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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2001
It's as if the season changed overnight. Many of yesterday's colorful leaves lost their tenuous grip in last night's rain and high winds. The winds continue today and leaves are falling like technicolor snow. I am so grateful that I used yesterday's warmth and color to the hilt!
Tomorrow I'm off on another road trip. Carolyn McDade, the singer/songwriter I love and admire, is giving a weekend retreat near Paris, Ontario and I'm driving almost 200 miles to be with her.
Just to show you how intuition works, the first night of my trip to Maryland--when Pat and I stayed at the motel in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania--I had a vivid dream in which a woman with Carolyn's energy was teaching healing movement exercises to a group of women. I was surprisingly adept at doing them and, in the dream, hoped that she would notice and ask me to train with her to become a teacher. The next day, as Pat and I continued our drive east, Carolyn was so present to me. I consciously connected with her in an intuitive way, and felt a mutual exchange of energy between us. When I checked my emails at the motel that night, I found the invitation to this retreat. I couldn't fall asleep until I had registered online to attend it.
Believe me, during these tough times there is no one to whom I feel more drawn. Her vision of liberation and care of the planet and its inhabitants, her deep awareness and compassion, her work as a cultural change agent come together in music that transforms the singer and the world in ways mysterious yet tangible. It is just what I need.
So tomorrow around 1 PM I will drive an hour northeast on I94 to the Blue Water Bridge near Port Huron, Michigan, pay the $1.50 bridge fee, drive over the St. Clair River into Sarnia, Ontario, tell the Canadian border patrol my citizenship, destination and that I am not bringing cigarettes, alcohol or firearms into the country, and turn east on the 402. Outside of London, Ontario, I will pick up the 401 heading toward Toronto. According to Mapquest, Paris is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Detroit.
I will not return to my laptop and the internet until Sunday night, October 28. You know, I've decided to use this weekend to restore myself by singing and simply be-ing. No working on daily journal entries or even taking digital photos. I really do need a retreat.
I leave you with an opportunity
to read an eyewitness account of what the US government/military
"war on terrorism" means to the people of Afghanistan.
As they say, truth is the first casualty of war, but with the
internet, truth is still there if we look for it. This column
was written by Fergal Keane, a BBC special correspondent who is
in Quetta, Pakistan near the Chaman Crossing. His October
20 column, "In a world based on justice, we must embrace
these refugees", can be found on the Argument: Independent.co.uk
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2001
As Carolyn McDade said this morning, we need "to see the world as it is without crumbling." And that takes knowing you are not alone, that there are others standing beside you throughout the world. Well, I now know there are women in Toronto, Georgetown, Milton, Melbourne, Blackstock, Stoney Creek, Guelph, Orilla, Puslinch, Dungannon, Hamilton, Waterloo, Kitchener and Mississauga, Ontario who are here at my side as I work for the peace that my country's leaders seem unable to embrace or even imagine. And as always, I feel the transformative energy of my beloved friend Carolyn, singer/songwriter/cultural change agent, at my side holding me close.
Late this afternoon I returned home from the Five Oaks retreat center near Paris, Ontario after a glorious weekend of song and reflection with a circle of women led by Carolyn McDade. One of the five oaks was right outside my bedroom window and I loved seeing its strong arms by moonlight and by early morning sun. I took very few photos and didn't think "online journal" all weekend. Instead, I wrote poetry and played with images in my personal journal, sat in a chair watching the oak at my window, slept soundly, ate well, connected with amazingly conscious, committed women...and sang and sang and sang.
It was just what I needed. A real retreat.
These are a few images--photographic and/or word--that I would like to hold onto by sharing them here:
Our circle singing room during a break this morning.
The reading of a letter of support we drafted and signed that will be sent to Alexa McDonough, New Democratic Party leader, who was a lone voice of dissent when Canada announced it was sending Canadian Forces warships, commandos and aircraft -- the largest combined naval and air deployment by that country in a decade --to the Middle East to support the United States in its "war on terrorism."
Our singing one of Carolyn's series of songs, based on words by Mary Margaret Parent, a Windsor, Ontario sister/friend:
to the voices
of those who differ from the rest.
The beauty of each person,
the power of our truth,
the wisdom of our experience.
Sustain and make us community.
May the voices gathered
May the voices gathered here
May the voices gathered here
be for all.
Copyright © 1999 Carolyn McDade
We then went around the circle with women reading aloud from a long list of Global Women's International statements calling for a peaceful, just response to the events of September 11. We spoke in the voices of women from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Canada, United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, Japan, Spain, among others. It was a moment I will not forget.
We spoke not only in the voices of women, but also chanted the names of the endangered species of the Ontario land upon which we met, and the endangered species of the land that the United States is bombing every night--Afghanistan. We were reminded that humans are not the only victims of war: it is also the Afghan Tortoise, Siberian white crane, old world otter, snow leopard, long-billed curlew, Asiatic black bear, wild yak, white headed duck, Northern Persian leopard, Bactrain Red deer, marbled duck, Afghani brook salamander, Lesser Kestrel, markhor, cheetah, tiger and wild goat who suffer. At the conclusion of this Longing Series, we sang:
Let them continue on
Let them continue on
Oh let them continue on.
At Carolyn's invitation, four women in our circle created beautiful new verses to her new song, "I Sing the Longing", using graphic and poetic reminders of the unique nature of this bio-region of Ontario.
This morning Carolyn played the piano and together she and I sang while Gerri and Valerie taught the women a sacred spiral dance they had created overnight. The song was one of my favorites:
In the places that
reek of impossibility
The Serpent of Life coils
She crawls upon the
crawls upon the swollen stone
crawls upon the swollen stone
and loosens her only garment
copyright © Carolyn McDade
Each of us occasionally
encounters just the right combination of persons, place, thoughts,
words and actions--or in my case, song, women and politics--that
serve to restore, redirect and renew who we are and what we are
about. That is what happened to me this weekend. My deepest gratitude
to all who had a part in this wondrous event.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2001
"If someone hit me
I'd go tell the principal. He'd take care of it."
"I'd hit 'em back."
"You could count to ten."
"What about asking them why they did it?"
"Or you can just walk away."
"I'd go inside the school and stay out of their way."
"I'd act like I was walking away and then I'd turn around and trip 'em."
These are some of the answers from a fifth grade art class today as we discussed different ways the U.S. could have acted after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I had asked them how they would act if someone came up and unexpectedly hit them. Their answers pretty much covered the options the U.S. government had had after September 11.
The discussion came after their art teacher had introduced two new projects the fourth and fifth grade classes will be working on: 1) connecting with a class in another country as art pen pals, where they'll create and send drawings that show some of their life and the things they like to do; and 2) being part of a global project called Art for Peace that is gathering 10,000 drawings of peace from schoolchildren in the U.S. to send to Muslim children in war-torn countries like Afghanistan.
Since so many of our kids have family still in the Middle East or in other countries, the teacher is hoping to connect the pen pal project with a class that is known personally to our students and their families.
It was interesting to see how differently each class--two fourth and two fifth grades--responded to these projects and the resultant discussions. The fifth grade class that got into it most heavily had a boy who asked, "Who's winning?", when the teacher mentioned the war. It was then that she invited me to facilitate the discussion.
After I'd elicited their ideas of different ways one can respond to aggression, I asked what happens when one hits back. We agreed that it just makes things worse. Then I mentioned how impressed I was with the idea of asking the person who hit me why they'd done it. That way you could try to find out if they'd just gotten up on the wrong side of the bed or maybe there was something you'd done earlier that had hurt them. We talked about how it's always good to talk together and try to understand one another whenever you can.
In relation to the suggestion that you tell the principal and let him deal with it, I brought up the United Nations as a body that can act like a principal and handle issues that two countries can't handle on their own. The UN could even set up a court to jail, try and punish whomever had acted as a worldwide criminal. In that discussion we agreed that in our own country we don't just kill people who kill others. They are arrested, jailed, brought to trial, found guilty or not guilty, and then given punishment decided by the court. Couldn't the U.S. have handled the crimes on September 11 by letting the larger world body--the United Nations--bring the terrorists to trial and set the punishment?
What an amazing and unexpected opportunity for me to talk peace with children! Was I ever grateful that I'd been refreshed and renewed by Carolyn McDade and the wonderful women in our singing circle this weekend. Because of what had transpired there I was better able to hear the kids and be more tolerant of different perspectives.
By the way, don't ever imagine that children don't know exactly what's going on in the world and have their own ideas about things. They hear everything that is said around them, they soak up the news on television, and they especially learn by example. It gets pretty tough to tell kids not to hit back when someone hits them if all they're seeing and hearing models violent retaliation. Especially retaliation that is applauded and openly supported by their parents, government leaders, churches or mosques, and even some schools. Kids are great learners...too good sometimes.
The fact that probably 98% of the students I was with today were Arab American seemed to make little difference in their attitudes regarding September 11 and the so-called War on Terrorism. I'd guess what I heard from them was pretty much what I might hear in any school across the United States. So much for the current prejudiced views against persons of Arab descent that would say "they" are either terrorists themselves, related to terrorists or support the terrorists. Believe me, I see as many American flags in house and store windows and flying from cars in Dearborn as anyplace else in the Detroit metropolitan area.
My day wasn't finished with school. Tonight was my first opportunity to swim at our middle school indoor pool. I've been most impressed with the personal attention I've received from the Community Education program director. He had folks test the old manual disabled lift at the middle school--the site for lap swimming--and called to tell me that the feedback had not been good. It has a mesh seat that folks found unsatisfactory. He asked that I let him know how it works for me. If I can't use it, he seemed optimistic that they could see about replacing it with a new lift like the one I'd used this summer at the outdoor community pool.
Well, that lift was truly funky, but I didn't mind using it to get into the pool. Tim, the lifeguard, was most welcoming and helpful in making it as comfortable as possible. The trick was getting me out! It couldn't lower deeply enough into the water for me to get into it by myself. Thanks to a fellow swimmer named Mark, I did manage to get out and settled happily again in La Lucha my scooter. Tim is going to see about having the chain lengthened and we'll see if that helps.
So you ask, how was the swimming? Glorious!!!! Oh, did it feel good to work out in the water again! Like coming home to my natural element. The pool is smaller than the pool I used last summer--twenty-five yards instead of thirty meters--but it's still fine for laps. And the fact that the school is totally accessible and just six blocks from home means that, weather permitting, I can scoot there and back, as I did tonight.
I am one lucky woman.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2001
I can't decide whether to write first about my sweet Eddie who's always there for me, or friends who gather round when you need them, or the beauty of the color purple, or how our bodies decide it is time to slow down and then just do it.
I'd emailed a friend last night that my life was on "fast forward" right now so I couldn't properly respond to her messages. W-e-l-l, I'm on fast forward no longer. In fact, I'll be in slow motion for at least four weeks.
While hanging up clothes in my bedroom closet this morning, my left leg went completely out from under me and I crashed to the floor on my left foot. I immediately knew it was broken. The challenging part was that I could not put any weight on it and so could not even get myself up off the floor into a chair.
I crawled to the phone and called Ed at his consulting job out in Dearborn. When I said my name, the secretary laughed and said, "We were just talking about you!" Ed got on the phone and said, "Were your ears burning?" Luckily he'd finished his appointments and got right in his car after I told him my news. But first he called our dear neighbors, Al and Bill, and asked if they could come over to see how I was. Within five minutes they had let themselves in--we all have each other's keys--and were upstairs asking how they could help. And did they ever! We found an old pair of crutches that Bill adjusted to my height. Unfortunately I couldn't put enough weight on my left foot to use them, but they're ready now if I need them. What wonderful friends.
Eddie got home faster than ever. He usually drives below the speed limit but not today. Right away, he picked me up and carried me to the bathroom. Whew! That was a relief. Then he carried me to the stairs and he and Bill were working out a safe way to carry me downstairs. At that I put down my foot (the right one) and assured them I was perfectly happy riding my bum down the stairs. It worked fine. Then the two of them carried me to the front door--a few steps--riding like a queen in windchime walker's seat. Again I insisted on traveling down the three front stairs under my own power--the power of a bum!--where La Lucha my scooter was at the ready.
I've fallen enough times in the 13-almost 14-years since this chronic progressive MS first appeared that I have a pretty clear idea of where to go and what to do. First of all, you do not go to an emergency room for a broken bone if you can help it. All they will do is x-ray your injury, immobilize it and send you off with a referral to see an orthopedic specialist. And for that you and/or your insurance company will have the honor of paying $200-400!
So what you do is call your own orthopedist and see how soon he/she can see you. My doctor was first a tennis friend so I felt comfortable calling him at home. Luckily he answered the phone and said for me to call the office and ask that his colleague--who was on duty--see me this afternoon. He said to be sure to tell them he was referring me. It worked like a charm and I soon had a 1 PM appointment.
May I say here how happy, how delighted, how joyful, how grateful I am that I already had a scooter! It made all the difference in the world. We parked in the big parking lot--this is a hospital with professional office buildings attached--and walk/scooted to the office. Within an hour, I was x-rayed, had learned I'd broken the three middle metatarsal bones, and was casted to the knee in a lovely shade of purple. Are you surprised at my choice of color?! It is a walking cast with a velcro-closing shoe, so as soon as the pain lessens I can probably get around with my walker. I'm to return in three weeks and may have the cast removed, all going well, in four. Chuck, my caster, was wonderful. I was only sorry--darn it!--that I'd forgotten to bring my digital camera. Ah well, Eddie commemorated the day and my new purple accessory by taking this picture once we were home in our living room.
For now, I'll stay on the first floor of our house and share Eddie's bedroom. We brought Ona the scooter inside to help out and I'm surprised at how accessible our house is. We put away a few pieces of furniture and carpets to open things up a bit. The best news was that I could scoot right into the bathroom and make an easy transfer from scooter seat to toilet. Important issue, that!
As always in such a case, my mind was flooded with thoughts of all the activities I love that I'd have to drop out of, for awhile anyway. I can't drive, so, in Detroit--the Motor City--that limits you right off. But the good news is that Eddie consults at a clinic in Dearborn on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, that is about a mile from the school where I volunteer. Since the school has an elevator and a ramp to enter, he can drive me out when he goes and set me up on my scooter. That means the most to me. I'd hate to miss being with the kids, especially as they are working on these peace projects. And swimming will be a perfect way to regain strength and tone my muscles after the cast is removed.
I'm afraid I'll have to miss helping out at Day House on Tuesdays, and attending the CPR (Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit) meetings that are held there. It is an old house with a set of high stairs at the entrance. But I will certainly see Pat. In fact, that sweet woman is bringing over dinner (salmon patties) for Ed and me tonight. And knowing her, she will be willing to pick me up and help me go places that are accessible. Friends are truly priceless.
So now I'll have quiet days at home. That feels fine. I've got good books to read, the internet with emails and my journal to keep up, and my sweet Eddie and good friend Pat to help me not get too stir-crazy.
Didn't I mention last
week that I needed a retreat? As they say, be careful what you
ask for; you might get it.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2001
Our Halloween trick-or-treaters were small in number but imaginative in costumes. We were first visited by Jennifer and Ann, high school students out collecting for UNICEF. Next it was Laura, Lizzie and Emma. Their parents, whom we had met last Christmas at our neighbors Al and Bill's holiday party, accompanied them and kindly agreed to my taking their picture for my online journal. We then had about four sets of children with great costumes whom I couldn't photograph because I didn't have their parents' permission. Our last trick-or-treaters were our neighbors, Charlotte and Claire, with Doug, their father. We've watched these girls grow up. I recall Claire's first Halloween 10 years ago when she came around as a little princess in her Daddy's arms.
During the evening Jan and Jennifer, our next door neighbors, came over to visit. I learned that Jennifer is recently engaged and planning a September 2002 wedding. Ed went next door and brought back Jennifer's pumpkin so I could see it. I have no idea how she did such detail work as those stars with every point intact! We've known this wonderful mother and daughter for 25 years. Happily, our neighborhood is the kind of place folks move into and stay!
So you ask, how is it going with my broken foot? You probably won't want to try this, but I have a great suggestion for how to redecorate your house or apartment in a minimalist style. Since yesterday when I started using my scooter full-time in the house, we've gotten rid of five chairs, two tables, three carpets, one clothes tree and an electric keyboard, not to mention nailing our bedroom rug to the floor and putting special stoppers in two swinging doors so they won't swing shut when I bang into them making a turn. Pretty neat, huh?
Today has been fine. I have to watch my computer time though because my foot and toes tend to swell up if I let gravity get to them for too long. The casting tech advised keeping my foot elevated above my heart for as much time as I can manage. Last night I found out why.
Because I'd had little pain yesterday, I had unwisely sat at my computer much of the afternoon. By 8 PM I started getting muscle spasms in my casted foot and leg. Very painful. Even the pain medication Eddie gave me didn't seem to offer much relief. Last night was not a night I want to repeat. But in the midst of it all, I sure found out--if I didn't already know--what stuff this man I married 35 years ago is made of. I'd asked him to sleep upstairs because I was unable to control my involuntary moans. Generally speaking when I'm doing pain, I'd just as soon be alone.
At 4 AM, when I was in the middle of one of my periodic crying jags, he came into the room. He sat with me even though I tried to kick him out--"You shouldn't be left alone like this"--gave my leg range-of-motion, created a comfortable mountain of quilts and pillows so my foot was up nice and high in the bed, and was such a loving presence that I was finally able to fall asleep again. By the way, he had already insisted that I have my cell phone beside me in the bed so I could call him for help anytime I needed it. Today he has fetched-and-carried, carried-and-fetched, come back to the house twice to check on me and help me out after I'd sent him off to his office, and just played "Someone To Watch Over Me" on the piano so I could sing it to him. That man is a treasure.
Life becomes quite simple
at times like this. Allowing yourself to receive love, taking
care of your body and its needs, and feeling gratitude--that's
about all that's required.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2001
Except for a nasty hour of muscle spasms this afternoon, I've been doing great. I slept well last night and woke up early. My most exciting moment came when I watched our squirrely friend, Bushytail, digging around in front of the window beside my laptop desk. Friends have been most supportive with emails and phone calls, and Eddie continues to take very good care of me. He just got back from the hardware store where he bought a new toilet seat--I broke the old one by landing on it too heavily!--and replacement bulbs for my bathroom nightlight. Now he's in the kitchen heating up my salmon pattie and spinach pie for dinner. I don't even know what he's eating, but he's used to preparing his own food even when I'm up and around. Is this a good man, or what?!
I've just started to read Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: "a Mayan shaman's journey to the heart of indigenous soul" by Martin Prechtel (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam:1998). My women's book group will be discussing it at our December meeting. It is wonderful! And I talked to my friend Pat N. by phone today and she's agreed to our holding the November book group meeting here at my house so I can attend.
So my life is peacefully
gearing down to allow for healing. As Ed says, it was past time
for me to slow down. He's right. When I don't listen to my body
or respect its needs, it simply does whatever it can to get my
attention. Unfortunately that usually takes the form of an injury.
But I take comfort in the knowledge that this is the first such
"slow down" I've experienced in about a year and a half.
They used to come every couple of months. Could it be that I'm
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2001
The Spirituality of Staying Home...
And all of it cloaked
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2001
As I read the essays I quote from today, one of Carolyn McDade's songs kept running through my brain. It begins:
Listen, listen to the
that beg to differ from the rest...
The following paragraphs are excerpts from "The Algebra of Infinite Justice" by Arundhati Roy published in The Guardian, September 29, 2001:
"America's grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced...
"The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry. To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US government to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble, terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories" from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals.
"Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven's sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America's new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory...
"Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight he has been promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the charts to being "wanted dead or alive"...
"But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's dark doppelgänger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs have been going around in the loop for a while. (The Stinger missiles that will greet US helicopters were supplied by the CIA. The heroin used by America's drug addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush administration recently gave Afghanistan a $43m subsidy for a "war on drugs"....)
"Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed - one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other.
"President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the world - "If you're not with us, you're against us" - is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make."
© Arundhati Roy 2001
And following this are excerpts from "Brutality Smeared in Peanut Butter" by Arundhati Roy published in The Guardian, October 23, 2001:
"People rarely win wars, governments rarely lose them. People get killed.
"Governments moult and regroup, hydra-headed. They use flags first to shrink-wrap people's minds and smother thought, and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury their willing dead. On both sides, in Afghanistan as well as America, civilians are now hostage to the actions of their own governments.
"Unknowingly, ordinary people in both countries share a common bond - they have to live with the phenomenon of blind, unpredictable terror. Each batch of bombs that is dropped on Afghanistan is matched by a corresponding escalation of mass hysteria in America about anthrax, more hijackings and other terrorist acts.
"There is no easy way out of the spiralling morass of terror and brutality that confronts the world today. It is time now for the human race to hold still, to delve into its wells of collective wisdom, both ancient and modern. What happened on September 11 changed the world forever.
"Freedom, progress, wealth, technology, war - these words have taken on new meaning.
"Governments have to acknowledge this transformation, and approach their new tasks with a modicum of honesty and humility. Unfortunately, up to now, there has been no sign of any introspection from the leaders of the International Coalition. Or the Taliban.
"When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: 'We're a peaceful nation.' America?s favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him: 'We're a peaceful people.'
"So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace...
"With all due respect to President Bush, the people of the world do not have to choose between the Taliban and the US government. All the beauty of human civilisation - our art, our music, our literature - lies beyond these two fundamentalist, ideological poles. There is as little chance that the people of the world can all become middle-class consumers as there is that they will all embrace any one particular religion. The issue is not about good v evil or Islam v Christianity as much as it is about space. About how to accommodate diversity, how to contain the impulse towards hegemony ? every kind of hegemony, economic, military, linguistic, religious and cultural.
"Any ecologist will tell you how dangerous and fragile a monoculture is. A hegemonic world is like having a government without a healthy opposition. It becomes a kind of dictatorship. It?s like putting a plastic bag over the world, and preventing it from breathing. Eventually, it will be torn open...
"As a gesture of humanitarian support, the US government air-dropped 37,000 packets of emergency rations into Afghanistan. It says it plans to drop a total of 500,000 packets. That will still only add up to a single meal for half a million people out of the several million in dire need of food.
"Aid workers have condemned it as a cynical, dangerous, public-relations exercise. They say that air-dropping food packets is worse than futile.
"First, because the food will never get to those who really need it. More dangerously, those who run out to retrieve the packets risk being blown up by landmines. A tragic alms race.
"Nevertheless, the food packets had a photo-op all to themselves. Their contents were listed in major newspapers. They were vegetarian, we're told, as per Muslim dietary law (!) Each yellow packet, decorated with the American flag, contained: rice, peanut butter, bean salad, strawberry jam, crackers, raisins, flat bread, an apple fruit bar, seasoning, matches, a set of plastic cutlery, a serviette and illustrated user instructions.
"After three years of unremitting drought, an air-dropped airline meal in Jalalabad! The level of cultural ineptitude, the failure to understand what months of relentless hunger and grinding poverty really mean, the US government?s attempt to use even this abject misery to boost its self-image, beggars description...
"Every day that the war goes on, raging emotions are being let loose into the world. The international press has little or no independent access to the war zone. In any case, mainstream media, particularly in the US, have more or less rolled over, allowing themselves to be tickled on the stomach with press handouts from military men and government officials. Afghan radio stations have been destroyed by the bombing. The Taliban has always been deeply suspicious of the press. In the propaganda war, there is no accurate estimate of how many people have been killed, or how much destruction has taken place. In the absence of reliable information, wild rumours spread.
"Put your ear to the ground in this part of the world, and you can hear the thrumming, the deadly drumbeat of burgeoning anger. Please. Please, stop the war now. Enough people have died. The smart missiles are just not smart enough. They're blowing up whole warehouses of suppressed fury...
"In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the major media networks, and, indeed, US foreign policy, are all controlled by the same business combines. Therefore, it would be foolish to expect this talk of guns and oil and defence deals to get any real play in the media. In any case, to a distraught, confused people whose pride has just been wounded, whose loved ones have been tragically killed, whose anger is fresh and sharp, the inanities about the "clash of civilisations" and the "good v evil" discourse home in unerringly. They are cynically doled out by government spokesmen like a daily dose of vitamins or anti-depressants. Regular medication ensures that mainland America continues to remain the enigma it has always been - a curiously insular people, administered by a pathologically meddlesome, promiscuous government.
"And what of the rest of us, the numb recipients of this onslaught of what we know to be preposterous propaganda? The daily consumers of the lies and brutality smeared in peanut butter and strawberry jam being air-dropped into our minds just like those yellow food packets. Shall we look away and eat because we're hungry, or shall we stare unblinking at the grim theatre unfolding in Afghanistan until we retch collectively and say, in one voice, that we have had enough?
"As the first year of the new millennium rushes to a close, one wonders - have we forfeited our right to dream? Will we ever be able to re-imagine beauty?
"Will it be possible ever again to watch the slow, amazed blink of a newborn gecko in the sun, or whisper back to the marmot who has just whispered in your ear - without thinking of the World Trade Centre and Afghanistan?"
© Arundhati Roy
When one hears/reads such a voice, a chorus of truthsayers echoes in the ear. It is the women of courage who are speaking out in this way at this time. Perhaps it always has been. Perhaps that is one of the advantages of being among the 50% of all nations' citizens who are rarely privy to the highest positions of power: one has little to lose. Are you surprised to hear that these essays appeared in newspapers in England (The Guardian), France (Le Monde) and Colombia (El Mundo), but not one major newspaper in the United States would touch them.
I thank Eddie for clipping
today's article in the New York Times--"An
Indian Novelist Turns Her Wrath on the U.S." by Celia
W. Dugger--and sharing it with me. It invigorates my glimmerings
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2001
Today I was visited by the healing energy of friends. Emails continue to pour in from friends the world over, and I even had visitors of the real-live-touch-them variety. They came bearing a handful of yellow and rust-colored chrysanthemums and the gift of childish giggles. What fun! Eddie showed them the pop-up Haunted House book that has delighted generations of visiting children. It never loses its ability to enthrall, as you can see in this picture of the girls showing it to their mother. Fortunately we had apple pie a la mode to offer our guests. That was because of the generosity of a woman named Ann, who sent Ed home from his tennis party last night with a homemade pie.
One thing about staying
home: you begin to appreciate small treasures. Like the golden
elm that lit up our kitchen window in the bright sun yesterday
and today. It's as if my eyes--and heart?--are gaining clarity.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2001
Healing, as most journeys, is made up of two steps forward and one step back. Of course, right now the word "step" is metaphorical. But the muscle spasms that plagued me the first night after my injury, and have been with me to a tolerable degree every night hence, really set up a howl last night. Or I set up a howl, to be more accurate. From 4-6:30 AM I was abjectly miserable...and I invited my sweet partner Eddie to join me in my misery, which he did with deep compassion and love.
After a call to the doctor's office this morning, I am now the proud owner of a bottle of Valium, sure-fired "muscle relaxant." I hate taking meds of any kind so this "gift" fills me with ambivalence. But since the spasms are showing up already and it's only 5 PM, my guess is I'll take anything that offers some relief. So much for idealistic restraint!
A friend asked how she could be of help, how she could be present to me during my healing. I meditated on her question and the answer became quite clear. I'm asking friends to hold strong images of me walking as before. My only concern is that I might lose what I have in the way of muscle tone and strength, but with friends "seeing" me walking, standing, swimming, driving, dancing (holding onto my scooter or walker), I trust I will recover full function.
And now to bed where I can elevate her purple majesty.
Good news! I had a comfortable night--no muscle spasms and no
meds except a couple aspirin. Another step forward...
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2001
I'm on my way to an early bed, not because of pain but because I'm dog tired! You may ask how I got tired simply scooting around the house? Well, today was a red letter day! I walked--yes, on my own two feet--up and down the stairs three times! And now I will sleep in my own bed in my own room for the first time in a week. You are reading the words of one very happy woman.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2001
Is there anything more wonderful than going to sleep in your own bed and waking up in your very own room? Well, maybe it's taking a shower for the first time in over a week. Or even working at your laptop in the room you love.
Being able to climb the stairs was a pretty transformative event.
Even last night's muscle spasms didn't bother me. I took a Valium and within 15 minutes they were gone. And then this morning I was able to try out the new improved shower chair and cast bag Ed had bought yesterday. With his help, my cast was encased in a watertight rubber sleeve and I was finally able to sit under the water I adore. Was my body thirsty! Cleanliness or lack thereof had little to do with it--it was hydration I needed.
It's amazing how quickly life pares down to simple pleasures. And now my body is telling me that it's time for a lie-down/foot-elevation. And so I will. We're getting to be pretty good friends, my body and I.
I'm beginning to feel like I'm standing on sifting sands or even shifting templates at a faultline. Things I thought were settled in my mind are again up for grabs. Like San Francisco. I thought I'd decided that I was going to stay here in Detroit this winter. Yes, I was giving myself the option of changing my mind if the weather turned bad and I found myself snowbound here at home, but otherwise I felt Detroit was where I needed to be during these tough times.
At least that's what I thought until yesterday.
And now? I talked today with Marci, my friend from whom I rent the "tiny urban cottage" in San Francisco's Mission district, and asked if it would be possible for me to shift gears and come out for three months starting in January. After September 11 I'd changed my train ticket from November 10 to January 20, thinking that would give me plenty of time to do here in Detroit all that I needed to do. Marci is going to run it past her partner Evan, but seemed delighted with the idea.
So why have I changed my mind?
The broken foot has taught me a lot in only eight days. For instance, I see from the inside what it's like to be homebound. And in connection with that, I see that the groups, volunteer work and communities of friends I felt could not do without me seem to be muddling along quite well in my absence. I don't mean that they aren't delighted to have me there, I simply mean they can manage without me. No one is indispensable. And after a forthright conversation with Ed yesterday, I came to see the high price he has paid to be such a fine caregiver. I think he deserves a few months off. Besides I still love San Francisco and have such good friends out there.
Of course my plans are totally dependent on my foot being healed. I must feel comfortable and safe living alone before I make the trip.
So will I be able to offer as much to this wounded world in San Francisco as in Detroit? I trust so. Actually, much of my activist work seems be taking place over the internet and that can happen anyplace. I'm also conscious of my friends from the streets who eat at Simply Supper every Wednesday. September 11 and the war must be affecting them too: many of them are vets and I expect anxieties and memories have been aroused. Not to mention how the drop in tourism must have caused their street donations to dry up. And it's likely that the police are cracking down on them harder because of people's fears.
Now maybe all my "reasons"
simply boil down to the fact that I look out the window and see
winter coming on. All I know is that when I close my eyes,
I see myself in San Francisco. That kind of "seeing"
is what led me there in the first place.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2001
I certainly am developing a different set of criteria for exceptional accomplishments. Today's crowning achievement was getting up off the floor all by myself! An Olympic Event taking great skill, strength and daring; I'd give myself a 9.4.
Since the accident, I'd been anxious that I would be like a turtle on its back were I to end up on the floor. By the way, this was not a fall, more like a slide. In transferring from my scooter to a chair, I planted only one cheek where two were supposed to go...thus, the slide. But I quite readily got onto my knees, placed my hands and arms on the seat of a chair that I'd pushed up against the wall, and hoisted myself up by lifting my casted leg, planting my foot solidly on the ground and pushing down with my arms. Perhaps I should make an instructional video ;~)
This afternoon Joan B. came to visit and Tuesday night Pat K. brought Eddie and me a delicious homecooked dinner. Last night I received a phone call from Joan T. in Windsor, ONT. Penny H-E is committed to helping me find a way to join our women's singing community for the Council of Beings mask-making, singing, drumming and potluck at her house this Sunday. And in today's mail I received two get well cards: one from our old friend Bob H., and the other from my online friend Margaretha in Sweden! I continue to receive emails every day with healing wishes and promises to "see" me walking, dancing, swimming and driving again. As Karen wrote: "Dancing is the way I have pictured you always! Through life, on the page, with your voice...with your windchime walker...this is how i will picture you now!".
What would I do without
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2001
This was a wonderful day from beginning to end. It started with my waking to the sound of Eddie's voice and seeing rainbows from my window prism dancing on the bedroom ceiling. I then enjoyed another glorious shower. May I never forget to appreciate the ability to take a shower!
Much of the day was happily spent at my computer. I continue to receive countless email messages with information, opinions, calls for action and diverse perspectives on what is going on in the world. I can't imagine how we ever survived tough times like these before the internet. Think how differently things might have played out during the McCarthy era or Vietnam or the Civil Rights struggle of the '60s. Injustice depends on folks feeling isolated and alone. Even though I may not yet see evidence of my views influencing my government's leaders, I know I am but one voice among a growing symphony of strong, courageous voices that are not going to be silenced. Voices like Starhawk in her November 7 commentary, "Now is the time to act."
Pat K. came over at 5:30 PM with her portable massage table. Ah, was that ever just what my body needed! She stayed for a Chinese carry-in dinner and a video, "Cirque du Soleil". I think everyone with a broken limb should be required to watch this film as part of their therapy. Seeing people do such amazing things with their bodies helps one believe in the power of a body to do impossible things...like heal itself!
It seemed like everything was touched with magic today. When I sent a group email to my women's singing community asking for a ride to our gathering on Sunday, I received a reply within three minutes! Can you believe a woman I've only met once--Lisa from the Autumn Equinox ritual gathering at Peg and Jeanne's--is going to drive 60 miles out of her way to pick me up and take me to Penny's on Sunday? That takes my breath away.
And now it's 11:30 PM
and I haven't had one muscle spasm. A perfect day. I'll leave
you with a copy of my latest desktop wallpaper
collage. I warn you, it takes 9 seconds to download. Lots
of life there!
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2001
If you know anyone who has become blasé or lost their zest for life, maybe you should encourage them to break a foot or leg. OK, it isn't much fun at the beginning, but the recovery? Glorious!
After ten days inside the house I was beginning to forget what fresh air felt like, or the kiss of sun on my cheeks, or the musky smell of leaves piled on the ground, or even what my shadow looked like. Not to mention a red tree that blazed like fire in the sun. A single white sail against the blue-green depths of the lake. The mystery of a hidden path. A shining white birch unveiling its core of beauty with every leaf it dropped. Another tree jealously guarding its full compliment of leaves as trees around it bowed to the inevitable. A bushy nest that was unseen until now. A stand of trees that spoke of winter's approach.
Tell me! Am I happy I
have a scooter? And am I grateful to Ed who carts that scooter
in and out of the house, up and down the stairs with nary a complaint?
I feel myself again.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2001
Just a quick note to let you know that I had a wonderful day with my women's singing group...and I am now one tired puppy. First time out among people with my broken foot and I'm not exactly running at full power. I returned home after 8 hours away and am going right to bed. Well, hey, it's 8:30 PM! Doesn't everyone go to bed about now?
Check back tomorrow during
the day and you'll see my story and photos from this glorious
day. Until then...
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2001
So it seems the American people are rushing into another frenzy of fear. I refuse to join them. If one rides that media-propelled roller coaster, life will soon become unbearable. What happened--or may have happened--today and what may happen tomorrow are simply facts of life in a post-September 11 world. Didn't we all realize what happened on 9-11 would not be an isolated occurrence, but would usher in a new chapter in our country's history? The "war on terrorism" as it is being fought today will not stop attacks; if anything it is likely to stir up more hatred and a greater willingness to give one's life for the holy war, the Jihad, or however it is seen. We are now living as untold numbers of people have lived for generations. You'd think terrorism had never existed before September 11. No, we must learn to live with its reality just as our global neighbors have done for years.
What does it mean to live with the reality of terrorism? To me it means being conscious of the preciousness of life every waking moment. It means not waiting to make amends or follow our dreams or tell people we love them. It means being ready to loosen our grasp on life even as we value it more. It means relishing every shaft of sunlight that falls on my cheek, savoring the sound of the women's voices on Carolyn McDade's CD "As We So Love", feasting my eyes on the golden leaves still clinging to the black walnut tree in my neighbor's yard, delighting in the taste of a pistachio nut delicacy Ed brought home from an Arab American store, letting the loving words in a friend's email message sink deep into my heart. It means living more fully than ever before. It does not mean living in a constant state of fear.
My way of dealing with the threat of terrorist attacks is to surround myself in song, in percussion, in writing, in sharing, in playing, in eating as my circle of women friends and I did yesterday. It means watching in awe as an earth woman named Deanne went outside Penny's suburban home and dug up clay to create a mask for the Council of All Beings. It means singing Holly Near's amazing song "1000 Grandmothers" not once but twice because we couldn't get enough of it. It means digging into Lisa's freshly-made guacamole so frequently that I should have turned avocado-green. It means feeling waves of love and healing from these women who genuinely celebrated my being there with my purple cast.
Fear is the most devastating
weapon on the planet. Turn from it as you would turn from a deadly
toxin. Do not take it in. Do not go places or talk to people or
read or watch anything that fosters it. Fear cannot live in love
or trust or joy or hope or wonder. Life is too short to waste.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2001
Yesterday I wrote about how being in circles of women helps me live without fear in this post-September 11 world. Today--thanks to Eddie who schlepped my scooter in and out of the house, in and out of the car, and drove me to and from the Dearborn school where I volunteer--I was able to immerse myself in another life-giving environment, that of children.
How could anyone focus on terrorism or fears in the presence of children's laughter, their exuberant playground games, silent absorption in making art, friendly curiosity, intelligent questions and answers, and high energy? And for me there was the special gift of receiving a pile of hand-drawn get well cards from the Monday classes that I'd begun to get to know before I broke my foot.
How can you do anything but smile when you read messages like:
"Sorry you broke
your leg!! Get well soon!!!!"
"I love Miss Patricia"
"Dear Ms. Patricia, Miss B. has told us that you have broken 3 bones. I hope that it will heal real fast! Sincerelly, F."
"The hole class wants you to feel better. We re sorry about your leg."
"Dear Mrs. Patricia, I heard what happened please get well soon. We miss you coming to art. Are you any better than when you fell down? Well Art is over so by. Sincerly, M."
"Ms. Patricia, Hope you feel well! Miss you. Get well soon!! Sincerly, T."
And the drawings! A sad face--instead of smiley--with tears dripping from its eyes and a red cross hat on its head. A tall woman standing beside a girl, both of them smiling. A person with a cast on her leg, spiky hair, and crutches under her arms. A red and purple rose with leaves on its green stem. A heart-shaped rainbow-colored balloon with two women/girls holding hands beside a red house and two pink flowers. One woman/girl standing and another sitting, each with her own plate of food on a table. The blue and green planet earth. A multi-colored rainbow arching over three red hearts with smiling faces.
Now how could one not feel better after seeing these!
My cards were not the only art treasures I saw today. Last week the 4th and 5th grade students had completed their drawings for the Global Art for Peace project that we'd introduced two weeks ago. These drawings will join 100,000 drawings that are to be sent to Muslim children in war-torn countries like Afghanistan. As Ali said today, they are "to make them feel better about the war and all, so they won't be afraid."
Their teacher, Ms. B., had put up a display of the peace drawings in the main hall of the school, as well as posting them in the art room. What power! If you can, look closely at the images in these four--1, 2, 3, 4--pictures I took. Can't you believe peace has a chance when you see these drawings?
Today's schedule was changed because each class went to a 20 minute "Sports and Science" assembly in the gym. But that opened up time for the art teacher Susan and I to meet in the library and discuss the next project--self portraits. When I walked in, I was blown away by the WPA murals--one depicting auto workers and cars, and the other showing the state of Michigan and some of its early history--not to mention the beautiful wood paneling and fireplace. Imagine! All this and an elevator too. This school amazes me.
But you know what--or I should say, who--amazes me most of all? Susan, the teacher I assist. She manages to blend imaginative, well-organized assignments using a vast array of creative materials, with total honesty and a genuine concern for each child. These students are so fortunate to have her teaching them art. And I am equally fortunate to be able to hang out in her classroom every week.
Now we've got to work
out a way to make it easier for Ed to help me and my scooter get
there next week. I sense today was too much already. Maybe it's
time to look into getting a trailer or even an accessible van
to aid in transporting my scooter to my varied activities. I'll
start checking it out online.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2001
A dear friend, upon hearing of my broken foot, wrote to say, "...let the world come to you." And so it did today.
First, my new friend Lisa stopped by to visit after attending a meeting in Detroit. Our conversation, which traveled many interesting paths, made me feel she should definitely meet the women in my book group. Since they were coming here tonight for our monthly discussion, I invited Lisa to stay and she accepted. After sending her upstairs for a little nap, I finished preparing for the group and wrote some letters. Dinner was simple with a crab cake, spinach pie, hummous and tabbouleh. My friends started arriving about 7:15 PM.
You know, I love these women! Their intelligent responses to the books we read--this time it was Adrienne Rich's most recent book of poetry, Fox (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001)--coupled with their critical analyses of world events, ability to laugh at themselves, passionate long-term commitment to issues of justice, and disarming honesty make for stimulating meetings. It's also interesting that our membership is now about half Canadian and half American; that definitely broadens our perspective. And tonight it was particularly delightful to introduce a kindred soul to the group.
The following poem sparked the most heart-rending, powerful discussion because it addressed our shared struggles around being voices of dissent during these unsettled times:
IF YOUR NAME IS ON THE LIST
If your name is on the
list of judges
you're one of them
though you fought their hardening
assumptions went and stood
alone by the window while they
It wasn't enough to hold your singular
You had to face the three bridges
down the river
your old ambitions
flamboyant in bloodstained mist
You had to carry off under
and write up in perfect loneliness
your soul-splitting dissent
Yes, I know a soul can
be partitioned like a country
In all the new inhere old judgements
loyalties crumbling send up sparks and smoke
We want to be part of the future dragging in
what pure futurity can't use
Suddenly a narrow street
a little beach a little century
screams Don't let me go
Don't let me die
Do you forget
what we were to each other
© copyright 1999
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2001
The fact that the United States is bombing the starving inhabitants of an already war-ravaged country night after night is bad enough, but there is an even more sinister constellation of governmental actions that has been receiving scant attention by the mainstream press and media. These actions are, in essence, divesting American citizens of their Constitutional rights and protections under law. Even conservative voices like William Safire are beginning to sound the alarm, but is it too late?
The so-called Patriot's Act has already passed both houses of Congress and been signed into law by President George W. Bush. "These new and unchecked powers could be used against American citizens who are not under criminal investigation, immigrants who are here within our borders legally, and also against those whose First Amendment activities are deemed to be a threat to national security by the attorney general," an American Civil Liberties Union letter says.
On October 24, I received an email from Amnesty International that said in part: "Amnesty International is concerned that in the Washington Post edition of October 22, an 'experienced FBI agent involved in the [September 11th] investigation,' in discussing the use of torture, is quoted as saying, 'It could get to that spot where we could go to pressure.' Amnesty International is also disturbed by numerous reports that many individuals arrested in the wake of the attacks were denied prompt access to lawyers or relatives, and is concerned about the physical conditions of some of those in custody."
On November 3, I received a forwarded email from a university professor of journalism whom I know. The subject was "Academic Freedom and the War", with the intent being to receive signatures and funds from academics and interested persons across the nation so the following statement could appear as a full page ad in the New York Times:
To fellow teachers and staff members:
In the crisis precipitated by the terrible events of September 11, members of academic communities across the U.S. have participated in teach-ins, colloquia, demonstrations, and other events aimed at developing an informed critical understanding of what happened and why. Now that the U.S. is waging war in Afghanistan, such activities are continuing.
some participants in these events have been threatened and attacked
for speaking out. Trustees of the City University of New
York are planning formal denunciations of faculty members who
criticized U.S. foreign policy at a teach-in during
the first week in October. There have been similar efforts to silence criticism and dissent at the University of Texas at Austin, MIT, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and elsewhere. AAUP director of public policy Ruth Flower told the Boston Globe on October 6, "We're watching these developments with a lot of concern."
Attacks on faculty who have questioned or dissented from the Bush administration's current war policy have coincided with other ominous developments. Colleges and universities are being pressured by agencies of the federal government to hand over confidential information from student files. And there are moves in Congress to limit visas for students from abroad.
We call on all members of the academic community to speak out strongly in defense of academic freedom and civil liberties, not just as an abstract principle but as a practical necessity. At a moment such as this we must make sure that all informed voices--especially those that are critical and dissenting--are heard.
Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University
-Dana Cloud, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Texas at Austin
-Donna Flayhan, Assistant Professor of Communication & Media Studies, Goucher College
-Phil Gasper, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Notre Dame de Namur University
-Richard Gibson, Associate Professor of Social Studies,San Diego State University
-William Keach, Professor of English, Brown University
-Tom Lewis, Professor of Spanish, University of Iowa
-Edward Said, University Professor, Columbia University
And it is not simply Afghanistan and the United States that are being affected by these governmental actions. Today I received a copy of an article reporting that "The Barakaat Telecommunications Company, the largest in Somalia, has closed down its international telephone services throughout Somalia, after its British and American business partners terminated their relationship with the Al-Barakaat group, a senior company official told IRIN. The move has greatly limited telephone contact between the country and the outside world." When asked why they had terminated service with no warning, the Concert Communications--a company jointly owned by British Telecom and AT&T--spokesperson said that "the reason for the closure of the link was the Al-Barakaat group's connection with Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect behind the 11 September attacks in the US, so 'we have terminated our business relations with them.' He declined to elaborate further."
I know it's hard to read all this stuff. And even harder to let it sink in. My thought when confronted with such information is, "So what in the world can I do about it? Sure things seem to be going to hell in a handbasket, but how can it be stopped? I'd rather not even think about it."
But if I don't think about it, who will?
So I go ahead reading and studying the issues. I send countless emails to my congressional representatives and the White House, forward bucket-loads of messages to friends, talk to folks about what's happening, write journal entries like this. When I'm physically able, I take my scooter to anti-war and anti-globalization demonstrations, attend meetings of community activists, work with Arab American kids in a school, help out at a women's respite home. In other words, I do what I can. That's all any of us is asked to do.
Together we can change the world; alone we too easily give up in despair. Wasn't it Margaret Mead who said,
Never doubt that a
small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the
world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2001
A Hopi Elder Speaks:
"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered...
Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water?
Know your garden. It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader."
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we've been waiting for."
These words came to me this afternoon in a group email from my didgeridoo-playing friend, Ruth. As soon as my eyes fed them into my brain, they dropped deep within my heart, setting up a resonance like a bell being struck. I've read so many words these past weeks, words packed full of information, passion, anger, fear, struggle. And these words? They cut through to the quick of truth, the marrow of life.
Now I'm internet-savy enough to realize they may be a message from the Elders of the Hopi Nation and they may not. It doesn't matter. It was what I needed to hear, and upon hearing, to meditate on.
Like the sights and smells of this day.
Can anyone remember a more lovely November? I'll be honest; November has been at the top of my list of least-favorite months. In this part of the world--Michigan at the joining of Lake Erie and Lake Huron--it often brings grey blustery weather that yells rather than whispers, "Winter is coming! Prepare!" October's radiance is soon forgotten under mushy piles of wet brown leaves.
But this year? Here it is November 16 and I was out scooting in bright warm sun under cerelean blue skies with cosmos, chrysanthemums and roses still in bloom. The residential street I travelled--one of my community's main thoroughfares--boasted a tree still riotously yellow, a proud stand of Michigan pines, an artfully-shaped red berry tree, glimpses of multi-colored trees and bushes through a fence, with white birch scribblings overhead, and the gnarled branches of a tree all ready for winter.
The smells I can only describe as musky and dense. Smells that brought back our screams and giggles as we jumped into the middle of Dad's freshly-raked piles of leaves, scattering them to the winds.
Is it any wonder that
I could hear the words of Spirit shared above? My heart had been
prepared for beauty by beauty itself.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2001
I went to bed last night feeling the most encouraged I have since the horrible events of September 11. Finally, finally, FINALLY a small group of Representatives in the House is publicly pointing out that The Emperor Has No Clothes!
I am not surprised to hear that they are being led by John Conyers, Jr., a Representative from Detroit. He was among a small group of voices that decried the Gulf War almost eleven years ago. Conyers, like my shero Representative Barbara Lee, is African-American. Perhaps being part of a minority helps one keep one's vision intact.
Last night I sent emails to my Representative and Senators encouraging them to join with those who are questioning the loss of our civil liberties. I also sent John Conyers, Jr. an email of support (John.Conyers@mail.house.gov). This morning I got up early to send out group emails to my friends encouraging them to contact their Congresspersons with the same request. If you want to do the same and need their email addresses, simply go to http://government.aol.com/mynews/
It is as if our governmental leaders--a few of them anyway--are finally waking from a Deep Sleep. But as Margaret Mead said, and I keep needing to hear over and over, all we need are a few.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
In the midst of my concerns about world and national affairs, I am taking good care of my body and its needs. Yesterday I got a haircut from Traci--the destination of my scooter ride--and today Pat came over and gave me a massage. As I told her, I think massage should be prescribed as a medical necessity for persons with broken limbs. It soothes even as it stimulates healing.
Pat and I then took a
scoot/walk along the lake. It was another beautiful sunny day,
although cooler than yesterday. I tried not to take pictures--I'd
taken so many yesterday--but how could I pass up this luscious
cabbage, or the magnolia
buds dressed warmly in their fuzzy winter jackets? And to
ignore the image of a billowing orange
spinnaker against the gold of the willows at water's edge
would have been criminal...not to mention the Canadian
geese with a tugboat pushing a loaded barge on the horizon
and the kayak close to shore. Actually Pat took two of those pictures--the
magnolia buds and the geese--plus one more. I asked her to take
of me on my scooter beside the lake. I want a reminder of
these precious autumn days to look back on when Michigan's winter
makes such rides seem like a distant dream.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2001
I got up at 5:20 AM, hopped (figuratively speaking) in my upstairs scooter, put on my glasses and went from window to window looking for the meteor showers. Alas, we were fogged in. Actually, the trees out my window were still pulling soft grey shawls over their bare shoulders when I arose hours later. A good day to stay inside and catch up with email.
Ah, such hope-filled messages! Maybe I'm finally ready to look at the bright side of things because I seemed better able to see that perspective today. And so much of what gave me life came through hearing the voices of women.
From a brother anti-war activist, I received a link to a web site, called BIG GREEN WOMEN AND PROGRESSIVE POLITICS: LET THE WOMEN SPEAK. It is a collection of audio and text voices of women speaking out about current issues. What an intricate patchwork of interesting ideas and perspectives.
Another wonderful internet resource came through my friend Ginni Clemmens, a longime singer/songwriter/justice seeker who lives in Hawaii. It is two articles by Denise Breten and Stephen Lehman that offer a new vision of justice. The first, "Justice as a Constructive, Healing Activity" says that "before we consider real justice, we must address this age-old pretender: justice as punishment, violence, and revenge. Where do we get this model? What is its nature, and why is it incapable of creating justice among us?" The second article, "Operation Restorative Justice" gives concrete suggestions of "what can the United States do to stop terrorism." Both articles go beyond critical analysis to offer constructive alternatives--an unusual blend in these days of I'm right/you're wrong rhetoric.
I also received a forwarded email message from a global group of women video-makers. It is called "Women video letters: a second text on war". They are asking for short videos by women giving their perspective on the events of September 11 and their aftermath. These videos will become part of a collage of global women's voices brought together on film. Even though the deadline was November 1st, my guess is they would still be open to receiving submissions.
The final women's voice that marked me today--even by proxy--came as a surprise. I must admit when I heard that Laura Bush, the US First Lady, was planning to address the plight of Afghan women in a radio broadcast, cynicism stole my heart. She seemed an unlikely spokesperson for these suffering women. I had to wonder if it was a PR device to fan the US public's hatred of its country's latest "enemy", the Taliban. I mean, if my government really cared about the plight of women under the Taliban, why were they giving that same Taliban-run government $43 million as recently as last May and congratulating them on banning opium production...with no mention of their blatant human rights abuses against women?
So that was the furor going on inside my head.
Fortunately, my friend Ginni Clemmons took the time to companion me through this minefield of cynicism. She first wrote me an email telling of her elation over this opportunity to bring to light what our sisters in Afghanistan have been living through since 1997. When she asked what I thought of it, I wrote back sharing much of what I shared above. Well, this afternoon I received the following message from Ginni:
If you get this email today go listen to Laura Bushes spoken statement. I think you'll feel optimistic about it. My tears were a mixture of relief and despair for those women's plights and their liberation. Eleanor Smeal said that her organization "absolutely agreed" with the administration's campaign, and that she would continue to pressure the White House to insist that women be at the negotiating table...I hope this helps you, because I know you care very deeply. With that accent, Laura will get even the anti-feminists of the USA to join in the effort. Yeeeeeeeeah! yes yes yes YES !
Now that's real progress. Us feminists already care so we don't need to be moved at all.... so it seems we really have a crisis turned into an opportunity. Watch for a song or prose called "Beyond the veil" In fact why don't you write a lyric, and I'll set it to music.!!
I trust my sister-friend
and join in her celebration. Whatever the motivation--and for
all I know, Laura Bush's intent is pure--unleashing truth can
create a new reality. And a New Reality is what we need.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2001
It is 6 AM and I can't sleep. Something has been niggling at me all night and I must write about it so I can straighten out my thoughts.
Before I went to bed I received an email message from a friend. In it she wrote, "I always feel that the very best we can do for the world is to look inside ourselves and be the kind of person we admire and respect." I've heard variations on this theme expressed by countless friends and acquaintances during these past months. It sounds so good.
So why does it not sit well with me?
First of all, it feels too narrow in scope. If each individual simply works on her or his own personal issues, who's going to look at the broader picture? Who's going to hold their governmental leaders accountable? Who's going to try to change the systems that have created and/or promoted this global disruption? Who's going to study the causes and consequences of decisions and actions that have affected countries and persons we know little about? Who's going to offer new creative constructs and ideas? Who's going to help shift the paradigm?
Each person is a spiral of thoughts, feelings, intentions and actions. The inner coil is what sets the tone for the circles that radiate out from it. So, yes, what is at our core is of utmost importance. From that place of innerness spirals our personal relationships with loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and members of the community. Connected to this circle of relationships is the broader circle of our work, whatever we determine is our place in the running of the society of which we are a part. For many people, the spiral seems to end here.
And that's the rub. For me anyway.
Maybe before September 11, that was enough. But now? I so firmly believe that the tragic events of that day opened a door that not only our country but all human persons must walk through. It is the door of global awareness, the door of connection with all who inhabit this planet. We can no longer view life through the lens of ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, our nations. It is past time for that. Actually it was that attitude that led to the events of September 11 and to the US governmental leaders' decision to drop bombs on Afghanistan night after night. As a woman in my neighborhood said, "It's them or us." That kind of attitude can destroy life as we know it on this planet.
So when friends or acquaintances--all good-hearted people--say it is enough simply to become a person of peace in their individual lives, I respectfully disagree. That is the start, but it must go much farther than that. The spiral must extend beyond our own environs to cover this planet earth. And one of the most effective ways to extend our spiral is to educate ourselves through studying the current issues and delving into the history that has brought us here. Another spiral-enhancing tool is engaging in dialogue, especially with persons who hold different opinions and have different world views than ours.
Out of this expansion of consciousness will emerge our unique place in the whole, that very particular piece that only we can bring. Our offering may take us back to one of the smaller circles of the spiral, such as our neighborhood or community, but how we approach it and what it comes out of is born of the whole...like a star in the galaxy.
I think of someone like Carolyn McDade. She lives in a small town on Cape Cod and is raising her granddaughter. She is a musician who writes songs, records them with groups of women and gives community-building retreat weekends. How easy it would be for her to stay on the surface of things and make folks feel cozy and comfortable as they sing her beautiful melodies. But she doesn't. Carolyn says she writes love songs, not to individuals, but to movements. And this consciousness is born of decades of work and study as an activist in the struggle for liberation and justice. Not just for people but for our planet. She defines her work as cultural transformation...and it is. No one sings her songs, listens to her CDs, or attends one of her retreats without being changed. It's in the fiber of the music and what it comes out of. Carolyn's spiral is all-inclusive.
I must say here that this kind of consciousness and life-born-of-awareness does not appear full-blown. No, it spirals its way into being, bit by bit. Each of us starts from where we are and stretches towards the whole. And for each one, the path will take unique twists and turns until finally one day we look around and see ourselves in a larger space than we could ever have imagined. The spiral has an energy of its own, even its own direction to take, but what it requires of us is assent. And assent implies movement. We must be willing to push the boundaries of our zone of comfort. We must be willing to risk change. And what else is life but change?
The timing will be uniquely our own. So if I'm tempted to judge someone who seems to be a few rungs back on the spiral from me, that isn't fair. Each of us creates the music of our life in our own key and tempo. I guess I just want to hear a few notes of your song as we pass. If all I hear is dead silence, it makes me wonder. Are you there? Are you still becoming, or have you given up and closed down? Is the spiral expanding or contracting?
The primary agent that causes spirals to contract is fear. And fear has been so prevalent since September 11. We have all experienced fear of one kind or another since that heart-stopping day. The question is, did we get stuck there? Are we acting, thinking, deciding out of fear? If so, we will experience a narrowing of our views of life and the world. It seems that the current "war on terrorism" with its bombs and erosion of civil liberties comes out of that contracted spiral of fear.
For fear is a spiral too. The difference is that fear spirals in on itself rather than out to others. Its circles become tighter and tighter until it finally implodes on itself.
The opposite of fear is love. I hesitate to use that word because of how it has been distorted by misuse. But, as with the American flag, I will not allow others take away an important word or symbol. The kind of love I'm referring to is not sweet or soft or sentimental. It is tough and deep and dangerous. Dangerous because of its capacity to change the one who lives it. The kind of love I'm talking about is not a feeling; it is a way of being in the world. This kind of love creates cultural upheavals like those wrought by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vandanva Shiva in India and Maude Barlow in Canada. It is a choice one makes, and once made, love takes control.
See what happens when
you start writing in a journal? You go from something as mundane
as a niggling discomfort over a sentence you've read in an email
to discussing the most profound issues of life. Maybe there should
be a notice on the covers of journals (or the keyboard of a computer)
saying "Caution: Keeping a journal may be dangerous to your
set ways of thinking."
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2001
I was going to write all about how we woke to our first dusting of snow, and how I went to school today and found the kids wonderfully wild, but now all I can think about is myself!
After breaking three metatarsal bones and being casted toes-to knee on October 30, this afternoon I went for my three week check-up. The techie removed my cast so they could x-ray the foot. When I saw my foot, I practically cried in relief! I've missed that part of my anatomy. I was happy with the prospect of its being able to breathe free even for a half hour, because the techie said they'd be recasting it after the exam.
The orthopedist came into the room with a bemused expression on his face and a set of x-rays in his hand. After shaking my hand and asking how I was, he grinned and said, "You heal like a teenager!" He proceeded to tell me I was done with casts, and I was basically done with him! No brace or ace bandage or splint, just a bare foot that could wear a regular shoe and carry my full weight! I could come back and see him in three weeks if I had any problems, but otherwise, he'd be saying goodbye and good luck.
Well...can you imagine my response? YIPPEE!!!!!!!!
If the indoor pool is open tomorrow night I hope to be there. My doc agreed that swimming would be the very best thing for me. And as soon as I finish this journal entry, I'm going to go take a shower. What a treat it will be to let my parched foot and leg soak up the water. Ah, the things we take for granted.
I am so grateful to all
my friends who held me in good healing energy and continued to
"see" me walking, swimming and dancing. It is your imaging
that helped create this miraculous recovery. Thank you so much.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2001
Tomorrow is the United States Thanksgiving Day. For many, it will be a day of feasting with family on turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and/or whatever foods are traditional family favorites. For some their meal will be served at a soup kitchen or drunk from a bottle under a freeway overpass. For others their meal will be eaten in a prison or jail. Then there are those who will eat or not eat in hospitals, nursing care facilities, senior housing units, group homes. Some will wait until sundown because of Ramadan while others will eat in the middle of the day. And there are those who will eat as they always eat, with no special observance of the holiday. Ed and I fit happily in that category.
It isn't that I don't like Thanksgiving. I mean, who could dislike a holiday that encourages thoughts of gratitude? I do have to admit I'm not fond of the traditional Thanksgiving menu. As a seafood-eating vegetarian, turkey doesn't go down too well. Maybe if we had family here--as we used to--we'd go over to someone's house for the feast. But, you know, the thought doesn't exactly fill me with nostalgia.
My memories of such family occasions, both as a child and an adult, are mixed. Yes, it was lovely to gather as family, sit at a beautifully-set table and eat good food, but I recall feelings of stress as this disparate group of individuals tried to find topics of conversation that wouldn't lead to bruised feelings. For instance, there were the years when one sister and her husband were vocal in their anti-Vietnam war sentiments while my other sister was married to a career military man who proudly served two tours of duty there. A bit awkward, that.
My mixed feelings about this holiday relate more to adult memories than childhood ones, but even when young, Thanksgiving dinner was not easy. Mom would be tired and crabby after trying to put on this sumptuous meal, and Dad would drive us crazy with his long-drawn-out grace over plates of food getting colder by the minute. Didn't my sisters and I always start arguing at the table? And didn't that make Mom feel hurt and unappreciated, and Dad angry?
So I am utterly delighted to greet Thanksgiving as an ordinary day. Maybe if I normally neglected to give thanks, I'd need a special day to remind me of life's gifts. But I do that every day.
So what am I thankful for today?
--My wonderful body that built up to swimming 20 laps of the crawl this summer, and just "healed like a teenager" after breaking three bones this autumn.
--My sweet Eddie who is a faithful friend in all kinds of weather and who, after 35 years, still makes me laugh.
--This web site and journal that allows me to speak my truth and connect with kindred folks the world over.
--My mother who is happily content and my sisters to whom I feel close again.
--My circle of friends without whom I cannot imagine life.
--Sun, rain, trees, wind, birds, squirrels, foxes, the lake and ocean, butterflies, snails and all that inhabit this exquisite and fragile earth.
--My scooters Ona and La Lucha who open up the world to me.
--The internet that offers alternatives to media-packaged news.
--Those who speak
truth and decry
the violence of these turbulent times, whether it is called
terrorism or a war on terrorism.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2001
On this Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for having had the privilege to meet--one in person and the other through his piano--two men whose deaths I just learned of today. Manse Mathias, longtime Windsor, Ontario activist, and Tommy Flanagan, among the greatest jazz pianists in history.
Today I received an email from my sister activist, Margaret, in which she wrote:
On a sad note, Manse Mathias died of his cancer last week. You have a picture of him reading out the letter "Not in our Name" (and some other things that were less impressive) at the September 29 Peace Vigil on your journal. He was 76 and was presented with his B.A. in Labour Studies in his hospital bed by the U. of Windsor president in full regalia two days before dying. His old buddy Lyle who you also know apparently paid a wonderful tribute to him at the funeral. I wasn't there because of being in Ottawa for the protests.
Manse was of the old school. He didn't brook any nonsense about globalization, war, United States domination of Canada, or anything he saw as unjust, oppressive or imperialistic. He said it like he saw it and lived it like he talked it. That sunny Saturday on September 29, he and I had attended an all-day teach-in at the University of Windsor followed by a Peace Vigil at the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge that links Windsor with Detroit. When he got up to read two letters to the group, his voice was strong although his cancer had stripped him of any extra flesh. In six weeks he was gone. Manse Mathias will be missed.
Tommy Flanagan, 71, died on Friday, November 16. This former Detroiter, who had been musical director/accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald and a New York City-based jazz icon since the 1950s, performed at the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival on Friday, August 31. My friend Pat and I were in the audience. This is what I wrote in my journal:
...it's the music that will stay with me...especially the poured molasses notes that Detroit-born jazz-great, Tommy Flanagan, found within his piano. If you have never heard this man, please do yourself a favor and listen to one of his CDs. He makes it sound like every other pianist in the world is just working too durn hard, even masters like Oscar Peterson. When Tommy played Gershwin's "Lady Be Good", the audience literally gasped aloud in awe.
What I also remember is that toward the end of his set, Tommy suddenly clasped the piano as if he were in pain. I could see expressions of concern on the faces of the young musicians in his trio, although they kept playing. After that, Tommy made the motions of playing the piano, but you could tell his heart wasn't in it. The set soon ended and Tommy turned to smile at the wildly applauding audience, but he did not stand up until his young bassist gave him an arm. I then saw his young musicians practically carry Tommy down the backstage stairs into the performers' area. When Pat and I saw an ambulance driving into a cordoned-off street under Hart Plaza ten minutes later, we feared it had been called for Tommy. We kept listening for news of him all weekend but heard nothing. And now Tommy Flanagan is dead.
Life. What a precious,
unpredictable gift. Let me never forget how fleeting it can be,
and how important it is to live it like Manse and Tommy, with
passion and purpose. May their lives be remembered and celebrated
for years to come.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2001
This was one of those days you want to bottle and keep for a cold winter day. Mild temperatures, sunny, everybody outside enjoying it. Well, everybody except the millions of kids, parents and grandparents who spent this gorgeous day inside a dark movie theater watching Harry Potter. And I? I spent it down at the park on the lake.
It was my first time back in a couple of months, and I realized how much I'd missed it. Of course, things looked a bit different now. Picnic tables stacked in a line instead of spread out on the grass. When I peered through one, I could see a preview of what was to come. And as I scooted closer to the harbor--empty now of boats--I looked back on the expanse of park where I'd spent so many happy days this summer.
I made a pilgrimage of sorts, stopping to appreciate each place I especially love. The few red flowers still in bloom. Aggie and Bill's gazebo. The fishing spot where a fisherman named Bill was hoping to catch some small mouth bass. The lakefront wharf where I sat and soaked up the sun for an hour as a fishing boat trolled for muskie, ocean-going freighters passed in the channel, ducks swam by and flew overhead, and the water slapped steadily against the pilings.
That was among the most idyllic hours of my life.
But I wasn't done yet. I still had to see the empty pool where I swam so many laps and did water aerobics for three wonderful months. The sandy beach with two red wagons parked waiting for spring. The playscape with a boy crawling the wrong way up the slide, as usual. And a rousing game of basketball.
But not everyone was on vacation today. Carl was busy decorating the park for the holidays, and an unidentified man was digging up the parking lot. But neither one seemed to mind their work. It was that kind of a day.
And for me the magic continued.
Pat came over in the late afternoon and gave me another of her
delicious massages. Then we feasted on her gourmet vegetarian
torte, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Thanksgiving dinner the day
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2001
If today were to have a theme, it would be "unexpected pleasures".
It started with a late morning scoot that evolved into a walk/scoot with Eddie into our community shopping area. On the way my eyes were drawn to a gargoyle protecting someone's driveway, and what looked like a shrine beside another. Then there was this branch of colorful leaves unexpectedly peeking out from the base of a tree.
Once there we satisfied my hunger for a hot bowl of split pea soup and a toasted "everything" bagel. Yummy! Next stop was the library where I saw Stephanie, one of my favorite librarians, and took out the ten-part Ken Burns video series, "Jazz". I figure this is a perfect time to watch it, while I'm more of a stay-at-home. I then dropped Ed off at his office, and stopped at the market to buy some of my special Odwalla juices. I decided to take the lake home.
This was when the auditory surprises appeared. First it was a "singing tree", with close to a hundred birds perched in its upper branches. Do you see them? They look like leaves. The tree literally vibrated with their chirps. Next came the unmistakable sound of a bagpipe. When I stopped to listen, I saw a bagpiper playing outside a church. He had probably been hired to play while a wedding was going on inside. I stayed to enjoy a half hour's reminder of my Scottish heritage on my mother's side. The bagpipe always manages to creep under my skin and take up residence in my heart.
But, of all the unexpected pleasures of this day, what came next took the prize. A visit from Lisa--one of our neighborhood "kids"--her son Walker, daughter Holly, and her mother, our friend, Joan. It was like having our child and her family come home for the holidays. Such a wonderful gathering of three generations!
Eddie brought out our collection of child-friendly items like the cow that moos, wags its tail and walks when it's wound up. Holly and the cow soon became fast friends. Walker, at 7-almost-8, was too old for such toys, but took to the stationary bike, pedalling it faster than I've ever made it go. Holly then decided my digital camera was a toy and managed to take a pretty good picture of her brother and me. And both Eddie and I were honored to receive handwritten notes from Holly that said, "Holly Love U a e r". We're not too sure what the "a e r" stands for, but were delighted with the thought.
And now I'm off to bed unexpectedly early, which I trust will also be pleasurable.
©2001 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.