hearts and flowers and rainbows

Clearly I thrive on work. The more I get, the more I create for myself.

As a result, my house is a mess. Bills aren’t paid. Leaves aren’t raked. I finally had my roots touched up after — gasp — 16 weeks. Well, they were more like branches at this point than roots.

So, while waiting for a return phone call the other day, I decided to tear apart my office, move around furniture, clear drawers and dump out boxes.

During this purge, I overturned a hand-painted cardboard box. Out spilled a bouquet of heart-shaped messages, written by Girl from the West sometime during her elementary school career. What an unexpected surprise.

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Ain't it the truth? "Everything you do is for everyone else."

Later this week, as I was sitting in my car, yup, waiting for another return phone call and watching the minutes tick away on the parking meter, I searched my laptop computer for the Photo Booth function. I wanted to take a picture of my new hair color to post on Facebook.

Yeah, like I said, busy.

I found Photo Booth, and discovered that Girl from the West has been using it for months. Anger boiled to the surface as I imagined her skulking around in my office when I wasn’t home, snooping around on my computer. I scrolled through the gallery amazed at her ability to strike engaging poses for a computer camera. Where, I wondered, did these pictures and movies end up on the Internet?

I clicked on one and uncovered another hidden treasure. As much as I’d love to embed it here, I am respecting our family privacy. Summary: She’s telling me how much she loves me and treasures our relationship. How can I be mad at her for that? The only thing I feel badly about now is that it took me this long to find it.

Oh, and I figured out how to look like a narcissist and a cheap skate at the same time. Here I am using free Wi-Fi in a parking lot outside Caribou Coffee, posing for my laptop. (OK, just to be fair, I was in Caribou as a paying customer but the piped-in music and the various coffee klatsches were making it impossible to work. I’m not one of those people.)

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Who knew the MacBook camera would be the one to make me look good?

Oh, but I am one of these people: the kind who gets a bouquet of exotic flowers delivered to her front door but rarely answers the doorbell or checks the mailbox, so that when flowers finally are discovered, they are withered and gasping. That’s a true story and so is this:  A friend IRL as well as on the Web sent me a bouquet several weeks ago. What did I do? Unwrap them, trim the stems and tuck them into a vase of water? Nah. I let the poor things wilt in my inbox. Yet, another unexpected pleasure when I needed it the most. Thank you,  TeacherMommy.

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To round out a week of unexpected delights, unicorns and rainbows, my whirlwind trip to Chicago last week concluded with a day at the Art Institute of Chicago. I spent most of my time in the Asian arts section not only because of Girl from the East but also because I’ve been studying the history of China and the history of Buddhism. I stood in awe at the base of probably the biggest Buddha statue I’ve ever seen. Then I rounded a corner, climbed a set of steps and found this:

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Having an affinity for the southwest and for Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, I did what I always do when I’m standing before one of her pictures: I whipped out the camera, quickly snapped a picture, and then stared at the painting until my husband dragged me away.

Unexpected surprises and pleasures, all of them.

Day of art and beauty

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Exterior sculpture behind DIA

After almost two months of non-stop snow and extreme cold, we had a respite. The temperatures warmed to an unbelievable 50 degrees on Sunday, which melted most of the snow.
When Mother Nature peels back her heavy blanket, she reveals many forgotten things:  the dull hues of a sleeping earth, Halloween candy wrappers, and the hope of spring.
These spring teases lure most of us outdoors like cats to catnip. We cannot resist the urge to feel sunshine on our faces and solid earth under our feet. After all, it could be 10 degrees and snowing tomorrow.

I left the house early and headed into the city center to visit some favorite places. I left my coat and gloves in the car. I walked an extra block because the sky broadcast a blinding blue, birds sang in their treetop roosts (a sound I haven’t heard in months) and my spirits hovered somewhere between birds and sky.

Following some quiet time I met a friend at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a place I have not visited in a few years. Its interior space has been reinvented to better display some new things as well as many of the old treasures.
As I strolled the galleries, looking at artifacts, an Egyptian mummy, works of the masters, modern art and photography, I had flashbacks to younger versions of me visiting this place. Each visit brings with it a new perspective and experience. As a child, the place seemed huge and overwhelming (and maybe a little boring) to me. As a college student, I enjoyed contemplating the works of art for hours, having pseudo-intellectual discussions with my classmates.
I’ve had dates there, family visits and meetups with friends. There’s always something new to discover, like finding a Georgia O’Keeffe painting I didn’t know was there:

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Stables, 1932

 

 
And mirrors on strings cascading from a vaulted ceiling:

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