In Philadelphia. Back soon.
It’s gotten very cold here — it’s going to be 61 degrees in SF today. A bit warmer here across the bay but not much. Well, it’s 63 degrees here in my house.
M and I went in to the city yesterday to see the Picasso exhibit. It was crowded, which was not entirely pleasant, but interesting. It was an exhibit of things which he kept and never sold — so things that had special meaning to him. Maybe it was just the cast of the audio tape (which I can never resist), but I think it was sort of the cast of the show itself, which started off with a quote that keeping a sketchbook, or by implication a collection of works done over the course of a life, he was also keeping a diary. So one really was encouraged to consider the life as it was revealed in the art. There was another quote (by Picasso) about how unpleasant it must have been for women to realize through his painting that they had been supplanted. Anyway, one of the paintings I liked best was a portrait of his son Paul dressed as a harlequin. But it also made us think about life and careers. In what medium is my life documented? Books read? Laundry folded? Meals cooked? Kind of —
I think we’re going back to another museum today to see a Roman mosaic and some Flemish landscapes. (Did Flemish landscape painters leave the story of their lives in their paintings, too? I’ll bet they did, and that makes me think of Kaspar David Friedrich, who certainly did mean to imply more than just landscapes in landscapes.)
Certainly parts of Ian Frazier’s life is documented in his Travels in Siberia, but interestingly enough, things are also not — although I am enjoying it immensely.
Anyway — time to take a shower and put on something a bit warmer. This really is a sign of summer around here, and also a sign that it’s time to take ourselves off to warmer climes. And we will —
- I believe all air travel has been arranged up until M has to go to school, and I really should do that one, too.
- Remaining to be scheduled: dentist, haircut.
- Some things need to go to the cleaners, but actually, I can do that in August.
- Watch batteries!!!!!
- We may survive this yet.
In other news,
- I think M is making a cake
- Museum visits: Friday?
- We have the phone number for the Irish cousins, but now someone has to be brave enough to call it.
- Fondant: good idea? unnecessary fussiness? Where does it come from?
I had the sort of weekend that leaves a person reeling, and happy to come to work on a Monday morning for a chance to recover one’s breath. I’m here early, before much is going on, and with luck I may have a few minutes of peace and quiet.
I’m trying to think of what I did that was so exhausting. Saturday M and I cleared out N’s room, which M had been using as a box room for three partially empty suitcases, lying open and half-disemboweled on the floor. There was just a whole lot of cleaning. Cleaning is a fine thing, but exhausting.
Sunday we met an old friend of K’s for breakfast. She was quite nice, her husband was quite nice, and after breakfast we went to a bookstore where I got a cheap copy of Ian Frazier’s Travels in Siberia. I spent the rest of the morning wishing they would go away so I could read my book.
I went home and rested a bit, while M was off learning how to walk dogs at the animal shelter (she’s already learned how to pet cats). We were planning to go into the city to the museum, but by the time she got back it was too late. I folded 87 loads of laundry and made up the bed in N’s room for our visiting friend P. Dinner and conversation with P and mutual friend KP, then to bed.
I think it might be that the busyness of driving M back and forth to the barn is taking its toll. And then I did not go for a hike and instead cleaned the house. I feel all stiff.
But we got M’s ticket, and M and N are indeed going to meet up in Ireland to work on a farm. With sailboats, apparently. And M will get there a bit early and hopefully spend a few days with some third cousins. Whom with some luck we will have figured out how to contact.
Next weekend is our last weekend at home before I go off to Philadelphia and M, while I’m gone, to my mother’s. Eeek.
Maybe we need to have a picnic on the beach . . .
It feels like the 4th was the apex of summer, and now we’re on the swing down to fall. In 2 weeks I leave for Philadelphia for a conference. M will head to my mother’s. I’ll meet her there and then she’ll head off to further adventures with N. I’ll fly with my mother to visit my grandmother and then home, and then in a few more weeks the kids come home, we hustle M off to school and, a further few weeks later, we hustle N of for her senior year. It’s all passing much too quickly, and it suddenly feels like we have to pack a million things into the next two weeks.
I don’t really know what we’ve been doing since May, but I think it must have been pleasant.
Saw the tom again this morning — off to the side of the road on a lawn, gobbling angrily at the cars going by.
We’re an intrusion, clearly. And the hens were nowhere to be seen.
This is M and my favorite thing (well, mine anyway) at the Academy of Sciences Museum. It’s a mountain lion!
It’s a very fierce predator, but doesn’t it also look like a cat who wants its head scritched?
Here you can see how it’s actually planning to eat M. Or maybe he just wants her to pet him.
On my drive out to the barn this morning I encountered the following things, which I was planning to list Three Beautiful Things style:
- Coming up the town side of the hill, a doe and her twin fawns, still dotted, amble up the road looking for a yard to escape into. They duck into a driveway.
- On the way back from the barn a man is trundling a wheelbarrow full of feed up the road, somewhat distractedly. A small grey cat, tail erect, follows him, talking vociferously. I drive very slowly and in my rear view mirror I see them cross the road into a driveway. The cat is talking the whole time.
- Back in the park I stop. Two female turkeys are crossing the road while behind them a tom, back feathers puffed up and tail displayed, follows. He looks quite grand, and also a bit worried about the car. His grand exhibition has been ruined, or maybe the hens were never really interested. He can’t decide whether to inflate or deflate and finally waddles across the road, half puffed up.
I’m also reading a wonderful book — The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal. The author himself sounds like an interesting guy — he left high school and became a potter, then studied English at Cambridge, then later won a scholarship to study Japanese and he now makes his living as a potter (well, really an artist who works with ceramics, I think). But then, it turns out he is related to Charles Ephrussi who was both an art connoisseur and collector of impressionist art in 19th century France. M and I saw an exhibit last year of Japanese woodblocks and then the French and American art that was influenced by all things Japanese as Japan opened to the west. A small painting by Manet of a bunch of asparagus that we admired was originally purchased by Charles Ephrussi. He was also, apparently, one of the models for Charles Swann in Swann’s Way. The book is about a collection of netsuke originally purchased by Charles and then passed down through the family, eventually to Edmund, and I’m assuming it’s going to be about the history of the family — a wealthy Jewish banking family who originated in Odessa as grain merchants. It’s a fascinating book — I’m not entirely sure where it’s going, but it’s interesting so far.
Here’s a good review. (It’s interesting to me that he mentions his favorite netsuke at various times, and each time it’s a different one.)