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Back to school week - Elf M. Sternberg
Back to school week
Yamaarashi-chan's school is still getting on-line. The school she's going to is in a new building and is a merger of two local schools, one of which I actually worked in fourteen years ago and was terribly run down even then. The school isn't even really finished; some hallways are still roped off and marked "Wet paint," moulding is still missing in some places, the administration has not established its internal culture and routines. Any institution that is uprooted and mutated tends to have a shake-out period while it tries to service its constitutients, but schools seem to be uniquely sessile institutions and have a rougher time of it. School has been in session for three days and I still don't have a school-delivered schedule or a curriculum. I have the district's schedule so things like vacations are assured but I'm still trying to find the PTA schedule. I'm hoping to get in touch with the teacher so I can ask her to email parents the homework assignments.

Still, Yamaarashi-chan loves her school. She's coming home full of lists of friends she's made and her mental record of what she's done is mostly of the people she's hung with during recess. We're letting her stay awake an extra half-hour than Kouryou-chan, which is another change that will take some getting used to in both of them. We're trying to do her eye exercises early in the evening, before her eye muscles are so very tired and so that during the bedtime routine there isn't this gap where Kouryou-chan has nothing to do but find trouble.

That leaves that extra half-hour in Yamaarashi-chan's day, and we seem to have evolved to taking that time to reading together, just she and I. She's reading Buffaloes Before Breakfast, part of the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. The girls are enthralled with these books. I read from Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin, and just before bedtime Yamaarashi-chan asked me why I sometimes make noise when I read. I thought about the few minutes and said, "Because sometimes I can't help but admire this writing."

"Like what?" she said.

So I read the prologue to her, one of the best parts so far. (The description of Pearly Soames's photograph is near and dear to my heart, but probably not suitable for her.)
A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan. As a book in which to read this plan, New York is unsurpassed. For the whole world has poured its heart into the city by the Palisades, and made it far better than it ever had any right to be.

The city is now obscured, as it often is, by the whitened mass in which it rests-- rushing by us at unfathomable speed, crackling like wind in the mist, cold to the touch, glistening and unfolding, tumbling over itself like the steam of an engine or cotton spilling from a bale. Though the blinding white web of ceaseless sounds flows past mercilessly, the curtain is breaking...it reveals amid the clouds a lake of air as smooth and clear as a mirror, the deep round eye of a white hurricane.

The use of metaphor, his multiple simile, his choice of adjectives are so beautiful that I can't help but cheer a little when I read them. Yamaarashi-chan said, "I don't get it."

I just smiled. "You will some day," I said, and touseled her hair. "If you keep reading the way you do now, you will."

Omaha and I put her to bed. She kept going back and forth, getting more hugs from each of us, until I said, "I think someone is avoiding going to bed, huh?" Yamaarashi-chan giggled and nodded. "Okay, you, off to bed."

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Current Music: Bob Dylan, Blowing in the Wind

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