Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Poem for Wednesday and Lunar New Year Festivities

By Alfred Kreymborg

When trees have lost remembrance of the leaves
that spring bequeaths to summer, autumn weaves
and loosens mournfully — this dirge, to whom
does it belong — who treads the hidden loom?

When peaks are overwhelmed with snow and ice,
and clouds with crepe bedeck and shroud the skies —
nor any sun or moon or star, it seems,
can wedge a path of light through such black dreams —

All motion cold, and dead all traces thereof:
What sudden shock below, or spark above,
starts torrents raging down till rivers surge —
that aid the first small crocus to emerge?

The earth will turn and spin and fairly soar,
that couldn’t move a tortoise-foot before —
and planets permeate the atmosphere
till misery depart and mystery clear! —

And yet, so insignificant a hearse? —
who gave it the endurance so to brave
such elements? — shove winter down a grave? —
and then lead on again the universe?


It was nearly 60 degrees on Tuesday so of course I took a long walk in the park! There are crocuses all over the sunny hillside, snowdrops around the train station, and daffodil shoots coming up all over the place, though I've only seen a few actual flowers. Maddy is on her way to California -- a friend's parents got her tickets for the friend's birthday -- and she had work-related meetings in the afternoon, so I will not see her for a week.

The Flash and Black Lightning were back, and the former wasn't even too bad though I'm so tired of the DeVoe storyline (I keep wanting to write DeVos, like the Secretary of "Education"), but the latter is the best thing on network TV now and its women absolutely rock. And we're finally up to the final season of Bones! Before February ends, here are a few more photos from the Year of the Dog celebrations in Gaithersburg with the governor:









Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Poem for Tuesday and Maymont Valentines

Late Night Ode
By J. D. McClatchy


It's over, love. Look at me pushing fifty now,
    Hair like grave-grass growing in both ears,
The piles and boggy prostate, the crooked penis,
    The sour taste of each day's first lie,

And that recurrent dream of years ago pulling
    A swaying bead-chain of moonlight,
Of slipping between the cool sheets of dark
    Along a body like my own, but blameless.

What good's my cut-glass conversation now,
    Now I'm so effortlessly vulgar and sad?
You get from life what you can shake from it?
    For me, it's g and t's all day and CNN.

Try the blond boychick lawyer, entry level
    At eighty grand, who pouts about overtime,
Keeps Evian and a beeper in his locker at the gym,
    And hash in tinfoil under the office fern.

There's your hound from heaven, with buccaneer
    Curls and perfumed war-paint on his nipples.
His answering machine always has room for one more
    Slurred, embarrassed call from you-know-who.

Some nights I've laughed so hard the tears
    Won't stop. Look at me now. Why now?
I long ago gave up pretending to believe
    Anyone's memory will give as good as it gets.

So why these stubborn tears? And why do I dream
    Almost every night of holding you again,
Or at least of diving after you, my long-gone,
    Through the bruised unbalanced waves?


My Monday was mostly about thrilling things like writing an article and laundry, though the weather was too nice to be indoors all day, so I went to Cabin John Park and did two Rayquaza raids before all of the Pokemon Day Pikachu started appearing in their little birthday hats. There are crocuses in the park and daffodils in my neighborhood, and snowdrops both places, so I am going to believe spring is ahead of the groundhog's schedule!

We thought we missed an episode of Black Lightning during the Olympics, but when we went looking, we couldn't find one (FIOS wanted money for the most recent one, which was free on Roku, both in both cases we'd seen the episode). So we watched the last three episodes of the penultimate season of Bones, which did not end with a good episode to think about before bedtime! Here are some photos of Maymont in Richmond decorated for Valentine's Day:









Monday, February 26, 2018

Poem for Monday and Hanover Visit

By Kwame Dawes

For August Wilson

No one quarrels here, no one has learned
the yell of discontent—instead, here in Sumter
we learn to grow silent, build a stone
of resolve, learn to nod, learn to close
in the flame of shame and anger
in our hearts, learn to petrify it so,
and the more we quiet our ire,
the heavier the stone; this alchemy
of concrete in the vein, the sludge
of affront, until even that will calcify
and the heart, at last, will stop,
unassailable, unmovable, adamant.

Find me a man who will stand
on a blasted hill and shout,
find me a woman who will break  
into shouts, who will let loose
a river of lament, find the howl
of the spirit, teach us the tongues
of the angry so that our blood,
my pulse—our hearts flow
with the warm healing of anger.

You, August, have carried in your belly
every song of affront your characters
have spoken, and maybe you waited
too long to howl against the night,
but each evening on some wooden
stage, these men and women,
learn to sing songs lost for centuries,
learn the healing of talk, the calming
of quarrel, the music of contention,
and in this cacophonic chorus,
we find the ritual of living.


Just like Saturday, it rained nearly all day Sunday. We had plans to spend it in Hanover celebrating Paul's father's birthday a weekend late because my father-in-law was sick last weekend, which we did with Adam, who arrived at our house after 1 a.m. after the Portugal. The Man concert at the Anthem and drove up with us in the morning (Maddy had to work). We went to Lu Hibachi Buffet for lunch, then, since it was raining, we walked around Black Rose Antiques & Collectibles at North Hanover Mall.





After Adam went back to College Park, where he had dinner plans with friends, we stopped at the food store, made sandwiches, and watched the Winter Olympics closing ceremonies. Of course NBC aired them all out of order the way they did with the skating exhibition the night before, but they were visually spectacular and Johnny and Tara only talked too much about half the time. Now we're watching Last Week Tonight because we have really missed John Oliver all these months.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Poem for Sunday, Skating, Carcassonne Inquisition Museum

By Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.


It rained all day Saturday, quite hard at times, so all plans to go walk in gardens or around the National Mall got postponed. Still, it was a Pokemon Go Community Day, which in this case meant that there were Dratini all over the place including very rare shiny ones. So I made Paul take me to the park and then the mall so I could catch some, and now I have two green Dragonites and a few pink Dratini and a very wet hooded sweatshirt.

That was about all the excitement apart from being happy about the U.S. curling gold medal. NBC covered the figure skating exhibition so atrociously that we ended up watching it in real time using the Roku (blissfully free of commentary, and showing the skaters goofing off on the ice afterward so we got to see who Evgenia Medvedeva took selfies with and how Eric Radford pretended to be Yuzuru Hanyu's pairs partner and it was gloriously Yuri on Ice).

All week Facebook has been showing me "On This Day" photos from our trip to Provence last year, which made me nostalgic and also reminded me that I never posted these photos from Carcassonne's Musée de l'Inquisition, which sadly does not allow pictures inside the museum of things like the models of the Cathar castles destroyed in the Albigensian crusades but does allow pictures of the outside instruments of torture:









Saturday, February 24, 2018

Poem for Saturday and Thor Viewing Party

Winter Solitude
By Matsuo Basho
Translated by Robert Hass

Winter solitude —
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.


Quickie, have been alternately watching the Olympics (skiing and speed skating mostly) around Vudu's Thor: Ragnarok viewing party, which had trivia, contests, and Tessa Thompson answering questions. It was chilly and rainy, but I had a fairly nice day around chores -- walked in the neighborhood to see daffodil shoots coming up, saw bunnies and squirrels, went briefly to the park, then had dinner with my parents. Here are goofy fannish pics I posted for the viewing party:





Friday, February 23, 2018

Poem for Friday and Washingtonian February

Virginia Street
By Jennifer Hayashida

February on another coast is April
here. Astrology is months:
you are February, or are you
June, and who is
December? Who is books
read in spring, wingspan
between midnight
and mourning

Another starry tree, coastal
counterpoint where magnolia is
a brighter season
peach and pear
are grafted onto the same tree
fear and fat stick
to the same sprained bone
For this adolescent reprise
recycle everything trivial
but this time bring
the eye into sight:
make sight superior
to what is seen

A decade is to look at June
and see April
to look at April
and see February
Relief of repetition
seasons mean again,
one flowering branch suspended
in the half-light of spring
We sat on steps
beneath a tree
No: I walked by
The tree bloomed
and I looked up


"'Virginia Street' is a love poem to...a former self and a beloved other," Hayashida told for the Poem-a-Day column, "to resee the past through the lens of the present and to consider the large and small losses that lead to what we consider insight or perspective."

February reasserted itself on Thursday, though it was chilly and drizzly rather than truly cold. I went out early, walked in the park, made a couple of stops, then came home for lunch and work. My mother stopped by with a present -- she found Paul's and my ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, when she was cleaning out a closet down the basement and got it framed for us, so now it is hanging in our living room.

After catching up on the end of the US women's hockey triumph, for which we were too tired to stay awake, we have spent this evening watching the women's skating long program. I'm sorry the US did not send Ashley Wagner (she wouldn't have medaled but I always love watching her) and I prefer Medvedeva to Zagitova stylistically, but all the top women were terrific. From Washingtonian Lake in Wednesday's heat:








Thursday, February 22, 2018

Placeholder for Thursday

Glorious 80 degree day, I had lunch with Kay at Tara Thai then walked around the lake with geese, after dinner Adam stopped by to pick up his debit card and we Skyped with Daniel and now it's after 1 a.m. but the US women are tied with Canada in hockey so we are still up watching! More tomorrow!


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Poem for Wednesday and First Flowers

Next Time Ask More Questions
By Naomi Shihab Nye

Before jumping, remember
the span of time is long and gracious.

No one perches dangerously on any cliff
till you reply. Is there a pouch of rain

desperately thirsty people wait to drink from
when you say yes or no? I don’t think so.

Hold that thought. Hold everything.
When they say “crucial”—well, maybe for them?

Hold your horses and your minutes and
your Hong Kong dollar coins in your pocket,

you are not a corner or a critical turning page.
Wait. I’ll think about it.

This pressure you share is a misplaced hinge, a fantasy.
I am exactly where I wanted to be.


It was nearly 80 degrees on Tuesday so after a morning of chores and laundry, I spent most of it outdoors, walking in both the sports areas and the play areas of Cabin John Park and around the neighborhood. I did things like sweeping the deck just as an excuse to be outside. I don't know whether it's related, but we had an unexpected visit from a red tabby who refused to leave our deck once he realized that we had cats inside, which ultimately led to me summoning our catsitter Rose for help getting him into a carrier since she was pretty sure she knew where he lived. That was about all the excitement apart from the women's short program, where I'm sorry the Americans didn't skate their best but the Russians, Japanese, and Canadians were a joy to watch. Some lovely spring sights from the park:







Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Poem for Tuesday, Black Panther, What We Do in the Shadows

By Gail Mazur

In the warming house, children lace their skates,  
bending, choked, over their thick jackets.

A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,

clumping across the frozen beach to the river.  
December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,

the first sheer ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men

with wooden barriers to put up the boys’  
hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,

of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,

then—twilight, the warming house steamy  
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs

aching. Outside, the hockey players keep  
playing, slamming the round black puck

until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.

Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,

braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,

find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?


I had a lovely President's Day -- lunch at Cava with Paul and Cheryl, then Black Panther with them plus Karen, Jim, and Teresa at Arclight (we all thought it was wonderful, both within the MCU and as an action movie with a political perspective). Then Paul, Cheryl, and I came home and watched What We Do in the Shadows, which none of us had seen before, and howled through the whole thing, since it is both hilarious and very clever.

After Cheryl went home, I spent the evening yelling at the TV about NBC's ice dance coverage, which was both erratic and biased, but Virtue and Moir defeated the (now I can say it) overrated French team and the Shibutanis skated beautifully though I feel badly that Hubbell and Donohue, whom I really like, were not on top of their game. It's late so more tomorrow; here's a picture of my lazy cats and of me and Delta with superheroes!



Monday, February 19, 2018

Lyrics for Monday and Kennedy Center Chess

By Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson

No man, no madness,
Though their sad power may prevail
Can possess, conquer, my country's heart,
They rise to fail.
She is eternal,
Long before nations' lines were drawn,
When no flags flew, when no armies stood,
My land was born.
And you ask me why I love her
Through wars, death and despair.
She is the constant,
We who don't care.
And you wonder will I leave her -- but how?
I cross over borders but I'm still there now.
How can I leave her?
Where would I start?
Let man's petty nations tear themselves apart;
My land's only borders lie around my heart.


I spent a delightful Sunday with Paul, Cheryl, and our friend Robert, who came over in the morning for brunch before we all went downtown to see Chess at the Kennedy Center with Ramin Karimloo, Raúl Esparza (singing with a sore throat), and the phenomenal Karen Olivo in the difficult role of Florence, which gets reworked slightly every time the show gets revived (is it about the love story? is it about her past and her father? is it about being used as a pawn?) but gets the showstopper songs "Nobody's Side" and "I Know Him So Well"; we had heard Karimloo do "Anthem" in concert so we knew that would be wonderful but Esparza's "Pity the Child" may be the best thing in the show.

We went out on the riverside terrace behind the grand foyer and visited the gift shops before we drove back into Maryland (spot the three deer on the hillside spotted from the Clara Barton Parkway in the photos below) to have dinner at the Silver Diner before the Virginia residents departed to drive back. I have spent the evening watching the ice dance short program; I'm kind of pulling for Virtue and Moir just because I love how they move on the ice, though I also really like all three American teams; I'm not quite as much in love with the French pair as Tanith White is, but they do pretty lifts and no one should lose because of a costume malfunction, so we'll see what happens tomorrow night.