To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal 1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal 2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal 3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal 4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal 5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal 6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7 archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal 8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal 9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal 10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal 11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal 12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal 13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal 14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal 15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal 16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal 17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal 18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal 19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal 20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal 21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal 22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal 23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal 24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal 25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal 26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal 27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal 28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal 29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal 30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal 31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal 32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal 33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal 34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal 35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal 36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal 37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal 38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal 39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal 40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal 41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal 42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal 43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal 44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal 45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal 46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal 47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal 48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal 49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal 50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal 51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal 52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal 53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal 54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal 55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal 56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal 57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal 58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal 59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal 60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06
To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal
*Now that I have a digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos. Download time should be no more than 5 seconds. The easiest way to navigate going back and forth between photo links and journal text is to click on your "back" button at the left of your tool bar.
MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2001
For me, the challenging part of living a full life these days is not so much finding the energy that I need at the time, but finding the time and energy I need to translate everything into words and pictures for my online journal!
My four days at the National Women's Music Festival were so full that I've spent much of today simply writing the entries for Thursday and Friday. Thank goddess I kept up with downloading, resizing, compressing and converting the digital photos to web pages as I went along. So, for you festie-goers who logged on today hoping to see the pictures I took of you over the weekend, if we met on Thursday or Friday, you're in luck! If it was Saturday or Sunday, try again tomorrow. All going well, they should be up by then. To find those entries, you'll need to go to Journal 16 archive and scroll down to Thursday, June 21 or simply click here. It truly was a glorious weekend. Lots of laughter, learnings, delight and connections. And, as always, it's the people I'll remember.
Now don't think I spent this entire day at the computer. Not this perfect Michigan summer day! We had bright sun, blue skies, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80s F. It was also my water aerobics class day.
As I scooted down to the park, I saw my friend, Elyse, playing in her yard with a friend. As soon as she saw me, she came running over, yelling, "Hi Patricia!" She introduced me to her friend, Lily, and I showed them the new cowbell from Nigeria that I'd bought at festival. My festie-friend, Dannyn, had hung it from Ona the scooter's handlebar so I could play it more easily during a drum jam late Saturday night. It was still there and I'd found myself happily hitting it with a stick I'd found during a scooter ride last night. Both Elyse and Lily seemed to enjoy playing it as much as I.
When I got to the park, I could see that summer had officially begun. The pool was crowded with kids of all ages, young mothers and my older water aerobics classmates. I guess some of these women have been taking this class for over 15 years. No wonder I felt like the new kid on the block last year; I was! But now everyone is very friendly and I feel right at home. Of course it doesn't hurt that I've regained my sea-legs and am no longer uneasy in the water. Class was good and I managed to do a couple laps of the crawl.
After class, I got a grilled cheese sandwich and apple juice at the concession stand. I sat watching kids on the giant playscape while I ate. I do love summer; it's my favorite season.
Soon it was time to head home. As I approached the entrance to the park, the man on duty called out, "Your hubby just got here." I couldn't imagine how he could possibly know who my "hubby" was, but I turned back and soon found Eddie looking for me at the pool. Apparently Ed had asked the man at the entrance--I don't know his name--if he'd seen me. The man, who's kind of an elderly gent, said, "Oh, you mean the woman with the little pigtail?"
Now, how on earth had he noticed that? The pigtail he was referring to is the "tail" I kept when my waist-length hair was cut in March 2000. It keeps growing so it's pretty long by now. But, believe me, it is a tiny braid. His noticing it kind of tickles me.
It's now 1 AM and time
to take my weary body to bed. Speaking of beds, it sure is nice
to be in my own again. It's fun to go away but so comfy to return
TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2001
I have a few pictures for you today, but to be truthful, they were taken during only one hour of this very full day. But what I spent the other 8+ hours doing doesn't make for very interesting viewing. I mean would you really want to see me sitting here at my laptop doing my trademark two-finger typing? But that was the bulk of my day.
I'm happy to report that ALL my entries for the National Women's Music Festival are now complete. To read them, go to my Journal Archive 16 and scroll down to Thursday, June 21, or simply click here. Believe it or not, the Saturday, June 23 entry took over 4 hours to write, and that did not include working with the photos. Happily, I'd kept up with those over the weekend. But it was a joy to relive that glorious day!
At 5 PM, after completing Saturday's journal entry and before starting on Sunday's, I scooted down to the park for a swim. The swim team was practicing, but I was able to do my 6 laps of the crawl in one of the two lap lanes kept open for the public. I then got an ice cream cone--my first food of the day--and took it over to the beach to eat. While there I heard, "Patricia!", and there were my neighbor friends, Peter and Elyse, making an island surrounded by water in the sand.
I scooted home around
6 PM and spent some quiet time sitting in my wilderness area out
back. Ed arrived home after 7 PM with Chinese carry-out. We had
a good dinner together, after which I headed back upstairs to
my computer. It's now 11 PM and after I put up my journal entries,
I'll gratefully hit the hay.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2001
When I get sick it helps me realize how healthy I usually am. In the 16 months I've kept an online journal, this is only the second time I remember writing about being sick. That's pretty good, I'd say.
I don't need to go into graphic details except to say that a gastro-intestinal upset hit me about 2:30 AM this morning and has kept me down all day. But I can tell things are settling down now, so, hopefully, I'll be back to normal tomorrow. See you then.
One last note...my Eddie
has been a dear, tender and competent nurse. Thanks, sweetie!
THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2001
"What could be sweeter than a day in June?", asks the poet. Well, I'd say that sitting with a young squirrel as it takes its afternoon nap in the branch of a tree on a warm June day is sweeter still. Bushy grey tail billowing in gentle breezes, this squirrel stretched full out on the branch, paws dangling, occasionally lifting its back leg to scratch an itch. So comfortable, so safe. Halfway through the nap came bathtime. Not just a lick and a promise either, but a thorough cleansing, even behind its ears and between each toe. When that was done, s/he simply turned around and stretched out for another half hour or so. I felt like its mama, watching over it with love.
Happily, I awoke this morning feeling quite well, a little weak at the knees, mind, but well. My tummy was acting like tummies should and I could sit contentedly and read a book; which I did. Joanna Macy's memoir, Widening Circles. The chapters I read today touched me to my core and helped me see my life with a fresh eye. Joanna did for me what a friend who is a daily reader of my journal wrote that I do for her. "...your journal (and your open, loving self) makes me remember parts of my life that I thought were ordinary, but really are not."
It was how one of Joanna's Tibetan Buddhist teachers in India, Choegyal Rinpoche, described the coming of the Kingdom of Shambhala with its Shambhala warriors that resonated within me. As she relates it, his teaching began:
There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Barbarian powers have arisen. Although they waste their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste the world. It is now, when the future of all beings hangs by the frailest of threads, that the Kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
You cannot go there, for it is not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. But you cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior by sight, for there is no uniform or insignia, there are no banners. And there are no barricades from which to threaten the enemy, for the Shambhala warriors have no land of their own. Always they move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.
Now comes the time when great courage is required of the Shambhala warriors, moral and physical courage. For they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power and dismantle the weapons. To remove these weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where the decisions are made.
The Shambhala warriors know they can do this because the weapons are manomaya, mind-made. This is very important to remember, Joanna. These weapons are made by the human mind. So they can be unmade by the human mind! The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on Earth do not come from evil deities or extraterrestrial powers. They arise from our own choices and relationships. So, now, the Shambhala warriors must go into training.
...They train in the use of two weapons...The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary. We need this first one, he said, lifting his right hand, because it provides us the fuel, it moves us out to act on behalf of other beings. But by itself it can burn us out. So we need the second as well, which is insight into the dependent co-arising of all things. It lets us see that the battle is not between good people and bad people, for the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. We realize that we are interconnected, as in a web, and that each act with pure motivation affects the entire web, bringing consequences we cannot measure or even see.
But insight alone can seem too cool to keep us going. So, we need as well the heat of compassion, our openness to the world's pain. Both weapons or tools are necessary for the Shambhala warrior. (Macy, Joanna. Widening Circles. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2000. pp. 161-2)
As I read these words, I was thrown back to this room on the night of January 17, 1991, the night my country dropped the first bombs on the city of Baghdad. I could hear my howls of pain, see the devastation and terror on the faces of people I'd never met, smell the pungent odor of flesh burning and fires sweeping my city. I say "my" because for the duration of that ghastly war, I was there, there in my waking and sleeping, there in the art I made in fits of pain and fury, there in the horror of knowing it was my hand pushing the button that dropped every bomb.
Compassion had seemed such a gentle, tender quality before that night. After seemingly endless weeks of violent destruction of a people, their culture, their air befouled by the stink of burning Kuwaiti oil wells, homes in heaps of rubble, drinking water contaminated and disease-ridden, I knew compassion as the most pain-filled word imaginable. To suffer with, that is compassion.
So when I read of the Shambhala warrior's two weapons, I recognized the first in my gut. And insight, which to me means to see within, also recalled my experiences of that time. For, while I was in Iraq in every fiber of my being, I was also in the halls of power, particularly the Pentagon, the CIA, the White House. These places were known to me from childhood. My father had walked in those halls of power. I had summer jobs in two of them: the FBI and the CIA. I knew these places and people from the inside.
Part of my personal journey during the war against Iraq was to look as dispassionately as I could at what my own father had been part of in his work, and what I had been part of in a family that had admired and respected that world and its work. This was a hard but necessary road for me to walk. But if I turned away, I could never develop the insight--seeing into--I would need to analyze the information and data that I needed to understand and change these "mind-made" constructs and destructive ways of being in the world.
The training of a Shambhala warrior is not always chosen; sometimes you turn a corner and there it is, asking, "Are you ready to walk this path?" I guess the choices I'd been making one by one had brought me to this place. And once here, there was no going back.
So, reading the words of Choegyal Rinpoche today not only brought all these memories flooding back into my mind and heart, but helped me to see my journey in a context larger than the personal.
There are so many Shambhala
warriors in the world today. Though we don't wear uniforms or
always carry banners, we recognize one another. Coming together
in places like Seattle, Prague, Gothenberg, Quebec City and Washington,
DC only makes us stronger. And as we get stronger, we are already
creating a new world. It is happening even as I write these words.
FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2001
This nice warm day began with a visit to my upstairs computer room by my sweet Eddie. In the picture he's pointing to a copy of an excellent paper he's almost Completed, called "Introduction to Neurological Psychiatry." When we upload it to his web site, I'll put up a link so you can read the theories of this original thinker to whom I'm married.
What a summer day! It's now 7 PM and the temperature is still 87º F. I was at the park from 1-5 PM, staying cool in the ever-present lake breezes. This kind of day brings back memories of childhood summers at the Chesapeake Bay where we'd put on our bathing suits in the morning and keep them on until bedtime. Days when you'd get so waterlogged your skin would be puckered for hours.
I didn't go quite that far today, but I did my share of pool time. Water aerobics class from 1-2 PM, followed by laps and then just standing around in the water, chatting. I noticed that the little kids area seemed to have more adults than children in it today. I wasn't at all surprised.
After the pool, I scooted over to the concession stand and ordered a piece of pizza and apple juice. Sure wish Michigan would emulate California in offering more vegetarian options. Here at the park, it's either a grilled cheese sandwich or pizza. Not even pizza because when he handed it to me, there were a couple pieces of pepperoni on top. I told him that wouldn't work as I was a vegetarian, so he picked off the pepperoni slices and handed me back the slice! I don't think folks around here quite understand what it means to be a vegetarian, even a seafood-eating one like myself.
After lunch, I scooted out to Aggie and Bill's memorial gazebo. They were a brother and sister who lived down the lane from us. Both of them were wonderfully quirky old things who would tell stories of when they were children and how they could see all the way to the lake from their house. When Bill died first and then Aggie followed a few years later, they left a good deal of money to the city. In 1997, there was a deadly storm with tornados and sheer-force winds that drowned five people at the park and uprooted 5,000 trees in our community. As part of the rebuilding/replanting project in 1998, the city put up this gazebo as a memorial to Aggie and Bill. It's at the lake end of the park beside the fishing area.
Refreshing breezes, welcome shade and a lovely view made it the perfect place to perch on this otherwise hot humid day. I sat in Ona's comfortable seat for about an hour reading Widening Circles, Joanna Macy's memoir that I wrote about yesterday. About 4 PM I had a hankering for an ice cream cone so I scooted back to the concession stand. Only it looked like lots of people had a similar idea so I just scooted on by.
As I approached the playscape, I heard a voice calling, "Patricia!" It was my friend Joan from water aerobics class. Her daughter and grandchildren are visiting this week from California, and since they were going to Comerica Ballpark for a specially-arranged tour, I hadn't expected to see them today. So it was a real treat to run into them at the park and to meet Laura, Ryan and Rachel with Joan, their proud mother/grandmother. Then it was fun to sit in the shade and chat as we watched Ryan playing with his new buddies and Rachel running down the slide.
So these are my images
of summer. But for my friend Margaretha who lives out in the country
in Sweden, summer looks quite different. A few days ago, a doe
and her fawn appeared on the grass in front of their house. Margaretha,
her mother and father watched as the fawn
nursed and received a thorough cleansing by its mother. Talk
SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 2001
Ed and I have just returned from Ann Arbor where we helped celebrate our friend Liz's 50th birthday. Her two daughters, Debra (pictured with Liz) and Jenna (with the birthday cake), managed to pull off a successful surprise party, which in itself is a real feat.
Debra had come in with her SO (Significant Other) Billy from Colorado Springs, Liz's niece Rachel drove in from Phoenix, her brother-in-law and his wife came from Columbus, Ohio, and an old friend with her daughter and granddaughter were there from Chicago. This was in addition to Liz's devoted husband of 18 years, Frank--who's been Ed's friend since their Angell School days together in Ann Arbor in the 1930s--and a close community of local friends and family. Liz seemed genuinely surprised and delighted. I was especially touched to see the three generations--Liz, her daughters and her mother--together on such a happy occasion. Happy birthday, dearest Liz!
And now I must take this
weary body to bed. For some reason I awoke very early (for me)
this lovely warm morning. Ed and I were out on our tandem bike
riding along the lake by 9 AM. It is now close to 1 AM and I feel
like a walking zombie. Night night.
SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2001
Yesterday's scattered showers brought a welcome change in the weather. No longer was the horizon blanketed in hazy heat or the air thick with no-see-ums (tiny flying insects). Colors stood out as if they were freshly painted and still glistening wet on my finest watercolor paper. Streamers of clouds radiated across a crystal-blue sky. Spanking breezes filled white sails and made me happy for my cotton jacket as I scooted along the lake this afternoon. Everything felt fresh, including my thoughts. Ah, Michigan summers!
The sight of anchored boats greeted me at the bottom of our street. Within a block, it was flowers and bushes that drew my eyes from water to earth. Soon, I looked up to see the greens of grass and trees against a blue and white sky. About a mile down the road, the orange of tiger lilies exploded like the fireworks we've seen and heard the last two nights. From there, the Canadian shore to our south showed up clearly across the lake. And finally, the sycamore I'd photographed in its naked beauty last April seemed to be twirling its sparkling green skirts in the sun.
How can it already be
the 4th of July? Wasn't it just Memorial Day weekend? How quickly
these precious summer months fly by.
MONDAY, JULY 2, 2001
Today is another one of those crystal clear summer days, a day you'd like to bottle and take out to enjoy when the sky is overcast, winds are howling and temperatures below freezing. And, most happily, it was the day Joe and John started to paint the outside of our house. With this old wooden shake house, painting is actually the least of their worries. Most of their work involves preparing the surfaces and repairing what has gone awry. Ed and I can't even remember how long it's been since the grey shakes have been painted; he thinks we might be looking at 20 years. The white trim was painted maybe 8 years ago.
Aren't we are on a house-fixing-up role these days? It feels good to treat this wonderful old house with the respect and care it deserves. Thirty years later, we both still love it.
And as it's Monday, it was water aerobics day as well. For once you can see the class as we run--I walk--back and forth across the pool; I'm the one waving. My thanks to the lifeguard, Shannon, for taking this picture during her break. We had just started our jumping jacks-with-arms-underwater, when we heard the shrill sound of a whistle and an announcement that the pool was closed and everyone had to get out right now. A little one had upchucked in the shallow end. The lifeguard who was on duty closest to the disabled lift, said, "I don't believe this! It's the second time today!" And it was only 1:15 PM.
I scooted over to the concession stand and got a box of popcorn, figuring that's another of my vegetarian options. Just as I left the window, I met an old friend. Amy lived three doors down from us during the years when neighbor kids used to hang out at our house, and she occasionally joined the gang. And here she was with her 4? year old son, Charlie. I don't really feel old until I see what the years have done to kids I used to know!
After a brief visit, I scooted over to the beach to eat my popcorn. Such summer views! Sunbathers out on the pier and a sailing class with sails billowing white against the dark hull of a freighter out in the channel. Soon I heard a disembodied voice saying, "Hi Patty!" It was Ed's voice but when I looked around, I couldn't find him anywhere. That silly man was hiding right behind my scooter, so everytime I turned so did he. I finally caught him, half-eaten ice cream cone in hand! Of course then I had to have one too.
We chatted for awhile, with his telling me a bit about the six people he'd seen on his Monday job. Then he took a picture of me hatless again in the sun. You're right, Rima...next time I'll wear sunblock or a hat! Then we both took off, Ed in his car and me on Ona the scooter.
After a relaxing afternoon at home, I scooted two miles to meet Ed and a couple of his bachelor friends for dinner at a local restaurant. I was pleased that my route passed by my favorite garden. How is it that some people have a gift for putting together the perfect colors, sizes, textures and fragrances?
I was the only person on this mile-long stretch of sidewalk before turning off onto the bustling commercial street where the restaurant was located. I was the first to arrive, then Ed, followed by Jack--here's a picture of those two old buddies--and finally, Bob. As July 4 is Bob's birthday, we sang him a quiet rendition of "Happy Birthday". Although both Ed and Jack had felt Bob would be embarrassed by our singing to him, I was touched to see him smile and join in by singing softly to himself. This is the man who has shared with us that his mother, father and three older sisters had assured him that all the July 4 fireworks were to celebrate little Bobby's birthday. He was 6 when he learned otherise.
Coming home, the light had shifted and the temperatures
had dropped. I was glad for my cotton jacket and neck scarf. It
should be a lovely night for sleeping.
TUESDAY, JULY 3, 2001
Before I begin to read Dropped Threads: "What We Aren't Told", the latest book for my women's book group, I want to reflect on the question that is at the heart of its stories and essays. Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson, the book's co-editors, asked their friends, sister writers, politicians, ranchers, academics, homemakers, journalists and other women what "dropped threads" did not make it into their conversation or writing; were there topics that, for whatever reason, did not see the light of day? If so, were they willing to address them for this collection?
So I ask myself, are there things I've not mentioned in my 16 months of keeping this online journal that I'd allow to be seen and heard today?
What comes first to mind is what it's like to live with a man for almost 35 years whose love is so constant and true that it is not shaken by anything I do and say or don't do and say. What the self-help books call "unconditional love". Now he may not always like me, but love? Always and forever. What an unimaginable gift to give another human being! It is so unshakable that I depend on it without being consciously aware of it half the time. And I don't think I've ever even mentioned it.
Another dropped thread is how frustrated I feel with my slowness and awkwardness so much of the time. How tired I get of...having to ask for help to do anything from opening a flip-top can to cutting my toenails...wearing the same earrings for months because it's too hard to work the fastenings and the bulk and discomfort of wearing adult diapers everytime I leave the house...taking forever-and-a-day to climb the stairs and hearing pitiful-voiced questions like, "And how are you today, dear? You look good."
Then there's my gratitude for all that I still can do. Two-fingered type on my computer keyboard. Drive my normal unmodified red Neon car. Go to San Francisco and live by myself. Walk stairs so I can keep using my beloved upstairs bedroom, bathroom and computer room. Ride the tandem bike with Eddie. Swim laps. Use Ona and La Lucha my scooters with no straps or adaptations. Travel on my own by car, plane and train. Use my voice and eyes without any ill effects from the MS. Go to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and sleep in my own tent. Continue to have a zest for life and its learnings. Sing with women. Hold my own in political discussions with Eddie. Feel independent much of the time.
I know there are probably
countless more "dropped threads", but these feel like
enough for today. You might ask yourself the same question. I
suspect your answers will surprise you as much as mine did me.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 4, 2001
I can't remember such a festive 4th of July as this! Not that my celebrations really had much to do with the original purpose of the holiday. It was more a celebration of music and people than anything particularly patriotic.
It started last night when my new friends, Joan and Nick, drove me out to an outdoor concert starring Paul Simon and Brian Wilson (originally of the Beach Boys). It was Paul Simon I was interested in seeing and it was he who electrified the huge audience. Most people--including me--were on their feet dancing for much of the concert. And the full moon night could not have been more perfect.
Today I went to Dayhouse for my weekly massage and to take house duty for a couple of hours. Pat's garden is magnificent! There are already tiny green tomatoes on the plants, and she's been using the lettuce in salads for quite some time. And of courseTigger could be found in an open, breezy window taking his ease.
My goddess daughter Emily, her cousin Monica and a friend Gaylan (holding her sister's baby, Tammy) were on their way to the Taste Fest, a 5-day street fair in what's called Detroit's New Center. In addition to dozens of booths with food from a wonderful variety of metro-area restaurants, there was continuous live music on three different sound stages. Within a couple of hours, Pat and I made our way over there too.
I love these festivals and the people who attend them. There was a good crowd, probably because today was the last day and the weather was ideal. Music was everywhere! Jazz at one of the three stages and drummers in front of a vendor's booth. Pat and I both had an excellent Indian dinner of vegetable curry, samosa and fried eggplant washed down by one of those sugary lemonades you always find at such street fairs. I particularly enjoyed being down where Ed had had his office for over 20 years. And since this was Detroit, of course there was a decorated car.
I was able to go to the Taste Fest spontaneously like this today because of Ed's smart idea to keep La Lucha the scooter stored in my car. Thanks, Eddie.
After dropping Pat back at Dayhouse, I returned home, parked my car in the garage, hopped on Ona the scooter--who stays in the garage at the ready--and joined Ed at our neighbors for a 4th of July cookout and fireworks.
Bill and Al's daughter Lesley and her husband Alex are in town visiting from Colorado. Not only visiting but this wise young couple are taking 3-4 months off from work to travel around and "get to know each other better." Tonight was a fun gathering that included Jack, an old friend of Bill and Al's, and Laura and Tim, good friends of Lesley and Alex.
With my ever-present digital camera and Lesley and Alex's one as well, we had a much photographed evening! Here Lesley is showing Ed and Laura a picture she'd just taken. Then Ed took a picture of Lesley, Laura and me, followed by one I like very much of Ed and me.
After dinner--here's Al, Bill and Jack enjoying their hamburgers and potato salad--and Lesley's birthday cake, Alex, with Tim's help, began setting off the fireworks he and Lesley had bought at a mammoth fireworks warehouse while driving through Indiana. The bright lights, loud bangs and somewhat unpredictable trajectories reminded me of the July 4th celebrations I grew up with at our beach cottage on the Chesapeake Bay. Bobby Taylor, who was two years older than I, would drive down to South Carolina every year to buy a fabulous selection of fireworks. He would then set them off at the end of the wharf to everyone's oohs and ahhs. I bet he's still doing it at 61!
Well, Alex's fireworks got plenty of oohs and ahhs too. I must say I was particularly fond of the more interactive stuff like the sparklers. Here's Alex lighting two long sparklers, Lesley dancing with one, and then she and her Dad, Bill, playing with the sparklers together.
As so often happens in real life, this glorious celebratory time was interspersed with a challenge most readers can relate to. I've come to the conclusion that it's time to buy a new computer.
Shortly after I bought this Compaq Presario laptop in October 1998, the top quarter of my monitor started going blank. Compaq Support had no suggestions except that I buy a new monitor. I expect my warranty would have covered it, but I didn't want to go through the whole long-drawn-out service process. To be honest, I didn't want to be away from my new computer for a minute during those early days, much less the weeks they said it would take. Besides, if I waited a few minutes the screen always cleared up.
And so it's been for the past 2? years. Then a few weeks ago, I found that I could hasten getting rid of the blank screen by manipulating the upper portion of my laptop cover by hand. However, I recently noticed that the original blank white section had turned dark blue and had become more stubborn to dislodge. Last night no amount of manipulation worked--the upper quarter of my monitor just stayed dark blue.
When it's like that I can't see my tool bars and have to guess where to click to try to read email, open files and close down operations. I've been minimizing my windows so I can see the tool bars, but that's hardly a longterm solution.
As I said, it's time for a new computer. And I'm going for the Mac this time, in particular their wonderfully designed new G-4 laptop that my nephew, the computer whiz, recommends. When I visited him in Washington, DC in April, he showed me his new ibook, which had come out in January 2001. I was most impressed, especially with the exceptional resolution of graphic images and compact size of the computer. Although I've only used a PC, I think it's time to switch. But it's scary.
It feels like I'm not only buying a new house, but moving to a new part of the country. In a way, I am. I'll need to clean out my closets, decide what to take and then figure out how to move my "furniture" (files and software). But I intend to ask help from a "moving expert" (Apple computer coach). Then I'll need to become familiar with a brand new location, learn how to get around town without getting lost and meet the new neighbors. Quite a change.
Wish me luck! If a day
appears that I have not updated my journal entry, you can figure
it's probably moving day.
THURSDAY, JULY 5, 2001
60 miles and 3? hours later, I don't feel any closer to resolving my computer dilemma than when I started out at 11:30 AM this morning. Aren't these things frustrating? When everything's going well, nothing could be better; but when they mess up? Yuck!
My intention to buy a new Mackintosh ibook--the G3 not G4 as I wrote yesterday--hit the dust pretty soon after I walked into the Detroit area Mac Group's office. First of all, they did not have one ibook available for me to see. I take it back. There was a titanium model that Barry, the fellow helping me, was using on his desk. He moved it over to a table so I could at least try out the keyboard.
"We can't keep ibooks in, they're going so fast. Don't even know when we could get you one if you wanted it." As it turned out there was one of the top price models in Ann Arbor that they could get for me by the morning.
His answers to my long list of questions about converting from PC to Mac were not encouraging. In fact, they were downright discouraging. I'd have to buy all new software, a new printer and scanner, not to mention paying $80 an hour--in house--if I wanted a Mac expert to help move my files and graphics from my old PC to the new Mac, and/or custom configure it. All this before I'd even sat down to learn an entirely new operating system. Whew! Made me tired just hearing about it. Tired and broke.
Barry said if I wanted to stay with Windows, he'd been reading good reviews of the Sony Vaio. So I drove the 30 miles home and stopped at a Circuit City near me.
I really don't feel like going into it all, blow by blow; it's enough to say that I'm now thinking my best bet is to just go ahead and get my monitor fixed. I'm still covered by the extended service plan I bought in October 1998 when I bought my laptop at this store, so it wouldn't cost me anything. The cost--and a dear one, at that--is time. Since it's a laptop, the whole thing would have to be shipped out of state for service. I figure I'd be lucky to get it back in two weeks.
Two weeks with no online journal to keep up, no email to read and respond to, no digital pictures to download and prepare to put up on my site, no guestbook to read and respond to, no alternative news and forwarded messages to read, no online political activism to conduct. That's hard to imagine. And then my fear mechanism kicks in. If I don't update my journal every day, will I lose my regular readers? It'll feel like starting from scratch when my laptop finally returns.
I'm trying to weigh my options. I guess another option would be to buy an external monitor. That would work at home, but when I travel?
Well, whatever I do, I was very fortunate to have a wonderful fellow named Peter helping me at Circuit City. He took a lot of time and even brought over Steve, the laptop expert, to help out when I was looking at new computers. By the way, Steve also recommended the Sony Vaio. Besides that, I did get two things I've been needing--a photo card for my digital camera, and an external Zip Drive to store my files. The photo card will mean my camera can hold 80 pictures of medium resolution instead of 20 before I have to download them onto my computer, and the Zip Drive will speed up my C drive because I'll be able to store these megabite-hungry photos outside of the computer rather than inside it. Also, if I do decide to buy a new laptop, the Zip Drive would be the tool I'd use to send all my files from the old computer to the new.
By the time Ed came home, I was really riding on empty. But his suggestion to go ahead and get a new laptop, even as I send my old one out for service seemed to open a door that I'd closed. More of a both/and approach than the either/or one I was stuck in. Just giving myself that option perked me up, so that instead of staying home and sucking my thumb--metaphorically speaking, of course--I got on Ona my trusty scooter and went down to meet Ed by the lake during his nightly walk.
And his comment upon seeing me there? "I was wondering who I'd have to share this beautiful sight with!" The pink horizon, white sails shining in the lowering sun, clear views across the lake and even a red helicopter made it a very special evening.
There is more to life
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2001
Swimming at the park was just what I needed to clear my head of all thoughts of computers. Alternately stretching each arm as far as I could over my head, open fingers slicing through blue water, studying the wide blue line on the bottom of the pool before turning my head to the left, blowing bubbles of air out and catching a quick gasp in, kicking my stiff-kneed legs in a semblance of a flutter kick. Four olympic pool-sized laps of the crawl at a water snail's pace. A delightful tiredness as I twirl up onto dry land via the disabled lift. And this was after an hourlong water aerobics class. I feel so good in my body these days.
Then Ona the scooter took me out past the marina to my favorite point of land, where gazebo, sailboats and fisherfolk offer a feast of sights for these city eyes. Today it was especially the fisherfolk who captured my attention. Did you see the two perch that Evan was holding up? He caught them just as I approached him, Geoff and Jonathan with their fishing poles dipping over the lake. The best part came next when he unhooked and threw them back into their watery home.
I sat comfortably on Ona under the tree you see in the foreground of the gazebo picture to read my latest book, Margaret Atwater's novel, The Blind Assassin. She has such a quirky, sometimes-dark eye for life; I find her stories fascinating.
On the way home, I couldn't resist taking a portrait of this tiger lily with its red mouth opened in sensual delight. It was that kind of a day. Later on, Eddie and I walked/scooted to the local Coney Island restaurant for dinner where I enjoyed a gardenburger and cottage cheese while Ed had a chicken kebab on rice pilaf. We ran into Maude, one of the kids who grew up in our house, sitting at a table of little girls--and her two year-old son--who were celebrating her eldest daughter's eighth birthday.
And my thoughts on computers? I called today and arranged to get service on my laptop's monitor. I guess it'll take 5-10 working days before I even receive the shipping labels to send it off, so my journal will not be interrupted for awhile anyway. At this point, I'm inclined to stay with my present laptop instead of buying a new one. But whatever I do, my task now is to back up every single file. One does not send off a computer for service without that insurance.
I was grateful today to
the regular readers who emailed me with assurances that they will
not abandon my journal no matter how long it takes to get it fixed.
Thanks, friends. That means a lot.
SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2001
"Now, wasn't your day a perfect example of Hegel's thesis, antithesis, synthesis?" That was Ed's comment about the roller coaster I rode today.
After a lovely day with friends, I found Ed in a pout because I hadn't called to talk with him about what we were going to do for dinner. That threw me into my own pout. After awhile, he came upstairs where I had taken my pouty self to read a book. Ed is always good about apologizing when things go bad between us. But I wasn't ready to be nice yet, so I sent him away...only to go downstairs myself an hour later to offer my own apology. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis sure takes a lot of energy.
My day was spent with two women I very much like and respect. I wish I could show you pictures from today, but I forgot my camera. That was so uncharacteristic! Maybe I'm still out of sorts because of all the computer mess. Anyway, I can show you this picture I took of Jackie and Jan at the Carolyn McDade retreat three weeks ago. They haven't changed all that much since then!
We met at Jackie's house at 12:30 PM. She and Jan unloaded and assembled La Lucha with ease, and we walked/scooted two blocks to one of the Detroit area's best vegetarian restaurants for lunch.
Although we've known one another for years--primarily singing in the Notable Women Chorus and at Carolyn McDade retreats--this was the first time the three of us have really sat down and talked. Even so, Jackie and Jan know me a lot better than I know them. You may wonder why? They've been daily readers of my journal for over a year. I think they remember more of my life than I do! So for me this was a wonderful opportunity to hear their stories for a change.
We ordered exactly the same things--fresh carrot/ginger juice, a creamed vegetable tart with cold wild rice/sweet potato salad, and banana pudding for dessert. Perfection! Then we walked/scooted back to Jackie's house where we sat out back beside her beautiful pond with its waterfall running over rocks and colorful fish swimming in its depths. And we never stopped sharing stories.
Don't you love it when
conversation flows as freely as a waterfall? That was how it was
with the three of us today. We moved inside at some point and,
at my request, Jackie showed me some pictures of herself as a
little girl. That precipitated discussions about growing up, families
and our early lives. You know, we could still be merrily talking
if I hadn't felt I'd better be getting home. As I drove away,
I was shocked to see that it was 5:30 PM! I'd never looked at
my watch all day. Timeless time spent with friends.
SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2001
One of the things I love about Detroit is this circle of singing women. Today our monthly song circle met at a UU (Universalist-Unitarian) church on the north side of town. Seventeen of us gathered for two hours of song, chants, toning, laughter and sharing. This community of song, called Notable Women, first formed after an early Carolyn McDade retreat in the mid-1990s, and our bonds just grow stronger. For many of the women, their connection predates singing Carolyn's music. A number are foremothers of the women's movement on both sides of the river, in Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. They've met as political and social activists, community workers, in women's book groups, as friends and lovers. And now we meet for song.
Words are inadequate to describe what it's like to sit in a circle of strong women, with voices raised in song for the earth, sea, sky, creatures, in solidarity with peoples of diverse cultures and struggles, always holding the conscious intention of bringing justice, healing, transformation and truth. It is powerful and tender all at the same time. Tears frequently accompany our songs. Not so much tears of sadness as the tears of hearts being touched. So it was today and so it certainly was during our latest singing retreat with Carolyn McDade on the Ontario shores of Lake Erie in June.
After singing together, we go to a local Lebanese restaurant for an early dinner. The food is great and the company even better. It's become a tradition for us to serendade the restaurant staff and customers with a song before we leave. Today a group of us stayed on to begin planning for next year's retreat with Carolyn. In some ways, it was a changing of the guard as new women are taking over for those of us who have planned the last two retreats.
We already have the dates, June 14-16, 2002. But it will be at a new location because Crawfton had no weekends available next summer. Much of tonight's conversation centered on sharing ideas about possible retreat centers to call. We already know the theme of the retreat: The Council of Beings, based on Joanna Macy and John Seed's concept as articulated in their book, Thinking Like A Mountain. At our June retreat, Carolyn gave us the call to dedicate ourselves to just one aspect of the world and its needs, to work with conscious intent on it throughout the year, and then to gather at next year's retreat for a Council of Beings where we'll give voice to what we've learned. Our community will be meeting at Peg and Jeanne's place in the country at the Autumn Equinox to begin this process.
I feel so grateful to
have these women as sisters.
MONDAY, JULY 9, 2001
I haven't spoken of it very much, but Joe, John and Todd continue to paint the outside of our house. Actually, they're so easy to have around that it hasn't been any big deal, except, of course, that our house is beginning to look quite nice. Often having painters around can be bothersome, with loud music, mess and bad smells. These fellows listen to classical music, always stop to help me in and out of the house, clean up after themselves and use non-toxic paints and stains. Besides, I've never seen such meticulous preparation of the surfaces. I'll miss them when they're done. Amazing thing to say!
Thought I'd show you the lap lane that I swim at the pool. Pretty far to the other end, isn't it! Today I swam 5 laps of the crawl in addition to my hour-long water aerobics class. For some reason I didn't feel as strong as usual during class, but the laps felt good. It was one of those hot, humid days where being in the water was a special treat. I discovered later how tired I really was when I uncharacteristically napped from 5-7 PM.
After swimming, I took the opportunity to ask Dick, the concession stand owner, if he could offer more non-meat choices on the menu. He was most accommodating and has promised to order a cheese pizza (the others all have pepperoni). They'll keep slices frozen and all I have to do it ask for them. I also mentioned that I can't eat the grilled cheese sandwiches because they're pretty greasy, so he recommended I ask the workers to grill them without butter. I ordered it that way today and it worked out fine. Even the seagull was interested!
Before going home, I took a turn around the park. As I passed the fishing area, I said "hi" to one of the fellows fishing. I remembered taking his picture for my journal several weeks back. Well, he remembered me because he said, "Hey, you said you'd put my picture up on your web site but it wasn't there!" Turned out he had the wrong URL. So here's Paul the fisherman, and here's a peek into his box of lures.
While at the park, I called Eddie on my cell phone just to chat. He told me the saddest thing. Apparently a fire early Sunday morning demolished one of the horse barns at a private club in our community and 19 horses were killed. What a tragedy. Horses are so noble and innocent...and so very vulnerable in such a situation. They're investigating the cause and folks seem to think it might have started with kids setting off fireworks nearby. But whatever the cause, 19 beautiful creatures are dead.
I recall the last time
I saw them. It was that hot Sunday morning a few weeks back that
Ed and I went for a ride on our tandem bike. I asked if we could
bike beside the barns so I could see the horses I'd grown to love
(merely from seeing them on bike rides). I can still see these
magnificent creatures with their heads stretched outside their
open stall windows, enjoying a breath of fresh air. At that time,
two were grazing in the fields, one covered in a blanket. I remember
wondering why a horse would be wearing a blanket on such a hot
day. They will be missed by everyone in our community.
TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2001
Does all organic honey taste of flowers? Until Ed brought home a jar of honey made in Northern Michigan a month ago, I'd never experienced this before. Now whenever I want to taste flowers like the ones I saw in my neighborhood yesterday, I simply dip a spoon into the honey jar!
Today was another true summer day, hot and humid but with a delightful breeze out of the west. When I arrived at Dayhouse, the two little girls greeted me with hugs and kisses. The younger said, "I just love summer, don't you?" Yes, I do.
How I wish I could put up a picture of these darling kids, but that might put them and their mother at risk, so I'll have to paint word pictures instead.
We three--with their mother looking on--sat around the small round dining room table and played a rousing game of "Mouse, mouse! Out of my house!" It involves putting a green plastic mouse on a catapult and then hammering it with your hand. The goal is to fling the mouse into your opponent's "room". The first one to get rid of all their mice--including any sent over by the others--is the winner. The youngest and I both exhibited pretty strong competitive energy, while the eldest was the most mature of the three. Great fun!
Pat returned from her Massage School lecture at 2:30 PM and promptly invited me to prepare for my scheduled massage. She is so gifted that even on a hot day like this, I became so relaxed that I fell asleep on the table.
I then came back on house duty--answering the phone and door--and had the privilege of some quiet time talking with the little girls' mother. I must say she has her hands full raising these two exceptionally intelligent youngsters, especially the younger who is verbal to the Nth. It certainly seems like she's doing a wonderful job thus far.
By now it was 5 PM and my goddess daughter Emily and Jason, her boyfriend, arrived after their respective days at work. Emily helps out at the Archdiocese of Detroit's main office while Jason is an intern at the Ford Motor Company. It was fun to see how sweet they both were with the little ones. Emily even invited them up to her room where she put glitter make-up on their eyebrows and gave each of them a necklace and a tootsie pop. Needless to say, the girls were ecstatic.
After a very long day, Pat put on another of her delicious dinners. Potato pancakes, sauteed beet greens with balsamic vinegar, fresh salad, sausage for meat-eaters, and homemade cold borscht. The lettuce, beets and greens all came from her garden out front! What a perfect hot weather meal. Then, as always, that sweet woman packed a doggie bag for me to bring home for Eddie. He was a very happy recipient.
Believe me, I enjoyed
my car's air conditioning on the way home tonight. But now, our
house fans feel just fine. I've never wanted air conditioning
in the house, no matter how hot it gets. I like open screened
windows; that's summer to me.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2001
Eddie just felt my muscles and said, "I'm impressed!" Well, so am I. Today I did an hour of water aerobics and swam 7 laps of the crawl. I worked on pulling my arms through the water with greater force and strengthening my kick. Though I was still slow, I could feel my speed pick up.
I just love swimming now! It reminds me of how I used to feel when I'd run long distances. It would take about two miles to get my rhythm, and after that? It was like I was flying. So it is now in the water. Actually, it's a bit of a shock to get on dry land again and feel so clumsy. I sure don't feel clumsy in the water; I feel sleek as a fish.
After my workout, I went to the concession stand to see if by any chance my special cheese pizza had come in. When I asked the young woman behind the counter, she smiled and said, "Yes, it's here." I asked how many slices were in each pizza (trying to figure how many lunches I had to look forward to) and she pulled out this huge box and said, "Probably 12." I looked at the box and started laughing. There was a sign on the front that said, "*Cheese*ONLY* For Patricia ONLY!!!" Here's Ashley, Marisa and Ali holding it up so I could take a picture.
As I savored my delicious pizza slice and lemonade at a picnic table, a woman walked by and asked if I had a camera. I said, "Yes...a digital camera." She then asked if I'd mind going out to the gazebo and taking some pictures for her. Apparently there was a Rehab Outing from a local hospital and she especially wanted a photo of her sister who had recently undergone brain surgery. I agreed to help her out and we arranged for me to email the photos to a friend of hers, as she's not a computer person herself. I finished my lunch and then scooted out to the gazebo.
It reminded me of a day last summer when I was reading happily by myself in the gazebo and a group of folks in wheelchairs suddenly appeared at my side. It was a Rehab Outing from the same hospital. At the time, I was a new scooter user and felt quite uncomfortable being around these people who reminded me of my fears of ending up in a nursing home or rehab center myself someday. I also remember being turned off by a volunteer who spoke to me in the same pitying tone of voice that she used with the patients. So I wondered how it would feel to be with this group today.
Definitely better. I actually had a most pleasant talk with Bruce, the recreational therapist who was with them. Nancy ran around with my camera photographing everyone there, but just as she began to take a picture of her sister--the reason she'd wanted the camera in the first place--my batteries ran out. I offered to scoot home and replace them, and she took me up on my offer.
When I returned to the parking lot with the recharged batteries, I saw wheelchairs being loaded into the hospital van, so I scooted over there. Nancy got the pictures she wanted of her sister, and even took one of me, "the person whose kindness made these pictures happen." I, in turn, took a photo of the Volunteer Coordinator, Bruce and Nancy. After they left, I found a spot under a tree and read for awhile.
Our weather has undergone a profound shift. Instead of the heat and humidity of the last few days, this morning was sunny and crystal-clear when Ed and I took a tandem bike ride along the lake. By 1 PM--the start of my water aerobics class--the sun still shone but the sky was now full of clouds and the air had a decided nip to it. As I sat and read later in the afternoon, clouds dominated with only an occasional sunny break. Actually, quite a lovely day.
When it was time to go home, I turned Ona my scooter onto the paved path leading toward the park's exit. There were dozens of seagulls resting on the grass, but as soon as they heard the whrr of my scooter they soared into the air, wings flapping noisily. From the park, I turned up a different street to go home and happened upon these lovely roses.
Now I feel lusciously
tired and ready for bed. See you tomorrow.
THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2001
Cleaning out computer files and folders runs the same risks as cleaning out closets and drawers...it's too darn easy to spend your time reading and looking at old stuff without actually sorting it and throwing out what you no longer need. And that's what I did much of today.
But in the midst of my reading, I did find something that interested me enough to turn it into a new web page called Storytelling My Life. But that did nothing to help clean up my files and folders!
I'm having trouble imagining
ever completing this task of backing up every file and program
on my computer, but I expect it'll happen eventually. In the meantime,
my laptop monitor has been behaving better than before. At least
now I can usually get rid of the blank section by moving the top
back and forth. What I'll probably do is send it off for service
right before I leave for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival on
Sunday, August 5. Since I'll be away from my computer until Monday,
August 13 anyway, it seems like the least disruptive time to do
FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2001
Is it really Friday the 13th? I didn't realize that until this minute. Now maybe that explains the computer frustration I'm experiencing! Nothing else does.
Tonight my friend Sooz and I went to one of Detroit's most glorious events--opening night of the Concert of Colors weekend world music festival--and now I can't get my digital camera to download its treasure trove of pictures. Darn! After a full hour, I've just given up...at least for tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better luck. Of course it's just turned midnight so it's no longer Friday the 13th. Maybe I should give it one more try. Nope, no luck. OK, I'll just have to use words to bring you along with me to this amazing event.
Detroit's Concert of Colors is the largest free world music festival in North America. It is co-produced by New Detroit, a civic organization of business, educational and civil rights leaders who share a commitment to Detroit and its people, and ACCESS, a human services organization committed to the development of the Arab-American community. The Detroit area, specifically Dearborn, boasts the largest Arab-American population outside of the Middle East, and for decades the city of Detroit has been proud of its identity as a predominantly African-American city. So this festival is a celebration of our diversity.
And when they speak of world music, that is no exaggeration! For three days we will see and hear musicians from New Zealand, Nigeria, India, Algeria, Benin (in West Africa), Los Angeles (Los Lobos and War), South Africa, Japan, England, and North America-Cherokee, to name a few. Tonight we had a fabulous lineup starting with Te Vaka, a group from New Zealand that mixes South Pacific rhythms with western music while wearing Polynesian costumes. Their dancing brought people to their feet. They were followed by Los Lobos, the East LA Grammy Award winning musicians, who drew a crowd of dancers down by the stage and had the rest of us doing salsa dances in our seats. Finally, Femi Kuti, son of the legendary Fela Anifulapo-Kuti from Nigeria, brought everyone to their feet the minute he and his extraordinary musicians--drums, keyboard, sax, trombone, trumpet--and dancers appeared on stage. And most of them--including me--stayed up dancing during his entire set. That man has unbelievable energy!
Now what I love the best about this festival--I attended last year's as well--is the air of celebration that permeates everything. There truly are no strangers here. People smile and speak and dance with one another, even if they've never seen one another before and may never see each other again. When folks talk about "family" it can sound so trite, but that is the only way to describe what happens during this weekend in Detroit. I mean, I had a number of people come up to me with big grins on their faces, saying, "I remember you from last year. How ya doing?" And that's not to mention all the people I actually know who came up for hugs. As I say, it's family.
The other part of this weekend that defies description is the setting. An entertainment park on the shores of the Detroit River, with grassy knolls, lagoons, trees, and what will become five stages tomorrow and Sunday. Tonight everything was held on the main stage which is a mammoth tented two-tiered venue with seats and a stage open to the river behind it. So as you're listening or dancing to these great musicians, power and sail boats, freighters and tugs pushing barges pass by. Across the river is Canada. Does this sound idyllic, or what? It is.
And how can all this be free? Because Detroit is a corporate city and corporations--around here anyway--are happy to sponsor such events because they get good advertisement and lots of exposure. Seems to be a Detroit tradition. Without thinking too hard, I can come up with five huge free outdoor weekend music festivals, not to mention the almost weekly summer festivals at Hart Plaza on the riverfront downtown. This summer is even bigger than ever because we're celebrating Detroit's Tricentennial. Next weekend it'll be Stevie Wonder one night and Della Reese the next.
Well, I guess words are somewhat adequate to describe what happened tonight, but I promise to try to unglitch my digital camera so hopefully I can bring you real live images as the weekend progresses.
And now I've got to get
to bed. After all, I didn't just go to the Concert of Colors today,
I also swam 6 laps of the crawl, did an hour of water aerobics,
and worked at the computer with my friend Sooz trying to install
my new Zip Drive! And I've got tomorrow with music from 2-10 PM
to look forward to.
SATURDAY, JULY 14, 2001
I look forward to sharing
stories about the glorious 9 hours I spent at the Concert
of Colors today, but it's going to have to wait until
tomorrow. It's now close to 1 AM and I am beyond tired.
Please check back as I'm anticipating even having some pictures
for you, that is assuming the SanDisk software I bought this morning
acts as it's supposed to act! See you then.
SUNDAY, JULY 15, 2001
All it takes to recognize the value of something in your life is to lose it, even temporarily. And so it was this weekend with my not being able to add images to this journal. I even had trouble enjoying the riches I was experiencing because I didn't feel I could bring you, my readers, along with me. But I kept taking photos anyway--48 of them--even though I couldn't download them to my computer. I just trusted that sooner or later the problem would be resolved.
And it finally was, thanks to these two men--Munir and Mike--at Circuit City. Yesterday morning they sold me a $30 SanDisk external download device. Of course, my frustration continued for a goodly while. As so often seems to happen these days, I spent hours trying to get the darned thing to work. But thanks to Joseph at SanDisk tech support, you are actually going to see pictures of my fabulous weekend of music at the Detroit Concert of Colors. By the way, the link connects to the Concert of Colors web site; simply click on the central image to access it.
I've already written a general introduction to the Concert of Colors in Friday's journal entry; if you want, you can read it by clicking here. But now you're going to see what I saw!
My friend Sooz and I arrived at Chene Park's Main Stage about 5:30 PM as the first act, Te Vaka, the Maori group from New Zealand, was in the middle of their set. This tented performance space is not only huge--with a capacity of 2-3,000--but accessible as well. There were ramps I'd scoot up to get to what became my usual parking spot behind the last row of lower tier seats at center stage. It was a great people-watching place because I was smack dab in the middle of the aisle dividing the upper and lower tiers of seats.
And, of course, looking down at the stage was always a feast for the eyes, no matter who was performing. Sometimes the backdrop would be a passing freighter, other times it was pleasure boats that anchored to listen to the music, and at night we saw the twinkling lights of Canada across the river.
One of the advantages of living in a city for a long time--I've been 35 years in the Detroit area--is that most places you go, you run into folks you know. And so it was for me all weekend. First it was two drumming sisters, Veronica and Ella, who were sitting with Veronica's mother, Nancy. Next, Pat K. appeared with the Antioch students who came to the festival before driving back to their Ohio campus later Friday night. They stayed at Dayhouse last week while participating in Detroit Summer, an annual community service/educational program founded by Detroit's 86-year-old activist icon, Grace Boggs. Soon their faculty advisor, Rick, came over to chat with Sooz and me. Later, Carol and Lori came by and posed for a picture with Veronica. Lori is an exceptionally gifted drumming teacher/facilitator with whom I've worked and played for years. And during the wonderful set by Los Lobos, my water aerobics friend Joan came over to visit and dance to the music.
Believe me, there was a lot of dancing this weekend! And I did my share, both in my scooter seat and sometimes on my feet. Pat, who sat with Sooz and me during Friday night's performance, is seen here clapping and moving to Los Lobos. Almost everyone around us was on their feet during both Los Lobos' and Femi Kuti's performances. The more serious dancers usually crowded around the lip of the stage.
One of the challenges of the music sending folks to their feet was our sometimes-view of people's backs. But that was easily remedied--we simply moved. No one ever yelled, "Down in front!"; I mean, how can you expect anyone to stay in their seats during performances by artists like Femi Kuti, his band and dancers from Nigeria! Their high energy was contagious.
Saturday's schedule was much more full: there was music on five concurrently-running stages from 2-11 PM. And the weather could not have been more perfect: bright sun, blue skies, moderate temperatures with a sweet breeze off the river. A day that I used my straw hat to great advantage.
Lori and Carol picked Ona the scooter and me up at 1:30 PM and we were down to the festival about an hour later. What a busy weekend on Detroit's waterfront! The Gold Cup hydroplane races off Belle Isle, a Ribs 'N Soul festival at downtown's riverfront Hart Plaza, and this 3-day Concert of Colors at Chene Park, halfway between the other two events. Traffic along Detroit's primary waterfront artery--Jefferson Avenue--was predictably backed up.
The first performance that caught my eye was the Swirling Wind Native American drummers and dancers on the World Rhythm Stage. It seemed that most of the performers--aged 3 to 50--were related in one way or another. They represented a Great Lakes tribe, but I missed hearing which one. A couple of men drummed--only men are allowed to "sing the drum" in their culture--while a father and son danced together. Well, the 3 year-old actually stood and looked at his Dad with a pained expression, kind of like he was saying, "Get me out of here!" Then a young woman and a little girl of 6, who was a fine dancer, did a "ladies dance". The young woman was wearing what was described as a butterfly lady costume. It felt quite sacred.
I then scooted over to the Main Stage to see one of my favorite performers, Poncho Sanchez and his Latin jazz band. I'd heard them at last Labor Day's Ford International Jazz Festival and had loved how they got folks out of their seats and dancing the salsa. Again I was merrily dancing in my scooter seat, but this time it was captured by Jim, the photographer. Actually, he'd already taken a few pictures of me over by the Swirling Wind performance, where we'd gotten to talking. Seems his daughter has also been diagnosed with MS, so I gave him my web site address for her to check out. Apparently, Jim's a free lance photographer who is taking pictures during Detroit's Tricentennial celebrations. Nice man.
After listening to a few numbers by the next act--Algerian superstar, Cheb Mami--I went down by the water to enjoy the shade and lovely breezes. Other folks obviously had the same idea. I was taken with this view of a piece of sculpture against industrial stacks--very Detroit! On my way over to the Children's Stage, I saw two fellows asking folks to sign a "Free the Weed" petition; made me feel like I was back in San Francisco.
I began to discover that the smaller stages were more audience-friendly than the huge main stage with its crowds and loudly reverberating sound system. For the next couple of hours, I experienced excellent performances at the Children's Stage by Gemini, a brother team who had us all singing along, and the Harold McKinney family jazz band, after which I went to the Embassy Stage where I heard Lo Jo, a superb band of French-speaking musicians. Scooting back from that stage--which was located in the parking lot--I saw this view of Chene Park with its lagoon, venders' booths and main stage tent. It's a lovely space.
I was happy to encounter the community drum and dance jam. On the World Rhythm Stage, drummers of all abilities were invited to gather, while on the pavement in front, dancers of all ages were being taught movements by an African man, Biakuye. The Nigerian cowbell that hangs from my scooter Ona's handlebar came in handy as my percussion instrument. On the grass off to one side I saw a number of women I've drummed with at Detroit circles and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. It was fun to make music with them again as the dancers started to weave a conga line.
By now it was time to go back to the Main Stage for the evening performances. On the way over, I ran into BJ, Pat K.'s sister, and once there, met up with Sooz who sat with me the rest of the night.
The first performer was Angelique Kidjo from West Africa, an exciting vocalist with a superb back-up band, who blends African and Western music to create her own unique sound. Unfortunately, the picture I took gives you absolutely no idea of this woman's extraordinary presence with her long glittering red beaded gown, burnt copper complexion and practically-shaved head. She is a wonder. It was also her birthday so the band played "Happy Birthday" and one of the producers brought out a cake blazing with candles. A homey touch.
The final act of the night absolutely blew me away! I'd certainly heard of War, and had loved many of their songs, but I'd never seen them before. This is a band that was formed in the 1970s and named themselves War as a protest to the Vietnam War that was still raging at the time. Do they ever stand the test of time...and did this Detroit audience ever love them! To start off, there didn't appear to be an empty seat in this huge outdoor tented auditorium. I'd never seen it like this. And from the moment they appeared on stage, folks rose to their feet and many of them never sat down. Not only did we dance, but we sang along with them as well.
A family with mother, father and daughter was sitting right in front of Sooz and me. As soon as War started playing, this tot--perhaps 4 years old--stood up on her seat and began to dance. Could that girl ever dance! I began to copy her motions and she kept looking back at me and grinning. We had a wonderful time together, without exchanging a word, until she finally cuddled up in her Daddy's arms for a well-deserved nap.
This festival is about so much more than music. They bill it as a celebration of Detroit's diversity. That can sound like a catch phrase, but in this case it's true. I'd say the Concert of Colors does more to bridge Detroit's still-painful racial divide than anything I've seen. Not only race but class, age and gender divides find healing here. In the middle of one of yesterday's many performances, I found myself almost praying, "God, but I love this city!" For all its wounds and ugliness, there is a magnificent grace and dignity that I have not experienced anywhere else, not even in my beloved San Francisco. It's almost as if Detroit's beauty comes from the same source as its deepest wounds; like a diamond formed through inordinate pressure.
Well, this diamond sure
sparkled this weekend.
MONDAY, JULY 16, 2001
It's strange but I'm already considering how to celebrate my 60th birthday next year. It feels like such a significant passage that I want to mark it in a fitting way, and now it appears that this will happen with no effort on my part.
Our annual singing retreat with Carolyn McDade is scheduled for the weekend of my birthday 2002. What could be more perfect? To be within a circle of women I love, performing together the creative act that most deeply touches my heart, while recommitting ourselves to the passionate protection of our planet and all the life forms it sustains.
I was aware that next year's retreat would be held someplace other than Crawfton, since they were already totally booked for next summer. I've just received an email from the retreat planning committee putting forth another retreat center that sounds equally idyllic. It feels right to start a new decade of my life in a place that I have never been before. Now I want to contemplate the gift I will share with my community that weekend, for instead of receiving gifts, it feels more fitting to give them. I will hold this intention in my heart and see what comes.
Speaking of gifts, this day offered me more than its fair share. First, I was able to swim 10 laps of the crawl in addition to my hourlong water aerobics class. The amazing thing was that 8 of those laps were accomplished with no rests at all! I even felt I could have done more but decided to save some of my energy for dry land.
This swimming is a true balm to my self esteem, especially when I hear Ed and my friends say they don't think they could do it themselves. Oh, that feels good to this formerly competitive long distance runner and biker!
Then I found a beautiful seagull feather in the grass at the park. It now decorates Ona the scooter's front basket. A symbol of the wings she gives me to fly.
On the way home I scooted to the end of a nearby street to see the garden that's always planted there. Well, I was not the only creature attracted to these lovely flowers; a monarch butterfly was tasting the nectar of each one in turn. Butterfly, the symbol of transformation.
Oh, I almost forgot another gift: that was seeing a circle of girls playing with synchronized swimming moves in the pool. It reminded me so strongly of myself and my friends at their age.
Then during tonight's scoot, I encountered a group of 15-20 serious bikers who greeted me with waves, smiles and shouts. That's a similar group to the one with which I used to ride in my heavy-duty bicycling days.
And the time spent with Eddie was particularly sweet tonight. Dinner at home, a walk/scoot along the lake during the pink-skied dusk, and then watching "Remember the Titians" with Denzell Washington, a video we liked so much this was the second night in a row that we watched it.
Somehow everything felt
like coming full circle today, arriving at the place from which
I'd started and recognizing it for the first time, to paraphrase
the heck out of T.S. Eliot.
TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2001
Whew! What a tough day.
It started gently enough. The painters got here at 8:30 AM for their last full day of painting the outside of our house. Joe, Todd and Jeff. They've done a magnificent job and couldn't have been more pleasant to have around. Can't even remember how long it's been going on...3, 4 weeks? When I left for the shelter around noon, Jeff was out back painting the small porch I like to sit on, Joe was up on a ladder finishing painting the eaves, and Todd was teasing him from below, "You gotta get new shorts, Joe. I'm gettin' tired of looking at these holes."
So I drove downtown to Dayhouse to help out as I do every week. The tomato plants are huge bushes now, heavy with green tomatoes. And at the side of the house, I noticed a new arrangement of flower beds--planted in wooden drawers--circling a stone boulder. I was later told that it was a collaborative project created by the Antioch students, Pat, and our newest guests, the mother and her two young daughters.
Julie came out as she always does to help me carry windchime walker up the porch stairs. Then Marjorie arrived home and they kindly posed for this picture.
Our 9-year-old guest was playing a game of hearts on the computer as her little sister waited her turn. I sat down at the table beside them and we soon moved on to another game: taking pictures with my digital camera and checking them out on the L.C.D. screen. The girls certainly don't care that I can't use any pictures of them on my journal; I'm the one who has trouble with it. They are so adorable! But I can't do anything to put them at risk of being seen here. However, I guess I can show the picture they took of me.
Pat came home from her massage therapy class and went into the kitchen to unpack some groceries. The doorbell ran and I answered it. It was a man whom I'd been told was to be allowed into the house to use the phone; actually I'd taken a phone message for him earlier. As I always do when a non-resident is in the house, I stayed with him, sitting with the girls at the small dining room table near the phone.
Things quickly went bad. He began to yell and curse into the phone; I said, "That is totally unacceptable! You must stop cursing and yelling in here!" Pat came in and calmly asked him to get off the phone and to leave the house. Actually he was already off the phone--I suspect the person he was talking to had hung up on him--and he began to yell at us. I told the girls to go upstairs; I wanted them safe.
It was like this man went crazy. We'd try to talk to him and he'd yell and curse. Then he'd seem to calm down, but it wouldn't last. Pat kept telling him he could no longer use the phone and that he had to leave. At one point she tried to pull the phone jack out of the wall and he shoved her. She said she was going to call the police if he didn't leave, but he just kept on making phone call after phone call, taking time in between calls to yell at us. Pat went to call the police on the other phone line, and then waited for them on the front porch; I stayed put.
You know, something kicked in as I sat there: I got stronger and sterner and less afraid. I soon learned to stop talking to him at all because whenever I tried, he went ballistic. By now we were part of his paranoid delusions; we were in on it with the man he'd called who had lied about him and was keeping him from getting a paycheck he deserved. One time he stood up and started walking toward me. I simply said in my sternest voice, "Sit back down. You sit down now!" And after more harsh words, he did.
We waited 35 minutes for the police to show up. Apparently when Pat made her first call, she'd neglected to tell them about the shoving incident. I asked her to call the police back and tell them about it so they'd know we felt threatened. When two police officers finally arrived, the man went silent. After we told them what had happened, the police asked if we just wanted him to leave or did we want to press charges. Pat said we just wanted him out of here. So the police looked at his ID, told him he could never come back here, and escorted him out of the house. Their advice was that we not allow men like this to come inside Dayhouse again under any circumstances. I concur wholeheartedly. This is a women's shelter and we need to feel safe here.
Well, as unpleasant as this all was, it did lead to a couple of profound conversations. First, the girls' mother, who had come home from work in the middle of it all, sat down with me and talked about her life and what had brought her here to the shelter. The girls were upstairs taking baths so we were able to discuss things freely. It was a truly graced time.
After awhile the girls came downstairs and we three had our own conversation. I asked if they'd been scared of the man. They both nodded their heads, and the little one said, "He shouldn't have used bad language." She then asked if the police had come--unfortunately, this is something with which she has personal experience--and I said yes. But I also said that man will never be allowed to come back in this house. I didn't mention that he had already come back and rung the doorbell only a half hour after the police had left! We just ignored it and he soon went away.
I asked the girls what rules they think we should have for people who visit this house. They wrote them down so we could post them. And their rules? No bad language. No yelling. No threats. No violence. No pushing the staff. No guns and knives. No choking.
Whew! Can you imagine little ones who already know about such things? May they feel safe and protected from here on out.
And as kids do so well, they soon went onto something else. More digital picture-taking, to be exact. Emily's boyfriend Jason and me, for starters. Then Pat making dinner. And finally the dinner itself.
May I learn to be as resilient
as my young teachers.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2001
Today the annual 4-day Ann Arbor Art Fair opened and Ed and I were there bright and early. In the street art fair world, it is one of this country's premier events in terms of size and quality. Ed and I have been going for years.
Back when we were serious long distance bikers, we used to bike the 55 miles to Ann Arbor for occasional overnights. Today we recalled the year we made the ride when the art fair was in town. We stayed at a motel near the campus, and both remember how good it felt to dip into their postage stamp-sized pool after that long hot ride. There was a magic to the city that night. On every street corner were different musicians from bluegrass to chamber, boogie-woogie to folk. We remember being enthralled by a juggler from San Francisco who was so skillful and daring with knives and fire that large crowds followed him all over town. This was probably in the late '70s.
Well, today was pretty tame in comparison, but still most enjoyable. With my scooter--La Lucha and now Ona--I can be an independent agent. Ed and I learned long ago that we "do" the fair in totally different ways. I'm a stop-and-schmooze type, while Eddie's more of a walk-around-and-see-everything fair-goer. So we traditionally split up when we get to the University Street Art Fair--the most rigorously juried area--and set a time to meet a couple of hours later.
After all these years, I have a pretty good idea where I want to start. Since many artists and musicians are at the same location year after year, it's easy to find them. Today I scooted to the end of University near Hill Street where Russell Donnellon always sets up shop. He's a gentle soul whose compositions and style of playing create a peaceful oasis in the midst of the often crowded, sometimes frenetic energy of the fair.
I then scooted directly to the booth of an artist I remembered from last year. Miriam Carter is a feltmaker from New Hampshire whose art form is hats. I'd fallen in love with her work at the last fair, but was put off by the price. This year, however, I was ready to buy. I had longed for one of her great-looking, wide-brimmed hats every day during San Francisco's rainy season last winter. Today I went right to a black wide-brimmed number decorated with colorful spirals, put it on my head, looked in the mirror, and got out my checkbook. It's always a challenge buying winter clothes on a hot muggy day in July, but when I got home and tried the hat on with my winter coat and Kathryn's hand-crocheted scarf, it all seemed to fit.
I love this particular stretch of artists' booths with its array of glass, pottery, prints and multi-media art objects. When I got to the intersection, I heard a soft voice saying, "Hi, Patricia!" It was Mary, Joan's friend the violinist who sang with us at Carolyn McDade's retreat in June. She lives here in Ann Arbor. After a brief visit, I turned down a side street and scooted by this house covered in tie-dye creations. Reminded me of Ann Arbor in the late '60s and early '70s...except for the absence of the smell of pot on the winds!
I stopped to compliment a glass artist on the original way he displayed his work--sheets of brushed metal as backdrop and painted wooden shelves to hold elegant glass vases. Very effective. We got to talking--are you surprised?--and Scott Boyd told me that he and his brother, Michael, started their business, Foci Studios of Sylvania, Ohio, only 1? years ago; this is their first Ann Arbor Art Fair.
My time scooting among the artists' booths was cut short as soon as I came upon the 17-year old National Scottish Fiddle Champion for 2000, Jeremy Allan Kittel. He was performing with 21 year-old Jesse Mason on guitar and two Irish dancers, his 13 year-old sister Triona Kittel and 14 year-old Nick Gariess. What amazing talent! As for Jeremy, he not only plays traditional Celtic jigs, ballads and reels on the fiddle, but original compositions as well. I was interested to hear him introduce "Trig Jig" by saying that high school trigonometry had inspired him to write a number of new compositions; for me, it was the first math I ever liked and did well in.
I stayed and watched this group for close to an hour. Their music and dance touched a deep chord in this half-Scottish soul. When I finally looked at my watch, I only had 10 minutes before I was to meet Ed! I doubled back on University Street--I hadn't even gotten up to State Street this year--then stopped for a few minutes to listen to Mr. B belt out some boogie-woogie piano at his usual spot in the middle of an intersection. While there, two mothers with their daughters--Charlotte and Emily, Linda and Ellie--let me take their picture for the journal. They thought it would be fun to be on the web. Hope you like the picture!
This was a perfect Ann
Arbor Art Fair day...interesting connections with people, colorful
art, soul-stirring music and dance, warm sunny weather, friendly
crowds. The time spent with Eddie coming and going in the car
was very sweet. And I even came home with a new hat!
THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2001
I took a much needed day off today. No activities, no taking pictures, no seeing people, no scooting around except for a short ride with Eddie after dinner. Just quiet time reading, catching up with emails, sharing lunch and dinner with Ed, and sitting out on my back porch listening to the birds.
It was our first weekday in almost a month without painters around the house, in the garage, up on ladders, working at the windows. It was so quiet this morning I couldn't sleep. But nothing could stop me from lying down on my inviting bed at 3:30 PM and sleeping soundly until 5 PM.
When I look back at the week I can see why I needed a day off. Starting last Friday, it was pretty much one thing after another. I'm not complaining, mind, simply stating a fact.
Tomorrow, I'll again go into an active mode with water aerobics class in the afternoon and an evening workshop called "The Power of Song" with Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell of the highly-respected acappella singing group, Sweet Honey in the Rock. The workshop continues on Saturday from 9 AM-4 PM. I feel privileged to be taking this, my third workshop with Dr. Barnwell in as many years. She is a power-filled teacher of song, story and spirit.
This weekend also marks Detroit's central celebration of its founding 300 years ago, with the Sounds of Detroit free music festival on the riverfront downtown. Della Reese will perform tomorrow night, and Saturday the city is gearing up for a rare free concert by Motown's finest, Stevie Wonder. They're expecting such huge numbers of people at Hart Plaza that the new Comerica ballpark will televise Stevie's performance live on mammoth screens for the overflow crowd. Then the Tricentennial Gospel Choir will perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on Sunday.
These are the headline acts, but there will be concerts and performances of several varieties of rock and roll, soul, jazz and blues, instrumental hip-hop, modern funk, bluegrass, folk, gospel and new urban. There will also be a number of ãstrolling bandsä performing other ethnic music, from Mexican to Irish, and more.
As I've said before, Detroit
really knows how to throw a party! Even with my singing workshop,
I'm hoping to get down there for part of it.
FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2001
A protester at the G-8 Economic Summit in Genoa has been killed. Two bullets to his head fired by paramilitary troopers and then his inert body run over by a military jeep. A Reuters photographer witnessed the whole thing. The protester, as yet unidentified, had just hurled a fire extinquisher at the paramilitary troopers' van.
I read about it online just minutes before going to my water aerobics class. Instead of attending class, I swam laps until I couldn't swim anymore. Halfway through, the water released my tears and I swam the remaining laps sobbing underwater. I feel as though I have lost a brother, a son or a grandson.
I know these young people: I've been on the streets with them chanting and marching (scooting) to the beat of their drums; I've eaten Food Not Bombs hot meals on the streets prepared and served by them; I've sat through one of their affinity group meetings out on the streets as they decided by true concensus what action to take next; I've followed them on La Lucha my scooter trying to be a presence of solidarity so the police wouldn't perceive them as isolated, vulnerable young people; I've seen them pepper sprayed in the face, eyes streaming tears and faces blistered red; I've sung to them as they were lined up in handcuffs outside the jail; I've learned from them at teach-ins and planning meetings; I've laughed and danced with them on the streets; I've admired their commitment to high ideals, non-violence responses to police provocation, and critical analyses of world affairs.
These are the young protesters I know; not the small violent segment always highlighted by the mainstream media and press.
We're members of a global family united to protest the world being run by a handful of rich white men who decide everything in private, with no accountability to anyone outside of their inner circle, whose motives are always preceded by a dollar sign.
I am devastated by this loss of one of our own.
And what could be more healing than song? Especially the songs Ysaye Barnwell brought to our Detroit circle this evening, songs from West and South Africa, the Brazilian Rainforest, Zimbabwe, Cuba. Songs of people who know the struggle for justice and the costs it entails. Songs of people who have fought and died as the young protester fought and died in Genoa today.
As this circle of Detroit teachers, lawyers, doctors, business women and men, students, artists, storytellers and activists sang together tonight, I felt the creators of these songs holding us all in their arms, holding the G-8 Summit protesters in their grief and anger as they try to deal with today's killing, holding those of us worldwide who suffer in solidarity with the protesters and their families, even holding those who pulled the trigger of the gun and drove the military jeep that brought death to the streets of Genoa today. The very act of singing did as song has done for millennia: it comforted the body, fed the soul and engaged the will.
This evening offered two unexpected gifts. The first was reconnecting with Justine Murphy's daughter, Justine whose example set me on this activist path before her sudden death in April 1990. The second was spending time with Ysaye after the workshop was officially over for the night. Time spent with Ysaye and two women I love--Nancy Nordlie, our Notable Women Chorus director, and dear Ellen Tickner of Bat Mitzvah fame. Time spent with Ysaye and Linda Williams who put this glorious event together.
Now I go to bed knowing
I will wake to a full day of song with Ysaye Barnwell and this
strong circle of Detroit women and men. Even as I sleep, may I
continue to hold my sisters and brothers in Genoa in my heart.
SATURDAY, JULY 21, 2001
Something shifted today between the muggy heat of our morning break and the dramatic thunderstorms in the afternoon. It was as if the ancestors took their place in our circle and sang through our voices. We were no longer Susan, Linda and Ann, or Ysaye, Deborah and Patricia. No, we were black slaves grateful to have made it to this last stop on the Underground Railroad, looking with longing across the river to Canada and freedom. Such was the power of the spirituals Ysaye Barnwell brought to our circle.
I'd sung these songs with Ysaye in a wonderful circle of women and men last February in San Francisco; it was not the same. The songs were beautiful and we sang them with great heart, but it continued to be us singing them. Today the land beneath our mostly bare feet grounded the energy of these 18th and 19th century Negro Spirituals in a truth our heads could neither understand nor control. The historic road to freedom on which we stood became the song.
In the 20th and 21st centuries,
black folks sing of "Amazing Grace"; well, after today
I have a better idea of what they mean.
SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2001
I can only give you a taste of what I did today because I am tired! Eight and a half hours downtown at Hart Plaza celebrating Detroit's 300th birthday in over 90º F weather has just about done me in...for tonight anyway. I'll fill in the details tomorrow with lots of pictures.
Until then, here's that taste I promised: one of the parade of Tall Ships that sailed along the Detroit river for 3 hours; some kids and a few adults who knew how to beat the heat; and my view of the 879-voice Detroit Tricentennial Gospel Choir performing a rousing finale to the Birthday Weekend festivities.
Be sure to come back tomorrow.
MONDAY, JULY 23, 2001
My introduction to Detroit's Tricentennial celebration started about 12:30 PM yesterday. I'd picked Pat K. up at Dayhouse near the old Tiger Stadium and we headed the two miles or so down Trumbull toward the river. Once there, I noticed cars crammed into every available street parking place along the river, and we were still more than a mile from Hart Plaza. When we got to the street leading to our favorite parking garage, there was a barricade marked "CLOSED" and police were directing cars to move on.
My fearless friend Pat then did something I've never thought to do: she rolled down her window and asked a police officer, "Can you point us to the closest handicapped parking?" He jerked his head toward the front of Joe Louis Arena across the street and answered, "Go on and park there." So we parked for free in a place clearly marked, "No Parking: Tow Away Zone" and walked/scooted a couple blocks to Hart Plaza. As they say, ask for what you need.
We soon saw why there were so many cars; the entire newly-constructed riverfront promenade was wall-to-wall (street-to-river) people. I guess I'd missed part of the hype about today: 15 Tall Ships were scheduled to parade under sail along the river for at least three hours. Well, everyone else had obviously heard the news because many of them looked like folks who might never have been downtown before! It was such a great mix of folks--a true microcosm of the entire southeastern part of Michigan.
When we finally made up way up into Hart Plaza the crowds intensified, and all of them were down by the river with blankets, cameras, coolers and binoculars. A real party!
Actually, Pat and I were there not for the Tall Ships--although I did see one or two briefly through the trees--but for the live music, specifically Detroit's own women's jazz quintet, Straight Ahead, who were to perform at 1:15 PM. The organizers smartly put them on a free-standing stage near the river so Tall Ships enthusiasts could enjoy live music as they waited through the hours-long parade.
Oh, I do love this group! The weather was hot, but, believe me, these women were hotter. Eileen Orr on piano, Marian Hayden on bass, Gayelynn McKinney on drums, Althea Renee on flute, and Faatimah York, vocals. It was great fun to park right beside the stage so I could exchange smiles with Eileen, Althea and Faatimah. Unfortunately, the piano blocked my view of Marian and Gayelynn...but it didn't keep me from hearing them!
After Straight Ahead's concert, Pat K. had to return to Dayhouse to take house duty, so we made arrangements to meet again around 6 PM at the Detroit Tricentennial Gospel Choir concert. I then scooted over to the Pyramid Theater to get my dose of oldies with the 1960s Motown greats, the Reflections, and the Contours.
I've got to say these fellows sounded great, but when did we all get so old?!? By the way, you never know what's sitting in your brain; for me, it's the melody and lyrics to practically every song that was popular between 1955 and 1964. So I had a high old time singing along with almost every song. And I wasn't the only one!
It was there that I met a most enterprising woman, Denise, who was selling paper fans for $1. I was happy to shell out a buck to buy a little breeze--even one I had to fan into existence myself--as Detroit's birthday gift to us was a 90º F sunny day.
I then did as the smartest festival-goers, the kids, were doing and went down by the Noguchi Fountain to cool off. Although La Lucha (my travelling scooter) and I couldn't really get right in there with the kids, I managed to drive close enough for a nice shower. Whew! That felt good.
I'd brought sandwiches, juice and a full bottle of water, so I'd expected my food and drink needs to be met. Only I wasn't counting on the heat. Two $2 bottles of cold water not only served the purpose of hydrating my innards but cooled my outer body as well. That icy cold bottle sure felt good on the back of my neck and down the front of my cotton sundress! My only other purchase all day was an ice cream bar for Pat and a popsicle for me during the Gospel Choir concert. But that still put the cost of an entire afternoon and evening of live music, people-watching and a couple glimpses of Tall Ships at less than $10. You can't beat Detroit for throwing terrific free parties!
After a brief rest in the relatively cool shade of trees by the river, I scooted over to the center of Hart Plaza to stake my claim to two spots for the Gospel Choir concert that was scheduled to start in about 45 minutes. With the help of a kind man named Paul, Pat's fold-up canvas chair was soon set up, and I was ready for the concert to begin.
This is not to say I was anywhere near the mammoth stage they'd constructed to hold the 879 members of the choir, but at least I could see most of it, and more importantly, I could hear perfectly (they'd had a rehearsal on stage earlier in the afternoon so I'd been able to check that out). Also one of the large screens was close by so I could watch the performance that way if I wanted. Such an air of excitement! I wish I could guess at crowd numbers, but, trust me, it was huge.
In all my excitement over the Gospel Choir concert, I realize I've neglected to mention that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was also performing at Hart Plaza last night, first by themselves, and then accompanying the choir for two numbers. After that, the Detroit Tricentennial Gospel Choir was on its own...if 879 people plus musicians could ever be considered "on its own."
I wish I could give you a taste of what I saw and heard during the next three hours. Not only was the music superb and the singers exceptional, but the audience was so engaged that, as the choir director kept saying, "We are having church here tonight!" I'm not a church-person myself, but that took nothing away from the experience; you don't have to believe in Jesus to appreciate great gospel music.
I guess I have to qualify my statement about everyone in the audience being engaged. If you look closely at this photo I took of the folks standing near me during the concert, you might notice a little boy with his fingers plugging his ears! As I said, the sound carried very well.
For me, this choral concert
marked the true celebration of Detroit's 300th birthday. I know
Stevie Wonder and many other Detroit musical greats performed
this weekend, but it was in the gathering of all these people
to sing together with hearts full of praise and gratitude that
the spirit of our city soared into a new century of life.
TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2001
I feel healthy as a horse.
I swim as slow as a water snail.
I'm happy as a clam.
My friend Nan repeated these sentences back to me during our phone conversation this morning. Apparently I had unconsciously invoked these three creatures as I described where I am in my life these days. It's a gift when a friend holds up a mirror so you can see your own reflection as they see it. Nan has consistently done that for me during our 16 years of friendship, even though we've lived across the country from one another since 1994, she in Vermont and I here in Michigan.
You know, it's true. I can't remember feeling this healthy and strong in years. Pat K., my friend and massage therapist, regularly remarks on the muscles I'm developing in my arms and legs from the swimming. So that's the "horse" in me.
As to the "water snail", I see myself as a slow swimmer for sure, but like the snail I always get where I want to go. And I seem to leave a glistening trail of determination and delight along the way.
The "clam" is a little harder to pin down. Maybe it's the smile that seems to play around my mouth and eyes whatever I'm doing these days. I really am happy.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that I'm doing so many wonderful things, going so many interesting places and encountering such fascinating people. Even during this extended heat spell, my life has continued to be rich and diverse.
Like last night's James Taylor concert at an outdoor theater 40 miles north of Detroit. I hadn't seen him perform in over 20 years, and, believe me, that man still has IT! He and his backup musicians and singers put on a fabulous show attended by a sell-out crowd. When I say "sell-out", I must be talking about at least 5,000 folks counting those in the pavillion seating area and the crowds on the lawn.
JT pretty much stayed with old stand-bys like "Up On A Roof", "Fire and Rain" and "How Sweet it Is", but added numbers from his latest CD called "Hourglass" (that I have and love) and even introduced a couple of brand new tunes, one of which was "4th of July". He's expecting a new CD to come out in September.
For me, the highlight of the evening, one that brought me to tears, was when he and his backup singers sang my favorite song that begins, "Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood." This hugely white crowd, that I'd been complaining to Pat (who was with me) had absolutely no diversity in race or ethnicity, stood on their feet at the end of that song and cheered more loudly than for any song that had preceded it. I think James Taylor was as touched and surprised as I, because after that he really warmed up. It ended up being a truly magical performance.
To get back to the heat wave I mentioned earlier, I can't really remember how long it's been going on, all I know is how grateful I am every night for my 35 year-old window fan that, when I put it on exhaust, keeps a sweet breeze wafting across my bed. I've been sleeping quite well. And, of course, the pool is heavenly on days like yesterday when the temperature again climbed above 90º F.
I feel for the birds and animals during this humid heat. Tonight Ed put out a bowl of water for Ms. Squirrel to supplement her usual peanuts. And on the way home from our after-dinner walk/scoot, we saw a squirrel stretched out on the grass, apparently seeking relief from the hot air: that's the first time I've ever seen that.
Actually I'm fortunate that hot weather doesn't bother me anymore than it does other people. If anything I seem to manage better than most. The majority of folks diagnosed with MS have very low tolerance for heat in any form, whether in a shower or a heat wave. Maybe it's a legacy of my being raised in the sweltering Washington DC area, or perhaps it has to do with our never having had air conditioning in our house. I expect my body has learned to acclimatize to the gradual shifts of temperature better than folks who bounce back and forth from hot to cold everytime they walk out their front door. Whatever the reason, I am grateful because I truly love summer.
Now it's almost 2 AM.
Time for this horse-water snail-clam to say good night.
©2001 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.