Nature XXXV: The Rat Is the Concisest Tenant
By Emily Dickinson
The rat is the concisest tenant.
He pays no rent—
Repudiates the obligation,
On schemes intent.
Balking our wit
To sound or circumvent,
Hate cannot harm
A foe so reticent.
On Sunday we went to Mount Vernon's annual Colonial Market & Fair, where I got to see both Ngech and Dementordelta! Sadly, we didn't get to spend very long with the former, as she had to go rehearse Shakespeare in Klingon (which is too awesome for words -- I've owned The Klingon Hamlet since it was released), but we did get to watch 18th century chocolate-making together! The rest of us sat and had a picnic behind the marketplace, with Ship's Company playing music just on the other side of the trees and the rat-catcher visiting with his adorable rat. Then we walked around the market -- we especially admired the handmade soaps, the glass, the teas, and the lace merchant -- before heading down to see the farm animals, including nine piglets, several sheep, some cows, horses, and chickens, and a turtle found by some boys in the woods on the property that we're hoping they put back where they found. We did not tour the mansion this time, since we're waiting to do that Christmas week when the upstairs is often open to visitors since it isn't so hot. We did talk like a pirate very much, but then, Mount Vernon was never raided by pirates so far as I can recall.
The local militia's drummers visited guests after a display of riflery in front of the mansion at Mount Vernon.
The food and craft tents of the marketplace were set up in the field across the path...
...where Delta, Ngech, and I visited the most important tent together.
Otto the Sword Swallower demonstrated another of his talents -- breathing fire.
Lace merchant Monsieur Le Farceur de Villeverte demonstrated the production of his art and offered to buy our children to work for him for a penny.
The Itinerant Band performed on one of the market stages.
Adam helped a sheep reach the grass outside the pen on George Washington's colonial farm.
And a pile of piglets slept inside the slats of their pen.
We missed all of the Ravens game and much of the Redskins game, which was not a loss in either case considering how hard both teams tried to lose -- Baltimore's Flacco threw the ball to Cincinnati practically as often as his own receivers, and the Redskins blew a big lead, finally letting the game slip away in overtime. In the meantime Paul made peanut soup (which I always crave when visiting Mount Vernon since the inn there has fantastic peanut soup), and I started washing the dishes, doing the laundry, etc. while the kids finished their homework. Afterward we all watched Merlin, then Boardwalk Empire, which had gotten excellent reviews in a couple of places.
Spoilers: Merlin wasn't quite as much fun as the season opener, but any episode that rips off The Two Towers so shamelessly is going to be entertaining to me, and I'm digging Evil Morgana so much that I can overlook how much Gwen is now little more than Arthur's cheerleader and pep talker. I rolled my eyes when the dragon started spouting cliches like "She is the darkness to your light, the hatred to your love," but I love that the dragon is out of the dungeon and Merlin can ride him like Harry Potter on Buckbeak. I also love that Merlin is completely terrified of two women and I doubt he'll defeat either completely in the time frame of the series, though I'd love a female character who is both super-powerful and not evil for a change. I so prefer Morgana fretting over her clothes when she's playing a role and it's really the furthest thing from her mind, and saying things like, "If you breathe a word of what you saw, I will make your life short and painful." She knows Uther loves her, and since he's as warped as she is, they deserve each other!
And Arthur is very cranky when Merlin isn't around, and lies around shirtless in bed complaining, and I can forgive the pep talks from Gwen because he appears to care far more about the pep talks from Merlin, even if he also says "God help me." (And Merlin prepares for a siege by making sure Arthur can have his favorite breakfast!) My older son said, "Guy love" while Merlin was helping Arthur put on his armor; my younger son said, "If they stole any more from Lord of the Rings, there'd be a lawsuit." It's a bummer that Morgana has to cheat and use a staff from the Isle of the Blessed rather than her own power to raise an army of the dead, but I like that she is furious about the things Merlin should be furious about -- having to live in secret, an outsider among her own people, risking execution -- and that she can kick his ass at swordpoint (I note that he is the one who cheats and uses magic). What I don't get is how neither Gaius nor Merlin can figure out why Uther is so blind to Morgana's faults. Hello, Merlin, don't you recognize love when you see it?
I thought Boardwalk Empire was very well-directed and superbly cast -- it drove me nuts where I'd seen Michael Pitt before until I realized it was Dawson's Creek, then I was embarrassed, though with everyone from Steve Buscemi to Dabney Coleman, I must give kudos to Scorsese's casting directors. There were some lovely, lovely touches, like the preemies in the incubators in a storefront next to salt water taffy and beneath a giant cigarette ad, and I loved the casual introduction of Al Capone. But the screenplay really did not impress me -- of course the politician's story is all bull and he's drinking, "never let truth get in the way of a good story" is a glaring cliche, and we all agreed as soon as the wife got the money that the Irish guy would beat her, she'd lose the baby, and he'd get killed. Couldn't they be more creative than stereotypes and the expected sex and swearing? I'll watch next week but I wonder whether it'll stay as impressive visually without Scorsese running the show.