Out of the mesa’s uncompromising loneliness, an Indian boy grows into adulthood. His Grandfather, in a strange metamorphosis, grows also. The people who take an interest in the strange pair come to grow in ways never expected. Ben and his insatiable thirst for knowledge of a language soon to be lost, English born Anna, with her love of her adopted home and many fears, Travis looking for love, Maggie, who exiled herself to the mesa, and Sara, who grows up in the shadow of two cultures, friends with the Indian boy in a silent alliance that foreshadows something more. Nora and her brother Jerry, carefree and secure until one incident brings ugliness they can’t ignore and their stepsister, Ramona, who finds a family too late. A child, Consuela, witness to a crime that she can’t tell anyone about, all form this story of a community scattered across the New Mexico desert mesa.
Nora expected to close the door on an unhappy chapter of her life by moving to a small New England village. Her plan to begin to rebuild her life took some unexpected turns when she fell under the spell of an old building. The decision to make a home in the former hallways of this particular building led her to some wonderful new friends, situations she never anticipated and a profound appreciation for the people she found herself among. She also found that love can come to you even when you’re not looking for it.
A BIT OF CONFUSION
I will add that this is a true story.
There is a category of dog breeds known broadly as “working dogs.” They are those dogs that herd cattle, tend sheep flocks and patrol as guard dogs. The breeds best known to ranchers are the Shepherds and the Heelers. Keep that little tidbit of information in mind as I relate this story.
My daughter had occasion recently to visit Hollywood. She had her five-month old puppy with her. Waiting outside a Bed, Bath and Beyond at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, she decided to stroll up and down the sidewalk to read the names of the stars who have been immortalized in the cement. She had her puppy on a leash.
A woman approached with a little poodle, also on a leash. She was dressed as one would expect one to be dressed, if walking a dog in Hollywood. Big hair, an abundance of makeup, skirt up to north of Broadway and extremely, high-heeled platform shoes. She called out that her dog did not like other dogs and asked that my daughter shorten the leash on the puppy. Since the little dog was wagging his tail frantically and pulling at the leash to sniff at the puppy, it didn’t appear that the woman was entirely correct about the nature of her dog. The two dogs finally touched noses. It was most certainly a friendly encounter.
At this development, the woman inquired as to the breed of the puppy. My daughter answered, “He’s a Heeler.” The woman bent for closer inspection and then inquired, hesitantly, “Did he have to be trained?” “Well, some training is required,” my daughter answered, assuming the woman was referring to the dog’s ability to work cattle, “but it’s ninety percent instinct. They’re born with it.”
The woman studied the puppy for a moment and then asked, “Can I touch him?”
“If he’s behaving and quiet, it’s fine. We’re working on his manners.”
At this, the woman squats down and begins to run her fingers through the soft puppy hair. After a few seconds, she looks up at my daughter and exclaims in a hushed voice, “You don’t have any idea how wonderful this feels. I have been experiencing so much pain from arthritis in my fingers. This is simply heaven.” She closes her eyes and sighing, continues to run her fingers up and down the puppy’s back. The puppy, of course, loved it.
My daughter at this point realizes that the woman has misunderstood about the term “Heeler” and decides to clear the misunderstanding up by adding that the puppy is a Blue Heeler, hoping that this would better explain the breed. Before she could go on the the woman’s eyes fly open, and she staggers to her feet. In an awed voice she exclaims, “You mean he also treats depression?” My daughter at this point decides that if the ‘treatment’ is working for the woman she will leave well enough alone, but she did consider for a moment the possibility of hanging out a shingle there on the park bench at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, in front of the Bed, Bath and Beyond.
SOMETHING TO LAUGH ABOUT
I believe that most people are funniest when they don’t mean to be. That said, I would like to relate an incident that took place several years ago at a large international conference in Atlanta.
It was tradition in this association that the incoming president’s wife be named as the honorary head of the women’s auxiliary and installed into this esteemed position at a luncheon attended by approximately two thousand women and a few hapless husbands married to women in the organization. I’m sure there have been more than a few women who did not relish taking on this task, especially in light of the fact that they were asked to address this luncheon from high on the podium, bright lights glaring and the flash of cameras making even the most confident a little uneasy.
On this particular day, the new first lady arrived dressed for the occasion in a bright pick-tweed suit, white suede high heels, carrying a very large pea green bag that matched a long scarf which she had wound around her neck and allowed to flow gracefully down her ample backside, and had topped off this astonishing attire with a coordinating green hat shaped like a pie plate and adorned with three shocking pink roses. This fashion statement of a hat, for some reason known only to herself, she had perched on her forehead, tilted low over her brow and held in place by an elastic band that attached to the hat on each side, went behind her ears and was covered by her closely cropped hair. This would not have been so amazing but that most of us who had known her through the years had never observed her wearing anything more elegant than a sweatsuit and Birkenstocks worn with casual confidence over socks. To say the least, we were all a little taken aback.
Our new leader approached the podium looking for all the world like the poor deer caught in the lights of an oncoming semi. She did manage to mount the steps, look out over the assembled luncheon and proceed to deliver her carefully constructed speech of acceptance with a good deal of grace and dignity. All went well for the first few sentences. However, as I was seated just to her left and slightly behind where she stood, I soon noticed that something strange was happening to the back of her head. The elastic band had started inching up causing the hair to rise and stand out along its path. If the hapless lady at the podium felt any of this, she gave no indication.
At about the same time the elastic started to move up from the rear, the hat began to move up on the front. A few of us watched in fascination. At first, it was just a fraction of an inch at a time. Almost hair by hair on the back side, and the hat on the front just shaded her eyes less and less, revealing a bit more of her face as the seconds ticked by.
The dear lady almost made it home free. She finished her welcoming, thanked all those who had played a part in the
transition of offices, and outlined briefly a list of accomplishments she hoped to achieve in the coming year. When she finished, she stepped from behind the podium and gave a slight bow. It was at this precise moment that the hat on the front and the elastic band on the back reached the point of no return. The hat flew off her head, sailed about fifteen feet and landed squarely on the ice sculpture that graced the head table.
There was a moment of stunned silence. We all knew that no amount of planning could have led up to this moment. No one could have orchestrated this amazing feat. It was a moment of pure comedy.
I feel sure that all of us here have found ourselves in situations beyond our control, totally out of our depth, have prayed that we be spared humiliation and discomfort, have asked that we be delivered safely back into our comfort zones.
I am quite sure this good lady also asked those things. However, here she stood, through no doing of her own, as prepared as she was capable of being, deporting
herself admirably, and she was undone by a hat.
I don’t recall much after the hat landed on the ice sculpture as the place exploded. Our new first lady had, figuratively, brought down the house.
I don’t think anyone can make up anything much funnier.
~ Sue Hawkins