Saturday, November 30, 2019

Greetings from Brookside Gardens

My sister's family didn't leave for New York until afternoon, so we had lunch with them at our parents' house after Paul finished his half-day of work -- there were lots of bagels and spreads so fortunately I hadn't eaten breakfast! We got to see a lot of my nieces, which was lovely. Afterward we took Daniel to Brookside Gardens, where we saw the holiday trains in the conservatory, animals in the nature center, and a heron that walked right next to us to get to the creek:

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We went back to my parents' to eat Thanksgiving leftovers, so I got more sweet potatoes with marshmallows and lots of other food. Then we came home for The Mandalorian, because what is not to love (don't answer that if you have a reply -- I love it) and PBS's Great Performances broadcast of Kinky Boots, which I enjoyed a lot. Now we're watching Brian's Song but we're going to turn it off to watch tomorrow when we're all more awake, since it's rerunning then.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Poem for Friday and Thanksgiving Day

Earth Your Dancing Place
By May Swenson

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place


While Daniel slept on Thanksgiving morning, Paul and I watched the Macy's parade, in which the floats were low because of winds and during which I was not moved by Xfinity's E.T. sequel (E.T. should not be forced to advertise cable) nor Chik-fil-a's beautifully made Time ad (because it was Chik-fil-a), though Fox's introduction to the Lions-Bears game by interviewing Brian Piccolo's daughters was a lot more emotional. We took Daniel to walk at Carderock for a couple of hours before heading to my parents' house for dinner with my sister and her family.

We watched a bit of football and some video clips, then ate lots of food made by my mother plus some sides and desserts made by my sister, along with Paul's cookie cake for this year; cookies from previous years are here. Now Daniel and I are catching up on this season's South Park and "Turd Burglar" -- the one in which everyone wants to steal Tom Brady's poop so they can have fecal transplants to get his gut microbiome and become instantly as fit and handsome as he is -- is making me howl. A few dinner photos:

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Poem for Thursday and Thanksgiving Locally

By Marilyn Nelson

Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.


Paul worked from home so he could hang out with Daniel, and while he slept in, I went out for breakfast at Goldberg's with my friend Noelle from elementary school, which is now our Thanksgiving week tradition and completely delightful. Then Daniel and I binged Good Omens, which obviously he needed to see, and I did a couple of Terrakion raids with my Pokemon Go locals before dinner -- stuffed crust pizza.

Daniel hadn't seen Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse either, so we watched that after dinner, followed by Deadpool 2, which I've been in the mood for since Ryan Reynolds popped up on SNL; they played the same version of "Tomorrow" from the film in something we saw recently too, though now we can't remember what. Here are just a couple of local shopping center pics. Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Poem for Wednesday and Cabin John Park

Red Brocade
By Naomi Shihab Nye

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.


Daniel has been catching up on Pokemon Sword, so we both had a quiet morning though mine involved slightly more chores. For lunch we went out to the Original Pancake House and worked off the eggs hiking several miles on the Cabin John trail, through the park and around the ice rink and tennis courts. We stopped at Starbucks because we got thirsty from that, then came home for the rest of The Man in the High Castle.

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Paul made chicken paprikash for the carnivores in the family when he got here -- he's working from home on Wednesday though he had to go to the office Tuesday. Afterward, Daniel went to take a shower while we watched The Flash (get the crisis over with already), then we all watched Emergence (get the show over with already, it jumped the shark when it turned into Mommy From Hell drama and made Jo and Emily both stereotypes).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Poem for Tuesday and Cat Help

By William Carlos Williams

As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset—
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the round
of the empty


I had a fairly relaxing Monday with Daniel, who slept late since he's still not on East Coast time. We had lunch with my father at the mall -- the two of them had cheesesteaks, I had Indian -- then Daniel and I came back here and watched a chunk of the final season of The Man in the High Castle, which we've watched together over Thanksgiving week the previous several years. (Nicole was watching at the same time in New York and emailed several times to discuss things going on in the series, culminating in a late night phone conversation.)

I went out before dinner for a Pokemon Go EX raid, to which I was invited by friends and which I really wanted to do so I could get my first Regigigas. Paul made crab-stuffed chicken for himself and Daniel, so I had a veggie chick'n cutlet with Old Bay seasoning in solidarity, after which we all watched the Ravens-Rams game, in which the Ravens won by so much that I can't even remember the final score (Baltimore caught many passes by their own quarterback and nearly as many by L.A.'s). Daniel had plenty of supervision on the computer:

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Poem for Monday and Great Falls

By James Thomson

Smooth to the shelving brink a copious flood
Rolls fair and placid: where collected all,
In one impetuous torrent down the steep
It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round.
At first, an azure sheet, it rushes broad;
Then whitening by degrees, as prone it falls,
And from the loud-resounding rocks below,
Dash'd in a cloud of foam, it sends aloft
A hoary mist, and forms a ceaseless shower.
Nor can the tortured wave here find repose:
But, raging still amid the shaggy rocks,
Now flashes o'er the scatter'd fragments, now
Aslant the hollow channel rapid darts;
And falling fast from gradual slope to slope,
With wild infracted course, and lessen'd roar,
It gains a safer bed, and steals, at last,
Along the mazes of a quiet vale.


It was nicer out on Sunday than it had been on Saturday, so after a fairly quiet morning during which Daniel got adjusted to east coast time, we went to Great Falls. There was a lot of construction and repair work going on in and out of the canal and on the towpath, but they had a new path to allow access to the river, so we got to see kayakers in the falls and ducks in the canal.

We had dinner and watched the New England-Dallas game with my parents (I think everyone was rooting for the Patriots but me, for although I would prefer someone else to win the NFC East, I choose what's good for the Ravens over what's bad for the Cowboys). Then we came home for Madam Secretary, on which I love Elizabeth but it's too much impeachment-is-always-political-B.S.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Greetings from South Mountain

Daniel is here for the week so I may be brief and there may not be poems! He landed at BWI in the evening, so first we went to South Mountain, where we hiked up to the monument in Washington Monument State Park. Frederick County's Valley Craft Network is having its studio tour this weekend, so we also went to Caprikorn Farms -- which sells goat cheese, chocolate, and soaps, and let us feed the young goats and see the moms being milked -- and South Mountain Creamery -- which makes the best local ice cream and was bottle-feeding the calves when we arrived. Then we drove through miserable traffic to the airport, picked up Daniel, and drove back in the rain to get dinner (he and Paul at CalTort, me at Cava) before we came home to watch The Mandalorian and The World According to Jeff Goldblum since Daniel doesn't get Disney+. A few photos from South Mountain:

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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Poem for Saturday and National Zoo Mammals

For What Binds Us
By Jane Hirshfield

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.


I didn't have a very exciting Friday and now I'm distracted by Colbert in New Zealand so I will keep this brief -- got some stuff done, went for a walk in the park, brushed leaves off the deck, did laundry. We had dinner with my parents, came home and watched the new episode of The Mandalorian (I was really nervous at first but it justified my love), then another of The Crown (which seems to be about everyone but the Queen most of this season and I don't really give a crap about Philip's mid-life crisis) before this week's Graham Norton with Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter. Some more adorable mammals from the National Zoo:




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Friday, November 22, 2019

Poem for Friday and Arboretum Bonsai

Play the Game
By Jessie Pope

Twenty-two stalwarts in stripes and shorts
    Kicking a ball along,
Set in a square of leather-lunged sports
    Twenty-two thousand strong,
Some of them shabby, some of them spruce,
    Savagely clamorous all,
Hurling endearments, advice or abuse,
    At the muscular boys on the ball.

Stark and stiff 'neath a stranger's sky
    A few hundred miles away,
War-worn, khaki-clad figures lie,
    Their faces rigid and grey—
Stagger and drop where the bullets swarm,
    Where the shrapnel is bursting loud,
Die, to keep England safe and warm—
    For a vigorous football crowd!

Football's a sport, and a rare sport too,
    Don't make it a source of shame.
To-day there are worthier things to do.
    Englishmen, play the game!
A truce to the League, a truce to the Cup,
    Get to work with a gun.
When our country's at war, we must all back up—
    It's the only thing to be done!


Our car was at the dealer for a recall all day Thursday, so Paul worked from home and we got to have lunch together. Apart from getting a nice big package from Wal-mart with Pandemic: Legacy, the game I won during the Hobbs & Shaw Vudu Viewing Party, it was a pretty quiet work-and-chore day until late afternoon, when we went to get haircuts, swung through the park, and picked up the car.

After dinner (tofu parmesan with whole grain pasta), we spent the evening watching a few episodes of The Crown. I like all the actors who've taken over the roles from the previous seasons and there have been some awesome guest cast members, but I'm not loving the political conspiracy theories being given so much air time. From the National Arboretum, here are some specimens from the bonsai collection:




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