Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Poem for Tuesday and Brookside Conservatory

Duval's Birds
By Conrad Aiken

The parrot, screeching, flew out into the darkness,
Circled three times above the upturned faces
With a great whir of brilliant outspread wings,
And then returned to stagger on her finger.
She bowed and smiled, eliciting applause…
The property man hated her dirty birds.
But it had taken years—yes, years—to train them,
To shoulder flags, strike bells by tweaking strings,
Or climb sedately little flights of stairs.
When they were stubborn, she tapped them with a wand,
And her eyes glittered a little under the eyebrows.
The red one flapped and flapped on a swinging wire;
The little white ones winked round yellow eyes.


Monday was an insanely beautiful January day, 58 degrees and sunny. I did a bunch of chores in the morning and some more in the afternoon, but in between I got to be outdoors, first in the neighborhood, then at Cabin John Park, where we took a walk after stopping at Giant for lightbulbs we realized we needed when the lamp blew its bulb. 

We had leftover pizza for dinner so I could watch the end of The Two Towers with Kristen, then Paul and I watched some Only Murders in the Building until it was time for Quantum Leap, still violating every form of the Temporal Prime Directive. Here are some flamingo art and some flowers in the conservatory at Brookside Gardens: 








Monday, January 30, 2023

Greetings from McCrillis Garden

We had rain forecast for Sunday afternoon, which we didn't really care about since there were football playoffs to watch while doing chores. So we got out of the house early and went to walk around McCrillis Garden, which like Brookside has snowdrops, witch hazel, and budding lenten roses. We started walking around our neighborhood, too, to see whether anyone's snowdrops or lenten roses were up yet, but it started raining so we cut that short. 

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There's no one I really despise left in the NFL playoffs, but both teams I was kind of rooting for lost -- poor San Francisco desperately needed a backup to their backup quarterback, and Cincinnati had one too many stupid penalties at the wrong moment, though the officiating in both games had some highly questionable moments. At least it was all over in time for The Mayfair Witches and unlike Daniel, we didn't have dog diarrhea to deal with. 


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Greetings from Brookside Gardens

Saturday had temperatures in the 50s, so although we had some shopping to do, we went to Brookside Gardens after lunch. We were hoping to see aconite and maybe lenten roses, and were surprised to see snowdrops, witch hazel, apricot blossoms, and the first daffodils! There are also orchids and many other flowers in the conservatory, which now also has fish in the fountain. 



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There were lots of geese and several ducks too, but I haven't sorted all the photos yet. We stopped at both Mom's Organic Market and Giant on the way home, had vegan salmon cakes for dinner, and watched the pairs long program at the US figure skating championships before a couple of episodes of Only Murders in the Building, which just gets better every episode, doesn't it?


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Poem for Saturday and Mount Vernon Sheep

The Sheep
By Ellis Parker Butler

The Sheep adorns the landscape rural
And is both singular and plural—
It gives grammarians the creeps
To hear one say, “A flock of sheeps.”

The Sheep is gentle, meek and mild,
And led in herds by man or child—
Being less savage than the rabbit,
Sheep are gregarious by habit.

The Sheep grows wool and thus promotes
The making of vests, pants and coats—
Vests, pants and coats and woolen cloths
Provide good food for hungry moths.

With vegetables added to
The Sheep, we get our mutton stew—
Experiments long since revealed
The Sheep should first be killed and peeled.

Thus, with our debt to them so deep,
All men should cry “Praise be for Sheep!”—
And, if we happen to be shepherds,
“Praise be they’re not as fierce as leopards!” 


It was colder on Friday than Thursday but that didn't stop us from taking a walk in the afternoon after a quiet morning and a lunchtime Google Meet with our kids and my parents, visited by several pets. In between I got some work done, kept some cats warm, and ate leftover labneh which always makes for a good lunch. 

We had dinner with my parents (from CPK so I got Thai pizza, yay) and spent the evening afterward watching the national figure skating championships -- I always root for Starr Andrews and Gracie Gold but Isabeau Levito was mesmerizing. From Mount Vernon earlier in January, the sheep at the upper and lower enclosures: 

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Friday, January 27, 2023

Poem for Friday and Supervisory Cats

The First Flowers
By John Greenleaf Whittier

For ages on our river borders,
These tassels in their tawny bloom,
And willowy studs of downy silver,
Have prophesied of Spring to come.

For ages have the unbound waters
Smiled on them from their pebbly hem,
And the clear carol of the robin
And song of bluebird welcomed them.

But never yet from smiling river,
Or song of early bird, have they
Been greeted with a gladder welcome
Than whispers from my heart to-day.

They break the spell of cold and darkness,
The weary watch of sleepless pain;
And from my heart, as from the river,
The ice of winter melts again.

Thanks, Mary! for this wild-wood token
Of Freya's footsteps drawing near;
Almost, as in the rune of Asgard,
The growing of the grass I hear.

It is as if the pine-trees called me
From ceiled room and silent books,
To see the dance of woodland shadows,
And hear the song of April brooks!

As in the old Teutonic ballad
Of Odenwald live bird and tree,
Together live in bloom and music,
I blend in song thy flowers and thee.

Earth's rocky tablets bear forever
The dint of rain and small bird's track
Who knows but that my idle verses
May leave some trace by Merrimac!

The bird that trod the mellow layers
Of the young earth is sought in vain;
The cloud is gone that wove the sandstone,
From God's design, with threads of rain!

So, when this fluid age we live in
Shall stiffen round my careless rhyme,
Who made the vagrant tracks may puzzle
The savants of the coming time;

And, following out their dim suggestions,
Some idly-curious hand may draw
My doubtful portraiture, as Cuvier
Drew fish and bird from fin and claw.

And maidens in the far-off twilights,
Singing my words to breeze and stream,
Shall wonder if the old-time Mary
Were real, or the rhymer's dream!


Thursday was a much nicer day than Wednesday -- there was even a bit of sun. I had a bunch of chores to do, but they mostly got done and it was a perfect day to walk in the park -- no crocuses this early, but we saw lenten roses as well as the neighborhood winter jasmine and even a bit of winter aconite. 

Kristen and I watched some more of The Two Towers, then I chatted with several of my Thursday night chat friends until my computer decided my microphone didn't exist, something it did on Zoom on Tuesday too, wtf. Then Paul and I started watching Only Murders in the Building. Here are our supervisors: 

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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Poem for Thursday and Frisky Squirrels

The Mountain And The Squirrel
By Ralph Waldo Emerson

The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter
"Little prig."
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry:
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track.
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."


It was a very dark and gloomy Wednesday, but I had a nice, social afternoon without ever leaving the house. All of my high school friends were around to chat at lunchtime (well, except Google Meet kept freezing and at various times kicked us off, ultimately not letting me back on), and I watched the beginning of The Two Towers with Kristen, though we started late because I lost track of time since it had looked like evening all day long. 

Paul and I had sausages for dinner, watched this week's National Treasure: The Edge of History which I really enjoy but wish would have worked a little harder to be internally consistent, then we started watching Kindred now that Verizon is giving us Hulu. It's one of my favorite books, and the adaptation definitely changes and flattens some things in the first episode, but I will give it a few more. Meanwhile, a backyard squirrel fling: 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Poem for Wednesday and Meadowside Birds of Prey

I Went to a Wishing Well
By Kenn Nesbitt

I went to a wishing well,
tossed in a penny,
and made a few wishes.
In fact, I made many.

I wished I were famous.
I wished I could fly.
I wished I were rich,
and a rock star or spy.

I wished for a robot
to do all my chores,
a dog that could talk,
and a few dinosaurs.

I wished for a dragon
and unicorn too.
Regrettably, none of
my wishes came true.

I made lots of wishes
but didn’t get any.
I guess, these days,
wishes cost more than a penny.


Tuesday was a chore day so I have nothing much exciting to report unless you want to hear my concerns about whether I can actually wash the sewn-in-padding bras in the washing machine same as the removable-pad bras. I didn't watch the Oscar nominations live because I didn't care enough, and now that I have seen them, I care even less -- I'm happy for Yeoh, Curtis, and Bassett, but I'm not rooting for Frasier in a fat suit and you couldn't pay me to see Banshees of Severed Anatomy. Paul had an eye doctor appointment, and while he was gone, I sold my full set of Lord of the Rings action figures and my remaining four Star Trek 12" figures to someone from Facebook Marketplace, so that feels like an accomplishment (people keep trying to get me to sell them the collectible Barbies for much less than they're worth by claiming they're going to give them to poor children, and I'm keeping all of the LOTR Barbies and Kens). 

My Voyager group watched "Counterpoint" -- if only Janeway had gloated at the end! As for White Lotus season 2, things I learned: 1) Straight men are dogs. Even the nice ones turn out to be DIRTY DOGS. 2) Gay men really hate women, HATE them: Beware the gays, they will murder you without a second thought. 3) The best way to keep a marriage going is to cheat a lot -- it's natural for men (see above) and women are designed to forgive as long as they get occasional good sex. 4) Really the best plan for a woman is to be a prostitute -- STDs don't really exist, pimps are fakes to empower you, you'll have lots of fun sex with lovely men and women who aren't interested in exploiting you and always end up paying in the end, so you'll end up comfortable or even rich. 5) All of this only applies to white people; black people are smart enough not to factor into this drama in any way (except on SNL, hilariously). Raptors at Meadowside Nature Center: 

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Poem for Tuesday and Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year
By Wang Anshi

The old year has passed amidst the sound of firecrackers,
and the spring breeze wafts its warm breath in the Tusu wine.
While the rising sun shines on thousands of houses,
New peach wood charms are put up to replace the old.  

Note: I don't read Chinese, so this is a mashup of several different translations of this poem that I found on the internet. 


I had my annual GYN appointment after lunch on Monday, and of course it ended up taking most of the afternoon, though it was pretty routine. It was otherwise an uneventful chore day, though we did go walk in the park in the early evening, and I watched some more Lord of the Rings with Kristen. 

We had tomato soup and lebneh for dinner, caught this week's Fantasy Island, and I mostly finished a silly project I've had in the works since early in the pandemic, so that feels like an accomplishment. Here are some more pictures from the Lunar New Year festivities at the mall yesterday: 

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