Gilbert’s having some time out from our constant ‘girl chatter’ and headed to the science museum today, while Ren and I decide to walk and sit in a park and just relax. First though I have made the decision to buy not one, but two pieces of Dr Seuss. I find myself constantly looking back at the images Toni has sent me to reflect on, and thinking about them. The first piece is typical Dr Seuss and recognisable as his work. The second less so, but is a watercolour showing two children enjoying a book as the younger reads to his older sister. There are a couple of twists in there for the adults and both are perfect for ‘Nanny’s Library’.
Nanny’s Library is a concept from Gilbert’s sister and as soon as I heard it, I wanted it for us too. We have used a spare room with shelves laden with Children’s books and games and a big old wardrobe with an oval mirrored door that came from Mum and my Paternal Grandmother before her. The wardrobe is full of dress up clothes. In the room too is also my Nanas long green sofa bed that my sister Lindy and I used to top and tail on when we were young. Many of the books are from our children’s early days but lots of new additions. The concept is to buy things for Nanny’s library instead of for each child individually for Xmas. The children get to open a gift and to take it home if they like, and return whenever they want, or not, if they fall in love with it. It means that the gifts are communal and shared as they grow out of them, then returned back to the library for the younger ones. The idea was to help the parents too, as a dolls pushchair for example, can have a limited life. Here it can come and go from many different families as they grow. So it’s a busy, messy playroom and as soon as I saw this artwork it was perfect for this space.
I don’t see the artworks as expensive being limited edition of actual prints, from an amazing person that made a massive impact on the world of reading globally. They are also very ‘familiar’ to me, having read every one of his books in my time as a kindergarten teacher and a Mother. They are art works he made before he started writing stories with the stories growing from his art. I think I love the fun or joy of reading that they capture, and while there were many of his works on display there, and some many times more expensive, these two jumped out at me. Gilbert has seen them and encouraged me to buy what I want. I hope they will be an inspiration to all the little ones who play in that messy play room. Who can look up and see that a young man did some ‘off the wall art’ for the times he lived in. Who later wrote some crazy arse stories that kids listened to over and over again, that parents could hardly get their tongues around, and yet they were added to ‘everyones’ book shelves and read to death. I know Toni who works there is probably paid on commission and as she has been so lovely, I want to make sure I buy them from her. The transaction done, we hug and I promise to send her pictures of them hanging in our space.
We head to Hayes St which is a pretty cool area Toni has recommended we explore. It’s a lovely few hours walking, popping into shops, trying on clothes and people watching in the park.
We wander into a shop selling glasses frames. I think at best we’re going to be ignored once they realise we won’t be buying as I know there is too little time for my glasses to be made. At worst I’m thinking we may be shooed on our way, but no, a young man asks if he can help and even knowing we won’t be purchasing, he spends time explaining about face shapes and suitable colours for my old grey hair. He seeks out pairs that might suit and jots down names for me and website to go to once home. He’s interested in our travels and says he plans to visit NZ one day. How nice most people have been.
You know it’s probably going to be interesting when people line up at a hole in the wall down a quiet side street…just coffee, and good.
We have to make a real run for it now as we are meeting Victoria at four pm. Victoria and her husband Gee Kin live here in San Francisco and met Ren when she was last here. Victoria has kindly offered to show us around whatever we are interested in and we opt for China town where her daughter has a restaurant.
Victoria walks us through the streets giving us some history on the area and much of it is similar to New Zealand, as indeed many parts of the world. We hear of the discrimination the Chinese faced as they arrived, hoping for a piece of ‘Gold Mountain’. Little Italy is its neighbour and they co-exist side by side, each offering their own wares for tourists and locals alike. Victoria ducks down a side street we would probably never have found, to the Fortune cookie factory and we stare in amazement as hot baked circles come off a machine and have a fortune pressed in by hand as its folded before cooling. She laughingly tells us these have been happily adopted by the Chinese when they were never theirs traditionally. I have of course heard of fortune cookies but never had one and a bag of them is fun to take home for the children. Ren and I break out one after dinner each and giggle at Ren’s particularly as Gilbert and her have been talking about the chances of winning lotto. Hmmm don’t buy too many tickets Ren!
Victoria takes us to her daughters restaurant which is new and a contemporary take on Chinatown. It’s classy and will most certainly be a success. We meet Melissa and are very impressed before heading home to meet Gee Kin, and partake in a home cooked dinner for which we are very appreciative of. Tucked between wine, cheese, salami and crackers are three delicious salads, the first green, the second beetroot, celery and carrot with a vinaigrette is from Victoria’s travel to Uzbekistan and the third is called Red rice which is a mix of grains and beans. These accompany Salmon and are followed by coffee and a lovely tart. All of it delicious and I will definitely be trying the salads at home. The evening has been delightfully full of talk of families and how we fit together as Gee Kin is sure his and Gilbert’s must be related, before moving on to travel and of course, China. Victoria delivers us back to our hotel with a promise we shall meet again.