Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 26

Basketball Plant

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 26: Basketball Plant

 

From Chicago, I meandered North for two days before arriving at a Bed & Breakfast in St. Ignace, Michigan overlooking Lake Huron.

As I stepped onto the porch of the B&B I noticed two basketballs and my initial thought was the innkeepers had children. Walking into the lobby/living room I noticed several more basketballs, some resting on chairs and a velveteen couch. My second thought, Basketball fanatics I supposed, and at that thought, I heard a loud trump on the wall coming from the opposite room.

Before I had a chance to ponder the source of the noise, innkeepers, Carmela and Jordan walked in and after extending a warm greeting, showed me to my room. True to form, in the room were two more basketballs for which Carmela apologized and removed without any forthcoming explanation.

At breakfast, eyeing another basketball in the corner of the dining room, curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask about all the basketballs. Carmela, anticipating the request, fixed a cup of coffee and sat down to relate the following story:

 

“Three years ago at a small garden shop in Chamberlain, South Dakota, Jordan and I bought a small unusual plant tucked away on a shelf, out of sunlight, and wilting very badly. Once back at our place, we re-potted the plant, watered it, and placing it in full sun at a living room window, it immediately revived. Like magic, the rejuvenated plant grew and several days later developed a center stem that started to form a bud. As the bud opened to flower, to our amazement, a basketball, we also noticed two hands started to emerge from the soil.

Four days later, with the basketball reaching regulation size and us attending to an issue in another room, we heard the sound of glass breaking. Quickly we ran in to find the plant, minus a basketball, the front window with a large hole, and the ball resting on the front lawn.

Mystified, we fixed the window and by week’s end, after another basketball bloomed, we happened to be in the room when the plant arched back and tossed the basketball just over the outstretched hands and through the front window again.

Well, we couldn’t let this happen a third time, so Jordan moved the plant to an adjacent wall. Five days later we witnessed the same scenario but this time the outstretched hands managed to block the shot and it flew backwards onto the coffee table knocking over a vase of flowers.

Relocating the plant to a sparsely decorated spare room, Jordan, with a sense of wry humor, decided to mount a basket to the wall, purchased a whistle, taped a foul line on the floor, and named the plant Julius and the hands, Larry. The only drawback has been, even with giving away all the basketballs friends, guests, and schools would accept, they still keep accumulating.”

 

By weeks end, Jordan, now attuned to that window of opportunity when the basketball might be thrown, made me aware a shot was on the verge and offered a chair to watch. I took this picture just as Julius arched back for the throw. I watched as the ball sailed towards the basket, hit the rim, and rolled around twice before dropping in for the score. Larry, just missing blocking the ball by less than an inch, snapped his fingers in mock frustration and then semi-relaxed with the anticipation of another future chance.

This morning while leaving, Carmela and Jordan bid me farewell and not surprisingly, offered me a basketball or two, or four. I willingly took two, promising I would give them to my grand-kids when I arrived at Ukazoo.

 

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.

New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis .

 

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 25

The Cap

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 25: “The Cap”

Reaching a crossroads, after leaving Minnesota on my journey to Ukazoo, where the plan was to turn North, I took a second to consider an opportunity to visit Chicago. A “second” was all that was needed, turning South, I made my way to the “Windy City”.

Spending this past week taking in Galleries, Museums, some live music and a play, I concluded my visit by joining several guests from the B&B and went to a poetry recital. The evening’s featured author was a tall slender woman named Mya, whose melodious voice, recounting family, life’s affirmations, and recent personal triumphs, flowed throughout the dimly lit room like a gentle insightful song.

Prior to her final poem, Mya paused to reflect on the warmness she felt tonight with returning to her hometown after 17 years. As such, she found it appropriate to close with a touch of levity, by reciting a poem she wrote, then as a teenager, just weeks before leaving Chicago.

I took this photo just as she softly announced the title, “Wind O Wind”, then put the camera down and listened with a smile to the following poem.

Wind O Wind, you came through the bedroom window.

You blew so hard, blew so strong,

You blew so unbelievably long.

With a gust, off went my cap covering my hairs,

You sent it sailing down a flight of stairs.

I chased it down the hallway and into rooms

While I tried to swat it down waving a broom.

I ran after it frantically for what seemed like hours,

Past chairs, lamps, and tables holding vases of flowers.

You sent it through the kitchen, barely missing a pie,

Out an open window and high into the sky.

Nearly missing Ravens, Flinches, and a Purple Martin,

Downward it turned heading into the garden.

In between potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and beets,

Along bricked pathways, sidewalks and streets.

You made my cap twist around buildings, and a very tall steeple,

Then it descended, just above hands of helpful people.

Tenuously sending it across a quiet road,

You paused for a breath, and it landed on a toad.

As I closed in to make a lunge for my cap,

I felt an intake of air rush down my back.

Your breath started up again, stronger then ever,

You quickly decided to be very clever.

Up again it went, out of my reach,

Outwards past a crowded, sandy beach.

You made it flip,dip, and drop towards the sea

‘Stop, stop, don’t let it get wet” was my desperate plea.

At that moment, a hesitation, I didn’t foresee,

either by my words, or maybe you tried of playing with me.

You sent it back up, into the sky instead

and gently lowered it down, onto my head.

During the closing reception, I purchased one of the few remaining copies of her first, and now out of print, book, “Mya’s Poems for a Smile” which she graciously signed. This morning, now packed and ready to “for sure” head North, I can detect the whispering of  Mya’s Poems ready to accompany me on my journey to Ukazoo. Hope to meet her again someday.

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.

New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis .

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 24

Pipe & Peel

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 24: “Pipe & Peel”

 

Starting with the first evening’s stay at a Bed & Breakfast in Pipestone, Minnesota, myself and the other guests, when sitting outside, were treated to the faint sounds of hammering, sawing and the back and forth banter of four teenagers next door.

Tim and Tina, the next door neighbors and close friends of the innkeepers, whose house the sounds were originating from, stopped in yesterday for an during-breakfast coffee. Tim explained, it was his son, Tommy and his friends, Harry, David, and Virginia, who had been busy all week, working to put on a little neighborhood talent show in their backyard tomorrow and we, to our pleasant surprise, were all invited.

On Sunday, with a clear warm day in the making, we walked over for the show.

Harry, supplied the announcements and back up music/drum rolls with his one-guy bottle band.

Virginia, Tommy’s girlfriend and first act, performed some splendid magic tricks. Next was David, who did a juggling act using his mom’s spare set of dishes, of which he didn’t break a single dish. Okay, okay, they were plastic and he did drop two, but nonetheless he was still very impressive.

For the finale, Tommy, sporting a set of rollerblades, began his performance with several freestyle inline skating tricks. Next, he switched from a 72mm wheel he used for freestyle to a flatter surface 54mm wheel, modified, by him and his dad, with a slight indentation in each edge to barely shoulder a series of different diameter pipes. With the pipes set about 3 inches off the ground, he skated across each one effortlessly to rounds of applause.

During a 5 minute “set-up” intermission, Harry played a rather catchy rendition of the “Who’s” ”Tommy” on the bottles while David and Virginia raised the smallest diameter pipe up into the slots of two slender weighted down wood boxes placed off to the sides of the yard. The pipe was now four feet above the ground.

Then as Harry started a drum roll on the bottles, Tommy climbed a step ladder to the elevated pipe. Quiet spread across the yard and at Harry’s last bottle tap, Tommy started across the stationary 10’ length of pipe.

He did it!

Without hesitating at the applause, Tommy turned to face the opposite direction while David quickly walked over to drape a banana peel towards the far end of the pipe.

If we thought it was quiet before, this ensuing silence was unnerving. His parents, with teetering confidence at never seeing him attempt anything like this, clenched the arms of their chairs.

The drum roll started again and as before, at the last tap from Harry, Tommy started to skate across the pipe. As he approached the banana peel, all sense of time and place was reduced to slow motion. His balance impeccable, his eyes focused, calculating the distance and exact moment to slightly bend the knee to gain just enough push and lift.

I took this picture as he was within several inches of the peel. In the next extended second, with the sudden intake of the crowds collected breath, he elevated, only a few inches, but enough to clear the raised end of the peel. Once over, he touched down onto the pipe with a graceful elegance that brought everyone to their feet cheering.

Once on the ground and the congratulations to Tommy and his friends tapering off, he eased over to the food and drinks and there awaiting him was the banana, minus its skin, ready to be sliced and added to three scoops of ice cream for his favorite treat, a banana split.

 

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.

 

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 23

Dancers

 

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 23: “The Dancer’s”

 

After I left Sheridan, Wyoming, my next stop was Steele, North Dakota. The drive, over 550 miles took 11 hours, which included a couple of rest-stops and one traffic tie-up that involved removing a dump truck that veered into a ditch to avoid hitting a deer.

Both driver and deer, were all right.

Inching towards midnight on extended dark stretches of empty highway, I stopped into a dimly lit two pump gas station just before they closed. At the register, to pay for gas and a few snacks, I asked, “I’m close to Steele, right?” With all the enthusiasm a “Doing a double shift, I’ve been here too long” clerk could muster, all I received was a half nod of confirmation.

Having called ahead for reservations at a Bed and Breakfast, and aware of my late arrival time, I found a note with directions to my room, signed “see you in the morning”.

At breakfast, I met the hosts, Leo and Denise, and their daughter, Lyn. The instant friendship that developed with this family and several other people I met as the week progressed, took on an uncanny familiarity of close friends in Baltimore.

The following day, making a scenic stop, I encountered several artists engaged in a Plein-air painting class. As with Leo and Denise, friendships easily formed and I was informed of a small art show they were hosting that evening. Being a fellow artist, I looked forward to attending.

Wonderful people, engaging art, and throughout the evening the sense of déjà vu.

The following day, while replenishing art materials at a local craft store, I met Matt and Larine, and again it was that familiarity of friends I’ve known for years. Amid laughs and exchanging stories, they insisted I come to a Halloween/Karaoke party they and several of their friends were sponsoring at a local pub. With Matt having an extra costume that only needed a few adjustments to fit me, I willingly joined them to meet a great group of friends sporting for an impressive array of costumes, marvelous singing, and still that continued sense of déjà vu swirling around.

Not catching my breath, the next evening was Leo’s birthday, at least it was a few days ago, and this was their first chance to celebrate. Becoming, now, good friends, they asked if I would care to join them and several guests at a VA hall, featuring a top notch Blues/Rock band. Of course!

At the Hall, as friends traded past birthday stories and their birthday dates, it was learned that mine was just around the corner and I was just eight days younger than Leo. With the Birthday cake candles, a now faint puff of smoke and a chorus of Happy Birthday for Leo sung, the band started up.

At first, Leo seemed content to sit and listen to the music and trade stories of youthful adventures but with the pleas from Denise he finally gave in joined Denise on the Dance floor.

As the band launched into a very funky extended set of blues tunes, I took this picture as Leo and Denise got into some serious dancing and by the end of the night the only way to now stop Leo from dancing was the band ending their night of playing.

I had a great, yet again, strangely familiar time, and even got in a fair amount of dancing myself.

Today while departing, I gave a sigh, as the past few days have reminded me of friends back home I’ve missed and how good it will be to see them again, once I get to Ukazoo.

 

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening