Another January zoo sketch. January is a great time to visit the zoo; it’s usually very quiet (unless there’s a new baby), yet the animals are lively. Here’s baby panda Tai-Shan (“Peaceful Mountain,” named by popular vote), who had been given a soccer ball but preferred to chew on an old pizza box. The Christmas morning cliche! By previous agreement between the U.S. and China, Tai-Shan, now four years old, is to be returned to China this year. There is a farewell party for him on January 30th. The zoo and zoo visitors will miss him.
Last January my daughter and I took our nature sketchbooks to the zoo, where we saw and sketched the new baby gorilla, Kibibi (“little lady” in Swahili). Mandara, the mother, was quite patient, but it must be extremely tiring to have a constant stream of giggling, pointing visitors so soon after giving birth. We didn’t even take her a casserole. Kibibi is a year old today, and the zoo is planning a celebration. I wonder what happens at a gorilla birthday party.
This one is in honor of our beloved, skillful, and funny dentist, to whom we have all been going for years and who has seen so many of our teeth emerge… and depart… It makes me think that every time we smile, speak, or share a crunchy meal (carrots! cookies! corn on the cob!) we ought to remember him with gratitude.
Plus he SINGS while he works.
In January 2008 we took the train to NY to see friends and art. It was a pre-dawn departure, and my husband, trying to cat-nap, wished aloud that his hoodie had more cushioning. So I sketched this idea for him, which he said was NOT exactly what he had in mind, but I think it’s an awesome invention. I can’t understand why I don’t already see them everywhere. I would like one just for sitting on the sofa.
The dinner hour is pretty much the only time the whole family is together, and we customarily begin the meal with a verse. Sometimes it’s our old standbys; but, to avoid the meaninglessness engendered by repetition, I have illustrated a number of the verses we use in homeschooling and keep a binder of them at the table. Some are seasonal, like this one; a few are humorous; many are simply reminders to be conscious of and thankful for our blessings.
I was looking through sketchbook-calendars and came across this drawing from a January 15 years ago, with Devin (about the age Eileen is now) and Jim playing a post-Christmas game of Enchanted Forest. How poignant it is from the perspective of 2010 to read the events so simply stated on an old calendar.
A few days before the end of the year I chanced upon (although I don’t actually believe in chance encounters) a book by Gail Blanke called Throw Out Fifty Things. The book is small but filled with humorous encouraging suggestions for detaching from our stuff, both physical and psychic. I can’t believe I’m promoting a self-help book on only my fourth post instead of something intellectually or artistically elevating for the new year. Oh well. Maybe it will help someone else throw out a few things too. That’s how we spent New Year’s Day here, out of necessity when the laundry tub overflowed. What a blessing in disguise.
On my list of things for which I am grateful is the public library, which I consider one of the greatest blessings of modern civilization and which is one of the first things I think of when I pay taxes. I have memories of libraries going back to childhood and recall wandering the stacks in cool semi-darkness, making my selections, then walking home on a hot summer day with a stack of well-worn cloth-bound books, prepared to curl up and enter other realms. Now I see my children with the same passion, choosing the library as a pleasurable destination: “Can we stop at the LIBRARY?” A world of wonders open to us all, free of charge. Thank you, Andrew Carnegie! Thank you, dear Library and Librarians everywhere!