Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Poem for Tuesday and Hillwood Orchids

By Hazel Simmons-McDonald

I leave this house
box pieces of the five-week life I’ve gathered.

I’ll send them on
to fill spaces in my future life.

One thing is left
a spray of orchids someone gave
from a bouquet one who
makes a ritual of flower-giving sent.

The orchids have no fragrance
but purple petals draw you
to look at the purple heart.

I watered them once
when the blossoms were full blown
like polished poems.
I was sure they’d wilt
and I would toss them out with the five-week litter.

They were stubborn.
I starved them.
They would not die.

This morning the bud at the stalk’s tip unfurled.

I think I’ll pluck the full-blown blooms
press them between pages of memory.

Perhaps in their thin dried transparency

I’ll discover their peculiar poetry.


Monday was a Monday -- laundry, carpet cleaning, feeding birds between thunderstorms -- plus we found out the car needs a new axle and they had to order the right pieces, so we can't pick it up until Tuesday. I don't have a lot else to report besides a lot of screaming online about the same things I was screaming online about last week. 

We had fajitas for dinner and watched the first episode of the new season of Westworld, which is very different and so far very enjoyable, then we caught up on the new season of Wellington Paranormal, which is always laugh-out-loud awesome (and Rhys Darby!). Here are some of the stunning orchids we saw in Hillwood's conservatory: 

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Monday, June 27, 2022

Greetings from Hillwood

It was hot on Sunday, but we were inside as much as we were out. We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast because we still have lots of berries from picking last weekend. Then we went to Hillwood, where it was the last day of The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present exhibit, including both historic pieces in the dacha and contemporary pieces among the collection in the mansion, though I was more interested in the Grace of Monaco: Princess in Dior display in the Adirondack Building -- I was always a fan of Grace Kelly and they had video clips and magazine covers as well as some jewelry. 

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We dropped the car off for servicing on the way home, bought some food and cat stuff, had veggie cheesesteaks for dinner, and watched the latest episode of Endeavour on PBS. I'm kind of bummed this is a prequel and I keep realizing that various things I hope will happen undoubtedly will not; I watched all of Lewis but very little of Morse so I only know character things in broad strokes. We also caught the end of the extra-innings Dodgers game, which thankfully Atlanta lost, and we Skyped with our kids and several pets who decided to join the conversation.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Greetings from Washingtonian Lake

Saturday was the June Pokemon Go Community Day, so I spent a bunch of the late morning/early afternoon catching Deinos -- shinies were much more rare than usual -- and, since I needed to return something at Kohl's, we went to Washingtonian Center, where it was very warm but we still got to see lots of adolescent goslings and ducklings while walking around the lake. 

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Vudu had In Time super-cheap this week and since I like that movie despite its heavy-handed sci-fi metaphors, I got it and we watched it. We also watched CODA, which I absolutely loved -- I know not all deaf people were delighted with the focus on the daughter who could hear but I thought it was a beautifully acted family story and I loved the New England fishing town setting.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Poem for Saturday and Butler's Orchard Farm

Right To Life
By Marge Piercy

A woman is not a basket you place
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.

You plant corn and you harvest
it to eat or sell. You put the lamb
in the pasture to fatten and haul it in to
butcher for chops. You slice the mountain
in two for a road and gouge the high plains
for coal and the waters run muddy for
miles and years. Fish die but you do not
call them yours unless you wished to eat them.

Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.
You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,
fields for growing babies like iceberg
lettuce. You value children so dearly
that none ever go hungry, none weep
with no one to tend them when mothers
work, none lack fresh fruit,
none chew lead or cough to death and your
orphanages are empty. Every noon the best
restaurants serve poor children steaks.
At this moment at nine o’clock a partera
is performing a table top abortion on an
unwed mother in Texas who can’t get
Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die
of tetanus and her little daughter will cry
and be taken away. Next door a husband
and wife are sticking pins in the son
they did not want. They will explain
for hours how wicked he is,
how he wants discipline.

We are all born of woman, in the rose
of the womb we suckled our mother’s blood
and every baby born has a right to love
like a seedling to sun. Every baby born
unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come
due in twenty years with interest, an anger
that must find a target, a pain that will
beget pain. A decade downstream a child
screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,
a firing squad is summoned, a button
is pushed and the world burns.

I will choose what enters me, what becomes
of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,
no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,
not your uranium mine, not your calf
for fattening, not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as your factory.
Priests and legislators do not hold shares
in my womb or my mind.
This is my body. If I give it to you
I want it back. My life
is a non-negotiable demand.


Ever since I've had a blog (daily since 2002 though really I started on Blogger a couple of years earlier), I've had a "politics: abortion" tag. And in all that time, I have never stopped saying that Roe was never going to be permanent protection for reproductive rights and we had to keep voting for the right people, and writing to those people, and donating to organizations that helped people who needed it. And I have never wanted to be wrong as badly as this morning -- I know we all had the warning a few weeks ago with the leak, but some part of me hoped that three justices appointed by someone who tried to overthrow a lawfully elected government and one person whose wife did everything she could to help someone overthrow a lawfully elected government would somehow be prevented from taking rights away from half the citizens of the U.S. 

Otherwise, it was nice out; we walked and saw a hummingbird in addition to bunnies. We had dinner with my parents, who brought in Grand Fusion so I got Thai basil tofu, plus Paul made a pie for dessert with the blueberries we picked last weekend. When we got home, we watched Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness long-distance on Disney+ with Cheryl (I'm switching universes), and I talked to Adam who had a flood under his kitchen sink but his landlord got it fixed. Now we're watching The Boys -- an episode about a disgusting superhero orgy taking advantage of non-enhanced sex workers, with tons of violence that I'd usually hate, but they also did a parody of Gal Gadot's "Imagine" with a bunch of real-world celebrities as well as supes and I love how much this show hates America. Farm animals at Butler's Orchard: 

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Friday, June 24, 2022

Poem for Friday and Brookside Animals

By Kim Addonizio

After it ended badly it got so much better
which took a while of course but still
he grew so tender & I so grateful
which maybe tells you something about how it was
I’m trying to tell you I know you
have staggered wept spiraled through a long room
banging your head against it holding crushed
bird skulls in your hands your many hearts unstrung
unable to play a note their wood still beautiful
& carved so elaborately maybe a collector would want them
stupid collectors always preserving & never breaking open
the jars so everyone starves while admiring the view
you don’t own anyone everything will be taken from you
go ahead & eat this poem please it will help


I had my annual dermatologist checkup Thursday, which was uneventful just as everyone wants from their dermatologist appointments, though of course the only rain we got was when I was driving there. It was a lovely cool afternoon, lots of animals by the house and the neighborhood when we walked. 

We had enchiladas for dinner, then Cheryl and I watched this week's Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ms. Marvel around Thursday night chat because it's fun to watch them together and she was away last night. Speaking of animals, here are some of the ones we saw at Brookside Gardens on Sunday: 








Thursday, June 23, 2022

Greetings With My Internet Down

If Tuesday felt like a Monday, Wednesday felt like a Tuesday, and I almost forgot that I was chatting with my high school friends at lunchtime, but midway through a handful of walnuts I remembered and we all actually made it to chat this week though one of us was out at lunch with two of her kids and couldn't stay. It was raining so hard in the late afternoon that we watched the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale when we'd normally be walking, and I found it really satisfying -- kept canon pretty safe, gave us plenty of interesting women, explained a few things about Anakin, had some humor, and I absolutely loved the last shot. We also watched this week's villain-revealing Ms. Marvel

We did manage to take a walk between thunderstorms, then we had Gorgonzola chick'n for dinner, and then at our kids' suggestion (and because you can buy it now on Amazon Prime for less than movie tickets) we watched Everything Everywhere All At Once, which was as great as the kids told us it was. I had the impression that it was somehow a more realistic look at a multiverse than Doctor Strange, when it's actually just as absurdist (googly Third Eyes! butt plugs! Raccoon-touille!) but a lot more focused on the various things women want and offering fewer magical Asian stereotypes despite a number of magical Asian characters. Some of the scenery we saw along Skyline Drive: 



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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Poem for Wednesday and Dinosaur Land

The Age of Dinosaurs
By James Scruton

There are, of course, theories
about the wide-eyed, drop-jawed
fascination children have for them,
about how, before he's learned
his own phone number or address,
a five-year-old can carry
like a few small stones
the Latin tonnage of those names,
the prefixes and preferences
for leaf or meat.

My son recites the syllables
I stumble over now,
sets up figures as I did
years ago in his prehistory.
Here is the green ski slope
of a brontosaur's back,
there a triceratops in full
gladiator gear. From the arm
of a chair a pterodactyl
surveys the dark primeval carpet.

Each has disappeared from time
to time, excavated finally
from beneath a cabinet
or the sofa cushions, only
to be buried again among its kind
in the deep toy chest,
the closed lid snug as earth.
The next time they're brought out
to roam the living room
another bone's been found

somewhere, a tooth or fragment
of an eggshell dusted off,
brushing away some long-held notion
about their life-span
or intelligence, warm blood
or cold. On the floor
they face off as if debating
the latest find, what part
of which one of them
has been discovered this time.

Or else they stand abreast
in one long row, side
by scaly side, waiting to fall
like dominoes, my son's
tossed tennis ball a neon yellow
asteroid, his shadow a dark cloud
when he stands, his fervor for them
cooling so slowly he can't feel it—
the speed of glaciers, maybe,
how one age slides into the next.


Tuesday felt like a Monday, since I had to do all the laundry and chores I put off to go play, but that was fine because I am still happy I got to see mountains and dinosaurs. It was nice in the morning, then got very warm in the afternoon, though there was a breeze in the woods when we walked before dinner (I got Paul a ceramic waffle maker for Father's Day because he wanted one, so we had waffles and eggs for dinner, always perfect). 

My Voyager group watched the first part of "The Year of Hell" -- an episode I didn't love when it was new, but it has grown on me -- then Paul and I watched Jon Stewart get the 2022 Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center on PBS, partly so I could see the other comedians and Bruce Springsteen (I know Stewart and some of his friends are problematic these days but they reinvented late night). Brace yourselves for some more dino photos: 




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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Greetings from Shenandoah

Paul had Monday off for Juneteenth, and since it was a magnificent day, we decided to go to the Shenandoah Valley. We drove through Front Royal to Skyline Drive, where we brought a picnic to eat near one of the visitor centers, and we walked around one of the waterfalls and several of the overlooks though we didn't do any serious hiking. Then we exited the park and drove to White Post, home of Dinosaur Land, which I've been in the mood for since Jurassic World -- there are a few new dinosaurs since we were last there and others that have been repainted, plus the mylodon, the shark, the octopus, and King Kong! 

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There was a huge backup on I-66 for reasons we never discovered, so instead of taking that home, we took some back roads and state highways (a deer ran right across in front of us at one point). We had leftover Cava with Quorn and hummus for dinner, then we watched the rest of the second season of The Bureau of Magical Things, which ended on a note that made me think it might be the end of the series, though they left Kyra's family history unresolved and there are a lot of directions in which they could take the world-building. It's very teen-focused, but I like that women make most of the important decisions!