Saturday, April 23, 2011

Semiotics for preschoolers

Sitting in the sun on the deck.  The plum trees are blossoming.  Wren is assembling another deck from the out of legal magic the gathering cards.  The sky is all blue and the lawn is suddenly lush and overgrown. In the distance we can hear the drone of cars and lawnmowers.

Wren:  Mum, why do all those thing have different names?  Like CROW and TREE and PLATFORM and HOUSES and FORTS and SWINGS and that is all?

Me:  Why do you think?

Wren:  I think it is because things are look different so if a tree looked like a fort it would be a treeHOUSE.

Me: I think it is so we can tell people about things when we are not right next to them. Like, I can say "dragon" and you can think of it in your head even when you can't see one.

Wren:  But why different letters?  Like B-W-R-E?  I can't understand!

Me: That is so people can read the letters and know the name of something.

Wren:  Oh, so what does B-O spell?

Me: That spells "bow"

Wren:  I spelled "bow!"

Alex: Well, that is actually b-o-w! 

Me:  In linguistics they call the word the signifier and the thing it means is called the signified.  The signifier can change in different languages.  So, in Indonesian that thing is called a pohon?

Wren:  pohon pohon

Alex:  pohon pohon

Frost stands in the sun in silence, bending over an ipad and a calculator as he researches and adds the costs of all the proxy cards in Alex's new Take That magic the gathering deck.

"It is going to cost $22," he says, looking up.  Its cheap for a good deck!

Wren:  Argh... nobody is going to the car to get my Hedron Crab.  Why... AAAARRRRGHHHH!!!!!

Me:  Alex, are you going to get it?

Alex:  Maybe, when I am done lying in the sun.

Me:  Frost, will you?

Frost: Nyah.


Me:  I will get you candy if you go and get it.

Frost:  I am going to get it!

Alex:  No, I am coming....

They all run off.  I am left in peace but now must rise and get candy.  Thank god for the Easter Stash.  At our BBQ this week people were discussing what kind of multi-millionaire was crazy and what simply the natural amplification of eccentricity by wealth.  I would be a lazy billionaire.  Imagine what I could get people to do for me if I gave out golden easter eggs for acts of service.

Sitting here, with the sun so hot the rivets in my jeans are burning my hip, being crazy in the name of indolence doesn't sound so bad.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dragon in my soup, spring fires still hearthing

I'm having a rare lunch at Vios.  The familiar thump of the barrista clearing the used coffee grounds, the chink of plates and cuttlery, the ladies knitting around the big table and the usual spread of laptops on heavy wooden tables against the backdrop of cheerful fusion music is something I miss now that I work from home and seldom have the excuse to retreat here.

I'm having my favorites:  Kopanisti dip (sorely missed during my 2 months as a vegan) and the soup of the day (tomato fennel) with bruschetta.  It would be perfect if I had another hour here, but as it happens I am between 'running to the grocery store' and 'fetching Frost from Magic the Gathering' before 'checking owner claims' for my work.

Puff, puff.  I blow on my soup and the olive oil twines like a small dragon on the surface.  I am sure someone could read my future in the parsley leaves.

Anyway, enough about the present and the future.  Surely, you want the past?   Kids are on spring break this week so have been home more.  Frost has been having many playdates and sleepovers while Wren draws, plays iPad, comes on errands with me and does lots of gardening and playing with wooden weapons in the yard.

There is still no progress on the house front - we have been looking but the houses that would be just right are priced just-wrong (by a $100K+) while the ones we see are either too small, remote, soul-less or oddly wrong.

Last week, I took the boys to the Seattle Central Library - an architectural feature of downtown.  They were stunned and impressed and excited - reminding me that they haven't really been to many famous or splendid buildings.  As a child I'd visited cathedrals, museums, castles - big old things with cavernous interiors - while neither of them can remember being exposed to structures designed to impress.  I vow now to take them to places that excite (incite?) the imagination to rebel against the stubbornly utilitarian.  
Seattle Central Library - designed by Rem Koolhaus

Frost examines a display cabinet of skulls at Seattle Central Library

"They are REAL SKULLS" says Wren, factually incorrect.
Other than that - we have been on the usual routine of soccer, food and entertainment.  I had a few deviations last weekend - I ran a 6 mile 'fun' race at Bellevue in 54 minutes (my fastest time since injury).  I think I did a minor calf pull as a result (apparently I have to balance distance and intensity better because I don't feel tired but my muscles give out) but enjoyed it mightily.

I had a run-in of another kind at a designer lingerie boutique.  If I was a courtesan I would shop at Zovo all the time.  They tempt you into a boudoir curtained in taffeta and bring you piles of lacy things in your size 'to try'.  I should have left my pocketbook behind but .... well, I didn't.  I think I have said enough and now have a love-hate relationship with Simone Perele.  Next time I think I will go with Trina who tells me she has low inhibitions, good taste and high standards in the lacy-bits department. 

What else?  Blegh.  Time to fetch Frost so no news about the growth of the herbs on the deck, the sudden sunshine or the plan to make s'mores tonight.  No time to draw a tableau of our fireplace, still in use in late spring or of the anticipation of easter.   Adieu till then...