I have a few minutes here at the office, so I thought I’d catch up.

Last night my wife went to the local public school where we hope to send Gnat. I don’t want her bussed anywhere; I want her to see the school as part of the local community, part of the small safe world nestled within the larger city. I grew up five blocks from my elementary school, and it bonded me to the neighborhood in a way most people of my generation understand. It’s not crucial, but it’s nice. There’s something about walking home on a spring day – or, for that matter, one of those wonderful autumn afternoons where is damp and misty and somehow very private, as though your only friend in the world is the world itself. It’s an integral part of childhood, at least as it was defined for me. I used to come home for lunch, too; is that even an option anymore? I came home to soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, “Noonday” on the B&W TV. No cartoons on that show. No hope of cartoons. Farm reports and LBJ; a dog from the pound if you were lucky. Then back to school.

Anyway. We were pleased to see that this school offers “all-day” kindergarten, which they define as ten bells to 3, or something like that. Hardly all day, but the half day is more like a fifth, and wouldn’t let me get to the office. Well: as they revealed when pressed, they do have “all day” classes, as the brochure said, but) they’re only available to non-English speaking children who do not live in the neighborhood. The classes are intended to teach five-year olds concepts in their own languages, so they don’t have to deal with learning these ideas at the same time they’re learning another language. Concepts? Like colors. Shapes.

I would think they should learn these concepts before they hit kindergarten, but can already hear the reasons. (None of which are anything but excuses, and shady ones at that; am I supposed to believe that immigrant parents don’t teach their kids colors and shapes? Nonsense.) And I don’t even want to begin to get into the bilingual debate. Or the fact that they school system does not have programs in place in the children’s own neighborhood to teach them close to home, but they do have sufficient money for a magnet school that concentrates on Chinese language. I will grant all that. No argument. But they can’t provide all-day kindergarten for the other kids because . . . why?

I suspect I would have gotten hard looks if I’d asked that question, given the tenor of the rest of the questions asked at the meeting. One mother was very concerned about corporate sponsorship at the school. I do not share these concerns. I am more concerned that Gnat learn the exports of Chile and the names of the continents and the difference between a mammal and an amphibian than whether they hand out a brochure on dairy foods with a small Kraft logo in the corner.

This morning she was painting, and what had been a portrait of her and her friend turned into a self-portrait, with the friend morphed into a house. And then she said something that’s stayed with me all day:

“All of my mistakes are giving me ideas.”

You can turn that one around in your head for an hour.

Zombie comes to life in hearse, pounces out window to attack mourners.

Interesting shot of Mars, intended to suggest ancient seas. Me, I instantly saw the domes of a subterranean civilization. What a strange blind machine the universe seems to be; it’s somehow redeemed by the fact that it can be observed and perhaps understood. Think of a distant galaxy devoid of life, but overstuffed with planets in constant turmoil; it’s almost pathetic, like a grand performance to a house of empty seats. We do change the world when we observe it; we give it meaning just by noting that which would have gone unnoted. We’re almost obligated to go look. It’s our job to crack open the geodes.

Many thanks to all who listened yesterday – the mail has been a delight to go through, and helps somewhat with this dark, slitted-eye mood of mine. I wasn’t even cheered by a new toy yesterday, which really gave me cause to worry. I got a new camera – a proper camera as the English would say (that’s my favorite Briticism: proper. It has so many emanations, and suggests that there’s a connection between authenticity, value, and behavior.) (Sorry: behaviour) and now I have to learn about focus and f/stop and all the rest of the details I’ve managed to avoid by sticking with point-and-shoot models. It’s a Canon Rebel. Nice, so far. At least it doesn’t make ordinary buildings look like sets from a German Expressionist movie, like the last camera.

I don’t know why, but for some reason the term “German Expressionist” just looked amusingly contradictory, like “Prussian Eroticism.” Of course the Germans are very good at making expressive music, sometimes overly so. But you don’t think of them as an expressive people. Hence it comes out in adagios, or blitzkriegs.

Anyway. I’ve posted two shots taken around Jasperwood today. The picture of Gnat isn’t very good, but she has a priceless – and typical – expression. The flowers in the second shot are artificial. A few months ago I got tired of paying for real flowers all the time

First week of April. The book will be done then, and these will be a little less stressed and a little longer, perhaps better, and probably just as apologetic. Or I will be on a beach, and the new-and-improved website will have to wait until the middle of April.

Oh, who am I kidding. The beach? I’m never going anywhere. Ever. The last thing I see when I hit the sack is GOTO 10.

Oh, boo hoo for me. Sorry. Go look at the pictures! They cheered me up, anyway.

JOE Returns 02 28
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