Sunday, December 03, 2023

Greetings from Holiday Lights

The holiday season definitively started on Saturday in Redmond, though before lunch we only celebrated by watching college football conference championship games, which for a change went the way I wanted. Then we went to Redmond Town Center, which was setting up for its evening light display kickoff by having a holiday craft and performance show for kids. We also stopped at Bath & Body Works for the annual big candle sale, and back in our neighborhood, we went to see a neighbor's art show in the community lounge. 

At dusk we went to Kelsey Creek Farm Park, which was having its annual barn holiday lighting complete with sheep dressed as reindeer. We got to meet Santa, sing carols, and visit the animals as they got their last feeding of the day in the newly decorated barn. Then we headed back through Redmond, where the holiday lights and Mexican lanterns had been lit and there were several stages with live music from around the world along with tents celebrating global winter light festivals. When we got home, we watched the new Doctor Who.

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Saturday, December 02, 2023

Poem for Friday and Brookside Lights

the pomegranate's decimation 
By Carrie Ayagaduk Ojanen 

arils loosed from the yellow membrane
pith pocked and pocketed

spread across the plate Aapa 
gave us on our wedding day
my daughter, my panniq, picking at the crimson 
carapace, her graceful small fingers 
examining each aril between finger and thumb
before she consumes it, just so

reminds me of crab cooked in winter
my uncles letting loose
their catch across the tile floor
the clatter as thin tine toes
chased us 
and later the bodies’ 
carapace—craggy corniced interiors
the inner sanctum 
the source of life 
the sacred centering 
of appreciation

have I done enough to deserve this

I hold each memory

the December light flickers out
between the dark damp trees

I watch my daughter, my panniq, as she is this moment


I got up early Friday because Paul had a dentist appointment walking distance from a lot of Redmond shopping, so I went to Ross to look for slippers and boots and to Rite Aid for sundries before he was finished, at which point we both went to Safeway since we hadn't been since we got back from Maryland. The Christmas decorations are going up everywhere. In the afternoon, we took a walk to the beach, where someone's off-leash dog terrified all the geese and ducks into the lake with a lot of honking and squawking. 

We watched the unexpectedly thrilling Washington-Oregon game, possibly the last Pac-12 championship game, which it looked like Oregon could come back and win until there were less than two minutes left. Then, after dinner, we watched May December, which is a really strange movie that goes out of its way to make the cryptic actress character less likeable than the damaged child abuser and leaves so much just dangling. There are great performances, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Winter lights set up at Brookside Gardens last week:

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Friday, December 01, 2023

Poem for Thursday and Great Falls

By Michelle Cahill 

for Nick 

It is hard to imagine how desolate the sea.
Mars on the horizon, a fickle half-moon,
the currawong’s arc rending the day with a shrill song,
a sweet and lonely song.

At least this morning the sun is bandaged,
blistering through the skies, burnt melaleuca,
soap mallee, sugar gum and wattle.

Winter’s dead stalks are springtime veins, shivering
watertight in the wind, which has its way,
all over. So what of our choosing?
To the east and the west of Vivonne Bay
the dunes are a crematorium,
vestiges of a charred isthmus, French bays,
English rivers, pony clubs, slaughterhouses,
rock shelves where seal pups were dragged,
clubbed, skinned and salted. From 1803
bloodlines mingled so the smaller, finer wallaby
knows, instinctively, not to trust despite
vegetable peelings I offer. They watch  
through my kitchen window. I’ve read about
some women who drowned, trying to escape
the stigma of names like ‘Emma’, ‘Puss’ and ‘Polecat,’
the disappearing emu, possums sold for rum,
tobacco, salt, silver, eucalyptus grease,
the tonnes of yacca gum it took to make explosives.
Fire taught me to abandon everything.
When fire comes, shelter on a whalebone,
lay by a river, wither in a shepherd’s grave.
That is history.
To learn I am nothing
to put the darkness back where it belongs,
to wet my tongue with rain,
to swallow the past, as one nourished,
to stay
wherever the wind should scatter.


Thursday was gloomy and chilly with rain on and off. We went out at lunchtime to Blazing Bagels to get bagels for lunch for the next few days, but otherwise it was a chore and reading day until mid-afternoon, when we walked to the beach. Then I talked to my Thursday chat group, although only three of us made it this week. We watched the Seahawks-Cowboys game over dinner, which I was enjoying a lot until the fourth quarter, sigh. 

Then we watched the rest of Faraway Downs, which wasn't as different from Australia as I was expecting. There's not as much Indigenous perspective as advertised except some mystical stuff, while it retains all the disjointed Wizard of Oz stuff and blows up its massive white savior narrative even more with the changed ending, which, let's face it, is a downer. Still, it's filmed as beautifully as the light at Great Falls last week:

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Poem for Wednesday and Sailing Through the Solstice

The Country Bedroom 
By Frances Darwin Cornford 

My room's a square and candle-lighted boat,
In the surrounding depths of night afloat;
My windows are the portholes, and the seas
The sound of rain on the dark apple-trees.

Seamonster-like beneath, an old horse blows
A snort of darkness from his sleeping nose,
Below, among drowned daisies. Far off, hark!
Far off one owl amidst the waves of dark.


I spent Wednesday morning chatting with my high school friends even though I saw both Kay and Linda last week, and an hour of the afternoon watching the first episode of Loki with Kristen. In between, I finally finished unpacking, reorganized some craft stuff, and took a walk to the beach, which was very chilly but the ducks did not seem all that concerned. 

After dinner, we watched Doctor Who's "The Star Beast" -- enjoyable, a little predictable, so good to see Donna again -- then The Masked Singer's disco night episode, goofy fun, and now the first episode of Faraway Downs, still uneven like Australia but superbly filmed. Some of the lighted boats from Frederick's Sailing Through the Solstice in Carroll Creek:

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Poem for Tuesday and Great Cats

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


It will surprise no one to hear that my Tuesday involved a huge amount of unpacking, laundry, and sorting things that had been in toiletry and snack bags. I did get to watch Voyager's "Pathfinder" with most of my usual crowd (I hadn't remembered the details and there was more Deanna Troi than I'd thought, which was nice), and our neighbors stopped by to return our key so we also gave them gifts and they got to snuggle the cats. 

In the evening I had a bunch of computer cleanup stuff to do, so we caught up on the finale of Lessons in Chemistry, which I thought was excellent throughout. We also watched last week's For All Mankind -- Mars is depressing, and I'm actually more worried about Ed than Margo. Since our own cats are claiming starvation again, here are some of the cats we saw at the National Zoo (sand, fishing, clouded, pallas, cheetah, lions and tigers):

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Greetings from Redmond

...where we have just arrived to feed our cats after dropping Adam off at his home (Daniel and Cahaya took a slightly earlier flight and are retrieving their dogs). Had a nice day seeing my parents and Linda, one of my oldest friends -- more when I'm awake!

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Greetings from Frederick

On Sunday we got up, got organized, and drove to Hanover, where we picked up Paul's parents and went to lunch at Blue Koi. Since there were too many of us to fit comfortably in the van, Paul took Cinda and Clair back to their home while the rest of us stopped in Giant to get some desserts since we won't be here for Cinda's birthday next month. Paul then picked us up and we spent time in one of the lounges in their building eating and chatting. 

We headed out in the late afternoon and arrived in Frederick as it was getting dark to see the lighted boats in Carroll Creek decorated for Sailing Through the Solstice. After we walked around the creek, we drove to Derwood to Gourmet Asian Bistro to meet the Helgesens for dinner. Then we came back to Silver Spring, where we just watched the Ravens beat the Chargers and we're taking turns doing laundry, cleaning, and packing.

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Saturday, November 25, 2023

Greetings from the Zoo

Adam had plans downtown with friends all day Saturday -- brunch with one, climbing with another, dinner with another, then a concert by yet another with a group -- so the rest of us went downtown with Cheryl, who drove up for the day to see me. We went to the zoo, since Cahaya was hoping to see the wolves, but of course the wolves were the one animal not on exhibit; nevertheless, we got to see the baby Andean bears climbing a tree, the baby meerkats wrestling, the elephants indoors and out, the sleepy Pallas and sand cats, the playful sea lions and otters, and all the animals in Amazonia and the Small Mammal House. 

We ran out of time for the rebuilt Bird House, but we got to see most of the zoo lights set up for the evening and we ate lunch in the Mane Grill, which wasn't crowded by the time we got there and which has Impossible Burgers as well as non-veggie stuff. When the zoo closed, we went to Barbarian Comics so Cheryl and I could check out all the Loki statues and Daniel could get Pokemon cards for Cahaya, then we went to Barnes & Noble at Washingtonian and walked by the lake to see the holiday lights. Cheryl had to get home afterward, so the rest of us ate some leftovers and some delivery for dinner while watching the end of the day's football -- go Terps!

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