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April 23, 2012: Playing Jacks

When I was a kid, I liked to play Jacks, something that few kids these days know anything about. Actually, I had no interest in playing this game in the traditional fashion. You were supposed to bounce around a red rubber ball then scoop up the jacks, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, until finally you had them all in one hand.

I played a variation on a theme. I would set the ball to the side, and spin the jacks, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, until finally, I had them all in hand. I did this for hours, usually on a flat hardwood floor. I would momentarily be mesmerized by the patterns, for the jacks were all of differing colors.

If they’re handy, I will spin jacks. The attraction probably involves keeping several things going at once. I dunno.

A comparison. It feels like I have a lot going on here right now, like several jacks are now going at full tilt. We’re waiting on the foal. Signy is now producing milk. And she can’t be with the other horses for very long. She wants to eat hay and not be bothered. I’m now ready for the big event. The weather’s conducive to foaling—it’s warm and sunny. The ice in the pen is gone, the foal kit is complete, the notes are on the clipboard. And I’ve begun to make plans that will compensate for our lack of space. I have been giving serious thought as to how I’ll exercise Hrimfari. I’ll take Signy and Junior for walks, morning and night. And I’ll release both in the large pen, at first putting the other three elsewhere.

And there’s the class I’m teaching. It’s always most involving right at the end. My theory is that this is the time when teachers have to put the most energy into keeping things going. Familiarity breeds contempt – in the final weeks, even the best of classes begin to seem like dysfunctional families. (Please take the milk off the table! Now!) And the closer you all are, the more dysfunctional the class collectively seems. Last night, I read student responses before going to bed. Some, it seems, were bothered by my having brought an animal communicator to class, their argument being that animal communication is bogus – there is no conclusive evidence that suggests that people can communicate with animals on a non-physical level. “This is a science class, not an English or Philosophy class,” one student wrote.

So I’ve already begun making mental preparations for the next-to-last class. We’re going on a field trip this weekend. Beforehand, I’ll offer a rationale for bringing guest speakers of this sort to animal behavior classes. I know that I won’t change anyone’s mind. Not immediately. Later on, when I’m long gone, some will come around. That’s the way good teaching works. In this respect, it’s a thankless activity.

And there’s the class I’m taking. I still have work to do. I have to Photoshop my five portfolio pieces. This’ll be a challenge. I understand camera raw – and how to save a document in photo shop. That’s it. For me, this is a great deal. I do want to keep learning. This morning I was reading in the New York Times about a woman who takes photos of herself jumping at 1/500th of a second. The author of the piece compared this to levitating. How cool is that? Maybe I can take photos of myself sleeping.

All the above signals end points. The jacks are one by one, going to stop and topple over. I will pick them up, and out of habit, again send them spinning. I will use the same old jacks, again sit mesmerized, for as always, the patterns that emerge will differ.

“When I’m free of the gravity inside the picture, I feel free of any obligation to the society and life without being bound to many things.”


Yowayowa Woman’s Diary

Natsumi Hayashi
New York Times, April 23, 2012,
“Not Just a Jump, but Levitation,”
Kerri MacDonald.
1/500th of a Second
She jumps
in an attempt to get away
from it all -- the coke bottle cap
the cigarette butts
the sidewalk crack
that broke her mother’s back.
She rises
up, up, up, leaving family members and friends
behind. Not hard to miss
those rooted in place, mouths ajar
silly fools who are, are earthbound.
In midair
she clicks the remote
having captured not several
but one moment in time.
She falls
arms extended, knees bent
red rubber soled shoes ready to take the impact.
If say, jaw, skull, or forehead connects with pavement
on lookers will carry off the pieces.
And lands
on her feet, again to jump
no two images ever the same.

Next: 137. 4/24/12: Nope