Keely Forces Culture Upon Her Children.

Off to discover!

In my ongoing struggle with WHY I LOVE CHICAGO and UGH, CHICAGO (not quite short enough to be tattooed on each knuckle), yesterday’s activities warranted a check in the plus column.

We went to the Art Institute- free the first and second Wednesday of each month for Illinois residents- and even scored free parking on the street. (I’m not sure how I wasn’t towed, because I do not believe that former Mayor Daley left any inches of non-billable street parking in the city proper at all.)

And it was close to seventy degrees. In March. The windows were open on the drive and Nora, Suzy, and I enjoyed fresh[ish] air on the drive over.

There wasn’t even a line to enter the museum, so we didn’t have to stand outside and make conversation with the lion sculptures (which may actually be a minus in Nora’s column).

It was Nora’s fourth or fifth trip to the museum. But it was Susannah’s first, thankyouverymuch.

We had our run of the Thorne Miniatures Room- allowing us [ahem] to see the English Drawing Room, circa 1930 and Cape Cod Room, circa 1780 unobstructed. (Also California Living Room, circa 1940 and French Boudoir, circa WHY DON’T I HAVE THAT KINDA TUB IN MY HOME?!) Okay, we love them all. For the unfamiliar, the Miniatures Room is a gallery of teensy rooms behind paneled glass. Artists have painstakingly recreated impossibly small bowls of fruit, woven rugs, even ambient lighting for beyond the wee windows and doors. The Los Angeles room features a darkened sky and twinkly lights beyond a terrace. The Cape one beckons through an open door to the beach grass-lined path. (To the ocean! I know they have an ocean back there!)

Anyway, as cool as it is, I realize that not everyone is as loony for dollhouses as I am/was. Thankfully, I have created at least one more person who agrees that this room is boss. (And I was slinging the other, for whom the jury is still out.)

Nora had a really good time peering into each room- repeatedly- and occasionally begging to be picked up to better spy each small dog and glimmering chandelier. (Ever try to wear one child in a Baby Bjorn and hoist the other on your hip? Squiiiiiiish. We pretty much guaranteed that Nora’s favorite memory of the day was easily Susannah’s worst.)

Some other Nora-isms from the afternoon:

-Upon seeing Renoir’s Two Sisters in the Impressionists Gallery: (pointing at the younger one) “Oh there she is!”

-Viewing Seurat’s La Grande Jatte: “THE MONKEY IS IN THE CORNER!”

-Entering the Modern Wing’s Picasso exhibit: “What is he DOING?!” (Me: Who, Picasso? Nora: YES.)

-After I explained that one of the Miro paintings was a circus horse: “I don’t see it.” (I pointed at it again.) “I DO NOT SEE IT.”

We had a good afternoon. And I’m sure that Zuzu will hold fond memories in the deepest corners of her tiny heart- among them when I finally sat down and fed her in the prairie garden across the street from the museum.

Because nothing says Bonding Moment like publicly nursing a baby in a winterized lot in full view of art students and/or the elderly, during a gusty windstorm that upends a) the bag of crackers that had, moments before, held crumbs for sprinkling on the feeding child’s head, and b) the blanket keeping one from public nudity.

But the check for the plus column stays.

Because if nursing debacles/implied nudity were a reason to leave Chicago, I wouldn’t have lasted nearly this long.



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