The Red Bear

November 4, 2022- A small red ceramic bear, with a salmon wrapped around its neck, stands on my computer table. It’s kept me company for eleven years, along with a small praying angel figurine. Overlooking us, from the vantage point of the work desk, left me by my late father-in-law, are a red-haired cloth doll, in a full-length, felt Christmas green gown with white ruffle and a red cape in back. It bears a resemblance to Penny. To its left is a hand-made Nutcracker soldier, bearing a staff and given me by a beloved child, in 2015. Next left is a ceramic Buddha, which Norm got in Paris, in 1945, and is a family heirloom. The figurines are flanked by a framed photo of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, on the right and one of Aram, in Navy seaman garb, on the left.

My parents are in a framed photo, atop a white book shelf to the right of the desk. A small wedding photo of Aram and Yunhee sits next to that photo, and in between them is a paving stone from Boston’s Scollay Square renovation project, of the 1950s, given me by my late Uncle George. The U.S. flag is mounted on the left of that bookshelf. On the shelves underneath are a couple of gourds, a green decorative plate, with a Nine-pointed star in the middle, photos of Aram and his male cousins, and of my brother, Dave, his wife, Deb and their adult children. On the lower shelves are a painted rock, a dreamcatcher, a photo of Aram with Yunhee, in a lighter moment on their wedding day and another of the Shrine of al-Bab. A picture of a lotus flower and a hanging Peace flag round out the second shelf. Finally, a wooden water buffalo, from my VietNam days stands to the left of a small photo of Lori Ann Piestewa, a soldier killed in Iraq, who I knew as a child on the Hopi Reservation. A small piece of basalt sits on the far right corner of that third shelf.

Directly across from where I sit, on the surface of the desk, are a pair of silver dolphins, which I painted for Penny, when she was in hospital, in 2010; an incense bowl; a singing bowl and pestle; and a small metal baleen whale next to a miniature Hopi ceramic bowl.

These are what keep me company, when I choose to sit at Home Base, conserving energy and money for the activities that lie ahead, over the next three weeks.

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