Saturday, February 28, 2015

Poem for Saturday, When It Rains, Me and Spock

A Silence With You
By Leonard Nimoy

A silence with you
is not
a silence

But a moment rich
with peace


I was working on a review of Deep Space Nine's "When It Rains..." when I learned from Daniel that Leonard Nimoy had died. I never thought I'd be posting his poetry, but then I guess I thought of him as immortal (or at least someone who might come back like Spock), even though I knew he'd been very ill. He seems to have had a very full life, his main regret being that he didn't stop smoking soon enough to have lived longer, but it feels like I lost a relative -- someone I have known for literally my entire life, who introduced me to more of my friends and affected my interests more than nearly anyone I knew personally.

So my day was very Star Trek-focused in a way it hasn't been since I stopped writing news for TrekToday, in some ways a very enjoyable thing -- I talked about Star Trek and what it had meant to us with people I've known for decades -- and in some ways very sad. We picked up Daniel from College Park and took him to dinner with my parents, then we came home and watched The Wrath of Khan (the one in which Spock dies) and The Search For Spock (the one in which Spock is resurrected), again like having a reunion with old friends. Here are old photos from some of the many years of my life as a Trekkie:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Poem for Friday and Jurassic Creatures

Lyin' Larry
By Shel Silverstein

Larry's such a liar --
He tells outrageous lies.
He says he's ninety-nine years old
Instead of only five.
He says he lives up on the moon,
He says that he once flew.
He says he's really six feet four
Instead of three feet two.
He says he has a billion dollars
‘Stead of just a dime.
He says he rode a dinosaur
Back in some distant time.
He says his mother is the moon
Who taught him magic spells.
He says his father is the wind
That rings the morning bells.
He says he can take stones and rocks
And turn them into gold.
He says he can take burnin' fire
And turn it freezin' cold.
He said he'd send me seven elves
To help me with my chores.
But Larry's such a liar --
He only sent me four.


Guess what fell out of the sky this morning! If you guessed money or kittens or something awesome, you would be wrong...we merely got more snow, enough to close schools yet again, delay classes at the University of Maryland, and require shoveling, though since temperatures were above freezing by noon, it mostly collected on top of the snow that was already on the grass. It was enough to cause the bunnies and deer to stay hidden, but not really unpleasant unless you had to drive somewhere early -- it was worse south of us.

I did get a bunch of work done and some more kitchen organization and I watched Wednesday night's Nashville, which I might secretly enjoy a lot more than The Americans especially when it's heavy on music and light on soap. Since Elementary wasn't on, Cheryl suggested that we watch Jurassic Park, which remains as riveting as ever! We want to see all three before Jurassic World! Here in honor of the movie are ancient mammals from the now-closed Smithsonian Natural History National Fossil Hall:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Poem for Thursday and National Zoo Invertebrates

Our Daily Becoming
By Adam Clay

Like animals moving daily
through the same open field,
it should be easier to distinguish
light from dark, fabrications

from memory, rain on a sliver
of grass from dew appearing
overnight. In these moments
of desperation, a sentence

serves as a halo, the moon
hidden so the stars eclipse
our daily becoming. You think
it should be easier to define

one’s path, but with the clouds
gathering around our feet,
there’s no sense in retracing
where we’ve been or where

your tired body will carry you.
Eventually the birds become
confused and inevitable. Even our
infinite knowledge of the forecast

might make us more vulnerable
than we would be in drawn-out
ignorance. To the sun
all weeds eventually rise up.


Yet again, there is a winter weather advisory on my phone. DO NOT WANT. Really I have no business complaining, since this storm is supposed to dump most of its snow on the South and only give us a couple more inches, which doesn't come close to what New England has suffered. But I haven't seen grass in ages, I'm worried about what the bunnies and deer are finding to eat, and I've had enough of shoveling and slipping and fighting to drive, not to mention wearing wet socks.

I spent too much of Wednesday on a stupid kitchen organization project (stupid because I can't reach my own kitchen cabinets, so it's all about figuring out where to put the things I need most). It was a nice day, above freezing, and I did get to see a bunny in the snow before The 100 (women still ruling the world) and The Americans (PHILIP, NO!). Here are some of the last photos I ever took at the National Zoo's invertebrate house before it closed forever with little warning:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Poem for Wednesday and Lewis Ginter Houses

The Doll's House
By Tim Cumming

A few days after moving in he stuffed
the money into the roof of the doll's house
and kept practising his new voice.
He was only a few feet short of his own
vanishing point. He moved around late at night.
She heard him. She couldn't pin him down.
He sang about the pain in his heart.
He told her he was playing tennis,
extending his serve in the basement gym
15 storeys below their bedroom.
One night he didn't come back.
Her sister was visiting. She was knee-deep
in homework and adultery and when
she saw the doll's house she thought
of her childhood and burst into tears.
The doll's house was their father's obsession,
modelled on the family home.
They pulled it into the centre of room.
It was heavier and bigger than they remembered,
like their childhood. 'D'you think
it's haunted?' They laughed breathlessly,
as if that's where he'd been hiding all these years.
All the furniture in the rooms had fallen over,
their fingers feeling through tiny windows,
trying to make every little thing right again.


I had my annual check-up on Tuesday morning, and I am relieved to report that I have a pulse and a normal temperature. I like my doctor a lot, though the practice drives me crazy -- after leaving me two reminder messages that I have an appointment, they called yesterday to warn me that I had to call and confirm, which is a new thing, and when I called this morning, since I got the message yesterday after they were closed, I got kicked off being on hold twice after waiting 20 minutes until I finally lied to the system and claimed I was a pharmacy calling (I was told I could avoid this problem by putting myself on the text messaging system, but when I tried to do that, I was told by the system that my mobile phone number was not a real phone number and I had to enter a real number). It's a wonder my blood pressure was not dangerously high when I saw the doctor!

When I left the doctor to drive home, I got to see a geyser! This was really exciting for a minute before I realized that it meant a water main had broken from the cold, and the sudden influx of WSSC and emergency vehicles made me glad I got out right when I did. The rest of my day was not as exciting (filled the gas tank, did laundry, etc.) but there were manatees rescued in Florida, so that makes me happy. We caught up on Downton Abbey, which was okay except I think the Drews have been SO screwed over and I get mad whenever I think about it. I liked that Agent Carter tried to provide something for every ship fan and that Peggy got to use her brain more than her ass-kicking, but I did not like Forever (Fifty Shades of Grey meets Single White Female, ugh). Here are some of the miniature houses from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's Winterfest last month:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Poem for Tuesday, Snow Bunnies, The Jane Austen Book Club

Wild Silk
By Brian Russell

out in the wild the kingdom
of worms spin in silence
in separation and live
to leave behind

what's become to them
useless such as luxury
begins and again becomes

the meticulous work
it took to shape a pattern out of
patience wore down a continent's

grasses into paths and passed
through dangerous terrain for what
for something so indisputably beautiful

you’d be willing to trade everything for it
you’d be willing to go to war to wear it
under your armor as close as anything

might get to your heart, it’s hard to believe
something so small so easy
to kill for even less could produce this dress
this red mess it makes of my senses


Another quickie because I spent Monday with Cheryl, though we didn't get started any earlier than we do when she drives up here because we slept late after staying up watching most of Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscars coverage -- did Matt Damon actually appear, for a change? We woke up in the mood to watch the 1998 Les Miserables (a.k.a. the Neeson/Rush Les Mis), though I was horrified to discover that my DVD apparently has a flaw and two scenes must be completely skipped (a.k.a. I have to buy a new one). That film makes massive, problematic changes to Hugo's novel, but a really strong Cosette and some really glee-inducing Javert moments that are well worth seeing.

We were going to try the new crepe place in the mall but were distressed to find that it's not open yet! So we got Blaze Pizza and came back to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel, which Cheryl had not seen (and I think should unquestionably have won Best Original Screenplay on top of the four design awards it did win, though Boyhood would have been acceptable). Paul came home just as we started watching The Jane Austen Book Club, which is a little flick-chick-y for my taste but has a good cast, and some Shoujo Cosette before Cheryl had to leave. I loved the Sleepy Hollow-in-early-America season finale though I'm very bummed it's over for now. Look, snow bunnies!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Placeholder for Monday

Extreme quickie because of the Academy Awards! Not much to report from the rest of the day anyway; we met up with Cheryl, took Daniel back to College Park and went food shopping with him, then stopped to see Adam for five minutes to drop off cookies, after which we gave Cheryl the quickie car tour of campus where we saw a lot of snow and a big flock of geese and some of the Testudo sculptures:

My main goal for the Oscars was for American Sniper not to win any big awards, so since Selma regrettably couldn't either, I was reasonably happy. Though screenplay for the male midlife crisis movie that was admittedly the best-directed movie I've ever seen but had so much macho crap built in that the director compared his ego with his prick, oh please.

Moments I loved: NPH celebrating the Matt/Ben love during the first moments of the show, everything about the "Everything Is Awesome" performance (plus all the cracks about The Lego Movie's egregious lack of an animated film nomination), Patricia Arquette fighting for working women, Gaga + Julie Andrews, Common and John Legend's performance of (and victory for) "Glory" while Oyowelo (who was in the movie) and Pine (who wasn't) were bawling their eyes out in the audience, and Idina Menzel and John Travolta presenting together after NPH claimed that "Benedict Cumberbatch" was what happened when Travolta tried to say "Ben Affleck."

I'm delighted for Julianne and Eddie though there were lots of other deserving people in both categories, glad Wes Anderson had a relatively good night, really sad for Richard Linklater. More tomorrow!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poem for Sunday, Snow, Fifth Element, I Frankenstein

The Passing of the Wise Men
By Pattiann Rogers

They collected them one by one  
like seed-size pearls and put them  
in their black velvet bags, gathered  
them like small marbles of amethyst  
and alabaster, plucked them
like white cherries from a tree.

They placed all of them carefully  
in their velvet bags scarcely filled.  
And they were patient, gathering  
them slowly all their lives, some  
like berries of glass, like the slighter  
fruit of mistletoe, some appearing  
like tiny flames flashing on sunless
river bottoms or shining like quick silver  
schools of fish in the deep. A few  
were as cold and black and enigmatic  
as skull sockets where eyes should be.

When the end came, they crawled
into their black velvet sacks themselves,  
pulled the drawstrings tight over  
their heads, looked around and above
in the speckled dark and more than once  
toward the east, then assembled  
their instruments and resumed the study  
of their everlasting treasures — Sirius,  
Polaris, Arcturus, Capella, Vega,  
Andromeda, Cygnus X, guides,  
messengers, hope.


When I went to bed on Friday night, the forecast was for 2-3 inches of snow on Saturday. When I woke up, the forecast was for 3-6 inches. By midday, the forecast was for 6-10 inches. In the end, I think we got about eight inches of snow on top of what was already on the ground from last week -- nothing like what New England is suffering through, but enough to shut down the entire region, especially our neighborhood which was not plowed sufficiently to drive anywhere. Here are some photos taken over the past week, since we've had multiple snowstorms come through:

Since we were stuck in the house and couldn't take Daniel back to College Park, we decided to watch The Fifth Element since none of us had seen it -- what hilarious, glorious crack -- and then I, Frankenstein -- not hilarious and not as entertaining, though I will confess that it made my eyes less than The Battle of the Five Hours, which is my new standard for disappointment (mediocre movies should at least be only 90 minutes long). We shoveled twice and I walked enough to see deer, then after dinner we watched the Inspector Lewis with Sleepy Hollow's Tom Mison and Katia Winter!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Poem for Saturday, The Changing Face of Evil, Druid Park

By Louise Imogen Guiney

Through all the evening,
All the virginal long evening,
Down the blossomed aisle of April it is dread to walk alone;
For there the intangible is nigh, the lost is ever-during;
And who would suffer again beneath a too divine alluring,
Keen as the ancient drift of sleep on dying faces blown?

Yet in the valley,
At a turn of the orchard alley,
When a wild aroma touched me in the moist and moveless air,
Like breath indeed from out Thee, or as airy vesture round Thee,
Then was it I went faintly, for fear I had nearly found Thee,
O Hidden, O Perfect, O Desired! O first and final Fair!


One morning I will wake up without a weather advisory on my phone, but Friday was not the day -- we had wind chill warnings all day, plus alerts about snow and freezing rain expected on Saturday. I don't particularly dislike winter -- the dark before the solstice bothers me more than the cold -- but I am really over arctic temperatures and snow disrupting going anywhere, particularly to see relatives and friends who live north of here! We had plans to see Paul's father for his birthday in Ellicott City on Saturday, but due to the forecast, those have been postponed.

We did retrieve Daniel from College Park so he could drive us around, and I did post a review of DS9's "The Changing Face of Evil", another of my all-time favorites. We had Chinese food with my parents and now we're watching the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special since we missed it when it first aired -- it is a delight to see McCartney and Simon singing together and a delight to see Steve Martin looking like he hasn't aged, though except for Betty White, a lot of the new material dragged in comparison to the clips. From Baltimore's Druid Park last spring:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lyrics for Friday and Caitlin Canty Concert

Get Up
By Caitlin Canty and Steve Addabbo

Get up get up get up
No time to rest or run for cover
Get up get up get up
Before the road pulls you under

Sleeping on embers breathing in rivers
Waking up shivering on summer’s hottest night
Salt crusted sweat dries dust deep in white lines
Dreaming that you’ll find it in the nick of time

Get up get up get up
No time to rest or run for cover
Get up get up get up
Before the road pulls you under

Knock the breath out of your madness
Burn your photographs at the edges
Send your heart back from where you left it

Took a long way to come here
Got a long way to go

Climbing up switchbacks
Walking through tall grass the color of matches
On summer’s hottest night
Charred bark and dusty ash
Burned out two years back
Dreaming that you’ll find it in the nick of time

Knock the breath out of your madness
Burn your photographs at the edges
Send your heart back from where you left it

Took a long way to come here
Got a long way
Get up


Quickie because we went out to dinner (California Tortilla was having a cold snap special, everyone who knew the code words got chips and queso for the price of the wind chill -- which was below -9, so everyone got the chips and queso free plus a dime back) and to see Caitlin Canty, with Lynn Hollyfield opening for her, at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. I had never been there before -- when we lived across Route 28 from Kentlands 20 years ago, it didn't exist -- and it's lovely, coffee shop and gallery downstairs and wonderful performance space upstairs.

The music was fantastic. I've loved Canty since I first heard her; I discovered her via Peter Bradley Adams, whom I discovered in turn via Vienna Teng, with whom he was touring. Adams and Canty perform together as Down Like Silver, and while I love them both separately, together they are exponentially amazing. I wasn't familiar with Hollyfield's music before, so she was a delightful surprise. Plus I got to see some of Kay's sister Dareya's jewelry on display downstairs -- another surprise! Here's Caitlin and a bit of the artwork -- more tomorrow!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Poem for Thursday and Global Food

The Snow-Storm
By Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.


We got warnings all of Wednesday morning that we would have serious snow squalls arriving in the afternoon, possibly as early as 2 p.m., so I rushed through some work and went out to get various shopping chores done early (no way was I wasting my $30 in Kohl's bucks, and I got to see Washingtonian Lake frozen over, though I have no photos of it because I left my phone in the car and had to go all the way back to the parking lot to get it). The snow did not arrive till after 5 p.m. and we got very little accumulation, though it did come down hard and fast. We took a walk right in the thick of it and saw two deer munching the neighbors' plants without seeming to mind all the cold fluff on their backs.

We had leftover chili for dinner with the Hurricanes we didn't manage to get for Mardi Gras, so I was a bit tipsy while watching The 100, the greatest girl power show currently on TV (and I would like to note that it is fine with me if Abby and Marcus follow up all that hurt/comfort with some canoodling). I would probably enjoy The Americans more if I watched it drunk, since it is always very stressful even weeks like this when it's mostly about characters not the Cold War -- I often find myself yelling "DON'T DO IT, PHILIP" to the screen about something, usually though not always involving women. Here are a few more photos from the National Geographic Museum's global food exhibit: