I Ask My Mother To Sing
By Li-Young Lee
She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
I've never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in Sunday's Washington Post Book World, this week about the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, focused on Jason Shinder's anthology of 20th-century American poems about grandparents, Eternal Light. "I'm struck by the fact that some of the homegrown American moderns defied T.S. Eliot's modernist credo about impersonality and wrote personal poems of intimate relationships," says Hirsch. "These poems are entirely without sentimentality. They aren't particularly sweet and have nothing in common with greeting cards." He cites examples from William Carlos Williams to Hart Crane to Jane Kenyon to Adrienne Rich.
Today my older son needed to visit a friend from school who lives halfway across the county to work on a school science project, so I spent the morning sending out the final batch of holiday things and getting my desk in some semblance of order while he was there and younger son was at Hebrew school. Then we all went to Meadowside Nature Center, which has a man-made cave for kids to climb and slide through, a local Native American straw hut and canoe built on the premises, and many animals, mostly injured birds and pets donated because the owners couldn't care for them, plus hiking trails down to and along Rock Creek. It was a gorgeous afternoon in the 50s and we did a lot of walking outdoors.
At home I had to fold laundry and the kids had played their daily allotment of video games so we all sat down and watched Labyrinth, which I'd gotten on DVD off Best Buy's $6 table and had not seen in well over a decade. Obviously this is not the super-duper remastered box set edition that sells for ten times that amount, so some parts of the print did not hold up all that well (pretty much anything filmed against a green screen, particularly the sequence with the Fraggle dudes) while other aspects (Jareth's magic tricks, the Escher-painting sets) hold up spectacularly. Bowie remains wonderful, and Jennifer Connelly is better than I remembered and I remembered her pretty fondly; she and I are close enough in age that I was quite critical of how Sarah was written when I first saw it and held some of that against the performance rather than the writing. But the real delight in watching this DVD was the making-of special which I had not seen before. How did I not know that Michael Jones had co-written the movie with Jim Henson, and that the Frouds' son played the eponymously-named Toby? Yet my favorite discovery was Gates McFadden; I knew somewhere in my brain that she had choreographed the film, but to see her there in the documentary going by the name of Cheryl and talking at length about her work as a dancer made me so happy! (Henson mentioned that the other people they considered to play Jareth were Sting and Michael Jackson, and I can only say thank heavens that the latter did not happen.)
My husband is making up for not celebrating Christmas in our house and for not being able to see any of his family -- they're all currently on the west coast -- by making holiday cookies to send to all of them, so the whole house smells like baking and I keep getting tastes of things with nuts and cinnamon and powdered sugar. Have updated my picture pages at littlereview.com; feel accomplished. For dinner we had this awesome new Campbell's cheesy soup involving jalapenos and red pepper, so I am in a rather mellow all-is-right-with-the-world state; must remember to get more exercise more often. I talked to perkypaduan, who is feeling much better but is staying in the hospital and will be offline till Tuesday at least, am hoping to visit her but I'm not sure when since my family Chanukah party is tomorrow afternoon (and we need to get gifts for the gift exchange for two female cousins between 8 and 16 -- any clever suggestions, pronto?). If anyone can point me to any good Lost fic, since I don't even watch the show and it's perkypaduan's new favorite thing, I would really appreciate it -- anyone want to write some for her, by any chance?
Another fannish5! In the spirit of the holidays, pick five characters and tell us one present each you would like to give them.
1. Severus Snape: A really good laugh.
2. Kira Nerys: A week off, completely secure about the station and Bajor, to relax utterly.
3. Stephen Maturin: All those diaries he lost, burned or let sink to the bottom of the sea, returned intact.
4. Faramir and Aragorn: A really happy dream about Boromir.
5. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully: The truth...and not that lame truth from "The Truth."
...and a red-tailed hawk with an injured wing. There used to be two red-tailed hawks; I'm hoping the other one recovered enough to be released. This one now lives with a barred owl and a turkey vulture.
One of Meadowside's snakes. Many of the reptiles are former pets; they have an iguana that serves as a warning for would-be-buyers, as it was only a few inches long when purchased, three feet long when the nature center inherited it and now over six feet long; they've had to get it a floor-to-ceiling enclosure since we last saw it in a half-size cage.
There are also local turtles and frogs, crayfish, walking sticks, more snakes, a blind chipmunk, and this tarantula.
In the area with the artificial cave, which also has stuffed and mounted larger animals like beaver and foxes, there's running water and a little indoor pond that one can see from inside one of the cave entrances. Here are fish through the window in the cave; the turtle is hiding.
Outside the window one can spot a wide variety of birds at the feeders, plus some of the fattest squirrels I have ever seen. Here, blurry because of the screen on the window, is a deer that walked through to munch corn left out for the birds. It was lovely to watch, but there's terrible deer overpopulation in the area, and they're planning to allow sharpshooters to thin the herd next weekend. They had signs up about this, meaning that my kids found out about it and got upset. I get upset too but I just don't know enough about local wildlife to know the alternatives; they've built so many suburbs on former park land and done such a good job of eradicating predators that the deer have nowhere to go locally, and I'm not sure where they could be sent or how they could be managed to keep them from walking onto highways and causing accidents that are deadly for humans and animals.