Friday, May 16, 2008

Things I Love

Coming to pick up Theron from the afterschool program: another child, not mine, is in the Time Out chair; another child, not mine, is crying. My child is reading a book by himself and glowing with the aura of good behavior. On the way out the door he tells me when Daddy dropped him off today the goodest thing happened because Daddy stood up to the big boy who was harrassing him this week. That's all his says but he radiates bliss recalling his Daddy's defense.

On a lighter note: I love music. For discovering new music I love Bolchas Gratis. From Itunes I love the podcast from KEXP Seattle, Music That Matters. It's like getting a new mixed tape every week. And I love the International Mixtape Project, where you get are randomly assigned a recipient - you make them a mixtape and someone else makes one for you. I've sent and received cds from right here in LA and as far away as Ireland.

I love the library. My favorite recent read was a true story, The Zookeeper's Wife, by Diane Ackerman. During the war, Jan and Antonina Zabiniski, keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, were able to shelter Jews in the house and also in the enclosures originally meant for the animals that had since been confiscated or killed. Theirs was a home where everyone was welcome, animal and human. Several wild animals were raised in the house: lynx cubs, hyenas, a muskrat who built a nest in a stovepipe, a badger who learned to use a chamber pot. People called it the House Under a Crazy Star.
Jan found ways to get into the Ghetto, sometimes under the guise of collecting scraps for the animals, and he was able to distribute food and pass messages. Sometimes he was able to get people out. Antonina ran the house and kept watch over the Guests and the animals, maintaining secrecy even from her own maid. Their young son helped. Because of the public nature of their jobs and home people would come right in often without knocking, such as Nazi soldiers looking for supplies or information. At one point during the war Russian soldiers come in and start robbing the house. Antonina, alone with her son and newborn baby girl summons up enough rememberance of Russian to tell him, "Not allowed. Your mother, your sister, your wife". The soldier tells the men to put everything back and gives her a ring.
Ackerman is able to tell the story using Antonina's journal, interviews the Zabiniski's gave following the war, and by interviewing their son, Ryszard (Polish for lynx). Touching and heart-stopping.

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