Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Our Busy Weekend

Saturday morning. Nora has a fever. She lay in my arms, limp, radiating heat. Sat up, crying, then vomited her purple juice all over the blanket and the couch. Cried out in surprise, then fell helpless to another tummy spasm. We folded the blanket over, threw it on the floor, lay back again. “I feel better,” she whispers.

Sunday we drove to the Garfield Park Conservatory to see the Niki in the Garden exhibit. French artist Niki de Saint Phalle created massive cement figures covered with intricate and beautiful mosaics of colorful stones, glass beads, ceramic tiles, mirrors. The scale is gargantuan but approachable – tiny doorways at the bottom invite little ones to crawl in, windows ask you to peek inside.

Some pieces are beyond four-dimensional – you enter the skull to find a luminous room, light pouring between the teeth and through the ears, as beautifully appointed as the outside. Each tooth glows with studded rows of pearly stones.

Beautiful. The girls touched and climbed and sat on the sculptures to their hearts’ content. What a great introduction to the joy of art.

Monday. The girls’ Uncle Ron came for the Memorial Day parade and a bike ride. He said he had stayed up all night working on the computer last night. “Man, I haven’t done that since college,” he said. He is looking for work, but since he is staying with family, not needing to come up with rent or food money may be taking the edge off his drive. “Okay,” he mutters to himself. “Live and learn.” He is able to rouse himself out of a sleep-deprived stupor, out of the strange spirals in his head to talk gently to the girls and draw pictures with them. I do love spending time with my brother.

Today, mulling over possible new preschools for Mia next year. The far one with the philosophy and teachers I like the best? The beautiful, closer one?

Last week I ran into an old college buddy, Sean Callahan, who has written a children’s book since I saw him last. It was so great to be able to tell him how much Mia likes his book.

(I had to do the telling of course; Mia turned shy when I introduced her. I imagine she pictures the people who write books resembling the characters they create. Can’t you just picture Dr. Suess sitting at his purple lopsided desk, suspended ten feet off the ground on wobbly striped legs?

And anyway, I’m somehow proud of her not turning into a courteous little grownup on cue. Cause she’s just a little kid. And cause I have no fear of her suffering from chronic shyness – this afternoon, she flew into the park, screaming, “Hi Friends!!” to perfect strangers.)

Sean’s book, The Bear Hug is a gentle story of Cubby Bear and his loving grandpa hanging out, learning stuff together, sharing, making memories, being bears. Chicago sports fans will appreciate the little in-jokes; children will want to act out the special hug of the title.

The adorable illustrations of the special affections between grandfather and grandson are by Laura J. Bryant.

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