By Roger Fanning
My car passed over him but I could see
in the rearview mirror he was okay.
Then again, is a thing so soft ever safe?
I drove on to sit by a bed in Intensive Care,
where my father slept among machines. As if grateful
for wet grass, the frog wept with all his skin,
so happy, so helpless: not dead, not dead.
This Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World is about Fanning, "an only child who nursed both parents to their expensive graves within a single year," Mary Karr explains. In "Frog," she adds, "Fanning's sonic diction recreates the frog's ribbet-ribbet rhythm in the last two metrical feet: NOT dead, NOT dead. Undoubtedly, that's what the son's heart is hoping." The poem is from The Island Itself.
Yet again we had absolutely beautiful October weather -- low 60s, partly overcast -- so after Daniel got back from Hebrew school and I had finally finished and posted my review of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part One", we went to Mount Vernon for Fall Harvest Family days, where in addition to lots of agricultural activities -- wheat treading, flax spinning, apple roasting, and the pursuit of a runaway chicken -- there were folk musicians, beekeepers, wagon rides, games and visits by both George Washington and his servants and slaves. Indeed, we met the General by the Potomac River, and Silla, who lived beside the pioneer farm, in the slave cabin where she talked about life in the small building with her husband and six children.
After we walked back through the woods on the property, where signs describe Washington's beliefs about conservation and the animals and herbs that lived in the forest in his time and ours, we visited the sheep and pigs that live on the upper farm, then drove three miles to the newly rebuilt gristmill and distillery. None of the original buildings remain on that property and houses have been built all along the highway which was once Washington's farmland, and the ladies who worked for preservation of the mansion in the 1930s worked just as hard to distance themselves from the idea that a Founding Father had been a producer as well as a consumer of alcohol, though Washington's whiskey production was a rousing success. Normally it costs extra to visit the gristmill and distillery even for people with yearly passes but they're free this weekend, so we went to see the water wheel turning the millstones and the tubs of mash simmering.
Inside the distillery, fireplaces heated copper stills...
...while this enormous tub boiled the "liquid gold."
Initially Washington employed two coopers to make barrels, but he ended up needing five.
Corn was used to sweeten the whiskey and rye made it spicy.
After the first few years, Washington had all the whiskey sold before it had even been produced, and used the money to buy the ingredients.
A view of the miller's house, now the gift shop, through a distillery window.
And another view of the flume that brings water to the restored distillery, which thus far has only produced two bottles of whiskey -- one sold for a great deal of money at auction to raise the money to complete construction earlier this year, the other safely stored in the building.
1. If you could be an animal, what would you be and why? Some kind of soaring bird, in a region with few predators and an ample food supply.
2. If you could mate two animals together, which would you pick? I don't really believe in messing with nature that way. The fact that something can be done doesn't mean it should.
3. What would you call the offspring from #2? See above. I'm not sure whether mules would occur in the wild if people had never domesticated donkeys and horses, but there are words for the animal in ancient Greek and Latin; the more modern "zorse" is prone to illnesses.
4. If you could change an animal's colors, which would you pick and which colors would you use? I must be really boring because this doesn't really appeal to me either. I wouldn't mind if some of the more rare parakeet colors were more common in the wild, but I'm guessing there are reasons they aren't -- camouflage maybe.
5. If you could make one animal extinct, which would you pick? As tempted as I am to say cockroaches, I assume there's a good genetic reason they've survived so long and are likely to survive whatever atrocities humans commit on this planet.
fannish5: List five characters who are best equipped to survive in alternate universes, and why.
1. James T. Kirk, Star Trek. He's already been in at least two and survived -- Lazarus's and Bearded Spock's -- plus he's intelligent, adaptible and thinks quickly on his feet.
2. Iolaus Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He's also switched universes and adapted, he has sharp instincts, he's very true to himself no matter his external circumstances.
3. Captain Jack Harkness, Doctor Who/Torchwood. For all intents and purposes, he's lived in alternate universes and different timelines and he's still standing...and sane.
4. Sarah Jane Smith, Doctor Who/The Sarah Jane Adventures. Unlike Rose Tyler, she wouldn't spend all her time desperate trying to get back to where and with whom she was before; she's focus on where she is now and what she can do there.
5. Cinnamon Carter, Mission: Impossible. She's already a chameleon who seems to enjoy the excitement of changing who she is and performing for new audiences; she's also capable of getting along with a wide range of personalities and being clever under pressure.
My kids were happy to see Variety's report that Fox has ordered a full season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, though apparently this may be in part because of fears that Dollhouse will be delayed. Elsewhere I saw speculation that Sarah Connor may move to Wednesday nights at 9 when Bones might deliver a receptive lead-in, which would be fine with me since I'll be watching Pushing Daisies on ABC the hour before. I am delighted to report that Maryland shut out Wake Forest, Penn beat Columbia and Penn State came from behind to defeat Michigan. And I watched Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live mostly to see if Tina Fey would play her better than Sarah could play herself, which Fey did -- Sarah looked a bit stiff and uncomfortable, while Alec Baldwin was hilarious and completely comfortable insulting Palin to her face under the pretext that he couldn't tell her from Fey. (Sarah got revenge announcing that Stephen was her favorite Baldwin -- no surprise there, considering he's said he'd like to beat up Obama.)