Delights: February 18 to February 24

February 18: The day had arrived at last: Jeremiah, his best friend and his best friend’s dad invited me to watch the start of the new season of BattleBots. Designed by university and community college students — and ordinary people too — the radio-controlled Bots try to slice, flip, mash and (yes) melt their opponents while avoiding like damage. They look like pizza boxes, squat vacuum cleaners and Hot Wheels cars, if those things had blades and flame throwers. Each episode had a fight card with a main event. And each Bot was gunning to take on last year’s champion, “End Game” from New Zealand, and claim the coveted Giant Nut.

We watched 21 matches. I hope I’m invited back for more.

The first daffodil I’ve seen this year!

February 19: On my walk back from the beach at Assateague, I leaned low against the wind on the pedestrian bridge crossing Sinepuxent Bay. Looking up, I saw crowds of people gathered at the rail facing south. Had someone spied a snowy owl far from home? 

I know birders are friendly, so I asked a man standing nearby. Well, outer space enthusiasts are friendly too. “It’s a rocket launch,” he said. And at that instant we saw a pinprick of fire rise above the horizon. NASA had just launched a rocket from Wallops Flight Center, near Chincoteague, Virginia. 

I watched as the tiny flaming ball rose into sky. It released vapor, traveled a bit farther into the bright blue atmosphere, and disappeared. 

Wallops’ next launch is on June 23 at 5:30 am. Maybe a sunrise picnic on the beach will be the perfect way to start that day!

Here’s a zig-zag trace of the rocket. The fire ball is up there toward the corner, but only my eyes — not the camera — could see it.

My son Nate sent me this tweet:

And two days later, the rocket completed its mission!

February 20:  As I walked toward the beach along a different path, I confronted a gate swung closed in the off season. Abutting the gate was a split rail fence. Could I slip through the space between gate and fence? Then I saw a pile of horse droppings in the gap. I had my answer.

Winter reeds along Sinepuxent Bay.

February 21: On this magnificent sunny warm day, my friend Lee and I returned to hike the forested stream valleys of Arlington County, Virginia. We enjoyed glimpses of the Potomac River through winter-bare trees, spotted the Capitol dome in the distance, and lingered on a well-placed bench warmed by an enthusiastic February sun. Looking down into the wooded valley, Lee noticed the delicate webbing of the twigs before us, like filigreed ironwork of New Orleans balconies. We even made a stream crossing after another silver-haired hiker urged us on. I love all things green — and apparently black, gray and white too.

A view from our bench above the Donaldson Run stream valley.

February 22: Last night we grabbed grilled cheese sandwiches and beer at our local brewery. Jeremiah proposed a new game: what was the most meaningful music to you when you were 5, 10, 15 and 20 years old? (He turned to Kevin and me and said we could go all the way to 60, if we wished!) Stories, laughs and a little singing ensued.

Jeremiah reported U2, the Strokes, Vampire Weekend, and Kevin Morby. Kevin talked about his teenage neighbor’s garage band and, at 5, jumping up and down to the Rolling Stones; he recalled “American Pie” at 10, seeing Kansas and Heart live at 15, and listening ardently to Tom Petty’s “Damn the Torpedos” at 20. Here are my responses: 

  • When I was 5, my Dad introduced us to the Beatles. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
  • By the time I was 10, I had outgrown the Beatles. (They were for little kids, right?) and mostly listened to my Dad’s Broadway music, especially “Gypsy” and “Guys and Dolls.” 
  • At 15, my sister and I were back into the Beatles, when the Red and Blue compilations were released. (A few years before, I’d purchased my first album, “Tapestry” by Carole King.)
  • At 20, in college, my tastes were eclectic. When I said Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jeremiah gasped and corrected me: “I think you mean Bruce Springsteen, right?”

What are your 5-10-15-20 songs, albums or bands?

Hellebores in my garden.

Another Correction: Jeremiah reminded me that U2 was his favorite band when he was 3. He was into both Bruce Springsteen and U2 by the time he was 5. And Jeremiah urged me to name his favorite albums: 5 — Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” 10 — The Strokes’ “Is This It?”, 15 — Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City,” and 20 — Kevin Morby’s “City Music.” Check ‘em out!

February 23:   An apple for teacher and sharpened pencils in a jar? Yes! I was hired today as a substitute teacher for our local school system.

I’m invited to serve at any of our town’s five schools: from the high school (love ya!) all the way to pre-school (yikes!). Although I’ve savored months of yoga, long walks, museums and leisure, I’m eager to teleport back to the days when I “played school” with my patient younger sister. And how fun to wear earrings, wake to an alarm clock, and reclaim the meaning of weekends.

Returning to public service feels awfully good too.

February 24:  Today I hurried to the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery to see New Glass Now. In its waning days (yes, I respond best to deadlines), the exhibit arrayed 21st century artists probing the beauty of blown glass, spun glass, woven glass, glass paste shaped on a potter’s wheel, and the interplay of light and shadow on and around glass. Here are some of my favorites:

Opalescent Red Crown, by Harvey K. Littleton (1983). LIttleton taught glass to Dale Chihuly and other artists.
Family II, by Bohyun Yoon (2018). The slowly rotating sculpture cast shadows of the artist, his wife and their child.

Then I wandered into the Renwick’s other galleries. There, glass imitated cloth, wood imitated cloth, and a giant flying fish soared across a wall with a thousand toys beading its surface. Hmmm. There must be some way to squeeze these beauties into my substitute teacher lesson plan…

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Photo by NASA at Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia

13 thoughts on “Delights: February 18 to February 24

  1. What fun to see that rocket launch! Some interesting glass pieces too. The music…well, I know the first song I really remember hearing on the radio was The Animals ‘House of the Rising Sun’. It came on and I started to sing and my brother told me to be quiet as he was listening…! And of course those hellebores…what a delight!

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    1. What a great story about the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun! I remember listening to it too, without really understanding it (but I worried about the “poor boy”). I hope today you’ll play the song for yourself and sing along uninterrupted! (I’m cuing it up now…)

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  2. I love the varied sense of place I get from your blog, and how you take it all in—rocket launches, woods, daffodils, and art. (Oh, that glass!) As I am the eldest child, I really didn’t come into my own with music until I was a teenager. And Tapestry was one of my favorite albums. Good luck with the substitute teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate what you said, Laurie, about experiencing a varied sense of place through my blog. I told Anita of Thistles & Kiwis that my word of the year would be Curiosity. My blog is trying to enact that!

      I’ll post more photos of glass art soon. Glad you liked the ones so far!v Do check out the link to the Renwick exhibit. They’ve also posted interesting videos that I want to explore.

      Thanks for sharing your memory about “Tapestry.” You’re helping me to realize that it was an important album for all of us teenage girls of a certain age!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your return to public service! The children you are subbing for are lucky to have you!

    I was so taken by your Wallop encounters – to actually watch the launch in action, and then to receive news from a different vantage. Wow. Definitely a champagne picnic (never mind the time!) for the next one!

    5 – Carpenters (we had a cassette in the car which was played constantly)
    10 – ABBA
    15 – Air Supply
    20 – Peter & the Wolf narrated by Sting (Dad and I went out to buy a CD player and this CD, just so we could listen to it together)

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    1. Oh, Ju-Lyn, I love your memories. Carpenters: that reminds me that THAT was almost my first album. (I was choosing between Carole King and the Carpenters. Karen Carpenter’s voice was one of the best ever.

      ABBA is forever, I definitely remember Air Supply, and I will find Peter & the Wolf. I love that you and your Dad bought the CD player (and CD) to listen to it together — when you were 20! So loving.

      And I like the idea of champagne at the beach for the next rocket launch. I’ll provide photos of the bubbly, if not the rocket!

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  4. Another marvellous week. But I have a hunch each one is wonderful with you around. 🙂 My favourite sentence is this: “I love all things green — and apparently black, gray and white too.” You make me wish to see New Orleans balconies and be your pupil. First time I hear of either Vampire Weekend or Kevin Morby. Will give them a try.

    As a good pupil I must give my answer:

    At 5 I don’t remember any particular music. Whatever my parents were listening. We didn’t have a record player, just cassettes. Lots of Slovenian stuff, including the horrible “beef music”. Google “Avsenik: Na Golici.”
    At 10 I was already listening lots of radio and recorded my own tapes. Austrian radio, American charts. Italian TV. Adam and the Ants were an early favourite.
    At 15: Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Prince, Wham.
    At 20: The Doors. Janis. In 1991 enter Pearl Jam. Eternal favourite found.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a wonderful list! As I type, I’m listening to Ansambel bratov Avsenik – Na Golici. It’s so cheerful! I enjoy listening to Polish folk music, and this has similar verve. I’m glad you mentioned it. And Jeremiah will be thrilled for you to explore Vampire Weekend (very cheerful percussion, despite the name) and Kevin Morby.

      I remember Adam and the Ants, especially his eye makeup! Ah, the 1980s. And you did serious self-education with the Doors and Janis. Pearl Jam … good idea!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, thanks for listening. We call this music beef music because it goes traditionally with Sunday lunch including beef broth. 😀 And, I gave both a listen and I really love Kevin Morby. Thanks for that. As for Pearl Jam – they are forever. Kind of like Luka.

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  5. My earliest musical memories – I must have been about 5, I guess – are of my father listening to Burl Ives records, and my mother enjoying Ella Fitzgerald. By the age of 10 I was into the Beatles (my father worked at Heathrow Airport and once witnessed the chaos of Beatlemania when the fab four disembarked from a plane after returning from a foreign tour..it was a story he loved to tell!) Around the age of 15 I was lapping up the Moody Blues singing Nights in White Satin (don’t know if that made it to the US), and had also discovered Tony Joe White. By 20, I was into the folk rock band Steeleye Span, who I’m sure never found their way across the Pond. Today, English and Celtic folk music and some traditional blues (Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell) bring me great pleasure, but I still enjoy Burl, the Beatles (and the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun!) too.

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    1. This is awesome! Thank you for sharing these memories! (5) My father listened to Burl Ives too — I’m crazy about Ella Fitzgerald nowadays, especially her duets with Louis Armstrong.
      (10) Great Beatlemania story! I just shared it with my husband who liked it too.
      (15) Moody Blues? Totally. In my second wave of buying albums, I purchased theirs. They were on heavy rotation. In fact, do you remember the kinds of creepy poem at the tail end of the song Nights in White Satin? And I’ll now look up Tony Joe White.
      (20) I forgot about Steeleye Span. Thanks for reminding me.
      Today: totally love your choices! If you can find it, I recommend a short well-written book called Delta Blues, by Ted Gioa. You’ll find chapters on many of the bluesmen you mention!
      Thanks so much for visiting and for following my blog. See you soon over the airwaves!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great that we share some musical interests. I shall look out for the Ted Gioa book. As I write this I’m listening to Ella and Louis singing Summertime, two extraordinary voices (and a damned fine trumpet too), so much emotion, tears in my eyes right now …”hush little baby, don’t you cry.”

        Liked by 1 person

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