Monday, November 3, 2008
Pre-election field trip
Saturday was a nearly impromptu day away in Boston. I say nearly because I didn't know til Friday afternoon that it would happen, and given that we had to leave before 7 a.m. on Sat., it feels like it counts as spur of the moment.
Alex had a training thing for work in Waltham that went from 8:30 - 2:30. So while he was there, I went to visit my little nieces (and brother and s-i-l) in Cambridge. (Josie had been a ladybug for Halloween, and Madeleine a witch, and they impressed me with their reading/writing/drawing/spelling/piano-playing skills as only 5- and 7-year-olds can.)
At 2:30, I went to Waltham to meet Alex, and since we were nearby (and since 3 p.m. was a bit early for dinner) we decided to visit the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. I'd been there once before, a year or so ago on a work field trip.
I have to say that my plan, when I started this post, was to write about how going to art museums reminds me in a very strong way that I'm not a visual artist. But, you know, it's the day before the election, and I don't want to admit how much time I've spent over the past few weeks reading political blogs and poll sites . (Nate Silver, I'm very grateful to you for all you've done and think you should win some kind of public service award. Still, I'll be glad to ignore you and your site for awhile after Nov. 5. Just because, you know, I need a little break.) Needless to say, I've been a bit distracted.
Anyway, the main exhibit was called "Drawn to Detail" and had many drawings with teeny tiny motifs. I have to say that some of them gave me a bit of a headache just looking at them and I wondered how tightly wound those artists had to be to focus so intently. There was a cool set of glass bottles with images inside and drawings done in candle smoke inside the bottles. There was a spider web kind of string sculpture that was interesting.
And there was one piece I really liked--of course, it was the one with the clearest story. It was by an artist named Jessica Rosner and called "The Diary Project." She lost a diary from when she was young and out of the blue, 14 years later, it was returned to her by a stranger. When she got it back, she decided to use each page of the lost and found diary as the basis for a new piece of art. At the DeCordova, all the pages were displayed on one wall as a whole. I liked some of the pages individually, and I liked the patchwork quilt effect of the whole thing. And, as a former diary keeper, I liked the story and the way she made visual the words she'd written all those years ago. I love the deep blue on page on the left, and I laughed when I saw the one at right close up; I even recognized the phrasing of some of those rejection letters.
Afterwards, we wandered around in the sculpture park and looked at sculptures and dying plants and turning leaves.
We saw two identical twin toddlers with red hair named Calvin and Dennis. (No photo, alas. This double headed sculpture will have to represent them.)
And we briefly befriended a little girl named Julia and her mom at the exhibit called "The Musical Fence." Julia was greatly enjoying herself, racing back and forth running a stick along the sculpture (which sounded like a xylophone, only deeper). But after awhile, she offered us her sticks so we could try too. And I enjoyed myself too.
After that, we headed back to Inman Square for Indian food at Punjabi Dhaba.
It's certainly not the best Indian food I've had in the US, by any means, but it's decent and cheap, and they do lots of things right. Alex ate lamb, and I ate shahi paneer, and we both ate samosas and naan and rice and drank mango lassis. I brought home an alu paratha, for old time's sake, to eat with yogurt. (When I lived in Jaipur, the only time I've ever had someone to cook for me in India, Jaimala used to make me delicious alu parathas on nights when I was too tired to decide what to eat and she was too tired to cook anything extravagant. I ate them with homemade curd, and their deliciousness can not be replicated. Still, an alu paratha on occasion, even one not made by Jaimala, does the heart good, if not the waistline.) (When I was in India in January, I made the mistake of watching while Ram Singh, Sunil's cook, made parathas, and I got to see in somewhat horrifying detail exactly how much ghee he used.) One of my favorite things about Punjabi Dhaba is that they sell tiny containers of dessert. (They used to cost $1 and now are up to $1.25.) After a heavy Indian meal, I usually don't want a lot of dessert, but their tiny containers of kheer are just the thing. The crowds waxed and waned while we were there, while the TV in the corner blasted bhangra and Hindi music video clips. The people watching and the food were both very satisfying. Plus, I like it that there's a clock on the wall set to Indian standard time.
And only 24 hours now til maybe we can all concentrate again. Or, maybe, 48 hours, with the second day built in for frequent sighs of relief alternating with expressions of jubilant celebration.
And, to make sure I give credit where credit is due, Alex took a bunch of the pictures above (only because his camera battery died and he was using mine) including the first two of Julia and the musical fence and the ones of Punjabi Dhaba. You can find some truly wonderful photos of his at his blog, Photographing America. (End of public service announcement.)
Everybody go vote tomorrow!!