Maryland, My Maryland

Day 231

231a_365 Guitars

231_365 Guitars

The last day of August.  The sun coming up, it promises to be warm but not overly so.  The boaters on the Chesapeake should be delighted – there is a light breeze.  The perfect kick-off to the holiday weekend.  Whatever else the weather does, at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, it is perfect.

On the edge of the uncut field, there is a bouquet of flowers in bloom.  Clover, chicory and Maryland’s state flower, the Black Eyed Susan.

I have to say, contemplating the fact that Maryland (and all other states) has a “State Flower” makes me miss Mayberry.  With all that is going on in the world these days, it is hard to imagine a time when the heated debate in houses of government was over such things as state flower, state bird, or if the state sport should be jousting or duck pin bowling.

Turns out, I’m not as far out of Mayberry as I thought.  As much as I might like to think that these debates (as the one about Rudbeckia hirta) happened in some distant past, (that debate in 1918) in 2008 the legislature was coming up with the state cake (Smith Island layer cake) and the state exercise (apparently we get walking – I don’t know what they do in other states.)

Now, here I go, thinking again.  In 1918, seems like between WWI and the influenza epidemic that politicians had other things to do too.  I’m so confused.  Now I get to contemplate the next big thing – how did the music from O Tannenbaum seem like the right thing for James Ryder Randal when he wrote the following lyrics to our state song?

 Maryland, My Maryland

The despot’s heel is on thy shore,


His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

                                                                    Hark to an exiled son’s appeal,
My mother State! to thee I kneel,
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust,

Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust,
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust,
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! ’tis the red dawn of the day,
Come with thy panoplied array,
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray,
With Watson’s blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Come to thine own anointed throng,
Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant’s chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain
“Sic semper!” ’tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back again,
Arise in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek,
For thou wast ever bravely meek,
But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek-
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Better the fire upon thee roll, Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

So Much Here – Too Hard to Choose

Day 230

230c_365 Guitars

It kind of feels like fall – and there is evidence that fall is coming, and yet, because it is a delicious day and the end of August, there is a certain desire to cling to summer.  I do not know why this is.  I don’t like dealing with the triple H threat of a Maryland summer – heat, humidity and haze – but on the other hand, I don’t move away either, so I deal with it somehow.  What is really happening, though, is that time is inexorably moving into my favorite time of year, and as I mark each day, it has never been more obviously defined.  The transition is happening at exactly the right pace, but I am savoring more, I think.

So I went for a walk.  The sun was rising and the world was a great surprise – as it is every morning, really.  But there just seemed to be so much going on.  I opened the front door to another reminder of France – Cigale!  I have one in the house that was a gift from my French family in the south – that one hangs on my wall.  The real one is hanging on my front door as though he is a similar decoration…

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And there was still a walk to take and a guitar to make (ha!)

I have sawtooth oaks planted down my driveway.  They are amazingly prolific acorn producers, much to the delight of the wild beasts – deer, turkeys, squirrels and chipmunks.   The nuts are not ripe yet – they are a couple of months from it, but as ‘mighty oaks from acorns grow,’ the mighty acorn has to start somewhere.  Right now they are encased in soft green jackets that effectively protect them as they form.  Though later, when the nuts are ripe and the driveway is covered with the hulls, they are brittle and stiff, for now, they are soft and quite wonderful to the touch.  Their tangled nature makes for a guitar that holds together quite well, laying out in the driveway as it is…

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The French Garden

Day 229

In 2007 when first I met Elodie, we planted a tree together for remembrance.  It is one of the best things we could have done, as I have sent to her in France photos of the little tree growing through the years.  Now, with this visit, the family has given me a beautiful new variety of hydrangea – which I planted today next to the cercis canadensis.  It is a good thing to put all of these memories in a single place – and in a place I can see them every day.  We talked while they were here about the best souvenirs being kept in the box of your memory, but it is lovely to have a reminder growing and blooming in the garden…  229_365 Guitars

The Return of Super Fluffy

Day 228

228_365 Guitars

The package from Germany was loaded with favorites – coffee, chocolate, marzipan…and what seems to be common in Europe, but not seen here (that I know of) – Super Fluffy modeling clay.  Which comes in a great many colors, apparently, and can be bought in packages that also come with a modeling tool.  This is great.  Makes a guitar without ever breaking a seal.

I am trying to work out in my head an explanation of this Super Fluffy stuff.  It is kind of having a semi-liquid foam rubber to work with – that eventually becomes actual foam rubber.  Which is to say that it models but never really hardens – it retains a sort of spring and flexibility.  Before I worked with it, I’m not sure I could have imagined it.  Actually, I’m trying to imagine the person who came up with it.  Was it an intentional thing, or the byproduct of more serious work?  It has to be a byproduct.  I can’t think of a scenario where someone sat down with the intent of creating a new craft product like this…unless it has something to do with the theater or the movies.  Yes, maybe then.  I should research this, but I think no.  I’ll just stick to making things up about it.  What I can say is that the colors are quite vivid and stay that way even after drying.  It’s fun.  Good enough.

In the Nick of Time

Day 227

Today as I take my friends to catch the bus for their next adventure in New York City, I receive a package from Germany to help me adjust.  Contained in it is yet another German wonder – the German version of air guitar, I suppose…the Germans take a lot very literally….  My creative expression in all of this?  Well, it arrived quite flat, after all – I had to inflate it…I was going to say blow it up, but that penchant for taking things literally made it seem like the wrong thing to write…


The Lessons Learned

Day 226

With my visit from my French family coming to a close, I have learned:  that age is not a state of mind, it is a state of siege…we know so much about what might go wrong that we start to barricade ourselves away from potential harm – to the point where we eventually close out life.  I learned this by giving in to the prodding by much younger people to do things I know are dangerous.  I rode a jet ski for the first time, and I allowed myself to be towed around on a float at a very high rate of speed by that same jet ski.  Younger people do not lack the knowledge of the potential dangers, but they tend to focus on the potential for life first.  I’m going to do more of that.  I’ve learned that:  kindness costs nothing and is the best investment in the world.  I have learned that:  no amount of technology will ever replace a hug.  Bite the peach.  Life is sweet.  226_365 Guitars

Enter the French

Day 225

I don’t know why I am having such trouble writing this morning.  I am trying to strike the right chord that lands somewhere between grateful and amused – but then, all things considered, I am so grateful to be amused that there should be no distinction.  So today, a French guitar representing precious space in baggage, A variety of tapenade arranged in an artist’s palette (how cool!) Navettes – a kind of handmade cookie – and a toque for David, appropriately representing le fromage.  My friends are very funny…and very, very thoughtful.  It is heartwarming to think of being thought of (now there is a weird construction) from so far across the globe.  My various family members always remain close in my heart, but I guess I don’t focus on a reciprocal arrangement.  What seems appropriate here is one of those large smile icons – but as much as I use them, I don’t really like them.  There should be words for this feeling.  There probably are, but for the moment, the feeling is overwhelming the examination of itself.

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Sometimes It Takes a Visitor

Day 224

One of the problems in living within an hour or so of Washington DC is the guilt associated with not taking full advantage of the cultural opportunities available in the city.  I can blame a lot on the difficulty in getting there from here, and I can blame a lot more on the Bay Bridge (voted one of the scariest in the country), but the real blame lays either in my laziness, or the fact that I really like where I am.  The point is that it takes a visit from out-of-towners, or out-of-countriers to force me to get to that city of museums and concerts and what all else.  So yesterday, it was Take the French to DC day.  To the Lincoln Memorial (my personal favorite), to the Vietnam War Memorial, to the Korean War Memorial, to the WWII Memorial.  To Arlington to visit the grave of Omar Bradley.  To the Airforce Memorial.  To the Air and Space Museum.  Guitar opportunities were somewhat limited in most of those places, I have to say, and I was looking.  I did not give up hope, however, and finally….  224_365 Guitars   I have no idea what a space popper is supposed to do…but they have the Shuttle on them…


By the way, the winner of the Air Guitar Championship in Oulu, Finland?  An American.   It turns out he wins a real guitar…handmade in Finland.  Kansas native Eric “Mean” Melin walks away with an amazing addition to his resume, and a transparent handmade “Flying Finn” guitar.  Read more here:

Yes, I think the guitar is better than the bar stool back as a prize.   But I bet Mean Melin is going to have to up his game to take on the Flying Finn 2000….  I can’t think what callouses he has developed in his air guitar practice…

BE The Guitar

Day 223

It is good to have Elodie home.  She lives in France, she was born in France, she has French parents.  Still, when she comes here, she is home.  This is wonderful….and the girl got game.  We go to tour DC tomorrow, the 8 or 10 of us, and she knows I have to have a guitar for the day.  We are leaving at a perfectly obscene hour – even for me who rarely sleeps.  So she organized me into a guitar tonight.  I love it when the kids come home and take care of the parents…and I laugh out loud as I say this.  So here you have it.  The perfect French guitar…

223_365 Guitars

Office Wars

Day 222

Maybe it is because I’m tired, and I’m doing this at the end of the day instead of the beginning – but somehow, paper clips in a guitar about 4″ long has posed a larger logistical problem than some much larger…

I am building today’s guitar the night before.  I know that when I roll out of bed to head to the airport tomorrow morning that there will be little time for posting, let alone locating a guitar.  On the one hand, I am pleased to see that I can come up with a guitar from where I am chained to my desk, but I am surprised by how  my finer motor skills seem to have headed upstairs and gone to bed ahead of me this way.  The rest of me needs to follow – chances are, these papers will all still need doing once I get back tomorrow.  Oh yes, they will.  If it is an office war, the office is winning – at least for now.  222_365 Guitars