influence of painkillers so we can get up very early and see the orthopedist whom we are hoping can do the surgery on Tuesday. Needless to say I am quite distracted and disorganized -- we didn't eat dinner till 9 p.m. -- so the only things I have to say about the Emmys are that I am delighted for Allison Janney, pleased for the Sherlock actors, and the best line of the night belonged to Andy Samberg, playing Joffrey from Game of Thrones, asking Lena Headey, "Why don't you love me like you love Uncle Jamie?"

Monday, August 25, 2014

Poem for Monday and Maryland State Fair

An August Midnight
By Thomas Hardy


A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While 'mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands...


Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
—My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
"God's humblest, they!" I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.


We had to drop both kids off in College Park at different times on this gorgeous Sunday, so after taking Adam to his orientation kayaking trip -- a.k.a. "Turtle Camp" -- we got back in the car with Daniel and went to the Maryland State Fair. We've been on the fairgrounds for 4-H and train shows in other seasons, but we've never been to the fair, which I have to admit isn't as much fun for me as the county fair; there are more rides, but fewer animals, and I felt like the Chesapeake counties weren't represented well.

But the Maryland fairgrounds are adjacent to the Timonium Racetrack, which had racing all afternoon, so for the first time in my life, I saw a live race, something I am really ambivalent about -- I have really big issues with how the animals are treated, but I've always found it exciting to watch, and it was a real thrill to see the horses come into the turn with the ferris wheel in motion behind them. We also got to meet former Ravens Pro Bowl player Jamal Lewis and to watch a swimming pig and drink root beer floats.

A horse race at Timonium Racetrack, which is right next to the Maryland state fairgrounds and offers free admission on fair days.

Myself and my new goat friends.

A bacon cheeseburger served on donuts -- yay, fair health food! (No, none of us went near it except to take this photo!)

Swifty the Swimming Pig was a bit reluctant to get in the water but eventually performed.

There were also pig races, spurred on by volunteer pig cheerleaders.

So many ducklings!

And we met former Baltimore Ravens player, Pro Bowl-er and Super Bowl champion Jamal Lewis! Everyone at the fair was still celebrating the Ravens win over the Redskins the other night!

Since Daniel has his last full work of week coming up before he starts classes, we took him out to dinner at the Hard Times Cafe in College Park and dropped him off at his apartment where one of his roommates had just finished moving in. Then we came home and caught up on Outlander, which is quite enjoyable so far, and Masters of Sex, which we missed last week at the beach and I'm so glad we waited till the hour before the new one to watch because it was such a sad episode! I want to slap Michael Sheen, but he's great!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Poem for Sunday and Jurassic Putt

By LĂ©onie Adams

From weariness I looked out on the stars
    And there beheld them, fixed in throbbing joy,
Nor racked by such mad dance of moods as mars
    For us each moment’s grace with swift alloy.
And as they pierced the heavens’ serene deep
    An envy of that one consummate part
Swept me, who mock. Whether I laugh or weep,
    Some inner silences are at my heart.
Cold shame is mine for all the masks I wear,
    Belying that in me which shines and sings
Before Him, to face down man’s alien stare—
    A graceless puppet on unmeaning strings,
I that looked out, and saw, and was at rest,
    Stars, and faint wings, rose-etched along the west.


It poured for pretty much all of Saturday. Adam went to a movie marathon with friends; Daniel (who sprained his knee before we went to the beach) just wanted to rest. So we mostly stayed in and did chores, and I have nothing exciting to report -- I only went out to make some necessary stops and ascertain that the bunnies (well, one bunny) did not mind the ongoing rain. On Sunday, both kids go to College Park -- Daniel for his last full week of work, Adam for an orientation kayaking trip!

We did watch the first Capaldi episode of Doctor Who, which I thought was...well, kind of boring. Moffat's writing staff has never really sold me on Clara's awesomeness, though I like Coleman well enough, and all the cute cameos just didn't engage me, while the gender politics aren't an improvement just because there's no Doctor-Companion flirting (does "wife" always have to mean "devoted ball and chain")? But speaking of dinosaurs, here they are at Jurassic Putt in Nags Head:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Poem for Saturday and Outer Banks Animals

Having Words
By Alfred Corn

They'd started meeting by night at the only local,
A seething crowd drawn from among the loudest
Words, swearing, conspiring, over tankards of ale.
In sour chiaroscuro their clenched faces by moments
Looked too grievance or was it expressive for comfort.

Rage drowns out background sounds such as summer
Crickets, the result, that one of them, in humid
Darkness, stops rasping his metal comb. It's clear
That the rally of Words will turn demonic,
That before night ends they'll be up in arms.

Even the rawest learner can in a clock tick
Become aware of the name it's called by. Which
He tries on  Cricket  Cricket  till he thinks: Your name
Amounts to a sound, nothing more. Trundling on
Towards the defiant Words, he says, No. No, I Am Deuce.


I had a somewhat chaotic Friday, but all our trip laundries are done, even the towels! And all my photos are saved on Flickr! And the cats are finally calming down after starting to meow early in the morning and keeping it up all day as a reminder of their neglect! I did not get anything accomplished besides catching up, but that still felt like a lot. And I watched all the celebrity ice bucket challenges I had missed.

Adam had plans with various friends, most of whom are leaving for college within a week, so I took Daniel out to lunch in the new, unrecognizable mall food court, and we watched Captain America: The First Avenger while I folded the aforementioned laundry. After dinner we all caught up on Legends and John Oliver's show in between talking on the phone with my in-laws who are home from their travels out west!