Upon seeing plastic bag trash on the sidewalk…
E: Why is that bag so puffy like that, Mama?
M: Why do you think it might be puffy?
E: Maybe it is AIR?!
M: Yes! See how it moves a little in the wind?
E: Or maybe it is THE PINK PANTHER!
“Lego Star Wars is really interesting, because if they blast people, they just build them again.”
The National Gallery of Art with a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old…
We get to the museum, but everyone is hungry. So the first order of business is food, except that we must walk through two gift shops enroute to the eating area. So the first 500 orders of business are to touch and discuss every item. In one gift shop, Ezra stops at the jewelry. “It is very pretty. Would you like to wear it, Mama?” “Yes, I would.” “Then it would get very old, and you could put it back in the museum.”
After lunch Ezra requests we go to “outern space,” the twinkling tunnel between the east and west wing of the museum. It is, by far, Ezra’s favorite part of the museum. The baby loves it too.
He could spend all day here. We have been in the museum for over two hours and have not yet entered a single gallery. After 5 (hundred?) or so laps through outern space, I convince him we should go look at art. Ezra is enthusiastic. “Let’s see the art. Let’s see the man with the broken sword and the penis.”
Ah, yes. Do you know this work?
It is “The Dying Gaul,” a naked man with a broken sword. It was at the National Gallery earlier this year for a special exhibit and is now (presumably) back in Italy. Well, this sparks GREAT INTEREST in how art travels. Such that the main question about every piece of art we look at becomes “and did it go on a plane?” TRANSPORTATION, people. It is important.
Me:”Look, here is another sculpture. Can you believe the artist CARVED this out of A BIG ROCK?” Ezra: “And did it go on a plane?”
We wander a few exhibits in search of “paintings of men with swords.” We find the Shaw Memorial, but when I am asked about WHY they are going into battle and WHY there is a war, I decide my blood sugar is way too low for this. Time to go outside for another snack.
But first, let’s look at a few more pieces of art.
“The artist called this painting ‘The Sunflower.’ This is what a sunflower looked like to him. Do you see a sunflower?”
“I think I would call it, ‘Big Scary Monster with One Eye.'”
“The artist called this painting “Wind from the Sea.” Do you see the wind anywhere in this painting?
“I see the wind in the spiderwebs!”
“I would like to do a painting of a Jedi spaceship. I would call it ‘Jedi Spaceship,’ but I would write the name ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PAINTING.”
“On the back of the painting?”
“No, ON THE OTHER SIDE. So people can see it. ‘Jedi Spaceship.'”
“I would also like to paint my soccer ball.”
Time to head to the sculpture garden…
“I want to climb this one.” (I agree.)
There you have it, folks. Art appreciation!
It is a sad day. We are selling our beloved VW Golf, Liesel the Diesel. My husband details the car here. Perhaps you would like to make a bid?
But there are some things he is not telling you, dear buyer.
For starters, this is a magical car. It is like the Weasley’s vehicle in the Harry Potter series: magically enchanted to be bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside. This compact car has carried most of the furniture in our house, including a dining room buffet and a couch. On one trip, it held a new table, two adults and a toddler in his carseat. It has ferried suitcases, strollers and travel beds. Yet the car is so compact, it can still squeeze into impossibly small parallel parking spots on DC streets. And with Liesel’s absolutely divine turning radius, it can make a quick illegal u-turn in DC traffic and squeeze into that parking space in a jiffy. (Not that we would know.)
But Liesel is not just a workhorse. This car has personality. She is peppy, charming, attractive. Nice, but not too nice. Sporty. Cool. Liesel has incredible fuel economy, better than some hybrids (and less pretentious). And with a little tinkering, you could even make her run on french fry oil.
The diesel engine purrs. What a sweet sound it is, especially when your toddler is shouting for daddy and you are counting the seconds until his return.
I love this little car, and it has been an important part of our love story. I got to know the man who would later become my husband when I asked him for a ride to church. I was car-less; he was not. He lived in my neighborhood. I thought he was cute. I am not a car person, but when he pulled up in front of my house with this peppy puttering diesel with the bicycle roof rack, I thought “very cool car.” My crush intensified. A year and a half later, when that young man decided to propose to me, he took me in that little car down a very bumpy dirt road, the kind of road one would usually choose to traverse in a Jeep. Liesel, God bless her, made a valiant effort but did not quite make it, and our engagement story became a weekend adventure with a tow truck, a rescue from friends and a beautiful proposal the following day on a different hiking trail. It was perfect in its imperfection.
This car drove back and forth, back and forth, between our two homes during our engagement. It took me to our new home. I learned to drive stick-shift in this car, circling the Carter Barron parking lot with all of the teenagers and immigrants who were also in the midst of driving lessons. Liesel drove us to visit friends, meet new nephews and attend my grandparents’ funerals. It is the car that brought both of my sons home from the hospital. It kept our family delightfully cramped, as we reached from the driver’s seat to pop a pacifier in a crying baby’s mouth in the back.
Can you love an automobile? I love this car. But it is time for her to go to a new home. We can now stretch our legs in a new vehicle that makes double-stroller toting and grocery shopping a dream. We’re grateful for the new wheels. But Ezra and I will shed real tears when Liesel putters away to her new home. She’s got Fahrvergnügen. We love her. We hope her next owners love her too.
Gottspeed, Liesel. Thanks for the memories.