Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Déjà Vu

Here and here are the events of yesterday as reported in the Moscow Times and The Lawyer. Today is business as usual.

It was also sortie with Skittles' class. I often feel guilty that I don't do more to help out at school, although I somehow get roped into helping at the kermesse (a word I have learned only in the past few years . . . like vernissage . . . oddly, I have seen that word used in connection with the Izmaylovsky flea market . . . another foreign cognate in the Russian language) every single year. In addition to bringing a tray of cupcakes or pound cake, I also get to animer un stand . . . this year it's "Le Fou du Roi." Wanna bet who gets to play le fou? Hmmm. Definite blog-potential lurking there.

My point is that since I don't serve on any of the parent/teacher committee-type things, the least I can do is bring a dessert to the school fête. And help shepherd kids on the occasional field trip.

This week I get to be Sortie Mom twice. Today with Skittles and on Friday with Baboo.

Skittles' class went to the Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts (I have no idea where Baboo's class is heading other than "to a museum"). This link has information about the museum and some photos, but I really need to go back again and take pictures (this is one of those museums where photography is permitted if you pay a modest fee . . . something like 100 rubles).

I have been to this museum before, and Skittles has already been once with her class and once with me. And although it is a quirky little museum, I am quite happy to go any time. Especially when we get some expert explanations about the collection.

We were accompanied by the regular class teacher (who merely kept order) and the Russian History and Culture teacher. The Russian History and Culture teacher is sweet, but has a high, rather squeaky voice which makes her hard to understand (not just for me . . . the kids all say so, too). Thankfully, she had arranged to have a docent from the museum do the actual presentation in Russian while she translated into French. The docent had an excellent sense of how long little kids can sit and look at samovars before going bat-shit crazy. She kept her presentation moving along at a good pace (we were only there for an hour) and interesting, too.

There is a section of the museum devoted to what I call the Rich People Tchotkis. It's like touring Versailles: you can understand why the people got fed up and had a revolution. That part of the museum is full of pretty things, but it's boring, frankly. Thankfully, we spent no time there today.

MUCH more interesting is the folk art collection. Not only is it full of fascinating every-day items from days bygone (samovars, toys, household tools, furniture, trays, wooden boxes), but they are both beautifully made and decorated. Some of them are quite contemporary, too. As the guide explained, art isn't just painting and sculpture: there can be art in a well-prepared meal or item of clothing.

The handmade wooden and ceramic toys are especially fantastic, and, again, defy description with words. If you didn't know better, you would think they were Mexican mythological creatures. Bears. Horned centaurs. Goats. Some are solid colors . . . red or orange . . . trimmed in gold details. Others are multi-colored like confetti.

One of my favorite pieces is a wall-sized ceramic fireplace front that, if I understood properly, illustrates a parable about how strength is not limited to warriors, but includes cooperation among family members, too (that does take a certain strength sometimes, doesn't it).

In the same room as the fireplace is also a fair amount of wooden furniture . . . sideboards and buffets . . . in a sort of Russian Mission style. Artisans regularly decorated these pieces with suns, birds, and horses, the guide explained, because a horse leads the sun to the mid-day sky, while a bird brings the sun down to the horizon and returns it to the horse. Anyhow, I would happily own any and all of it.

So that was a nice morning, well spent. Now I can look forward to a dentist appointment this afternoon (another in a series of Skittles cavity fillings). And mystery sortie with Baboo's class on Friday.


Tina in CT said...

I printed our the information on the museum for when I am at my daughter's at Xmas.

valentina said...

I had never heard the term 'vernissage" either until I was in Italy about 6 years ago and my Italian friend Maria, who was a curator, mentioned she needed to attend one. We always call them "openings". And the kermasse is also the name of the famous 16th c. Dutch painting by Bruegel which I'm sure you remember from undergrad Art History...

Sounds like a lovely day with your girls and the decorative arts museum sounds really fabulous...those meticulously painted Russian pieces are gorgeous aren't they? And I love the whimsical nature of so much of it!

So glad to learn that the Law Office debacle has been resolved!!!

There is no AC in Ellis for 11 days!!! so I am so glad to be done with school! Hooray! Our poor secretaries and administrators!

My dear friend Sandy, visiting from Seattle, just pulled out of my driveway heading for the airport to fly home. It was so wonderful seeing her after I think 7!! years!!! But as with all true friends you can just pick up again where you left off and leap ahead.

I am so looking forward to having you all come home!


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