Rodin and Maillot Outside

I love the sculptures of August Rodin. Metal stretches in imitation of flesh, taut or bent or unhappy. Sometimes larger and softer and more crazily dimpled than flesh can be. When I find one in a museum, I usually try to imitate the pose displayed, if I can. I wonder if I feel the way his models did?

This one is not a Rodin, it is by Aristide Maillot.

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There was a Rodin across the lawn and Abbey posed beside it. Titled “Eve”, James thought it might represent Eve being born: unfolding from her natal rib into a whole human woman. Rodin sculpts skin as if it is still moving with energy, maybe by creating a dimpled, uneven surface to the metal although it is polished and reflective.

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Here are tall men looking serious. This particular installation was a row of headless human figures. They had a frightening, serious appearance but looked much more mundane, like folks standing in line at the checkout counter, when the guys stood behind them. Eggs, milk, bread? Oh, good, I’ve got it all!

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Seeing art in dappled summer sunlight feels marvelous. The back of the Nasher Sculpture Center is an open yard landscaped to spotlight different pieces of art. It is a relief not to have to be quiet and slow for the whole museum experience, especially if you are younger than 12 and the museum was your Mom’s idea, not your own! – Katie

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Mushroom summer

I find things and sometimes I don’t know where they have come from. Little plastic dinosaurs in the drawer of my desk, or half an Easter egg underneath my easy chair in the living room. Today I found a lovely bit about mushrooms on someone’s blog but I don’t know where they got it.

“Mushrooms that are in a close group but not close enough to be called a cluster are said to be in a troop. Mushrooms in a group that is a bit more scattered and irregular (loose discipline!) are said to be gregarious.“

I think this is definitely the summer of the gregarious mushrooms. Between my big kids and my little kids family activities tend to pull in differing directions. all the time. I like living with loose discipline better than trying to control things, so as long as we don’t travel too near the edge of the cliff we should all be able to get where we’re going…

Much rain fell during the month of May. As those pools in the middle of yards and roads slowly eased into the ground strange mushrooms sprouted under shade. Orange caps and white domes and circular ruffs straight off the neck of Queen Elizabeth 1. The firm foamy texture of mushrooms and their short lives fascinate me – where do they go? Do they just wither down into the grass? How come you never see dead mushrooms, or mushroom casings?

Like a good mother deathly afraid of any possibly poisonous bit of nature, I will not allow mushroom experimentation, even by the son who regularly dissects any foul rotting thing he finds in the yard. (“Look, Mom, it’s a baby rabbit but it’s just intestines and one foot! And the tail!”)

I appreciate these mysteries… I like not knowing things better and better lately. Less weight to carry.

More reports on the Gregarious Mushroom Jarrett group to come. – Katie

It Is what it Is

There was once a poor farmer who had one son and a small field somewhere in the mountains of Greece during the period of Turkish rule. Life was hard and life was short.

One day, as the poor farmer was working in his field, a beautiful white horse appeared and stood near the farmer, grazing quietly on the grass.

As news of this fact became known, the farmer’s neighbors all came round, congratulating him on his find. “Aren’t you lucky!” they said. “Now you will be able to use the horse to plow the field and pull the cart to market, and you will become a rich man.”

The old man smiled gently. “I do not know whether I am lucky or not,” he replied. “All I know is, I was working in my field, when suddenly this horse came and started grazing. Etsi einai*–that’s just what happened.”

On the following days the horse stayed, but no one came to collect the animal, so the farmer’s son decided to see if he could ride him. Although the boy had no saddle, he found that the horse was quite content to let him sit on his back, and away he went. Unfortunately, after a while, they came to a low-lying branch, and the farmer’s son was knocked from the horse, fell to the ground, and broke his leg.

The farmer’s neighbors came running. “How unlucky you are,” they said. “Your son has fallen off the horse and broken his leg. He won’t be able to help you in the field, and you will most likely starve.”

The old man smiled gently. “As to whether I am lucky or unlucky I cannot say,” he replied. “All I know is that I was working in my field, and the beautiful white horse appeared; my son tried to ride him, but fell off, breaking his leg. Etsi einai–that is just what happened.”

Two days later, a troop of the Sultan’s guard arrived in the village, looking for recruits for the army. At that time the Sultan was waging a battle against a powerful enemy. The soldiers found the farmer’s son (who would have been an ideal soldier), but when they realized that the boy had a broken leg, they left him and went on to the next village, to find recruits there.

When they heard the news, the villagers came running. “How lucky you are,” they said. “The Sultan’s men came to take away your son, but when they realized that he had a broken leg, they left him and went on to the next village. God must really love you.”

The old man smiled gently. “As to whether I am lucky or unlucky I cannot say,” he replied. “All I know is that I was working in my field, and a beautiful white horse appeared; my son tried to ride him, but fell off, and broke his leg. The Sultan’s guard came to take my son away to the army, but when they found him with a broken leg, they left him and went off to the next village. Etsi einai–that is just what happened.”

Days passed, and the boy’s leg started to heal. However, one morning the farmer woke up and found that the horse had disappeared during the night.

When they heard the news, the villagers came running. “How unlucky you are,” they said. “The beautiful white horse has gone–such a fine animal, and valuable too. What a terrible loss. You have nothing left to live for.”

The old man smiled gently. “As to whether I am lucky or unlucky I cannot say,” he replied. “All I know is that I was working in my field, and a beautiful white horse appeared; my son tried to ride him, but fell off, and broke his leg. The Sultan’s guard came to take my son away to the army, but when they found him with a broken leg, they left him and went off to the next village. Then the beautiful horse disappeared in the middle of the night. Etsi einai–that is just what happened.”

As the days passed, the farmer’s son’s health improved, and eventually he was able to walk again. When he was well enough, he decided that he would go to look for the beautiful white horse. Days went by, and the farmer continued to work in his fields. Sometimes it was hot, and sometimes it was cold, and occasionally it was just right.

Several months later, the farmer’s son returned. “You’ll never guess what happened,” he said. “I followed the tracks of the horse as best I could, and eventually caught up with him about twenty miles away. On his back was riding the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Eventually I asked her father for her hand in marriage and as a dowry he gave me the white horse. So now I have returned, the horse has returned, and I have the most beautiful wife in the world.”

As news of this went round, the neighbors came rushing in. “How fortunate you are!” they all said. “Your son went off to look for your horse, and returned not only with the horse, but also with a beautiful new bride. How lucky you are! You must be the luckiest man alive.”

The old man smiled gently. “Whether I am lucky or unlucky I cannot say. All I know is that I was working in the field and the horse appeared. My son rode the horse and fell off, breaking his leg. The Sultan’s soldiers came to take my son away, but once they saw he had a broken leg, they left him here. The horse ran away, and when my son found him, he also found the wife of his dreams, and brought her back here. Etsi einai–that is just what happened.”

Months passed, and one day the old man died.

When news got round, the neighbors came running. “How sad this is!” they said to the young man. “Just when everything was going so well, your father died.” The young man said nothing, but showed the neighbors into the room where his father lay.

There was a faint smile on the old man’s lips.

*Etsi einai: A standard Greek expression, roughly translated (with a shrug of the shoulders) “that’s just how it is.”

Webber, Meletios, Steps of Transformation, Chesterton: Conciliar Press (2003), pp. 196-98.

Ice Cream at McDonalds

IMG_2428You remember our Zoo field trip with the choir early in the summer? We had ice cream at Mickey D’s afterwards. IMG_2429

We ordered 13 hot fudge sundaes and a few dip cones and caramel sundaes to boot, and our server thought it was a typo and only brought us 3 of those fudgey wonders. A mistake that was fixed under the scrutiny of 13 accusatory pairs of eyes. IMG_2430 IMG_2431

Look at all those empties! And that’s only one table. – Katie

And now you are 4…

Helen turned four. There was much rejoicing. She was privileged to celebrate with two other lovely ladies who turned slightly more than 4, but only slightly. aj100

It was a glorious party: one of those kind where the kids disappear the moment you get to the house, and only run through occasionally dashing after the dog or holding legos. Also: plenty of adult beverages and ever-more-exuberant conversation.IMG_2939

Helen got presents to thrill the four year old heart. I think there were pink fluffy animals and small squirrels for your dollhouse.  IMG_2937

And cake! Delicious cake that Abbey made herself. It’s handy, having a sister who likes to bake.IMG_2932 IMG_2936 IMG_2922 IMG_2923 IMG_2927

Being four is fantastic. And much appreciated by all the rest of us.  IMG_2929

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Side note: check out the hams behind Helen and I. You know it’s a good party when it’s full of cute girls. – Katie

Roof People

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When I got home from Saturday meeting (augh! down with those! I shall never attend one again, she said, throwing all her books on the floor) James and the kids were playing on the roof. Is this normal?IMG_3029

Someone had put the ladder beside the front walkway (with the dried-up, summer tired plants) and begun a vigorous round of roof games. There was hiding…IMG_3030

…swinging from the tree beside the roof, rappelling off the roof, and some cautious-but-excited dashing about. IMG_3031

Some are less cautious than others. IMG_3032

Apparently a bag of climbing ropes and cinches had been discovered in the garage, abandoned since Daddy’s teenage years. IMG_3033 IMG_3034

No need to let good rope go to waste, right! Who doesn’t love games that are both dangerous and free? – KatieIMG_3038 IMG_3040

New cat

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We have a new cat named Kevin. Technically he belongs to Corrie, one of her many 10-year-birthday presents, but he is widely adored. He has a sweet nature – fortunately – and a wide furry face. IMG_2977

He is learning the ways of cat Zen and the relaxation necessary for the all-important, all-afternoon nap from Mr. Smokius. IMG_2860

He knows who the master is (guy in blue, just in case you were confused), and how to suck up to him. IMG_2978

He is generally tolerant of being squeezed, danced with, sung to, and carried wildly around by Helen.

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He does a good catbeard. (It is a family joke to wrap the cat around your neck, spring out at an unsuspecting homework-doer, and shout “Catbeard!”). IMG_2907

Imaginary piano playing is among his many talents.IMG_2982

Sometimes he gets overwhelmed (who doesn’t, really), and hides BEHIND all the rows of books in the bookshelves. Then Amos goes splelunking for him with the duster, feeling behind the books to locate him. IMG_2983

I think he’s fitting in fairly well. All the other animals have accepted and embraced him in various fuzzy ways. Thank goodness for pliant creatures! – KatieIMG_2984