Showing posts with label play. Show all posts
Showing posts with label play. Show all posts

Sunday, January 21, 2024

She Is Gone

Once in a while I pull out the leash to walk our two dogs to neighboring fields in the afternoon. They love it. When Mali Nalli, our Xoloitzcuintle, hears the word “walk” and sees the leash she goes frantic with happiness, jumping in the air with all four feet off the ground. Avión, our adopted stray boy gets excited too, whimpering in delight, then running to the front gate.

There are a couple dog packs nearby, so I have to guard MaliNalli until we are in the clear, then I can take the leash off. She loves to playfully attack Avión as we walk.

Mali Nalli
Recently, I walked with the dogs at close to 5 PM to the usual place⏤a corn field that is now just cut dried stalks and dry earth. We have to follow a couple dirt roads to get there. I turned into the field and decided to go left instead of the usual right in order to explore a different view. After maybe 100 feet, I turned to see Avión by my side, but Mali Nalli was nowhere to be seen. I whistled, which is her cue to come to me. Nothing. Concerned, I went to the road thinking she had found something interesting that had been thrown there. I whistled loudly but no response. 
Soon I became rather frightened as my mind began running with various possibilities⏤none of them good. My biggest fear was she had been stolen by somebody who saw her. She is beautiful, in good shape and her breed is famous in Mexico. Stuff like that happens. In the news lately has been the disappearance of a beautiful young woman in training to be a doctor who left work at a local hospital one night and has been missing ever since.

I walked around whistling, with heart pounding as I thought about telling Amy who was busy making dinner at home. She would have a heart attack I thought. 

I reluctantly started back to the house, Avión beside me. “Where is she?” I said, hoping he would lead me to her. He stayed by my side. At a nearby home I walked into the property looking. Several young men were outside working. I asked in my broken Spanish, saying “Where is my little dog? She is gone.” They had not seen her. I harbored faint suspicions, as I turned to go home. 

Avión and I reached our locked gate. As I opened it, Mali Nalli began barking from inside the house! She appeared at the window, barking excitedly. I almost cried with relief. WTF? I thought. Inside, Amy said, “She came charging in without you. I was worried.” 
I said, “I thought something bad happened. She disappeared. I went calling her but she was nowhere to be found. I thought she had been stolen.”  
Both of us stood there, flabbergasted until I looked at the clock and saw it was just past 5. Amy had been home making dinner, and 5 PM is when the dogs are fed each day.
“She came home for dinner!” I said.
“How did she get in past the locked gate?” Amy asked.

We both laughed with relief, realizing what most likely had happened and that we had our family together safe and sound.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hey Fat Man!

From my perch atop the wood fence behind my tenement apartment in Chicago, Illinois, if I spied the delivery man driving through the alley I gave him a shout out: Hey fat man! The big negro would smile, wave through the open window and respond with a cry, Hey skinny boy!  It became a game for both of us. I was four years old.

My father was finishing his studies for a master degree in criminology at the University of Chicago. On the side, he worked two jobs to support his young family. We were poor, but I did not know it. My mother stayed at home, minding me and two younger brothers.

I had a tricycle that I rode on the pavement behind the apartment. One day a woman was hanging wash on a line and I accidentally bumped my bike into her pail of clean clothes. Oh my, did she lash out scolding me. It was the first instance of human rage I ever experienced. I began crying loudly. My mother came outside, gathered me safely in her arms and apologized to the neighbor. I remember mother was embarrassed—another new feeling to me. Thus the beginning of learning about differentiation.

I played at a nursery school in the afternoons. It was a big place in Hyde Park for the children of poor families. We had guided play, meals, nap time on cots, and recess where we ran outdoors on a concrete playground that had a stagecoach in the corner. My first playmate was Darnell. He was black and I am white but neither of us knew. We did not know how to differentiate. I can still remember the love between us and pure joy of innocent comradeship. We were soulmates!

Our building was heated in the winter by a furnace in the basement that burned coal. During the cold months, a huge mound of black rock was piled out back. The building janitor was responsible for keeping coal in the furnace. He became friends of ours and one night my father took me to see him shoveling coal into the furnace. In the darkened room, the fiery furnace sounded with roaring flames. The iron doors opened. I stood at my father's side, reaching to hold his hand. The fire was at my eye level just feet away. I felt the warmth and saw the dancing light—like magic. Then the doors shut with a clang and we went upstairs. I could feel the love of my father and the janitor. They too witnessed the simple beauty of the moment; made special through my first experience of it.

I always slept with my brother Wade. One Sunday morning when I woke up, he was not beside me. I went to my parents and asked where he was. He could not be found. We looked all over. My mother was so frantic she looked under the living room couch although it only had an inch of space. In despair, the janitor was called upstairs to help us. I went in the darkened closet near my bed. Lifting up a pile of dirty laundry on the floor, there was Wade—fast asleep. Everyone gave out a cry of relief and some laughter followed. 

I will never forget my mother getting down on her knees and looking under the couch.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Mystery

I must admit to being a bit startled when I found myself sitting in a theater and the audience all carried programs with a simple cover—only a single image—one that I had made and then forgotten.

My wife and I were given complimentary tickets for an intimate performance of a little-known play: Miss Jairus, A Mystery in Four Tableuax by Michelde Ghelderode (3 April 1898, Ixelles – 1962, Brussels). The play opens with a scene of a distraught father outside the room where his 16 year-old daughter is on the verge of death. Immediately, I came under a spell . . . because at one time I was in the same situation when my own daughter Naomi fell ill and died—and now here I was watching my own life being acted out. 
As the moments unfolded, I began to see that the hand of fate had put me in the audience, with one of my images on the cover of the program.

 The grand scheme had begun earlier, when David Olson, director of Theaterwork had begun preparations for production of a mystical play and while he was in an eclectic resale shop in Santa Fe, had spotted a piece of artwork that had resonated with him. He thought it was apropos for the play he was directing, so he bought it and then tracked me down for permission to use it for the cover of his program. When he spoke with me, at first I did not know what image he was describing; “A woman dressed in cloth, walking with the moon behind her head.” He brought the painting to my gallery and I immediately recognized it as a piece from my past, and the "moon" was actually a halo. In the brochure, and on an easel in the lobby, the piece is now called, “Moon Halo”.

Here is brief description of the play, taken from The Harvard Crimson, by Joel Cohen, October 19, 1964:
De Ghelderode sets Miss Jairus, in the house of a merchant in medieval Bruges. As the merchant Jairus and three old hags who are professional mourners keep a drunken vigil over his dead daughter, the daughter's fiancé suddenly brings in a sorcerer who has been confounding the local clerics and physicians. The fiancé, Jacquelin, cannot stand to lose Miss Jairus and demands that the sorcerer awake her.
When the sorcerer does, Blandine objects to being awakened; she no longer knows her mother, father, or fiancé. Neither truly alive nor truly dead, she begins the long, sleepless wait for another death.
The ringing of distant bells, the coming of Death, as Lazarus, the whining and howling of mourners and a premonitory dog are all techniques of mystery and horror de Ghelderode has used in other plays. They combine in Miss Jairus with a plot-skeleton which is parable. In the final act, on Easter, as Miss Jairus dies, the townsfolk commemorate the Holy Day by taking the sorcerer to a hill outside the town and crucifying him.

In short, I feel that a conjurer acted behind the scenes to put me in this play, and we witnessed this stunning performance on the eve of Fathers Day.