November 9th, 2001


Reflctions on the Construction of la Bañera

Friday, November 9th, 2001 8:40 pm

Reflections On Building la Bañera (Turn into journal entries)

Shame causes my face to flush every time I remember my glaring
failure to invite anyone else to help me dig la bañera. I can feel the heat creep up my neck, invade my cheeks. They patiently stood, waiting for the silly new teacher to take the obvious step. It never occurred to me that they were there to help. I was so SMUG that I thought they were only there to enhoy the sight of their new teacher actually doing some physical work, which in their world, White women are afraid to do. How could I be so wrong?

Every time I walk on the rounded stones fished from the river, making
a pathway from the river to the tub, I get a warm glow, a good one this time. When all the water had leaked out the next day, many hands deepened the layers of stones, "erosion stone, then 2" oversize, then pea gravel, road grade" as I heard one Native American tell his friends. I found out later from Bruno that he had worked in a quarry, and varied the sizes until the tub held the water pretty well. Even tough, gruff old María has been seen soaking in it on hot afternoons. She is too old to risk the river current, but the tub is a safe respite, shaded from the afternoon sun by Alberto's choice of location under a tree.

Last updated 8/23/03.
  • Current Music
    Splish Splash, I Was Taking a Bath

The Library After Lunch

Collecting the students for the return march to the library proves to be more difficult than releasing them had been. Several trucks have returned with their loads of stripped refrigerators, and some of her group have gone along.

Those that remain eventually run wildly through the street, whooping and shouting. As they near the building, Despina calls vainly to them, "Children, formen Uds. una linea. We don't want to enter the library as if we were a pack of wild Indians." Fortunately, she says this last bit in English, which causes Paul Peter to go into paroxysms of mirth, but does not dent the exuberance of her charges.

Alice is very curious how Despina and Paul Peter could work so well together, and quickly draws out the story of them both coming to work on the reservation from the same Iowa school, without knowing the other was going to be there.

Each student is allowed to check out one book, several of which are in Spanish. Alice likes the idea of the refrigerator storage to keep things from getting damaged.

As Despina shows the children how to locate information on the internet, Cu again enters, the sheriff with him. Sarita has a screen full of herbal lore pulled up, and he speaks to her in Náhuatl. Satisfied, he says, "Está bien que ella aprende de su herencia."

The sheriff catches Despina alone as Paul Peter helps the students select books for those who have left. "I want you to take this cell phone back to the reservation with you. I'll bring out a recharged battery later. If you insist on having adventures, I want you to be able to notify someone. I had quite a little conversation about how Alberto came to be in that arroyo. Yes, you saved his life, but Paul Peter is also right in saying you were not properly prepared to go into the desert."

"I had no intentions of walking into the desert that morning. Accidents are, well, ACCIDENTAL. Once I knew Alberto was missing, I couldn't NOT go find him and still live with myself. I was the person in charge."

"Cu offered to show me the marks the jeep left on the rocks. He seemed pretty freaked by where you drove."

"I can assure you, if I'd ever seen the area in daylight, I would NOT have driven there."

"And one more thing: Promise me, no more lone adventures out of sight of the road or the pueblo of Stone Circles."

She reluctantly agrees, accepting the cell phone. "Well, if you insist. I'll use it for emergencies only."

"You seem to have emergencies once a day," quips Paul Peter as he walks up. "Maybe that phone will help keep you out of trouble without involving the entire tribe."

They walk to the pick-up together, filling the bed and cab with book-hugging children interspersed with refrigerators.

Alice comes over as they exit, eager to get the full story. Waving good-bye to the Indian children in the bed of the truck as they drive off, Mickey fills her in.

"When I heard how she put Tex in his place, I guess I shouldn't be surprised she can find the medicine woman's cave after dark in a jeep or track Alberto through the desert. I think this is shaping up to be a pretty lively summer."

Alberto, who supposedly left with the others, has hung back, hiding in the stacks. "Sí, es un verano vivace," he says, mixing musical Italian in with his Spanish.

Mickey grabs him up and dashes outside, putting him on the front seat of his patrol car. "Of course, I have to have an emergency I can't use the base radio for as soon as I give her the cell phone!" He overtakes her pick-up, driving carefully with its load of refrigerators, before she hits the turn-off for the reservation. Letting Alberto turn on the lights, he pulls her over, turning over her most missed pupil.

Last updated 2/25/02.
  • Current Music
    Wishing, and Hoping

Refrigerator Art -- Intermezzo

Wednesday, October 31st, 2001 9:08 pm (pandemo)

Refrigerator Art -- Intermezzo

Late that afternoon, catching up with the first load of refrigerators to arrive, duly stripped of their motors, coils, and as much meadow crud as would come off easily, Despina is depressed. Eying the shape they are in, she begins to wish she had done more than just pick up brushes and assorted enamel outdoor paints.

Why didn't I suggest running them through the spray washer at the local gas station? Hauling water from the river to scrub them down is really going to be a pain.

Seeing the look on her face, Paul Peter winks, then quips, "Think Tom Sawyer."

Saving the largest one for outside her hovel for the personal belongings she doesn't want buggy or damp, Despina has the rest placed outside the "back door" of the school in a semicircle.

Clapping her hands together for attention, she asks, "Which group can wash their refrigerator the cleanest the fastest?"

The high school boys quickly get her fridge unloaded, then head for the river with every available pail they can scrounge. Targeting hers for their project, the thing soon looks as good as it is going to, inside and out, without a paint job.

Another project is started under Bruno's supervision. Excess washers are collecting the supplies needed to build sturdy wooden frameworks to support book shelves inside the various fridges.

Miguel comes up and begs to look at her paints. Selecting a few bright shades and one of the medium sized brushes, he dashes off. Soon Guillermo appears. Another brush and most of the rest of her colors abscond to school with him.

"Horst bring out more with last load," offers Bruno, holding out his cell phone.

Gratefully, Despina dials the hardware store from the number on her receipt, putting in an order for several more brushes of various sizes and the colors HER painting project will need.

Taking a marker, she begins an outline that wraps around the refrigerator, inside and out. Starting on the right hand side, small horses are running across a field. As they turn the corner to the back of the unit, they increase in size. They become even larger as they move onto the left panel, and come face first at the viewer, full size or slightly larger, on the front. When the door is opened, one explodes from inside onto the door, larger than life, nostrils flaring.

"Very dramatic. Do they have names?" inquires Paul Peter in passing.

"Of course. Once they are painted, you might even be able to call some of them correctly."

"Let me guess. Raven on front and Debut inside, right?"

"Very good."

"I want to be here when the children see what you are doing. It ought to cause quite a stir."

Early Saturday morning, she begins. She paints diligently, whistling happily, until it becomes too hot to work, makes a journal entry, then sleeps the sleep of the dead until the evening cool arouses her. She paints again until it is too dark to see to mix the paint properly.

"Señorita, what if it rains?" Sarita asks softly.

"We'll just have to move it inside until it dries. But it would not DARE rain on my herd before they are protected."

Fortunately, the rain waits until the clear coat is dry. Despina is surprised to discover that the tribe has given her credit for holding the rain off the few crucial days, based on her frivolous remark to Sarita.

Since the hovel pretty effectively blocks her personal fridge from view, it is not until things are practically dry enough to accidentally touch without damage before her project is generally discovered, so involved are the students in the painting going on behind the school roof support posts.

Juan discovers it with a shout that draws all the rest. "¡Mira! ¡Una rumada!"

Guillermo, eyes wide, approaches reverently.

"Abrelo," suggests Despina.

Opening the door wide, he leaps back, staring at the two tone stallion seeming about to trample him.

One by one, each person opens the door, gaping at the image that pops up.

"Necesitamos más." says Guillermo, afire with new ideas.

Last updated 3/9/02.

Current Mood: tired
Current Music: Music Through the Night on WOI-fm