Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Cheese for Critters and Knowing in Kelvin

I'm not the only one on vacation. So is my baby sister. She, like me prefers to occupy herself with company so I volunteered to spend the day with her while everyone else was at work. We started when I finally woke up around noon by combing through cook books trying to find something our notoriously picky eater father and brother would deign to eat for dinner and then bundled up and walked in to town. It was a beautiful winter day in Ann Arbor, the kind of softly falling snow that is magically accompanied by mild temperatures. We went to Sparrows produce in Kerrytown and bought what we needed to make minnestrone soup, played with toys in the toy store upstairs and tested the insanely swanky furniture in another spot for comfort. I drank my first cup of coffee in two weeks and it tasted wonderful. After enough pestering from me she decided that a trip to the library sounded fine. Although she's 10 years old and a reader of the sophisticated chapter book, she enthusiastically allowed me to read to her one of my favorite picture books of all time (with which she was unfamiliar), Maurice Sendek's classic metaphysical surrealist romp, In the Night Kitchen.

When a voice came on the speaker announcing there would be a free winter book making workshop for kids downstairs in five minutes we made haste to the basement. We were soon joined at our table by a classmate of hers, a sweet and very bright girl and her younger brother. The Activity leader showed us how to make some accordian-like paper books and prompted our narrative instincts by printing the following phrase on the board:
In the bleak mid-winter...

Some of our gang had a hard time getting started so we did a little exquisite corpse type of deal to get us all inspired. Tonight after dinner, I presented my parents with my and Jo's books. It was a sensitive moment you could tell watching them read, side by side, the works of their oldest and youngest children. Jo labored very hard on some lovely colored pencil techniques which cut into her composition time. It's a shame you can't see those pictures here. Mine, not suprisingly, is devoid of illustrations:

Cheese for Critters(by Jo):

In the cold mid-winter she went for a walk.
She saw a hawk eating a mouse.
It was bloody and GROSS.

Knowing in Kelvin (A Midwest School) (by Abbyg.):

In the bleak mid-winter
against and because of instinct,
I take a train eastward into the snow.
There are secrets Californians could never know
like the way Chicago breathes wind into blood and bones
or how night eats day
like grabbing burgers on the way home
or the measure of bodies
as form under covers
or leavers of tread prints
in a range of substances hardly indifferent
clicking on ice we become metronomes
breathing steam like machines
whose greased, glass gears
wind slowly in the cold.
It's in cycles that the story unfolds
and stolidly informed,
we go.


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