Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Poem for Tuesday and Kaleidoscope Exhibit

And Later...
By Jen Bryant

I take my kaleidoscope off the shelf,
look through the little hole at the end
of the cardboard tube;

I turn        and turn        and turn        and turn,

letting the crystals shift into strange
and beautiful patterns, letting the pieces fall
wherever they will.


Monday was one of those days where I looked at the clock at 2:30 and went, "How did it get to be 2:30?!" I mean, most of the laundry got done and some of my emails got answered and I put together a pair of earrings from parts I'd been collecting, but that doesn't explain how I did not manage to get any actual work done. (Okay, I did watch a bunch of Endgame videos to try to figure out certain timeline issues that still don't make sense to me, but I'm just going to quote Doctor Who and Janeway on timey-wimey headaches and leave it at that.)

We needed stuff from Giant and I did a Groudon raid at the gym in Cabin John on the way -- plus I found a shiny Diglett, which is joy -- then we came home, ate leftover tacos from my mom, and watched Legends of Tomorrow (Indiana Jones! Book club fangirling!), then last night's Billions (Wendy, your marriage sucks but you are a terrible person all by yourself), then The Enemy Within (Erica you moron what are you doing). Everything's anticlimactic after Endgame. From Strathmore's Kaleidoscopes: Spectrum exhibit, the insides and outsides of four of them:

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Greetings from the MCU

On Sunday, Paul and I met Cheryl at the Silver Diner in Potomac Mills, which now has vegan "eggs" benedict with tempeh "bacon"! Then we went to see Avengers: Endgame. With a few points of aggravation, I really loved it.

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I would have considered it worth the price of admission just to see Steve Rogers wielding Mjolnir and the girl power fight with Carol, Okoye, Shuri, Hope, Valkyrie, and whatever Pepper's name in the suit is. Also Thor's scene with Freya, though I got tired of Comic Relief Thor particularly when it was mostly fat-shaming and treating PTSD like a joke, so I really hope we're actually getting an Asgardians of the Galaxy movie in which he gets more to do. It's kind of sad that a rat stepping on the quantum equipment contributes more to saving half the galaxy than some of its mightiest heroes.

I loved so much Tony stuff. Tony and Steve and all the apologies. Tony and Peter Parker. Tony and his dad. And the extended Science Bros (since Scott must be added in with Tony and Bruce despite having far fewer PhDs) -- I just liked the emphasis on science as crucial to salvation, as opposed to faith. I still want to know exactly what was up with Hulk in Infinity War but I approve of Professor Hulk. I loved most of the Steve stuff too, though really not the ending -- the dance, sure, and Sam getting to be Captain America, awesome, but Steve staying hidden in domestic bliss in the past (under a fake name? How did Peggy cover up his identity even or especially if she was working for SHIELD?) while HYDRA digs in and Bucky gets tortured...that seems as unlikely to me as Tony choosing his lake house over coming back, making peace with Steve, and trying to save the world again. Using "Hail Hydra" against Hydra in SHIELD is both funny and fair, but the romantic ending feels contrived to me.

And I am really, really sad about Natasha, but I did not (as the internet apparently did) feel that her death was a referendum on broken women or women with low self-esteem or anything like that. She died almost exactly as Bruce Willis did in Armageddon, leaving someone who loved her sobbing and begging to change places, so that she could save the world. In Age of Ultron, she looks out from an elevating Sokovia and says that there would be worse ways to die than saving the world with such a view. She doesn't have superpowers, she isn't going to survive the same things as Hulk, Thor, or even Tony in the suit. Someone had to die on Vormir and it seemed very in character for her -- not because she feels broken but because she feels so determined that she can out-fight Clint for the privilege.

Things that just made me happy: the whole theater bursting into applause when Spider-Man reappeared, when the Wakandan army came to the fight, Stan Lee's cameo, Young Hank Pym's cameo. Also so very happy to see Jane Foster even for one minute, and Alexander Pierce, and Janet, and Jarvis (though if that makes Agent Carter canon then I need a map of the timeline with Steve vis a vis the events of the show), and Peggy herself in the 1970s, and the Ancient One astral projecting Bruce out of Hulk, and Korg and Meek though I wish they'd been better for Thor. I wanted a bit more substantial Captain Marvel -- she was all strength here, not planning, and she got to the crucial fight almost too late -- and I would have liked a bit more T'Challa, but I assume they're both getting more movies so I understand why this one was more about the Original Six plus Rhodey, Pepper, and the surviving Guardians.

And of course I wanted more Loki, but I assume the TV series will tell us what happens when his timeline split after the Battle of New York. And I'm sure there is more, but it's late, so more tomorrow! We got home in time for Supergirl, which could not help but feel super-anticlimactic after Endgame, then the second episode of Les Miserables, which was a nice shift and so well-acted. Then we watched the end of the Battle of Winterfell, which was so dark and had so little dialogue that it was impossible for dilettantes like us to follow, but it did not make me want to go binge all the episodes we've missed!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Greetings from the I-270 Corridor

We had a super, super-busy Saturday starting right after breakfast when we headed out to Gaithersburg, followed by a visit to Bethesda and Garrett Park before we went downtown for the evening for dinner and to see the Clintons! Here is our day in photos:

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This is Jordan Klepper emceeing An Evening with the Clintons, to which I won tickets from a local radio station. It was awesome. More on them in a bit.

We went in the morning to Lake Whetstone in Montgomery Village, where we saw many geese, goslings, cormorants, and turtles...

...plus this duck and her ducklings swimming in the windy lake. We were going to walk all the way around the lake, but the water was so high that we'd have had to get our shoes drenched, which we did not want to do given our itinerary, so instead we went a quarter of the way around one direction, then a quarter of the way around the other.

From there we continued in Gaithersburg to Washingtonian Lake because I knew from the other day that there were lots and lots of goslings there. We had to hunt a bit behind the hotel to find them, but we counted 26 babies. Plus we brought sandwiches and had a picnic at the tables by the Rio playground.

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After the goslings, we went to Strathmore in North Bethesda, where there is an exhibit of kaleidoscopes in the mansion. It is spectacular (and free!) and I highly recommend it to everyone in the area.

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There are tiny metal kaleidoscopes, large glass kaleidoscopes, enormous room-filling wooden kaleidoscopes, and everything in between.

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Then we headed up Strathmore Avenue into Garrett Park to see the famous neighborhood azaleas, which are just peaking and are gorgeous!

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In the late afternoon we drove into DC, parked, and had dinner at Rasoi Indian Kitchen, where we had Begumi Thali -- a sampler of vegetarian entrees including fantastic Nawabi Kofta curry plus samosas, naan, and rice pudding. After that, we walked several blocks near the White House to DAR Constitution Hall, where both our kids (and me!) graduated from high school.

We did not know that Klepper was going to be hosting the event with the Clintons, which was a nice surprise -- we've always liked him on Comedy Central. We knew nothing about the format of the show before we got there along with a very enthusiastic, partisan audience who laughed and clapped heartily. The Clintons had an obviously prepared spiel with photos about the philanthropy work done by their foundation, but they were quite entertaining talking off the cuff about the past and upcoming elections.

Hillary, no surprise, is very sharp, on target, sarcastic humor, diplomatic talking about current candidates but stressing the need for clear, practical policy; Bill clearly loves sound of own voice but he's also quite funny, very proud of Hillary and also of Obama (outraged that Hillary was accused of playing loose with secrets when Obama had been surprised she hadn't told Bill about the Osama Bin Laden raid). The line that got the most laughs was when he was encouraging people to remember what we all have in common as humans even at the genetic level, when he said that Hillary was not at all surprised to learn he had Neanderthal in him.

Will write more about everything tomorrow but we're going to see Avengers: Endgame in the afternoon so I need to get to bed!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Poem for Saturday and Floral Library

By Rudy Francisco

She asks me to kill the spider.
Instead, I get the most
peaceful weapons I can find.

I take a cup and a napkin.
I catch the spider, put it outside
and allow it to walk away.

If I am ever caught in the wrong place
at the wrong time, just being alive
and not bothering anyone,

I hope I am greeted
with the same kind
of mercy.


Suddenly I'm seeing that poem everywhere -- Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit -- and since I made Paul rescue a spider from our bathroom today, I figured I'd share it. I had an early appointment to have my blood drawn for lab work, so I couldn't eat and I had to drink lots of water, and of course they kept me waiting 20 minutes in the waiting room, so I left there rather cranky even though I had the greatest tech in the history of medicine and no pain at all. Since I was ravenous, I took myself to Bagel City for egg salad for lunch, then stopped in Pier 1 a couple of doors down because all their winter candles are on sale.

There was a Giratina raid in the park on my way home, so I did that, then did a bit of work before Paul got home and we went to my parents' for dinner. We came home for Blindspot, only to discover that 1) it wasn't on this week and 2) we never caught up on the one that aired the night Passover started, so we watched that, then we watched the Orioles play terribly for a few innings before Graham Norton came on with Daniel Radcliffe, Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, and a couch full of women (he plays the James Bond character in the Playmobil movie). From downtown last weekend, the Floral Library, which at this time of year is all tulips:









Friday, April 26, 2019

Poem for Friday and Washingtonian Waterfowl

Ode to the Goose
By Luo Binwang
Translated by Mark Alexander

Goose, goose, goose,
You bend your neck towards the sky and sing.
Your white feathers float on the emerald water,
Your red feet push the clear waves.


I did a bunch of chores on Thursday morning, then I had a Kohl's coupon expiring so after lunch I went to Washingtonian and bought a couple of summer shirts plus a flowery long-sleeve blouse on a big sale. It was another 80ish-degree day, not too sunny, so I took a walk around the lake, and though I was feeling lucky just from spotting a heron who flew onto the rocks and a cormorant in the water nearby, I then came upon three families of geese and goslings feasting in the grass -- at least 20 fuzzy babies!

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We had chick'n carbonara made with PigOut bacon chips for dinner, then we watched Cloak and Dagger, which has gotten really dark, and The Orville, which went all out for its season finale in many delightful ways, which makes me worry Fox expects their new Disney overlords to cancel the show. Afterward we put on the NFL draft just in time to hear the surprise that Ohio State's excellent quarterback was available when Washington picked, and saw Darnell Savage from Maryland get picked in the first round.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Poem for Thursday and Mount Vernon Flowers

On a Lane in Spring
By John Clare

A little lane - the brook runs close beside,
And spangles in the sunshine, while the fish glide swiftly by;
And hedges leafing with the green springtide;
From out their greenery the old birds fly,
And chirp and whistle in the morning sun;
The pilewort glitters 'neath the pale blue sky,
The little robin has its nest begun
The grass-green linnets round the bushes fly.
How mild the spring comes in! the daisy buds
Lift up their golden blossoms to the sky.
How lovely are the pingles in the woods!
Here a beetle runs - and there a fly
Rests on the arum leaf in bottle-green,
And all the spring in this sweet lane is seen.


I had my annual physical on Wednesday, though I have to have lab work done on Friday because I stupidly forgot that since our insurance changed, I have to go to a different lab and by the time I remembered, my doctor wouldn't have had the results by today anyway. I stopped at AC Moore for one specific thing, running horse charms, and though they have like eleven different elephant charms, they only have big Western horse head charms -- I swear I looked at every charm in the place. At least the snowflake charms are on sale in April.

We had quick pad thai and samosas for dinner, then we watched the Capitals game, though we cheated on them briefly with What We Do in the Shadows though that didn't matter because they went up quickly, then gave up a bunch of goals, then did absolutely nothing in a first overtime before losing in the second overtime. I'm sad for my local friends who were hoping for a second Stanley Cup but this is the most hockey I've watched all year! Here are some of the flowers and growing things at Mount Vernon in the gardens and on the farm:





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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Poem for Wednesday and Empresses of the Forbidden City

The Yiinwu Pavilion
By Yu Xuanji
Translated by C. L. Jiang & Emily Jiang

Spring flowers, autumn moon,
can be written into poems.

During the day, during the night,
I become immortal.

Empty wrapper ensures my beaded curtain
will never come down.

I move my bed–I sleep
facing the mountain.


On Tuesday the inspector from the restoration company came to inspect the upstairs closet and we were this close to scheduling repairs, but the insurance company had said they'd pay to paint the whole room (which was last painted over 20 years ago) while his work order said only the back wall and ceiling, so now we have to get in touch with the insurance adjuster again and...arrrgh. Well, it will get done when it gets done. Paul worked from home in the afternoon to meet with them, so we had lunch together.

It was otherwise an uneventful day of busy work with a brief walk in the park and a less exciting evening (The Flash, which is dragging out the family dramas, then Gentleman Jack, which is empowering and engrossing despite the class issues, then Fosse/Verdon, which is deeply depressing. From the Sackler Gallery's Empresses of China's Forbidden City, some of the fabulous clothes -- I have already told Adam that he should show respect to me like emperors dressing their mothers like this:

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