Search This Blog


Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Visit to Grandma without Bow

My mother and Sword in my mother's house -- Sword's sixth birthday
I had not been for a visit to my mother's house in almost ten years, until this past week.

Bow and I watch Sword blow out the cansles
 The last time we were there, all of us, Sword had just turned six, and Bow was a little over three.

Bow remembers everything, and when I took out the album this morning, he insisted on looking at all the old photos himself.

My mother's house is full of beautiful objects, and you can imagine what a job it was to keep a three year old chimpanzee from touching anything, lest he break it.

However, I can truthfully aver that Bow did not touch anything he was not allowed to touch. At the table, he sat in his own high chair. At other times, he and I sat quietly in the corner, while Sword opened her presents. Bow was better behaved than most three year old human boys these days. He did not touch anything, and he broke nothing. Today, we are often told we have to make allowances for small children who have not been told how to behave around breakables. No allowances were made for Bow, and none were required. He was good.

He is still good. He can be trusted with a photo album, and when he is done with it, it is in the same condition as he received it. But he is too big for me to feel safe traveling with him, not so much  because of what he would do, but because I do not trust the behavior of other humans we might meet on the road. Every allowance has to be made for humans who have not been taught to behave well, and no allowance can be made for chimpanzees. So when I went to visit my mother this time, Bow stayed home.

This time, when Sword and I went for a five day visit, Bow had  Lawrence with him during our absence. My mother's house is like a museum. Above you can see one of my most ambitious paintings. I have not mastered perspective, so it is very flat. But the people are recognizable, because I like to do faces. If you know one of the people in the painting, chances are you can tell who it is, even though the features are somewhat distorted.

Detail: Walter Spitz

For instance, the figure dressed in the dull green shirt in this detail from the painting is Walter Spitz. He is no longer alive, but we went to grad school together. I worked on this painting at the same time as I worked on my dissertation.

Charcoal sketches by Yakov Minkowitz

Another artist whose works are enshrined in my mother's house is my late uncle, Yakov Minkowitz, who fell in battle during the Six Day War.

Self portrait by Yakov Miknowitz

This is my uncle's self portrait. His charcoal sketches are behind glass. which is why I was not able to take better photos of them.

This is a Chagall print that my mother owns. You can see Chagall's signature in Hebrew in the right bottom corner. Right above the Chagall, my mother has hung a reproduction of my painting of the Mount Carmel Massacre.

My mother is a talented painter in her own right. In fact, she has a lot more talent than I do.

This is a still life in water color that my mother did of an onion.  I think it's spectacular!

Photos of her children and grandchildren line one wall of my mother's living room. Over the mantel, there are photos of departed family members.

There is one section dedicated to the memory of my Uncle Yakov.

The memorial to my uncle spills over to the left side of the fireplace mantel as well.

In the middle of the mantel, there is a portrait of my mother's parents.

Further to the right is a portrait of my father.

On the far right, you can see a portrait of my paternal grandfather, Benzion Katz, who was the rector of the University of Tel Aviv at the time of his death.

My mother has a large collection of frog figurines. Above you can see some of them, along with a painting of hers of anemones and/or poppies. My mother loves red flowers.

Above you can see the delicate blossom that she grew from a plant found  at her brother's grave site,

Even though my mother lives in a condominium in an urban area, the number of different plants that grow in her small garden plot is astounding.

She has multicolored impatiens, and a beautiful flowering double hibiscus.

Locquat trees in her garden  stretch out high to try to catch the sun.

Her pomegranate tree is flowering.

There are fig trees bearing figs.

There is even a small palm tree!

Elephant garlic grows there.

Between other, bigger flowers, I even spotted a tiny, delicate wild strawberry.

My mother's garden has plants so unusual, I do not know their name.

This tall plant above grew in the yard of one of her former friends in Israel.

Every plant has a story behind it about how it was acquired, even if my mother does not know its name.

 And sometimes the names are deceiving. There are bluebells which aren't really blue.

There are petunias that remind me of morning glories.

But there are actual morning glories, too, which bloom only in the morning.

There are even ripe raspberries. Some of them have been picked and eaten.

I can't possibly post all the photos I took of my mother's garden, but you can take a quick tour via this low res video.

Overseeing all this growth in my mother's garden, there is a very small chipmunk who takes it upon himself to prune the trees and eat some of the fruit and flowers.

The chipmunk was very shy when I tried to get a snapshot, but you can catch a brief glimpse of him here, when distracted by the ringing phone, he scurried away.

There are also quite a lot of deer and rabbits in Bloomington, despite it being a big city, by my standards, anyway. We were on a city bus when we saw a deer placidly grazing on somebody's lawn.

My mother has very nice neighbors, and while I was there she had a beautiful flower arrangement on her coffee table that had been given to her by some of her neighbors.

Sword and I attended two musical productions while in Bloomington: Acis and Galatea and Hairspray.  Bow's uncle got us the tickets for Hairspray, which was very well produced.

My mother also has a large framed portrait of Bow on display in her house

We had a great time in Bloomington, but of course I missed Bow, and I phoned and spoke to him while we were away. Lawrence told me that the first few days, Bow enjoyed the special time they had together, but that as the time wore on, Bow began to be more anxious for me to return. Bow was kept apprised of my itinerary and knew when I was expected home.

When I returned, he first examined my new clothes, and then he gave me a big hug and a kiss! And now things are back to normal.