30 April 2010


We have a community garden plot!  Hooray!!

If you've been reading our admittedly sparse entries recently, you may have guessed that we were in search of a little bit of land in which to plant all manner of exciting things.  After two whole years on the waiting list, we were finally offered a plot in Evanston's Community Garden Program this year.  It's half a plot (200 sq. ft.) and it's our very own:

So we have started weeding and planning and have even planted a row of sunflowers.

Olivia loves digging and planting and Elsie, it turns out, loves dirt.  Eating it, that is.  The other evening, we popped over to the garden for a spot of weeding.  I had bought a little yellow spade for Elsie, and she seemed really excited about it - in fact, I didn't really hear a peep out of her, and could see out of the corner of my eye (as I was viciously attacking dandelions), that she was playing contentedly.

I redoubled my weeding onslaught and looked up only to see my one year-old with a muddy face.  She had been using the spade as a spoon to shovel (literally) dirt into her mouth.

She had also taken a minute to rub her eye, and thus looked a bit raccoonish, with a dirt smudge over her eyebrow.

Olivia thought it was hilarious.

It was.  Dirty, but hilarious.

08 April 2010


A friend of ours, Sholeh Loehle, took this photo of Miss Elsie the other day, as I was working on sewing some curtains for Foundation Hall in the Baha'i House of Worship.  Elsie & Olivia were amusing themselves and playing with their "Uncle" Henry, who had contracted me to do the work.  He played with the girls while I sewed away.  It was a nice trade-off.

This photo was published on the site "Nineteen Months," which is a Baha'i-inspired photo site that each (Baha'i) month, publishes photos that reflect the attribute associated with that month.  (In the Baha'i calendar, each month is named after an attribute of God.  There are nineteen months in the Baha'i year.)  This month's theme is "Glory" (Jalal, in the original Arabic).


07 April 2010

Grandpa's Passing

I never really knew my Grandpa Davis - in fact, I think I spoke to him a total of two times.  Do not think me a callous grandchild, dear reader.  You must remember that he was my grandfather by marriage - that is, I "inherited" him through my husband.  I was very excited about this - I had (and still have) only one remaining blood grandparent, my dear Gramma (my mother's mother), and so to gain not only a husband and another set of parents, but two full sets of grandparents was certainly a deal and a half!

I met Grandpa Davis early in our marriage (i.e. right after we were married) and I was still the new awkward member of the family.  I wasn't sure of the family culture and how things worked, so I was silent and watched.  I think it was a Thanksgiving, and Grandma Davis had (as usual) thrown down the cooking gauntlet.  There were greens and macaroni and cheese and turkey and sweet potatoes and Lord knows what else to eat.  Which I did.  I never met a food I didn't like, except maybe shrimp, but that's only because I'm allergic.  All of the Davis family was there - at least, all that I can remember.  It was a crash course in the Davis family tree, and I still don't have it straight.  But I do recall real open hospitality, and urges to eat and eat some more.  I have no specific memories of Grandpa from that day, save his presence in the house, but he was now a part of my new and exciting family.

There were other times we stopped in to visit, but only few.  We were in college far away from Chicago, and rarely got up to the city to say hello.  And then Grandma and Grandpa Davis moved with Uncle Carl to Florida, and we never saw them, save when Grandma came up to visit her friends.  We heard about them third-hand, from stories passed on by my parents-in-law, who were secretly worried about their health and the distance between them.

So my memories of Grandpa are few, and seem faded like an old photo.  I recall bright, twinkling eyes shining from a well-worn face.  He seemed to have a constant smile, as though he was secretly keeping a running joke.  From the stories I hear, he was!

But the best way to know a soul is to see the fruit of his labors.  Both Grandpa and Grandma Davis worked hard to raise three bright and brilliant boys.  I know a little of Uncle Carl, and a little more about Uncle Vincent, since we went over for barbecues when he lived in the suburbs, but I know my father-in-law George best.

George, who is the namesake of his father.  Who is serious and lighthearted, spiritually-minded and loving, who has journeyed through his own life and met his own challenges, but who is still his father's eldest son.  He has worried and worked like only a son can do, and held his concerns close to his heart, sharing them with only a few.  I admire him greatly - his tireless work ethic, his love for his family, his commitment to justice.  He is at times stoic and seems to be full of lofty ideas, at other times open and easily approachable.  I know that his father is there, and I respect Grandpa even more for the gifts he gave to his son.  Those gifts were also given to my husband, distilled through trials and bestowed upon the next generation to ease the passage through life.

And now we are honoring the passage from life to the Eternal Realm, the Abhá Kingdom.  We are left with the earthly remains, while to soul wings onward.  We rally as a family to support those nearest to the grief, and we are brought closer together in the midst of separation.

Journey well, Grandpa Davis.  And we'll see you joyful on the other side!

Two Sisters (On the Terrace)

By Renoir.

This one is for my mama.

06 April 2010

Vacation: The Artsy View

So here are some of my favorite photos from our recent vacation.  In no particular order.

My brilliant husband, making us laugh.

Elsie interacts fully with art.

Architectural brilliance & beauty.

There's nothing quite like a fish with a moustache.

This is super-dark, but I love the idea of faded splendor that this old chandelier represents.

Fishes of the Jelly Persuasion.

Mama & Baby Beluga.

Sleepy Baby Face.

Olivia waits with anticipation.  And especially long eyelashes.

This is my favorite!!

05 April 2010


We're home!  Here are some highlights:

We stayed at the Hilton Chicago.  Here is our view from the window, overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan.  That is the Adler Planetarium (with the dome) and the Shedd Aquarium in the distance.

First, we walked to the "Cloud Gate," which most Chicagoans call "the Bean," in Millennium Park (a small corner of Grant Park).  It was several blocks north of our hotel, right on Michigan Avenue, and on our "map," which I had drawn for Olivia prior to our trip.

Olivia touched it first, but Elsie wasn't sure what to make of it.
Here we all are, although the balmy weather made for many tourists and therefore many smudges on the reflective surface:

Then we walked over the bridge from Millennium Park to the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Inside, they have a FREE Family Room, in which children and parents can play and read and work puzzles of some of the works of art from the museum.  There was even a great video which morphed images of some of the faces in the museum (portraits and sculptures and masks, etc.) - this was really mesmerizing to watch!  Elsie & Olivia loved the soft climbing "waves" along one of the walls:

After much running about, we finally calmed down enough to walk through the Museum.

Here is Nathan enjoying some Impressionist works:

Here are Elsie and I climbing the stairs in front of a Georgia O'Keefe painting, which is the largest in the Museum's collection:

The next day, we woke up and high-tailed it to the Aquarium.  In the rain.  Halfway there, Nathan reminded me that I had forgotten our tickets.  He bravely ran back and got them!  Without having to wait in the already long line to purchase tickets, we whisked through the entrance and went to see the new show they have called "Fantasea."  We weren't that impressed by all the theatrics, (such as this fellow here in the birdman costume):

but we did love the animals.

Olivia got to play in a "tide pool" with toy sea creatures,

And both girls got to dress up an penguins.  Here is Elsie watching the Aquarium volunteer hop like a penguin:

And here is Olivia sliding down the "ice" slide:

After all the Aquarium fun, we were all tuckered out.  Elsie napped,

While Olivia snacked on seaweed.  She must have gotten some from the fish tanks.  Or my backpack.  Probably the latter.

Later on, we all snuck into the Grand Ballroom at our hotel (the Chicago Hilton), which was very reminiscent of something Eloise might do.   This is what it looks like all lit up:

But this is the mysterious land we traveled through:

After a good night's sleep and some room service, we took the train home early so Nate could get to work.


01 April 2010

PLAYCATION, here we come!

So we're off!  To Chicago, that is.  Which is twenty miles away.  Only.

If you're walking, that is certainly a long way.

But we are not walking - we are riding on the train - the "L" - to downtown Chicago for a vacation.  For two days and two nights.  Brilliant!

It all started when Nathan took a week to write in the woods - on a farm, more accurately - so to make more headway on his play, which he did.  Hooray!  But a week sans husband and plus three children (my two plus the sweet Ma'ani, whom we watch during the day) made my head spin.  Where would my beloved and neglected personal time go?  What about Family Day (Saturday)?  So I bargained.  We would completely support this sabbatical if we got a vacation in return.  I would have supported it anyway, dear reader, but this felt more just.

Because Nathan couldn't take more time off of work, we decided to go on his weekend, which is Friday & Saturday.  And so I began to plan.  We had some free tickets to the Aquarium... There is a new Family Room at the Chicago Art Institute...  I work in the hotel business, so I could call some favors in there...  It all began to take shape, and was helped along by a little "map" I made one night for Olivia, so she would know what to expect.  I'll find that and upload it a little later, but here's the shake-down:

Family -->
Early Brekke -->
Train -->
Hotel (early check-in @ 8 AM!) -->
Aquarium -->
Luncheon -->
Hotel (rest time) -->
Supper -->
Hotel again for Sleep -->
Sleep/Wake -->
Room Service! -->
Art Museum -->
Drop-in Class for Olivia (free!) -->
Lunch/Dinner @ Russian Tea Time -->
Play at the park or Rest at Hotel -->
Tea/Supper -->
Hotel again for Sleeping -->
Sleep/Waking -->
Early Train -->
House of Worship for Nathan, Home for We3 girls

I'm ready.  No dishes and all family.  FUN!