Friday, September 2, 2016

A Tiny Bear for Maxima

Maxima, my 500th Bear, is a courageous one. She, like the other Bears I have knitted, will start her journey with a flight to Minneapolis, where she will be untangled - lovingly - from her boxed existence by my friend Amy Berman and her Mother Bear Project volunteers. She will be given a red felt heart and repacked with 49 other Bears, to start the long trek to her final destination, into the hands and arms of a waiting child.

I say she is courageous. Well, as courageous as a little Bear can be on her first solo trip into the big world. Until now I have been by her side through the many sensations that make up the earthly experience. I hope she is ready.

Maxima is begun while the XXXI Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are fed into my television set. As I knit parts of her and assemble her into the final companion she will be, she observes Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, sprint toward three gold medals. She witnesses Simone Biles almost pass out when Zac Efron kisses her on the cheek, and she learns what it means to feel sorry for someone, as Gabby Douglas is criticized for not putting a hand over her heart during the national anthem.

As the Olympics progress, Maxima, a bit closer to completion every day, follows Ryan Lochte's misbehavior in Rio and hears about pranks and lies and international scandals.

"Actions and their Consequences!" I think that is the lesson.

Of course I also train her in observing political gamblings. She practices catching Trumpish antics and Clintonian promises. I emphasize the seriousness of voting for a candidate and point out that we must have faith in the good judgement of the American people. What else can we do? For now I let her laugh off absurdities and praise logic and intelligence wherever it can be found. Only practice will make her "properly" selective.

We discuss sadness. I want Maxima Bear to know what sadness feels like. I read to her about Alan Kurdi, the three year old refugee boy who drowned in the Mediterranean. I add that his mother and older brother drowned too. And many more. I show her the image of Omran Daqneesh, the five year old who was dug out of the ruins of his home. The child who has never known "Peace on Earth." It is important for Maxima to recognize the signs of sadness. Like all companions she has to know when to hug. To kiss. To joke. To sing a little song. To put a paw on a child's shoulder in the middle of the night when all is dark and scary.

We must make joy when things become difficult. I believe a Bear must know about people like Malala Yusafzai who turned her own misfortune into helping other children get an education. I believe a Bear must see a YouTube video of Abu Ward, the last gardener of Aleppo. See him caress his plants among the ruins. Plant a flower for him.

Maxima is almost finished. I am working on her backpack. She says she needs reminders of her first home, before she goes out into the world.

"You might remember home when you share a piece of bread with a child," I tell her, after dragging her to my favorite bakery, "though it might be a different kind of bread. It might be steamed or fried, or made of mealie corn."

" You might remember home when you watch your new friend pick flowers."
We photograph Squash Blossoms. And potted Nasturtium. And pink Naked Ladies on the hill.

Maxima smiles a dreamy smile."I love the big orange flowers with all the petals the best."

I don't tell her how the beautiful roses at Kaiser Hospital once stopped me from crying. I just saw her smile; that's good enough.

"You will remember home when you tell your forever friend about the crickets that keep us awake at night."

" Do they have crickets in Africa?"

"I really don't know. Every place has its very own night sounds."

"One thing will always be with you," I say, sewing the backpack to her torso. "Madiba's wisdom."

Nelson Mandela, has been my hero for almost sixty years. While I stitch frilly layers to Maxima's skirt we listen to him on YouTube. I show her photos. Read from his speeches. Tell her about the young South African rebels I met many yeas ago in Germany. Every stitch of her embraces a bit of Madiba.

She interrupts my train of thought. "Can I have a little bear to take with me?"

I hesitate for a moment. And then I begin to knit a tiny Bear.

A tiny Bear for Maxima.

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Remembering Alan Kurdi. Bear 499.

On September 2, 2015, Alan Kurdi, a three year old boy from Kobani, Syria, drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, near Bodrum, Turkey. It took a year before I was able to knit a Bear that carries his name. I still cry when I see images of little Alan. I have tried to ban the image of his lifeless body in the sand from my memory. It doesn't work. I will see it in front of me forever.
How can we let this happen? It takes all my meditation powers to let me believe in the goodness of mankind when I am confronted with the consequences of war. Imagine - millions of children have never lived in peace. Over eight million Syrian children alone, inside and outside of Syria, are in need of humanitarian aid right now.

Alan Kurdi, my thoughts are with you!

This is Bear 499, named Alan.

Just listing numbers and names .... Part 2

Bear 483 - Aimee

Bear 484 - Suze

Bear 485 - Hector

Bear 486 - Henio

Bear 487 - Baqir

Bear 488 - Fahrudin

Bear 489 - Rachel

Bear 490 - Abdul

Bear 491 - Rosl

Bear 492 - Waled

Bear 493 - Rubila

Bear 494 - Mahmood

Bear 495 - Ali

Bear 496 - Birgit

Bear 497 - Ursel

Bear 498 Traudel

Just listing numbers and names today....

Bear 474 - John

Bear 475 - CeeJay

Bear 476 - Lisa

Bear 477 - Edith

Bear 478 - Agnes

Bear 479 - Margo

Bear 480 - Maxine

Bear 481 - Moritza

Bear 482 - Wilhelmina

Monday, June 20, 2016

Operation Daisy Chain Gang

While the three Despicable Bears, Agnes, Margo, and Edith are getting ready to make the trip to Minneapolis, to Mother Bear Project Headquarters, it is discovered that an unknown fan has admitted to kidnapping plans. Apparently he is enamoured with Edith and intends to interrupt her journey by pulling her away from her sisters and rushing her to an undisclosed destination.

This alarming news immediately activates certain procedures in line with Security Department concerns. The Daisy Chain Gang, a trio of secret agents, is dispatched to Campbell to accompany the Despicables on their flight to Mother Bear Project Headquarters. While waiting for the sisters to sign last minute paper work, the Daisies, as they are known to their friends in the Security Department, make themselves look like Foster household gardeners. They don aprons, pick up shovels and rakes, and a watering can, and attend to nasturtiums, cosmos, chives, parsley and a tall, skinny tomato plant.

When a neighbor approaches they discreetly draw back to hide behind the plants.

After the neighbor has left Moritza waters the chives, Maxine climbs the tomato cage to check on the temperature higher up, and Wilhelmina digs a hole to observe an earthworm on his trip into the underworld.

When the Despicables are ready the Daisies pose for a farewell shot. Maxine, Wilhelmina, and Moritza seem to have enjoyed working in the garden.

And then they each attach themselves to a Despicable Bear as they walk out into the world.

A farewell to the Despicables and to the Daisies, and happy continued growth to nasturtiums and cosmos, to chives and parsley and tomato plant.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bear 466 - PurPur

Honoring Prince

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Final Group of Long Pause Bears (I think)

From the Family Tree
Bear 461 - Christopher

Bear 462 - Rufus

Bear 463 - Ada Pearl

Bear 464 - Blanche

Bear 465 - Belle

Bear 467 - Richard

Bear 468 - Nikolas

Bear 469 - Cat

Bear 470 - Marie Jane

Bear 471 - Charlie

Bear 472 - Frances

Bear 473 - Maribel

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