Thursday, March 31, 2022

Poem for Thursday and Kenwood Cherry Blossoms

Pirate Story
By Robert Louis Stevenson

Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,   
  Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.   
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,   
  And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.   
Where shall we adventure, to-day that we’re afloat,
  Wary of the weather and steering by a star?   
Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,   
  To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?   
Hi! but here’s a squadron a-rowing on the sea—   
  Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
Quick, and we’ll escape them, they’re as mad as they can be,   
  The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.


My Wednesday mostly involved unexciting work around a very fun lunchtime and Google Meet call with my high school friends, though I did talk some more with the artist whose great-aunt's photos I've been scanning, and she's been sending me photos in exchange, and it's like sharing a fandom no one else knows about. And speaking of fandom, we watched two more episodes of Our Flag Means Death, which may be my favorite show of the decade, possibly even more than Good Omens though I'm not committing to anything until I see how it ends. Taika Waititi is the sexiest man in the universe and I don't usually feel that way about people I've seen as Hitler. 

Otherwise, we enjoyed the warmer weather, took a walk, talked to some neighbors, and watched James Corden's "We Don't Talk About Jada" which is somehow problematic yet cathartic at the same time (I choose to read it as all the people of color reminding the white guy to stay in his own lane, not Corden himself dictating how he feels as some of Twitter does and in any case the speed with which the writers put it together is admirable). Plus we watched the first episode of Moon Knight, which wasn't nearly as dark as the trailer suggested and so far is detached from the MCU so I could just enjoy the story and performances on their own. Some more of Bethesda's cherry blossoms: 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Poem for Wednesday and DC Tulips

By Pablo Neruda
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Everything on earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
bit, the petal fell
until the only flower was the falling.
Water is different,
has no direction but beauty,
runs through all dreams of color,
takes bright lessons
from the rock
and in those occupations works out
the unbroken duties of the foam.


I thought Tuesday was going to be uneventful, but I got into a conversation with Holly Sierra, the artist who is Margaret Anderson's grandniece, that inspired me to pull out the three huge binders of research on The Little Review from college and start scanning material from the Library of Congress and various university libraries that I haven't looked at in years. I sent her letters that Hemingway and Janet Flanner wrote and she sent me photos I had never seen before, and although I realized I still have more work for the scanning project because it makes sense to scan all that research instead of keeping it or tossing it, it was really enormous fun. 

 It was otherwise a beautiful day outdoors, warmer than Monday, so we took a nice walk before dinner and my usual Tuesday night Voyager-watching and chatting -- this week it was "Distant Origin" which I found a little didactic and scientifically dubious the first time, but it has actually aged really well, given that right-wing denial of factual reality is no longer a bit of a cliche but a daily terrifying reality. Then and I watched the first several episodes of Our Flag Means Death, which is as utter a delight as I was told -- Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi as real-life pirates trying to get in touch with their feelings! DC tulips in bloom: 








Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Poem for Tuesday and Kenwood Cherry Blossoms

Spring Snow
By Linda Gregerson

A kind of counter-
blossoming, diversionary,

doomed, and like
the needle with its drop

of blood a little
too transparently in

love with doom, takes
issue with the season: Not

(the serviceberry bright
with explanation) not

(the redbud unspooling
its silks) I know I've read

the book but not (the lilac,
the larch) quite yet, I still

have one more card to
play. Behold

a six-hour wonder: six
new inches bedecking the

railing, the bench, the top
of the circular table like

a risen cake. The saplings
made (who little thought

what beauty weighs) to bow
before their elders.

The moment bears more
than the usual signs of its own

demise, but isn't that
the bravery? Built

on nothing but the self-
same knots of air

and ice. Already
the lip of it riddled

with flaws, a sort
of vascular lesion that

betokens—what? betokens
the gathering return

to elementals. (She
was frightened

for a minute, who had
planned to be so calm.)

A dripline scoring
the edge of the walk.

The cotton batting blown
against the screen begun

to pill and molt. (Who
clothed them out of

mercy in the skins
of beasts.) And even

as the last of the
lightness continues

to fall, the seepage
underneath has gained

momentum. (So that
there must have been a

death before
the death we call the

first or what became
of them, the ones

whose skins were taken.)
Now the more-

forward part, which must

have happened while I wasn't
looking or was looking

at the skinning knives. I think
I'll call this mercy too.


Monday was a Monday until late afternoon -- laundry, annoying work, other chores -- but we needed to bring some packages to the UPS Store in Bethesda, including our old phones for trade-in and an Amazon return, so on the way we went to see the cherry trees in Kenwood. We've had snow squalls and occasional hail and it was in the 30s with wind chill in the 20s, but the neighborhood still had peaking cherry blossoms and plenty of forsythia, daffodils, and robins, so it was beautiful. 

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Paul and I watched the season finale of Snowpiercer, which was very satisfying except that Wilford, Melanie, and Andre still are not dating each other in any configuration, then we watched The Endgame, which remains preposterous but I like all the women in it, and then we caught up on Sanditon, which was so much less stressful than the Oscars that I kind of wish I'd watched it last night, though I really feel badly for Coda and Questlove and Ariana and Jessica getting overshadowed. 


Monday, March 28, 2022

Greetings from The Lost City

Another quickie, since my whole day has been about movies and I am recovering. We met Cheryl at the Potomac Mills AMC to see The Lost City, and it was delightful in pretty much every way -- smart women with senses of humor, Indiana Jones-Lara Croft type storyline, mentions of the colonialist problems with Indiana Jones-Lara Croft type storylines, lovely scenery, good soundtrack, actors with good chemistry, and Daniel Radcliffe clearly enjoying being an over-the-top villain. Even the one thing I thought was a bummer had been made right by the end of the movie. We all had Impossible Burgers together at a Burger King with broken soda machines after the movie. 

Then Paul and I went home to watch the Oscars, which were almost as crazy as the La La Land-Moonlight year courtesy Will Smith who smacked Chris Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's alopecia. Since I love Russell Crowe despite the incident with the BAFTA producer 20 years ago, I will not be canceling Smith, though I really wish he had used his words (after Good Hair, Chris Rock seems like a huge asshole mocking a black woman's hair problems). At least Ariana DeBose won, and Jessica Chastain, and Troy Kotsur and Coda, and Don't Look Up lost everything, and I love that Billie Eilish-Finneas No Time To Die song though I was rooting for Beyonce! 

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Sunday, March 27, 2022

Greetings from Hanover

Extreme quickie, we're bingeing the second season of Bridgerton, which, despite the absence of the Duke, I'm enjoying more than the first -- the young women have more agency and seem less naive, and Golda Rosheuvel and Polly Walker are just insanely hot and fun. 

We spent most of the day in Hanover for Paul's birthday with his parents, with a couple of Skype calls to relatives, but most of the excitement came traveling to and from there looking at cherry blossoms but driving through snow -- which fell both going and coming! 

Here is one pic of birthday cake with Clair and Cinda and views out the car windows of the wild weather -- happy cows, sunbursts, heavy clouds, snowbursts, then the return of the sun and a stop in Rockville to see cherry blossoms right off I-270 on the way home! 

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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Greetings for the Weekend

Most of my Friday was not exciting -- got some work done, enjoyed the weather, saw lots of flowers around the neighborhood -- and we're a little bummed now because the Maryland women's basketball team lost to Stanford, and we just saw that the Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins died, which is awful (I know I haven't been talking about Ukraine or the insane Supreme Court confirmation hearings or North Korean ICBMs, I can only deal with thinking about them in small bursts when I'm looking at places to make donations to fix things). 

We had dinner with my parents, who got food from the Big Greek Cafe for Paul's birthday and my mother made a version of an icebox cake, so that was all good. Older son sent photos from Leavenworth, Washington's Bavarian Village, which he's visiting because his girlfriend skis, and it looks like they're having a great time. And we watched the start of the new season of Bridgerton, which I am enjoying like the beautiful nonsense that it is, naked male butts and all! Some local flowers, some more birthday photos: 

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Friday, March 25, 2022

Poem for Friday and Paul's Birthday

Fall River
By David Rivard

When I wake now it’s below ocherous, saw-ridged
pine beams. Haze streaks all three windows. I look up
at the dog-eared, glossy magazine photo
I’ve taken with me for years. It gets tacked
like a claim to some new wall in the next place—
Bill Russell & Wilt Chamberlain, one on one
the final game of the 1969 NBA championship,
two hard men snapped elbowing & snatching at a basketball
as if it were a moment one of them might stay inside
forever. I was with
my father the night that game played
on a fuzzy color television, in a jammed Fall River bar.
Seagram & beer chasers for hoarse ex-jocks,
smoke rifting the air. A drunk called him “Tiger”
and asked about the year he’d made all-state guard—
point man, ball-hawk, pacer. Something he rarely spoke
of, & almost always with a gruff mix of impatience
and shyness. Each year,
days painting suburban tract houses & fighting
with contractors followed by
night shifts at the fire station
followed by his kids swarming at breakfast
and my mother trying to stay out of his way,
each of the many stone-hard moments between 1941 & 1969—
they made up a city of granite mills
by a slate & blue river. That town was my father’s
life, & still is. If he felt cheated by it,
by its fate for him,
to bear that disappointment, he kept it secret.
night, when he stared deep into a drunk’s memory,
he frowned. He said nothing. He twisted on the stool,
and ordered this guy a beer.
Whatever my father & I have in common
is mostly silence. And anger that keeps twisting
back on itself, though not before it ruins,
often, even something simple
as a walk in the dunes at a warm beach.
But what we share too is a love so awkward
that it explains, with unreasoning perfection,
why we still can’t speak
easily to each other, about the past or anything else,
and why I wake this far from the place where I grew up,
while the wall above me claims now
nothing has changed & all is different.


Thursday was Paul's birthday, so although he had to work all day and attend a co-worker's virtual baby shower in the late afternoon, we managed to celebrate -- at least, we had lunch and Cadbury eggs together. I finished a bunch of chores, and we took a walk in the lovely cool afternoon to see the daffodils slowly fading, the hyacinths blooming, and the azaleas starting up. 

Our evening after Mod Pizza was a little bit chaotic -- we were trying to Skype with the kids, one of whom was driving with his girlfriend to go skiing in the mountains so the signal sucked, the other of whom had his girlfriend's brother visiting and had dozed off while they picked up dinner. So we talked to them one at a time around my regular Thursday night chat group and several NCAA upsets! 

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Poem for Thursday and Cherry Blossoms Near Home

Cherry blossoms
By Toi Derricotte

I went down to
mingle my breath
with the breath
of the cherry blossoms.

There were photographers:
Mothers arranging their
children against
gnarled old trees;
a couple, hugging,
asks a passerby
to snap them
like that,
so that their love
will always be caught
between two friendships:
ours & the friendship
of the cherry trees.

Oh Cherry,
why can't my poems
be as beautiful?

A young woman in a fur-trimmed
coat sets a card table
with linens, candles,
a picnic basket & wine.
A father tips
a boy's wheelchair back
so he can gaze
up at a branched
                     All around us
the blossoms
flurry down

       Be patient
you have an ancient beauty.

                                           Be patient,
                                  you have an ancient beauty.


 It rained much of Wednesday, but slowed to a drizzle by the afternoon. So after a successful morning freecycling a lifetime of cards, and organizing my father-in-law's stamp collection that's the next thing to declutter, we took a walk around various local neighborhoods with cherry blossoms, which were lovely despite the rain. After that, we stopped to get Paul the cake he wants for his birthday on Thursday.


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Evening TV, now that I am free of The Masked Singer thanks to Rudy Effing Giuliani, involved The Flash -- which outlived its usefulness seasons ago and is now mostly fun to mock -- and Kung Fu, which is really quite enjoyable, since it has lots of women I like and lots of family drama that doesn't seem completely contrived like so many other shows I watch. Wow, my standards have dropped during the pandemic!