Sunday, April 30, 2017

Poem for Sunday and Brookside Soap Bubbles

Soap Bubble
By Valerie Worth

The soap bubble's
Great soft sphere
Bends out of shape
On the air,
Leans, rounds again,
Rises, shivering, heavy,
A planet revolving
Hollow and clear,
Mapped with
Rainbows, streaming,
Curled: seeming
A world too splendid
To snap, dribble,
And disappear.


Since Maddy is leaving for an indefinite amount of time on Sunday morning, we spent the day with her, starting with brunch at Metro 29 Diner in Arlington with Alice, Jeremy, and their son. We also took her to the bank, to UPS to ship some things home, and to pick up a friend at the mall, with whom we had dinner and with whom she is currently out along with other work friends while we watched Doctor Who ("Thin Ice" aka the Frost Fair episode, which I really loved -- I am really loving this season after being annoyed with the show for a long time) and Class (not terrible but thematically meh, no "Father's Day"). Now we're watching Graham Norton but I need to get to bed because we're driving Maddy to the airport before 6 a.m. Here are some photos of a guest's soap bubbles floating through Brookside Gardens:







Saturday, April 29, 2017

Poem for Saturday, The Handmaid's Tale, Great Falls

Not Speaking Of The Way
By Yosano Akiko
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Not speaking of the way,
Not thinking of what comes after,
Not questioning name or fame,
Here, loving love,
You and I look at each other.


Busy Friday -- took Maddy to Subway then to an appointment, went for a walk in Woottons Mill Park while she was there, came home for a few hours to do chores, then took Maddy to work at California Pizza Kitchen, where we met my parents for dinner. Now we're watching the first three episodes of The Handmaid's Tale, which is everything I'd read -- superbly acted and really well filmed, not a letter-faithful adaptation of the book so much as a horror story for our own time (I like the Richardson-Dunaway-Duvall movie but it cuts and compresses a huge amount of material and invents other parts for a convenient resolution that the book deliberately lacks). Here are some photos from Great Falls the other day:









Friday, April 28, 2017

Poem for Friday and Great Falls Reptiles

By Archibald MacLeish

The tremulously mirrored clouds lie deep,
Enchanted towers bosomed in the stream,
And blossomed coronals of white-thorn gleam
Within the water where the willows sleep—
Still-imaged willow-leaves whose shadows steep
The far-reflected sky in dark of dream;
And glimpsed therein the sun-winged swallows seem
As fleeting memories to those who weep.

So mirrored in thy heart are all desires,
Eternal longings, Youth’s inheritance,
All hopes that token immortality,
All griefs whereto immortal grief aspires.
Aweary of the world’s reality,
I dream above the imaged pool, Romance.


Quickie as I have been on the phone with relatives all night -- mostly Maddy's sister Noelle, who is getting married in August and has lots of good things going on in her life. It was a warm, pretty day, so after doing a bunch of chores with Maddy and going to lunch at California Tortilla with her, we dropped her off at the mall to hang out with friends and went to Great Falls, where we saw lots of happy reptiles:







Our intention was to catch up on Blindspot, then watch the first episode of The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu, but we decided to watch the NFL draft until the Ravens and Redskins had their first-round pics, then I wound up on the phone and we didn't watch anything else. Maddy is out at a birthday party with friends from work and I finally have an MRI appointment for next week, so that is all good news!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Poem for Thursday and Mount Vernon Animals

High School Senior
By Sharon Olds

For seventeen years, her breath in the house
at night, puff, puff, like summer
cumulus above her bed,
and her scalp smelling of apricots
--this being who had formed within me,
squatted like a bright tree-frog in the dark,
like an eohippus she had come out of history
slowly, through me, into the daylight,
I had the daily sight of her,
like food or air she was there, like a mother.
I say "college," but I feel as if I cannot tell
the difference between her leaving for college
and our parting forever--I try to see
this house without her, without her pure
depth of feeling, without her creek-brown
hair, her daedal hands with their tapered
fingers, her pupils dark as the mourning cloak's
wing, but I can't. Seventeen years
ago, in this room, she moved inside me,
I looked at the river, I could not imagine
my life with her. I gazed across the street,
and saw, in the icy winter sun,
a column of steam rush up away from the earth.
There are creatures whose children float away
at birth, and those who throat-feed their young
for weeks and never see them again. My daughter
is free and she is in me--no, my love
of her is in me, moving in my heart,
changing chambers, like something poured
from hand to hand, to be weighed and then reweighed.


I posted that poem in 2003 -- weirdly enough, with a photo of Mount Rainier and the stadiums in Seattle taken a few blocks from where Daniel lives now.

Busy Wednesday. Maddy arrived very early in the morning from California, then had to be at work at the mall at 10 a.m. Adam needed a ride at noon from College Park to NIH for an orientation lunch meeting and some administrative stuff (ID, medical, etc.), then back to the pediatrician to get his TB test checked -- fortunately it was negative! Plus we had half an hour to fill between NIH and the doctor, so we stopped for Krispy Kreme on the way and had salted caramel doughnuts. We came back to the house until Maddy was finished with work.

Then we went to meet Maddy at California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, where she told us that she is going back to California to enroll in a program to get her ready for college after her chaotic high school years, which we agree will be a good idea for her. After that, we all drove Adam back to the University of Maryland. When we got home we wound down watching The 100 and Designated Survivor, neither of which gave us the episode originally advertised but at least they didn't suck. Some more photos of animals at Mount Vernon:









Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Poem for Wednesday, Genius, Mount Vernon Flowers

Dancing Adairs
By Conrad Aiken

Behold me, in my chiffon, gauze, and tinsel,
Flitting out of the shadow into the spotlight,
And into the shadow again, without a whisper! —
Firefly’s my name, I am evanescent.

Firefly’s your name. You are evanescent.
But I follow you  as remorselessly as darkness,
And shut you in and enclose you, at last, and always,
Till you are lost,—as a voice is lost in silence.

Till I am lost, as a voice is lost in silence...
Are you the one who would close so cool about me?
My fire sheds into and through you and beyond you:
How can your fingers hold me? I am elusive.

How can my fingers hold you? You are elusive?
Yes, you are flame, but I surround and love you,
Always extend beyond you, cool, eternal,
To take you into my heart’s great void of silence.

You shut me into your heart’s great void of silence...
O sweet and soothing end for a life of whirling!
Now I am still, whose life was mazed with motion.
Now I sink into you, for love of sleep.


We had a crazy Monday and we're going to have a busy Wednesday, so we had a fairly quiet Tuesday doing work at home. We donated Daniel's twin bed to the Salvation Army now that we have a queen bed in that room -- for political reasons they were not my first, second, fifth, or eighth choice, but they were literally the only organization in the greater DC area willing to pick up before the end of May without charging us for the privilege of donating and we needed the bed moved before Adam finishes the semester. It rained most of the day, though we did go to Cabin John Park to take a walk when the rain turned to drizzle.

We watched The Flash, which needs to stop dragging out the Savitar storyline before I no longer care what he does, then we watched the first episode of Genius, which is a little bit too self-consciously quirky but very well acted and quite timely in its depiction of how the rise of fascism depends on both nationalism and denial of facts. Maddy is flying back from California overnight and has to be taken to work when she arrives in the morning, then we're picking up Adam from College Park again for an orientation at NIH and one more visit to the doctor, so we will run around a lot! Flowers from Mount Vernon last weekend:









Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Poem for Tuesday and Mount Vernon Lambs

By Rachel Barenblat

God is the doorman,
the one you don't notice

holding the heavy panel
so you can go through.

God is the hinge
that swings the door,

the joint and socket
that make opening possible.

God is the door
through which you walk

from one chapter
to the next,

adorned with words
that remind you

who you are becoming,
who you really are.


Monday was chaos all over the area. While we were doing morning chores and getting ready to pick up Adam at the University of Maryland to take him to his pediatrician for the physical he needs to intern at NIH this summer -- he's staying with the pediatrician through college since his health and immunization records are there -- a massive fire broke out in a building under construction in College Park, closing several major roads to campus and causing afternoon classes to be canceled. Plus one of the lenses in my glasses popped out. We avoided most of the traffic by meeting Adam at his dorm, and we stopped at the optometrist who is fortunately near the pediatrician to get the glasses repaired, so at least that worked out.

Adam needed tetanus and hepatitis boosters, the new meningitis vaccine, and a TB test, so his arm (and probably the rest of him) is sure to be sore tomorrow, but he got everything done though he has to go back and get the TB test examined on Wednesday, which is fine because he needs to be at NIH for an orientation and that's on this side of the Beltway. We came back to our house to rest and recharge our phones, then met my parents for dinner at BGR before driving Adam back to College Park, where the fire department is hoping to stabilize what's left of the new building so it doesn't collapse entirely. We came home for Supergirl and Billions, plus an Orioles win and a Nationals loss. From Mount Vernon last weekend:









Monday, April 24, 2017

Poem for Monday and Mount Vernon Farm

Grace Darling
By Algernon Charles Swinburne

Take, O star of all our seas, from not an alien hand,
Homage paid of song bowed down before thy glory's face,
Thou the living light of all our lovely stormy strand,
Thou the brave north-country's very glory of glories, Grace.
Loud and dark about the lighthouse rings and glares the night;
Glares with foam-lit gloom and darkling fire of storm and spray,
Rings with roar of winds in chase and rage of waves in flight,
Howls and hisses as with mouths of snakes and wolves at bay.
Scarce the cliffs of the islets, scarce the walls of Joyous Gard,
Flash to sight between the deadlier lightnings of the sea:
Storm is lord and master of a midnight evil-starred,
Nor may sight or fear discern what evil stars may be.
Dark as death and white as snow the sea-swell scowls and shines,
Heaves and yearns and pants for prey, from ravening lip to lip,
Strong in rage of rapturous anguish, lines on hurtling lines,
Ranks on charging ranks, that break and rend the battling ship.
All the night is mad and murderous: who shall front the night?
Not the prow that labours, helpless as a storm-blown leaf,
Where the rocks and waters, darkling depth and beetling height,
Rage with wave on shattering wave and thundering reef on reef.
Death is fallen upon the prisoners there of darkness, bound
Like as thralls with links of iron fast in bonds of doom;
How shall any way to break the bands of death be found,
Any hand avail to pluck them from that raging tomb?
All the night is great with child of death: no stars above
Show them hope in heaven, no lights from shores ward help on earth.
Is there help or hope to seaward, is there help in love,
Hope in pity, where the ravening hounds of storm make mirth?
Where the light but shows the naked eyeless face of Death
Nearer, laughing dumb and grim across the loud live storm?
Not in human heart or hand or speech of human breath,
Surely, nor in saviours found of mortal face or form.
Yet below the light, between the reefs, a skiff shot out
Seems a sea-bird fain to breast and brave the strait fierce pass
Whence the channelled roar of waters driven in raging rout,
Pent and pressed and maddened, speaks their monstrous might and mass.
Thunder heaves and howls about them, lightning leaps and flashes,
Hard at hand, not high in heaven, but close between the walls
Heaped and hollowed of the storms of old, whence reels and crashes
All the rage of all the unbaffled wave that breaks and falls.
Who shall thwart the madness and the gladness of it, laden
Full with heavy fate, and joyous as the birds that whirl?
Nought in heaven or earth, if not one mortal-moulded maiden,
Nought if not the soul that glorifies a northland girl.
Not the rocks that break may baffle, not the reefs that thwart
Stay the ravenous rapture of the waves that crowd and leap;
Scarce their flashing laughter shows the hunger of their heart,
Scarce their lion-throated roar the wrath at heart they keep.
Child and man and woman in the grasp of death clenched fast
Tremble, clothed with darkness round about, and scarce draw breath,
Scarce lift eyes up toward the light that saves not, scarce may cast
Thought or prayer up, caught and trammelled in the snare of death.
Not as sea-mews cling and laugh or sun their plumes and sleep
Cling and cower the wild night's waifs of shipwreck, blind with fear,
Where the fierce reef scarce yields foothold that a bird might keep,
And the clamorous darkness deadens eye and deafens ear.
Yet beyond their helpless hearing, out of hopeless sight,
Saviours, armed and girt upon with strength of heart, fare forth,
Sire and daughter, hand on oar and face against the night,
Maid and man whose names are beacons ever to the North.
Nearer now; but all the madness of the storming surf
Hounds and roars them back; but roars and hounds them back in vain:
As a pleasure-skiff may graze the lake-embanking turf,
So the boat that bears them grates the rock where-toward they strain.
Dawn as fierce and haggard as the face of night scarce guides
Toward the cries that rent and clove the darkness, crying for aid,
Hours on hours, across the engorged reluctance of the tides,
Sire and daughter, high-souled man and mightier-hearted maid.
Not the bravest land that ever breasted war's grim sea,
Hurled her foes back harried on the lowlands whence they came,
Held her own and smote her smiters down, while such durst be,
Shining northward, shining southward, as the aurorean flame,
Not our mother, not Northumberland, brought ever forth,
Though no southern shore may match the sons that kiss her mouth,
Children worthier all the birthright given of the ardent north
Where the fire of hearts outburns the suns that fire the south.
Even such fire was this that lit them, not from lowering skies
Where the darkling dawn flagged, stricken in the sun's own shrine,
Down the gulf of storm subsiding, till their earnest eyes
Find the relics of the ravening night that spared but nine.
Life by life the man redeems them, head by storm-worn head,
While the girl's hand stays the boat whereof the waves are fain:
Ah, but woe for one, the mother clasping fast her dead!
Happier, had the surges slain her with her children slain.
Back they bear, and bring between them safe the woful nine,
Where above the ravenous Hawkers fixed at watch for prey
Storm and calm behold the Longstone's towering signal shine
Now as when that labouring night brought forth a shuddering day.
Now as then, though like the hounds of storm against her snarling
All the clamorous years between us storm down many a fame,
As our sires beheld before us we behold Grace Darling
Crowned and throned our queen, and as they hailed we hail her name.
Nay, not ours alone, her kinsfolk born, though chiefliest ours,
East and west and south acclaim her queen of England's maids,
Star more sweet than all their stars and flower than all their flowers,
Higher in heaven and earth than star that sets or flower that fades.
How should land or sea that nurtured her forget, or love
Hold not fast her fame for us while aught is borne in mind?
Land and sea beneath us, sun and moon and stars above,
Bear the bright soul witness, seen of all but souls born blind.
Stars and moon and sun may wax and wane, subside and rise,
Age on age as flake on flake of showering snows be shed:
Not till earth be sunless, not till death strike blind the skies,
May the deathless love that waits on deathless deeds be dead.
Years on years have withered since beside the hearth once thine
I, too young to have seen thee, touched thy father's hallowed hand:
Thee and him shall all men see for ever, stars that shine
While the sea that spared thee girds and glorifies the land.


Sunday was gorgeous -- cool and rain-free -- so we had brunch early and went to Mount Vernon, mostly to see the lambs and piglets, though we walked through most of the farm and gardens (we ran out of time for the gristmill). There were a lot of tour groups waiting to get into the house, so we skipped that tour this time. We still got to see an osprey nest just off the wharf, the threshing barn, hundreds of tulips and irises, and most of the crops George Washington planted (though still not hemp, which he did grow).









All our shows were on this Sunday so we had to make decisions about what to watch -- the Orioles had already lost to the Red Sox, the Nationals were playing the Mets (they won) and the Capitols had a crucial game against the Maple Leafs but we'll only watch hockey if they might win the Stanley Cup! We watched Once Upon a Time (meh but at least a lot of Zelena), Madam Secretary (not entirely believable but I love this cast), and Elementary (if nothing else, not predictable). Now John Oliver is eviscerating Jared Kushner!