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There and Back Again - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
There and Back Again
This afternoon we went up to the Phoenix area, Gilbert to be specific, to see our family friends the Jenkins, their three daughters, and all but one of their grandchildren. Since we knew them back in Pennsylvania -- their middle daughter Amy was my grade-school classmate, her younger sister Becca my sister Miriam's inseparable pre-school companion, and the eldest Mary Beth my babysitter -- this reunion was a big deal. We had a great time. It was wonderful to think that Skylar might have a sense of family in Arizona that goes beyond our own rather limited domestic life. I wish we could have hooked up with them sooner, since they all live in the state, but it is only recently that Skylar can handle the drive there and back and be expected cope with a potentially overwhelming number of unfamiliar faces.

On the way up, I accompanied my parents in their rental car. The drive from Catalina to Florence to Apache Junction -- we took the old route instead of I-10 -- was as pretty as it ever will be, startlingly green and full of gorgeous wildflowers. I amused myself by snapping photos, of my parents, the landscape, and the blurred-to-abstraction interior of my mouth.

I usually regard the voyage to the Phoenician realm as a chore to be accomplished as rapidly as possible, but actually could have taken it slower this afternoon.

I drove back with Kim and Skylar, who had made the trip separately. For most of the return Skylar watched Stuart Little on our cigarette lighter-powered TV/VCR while Kim and I discussed feminism, "men of that demographic," and the concept of ideological interpellation. I love talking to her about that sort of thing, invariably learning more than I impart.

Once the film ended, however, I had the task of keeping Skylar entertained. I gave her five of her grab-bag candies from AJ's and then asked her which one was her favorite. "I liked the chocolate egg best." I asked her whether she had also eaten the foil, then informed her that there are Indian candies that come wrapped in silver or gold leaf that is meant to be eaten along with the sweets they clothe. "What is gold made out of?," Skylar wondered.

I started to explain what an element was, then made a detour to talk about the two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms in a molecule of water. I attempted, in my scientifically challenged way, to describe water's power as a solvent -- "That's why, when we burn something on the bottom of the pan, we soak it in water." -- in terms of its molecular properties. Eventually, after a number of hard questions from the Bean, I ended up explaining that pure gold consists entirely off gold atoms while steel is a combination off several different kinds.

By the time we were nearing our house, the conversation had drifted to musings on the impermanence of objects. I told Skylar how some atoms break off of a substance every time you touch it. She wanted to know whether we perceive the loss of matter in, say, a silver spoon that has been polished over and over and over. I told her that one typically doesn't notice that sort of decay in a single lifespan, but that it would be possible -- imagine washing the same silverware 24/7 -- under the right circumstances. As our very sleepy girl headed for bed, she was still firing off questions about everything from molecular structure to house-cleaning. I'm surprised she didn't reprise her, "God is made out of atoms," argument.

Mode: restored
Muse: The Winter Is Coming - Elf Power - The Winter Is Coming

4 comments or Leave a comment
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: March 12th, 2005 01:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
With all those questions you have to have a lot of patience and quick thinking. Good thing you parents are who you are. But then, if it weren't for you two she probably wouldn't be asking such complex questions. In a way, it makes me think back to when I wanted a child and if I was really serious about it. I was. However, I was not interested in being married. Sounds strange but, that was the case. Small children just blow me away with the says they say and the things that grab their attention. And, no, I'm not interested in teaching 'em that young. I need much more training for that!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 12th, 2005 04:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's amazing how quickly their questions exceed the bounds of one's expertise. I think I was saying the right thing, but don't have the confidence that I would like. We volunteer in Skylar's kindergarten classroom and that's hard even though they are a great bunch of kids. I guess that's why we pay pre-school and grade-school teachers so little in the country. The United States has a way of rewarding hard work with tiny rewards.

Love the B+W photo experiment!
From: catfishvegas Date: March 13th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
After what must have been 100 or more TUC-PHX journeys on the ugly horror that is I10, I took the Florence/Coolidge route for the first time in November and will take it again nearly every single time.
It's beautiful, amazingly free of traffic (save bikers on their weekend rides) and barely longer. Even coming from the downtown area and dealing with the whole Oracle coridor through Oro Valley it's worth it.
Viva the 77/79/87 route!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 14th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yeah, it's pretty nice. And there are also options that start with I-10 and then cut over which I'm eager to explore. It's mainly the ability to drive 85+ that keeps me taking the interstate.
4 comments or Leave a comment