Ravenna is, at first glance, very similar to other Italian towns. There are the houses in every shade of yellow from cream to orange. There are the leaning towers and the churches with scroll-top facades. There are the narrow cobblestone streets, the random gates where walls used to be, the statue of Garibaldi, the stone wells in courtyards, the loggias.

But there are a few nuances. The first, of course, is mosaics. Just as everyone I’ve read on the subject promised they are magnificent and impossible to describe or adequately photograph.

Here are a few photographs of Roman and Medieval mosaics. Note also the stone windows. The colored mosaics are mainly walls and ceilings, while the black-white-red ones are floors, and tend to be older.

And here are a few of the modern ones from the MAR museum

The beige rectangle below is a great example of why it’s pointless to photograph mosaics. It’s called Motion. It looks exactly like a field of dry grass in the wind – very alive and fascinating. One can spend a lot of time standing in front of it, but the photo is just a beige rectangle. I think part of the reason is that our eyes constantly move, and mosaics, especially deep ones like this one, change with the angle of view without the viewer consciously noticing the change except as a suggestion of life and movement.

And, of course, the street signs are also mosaics. And there are mosaic flowers all over to assure me that Ravenna is a friendly city for women.

Besides the mosaics there are less striking differences. Ravenna thinks of itself as a green city, and while it would not be considered particularly (or at all) green in North California it is more green than any other Italian city I saw. There are little “parks” everywhere – just squares with a few trees or bushes, but they do gladden the eye. And lawns, and trees. And there are at least three large parks, one of them in an old Venetian tower.

Another difference is the cult of Dante. Dante lived here after his exile, finished Paradise, and was repeatedly buried here.

There is not one, but two Dante museums and a learning center, and multiple statues of Dante. Note the two statues sharing a lawn, and two portraits of Dante sharing a wall. At first I thought that people wandering the streets wearing laurel wreaths and carrying bouquets were cosplaying Dante or on their way to offer him homage, but no – that’s part of the college graduation here. It was, however, a very natural mistake. Every day, at sunset chosen citizens come to Dante’s tomb to read a canto from the Divine Comedy. This started on the 700th anniversary of his death in 2021, and was supposed to only last one year, but they enjoyed it so much they plan to keep doing it forever.

In fact, Dante was not merely buried here once in 1321, near the cloister of St. Francis’ monastery. Dante burials are like Dante statues – why stop at just one? They do something with his bones every century.

In the 15th century they moved his sarcophagus into the cloister. In the 16th century the Florentines realized how wrong they’d been and started asking for Dante’s bones. This request was supported by the Medici popes (Florentine) and Michelangelo (employed by the Medici popes) and finally succeeded in 1519, but the Franciscan monks hid Dante’s bones in the wall. In 1677 they took the bones out and put them in a box. In 1781 the bones were put back into the sarcophagus and the whole thing moved into a brand new tomb outside of the cloister. To show how sorry they are Florence supplies the olive oil for the ever-burning lamp inside the tomb. In 1810 Napoleon came around and the monks hid Dante’s bones again. Florentines, meanwhile, sneakily bult another tomb for Dante in 1829 and waited. In 1865 the bones were found and put on display in a glass coffin, then re-buried again, disappointing the Florentines. In 1944 they were taken back out and hidden and re-buried in 1945, perhaps forever, but I bet Florentines are still hoping.

Below you can see the tomb, the glass coffin, the box, the place Dante’s bones were buried during WWII and the laurel leaves in jute bags designed by Gabriele d’Annunzio that were brought from Rome and scattered over Dante’s grave by four very brave pilots in 1921 on the 600th anniversary of his death.

But the coolest thing in that neighborhood is actually the crypt of St. Francis, where Dante’s funeral was held. St. Francis is a simple church, almost undecorated except for some fairly typical baroque frescoes, an elaborate animated nativity scene, and a lovely coffered ceiling. But their crypt is beautiful. It’s flooded (Ravenna sits on a marsh), covered with mosaics (of course), and populated by goldfish. Supposedly it contains the remains of bishop Neon who finished the construction of the city’s oldest standing monument, the Neonian baptistery (there’s also an Aryan baptistery built by the Ostrogoths half a century later). I am particularly glad to have seen it, because I’m unlikely to see the Istanbul cisterns and I have long wanted to. Of course, this isn’t the same – but columns, and water, and arches…

Yet another special thing about Ravenna is its history. It was the capital of Western Rome Empire in the 5th century, then the capital Odoacer, and then of the Ostorgothic kingdom (also 5th century) under Theodoric. Theodoric originally agreed to rule jointly with Odoacer, and they even held a banquet to celebrate this, but during the banquet Odoacer was somehow killed. Accidents happen. This is why so much of the architecture here is different – Ravenna’s important period came earlier than those of the surrounding cities.

In the 6th century it was taken over by Byzantines who proceeded to put mosaics everywhere the Ostorgoths missed. Having done that Byzantines were overwhelmed by the Lombars in the 8th century. Lombards were promptly overwhelmed by Franks led by Pepin the Short (first Carolingian king), who handed Ravenna to the popes. The popes showed their gratitude by encouraging Charlemagne (Pepin’s son, the important Carolingian king, first post-Rome emperor in the West) to take anything he liked from Ravenna to his capital in Aachen. He took a lot and Aachen definitely moved much higher on my list of places to visit after I saw what he left.

In the 13th century they had a lot of wars that ended up with the pope on top, but in the 15th century, just like everyone else around here, Ravenna was conquered by Venetians. Venetians built the awesome castle that is now a public park, and then the popes took over again and continued ruling all the way until unification of Italy in 1861, with a brief interruption for Napoleon.

All this means that they were relatively poor at the time when their neighbors were tearing down Romanesque churches and building Renaissance ones and couldn’t afford to destroy all the mosaics. In fact, Ravenna seems relatively poor even now. I haven’t seen churches with peeling ceilings and ivy climbing in through the windows in any other city. It also means that unlike their neighbors they had three kinds of Christianity – Aryan, Byzantine Orthodox, and Catholic, which makes the iconography refreshingly diverse.

The last different thing about Ravenna is that it is so quiet (and I say so despite the one loud restaurant they have that’s right under my window). There are few people on the streets, no lines anywhere, and in the MAR museum I was one of maybe a score people on the first floor (modern mosaics) and the only one on the second (everything else). Having empty museum rooms light up before me was interesting, but at the same time I felt oddly responsible to the artworks and probably looked at each of them more carefully than I would have otherwise.

Btw, did you know that the place where the Goths held on the longest was Crimea? Apparently there were some Gothic villages there as late as the 1940s. The Goth capital was Mangup, near Sevastopol. Their kingdom eventually was overwhelmed by the Huns in 5th century, but they kinda sorta held on as a Byzantine client state until the Khans came around in 15th century. It’s really amazing how much I don’t know about Ukrainian history.


In Bologna’s Civic Art Museums I saw a painting by Pelagio Palagi showing Leonidas II sending Cleombrotus (also II as it turned out) into exile. And there’s nothing I like as much as a classical subject I haven’t heard about.

Turns out Cleombrotus was a son-in-law of Leonidas, king of Sparta. As Sparta has two kings Cleombrotus made nice with his Leonidas’ co-ruler, Agis IV and allied ephors (magistrates), and took over Leonidas’ throne when Leonidas was exiled.

Leonidas left, taking Chilonides, his daughter and Cleombrotus’ wife with him.

And then he came back next year, killed Agis, appointed new magistrates and exiled Cleombrotus. That’s the moment we see in the painting below (note Zeus doing a Batu Khan impersonation in the background).

And off long-suffering Chilonides went into exile again, this time with her husband and two sons. There’s no story of her ever returning to Sparta and it is likely that she didn’t live long enough, since all we know is that her grandson had to come back from exile to take over Spartan throne almost sixty years later. I hope she really liked Alexandria or wherever it is she actually lived all those years.

Bologna- Last Day

My last day in Bologna started wonderfully. On my third attempt I finally made it to the Sette Chiese complex. It’s a group of seven churches centered around St. Stefano Basilica and while the basilica can be seen at any time the other churches are on an odd schedule.

Note St. Peter looking almost exactly like Bodhidharma.

And outside St. Stefano’s there was an antiques market. Now, there’s a flea market just about everywhere I go, but antiques? That was much more fun.

I even found one doll of the kind I like, but, unfortunately, not in a good shape. Those markets are always interesting, but can make me sad if I let them – there are so many obvious collections there – puppets, or bird brooches, or porcelain figurines. I saw two bouquets made out of beads – some woman spent hours on these and no one wanted them after she was dead. It’s the kind of thing that makes one want to stop making things and embrace strict minimalism.

From there I went to Palazzo Albergati to see Fantastic Animals.

It’s a really beautiful exhibition around the concept of fairytale animals and their unity with humans. Here are some of the more striking things I saw:

Cow with houses (or castles? or towns?) inside by Mario Consiglio. For me a cow is the essence of peaceful life, a cow filled with small towns a perfect metaphor for civilization. This cow grazing and sleek, warm light shining through, looks like someone who’s been through a lot, and has scars and wounds to show for it, but is at peace and letting their inner beauty glow through the gaps. Consiglio’s message is, as much as I understand it, about surviving catastrophe and shining with a shared hope.

Unnatural history exhibits by Dario Ghibaudo

Giraffes by Sandro Gora, including Marylin on the grid, with air lifting up her spots.

Some completely flat canvases by Mario Ricci

Tangram rabbit and three-sided prism puzzle paintings (bird/fish/sea creature/animal/human) that viewers are intended to reconfigure by Camilla Ancilotto

Overall an exhibition it will be very pleasant to remember.

Afterward I went wandering, and found one of Bologna’s lost canals. This area used to be called Little Venice and the water served the local silk-making, but the canals are closed off and paved over now. There’s a small window to look at the small piece of canal that remains and a large queue to do so. I decided that I can do without a window view 🙂

At the end of the evening I took a random train tour of the city center and was glad to recognize all seven of the “secrets of Bologna” the audio guide riddled at the end.

Between Pelagio Palagi, the ceiling of the anatomical theater, the Fantastic Animals exhibit, the Lamentation for Christ, and the beautiful porticos in the quiet hills leading to St. Luca I’m glad I went to Bologna. As I travel more through this region I find more things I didn’t know about (like the whole Italy vs Pope thing, or the fact that Bolognese citizens were strong enough to keep Friedrich II’s son a prisoner for years or a view of WWII that is very different from both the Russian and the American ones).

Lucky day

Today was an incredibly lucky day. Below is a partial list of all the things that were lucky:

  • In the morning it turned out there’s even more really interesting stuff to learn about tea ceremony than I thought
  • Ginkakuji turned out almost completely uncrowded, and far more beautiful than I remembered
  • Right outside of it there were chestnut cream puffs, which aren’t sold except in the Fall
  • Our route to Nanzenji happened to go along Philosopher’s Path, which I wanted to see again but didn’t really have time
  • Along the path we met a gentleman named Marita, who taught us to make bamboo flower boats and drop them into the Lake Biwa canal (this trip has waaay more Lake Biwa canal than my first one) for luck. Mine floated 🙂
  • Sanmon gate at Nanzenji was open, unlike the last time, and we got to go to the top.
  • Nanzen-in was open, and I didn’t make it there last time either
  • While everyone else was eating I made it to Konchiin temple, and saw the crane and turtle garden and the shrine to Tokugawa Ieyasu (with his statue and the famous dragon ceiling). The garden was beautiful and completely empty.
  • While there I was exactly on time to also see the tea room designed by Kobori Enshu (see the first bullet point – how timely that my morning reading told me who he was) that contained Hasegawa Tōhaku’s Monkey Reaching for the Moon’s Reflection with it’s heart-stoppingly elegant fingers. On normal days one can’t even see it – it was a special exhibition. On this day one more minute, and I would have missed it. There was also the Wet Crows screen, which I know I’ve seen before, but cannot remember where, and can’t find images of it. It’s hilarious and beautiful.
  • Just as I ran out of time it turned out the Einkando temple was hosting a night-time illumination
  • I had to wait for it, and accidentally walked into the cutest cafe, full of statuettes and old cameras. A very nice old lady with Brezhnev eyebrows waved a coffee cup at me. I didn’t have the energy to refuse, which was lucky, because as it turned out I needed coffee.
  • I took a spot in line and everyone made it to me just as I was about to go in. Given that it was a half-hour line that was miraculous timing. I also got into this line just in time, behind me it became far longer.
  • As we came out there was exactly one taxi waiting and it was waiting for us
  • Right as I was rested, bathed, and becoming human again B. told me that Naked Flowers at Nijo castle were on until 10 pm and there was no line. Naked Flowers turned out to be a combination ikebana exhibit, illumination, and flower-themed cartoon show on castle walls with great music and aromas. This also means I got the leisurely walk through the castle gardens I was missing.
  • Nita Prose’s latest dropped just as I was running out of books

Nanzenji turned out not to have been the temple I thought it was. That is to say, the ineffably peaceful temple I thought was Nanzenji is a completely different temple, and I don’t know which one. But, on the bright side, it gives me a reason to come back and search for it. Thoroughly. Kyoto has less than 2,000 temples – how hard can it be? 🙂

Tea ceremony

Turns out that the tea ceremony we know in USA (Sen no Rikyū, wabi-sabi, small tea huts, poetry of the simple and humble…) is wabi tea (wabi meaning simple as in (as far as I understand) “простолюдины”).

There’s also samurai tea, baku-cha ( deriving from work of Kobori Enshu ) (also growing from Rikyu, but claiming to be an improvement) and shōin, or drawing-room tea, for priests and aristocrats. This one seems to be served in large pavilions (e. g. Golden, Silver, Floating pavilions in Kyoto).

Of course, once one starts looking one finds that the samurai tea at least is being exported, that English-language practitioners of both are all over, and I just never met any and am, from ignorance, failing to recognize the distinction when I see someone drinking tea in popular culture. Since they influenced each other continuously the differences would be even harder to see for an uneducated person.

After all, there’s a whole long history of tea in Japan of which I was almost entirely unaware.

Still, one would think that shōin tea would be easier to tell apart from the other two and it takes serious digging before one even learns that it exists. But, since shoin reception halls are used in the samurai tea way perhaps it got enfolded into that to the point where, again, a profane viewer will not be able to tell them apart at a glance.


Mammy’s Cupboard, Natchez, Mississippi


Simone Leigh, Cupboard, SF MOMA

“Leigh, who names Black women and femmes as her audience, invests her work in what she sees as “a tradition of thinking about the status of women by associating the body with the idea of a dwelling, refuge, container, tool, even a loophole of retreat.””

Simone Leigh was born 27 years after this slowly-whitening restaurant was built, and nowhere near. Her artistic intent, as I understand it, seems entirely the opposite to the intent of the architect, as I understand that.

Naked emperors

Victoria Goddard’s new novellette, Game of Courts, is about Cavalier Conju enazo Argellian an Vilius, the Emperor’s chief personal attendant. It is lovely and sensitive and his viewpoint is extremely distinct from Cliopher s. Mdang’s – a hard thing to do for any author, let alone an author with a strong and beloved character right there in the same book.

Conju is in love (explicitly) with the Emperor. Cliopher is in love (to his own surprise, he thought it was a whole lot of other things) with the Emperor. So is the Moon and a lot of other minor characters.

Of course this makes me think about why an admired leader must also be a desired person.

Vespasian: Sacellum Augustali
Naked Vespasian

Of course there are half-naked pictures of Putin and Trump, as well, but Vespasian is somewhat less ugly. And yes, I know that Vespasian’s nakedness is supposed to be heroic, not sexual, but the sexiness is definitely there. I think the viewer is very much supposed to realize that kneeling to the Might of Rome may not be all that bad.

The funny thing is that I can’t remember any naked Great Leaders in Europe between Rome and Putin (except Napoleon, see update). Both Hitler and Stalin appeared fully clothed in every portrait I’ve ever seen, so did the British and Russian monarchs. In fact, the only Western Naked Great Leader I can think of is Washington.

His statues, of course, appeal to the Romans and bypass the centuries of Christianity. Perhaps the conclusion one may draw from seeing Trump’s and Putin’s nipples is that they are post-Christian.

Update: I am wrong, and badly wrong. Of course there was a Great Naked Leader in Europe, and it was Napoleon.

This is Napoleon as Mars the Peacekeeper by Canova, 3.5 meters tall and very impressive. This photo is of a copy from his Napoleon’s mother’s house in Rome. The original was sold by the reinstated French monarchy to the British, who gave it to Wellington as a gift. Wellington put it (all 3.45m) under the stairs in his house and used it as an umbrella stand.

Shortly afterward a group of English women commissioned a statue of Wellington a full meter higher, which I sincerely look forward to seeing when I’m in Hyde Park. Wellington, however, was not a ruler and so does not really fit into the theme of this post.

The Mysteries

Finally read Bill Watterson’s and John Kascht’s new book. I can see why it took them years – it’s beautifully drawn in a Breigel/German fashion. On the same page some things (e. g. the background) can feel like a misty watercolor, others like a still shot from a plasticine cartoon, and others like a photograph. It’s unsettling, dark, and hopeless – again like German’s Hard To Be A God.

It’s very good, but I wish it had been very different, and I wish Bill Watterson was happy enough to make a different book. Unfortunately, he seems to be a realist.

Mission Bay

One of my favorite neighborhoods in SF – clean, futuristic, walkable, and full of tasty things.

This is a futureform called Orbital that expresses optimism about the future with diversity, equality, and inclusion. Its makers also describe it as a contemporary folly. I don’t think they thought through the more cynical ways one can interpret this, given that “folly” is not just foolishness, but one that specifically results from lack of foresight or practicality. Arguably, it’s not even a folly, since follies are, by definition, buildings, and this is more of an installation or a sculpture. But it’s lovely and joyful and it made me happy today.

This is Ichiren-Bozu, “a mythic character that implies consciousness by Masako Miki. It also implies growth and prosperity, which I choose to take as a good sign as I enter a period of conscious (get it? get it?) growth.

I love SF 1% art tax almost as much as I love SF’s POPOS.

It paid for this installation, as well as the Mokumokuren at right. The idea of continuous eyes, a demon that leaves in torn shoji until it’s repaired, being actually a protector is pretty awesome. I believe it’s the artist’s own, since in the legends I read the eyes were anything but protective.

The ghosts of the old umbrella and back-scratcher below also seem very friendly and helpful.

Today’s aesthetic experience has been brought to you by taxation, as are so many of the other things I enjoy, which is probably why I’ve never felt bad about paying taxes.

One thing I learned today is that the Bay Trail is already 350 miles long, and projected to be 500. I think this would be a fun walk and should definitely remember it as a future project.


Took the kids to see The Tudors today. My mental images of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Edward VI are based on a very limited number of portraits, and every single one of those portraits was there, as was pretty much every other artwork I would name if anyone asked me to make a list of Tudor artwork. The few that were not there were used in explanatory texts. Most artworks were so immediately familiar that seeing them feels like unexpectedly seeing an old friend. They did not look anything like I would’ve expected.

In person they are very real and alive, to an extent that I never guessed from the photos. Despite the overall flatness of the background. Despite the unrealistic proportions of the furniture. Despite the costumes and the make-up. “They could almost step out of the frames” is a cliché, but alas – an inescapable one.

Crafts were new to me, and amazing.

The detail is overwhelming. There was some blackwork embroidery with patterns so tiny and complicated I could barely distinguish them, and suits of armor covered in patterns on patterns, dizzy-making.

Incidentally, this particular suit of armor is supposed to be blue (based on the explanatory text). I generally think of this shade as brown. Another odd thing about this suit of armor is that the breathing holes are only on the right side of the helmet.

The kids claim they enjoyed the exhibition, but it was obviously too much for them. They saw all four rooms in the time it took me to get to the middle of the second room, and after that followed behind me, holding my hands, leaning on me, and generally being cute and tired. But they were good about it, and got their dose of shopping, food, and beach afterward. It was a perfect sunny day, and West Beach was almost entirely empty. Much wave running got runned.

Washington, DC 4

Monday we went to the Hirshhorn Modern Art museum. This is one Younger Kid specifically asked for. I was surprised, but went in with no expectations.

We started at the sculpture garden outside – sat next to creepy headless people, and ate ice cream. They watched us.

We also really liked these three:

Pretty awesome spider made out of strings or wires, thus less scary than a normal spider.

Miro, because of the amazing textures. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the box is corrugated cardboard.

Typewriter eraser. Younger kid felt betrayed – both parents told him there’s no such thing.

White tree of Gondor (Younger Kid recognized it)

The Thinker – reminded me of the Black Rabbit from Watership Down

But our favorite was House I, by Lichtenstein. We did not make it spin, but the moment of going from thinking “it’s flat, but the illusion is that it’s 3D” to realizing that it is 3D was really great.

Hirshhorn was dark. Like an avalanche of gloom and terror.

Between the one spiky and beautiful globe of rainbows by Eliasson and the glorious prisms by Mary Bauermeister (above) was

  1. A funereal purple installation about consumerism killing the world https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/john-akomfrah-purple/
  2. A deadly green film about the jungle (I wish I had photographed the leaves dripping paint) and the actor’s need to be constantly seen (a very sad and cynical riff on Socrates, but gloriously green, wet, and liquid)
  3. An exhibition of modern Chinese photography. I was most struck by a series of portraits of the artist’s parents (from revolution to old age, sickness, and death), a collage of hundreds of identical 3-people family photos, and a version of the traditional four seasons paintings (circle in a square with a branch and a bird) in which all birds have been messily killed. Keep in mind that I steered away from the scarier walls. https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/a-window-suddenly-opens-contemporary-photography-in-china/
  4. A floor dedicated to an abstract Pickett’s Charge – chaos and violence in torn paper. https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/mark-bradford-picketts-charge/
  5. An overwhelming, chaotic, complex and screaming black and white room about ravens, flood, absurdity, and inevitable destruction of the world, which may be a dream anyway.
  6. An exhibition centered on the pains and troubles of being a non-male artist
  7. A red white and black room about current politics and the world in general https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/barbara-kruger-beliefdoubt/
  8. A desert-colored meditation by Dana Awartani about impermanence of home and memory. There was a mosaic tile, re-created with sand, on the floor, and a movie about the destruction of the same in an abandoned home in the village where her grandparents used to live before history happened, as it does. She made an immensely complicated pattern with colored sand in order to sweep it up, a melancholy mandala.

Therefore it’s not surprising that we went straight home afterwards, pausing only to admire a small enclosed and fragrant garden. What is surprising although it probably shouldn’t be is that Younger Kid paid careful attention to all of the above (esp. Dana Awartani’s film) and seemed to be thinking about it.

Yet another good day

Garden at the Black Bird Bookshop and Cafe

Went to see Sargent in Spain. Legion of Honor often shows non-representative works (e. g. gaunt men by Rubens, or full-length mythological males by Greuze), and this Sargent exhibit was not an exception – not a single socialite! (OK, there was one pre-teen boy, but).

Sargent loved flamenco, so much of the exhibit is flamenco dancers, with paintings accompanied by thoughtful and interesting notes by members of a Roma advisory group. Consequently one learns almost as much about the mode of living of Roma in Spain as one does about Sargent’s ditto.

Some of the notes are merely informative, some are amusing (e. g. the facial expression of the Spanish Roma Woman is said to be difficult to understand, or some words to that effect. I think the difficulty in understanding is due to the lack in English of the words “все достало”. Others are poignant, such as when the notes author addresses the Spanish Roma Family to tell them of his worry that his daughter will not grow up to be Roma.

This speaks to me very directly, because, unless something horrible happens, my children will not grow up to be Jews in the visceral way that I am a Jew. They are aware of their Jewish heritage, but I think it’s no more real to them than the (theoretical) Vikings somewhere up the Russian side of my family tree are to me. To my grandchildren it will probably be even less. I feel that this is a loss, but cannot explain why, or what it is precisely being lost. Certainly I myself do not feel the lack of a visceral attachment to my Slavic heritage as a loss.

Getting back to art, it’s really amazing how much better art is in conveying an experience than realistic representation, how much more real it is than reality. Compare this video of La Carmencita dancing with Sargent’s portrait of La Carmencita dancing – the video does not really let (me, now) understand why her dancing ( to contemporary eyewitnesses) felt “wild” and “breath-taking”, but the second at least gives an idea of the wildness and beauty they experienced.

After Legion of Honor I went to the Black Bird Bookshop, which, besides a most beautiful and peaceful garden, has an unusual and lovely selection of books. I got Igbo Mythology for Kids; Forests, Fairies, and Fungi Sticker Anthology, and an amazingly lovely The Eyes And The Impossible. I don’t even know what it’s about, but I couldn’t put it down.

I have the hardest time resisting beautiful books.

Good Things This Week

  • I have a really comfortable reading place on the veranda again
  • Victoria Goddard published yet another novella and it’s NOT about making Cliopher Mdang OR Jemis Greenwing Even More Happy And Victorious (not that I’m not eager to find out what amazing things will happen to Cliopher Mdang next)
  • Saw the Anselm Kiefer retrospective at SF MOMA again, this time without kids, with a good friend, and using their audio guide. It’s really hard to look away from his paintings, I keep coming back to them and seeing them in my mind’s eye.
  • Saw Gerhard Richter again (because it’s the same exhibition, yes) – the way he makes oils look like pastels is uncannily beautiful and absolutely mind-blowing in all of the very diverse ways he painted.
  • Had a really good conversation
  • Got started on the craft station. Turns out it’s a whole-family project, which somehow makes it less stressful and more fun. Also, there’s that warm and fuzzy feeling of being supported 🙂
  • Started watching Fall of Civilizations: Han Dynasty by Older Kid’s request. They took notes! It’s really interesting. Will probably listen to the other episodes on Spotify – the video is nice, but I’m a text person.
  • Have I mentioned SF MOMA? Really amazing exhibit on furniture (mainly chairs, a few lamps, very few peculiar objects).
  • Made a super-quick chicken soup that Older Kid actually ate, which is great, because they were sick and didn’t want to eat. Feeling Parentally Accomplished.
  • Singing teacher claims I have a wide and unexplored range. This is going to be fun. Turns out learning things is my hobby – who knew I even had one?
  • Showed kids Oscar. They laughed.