Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Poem for Tuesday and Split-Rocker

Daisy Time
By Marjorie Pickthall

See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies' dance
All the meadow over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer's praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies.


Monday was quiet around here. I scanned an album of photos from a trip my family took to Barbados in 1980, did some laundry, and tried to figure out whether there is anywhere we can go for our 30th anniversary in two days that will be both fun and safe.

In the evening we watched Ad Astra, which was an engaging drama but wasn't great as a sci-fi movie (trying hard enough to be realistic that when the science was ridiculous, I noticed, as opposed to something like Star Trek where I ignore the speed of warp drive).

Here are some photos from Glenstone of Split-Rocker by Jeff Koons, which we saw this weekend in full bloom, though the second photos is from when we visited in February for comparison -- birds were nesting in the stuffing, but there was no greenery coming out of it:







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Monday, June 29, 2020

Poem for Monday and Glenstone in Summer

By Lauren K. Alleyne

    -- For Sandra Annette Bland

Where does a black girl go
when her body is emptied `
Of her? And her wild voice,
where does it sing its story
when the knots of history
make a grave of her throat?
What of her future, blue- 
broken, unmade? Her name,
—say it!—Sandra, unhoused;
her dreams and memories
lost to their source. Where
does a black girl’s love go
when her heart is snapped
shut like a cell door, the key
out of reach as any justice?
And what unimaginable
gift is lost when a black girl
is made a body, her light
dimmed into shadow, gone?
How many angels weep
when a black girl is torn
into wings?


We had had reservations to visit Glenstone in April so we could see the outdoor installations in bloom and among trees, but the entire museum closed because of the virus for two months. Now the grounds are open, though the indoor displays, cafe, visitor center, and restrooms are closed, so we went to see the outdoor installations and to enjoy the trees. Though masks are required to be on the property, we saw very few people anyway, though we did see lots of birds, butterflies, flowers, fish, and a wild turkey as well as the sculpture, the sound exhibit in the woods, and Split-Rocker in bloom.

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In the late afternoon I had a Zoom chat with fannish friends while Paul made chick'n with cherry wine sauce for dinner. Afterward, we watched the Queen Anne episode of Lucy Worsley's Royal Myths & Secrets, which was very entertaining, followed by Perry Mason, in which Maslany and Rhys are very good but the storylines are extremely dark, and then Snowpiercer, which I must admit I'm enjoying more than I ever did the film though it's also very dark, and I wish Jennifer Connelly wasn't so good at playing Melanie's evil because she's one of the most interesting women on TV right now.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Poem for Sunday and Blueberry Picking

By James Lasdun

I'm talking to you old man.
Listen to me as you step inside this garden
to fill a breakfast bowl with blueberries
ripened on the bushes I'm planting now,
twenty years back from where you’re standing.
It's strictly a long-term project—first year
pull off the blossoms before they open,
second year let them flower, watch the bees
bobbing in every bonnet,
but don’t touch the fruit till year three,
and then only sample a handful or two . . .
Old man I'm doing this for you!
You know what they say about blueberries:
blood-cleansing, mood-lifting memory-boosters;
every bush a little fountain of youth
sparkling with flavonoids, anthocyanin . . .
I've spent all summer clearing brush
sawing locust poles for the frames,
digging in mounds of pine needles, bales of peat moss—
I thought I'd do it while I still could.
You can do something for me in turn:
think about the things an old man should;
things I've shied away from, last things.
Care about them only don't care too
(you'll know better than I do what I mean
or what I couldn’t say, but meant).
Reconcile, forgive, repent,
but don't go soft on me; keep the faith,
our infidels' implicit vow:
"not the hereafter but the here and now  . . . "
Weigh your heart against the feather of truth
as the Egyptians did, and purge its sin,
but for your own sake, not your soul's.
And since the only certain
eternity’s the one that stretches backward,
look for it here inside this garden:
Blueray, Bluecrop, Bluetta, Hardy Blue;
little fat droplets of transubstantiate sky,
each in its yeast-misted wineskin, chilled in dew.
This was your labor, these are the fruits thereof.
Fill up your bowl old man and bring them in.


We got tickets to go pick blueberries and cherries at Butler's Orchard on Saturday -- all sold online in advance, so people can drive right to the field, pick up their containers and go pick at an easy social distance -- so although it was quite hot, we had a nice afternoon picking berries and seeing goats from the car while driving past the farm.

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We took a walk and ate Thai food with my parents and saw deer wander right through their backyard, too. After Skyping the kids, we came home and watched Official Secrets, which my father had seen and liked; we liked it too, with many great British actors, though I felt Gun was more talked to and about than allowed to speak in the second half.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Poem for Saturday and Brookfield Zoo

By Carl Sandburg

        Hog Butcher for the World,
        Tool maker, Stacker of Wheat,
        Player with Railroads and the Nation's
            Freight Handler;
        Stormy, husky, brawling,
        City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
            Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.


It was a pretty quiet Friday although I somehow wound up behind on everything -- I had a huge number of files to upload, my internet was slow, Flickr didn't want to show me my albums, so it took a long time. Paul had several phone meetings and two of my friends were away, so I didn't get to my usual Friday high school Zoom chat. We did get our walk in and the frogs in the neighbor's pond were out.

We had leftover spicy noodles and veggie sausage for dinner, then we watched Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. Parts of it are wildly over the top, but parts of it are very funny (warning: outrageous Icelandic stereotypes abound) and both the cameos and music are really enjoyable. It may be my favorite Will Ferrell movie! From the Brookfield Zoo when we lived in Chicago in 1992:









Friday, June 26, 2020

Greetings from Winston Churchill High School

Earlier this week I got the unhappy news that Mirch Masala, the Indian restaurant in the Montgomery Mall food court with the best samosa chaat in my area, would be closing at the end of the month. So for lunch, we ordered it from GrubHub and it made me both happy to have it and sad that I won't ever have it again. In the middle of the night last night, I realized that some missing photos that were driving me nuts were in frames down the basement where we moved them when we had flooding upstairs, so I scanned those, then we took a walk in the late afternoon that we had to cut short because we had a hailstorm, followed by half a rainbow:


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We had sandwiches for dinner since we'd had such a big lunch, then I spent a lot of the evening engaged in what has been a heated discussion about the name of my high school in its alumni group. Winston Churchill was indeed a racist and imperialist, though in our county we have several schools named for far less important statesmen who owned slaves and supported violent segregationist policies, so I said maybe we should consider not naming schools for people but for their neighborhoods and only got moderately trolled. I was a bit distracted while watching Burden of Truth and Blindspot (both with a lot of female characters I like).

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Poem for Thursday and Gymboree Class

Dad Poem (Ultrasound #2)
By Joshua Bennett

with a line from Gwendolyn Brooks

Months into the plague now,
I am disallowed
entry even into the waiting
room with Mom, escorted outside
instead by men armed
with guns & bottles
of hand sanitizer, their entire
countenance its own American
metaphor. So the first time
I see you in full force,
I am pacing maniacally
up & down the block outside,
Facetiming the radiologist
& your mother too,
her arm angled like a cellist’s
to help me see.
We are dazzled by the sight
of each bone in your feet,
the pulsing black archipelago
of your heart, your fists in front
of your face like mine when I
was only just born, ten times as big
as you are now. Your great-grandmother
calls me Tyson the moment she sees
this pose. Prefigures a boy
built for conflict, her barbarous
and metal little man. She leaves
the world only months after we learn
you are entering into it. And her mind
the year before that. In the dementia’s final
days, she envisions herself as a girl
of seventeen, running through fields
of strawberries, unfettered as a king
-fisher. I watch your stance and imagine
her laughter echoing back across the ages,
you, her youngest descendant born into
freedom, our littlest burden-lifter, world
-beater, avant-garde percussionist
swinging darkness into song.


"Over the past few months, any number of unforgettable moments have been marked, marred, by the various forms of technology meant to make up the distance between us," Bennett told Poets.org. "I attended my grandmother’s funeral via Zoom; I experienced my son’s first ultrasound through a print-out my wife handed me in the car...this poem lives in the space between a kind of inexpressible anxiety at the outset of things, and the world-shifting joy of seeing my son's heartbeat for the first time."

We had a quiet Wednesday except for the squirrels, who were irritated we hadn't tossed seed out on the deck for them like we'd been doing when we had a nest and spent the day trying to figure out how to get the seed out of the bird feeder. I am slowly uploading many years' worth of photos and creating PDF photo books (Shutterfly tragically won't let me download any from before they switched to their current system). We took a walk in the humid afternoon and I did a Pokemon raid with my neighbor who plays.

We had Mexican food for dinner, after which we watched The 100, in which I wish the characters weren't so scattered this season but Indra finally got to do what she was always meant to do, and Agents of SHIELD, which is more fun this season making period mini-movies than the actual time travel plot but it's still such a delight seeing the cast having so much fun and I hope Sousa stays till the finale. Here are some photos from one of Daniel's Gymboree classes in 1994 (apparently my in laws went with me):






Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Poem for Wednesday and Connecticut Autumn

By Yesenia Montilla

For Marcelo

Some maps have blue borders
like the blue of your name
or the tributary lacing of
veins running through your
father’s hands. & how the last
time I saw you, you held
me for so long I saw whole
lifetimes flooding by me
small tentacles reaching
for both our faces. I wish
maps would be without
borders & that we belonged
to no one & to everyone
at once, what a world that
would be. Or not a world
maybe we would call it
something more intrinsic
like forgiving or something
simplistic like river or dirt.
& if I were to see you
tomorrow & everyone you
came from had disappeared
I would weep with you & drown
out any black lines that this
earth allowed us to give it—
because what is a map but
a useless prison? We are all
so lost & no naming of blank
spaces can save us. & what
is a map but the delusion of
safety? The line drawn is always
in the sand & folds on itself
before we’re done making it.
& that line, there, south of
el rio, how it dares to cover
up the bodies, as though we
would forget who died there
& for what? As if we could
forget that if you spin a globe
& stop it with your finger
you’ll land it on top of someone
living, someone who was not
expecting to be crushed by thirst —


Tuesday was a fighting-with-Flickr day, trying to upload and tag all the scans I've done in the past weeks while Flickr does things like refuse to let me put photos in albums. (If rumors are true, I may need a different long-term storage solution to back up Google; suggestions welcome.) We took a walk and saw lots of flowers and many chipmunks, and though we heard thunder, the storm never hit us.

I'm really liking Stargirl after its uneven start -- it's such a pleasure to have a superhero series focused on an ordinary bunch of girls and some male sidekicks -- and we also watched a bunch of National Geographic shows (searching for Alexander's tomb in Alexandria, history of Easter Island, Stonehenge and its Irish connections). From our trip to New England in the fall of 1996 after Adam was born:









Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Poem for Tuesday, Staged, Idlewild

By Afaa Michael Weaver

I am a city of bones
deep inside my marrow,
a song in electric chords,
decrescendo to mute, rise
to white noise, half silences
in a blank harmony as all
comes to nothing, my eyes
the central fire of my soul,
yellow, orange, red--gone
in an instant and then back
when I am, for a glimpse,
as precise as a bird's breath,
when I am perfect, undone
by hope when hope will not
listen, the moon wasting
to where I need not worry
that bones turn to ash,
a brittle staccato in dust.


Monday was quiet except while we had thunderstorms that once again sent the younger cats racing and hiding down the basement. I borrowed three family trip photo albums from my mother on Sunday, so I scanned those and started making PDF versions of them. We took a walk between storms and saw lots of birds and small animals, but I was attacked by mosquitos so next time I'll wear eucalyptus and citronella.

After dinner, we watched Antiques Roadshow, then, courtesy a friend with a VPN, we watched the six episodes of Staged with David Tennant and Michael Sheen, which along with free theater on YouTube is the greatest entertainment joy to come out of the quarantine. I knew their wives played their wives, but was unspoiled for the actor cameos and so glad! From a trip to Idlewild amusement park in 1997: