By Spencer Reece
Faux-leather bound and thick as an onion, it flakes—
an heirloom from Iowa my dead often read.
I open the black flap to speak the "spake"s
and quickly lose track of who wed, who bred.
She taped our family register as it tore,
her hand stuttering like a sewing machine,
darning the blanks with farmers gone before—
Inez, Alvah, Delbert, Ermadean.
Our undistinguished line she pressed in the heft
between the Testaments, with spaces to spare,
smudged with mistakes or tears; her fingers left
a mounting watchfulness I find hard to bear.
When I saw the AIDS quilt, spread out in acres,
it was stitched with similar scripts by similar makers.
Another from this week's New Yorker.
I have absolutely nothing worth reporting -- it rained all day, I had a bit of a headache though managed to stave off a migraine, I did lots of dumb organization things and started playing around with holiday card ideas that I ended up scrapping because I didn't really love any of them -- does anyone have any brilliant suggestions for a holiday/New Year card with a Southern/New Orleans theme, preferably with some fannish tie-in that works for both the locale and the holidays?
A view of fall foliage through the Civil War Correspondents Arch at Gathland State Park.
Gathland was the home of Civil War journalist George Alfred Townsend, built in Crampton's Gap, where William B. Franklin's Union corps fought Howell Cobb's Confederate force during the Battle of South Mountain.
This is the lodge where GATH (as Townsend signed his work) often had breakfast; the building above is the mansion.
These ruins are all that is left of GATH's library.
His books, however, have survived, and some remain in print. The Limoges candy dish was part of a set with the Gapland logo (as it was then known) in gold.
The museum has family photos as well, plus letters from Townsend to various colleagues and friends.
The War Correspondents Arch is the most famous structure at Gathland now. The Appalachian Trail crosses directly in front of it.
There are several memorials, national and state Civil War Trails signs, and descriptive markers around the barn ruins (at left), the memorial arch (at right), and the mansion (directly behind me as I took the photo).
Since we have no Tuesday night chill-out show -- maybe when V premieres, if it doesn't suck -- we watched the second episode of the second season of Merlin, "The Once and Future Queen." I liked it much better than the season premiere despite an ongoing shortage of Morgana, who better get lots of screen time in upcoming episodes; I love Gwen, though, so I was happy to see her get so much attention, and I love that she'll tell off Arthur without any concern about their relative social positions. I don't think they have any chemistry -- she has lots more with Lancelot, and Merlin, for that matter -- but chemistry isn't exactly what Arthur/Guinevere is known for, anyway, though I am wondering how that will work on this series, since Arthur clearly won't be marrying the daughter of King Leodegrance if he ends up marrying Gwen.