Drizzly Sunday Adventures

The family was in need of another adventure. Mommy had had a long week, working every day, and Annie was tired of not seeing her mother. Cora Rose was, too. Daddy felt the same way. They needed to spend the weekend together. So after recharging on Saturday, with pancakes and a trip to the toy library, they were ready for adventures on Sunday. Annie dressed in a beautiful white dress with pastel flowers embroidered on it and picked out leggings and a pink sweater to match. 

They started off Sunday by going to church. Annie liked church. There were new toys to play with, while all the people were being quiet, and after that, there were treats. The church in New Zealand had excellent treats after church. There was always a table set out, which had scones (caked with butter) and pikelets (tiny sweet pancakes, which were loaded with jam and cream), and with all the grandmas and grandpas smiling at Annie, it was hard for her mommy to enforce any rules about quantities of pikelets and scones. So Annie had somewhere around 6 pikelets, grinning at her mother every time she took one and blatantly ignoring the “that’s your last one,” from Mommy.

Cora was happy, too. She spent the service crawling around the floor after her toys, chewing on the pews, and cuddling up to her mother. She kept a close eye on her mother, not totally trusting her not to sneak off. Her mother had been sneaking off a lot lately. But her mother did not sneak off today, so Cora rewarded her. She did not have an epic pink vomit all over her mother and in front of the whole congregation as they were walking down the aisle to Communion, the way she had the last time the family went to church. So her mother was happy as well.

The family had been planning to investigate a new playground, but as it was wet, they decided to go to an art gallery and an airplane museum instead. So they hopped into the car and headed east.

In the car, they listened to the soundtrack to the musical “Hamilton” at Annie’s request. This was one of her daddy’s favorites, and he was always happy to play it for her. Annie’s daddy had introduced this music to her by telling her that: (A) it was written by the man who wrote the music to Moana, and (B) it had beautiful ladies in long dresses who were singing the songs. It was therefore inevitable for Annie to fall in love with the music.

Annie only listened to the songs that were sung by the three sisters. The songs about Hamilton and the other men were a waste of time. But the sisters – Annie loved the complexity, the sadness and selflessness, of the story. The older sister, her daddy told her, loved a man, but the younger sister loved the same man, and so the older sister let the younger sister marry the man and was very sad. Annie listened to the older sister’s song over and over and over. She loved the pathos, the raw emotion, the sacrifice. She discussed it with her parents, and asked them to explain the story, again and again. She started naming her toys after the three sisters when she was playing.

So the family listened to the ladies from Hamilton singing, as they drove into the city of Christchurch. They stopped at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, where there were exhibits by local artists, including a lady from church.

Annie had never been to an art museum before, but she felt right at home. She immediately understood that you had to keep your voice down, and she spoke in a whisper the whole time. There were impressionistic pictures on the wall, and sculptures arranged artistically on minimalistic wooden stands. She started off by identifying pictures that she liked, or that she thought her mother would like (anything with lots of color) or her father (anything with purple in it).

It did not take her long to realize that the artwork was subject to interpretation, and her mommy didn’t know what the pictures or the sculptures were supposed to be. And then she found out that she was supposed to decide for herself what was in the paintings or sculptures. She loved that.

“What do you think about this one?” Mommy would say, pointing to a rough blue painting with some flecks of color in it.

“That is the ocean,” Annie would say definitively.

Or, looking at a picture that had a green stripe at the bottom that merged into a yellow stripe and then to orange, “That is a green hill.”

Annie and Mommy studied the sculptures, too, but couldn’t make heads or tails of them, and eventually gave up.

They found a secret staircase up to a second floor, where there was a statue sitting on a table. Annie frowned at it thoughtfully. “That is a big baby,” she proclaimed.

“It does look like a big baby,” Mommy agreed. “I think it’s supposed to be a grown up. He’s called Buddha.”

Annie thought about this for awhile. “He looks very happy.”

They walked through some doors behind the Buddha and were in a room with cushions on the ground and an altar at the front. Orchids twisted and bloomed, tiny candles flickered, and there was another smiling statue.

“This is like a church,” Mommy explained. “Except it’s not for Jesus, it’s for Buddha.”

“Did he die?” asked Annie warily. Annie thinks about death a lot. She knows that people can die. She knows that gods can’t die. She learned this from watching Moana, which has a god in it named Maui. She frequently asks her mommy if Moana could die (yes) and if Maui could die (no). It is a little confusing because she can’t quite figure out if gods are real or not. She also isn’t quite sure what death is, because sometimes it seems that when someone dies, they are gone forever – but sometimes it seems that they go up into the sky and fly around, or they become a ghost, or maybe they just look like a skeleton (like in the movie Coco), or maybe they come back to life again because they never really died in the first place (in a surprising number of kids’ movies). Annie doesn’t understand any of this, but she does know that mommies and daddies can die, and babies can die, and she herself could die. Mommy hates talking about this but Annie doesn’t care. Annie wants to understand.

“I actually don’t know much about the stories of Buddha,” her mother admitted. “Maybe we should learn together.”

Annie sat down on the ground, cross-legged like the Buddha. She liked the Buddha. She liked this church. She understood without being told that it was right to walk softly, and not run, and not shout. She knelt on a kneeler and stared up at the altar for a little while before she got up and walked out without a word.

They saw the rest of the exhibits upstairs, and then went downstairs for lunch.

Mommy and Daddy got rice with vegetables in it, and dumplings with weird green stuff in them. Annie knew better than to try any of it.

“It’s rice! With salt on it! And it’s fried in oil!” Mommy said enticingly, but Annie was too wise for these kind of arguments. She did not approve of weird food, and she didn’t like rice anyway. She didn’t so much as spare a glance at the dumplings. Her mother, in a moment of weakness, had bought her a hot chocolate, and Annie felt that this was an acceptable lunch. Cora, who had been asleep through the whole museum – Cora is not generally a fan of modern art – woke up at the mention of food, and ate everything that came anywhere near her little hands or her mouth.

Annie sipped her hot chocolate and talked about chocolate cho milk, a drink she invented a couple of months ago, and which she talks about so often that Mommy and Daddy sometimes wonder if it could be a real thing.

“This is similar to chocolate cho milk,” Annie explained, drinking her hot chocolate. “Daddy! Use both hands to pick up your coffee or you will spill it.” She frowned severely at her father, who was holding Cora Rose with one hand, and a cappuccino with the other. He meekly attempted to follow instructions. Annie turned back to her mommy. “Chocolate cho milk has milk in it, and a powder that doesn’t taste very good by itself. You mix it up and it is heated up and then you can drink it. It is sooo yummy.”

“I wish I could see what it’s like,” Mommy said wistfully. “I just have to picture it. I want to try drinking chocolate cho milk. I hope you’ll be able to make it for me someday. What does it look like?”

“I will show you a picture on my phone when we get home,” said Annie.


After her liquid lunch, it was time for Annie and her family to move on to stop 2, the Air Force museum. This was not far away. The family had not been there before.

Inside a great big building, there was a big yellow airplane sitting on the floor.

“Is that a statuo?” asked Annie.

“It’s an airplane,” Mommy said.

“Is it real?”

“Yes, but it’s not actually flying now. It’s just sitting so we can look at it.”

“Take my picture with it,” Annie commanded, and then went to stand in front of it, but turned around and refused to look at the camera.

Past the yellow airplane there was an even bigger room, full of airplanes from many years ago, and statues of people inside the airplanes or standing around pretending to do airplane-related activites. Annie liked the airplanes but the statues were scary; she liked to look from a distance but didn’t want to get too close. At one point there was a statue of a dog, and that was so scary she had to leave the vicinity. Cora, who lacked her sister’s sensitivity, did not care in the slightest about the statues.

But the airplanes were cool. Some of them were just cockpits, so you could climb into them, but this was very confusing to Annie – were they real airplanes or not? If they were real, why didn’t they have any wings? But she waited in line and got into the cockpits of the semi-real airplanes anyway.

Annie’s favorite part of the airplane museum was a tiny brightly-colored toy helicopter with flashing lights, similar to what you might see outside a grocery store or a mall. You could climb into it and sit on a blue bench. Annie kept having to run back to the little helicopter throughout her time in the airplane museum.

It was a good trip. On the drive home, Mommy started to re-tell a story Annie had made up a month before, which involved Daddy, Mommy, Annie, and Cora each having a baby (Daddy had to have a C-section), and the babies went on adventures together. Daddy’s baby, who was named Taxien, had a beautiful dress and curly red hair that went down to her toes; and Annie’s baby, Bus, had short red hair and a beautiful dress that went all the way down to her toes; and Mommy’s baby, Hinky, was a boy and was totally grey – skin, hair etc.; and Cora’s baby, Ch-ch, was about as tall as your hand and was completely gold. They had previously gone on exciting adventures, and they might have done so again, except that Annie was too tired and she fell asleep as soon as they started to talk. She slept the whole way home.

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