Month: April 2014

The case for taking your time

I draw your attention to the following two photos. They show the two sides of an egg that Miss Delighta colored with me when the kit ‘n’ caboodle were here last weekend. Now, really look at them. Look at the depth of color and note the differing intensities, from pale green to a dark, rich green, and the way the irregularities on the egg surface affected how the shell took color. Look at the back side (which didn’t get finished; we didn’t have a place to put them so we could paint the whole surface) at the layered colors and how the spiky straighter color applications work.

Snaotheus has always ribbed me about my fascination with children’s art. I don’t care. He’ll learn one day. Little people often seem to have a sense of composition and color that adults don’t, and my late artist cousin (who was very, very good) said most artists spent their lives trying to recapture that. Not every piece of kid art is a masterpiece, of course, any more than grown-ups’ are, but if we take the time to look, we’ll often see some surprising things.

On this egg, Miss Delighta focused with total concentration. While I flitted from egg to egg and plopped color here and there without giving it much thought, she really paid attention to what she was doing. I was impressed with her concentration and her determination to get every bit of that eggshell saturated with color.

And then I found out that Miss D. thought she was too slow! No, no, no, I cry! Putting everything you have into what you’re doing is never, ever “too slow”! It is a worthy and laudable trait. If more of us did this, the world would be a better place.

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Conversations from my day

No. 1

“Delighta! Come here, quickly, but be ve-ry, ve-ry quiet!” I stage-whisper. I struggle not to channel Elmer Fudd. Not a good role model for a 3-year-old.

“Why?” She saunters my way.

“Just hurry. There’s something here I want you to see, and we mustn’t scare it.”

“Why?” She drags her feet along, but finally is close enough I can grab and transport her.

“Look!” I whisper, pointing. “There’s my lizard! See him lying in the sun, soaking up the warmth?”

She sees the lizard, an alligator variety common to the PNW but, I’ve been told, not at all common in my area. She goes on alert.

“What’s he doing?” She cranes her neck, trying to see without getting too close. The lizard is sprawled on my neighbor’s concrete retaining wall, blissin’ out on the rays, eyes closed.

“He’s soaking up sunshine so he can stay warm. He can’t stay warm all the time the way we can, so he has to use sunshine to warm up and get going.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s a lizard, and reptiles are like that.”

“Why?”

Fortunately, I notice a second lizard nose tentatively poking out of a channel in the brickwork. “Look, there’s a second one! I’ll bet they’re mommy and daddy lizards and there will be baby lizards around soon.”

She giggles. “The babies hafta be inside her!”

“There she is!” I point. “See her head peeking out over there?”

“Why he’s not outside gettin’ warm, too?”

“I don’t know. Probably he’s more nervous about us, because we’re big and scary.”

Ringing laugh. “We’re not big and scary! Daddy is big and scary!”

We even find a lizard skin (I’d thought the other day that one of them looked awfully bright and shiny) and I show her the empty legs, toes, and head places.

“Why he takes off his skin?”

“Because lizards and reptiles don’t have skin like ours. Ours stretches and grows with us, but theirs is stiff. When they grow too big for their skin, they have to break it and crawl out of it. Then they have a new skin underneath that’s the right size.”

“Why?”

“That’s just what reptiles do.”

We enjoy this event for quite a long time, long enough for both lizards to come out, decide they didn’t want either of us touching their tails, go back in, one to come out again and scatter off toward the bushes away from us. Then we take our skin trophy downstairs to look at it under a loupe and to get Mom to come up and see them.

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No. 2

We stop, all five of us, at the grocery store for essentials like cheese, beer, and pot pies for dinner. Going through the dairy section, I show Delighta the life-size cow they keep there (actually, she travels all over the store. Today, they’ve given her a six-inch-square of fake grass to eat). Delighta wants to ride, so up she goes. The cow is going very, very fast, toward the barn, she tells me. Her babies are in the barn already.

“Look, there comes people!” she says, pointing. Far away at the opposite end of the store are two shoppers pointed in our direction. Delighta seems not to notice the ones that keep passing us back to front.
“Yep,” I say. “Did you know that the part you’re sitting on, right here”—I outline the prime rib area on the cow’s back—”is the tastiest bit of the cow?”

She gives me a “you’re weird” look.

“We eat cows,” I explain. “Cows are delicious!”

She holds dead still for a second, staring at me. Then throws her head back in a huge, all-encompassing laugh that spreads over all the old women and young couples passing us and makes them smile, too.

“We don’t eat cows! That’s silly!”

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No. 3

The whole crew has come up today so Delighta’s dad can help with The Roof. The Roof is a perennial sore spot. It’s always growing moss and always needing its moss swept off and always needing to be sprayed with moss-no-grow stuff. I have a short crappy ladder that my sons can use to get on my roof, but I cannot. I am too short and, they would argue, too infirm and bad of balance. I mumble that I really ought to get a decent ladder, one of those extension jobbies, so that I could get up there and do some of this.

“No, Mom, you don’t need a better ladder,” says Snaotheus.

“But I could at least sweep the moss off if I had one. I need to paint the house this summer, too, and if I had one I could reach the high bits there under the roof.”

Son puts an arm around my shoulders. “Mom, let me put this a different way. I don’t want you to have a better ladder, because you might use it. I love you, and I don’t want you to fall off the roof and break your neck.”

————————————————————————————————–
More photos from the day, with stories considerably abbreviated:

Little Mister helping Daddy put Grandma’s TV-video-monstrosity back together with all the wires in the right places. (This necessitated a trip to Goodwill to dump half a garage full of junk and then to buy $20-odd worth of cables in the Goodwill store for $6.)

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We Are Not Amused when our little brother wants to take off the fridge the glitter stickers we have just painstakingly placed on them. Little brother is not particularly upset by being forcibly upsot onto his bum. He is a cheerful little soul.

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Having missed the Official Holiday, Miss Delighta and I mis-used markers to color some eggs. Please note the green one, onto which she lavished great care. This is observable in the lovely variety of intensities on the green egg she painted. We collaborated on the one with the red, blue and green spots on it.

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Not sure whether Little Mister was looking at his reflection in the door or at the dog outside. Blue Dog spent much of her day soaking up warm sunshine. She is most definitely looking in, though.

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This is just plain cute. 🙂

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Daddy and Little Mister came upstairs with me to assess what remained to be taken to Goodwill (that will fit in my car). There’s a bunch of stuff I’ll have to call the ReStore or Sally Ann to come and pick up. If they will. Please to notice the tiny, charming little curl that has just shown up on the very top of Little Guy’s head.

“Look! There’s a unicorn!”

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“Oh. Well. Maybe not.”

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The tail’s the tale

In case you don’t recognize this, it is a portable, reassignable tail for use when one is pretending to be Strawberry Shortcake’s cat Custard.

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Just one guess

That’s all you get. What caused all this uproar in my kitchen?

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The playlist in my head

The last few weeks I’ve noticed that my brain seems to have a playlist. Unless someone deliberately sabotages me with an earworm, there’s nearly always a song or a tune putzing around somewhere in the little gray cells. When I go to bed, it may be “The Flying Purple People-eater.” When I wake up, the “Queen of the Night” aria from “The Magic Flute.” Next night, Leon Redbone singing “Dancin’ on Daddy’s Shoes.” Morning after that, “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth, then “Take the Name of Jesus with You” and “Marrakesh Express,” and “This Old Man” and the “Futurama” theme song.

They rarely repeat. I don’t know where they come from. Sometimes they are songs I actively despise, so what is Brain up to? And what does it play when I’m unconscious?

I’m beginning to think it’s a three-pound bundle of subversion.

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And the third time is . . .

. . . the charm, or so they say.

The doubled-up bobbins in the foamcore stand wound up not working well, even though I taped the stand to the little tray. They jerked out of the slots too easily.

So here is the third iteration of The Solution, this time with each bobbin pinned (with big, heavy T-pins) to the back of my cutting board (fabric cutting, not food cutting; it’s a folded up sheet of corrugated cardboard with inch-square grids printed on one side), so I can keep the thing on my lap and have everything in its place. I managed to knit two rows this afternoon before I went bonkers, which is twice as much as the previous iterations allowed. (Do not laugh at the photo. I have not the height to get it all in one, nor as far as I know a stitching function anywhere.)
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