Saturday, January 31, 2015

Poem for Saturday, Penumbra, Longwood Gardens

Four Winds
By Sara Teasdale

"Four winds blowing thro' the sky,
You have seen poor maidens die,
Tell me then what I shall do
That my lover may be true."
Said the wind from out the south,
"Lay no kiss upon his mouth,"
And the wind from out the west,
"Wound the heart within his breast,"
And the wind from out the east,
"Send him empty from the feast,"
And the wind from out the north,
"In the tempest thrust him forth,
When thou art more cruel than he,
Then will Love be kind to thee."


Friday was supposed to be the day this week when it did not snow in the DC area, so I was slightly alarmed to see flurries on and off all morning, though nothing stuck. I was working on a review of Deep Space Nine's "Penumbra", the first episode in the final chapter of the show, which makes me sad and at the same time happy because the final nine episodes are extraordinary. I also had a really nice DS9-related thing happen to me today that involved an unexpected email and made me smile. It was cold, but my cats and I shared our fuzzy blankets!

After lunch, we drove to College Park to pick up Daniel, who decided to come home for Super Bowl weekend and the Sunday party. We watched an Inspector Lewis episode, went for a walk (there were two deer and a bunny right around the corner in the woods), and had dinner with my parents. Then we came home and watched PBS's special on Wallis Simpson, followed by Shakespeare Uncovered, which was awesome -- Hugh Bonneville on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Christopher Plummer on King Lear. Some flowers from Longwood's conservatory:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Poem for Friday, Meadowlark Turtles, Pride, Imitation Game, Ratatouille

Utopia: Love as Free as a Fountain
By Joe Hall

How could the news come?
We drove with my second cousins to
The orchards at the feet of the Catskills.

We cut three names into a tree.
And when I burned my wrist in the cannery
So badly it began to bubble,

You were there with a bucket of cold water.
Among the tons of softening apples
You smelled like cinnamon burning. That night

I watched you play the piano with Jamie and Evan
Who were both, at some point, your lovers-
My heart in such a confusion,

Their bows drawing diagrams in the air,
This moment so close to prayer.


I had plans with Cheryl last Monday, but because of the snowpocalypse that never hit DC, we postponed till Thursday. This was definitely the right call, as we only had a little bit of sleet and ice rather than actual snow this evening, and we got to do lots of fun things -- watch Pride, which remains delightful, go out to the mall and get Blaze Pizza for lunch, then go see The Imitation Game, which she had not seen and which remains excellent in nearly every way.

Plus we watched Ratatouille, because what's not to love? By then Paul was home, so he watched with us, which put us in the mood for ratatouille for dinner, which we ate since we had some with tofu frozen from a couple of weeks ago. I did not love Kitty's story on Elementary in the late evening but Watson rocked in the episode. We still have snow on the ground and I'm ready for the light back, so here are some Meadowlark Gardens turtles from last spring:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Poem for Thursday and Lewis Ginter Orchids

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I'll keep a little tavern
    Below the high hill's crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
    May set them down and rest.

There shall be plates a-plenty,
    And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
    Who happen up the hill.

There sound will sleep the traveller,
    And dream his journey's end,
But I will rouse at midnight
    The falling fire to tend.

Aye, 'tis a curious fancy—
    But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
    A long time ago.


Wednesday was a beautiful day and I spent most of it cleaning. This would not be nearly so depressing if I hadn't been working on the dining room desk, bookcases, and table, so no one but me would even notice any progress (and shut up yes we do have bookcases in the dining room). Hey, people with cats: if you successfully clear all clutter off your dining room table, how do you stop your kitties from climbing on it? Just curious. Our cats are still out of sorts from the kids being gone -- they don't know whose bed to sleep on all day.

We still have snow on the ground, but that did not stop cardinals, doves, and squirrels from being out enjoying the sunshine, plus bunnies near dusk, so we had animal company to serve as Cat TV. As for us, we watched "Penguin Post Office" on Nature, which had the usual nature show problems -- dead animals -- then The 100 (very violent) and The Americans (awesome and nail-biting as always, WAY too much violence against women this week). Here are some photos of orchids at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden back in the fall:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Poem for Wednesday and Richmond Zoo Mammals

On Silence
By R. Zamora Linmark

Is it the Garcia Lorca kind
faithful as a cricket's
tune about a boy fishing
in a pool of rainwater
for his lost voice
praying it'll sing back
so he can wear it
on his finger again
like a wedding ring?

Maybe it's the anti-parakeet
Nicanor Parra kind
remorseful as a memoir
that survived four wars
half a dozen sexually
transmitted depressions
inspired hallucinations
and a dedication to
its remaining readers
last count forty-five
asking them to burn each page
upon reading memories
it had tried to capture

unless it's the Paz kind
not Paz-be-with-you of olden
days difficult now
to digest Paz or any Zense
of peace without Belano or BolaƱo
pearly-gate-crashing in an Impala
slingshooting saints out
of their poses harping
on angels reciting bad poetry
aloud anything to disturb
the last of the angry gods'
siesta atop a mountain of ashes
once rich without meaning.


I don't have much to report from Tuesday apart from finished and folded laundries. We got some more snow overnight, I'm embarrassed to say how much because local schools were closed -- there are places in America that got serious, scary snowfall, but this was not one of them -- so there were lots of conversations with new neighbors while shoveling and getting the snow off the cars, though I only drove to the food store five minutes away, and my biggest purchase was a fuzzy fleece blanket for whose ownership my cat and I are currently competing.

Thanks to a generous streaming site, we watched the fourth episode of this season's Broadchurch, which I hear is not very popular in Britain but is making me bite my nails nearly as much as last season's; we also got to see the Colin Firth Jonathan Ross Show before The Flash and Agent Carter. We took a walk a little closer to dusk and saw two bunnies out in the snow foraging for food (I would feed them, but they run when we get too close and the squirrels snitch any food left out). Here are some photos taken last fall at the Richmond Metro Zoo:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Poem for Tuesday and Local Snow

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Out of the bosom of the Air,
      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
            Silent, and soft, and slow
            Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
      In the white countenance confession,
            The troubled sky reveals
            The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
            Now whispered and revealed
            To wood and field.


Much of the U.S. northeast is currently under a great deal of snow, with hurricane-force winds and blinding precipitation. Here in the DC area, after-school activities were canceled and the University of Maryland has already delayed classes in the morning because we got...1/2 an inch of snow. (To be fair, we are supposed to get another inch overnight, and in DC terms, that's enough to paralyze the region until the three local snow plows can be sent out to the suburbs.) It was very pretty and looked like this:

Therefore, apart from chores, work, and a walk to see the above -- the bunnies were hiding in their nice warm bunny warrens -- I did little on Monday besides catch up on Downton Abbey (still rather plodding this season) and Galavant (still has gender problems but I am sad it is likely never to be back). (The cats were also hiding in their nice warm cat warrens, namely our blankets and vents.) Evening involved reading and Sleepy Hollow. Tomorrow will probably involve more of the same!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Poem for Monday, Black Hill Birds, SAG Awards

Three Moves
By John Logan

Three moves in sixth months and I remain
the same.
Two homes made two friends.
The third leaves me with myself again.
(We hardly speak.)
Here I am with tame ducks
and my neighbors' boats,
only this electric heat
against the April damp.
I have a friend named Frank—
the only one who ever dares to call
and ask me, "How's your soul?"
I hadn't thought about it for a while,
and was ashamed to say I didn't know.
I have no priest for now.
will forgive me then. Will you
Tame birds and my neighbors' boats.
The ducks honk about the floats ...
They walk dead drunk onto the land and grounds,
iridescent blue and black and green and brown.
They live on swill
our aged houseboats spill.
But still they are beautiful.
Look! The duck with its unlikely beak
has stopped to pick
and pull
at the potted daffodil.
Then again they sway home
to dream
bright gardens of fish in the early night.
Oh these ducks are all right.
They will survive.
But I am sorry I do not often see them climb.
Poor sons-a-bitching ducks.
You're all fucked up.
What do you do that for?
Why don't you hover near the sun anymore?
Afraid you'll melt?
These foolish ducks lack a sense of guilt,
and so all their multi-thousand-mile range
is too short for the hope of change.


Sunday was a nice day, though every hour my phone dutifully warned me that it was going to snow before the night was through -- nothing like what's going to get dumped north of us, though. We went to Black Hill Regional Park hoping to see eagles as we have before; the eagles were hiding, but we saw Canada geese, mergansers, coots, cormorants, seagulls, crows, and some ducks that were too far away to identify as well as little songbirds. We also stopped at various stores to exchange a defective shirt, get kitty litter, and pick up emergency food supplies in case the weather forecasters underestimated the snow totals. Here are some of the birds plus a snake in the Black Hill nature center:

I spent most of the evening on my butt, starting with watching the end of the men's figure skating long program at the US skating championships, very enjoyable given that we have a number of really beautiful skaters right now. We ate dinner while watching the red carpet for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, then the show itself, which mostly went precisely as expected. It delights me that Arquette and Moore are doing so well this season and I'm glad that people get more attention get more attention on TV than in movies. I thought that if Keaton were going to beat Redmayne head-to-head, it might be here -- he's older and he's American -- but now I'm thinking Redmayne is probably a lock for the Oscar.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poem for Sunday, Skating, Kangaroos & Wallabies

By Naomi Shihab Nye

We are looking for your laugh.
Trying to find the path back to it
between drooping trees.
Listening for your rustle
under bamboo,
brush of fig leaves,
feeling your step
on the porch,
natty lantana blossom
poked into your buttonhole.
We see your raised face
at both sides of a day.
How was it, you lived around
the edge of everything we did,
seasons of ailing & growing,
mountains of laundry & mail?
I am looking for you first & last
in the dark places,
when I turn my face away
from headlines at dawn,
dropping the rolled news to the floor.
Your rumble of calm
poured into me.
There was the saving grace
of care, from day one, the watching
and being watched
from every corner of the yard.


My kids are back in College Park for the second semester of the school year. We spent the morning getting organized and packing, then went out to lunch at Minerva, which had stewed chick peas, spicy lentils, tomato curry paneer, and tandoori eggs on the buffet -- my four favorite Indian foods! Then we packed up the van and went to College Park, where we brought Adam to his dorm, took Daniel food shopping (plus got toilet paper for ourselves for the impending snowstorm), and dropped Daniel off at his apartment.

We were so full from lunch that we did not have a big dinner. Instead we went for a walk around the neighborhood to look for bunnies (there were two between our cul-de-sac and the next). Afterwards, we had a quiet evening watching the US Figure Skating Championships -- not something that would be a favorite activity for either of our sons, but pleased our cats, who snugged and tried to steal our popcorn. Here are some photos of the adorable kangaroos and wallabies lounging in the sun at the Richmond Metro Zoo last fall: