Friday, May 29, 2009

Busy little fingers

At our last teachers conference, one of the topics Eva's teacher discussed was how dexterous Eva was. According to her, Eva can make such intricate works and is ALWAYS using her hands, tying thread, braiding grass on hiking day, her hands are never idle.

Last week, Eva went out in to the light-well area at the bottom of our downstairs neighbor's door. I was busy doing my "work" in the flat. She kept coming in and out. Once in a while Eli would throw something the two stories down to her. When it was time for dinner I asked if they'd cleaned up, they assured me they had. When I looked out the window I saw little tiny pieces of skulpy from their birthday. I fussed and gave them the dust broom and pan.

It was not for a few days later that I saw she'd taken the two vases that I stored the unbelievable amounts of the clay they had, she'd turned the faxes on their sides and made two lovely scenes - the detail is amazing: the water lilies on the pond, cattails lining the other pond, dancers/fairies doing splits alongside the water, and a bird in the tree. I fussed at her for putting it on the glass so I can not get it off. Now I sit and look at it on their art table all the time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Old crown

Last spring Eva came home in a crown made of vines. She was lovely as can be. I've kept the crown as a reminder of the delight, the season, the young girl. It is now time to say good-bye to the crown and let it become compost.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dance Eva Dance

The beginning of this year Eva and Eli took a dance class at ODC which was about movement and fun. I was a big fan of this class, they came out sweaty and smiling. The one thing that was tough was getting to the Mission for a 4:00 class during rush hour traffic to find parking... we were always sprinting down the sidewalk to get to class on time, not mention the difficulty in dragging two children out of their cozy house at the end of a long week.

I was proud of Eva because we found on the first day that 3 of her best friends from her kindergarten were all in the ballet class across the hall - it was much more structured and formal. I waffled for a day or two trying to drop our class to get her in with her friends but got sensible and kept her where we started. She was such a big girl about it and never complained. Of course as soon as class was over she'd run down the hall to join her buddies.

The next semester everyone was moving over to a small school in Noe Valley for a 2:00 on Monday class. I went with the flow and joined. On the first day, Teacher Kelli handed me a form regarding the RECITAL! arghhhh I did not want to be a part of a recital. This brought back many memories for me. I really never understood the purpose until you were older and could perform a real ballet. Anyway, we stayed and Eva LOVED her dance class. Starting in March all I've heard about is the recital, the costumes, the rules behind stage. Eva was to be a trapeze artist along with 15 other children from three classes. While Shu Shu was visiting she was able to see the dress rehearsal, the great unveiling of the dance. We had Beatrice and India over to get ready for and go the event. Eva was in heaven.

Last Saturday, Art and Eli went to Louie's birthday party. leaving Eva and I to prepare for the big performance, complete with make-up and hair gel. She was so poised and delighted with the day that I almost took back all my dreaded feelings about the event. We went out to Pasta Pomadoro for dinner (all dancers need pizza and ice cream before they squeeze in their costumes!). We turned the corner to James Lick Middle School and yikes - the hoards of parents, dancers and other fans were swarming to the school. I failed to mention that it was at least 90 degrees still at 5:00. I dropped off Eva, met Art, Eli and Leon and we found our seat in the un-airconditioned auditorium for an 1 1/2 performance, that started late. Eva's dance was #13. She was one of the last children on stage and she was giving a piece of her mind to the other dancers, getting them in place. She was so happy on stage. The piece de resistance was when she and India held hands and Zander jumped up and they swung him back and forth.

Eva was pleased as punch. I was so happy for her and so pleased she had the experience of dancing on stage. I do think a diva was born.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

new life

Sunday Eli cam running in the back door from the garden yelling down the hall, " mama there is new life in the garden, mama, there is new life in the garden," over and over. I met him at the door leading in the kitchen, bent down and asked him what he'd seen. His face was aglow. With his mouth smiling from ear-to-ear, he announced in almost a whisper, "there is a salamander, well, actually three salamanders."

post card heaven

I've been volunteering for two years at the senior center that is associated with my church. I first got involved as something to do with the children during the summer and a way to have the children have a connection to seniors as we live so far from grandparents. I mean every child needs an older adult fussing at them to "slow down!" "watch where you're going."....

So, every Monday I show up and either sit at the front desk taking money for the lunch, sometimes assist the cooks in the kitchen or mostly just walk around and chat with seniors (this is something I'm very good at doing.)

Needless to say the place has completely grown on me. I merely serve them lunch but I'm the one who has 50 new friends. I became very fond of a distinguished gentleman in his 90's, always wearing a blazer and enters the center wearing a baret - very fetching. He speaks with a thick European accent, which I found out later was German from growing up in Austria. He was a confirmed bachelor and has only one living friend left who lives in L.A. I always hear about her, she used to work for the LA Times and they talk twice a week. He is always bringing clippings from papers, books to share and ready for a political debate, always. He was volunteering for Hilary's campaign and met her at the age of 90.

A year ago he'd come to the center and tell me how he could no longer take the bus because he'd fallen twice trying to get off. He was walking the 8 up-hill blocks to get the center. When I left for my summer in VA, he said he'd no longer be able to come, he was unable to step off of curbs so I immediately offered to drive him to/from the center. I always feel badly as he I'm always in a rush, as I'm late picking up kids from school but all the same, we've become friends. He even called me on Christmas in VA to with me merry merry.

He's wanted to thank me some how for what I do. He offered me his museum post-card collection for the children. He's spend over 30 year collecting images of painting/sculptures from museums around the world. They span entire art history from the cave paintings from Lasceaux to modern 20th century art. My first thought is, "where am I going to store these things in my apartment? (basically 10 card folder, over 3,000 images.) But I said okay, I'll take them.

Monday was the day I arranged to pick them up. He was so excited, he was waiting for me in the lobby of his building. It took me four trips to get them all. He has an extra spring to his step. His apartment is frozen in time, it harkens back to the 60's, sparcely furnished with tapestry clothes, 60's pottery, art prints on the wall. He was so pleased with our effort.

When I picked up the children they were so excited to see the boxes piled around the car. Eva grabbed two and spent the entire ride home looking at images. She would ooo and ahh about what she was seeing. There was an odor in the car, a mix of dust and an old person smell. When we got in to the garage she was trying to get out of the car - she would not put down a box and was determined to carry it upstairs. I let her get two out of the car, she had to make two trips. For a long time she would look a the images. After dinner I would read to them the title and artist from the back.

The next day when we arrived home from school, Art was parked across the driveway so I parked across the street. The children wanted all the boxes in the house against my protests that I'd not created the proper space for them yet. They loved that I looked for traffic and let them run back and forth across the street with out me, shuttling the heavy boxes up the stairs. They now rest under the Chinese chest in the living room. I want to put them on a large bookshelf some day. It is precious watching them leaf through the boxes.

email to friends regarding Dad's surgery...


so i'm writing after the had surgery yesterday to repair a blockage in his intestine. For two years he's had several rounds of violent illness that has landed him in the hospital for three - five days of recovery. all along they felt it was a blockage and FINALLY this time they found it. yesterday they removed 4 inches of small/large intestine. he's recovering nicely and is apparently is pretty funny on morphine. mom said all day he kept thinking they were moving him so they could conduct a meeting in the next room. at moments he'd realize there was no other room and look confused. mom is tired but sounds relieved. dad will no longer suffer from a pain in tummy that he gets every morning at 4:30 so hopefully good sleep lies ahead for Branch.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Raising modern, California pioneers

The children and I have made our way through several chapter books of late that are based around the theme of homesteading. We started with Smiling Hill Farm, moved on to My Side of the Mountain, and are currently in the Little House in the Prairie series. I'm cleaning the house right now, preparing for Susan Bender's visit. My task was cut out for me as I've has to go through the 7 bags of supplies from Art's bonfire party (more on this later). Just for the record - this why I could never live near the beach - sand sand sand.

Anyway, as I worked the children are busying themselves homesteading the dining room/hallway. Pinecone has killed several deers, cured the meet and fended off Eva who was trying to demand his prize. I suggested Eva try bartering with him offering him some of her wheat or vegetables she grew. Next thing I heard they were working together grinding wheat. Soon they moved to cutting down pineapples, gathering mangos and curing olives...alas, they have arrived in California.