Monthly Archives: June 2014

A small boy’s world as seen from pillow hill

My Dear Abraham,

I am so happy you are feeling better. You will soon be four and so big! I know that you have had to spend a lot of time lately on the sofa, at home in bed or even on your back in your room at the kid’s hospital. That was important because you needed to rest and to take your medicine.

But you had to think of ways to have fun while you couldn’t run around! You had lots of good ideas. There were interesting books to read, movies to watch, silly games to play with aunts and uncles, even a puppy named Jig. And of course, toy cars and trucks of every size and color! Monster trucks like Grave Digger and little cars like Mini Cooper raced over mountains of pillows and blankets while you made up the stories for their adventures.

I was thinking of you when I read this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, a famous writer who also wrote the book, “Treasure Island,” which I hope you will read someday. He was very sick when he was a little boy and made up stories while he lay in bed. And he didn’t have a TV or iPads to keep him busy — they hadn’t been invented yet!

You’ll need to know that a “counterpane” is another word for bedspread or a cover for your bed.

I hope you enjoy this poem, too, and think of how far your imagination can take you, no matter where you are.   Love, Gramma

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The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

– Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894

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Sounds of the city pounding in my brain

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East Chicago Avenue at Michigan Avenue

Chicago, with 2.7 million people, pulses with activity every minute of the day. It breathes noise in and out — car and truck engines, horns, whistles, sirens, the mass undercurrent of outdoor cafe conversations, street corner musicians and herds of shoppers. Somewhere in the chaos, controlled by a grid of stops and starts, there’s a rhythm to the motion of people, autos and bikes you can’t quite identify.

Sitting in my car, at the light on Chicago Avenue crossing Michigan Avenue south of the Water Tower, men and women, mostly younger, a few with children in strollers, clutch their knapsacks and colorful shopping bags chatting non-stop as they flow across the intersection. Neiman-Marcus, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, American Girl, the names stream by. My impatient vehicle partners rumble in their lanes, waiting for the light to change. At the curb, a man steadies the reins of his horse while riders wait for a ride in a red carriage.

With my radio on, I notice that all that is going on around me really does have a cadence, a tempo that makes sense. And it changes with a touch. Click. Sirius Pops. Verdi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons wraps a calm and beauty over the crowds. The cars are calmly waiting their assigned movement, and the crowds are cohesive, deliberate and moving toward a goal. I feel at peace. Click. Beach Boys. “I Get Around” reminds me this is summer and it’s a young world where cars are king and meant to go fast on city streets. The people are moving eagerly now, with a shove in their steps. Even the horse is skittish. I want to get going. Click to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” There’s a pounding going on, on the pavement, in the air, in shouted voices, and on my steering wheel. What a wild and crazy town. The sounds of the city pounding in my brain.

Jeff says there’s a vibe in the city he can feel. He’s right. It can be loud, rough and raw. Or soulful and human. Gentle. Majestic. Personal. Like music. And it’s coming from your radio, or your iPod.

Word of Caution: Very tired with a long drive ahead of you? STOP. Turn off the Spa station and go to Hair Nation for a safer, more invigorating ride. 

 

 

Who's looking back at you?

This morning’s interlude staring out my kitchen window in a fit of distraction I saw a huge, rugged face staring back at me. So many years I looked at that tree, yet I had never seen it. Nature’s personality — it’s out there. Say Hi!