It was after the war
Ohio State had set up GI housing
There was a dance
The lights were low
The music live
They were dancing with their partners
A pause in the music, a silence in the room
They heard each other laugh
In the space of eternity
Dropped their partners
Began dancing with each other
And kept on dancing into their 90s
The last time I saw Uncle Abe was in 1992. He always came a weekend or two before Christmas when my friend’s family celebrated the Christian and Jewish holidays. Each year they invited me down for a cocktail, a meal, desert, and/or a visit.
I loved Uncle Abe for all the New York City adventures he brought with him. He was tall, really tall, with a salty colored beard and big head of black hair. He graced the entrance with his long black coat with its red-plaid flannel interior fraying at the edges. Abe carried one suitcase…off white from all the grime it had picked up in the city.
My friend and her family worried about Uncle Abe-he never gave them his address and their minds set Uncle Abe in New York’s bowery, huddled with homeless bums. Yet, Uncle Abe was well nourished, he survived somehow with a gregarious laugh that filled the room and echoed off the walls.
Uncle Abe and the rest of the family took people in…you were visiting, heck you were one of the family. As I got ready to leave that day, Uncle Abe sauntered over to his suitcase. He unsnapped it and the lid sprang open and hit the couch.
“I have a feeling we won’t be seeing you again,” he said “and I want to give you something.”
He bent his torso over his suitcase and pulled out a pack of writing cards wrapped in cellophane. They were all drawings like the one below, where the perspective changes depending on what you focus your eyeballs on…an old woman with a huge nose or a smartly dressed woman ready for an evening out (in 1915, the year this was drawn).
Years later, I was talking to my friend and I asked how Uncle Abe was doing. “He died,” said my friend. He left behind so many antiques and collectibles, we hired an auction house to get rid of it all.”
Poor Uncle Abe was not poor at all: a large man with a large heart and a lesson in communication.
It really does depend how we look at things and reality can shift in a blink of an eye. What we see with certainty may morph into something completely opposite given a change in perspective.
In the Fall of 2012, my husband started mowing down our squash patch. Usually full of acorn squash, butternuts and a variety of gourds, this particular year the patch produced almost nothing. The occasional relief from a summer drought did not provide enough rain for this low-lying patch of earth.
Before beginning to mow, Radames glanced around to see what creatures might be hiding among the bent stalks and drying leaves. Creatures looking for seeds and other vegetation. He spotted a grass frog, also called a leopard frog, and tried to get it away from the mower, but it jumped into the mower deck shoot. Radames stopped the mower and grabbed the frog. He walked it over to the pond and was about to throw it in when he envisioned the bass and thought “Why save the frog just for the bass’s dinner.” He proceeded to the tree-lined creek that feeds the pond and set the frog safely down among the grass and rocks.
Moments later, Radames began to mow ad watched a kangaroo mouse hop out of the squash patch and off into the woods. He described it to me from the little hopper’s point of view.
There I was in the forest, munching and munching, the sun just rising over the eastern branches: I felt safe and cozy among the long trunks. The morning bird made a little sound as the rush-hour traffic slowed to a gentle swish in the background. I heard the occasional plane and frog jump, a normal day here.
Then I heard a bang and a boom and saw large blades coming toward me. The stalks were tumbling faster than I could move and the blades were right on my tail. Could I hop to safety? Could I make it across the wide green abyss to the next forest? I began to hop, then fear paralyzed me, I began to hop again, fear stopped me again. Finally, “hop hop,” I told myself and I went bonging across the green.
Silence, the machine stopped right at the edge of the green abyss. It was no longer after me and although my current homeland disappeared, I saw more on the horizon. As I hopped away, I thought I saw the alien on top of the machine tip his hat in my direction, smile and say, “Be safe little guy.”
It is a somber day in Ithaca and the surrounding area. It rained a heavy rain and the clouds settled in – a dark blanket over a liberal town in the wake of the election.
It is a day when my husband says: Now would be a good time for the aliens to invade.
And while Obama pointed out the sun would come out tomorrow, it did not even peak through the clouds here.
I keep thinking of the people I knew who fought, or lived, through World War II, or escaped Germany before it was too late. They are on my mind tonight. “What would they say?”
I also keep thinking of our system of education and that adage, “Only the educated are free.” If 50 percent of the electorate really knew what the ramifications could possibly be based on all of the factors that have been spewn into our orbit, if they asked why? how? would they really think they made the best choice?
Tomorrow is Thursday and I hope the sun does come up, at least for a little while. The road ahead is going to be tough, we will need to see clearly to prepare for the journey. Continue reading A somber day→
play-ball: painter and information can be found by play-ball
play-ball “it is the bottom of the ninth the bases are loaded and …”
the music would play, the action would begin, in the 1960s on the black and white TV. I am reading the book Underworldby Don DeLillo and the first section took me to a 1950s baseball game. They were there, the adults of my 60s childhood: Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, and Jackie Gleason, at that one game.
The crowd moves with the action of the game as does the city, the nation, recorded in real-time, live on the radio, live in those pages. There is no internet, there is no buzz, there is no one in the seats watching on the big screen overhead or on their iPhone, there is no one twittering about the beer that Jackie’s guzzling.
Real time, one pitch, one ball at a time. And the…
This is the year of the sunflower, and the drought, and a few other things.
After last year’s bust of a sunflower crop, my husband, Radames, nurtured these beauties through woodchuck attacks and squirrel carnage. Today, he picked the last of this particular batch…big huge blooms that the chipmunks were munching away at…we will keep them on the table a few days and then put them outside, up high, for the birds.
In celebration of 19 years here, I thought I’d try a theme for a while: 19 years on the farm. I’ll let you know if it works out. My husband said to tell you this isn’t a farm, and it really isn’t. But it was a farm and it is a lot closer to a farm than my homeland, the suburbs. I like to say I live out in the middle of nowhere but then I am reminded that there is a Dunkin Donuts about 4 miles down the road.