By Heather McHugh
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.
Calm comes from burning.
Tall comes from fast.
Comely doesn't come from come.
Person comes from mask.
The kin of charity is whore,
the root of charity is dear.
Incentive has its source in song
and winning in the sufferer.
Afford yourself what you can carry out.
A coward and a coda share a word.
We get our ugliness from fear.
We get our danger from the lord.
I spent a delightful day with dementordelta, of whose presence I was deprived over the weekend since the weather made us put off going to the Brandywine Valley together. We went to see The Princess and the Frog, which I really loved -- yes, it's Disney and it's not terribly successful at exploding either gender or racial stereotypes, but it's still a big improvement on most previous Disney movies, and given that it's set in a specific historical moment and setting, it's rather pleasantly idealized for children in that it never seems to occur to Tiana that being female or black should interfere with her goal of owning her own restaurant. The prejudice she encounters has everything to do with the fact that she's working-class, and the traditional Disney dream of marrying a prince is soundly ridiculed as a southern belle's fantasy based on her complete lack of understanding of the world outside her Garden District mansion (it never seems to occur to her that she could make Tiana's dreams come true just by asking her father to give Tiana a loan for her restaurant, even though Tiana is her best friend).
This is also the first film in classic Disney mold in which the heroine has a living, supportive mother -- it's undercut a bit by the fact that being a cook is Tiana's father's dream, and the mother is firmly scripted as a helper first to him, then to her daughter, but she obviously did a good job raising Tiana in the years after her father's death in the war, and there are repeated references to the support of the larger community around them -- this isn't bookish Belle being ridiculed by everyone she knows until she finds a wealthy beast to tame as her life's work. And how glorious New Orleans seems, not just the fancy Garden District and the French Quarter, but the shotgun houses and Cities of the Dead, not to mention the bayou... I knew as soon as I first saw the trailer that I would have to see this movie, having been at Saint Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square and the Cabildo and Bourbon Street and Cafe du Monde and the Mississippi Riverfront and Honey Island Swamp last summer, and as a movie about the music and food and festival atmosphere of the city as well as the struggles of the underclass, it's utterly delightful.
When we left the movie, we picked up falafel and a salmon kabob at the Persian restaurant in the same complex, then we came back to my house to eat them while watching the end of Due South's second season and the beginning of the third. I find the transition between the Rays difficult -- it took a long time for Ray K to grow fully on me, though I think a lot of the writing became better as the series went on. My kids came home and ended up watching with us (as did the cats, who were looking for warm bodies to snuggle near). Paul made shireen palow for dinner, so I ate really well today...undoubtedly much too well! Thanks to synecdochic for this heads-up about LiveJournal's plan to require people to pick a gender, and thanks to gbvlr for passing it on.
These greens were on an old desk in an upstairs bedroom for wreath-making.
This is the bed in one of the downstairs bedrooms...
...and some of the furniture in a sparse upstairs bedroom.
A drop-spindle demonstration was going on beside the cooking stove.
Musicians played harps in the front room...
...where guests could put together pomanders with ribbon, oranges, and cloves.
Here's a view of the pomander-making from outside the house.