Saturday, September 20, 2008

Monet to Picasso

So I don’t know what it was in my previous entry… but the internet was up and running the next day. Still haven’t figured out how to connect to the new scanner, but I do have the internet.

The “home office” in the breakfast nook is my new favorite place to be. And the dining room is nearly completely back to normal. I cleaned up the TV room last night so we could have pizza and a movie, and for that hour at least, it was all done and clean. All that’s left is the office, the big project in the first place. I have to finish painting, clean off Jeff’s big ol’ desk, and get it out of there… then assemble the new one. My hope is to get that done this next week, though Jeff will be in town and possibly needing to take some calls in there. The shelves are looking great, and I put the lights on the top of them and rigged them up to come on with a new switch I mounted on the wall near the door on the stairs side… which is where we usually come in anyway. Considering that the light switch on the opposite side of the room doesn’t work for some reason, it’s nice to have at least one switch that does work. I’m tickled about it.

School is going very well, both girls love it. Thing 2 is so excited to get to kindergarten she hustles around in the morning. Thing 1 is less of a hustler, but I think she’s enjoying first grade. Mrs. McDonald, the kindergarten teacher, commented to me one day after I’d volunteered that even though she has a very small class this year, she has a really young one. A lot of birthdays in July and August. She noted that while Thing 1 was slower than some of the rest of the class at completing her work each day because she was so meticulous and detailed in doing things exactly the way she wanted, Thing 2 seems to be slow because she’s distracted… just looking around and chatting and stuff. The couple times I’ve watched her, the rest of the kids on her table can be half or completely done with something, and Thing 2’s paper is completely unmarked.

I had an eye appointment this week. My eyes have gotten worse – time for bifocals. I opted to just take my glasses off to read, but I also wanted contacts. They way they deal with this is to give me one contact for distance vision on one eye, and no contact – just my naked eye – to see close up on the other eye. The eye with the Salzman’s nodule on it goes without a contact now. I was intending to not wear my contacts too much, but my mother was suggesting I’d probably wear them a lot, just to avoid the hassle of glasses. She has the one-eye-far-focus one-eye-near-focus thing with her contacts, though she said it took them a while to figure out that her close focus and far focus dominant eyes are different from most other people, so they had to switch her prescription to reflect that. I’m hoping my eyes are more toward the norm, so I can go without a contact on that nodule eye.

On Tuesday my folks drove down from Logan to go with us to the Monet to Picasso exhibit at the Utah Fine Arts museum. When someone commented that if this exhibit were in Los Angeles she would have gone to great effort to see it, it would be a shame if we didn’t go now that it’s so close and easy to get to.. Here it was up the street from us and time was slipping away and we hadn’t been. I was surprised at the fact that there was a line on Monday around lunchtime when I went to buy tickets. I kind of psyched Thing 1 up for it, talking about art and artists, but I thought Thing 2 would be bored. Luckily someone suggested I bring a stroller, and I thought to bring a paper and pens for Thing 1 to draw, though later I found that others had been told their kids could write NOTES but not draw…. Luckily the docents around us never said anything to us.

We started off pretty good, listening to our little remote recorders, talking about the paintings… moving along. Then at one point we were in a room with a dozen other people milling around and I looked up to see Thing 1 standing quite close to a painting, reaching out to point at something on the canvas with a pen. Her pen was probably a foot away from the canvas, but I wasn’t close enough to move her hand and I panicked and said her name “(Thing 1)!” to get her attention and to get her to stop pointing a pen at the canvas. She was crushed. She went catatonic. She slumped over, dropped her head, and frowned and sulked.

I was stricken. I had BROUGHT Thing 1 to this exhibit. I wanted her to see these paintings, to be inspired by them. I had not brought her to SUILK in the middle of the room. I tried talking to her. That pissed her off. I tried ignoring her. She ignored me right back. Ironically, the painting she was standing in front of was a Moriset, I think, of a woman sitting in a field. The audio recorder that went with the painting quoted the artist as saying “I wish God made me a child” which I remember because I thought it was slightly confusing – she wishes God got her pregnant? No, she wished God would give her the perspective of a child. Here I was with this fabulous child who has an amazing perspective, and she is standing catatonic in the middle of the room. I pleaded, I begged, I reasoned, I implored. She ignored. I ached, I pained, I fumed. Mom, Dad, Thing 2 and I moved to the next room. Mom went back and tried to get Thing 1 to move on. She refused, and Mom gave up and went back to Thing 2. I stood in the next room, looking at some Monets, and nearly cried. Finally, after Thing 1 was in the first room full of strangers for a while, I went in and bodily picked her up and carried her to the next room where I held her up so I could whisper in her ear and I started talking fast about the color in the Monet we were standing in front of, and how he decided he wasn’t going to use black anymore, just blues and greens for the darker tones, and how the whole painting looked over exposed and bright but how beautiful it was, with the white limbs of the trees and the house and the sea… and how in this one you could see there were people way off there under the cliffs at the shore, but how far away they were, they were just dots but you knew they were people. And asking her – “Do you see any black in this picture?” and trying to engage her. Finally she thawed. Gladly, because I was getting a little tired of holding her. After that, she really warmed up and we talked and looked at each painting… she pulled out her paper, as I expected, and claimed space on a bench and started drawing. Though not with the crayons, with a pen. She was first inspired by a beautiful huge Pissaro with trees all over, a little goat in the middle, and a guy sleeping off to one side. This inspired her to draw an elaborate treehouse with a trampoline below one door, pulleys and ramps and who knows what all. Mom moved on with Thing 2, and Dad moved on wandering around. It turned out Mom took Thing 2 through the afternoon and Dad and I took turns either sitting by Thing 1 to keep her company, or wandering through the nearby rooms to see everything that you might miss if you were just tethered to one spot with Thing 1.
Thing 2 did fabulous. She enjoyed pushing the buttons to start the recordings on her remote for each painting or sculpture, and she looked and walked and listened and rode in the stroller. Thing 1 drew several paintings, and was completely absorbed until we got to the Picasso room, where she was sitting and drawing until she heard me say the two magic words when I was telling Dad that Mom had taken Thing 2 to the “Gift Shop.” She abruptly announced she was through with the exhibit and ready to go to the gift shop.

All in all it was every bit as successful for Thing 1 as I had hoped, despite our initial kerfuffle, and much more successful for Thing 2 than I had hoped.

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