September 18th, 2005

little review

Poem for Sunday

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The plan early this morning was to go straight from younger son's soccer game to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, but it was decided that older son did not need to be dragged out to watch an hour of fourth-grade soccer so I stayed home with him during the game. When hubby and younger son returned, the phone rang -- a call from our credit card company -- sorry to disturb us but had we charged $12000 at Talbots that morning? Um, that would be NO. So the next hour was spent cancelling the Visa, activating a Discover card we hadn't bothered with because we'd intended to close the rarely-used account, calling the bank to make sure our check cards had not been used since we have no idea how anyone got our numbers (no recent thefts of purses or wallets, no lost receipts, no online purchases from unsecured web sites), etc.

By the time we had finished all this it was after noon and we decided it would be silly to go to the Faire for so little time, so we postponed that until the first week in October and went to Mount Vernon to the 18th Century Craft Fair. This event is held only once a year and we have never been before, as we have tended to go to Mount Vernon either when we have out of town visitors or on weekends when we expect very small crowds, to which a fair is not conducive. I thought that the juried craft show likely attracted very expensive collectibles by fancy vendors and did not know it was a requirement that the artisans demonstrate their crafts with period implements and in period costume. So in essence, we went to a Colonial Fair instead of a Renaissance Faire! We saw a lot of very lovely things -- furniture being carved, medicine being brewed, butter being churned, candles being dipped, silhouettes being outlined, baskets being woven, iron being hammered, wool being carded -- the West Potomac Colonial Singers were wandering the grounds and the Itinerant Band was playing right by the entrance.

The real highlights for me, though, were the military encampment of the First Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line and the performances by The Chanteymen of Ship's Company and Otto the Sword Swallower in the marketplace performance tent. We have seen Ship's Company at Glen Echo and St. Mary's and they are always delightful; today the emphasis was in principle on colonial songs but they sang some sailor's songs as well, and my son who plays the violin gets a kick out of the fiddle player who holds his instrument cradled in his armpit. Otto was playing for a juvenile crowd so he was pretty goofy and couldn't make the obvious dirty jokes, but he did a very impressive routine of fire-eating, fireball-breathing and sword-swallowing.

And, of course, it would be very silly to go to Mount Vernon without touring George Washington's house and estate. Every time we take the house tour I learn something new from the docents and notice something different: today it was that Washington had the key to the Bastille, a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette, mounted on the wall in his entrance hallway, and he had quite the collection of nautical paintings on his parlor and breakfast room walls. The slave quarters, closed when last we were there, were open today, as were the outside kitchens and smokehouse. We did not walk to the graveyard as they were setting up for an outdoor wedding in the evening but we saw the rest of the main grounds.


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Tomorrow, photos of Washington's home and of the sword swallower. *g* Have just zipped through writing four articles, including Threshold's mediocre premiere ratings, Auberjonois signing on for the live action film of The Last Unicorn (now there's a book I should reread -- thanks much everyone for the suggestions!) and Candice Bergen slashing James Spader and William Shatner...excuse me, Denny Crane and Alan Shore. "They are the favorite couple. They are sort of America's sweethearts," she told the L.A. Times.