Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Poem for Tuesday and Mount Vernon Fair

The Purpose of Ritual
By Melissa Broder

When you fled I disappeared
into the abscesses of my brain.
We are both impulsive humans
and perhaps my disappearance
was premature. To reappear
I had to grow younger. I began
consuming images of boys
at a very rapid speed, never
their bodies just reflections.
I distorted all the mirrors
in mucus, oil and blood.
When I say that I consumed
I do not mean that I ate the mirrors,
only that I stood beside the boys,
dowsed the glass and incanted.
I chanted you love me you love me
to 3000 boys but none said yes.
What does it mean to be so sick
with want that you create rituals
which lead nowhere? Only to be
human, I think, and less ok
than animals. I don't want
to be human anymore
so I have covered the mirrors
in blankets. You returned to me
but never uncovered them.


My Monday was a Monday, by which I mean I had trouble getting out of bed, didn't get nearly enough work done, and haven't managed to fold the laundry yet. We had some rain, I only saw one bunny (and he was upset because there was a moving van blocking him from hopping away from me), no one has solved ISIS or global warming or ebola or any of the other things stressing me out on the news.

In happier news, Sleepy Hollow managed to be hilarious and have kick-ass women while facing the apocalypse (Gotham was merely okay -- it desperately needs some humor, if not Adam West-style Batman jokes, then at least Martha Stewart cracks like the former). Sadly I hvae to pay taxes to Amazon.com starting tomorrow. Some pics from the colonial fair at Mount Vernon the weekend before last:

The militia fights in front of the house at Mount Vernon.

Ship's Company sings sailor songs.

Ladies negotiate clothing prices.

Otto the sword swallower plies his trade.

Potters sell their products.

The rat catcher lets his rat rest in the shade.

A puppeteer demonstrates that he can move a puppet with his knee while using his hands to play a pipe.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Poem for Monday and Maryland Renaissance Festival

A Calling (From the Rubaiyat)
By Omar Khayyam
Translated by Edward Fitzgerald

Dreaming when Dawn’s Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
“Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life’s Liquor in its Cup be dry.”


Sunday was another gorgeous early fall day, and we spent it at the Maryland Renaissance Festival with Daniel and Cheryl -- it was the last day Barely Balanced was performing and we had missed them the first weekend we went. We saw both their shows (one involves not just acrobatics but getting the stage and each other wet), plus the one Shakespeare's Skum show we missed last time (the pretty hilarious tragedy of Othello), the Faire's production of The Comedy of Errors (very well abridged and extremely well performed), some music, some stunts, the elephant, several frogs in the little ponds around the grounds, and the king!

We ate dinner at the festival (I had macaroni and cheese on a stick, plus some bites of other people's cheesecake on a stick and key lime pie on a stick), then took Daniel back to College Park, where we briefly met up with Adam to deliver some food from his grandmother and leftover birthday cake. After driving home beneath a beautiful sunset, we watched the season premiere of Once Upon a Time (which I thought was okay not great) and the season finale of Masters of Sex (which I thought was great). Though we didn't see the games, the Ravens, Orioles, and Nationals all had a great day -- the Nats pitched a no-hitter!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Poem for Sunday and Homestead Farm Apples

A Soldier
By Robert Frost

He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled,
That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust,
But still lies pointed as it plowed the dust.
If we who sight along it round the world,
See nothing worthy to have been its mark,
It is because like men we look too near,
Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere,
Our missiles always make too short an arc.
They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect
The curve of earth, and striking, break their own;
They make us cringe for metal-point on stone.
But this we know, the obstacle that checked
And tripped the body, shot the spirit on
Further than target ever showed or shone.


It was a gorgeous September Saturday, warm and clear, so when eventually Daniel was awake, we took him to pick apples at Homestead Farm. There are lots of animals on the farm now in preparation for the pumpkin festival -- there are already pumpkins for picking in the fields and pre-picked by the store -- and there were more people than I've ever seen walking to the apple orchards.

When we came home, Paul's parents met us at our house and we watched most of the Terps-Hoosiers game (Maryland won its first Big Ten confrontation, yay!) before going to my parents' for a belated Rosh Hashanah dinner and to celebrate Daniel's birthday with all the grandparents. I ate tons (salad, faux chicken soup, faux chicken dinner, too much dessert)!

Then we came home and watched this week's Doctor Who, which I really enjoyed which is weird because I can blow holes in the storytelling -- I love Capaldi, I even like Coleman better with him (I like Clara trying to have a life and see all the wonder at the same time). I would like Clara to have an arc that in no way involves a romance or a male supporter and better Bechdel ratios.

We watched Outlander's mid-season finale, too, and I see why people warned me about sexual violence in the books -- the show can be kind of shy about showing body parts in sex scenes yet not shy at all about explicit sexual assault, which really irritates me. I know they must be snipping a lot from the books, so I wish they'd leave more of the historical stuff. Sunday: more Renfaire!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poem for Saturday and Legal Offspring

I Held a Jewel In My Fingers
By Emily Dickinson

I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: "'T will keep."

I woke and chid my honest fingers,—
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.


Friday was Daniel's 21st birthday -- none of us are sure how that happened so quickly! He had a huge project due in Operating Systems which he expected to take up most of the day (as indeed it had taken up most of the week), so I finished my review of Deep Space Nine's "Shadows and Symbols" (which is excellent, though DS9 really has no not-great episodes during its last season) and had lunch with Paul, who worked from home and made us eggwiches.

After the Nationals secured the NL's best record of the season, we went to College Park to have dinner with Daniel, Adam, and Adam's girlfriend at the Mexican restaurant Azteca, then to Cold Stone for ice cream. We left the latter two in College Park and came home to watch Sweeney Todd (Terfel and Quast great, Thompson okay though not particularly better than Bonham Carter in the movie, Mackey no more able to breathe life into Johanna than anyone else ever can). Pics:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Poem for Friday and Maryland Zoo Birds

Another Poem on My Daughter's Birthday
By Craig Morgan Teicher

There must be soft words
for an evening like this, when the breeze
caresses like gentle fingertips
all over. I don't know

how not to write darkly and sad.
But it's two years today since
my little girl was born, cut safely
from the noose.

We meant nothing but hope;
how near death is to that.

Only children, only some children,
get to run free from these snags. She
was born! She lived and she grows
like joy spreading from the syllables

of songs. She reminds me of now
and now and now.
                        I must learn
to have been so lucky.


I had a quiet Rosh Hashanah doing what you're not supposed to do on Rosh Hashanah -- work and chores -- and a bit of a walk in the rain, but I could only barely deal with annual Rosh Hashanah services and fashion show at the big downtown synagogue when my kids were in Hebrew school and now feel atheism descending upon me every time I walk into the building, and I don't really feel enough a part of any of the leftie hippie congregations to trek out to them for the High Holy Days. Ironically, when I was putting laundry away, my miniature Torah fell over and knocked a miniature teacup down on a bedroom shelf, which I am sure is an omen of some sort.

Friday is Daniel's 21st birthday, which most feels incredible to me -- I have no idea how that happened so fast! We are having dinner with his grandparents on Saturday to celebrate, since he has work that has to be finished tomorrow. Caught up on Dallas. Ever since we went to the fair in Boonsborough and I got to see wine bottle fairy light lamps at one vendor's tent, because I love fairy lights (I am glad they make them now in non-Christmas colors, even Halloween sets), I have been playing with bottles and lights and had nice relaxing colorful lighting for this gray and drizzly day. Here are flamingos, cormorants, cranes, and penguins in their new homes at the Maryland Zoo:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Poem for Rosh Hashanah and American Metal

The Waters Cannot Return In Repentance
By Yehuda Amichai

The waters cannot return in repentance
To where would they return?
To the faucet, the sources, the ground, the roots,
the cloud, the sea, into my mouth?
The waters cannot return in repentance,
every place is their seas/days of old, their waters of old,
every place a beginning and end, and a beginning.


L'shanah tovah! I had a much less exciting Wednesday than Tuesday, though it was a nice day; I did a bunch of work and chores, then went out to Charming Charlie to buy a bag I saw on sale last week but didn't get (of course, they were sold out), and stopped at AC Moore to use a rewards certificate on glass and fairy lights. We had Rosh Hashanah dinner with my parents, a small group this year since we're having a bigger group to celebrate Daniel's 21st birthday over the weekend.

We watched the fabulous first episode of the David Tennant-narrated Penguins: Spy in the Huddle on PBS, then the increasingly violent Legends which at least has interesting women as well as Sean Bean, and then the season premiere of Nashville which is, well, pretty much Dallas with singing. Some photos from American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley at the Corcoran Museum, which is closing (the exhibit and the museum) for at least a year after this weekend:

A Chanukah menorah by American jeweler and metalsmith Paley.

A metal model of the massive mural at the St. Louis Zoo...

...and a larger metal model of elephants from the mural.

A segment of a cardboard model of the mural, with penguins.

One of Paley's big torch lamps.

And two smaller fabricated steel table-sized lamps.

I love these open metalwork herons.

Models for "The Beckoning," the large sculpture Paley designed for the entrance to National Harbor.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Poem for Wednesday and Baltimore Penguins

A Bird Songs
By Christina Rossetti

It’s a year almost that I have not seen her:
Oh, last summer green things were greener,
Brambles fewer, the blue sky bluer.

It’s surely summer, for there’s a swallow:
Come one swallow, his mate will follow,
The bird race quicken and wheel and thicken.

Oh happy swallow whose mate will follow
O’er height, o’er hollow! I’d be a swallow,
To build this weather one nest together.


I had a most excellent Tuesday even though the car was in the shop and needed a few hundred dollars' worth of maintenance. Paul got up early and worked from home so that in the mid-afternoon, we could drive to Baltimore for the Maryland Zoo's Penguin Coast grand opening for penguin parents, a.k.a. people who have adopted penguins at the zoo!

The main purpose of the new enclosure is breeding and conservation, but it also lets visitors get closer to the penguins. The zoo is closed this week to prepare for the exhibit's opening to the public, so the penguin parents had it to ourselves. We got free carousel and train rides (something we'd never done before!) plus cookies and popcorn and a tour of the facility.

As penguin adopters, we were invited to the grand opening of Penguin Coast before the public could visit this weekend.

We got there just as the penguins were being fed.

I don't speak penguin but they appeared quite happy with their new home.

The enclosure is designed to have the kind of rocky coast and buildings that they would live among in Africa.

Plus it has a wave tank...

...that goes over the underwater viewing area so visitors can stand under the water.

There were games and science activities for kids...

...and we got to meet penguin ambassador Winnie!

We picked up the car on the way home from Baltimore and had chili for dinner. Then we watched the excellent Finding Your Roots on PBS (Stephen King, Gloria Reuben, Courtney B. Vance) before the season premiere of Agents of SHIELD (awesome opening, snore as soon as Skye appeared) and the second episode of Forever (still liking, like the women as much as Ioan)!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Poem for Tuesday and Cabin John Park

Snowy Owl Goddess
By Diane Wakoski

Loudell, in a loose cotton dress
          the color of delphiniums,
                    her hair, owl-feathered and quiet
as her naked toes in their pale sandals
           is a friend from this harvest part
                     of our lives,
a Minerva woman
           of herbs and salsas, hellebore, trumpet vines
                    and heirloom tomatoes. She glides
among us all,
                      as if we too might be
live plants.

          Almost in a trance from the heady
                    August evening, and perhaps from the corner
of my indolent eye, more absorbing the murmur
          than watching, I registered
                      this Snowy Owl of a woman
as she stripped an olive through her raptor’s mouth,
           then delicately flung the pit
                       into the narrow garden verge next
to her deck chair.

           Usually fastidious as a pharmacist
                     weighing crystals,
she surprised me in this seeming-act
           of littering, until I realized “oh, the pit might take root,
                     grow!” It was her planter’s instinct/
give every seed a place.

          Sipping her chardonnay and, with one hand cracking
                      some pistachios to neatly deposit
their shells in a bowl with pits from olives
           the rest of us had eaten,
                      she reminds me that even
with abundance
          there need not be waste.

                     Every day the image, planted in the hull of
twilight conversation, visits me: A Snowy Owl
              suddenly spreading her 10-foot wingspan
                          to cover this sacred earth,
its arcing motion, her arm unfolding into air
          with the olive pit
                   bowling earthward.


The autumnal equinox could not have occurred on a more beautiful day -- though we had summery temperatures over the weekend, our Monday was clear and cool, so much so that when Paul was done with work, we went to Locust Grove to walk along the creek. It was a fairly uneventful day in most regards, all work and chores, but when the weather is so glorious and I can watch squirrels and birds out the back window from my computer, that is fine with me!

I was reasonably pleased with the way the fall TV season started, foregoing the two-hour Dallas episode to watch Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Forever. Apart from hints of Catwoman, I was pretty ambivalent about the first; I love all the characters on the second though even without having watched SPN, it's a bit much on the apocalyptic themes for me; and I loved the third, like getting New Amsterdam back with better lead chemistry and Ioan Gruffudd!