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40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
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SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2002
There are some days when you barely have the energy to stick your big toe out from under the covers. Today was like that for me. The fact that it was cold and dreary added to my feelings of ennui. Fortunately our friend Pat, who had spent the night, seemed to feel much the same. After Eddie went off to his office, Pat and I read, watched a video and nibbled goodies throughout the afternoon. Our most lively activity was a rather uncomfortable discussion about my tendency to make unneccessarily critical remarks about the institutional church, a church I no longer belong to but she does. I have, as they say, "baggage" from the past. Our discussion helped me further examine that chapter and how it continues to impact my life. At Pat's suggestion I wrote a letter--that I do not need to send--detailing my experiences and their ongoing effects. Pat then read my letter out loud to me and asked pertinent questions.
Opening old wounds is
never easy but can allow for a deeper healing. I feel that happened
today and I am grateful to my friend for companioning me through
the process. The Chinese dinner Ed brought home was the perfect
comfort food, and then he even went out and bought us butter pecan
ice cream. That man is a prince!
SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2002
After yesterday's grumpy weather, today more than made up for it. It was one of those sparkling spring days when you just can't stay inside. Ed and I drove to Ann Arbor, our favorite play-place, and enjoyed the first Sunday Artisans Market of the season. It was a fine mix of flea market, arts & crafts fair, children's carnival, live music concert, flower and plant sale. My acquisitive eye--more like nose--was drawn to a booth with handmade soaps made from local herbs and wildflowers. Their fragrance was enchanting. I bought three bars: lavender, lemongrass, and I forget the third. After walk/scooting through the market, we went across the street and sat in the sun. While there, I took a picture of Eddie that I love. (I apologize to my friends who use PCs--I fear it will be too dark for you to see comfortably.) For lunch we happened on a glorious Japanese restaurant. Ed got a lunch special that he liked very much, and I was delighted to find they served sushi every bit as good as I used to get in San Francisco. We were back home by 3 PM, feeling grateful for having had such a lovely day together.
Ed went off to his office and I spent some time at the computer preparing the photos for today's journal. After a couple of hours I got on my scooter and went down to the park. The outdoor pool was to open this weekend and I wanted to be sure it had; I plan to go swimming tomorrow.
Yep! It's open. Hope tomorrow is as lovely as today. The park was full of folks getting their charcoal fires lit for picnic dinners, playing volleyball, fishing, working on their boats or taking them out into the lake. Children were still in the pool (it stays open until 10 PM), digging in the sand and playing on the playscape. I scooted out to my favorite spot overlooking the lake and sang softly to myself while watching gulls fly overhead and hearing waves splash against the wharf. I'd forgotten how soothing it is to sit by the water.
After dinner--I finished my yummy softshell crab "spider" rolls and sea eel rolls--Ed and I arranged to meet halfway on his nightly walk. He starts in one direction and I go in the other and we meet at a particular spot on the lake and then walk/scoot the mile home together. I was merrily tooling along on a smooth street near our house, singing to myself, when I heard voices behind me yelling, "You dropped something!" I turned around and scooted back to where two boys, perhaps 11-12 years old, were standing in the road.
Well, it was a broken bottle that I hadn't dropped, but the boys, Teddy and Chris, wanted to talk. They asked questions about my scooter--"How far can you go? How fast? What would you do if a robber came and bothered you?"--and then Teddy said, "What were you singing?" I told him it was a song called "My Funny Valentine". I asked if they wanted to hear it and they both smiled and nodded their heads. So I gave a concert in the street to two young boys whom I'd never met before. As I sang they looked at one another and gave a thumbs up sign. When I finished they asked, "Are you a singer? That was great!" What a delightul, unexpected encounter!
Before I close, I'd like to share a reader's response to my journal entry of Friday, May 24. It was written by Joan Badke who lives in Alberta, Canada. I found her thoughts and the way she articulates them to be exceptionally wise. She writes:
Some thoughts about
prejudice, racism, etc. :
An interesting thing happens when one has a point of view or a principle or an ideology different than anothers and one suffers prejudice or violence because of it. The fact that one has suffered somehow seems to give that person or group of persons permission (in our world society) to be "right" in all circumstances as though the fact that suffering has occurred establishes a position that is the correct one. However, racism is racism no matter who does it, prejudice is prejudice no matter who initiates it and atrocities are wrong no matter what "right" person or group commits them. I have seen examples again and again. A person who has suffered great wrongs and prejudice becomes the perpetuator of great wrongs and more prejudice than what he/she has experienced and considers it somehow "honorable" because of their own experiences. As though because of their suffering, they have the right to make someone they consider wrong to suffer. Neither the suicide bombing against Jewish populations nor atrocities at Jenin are justified in any moral manner and both should be condemned by thoughtful people. One action does not justify the other. One prejudice does not give permission for another to be prejudiced. Racism should be called racism even if it is "politically incorrect" to say so. When we look to the truth, the reality, of a situation we must be willing to name things as they are, not as some might wish them to be. If, in the tellling, we offend, then so be it. We cannot afford, in this rapidly evolving world society, to attach ourselves to only one way of thinking, one way of looking at the world. We must be ready to see clearly in all situations without being glued to any specific nationalist, religious, cultural, etc. views. Otherwise we are not being fully human. When one refuses to help another because of some "difference", then that person does not know how to be fully human. When one person kills another because of hatred, then that person does not know how to be fully human. When one does not give up one's own prejudice and hatred, but condemns another for theirs, then that person does not know how to be fully human. With blinders of hatred and fear and prejudice on, we cannot, as a human race, see the wonderful wide spectrum of humanity that lives and breathes and accomplishes great things around us. We see only what we want to turn our heads to see. What a waste of humanity and human potential!
MONDAY, MAY 27, 2002
In the U.S., Memorial Day--today--traditionally marks the beginning of summer. Did this day ever fulfill its promise! Bright sun and warm temperatures brought everyone outside. Ed had gone out to breakfast on his bike before I'd even thought of getting up. When I did arise about 10:30 AM, I called him at his office where somehow I knew he'd be. Almost 36 years of marriage brings with it a certain amount of knowledge of your partner. Soon after our phone conversation, I hopped on Ona my scooter and set off to meet him there. Of course, I went by way of the lake.
Ed's and my intention was to walk/scoot together from his office to the grocery store, but unfortunately his hip pain was acting up so I continued on after he turned back. The shopping district was packed with cars and people; this was the weekend of the annual "Greatest Garage Sale" in the parking garage. Ed and I had gone last year so I didn't need to do it again. That's not really my thing.
After picking up crab cakes, taboulee, baba ganoush and grapefruit juice, I scooted back to Ed's office. While there I checked out the new journal picture I'd put up yesterday. As I'd suspected, it came up too dark on his PC. I'm finding that Apple computers show images in a brighter light than PCs so I have to be conscious of that fact when I put up my photos. Since yesterday's photo didn't work, Ed kindly took a few more today, one of which seemed to work fine. You can see it posted above.
On my way home, I stopped at Robbie's lemonade stand. With his parent's permission and Robbie's OK, I took his picture to put up on the web. I told him that hundreds of people from around the world read this journal, that in fact I'd received a phone call the other day from a reader in Sweden. As I scooted away I heard him yell, "I'm gonna be seen by people in Japan!"
I scooted right down to the park for my long-awaited first outdoor swim of the season. WOW!!! There is nothing like swimming in an Olympic-sized pool with sun sparkling on the water and your eyes catching a glimpse of blue sky at every breath. Pure heaven! I swam a hardy 15 laps of the crawl. Here's a picture of the lap lane I used. Not only was the water wonderful but they'd improved the disabled lift so it worked more easily than ever. No more indoor swimming for me unless the weather turns bad. Even then, this pool is heated so my only discomfort would be when the cold air hits my wet skin. From now until mid-September, the pool will be open from 10 AM to 10 PM every day...and it's only three blocks from my house. Are we lucky, or what!
While at the park I ran into several friends, one of whom I've known even longer than I've known Ed. Jackie Giering was my supervisor at Detroit's Lafayette Clinic in 1965 when Smith College School for Social Work sent me there for my second year field placement. We've stayed in touch all these years. Jackie and Mary Cohen co-own a sailboat that they keep at the park, so occasionally we run into one another, as we did today. I also ran into my swimming buddy, Joan, and her husband Nick. We've been in email contact all year but this was the first time we'd actually seen one another since I'd returned from San Francisco. It was great fun to catch up in person. My other connection was with Dick who runs the snack bar. This year he's ordering me a mushroomand cheese pizza!
It isn't even 10 PM but
all this fresh air, sun and exercise has just about done me in.
A definite early-to-bed night. See you tomorrow.
TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2002
I love days like this, days I don't have any special plans but special things happen anyway.
The morning and early afternoon were spent unpacking another suitcase from California--only two to go!--and organizing some of my papers. I also cleaned out my saved email files--like cleaning overstuffed closets--and answered several current emails as well. The only unsettling moment came when I went to read a new message in my web site Guestbook and found that dadburned advertisement for viagra was flashing again. Second time in a week. Obviously, those folks have found my Guestbook and are not going to let it be. So I figured I could spend my life deleting their advertisments or just give it up and remove the Guestbook, at least temporarily. I chose the latter. Too bad unscrupulous advertisers ruin things for everyone. Ah well, at least my readers can still send me emails if they want.
As it was another gorgeous day and the forecast calls for rain and a cool front coming through tonight, I knew I'd better get out there and enjoy it. I scooted down towards Ed's office, stopping first to get a Peaches 'N Dream smoothie at the Juice Cafe. When I pulled into his tiny courtyard, Ed graciously opened the sun umbrella so we could sit and visit beside his bubbling fountain. How relaxing! After awhile we decided to walk/scoot to the library. There's a high school across the street and as we passed the athletic field, Ed said, "You want to see some good baseball? Just follow me."
Back in the late '70s and early '80s, I was a real baseball fan, as in FANatic. Since that time it hasn't interested me at all, that is not until today. This was the first game of the District Playoffs and two east side Detroit teams, Martin Luther King and Finney, were playing. King racked up six runs in the first inning and six in the second. They eventually won 15-0. We sat beside the King dugout and I was very impressed with the professional way in the coaches treated their players. King has an exceptional pitcher with a fast ball that, when on target, could strike anybody out, but it was hard for the youngster to control it. He hit two batters; one of whom was in real pain. It's going to take awhile for this fellow to grow into himself.
I didn't stay for the whole game. At the bottom of the 3rd inning I took off for the library; Ed had left at the bottom of the 2nd. It was after 5:30 PM when I scooted over to Ed's office with the suggestion that we meet at a nearby restaurant for dinner. We agreed to meet at 7 PM.
My next stop was the high school track which was full of kids competing in different events. I soon discovered it was an invitational regional track meet for younger students. I had the good fortune to encounter a wonderful woman and her 7 year-old daughter, Kim and Whitney, who were there to watch her 10 year-old daughter run a relay. I took Whitney over to the local market so we both could get some chips and then returned to sit with Kim.
It doesn't happen very often but occasionally you meet someone with whom you connect immediately; it was that way with Kim and me. In our twenty minute conversation, we talked like old friends, sharing personal things with an unusual degree of comfort. I hope we meet again.
Ed and I were joined at the restaurant by his buddy, Jack. After dinner--a hamburger for Ed, gardenburger for me and hot chicken sandwich for Jack--I got back on the road. It was still warm and lovely so I thoroughly enjoyed my two mile scooter ride home. As I approached our neighborhood I saw four old friends standing outside talking. It was our former neighbors, Marcia and Jim, visiting with Helen and Don who live kitty-corner from us. What a treat! I miss Marcia and Jim so much; they lived across the street from us for over twenty years and were the best neighbors you could imagine. Two years ago they bought a smaller home just a few miles away, but we rarely see one another. Marcia and I trained for the 1979 Detroit marathon together and always recall one 23 mile run in the rain when we were so wiped out that a 7-11 clerk felt sorry for us and gave us each a Slurpie free of charge. Best tasting drink of my life!
Before I close for the night, I want to share a poem with you. It was written by my poet friend Dorothy in San Francisco. I find it deeply comforting.
Like Flowers Blooming at Midnight
I know all about
living in caves
with my candles and scented prayers,
crossing the desert which never ends
seeking the One who is always near,
spreading my deerskin
in the forest depths
where the spirits of the blue bodied gods
await like shadows of watching birds.
Like the others, I
a story of connection,
something mysterious and inscrutable
we called to appear
with our fires and recitations
our songs of praise
a voice spoke through us
as we sang.
This time I arrived
in a different dress.
I mingled in the streets,
listened in the market
to the restless crowds,
questioned and bartered,
observed as the world
spun down toward its chosen
Already I am being
to take on new knowledge,
move through unfamiliar space,
hear with different ears,
it is happening to us all,
beauty erupting in the midst of squalor,
on a field of pain,
we are being filled with light
we do not comprehend
assaulted by nameless love
as this juncture
of the finalities,
intersection of the unimaginables,
this is why we came.
S. F. , May 23-26, 2002
WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 2002
I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. There I was swimming laps in that huge outdoor pool and I was the only person in the water!! Three lifeguards watched over me like guardian angels and I swam and swam. It was a grey cloudy day with spitting rain, but did I care? Heck no! I was in my element. I felt like I could go on forever and I almost did--24 lengths of the crawl, my most ambitious swim to date. As is my habit, I never stopped or even took my head out of the water except to breathe. After a winter of running the obstacle course of "bobbers" in the slow lane at the San Francisco Central YMCA pool, I felt like a bird soaring freely on the winds.
Now I have to 'fess up. Today I discovered that I've been exaggerating about the size of this pool. Instead of Olympic-sized (50 meters), it is 30 meters. So today's swim was 720 meters or .45 miles. One more clarifying point: I learned that what I've been calling "laps" were really "lengths"; a lap is two lengths (back-and-forth), whereas a length is just one way. If I'm going to brag, I want to brag honestly!
As I swam back and forth for at least an hour, I recalled that just two years ago (see June 19, 2000 in Journal 4 archive and July 24, 2000 in Journal 5 archive) in this same pool I was horrified to find that I--the former lifeguard/swim instructor--could no longer swim a stroke. Remember? But after a summer of water aerobics, I managed to swim a modified crawl for 4 lengths of the pool. How pleased I was to have accomplished that miracle of perseverance. Then last summer I got up to 22 lengths by September. And now I start the season with 24 lengths. Wow! The young lifeguard I shared this story with today said I should go on Oprah as an example of never giving up!
By the way, it might have
seemed like I could go on swimming forever this morning, but it's
a good thing I didn't. I found that I was pretty good-for-nothing
the rest of the day. Reminded me of my mindless state after long
runs during my marathon-training days in 1979 and 1980. All my
brain cells gravitated to my limbs instead of staying in my head
where they belonged. Ah well, that's not all bad, at least occasionally.
It made for a very restful day. I should sleep well tonight!
THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2002
Let me tell you how much I appreciate teachers, especially at this time of year. That job, my friends, is no piece of cake. On hot muggy days like today, it is probably one of the most challenging professions in the Western world. The children are more than ready to be done with school, and so are the teachers. And, to be honest, so am I. As much as I love the kids, my patience and ability to let their wildness wash over me without getting under my skin is wearing thin. (I'm a poet and I don't know it but my feet show it...they're Longfellows). I even got a "teacher's headache" after only one class today. By the time the fifth class had finished their 45 minutes of papier mache--my least favorite project--I was a total wipe-out. So was Susan. And so were the kids.
All that being said, I'm going to miss these young 'uns fiercely. There's something wonderfully unpredictable about children. For instance, how many adults will ever ask me the question a fourth grade boy did today? He came and sat in my walker seat that I'd already asked him not to sit in, looked up at me with his liquid brown eyes and asked in all seriousness, "Why are you nice?" When I tried to laugh it off, he wouldn't let me. "I mean it", he said, "why are you nice?" I replied, "Because it's easier to be nice than to be mean." That seemed to satisfy him.
Today was my last Thursday with these classes. Next week I'll go in on Monday because on Thursday I'll be driving down to Muncie, Indiana for the National Women's Music Festival. The following Thursday is the fifth grade graduation and the last day of school. Susan has already invited me to return next year. Of course I said YES! She showed me her schedule so I could decide which day I'd like to come in. Tuesday looked good to me; that day she has four fourth grade classes, one second grade and one fifth grade. Apparently school starts the week before Labor Day. I know I'll be counting the days!
Today I took group pictures of every class so I can look at them when I feel lonely. How I wish I could share these photos with you but I have to respect the principal's request that I not do so without getting parental permission. Just try to imagine girls smiling shyly or with arms flung around their best friends, and boys with huge grins on their faces pushing each other out of the way in their quest to be front-and-center.
I am so grateful to Marlene
Zuger for inviting me to help out at this school, to Susan Briggs
for being the best art teacher I've ever seen, and to all the
students for making Ms. Patricia feel so loved. I'll be back!
FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2002
This hot summer day had a little bit of everything. It started with a lovely swim in the morning. Thanks to the kindness of a man I know by face but not by name, I had the lap lane all to myself for today's 20 lengths of the crawl.
After my swim, I scooted by the harbor out to the pagoda beside the lake. I sat in the shade and read another essay in Barbara Kingsolver's most recent book, Small Wonders. As always, she made me think in new ways about her subject; in this case it was homelessness in the U.S. I found my idyllic surroundings pointed up the great divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in this country. As someone who has a home, all the food I need, adequate health care, a car and a safe place to live, I need to think more consciously about what that means in terms of my responsibility to those who have none of these comforts. People like my friends at San Francisco's Simply Supper and the women at Day House in Detroit.
A little after 1 PM, I scooted down the lake to meet Ed for lunch at the Subway. I had a tuna fish salad sandwich and apple juice, while Ed ate half of his usual 6" veggie sub and saved the other half for supper. After lunch I went to the store and bought a tube of sunscreen #30, which I applied to my already-pink arms and shoulders before scooting home. Fortunately I'd thought to wear my straw hat so my face was protected.
I passed the high school just as school was letting out. The kids looked really happy to get out of there on this hot day! As I scooted home via the smoothly-paved road--the one I take so I can sing the whole way--I stopped to admire a silkscreen print that a student was carrying home. Julie and I had a quick conversation about the high school art department. It has always had a good number of working artists as teachers. She told me that Jack Summers, the well-known photographer, is still there. Lucky students!
Two doors from home I encountered our neighbor Steven. This fellow--who used to come over to our house as a child--is a gifted artist whose passion is landscaping. He has created a veritable fairyland in their backyard. I asked his advice about my wanting to do something with our front myrtle bed. Well, it used to be a myrtle bed, now it's more of a whatever-seeds-itself bed. Steven came over to look at the area and not only gave me ideas but offered to do the work himself! Of course, we'll pay him, but I would be delighted to have him take it on. By the way, I've asked for this project to be my 60th birthday present. It'll be the first time we've worked on this area in the 31 years that we've been in the house. As Ed always says, it doesn't owe us anything.
The day wasn't done yet. Tonight was my goddess daughter Emily's final high school dance performance before she graduates in a couple of weeks. I picked up Pat (Emily's mother and my friend) at Day House and was tickled to see that Grisca, Shannica and Shamica were going to join us. If you recall, they used to live at Day House and were among my all-time favorite guests. Grisca and her husband got back together while I was in San Francisco and things seem to working out for them. They rent a house close to the girls' school, but Grisca comes back to Day House every Friday to make dinner for the community. She says she wants to give something back after all they did for her when she needed it. A new guest and her daughter, Nancy and Shaeeda, also joined us.
I have never seen Emily dance better. She was relaxed and seemed to be having a wonderful time. As I told her afterwards, she has really come into herself. It was good to see Jason there too.
And now it is after 1
AM and I hope to go to bed soon. I am pooped.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2002
Why is it I can never remember how hot a hot summer day can be? In the midst of winter, everything that has to do with summer is cloaked in wonder. Sometimes the mere idea of going outside without a coat, muffler, hat, gloves and boots is unimaginable. Well, next January remind me of today!
It's not that the temperature was that high, it's just that I stayed out in the sun too long. I got on the road before 11 AM and scooted down to the high school. I wanted to cheer Martin Luther King HS in their district semi-final baseball game. The fact that they were playing the high school that serves our community didn't change my allegiance. I'd gotten quite attached to these youngsters when I'd watched them win their first game in the series on Tuesday. I hoped they'd do well today.
It looked like something from the 1950s South: white players on one team and African-American on the other; white parents and supporters on one set of bleachers and persons of color on the other. I parked Ona beside the bleacher with persons of color and that's where I stayed. While there I talked with some players and a coach whose team was scheduled to play next. That game was divided racially along the same lines. Unfortunately ML King was beaten badly and I hoped for a better outcome for Kettering, my new favorite. A wonderful woman named Rhonda and I had a rich conversation while the teams warmed up for the next game. I brought up my feelings about the Great Racial Divide and she agreed. I think she was surprised to hear me mention it.
That reminds me of a powerful two-day anti-racism workshop I attended in 1989. It was specifically for white activists and community leaders who were already working in Detroit's black community; Rev. C.T. Vivian, one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s top aides before his assassination, came up from Atlanta to facilitate it. That was probably the most painful and transformative workshop I've ever experienced. You can read about it and see the pen-and-ink drawings it inspired on my "Racial Justice" web page.
I'll never forget Dr. Vivian's most unsettling question to this group of 25 committed workers for justice. He first asked, "How many of you have black friends?" Everyone raised their hands. "And how many of you have brought up the subject of racism with your black friends?" Two hands stayed up. I left that workshop with the intention that if I did nothing else, I would at least talk openly about racism when I saw it. So that's what I did today.
The truth is that the community Ed and I moved into 31 years ago is pretty much a white enclave. Each year I see more students of color at the high school but it's still nowhere near enough. This kind of racial segregation is a real problem in the Detroit metropolitan area. Suburbs are white and the city is African-American. Maybe that's one of the reasons I so appreciate the free music festivals downtown that bring us all together. Personally I've always gravitated to communities of color or ethnicities other than my own to offer whatever gifts I could share, either in volunteer or paid capacities. But I wonder if that's enough.
With the approach of summer
vacation, I keep asking myself what I can do in place of helping
out at the Dearborn school where I've been since October. I can't
simply swim and scoot along the lake all summer; I must do something
of value. But nothing has yet caught my eye or heart. May I stay
open to all possibilities.
SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2002
I got up uncharacteristically early--about 6:15 AM--so Ed and I decided to go out for breakfast. He biked and I scooted through quiet residential neighborhoods, including some hidden sidewalks that only locals know about. It's always fun to see into people's backyardsespecially at this time of year. And doesn't breakfast always taste better when someone else cooks it? Ours was delicious.
Soon after arriving back home I put on my suit and scooted down to the park for a swim. On the way I saw three women riding horses on a main street. There is a horse club about a mile away and they must have been on the streets for an early morning ride. I've only seen them do that once before, but, as you know, I'm not one to be out and about much before noon.
My hope was that if I got to the pool soon after it opened today at 10 AM, I'd have a free lane to swim in. And that was just what happened. It was glorious! I swam 30 lengths this time and felt great the whole time. As I swam I realized that endurance has always been my gift, and happily the MS has had no effect on that.
The rest of the day was spent at the computer. After writing that I wanted a meaningful commitment to replace my work at the school during summer vacation, I began to think seriously about using my journal entries as the basis for a book. Many people have requested that I do so but I've resisted the process, always maintaining that these journals were better suited to the internet. And maybe they are, but I feel ready to take a look at them and see. I started working with the Journal 1 archive today.
Before dinner I sat down to write Rabih Haddad. I'd learned on Friday that the Immigration Court hearing scheduled for Rabih, Sulaima and the children has been postponed another six weeks. It is now scheduled for August 6. By then Rabih will have been imprisoned for almost eight months with no chance of bail and no charges having been brought against him. By the way, this is the third time since April 10 that the government has postponed Rabih and Sulaima's hearing. It appears the government will do anything in their power to keep Rabih's hearing from being open to the press and public as the courts have decreed it must. Is secrecy the only way they know how to operate these days? It's hard not to get discouraged.
I wrote Rabih a letter in which I encouraged him to exercise his muscles of hope and creative imagining like I've learned to exercise my swimming muscles. I gave as an example how I had been unable to swim a stroke two years ago and through determined practice and belief in myself, I'd turned that around. If I can swim 900 meters, anything is possible! May Rabih find ways to exercise his muscles of belief in freedom. And may we who are free do everything we can to work for his release. The following letter from his brother gives good suggestions.
From: Mazen Haddad
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 10:42:16 -0400
As you may have already heard, Rabih and his family had another hearing postponement. The hearing that was scheduled for June 19th has now been re-scheduled for August 6th, 2002. Just a reminder, Rabih has been detained since December 14th, 2001 and no charges have been brought against him or Global Relief Foundation (GRF), the organization he is affiliated with.
He was denied bail back in January and his INS hearings are being postponed in an attempt to keep them closed. Even though the previous hearings were closed, the court ordered the transcripts to be released, and if nothing else, those transcripts revealed that there was no reason whatsoever for the government to have those hearings under the veil of secrecy.
Now, five and half months later, we are still battling between courts and Rabih is still behind bars. No regard has been given to his civil liberties or even basic human rights. His family has been agonizing over this for far too long, and just recently, during their bi-monthly visit, they were asked to leave, short of their visitation rights, because the visiting room was getting too crowded, they were told. This is someone who has been kidnapped and held against his will with no charges filed against him, yet being denied the 3 hours he gets with a part of his family.
Please take a few minutes to write to whomever you think would be appropriate to write to, state his case, and ask them to help attain due process and provide fair treatment for Rabih. Rabih's family needs him and he needs them. If the government couldn't get its act together in the last five and half months, then set him free, release him on bail. He is clearly no danger to his community, and he is no flight risk. With all that's happened, he still wants to live in the US. He still believes the US is where he wants his children to grow up. He still dreams of freedom.
President George W.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Attorney General John
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C. 20530-0001
The Honorable Elizabeth
1155 Brewery Park Blvd., Ste 450
Detroit, MI 48207
Tel (313) 226-2603
The Honorable Carol
333 Mt. Elliot
Detroit, MI 48207
Tel (313) 568-6000
Please, your help is greatly appreciated. Let me know if you were able to write or not.
Thanks a million.
Mazen S. Haddad
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2002
Today was my last day in the classroom for this school year. The kids were a bit less noisy today, partly because the weather was cool and damp instead of hot and muggy like last Thursday, and partly because their mouths were stuffed with the Tootsie Pops Susan gave out in honor of her birthday.
Her birthday wasn't all we celebrated today. Last night she'd heard that one of her jazz paintings had won a $250 award in this year's Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition. That is a BIG DEAL! It is the most prestigious watercolor show in the state, one that is very hard to get into. They always receive tons of entries and bring in a nationally-known artist to serve as juror. To win one of their awards is like being nominated for an Academy Award, at least here in the art world of Michigan. I was so pleased for her and announced her good news to each class. They all gave her rousing applause, which she richly deserved. At the end of the day I took this picture of Susan holding a computer-printout copy of her award-winning painting. It was inspired by the color blue track on Miles Davis' CD "Aura".
Susan is not only a fine artist but an exceptional teacher and my good friend. From the first day we met last October, she made me feel I had an important contribution to make to her and her students. She managed to walk the fine line between allowing me to offer what I could and not asking more than I was willing or able to give. Because she treated me with loving respect, her students did too. I wonder if those kids know how lucky they are to have her as their art teacher? Come to think of it, some of them obviously do know. Whenever Susan had a free period, there would be a constant parade of boys and girls stopping by her room to say "Hi" and to share their concerns and news with her. She cares deeply about each student and they know it. For instance, can you imagine remembering the names of 550 children? That's how many students she taught every week. By the way, we're not talking about names like Heather or John or Kimberly, we're talking about Mohammad A. or S. or E. and Fatima and Ahmed, for starters. I was lucky if I remembered two names a class!
I stayed late today to finish my final art project. It was to cut up the digital photograph of me screaming--remember last winter's screaming self protrait?--and weave it into a purple piece of construction paper. Then I left school just like the other kids with all my art projects rolled up in my bag. The only thing I didn't have to worry about was a report card; Susan said I passed with flying colors! By the time I got home it was 5 PM and I was so exhausted I fell asleep sitting in a chair in the den downstairs. Trying to keep up with kids is a tiring job, but am I ever going to miss them.
I know many horrendous things have come out of the shocking tragedy that we now call September 11 or simply 9-11, but my opportunity to help out at this Dearborn school is one of its positive outcomes. If it had not been for my seeing how the Arab-American community was being scapegoated for an action they had nothing to do with, I might never have met Susan or these children whom I've grown to love so dearly. Good can come out of anything.
Well, good can certainly come out of this web world we are creating! Yesterday I received an email from a 19 year-old woman who had found my journal through a link on the National Women's Music Festival web site. She told me a bit about her health struggles, which are significant, and how my journal helps her stay positive. Then today I received the following email from a reader who agreed to my sharing it here:
I was referred, if that is the right word, to your diary by Laura (anifan.diaryland.com) who is quite fond of you and your writing.
I don't have much to say, honestly. I just wanted to let you know that through your words I see what an exceptional person you are. Sometimes I think that there's a shortage of people of your character, and so I want to encourage those I encounter, so the world doesn't lose one due to discouragement!
In any case. I especially enjoyed reading about the seminar you went to in 1989 (on racism). I wish there were more things like that available now. I would go to one. I am constantly reading that I, as a white person, am the enemy, and I'd very much like to change that. I don't know. It sometimes seems like it's an impossible goal, solving this big issue of racism. My aunt, who grew up during the fight for basic civil rights told me once, "Back then I thought this would all be solved by now."
So many problems in the world seem overwhelming, now. Being 18 is nothing like I thought it would be when I was younger. The world has suddenly gotten a lot scarier, and my generation is going to have to face up to it, sooner or later.
Anyway.Thanks for listening. Your writing is wonderful, and I am with your friends who say you should write a book. You seem to have led an interesting life!
Claire [ holdasecret.diaryland.com ]
A poem is never finished,
poet and philosopher
After receiving Claire's email I visited her web journal and Laura's as well. I was pleasantly surprised to read the following paragraph in Laura's June 2 journal entry:
Anyway, I've done nothing today. I did get an e-mail from a woman who's journal I've been reading. She is an INCREADIBLE woman. She had been a social worker until she was diagnosed with MS. I love reading her journal. Because no matter how crappy I am feeling with my Fibro. she always seems to have such a sunny outlook and always brightens my day. Well, I had written her an e-mail telling her my story about my fibromyalgia and she wrote me back. She's very involved with women's rights, children's rights, GLBT rights, and is always at a women's music festival. This coming from a straight married woman in her 60's. She's amazing! here's a link to her journal:
I hope you all enjoy!
Isn't it the unexpected
affirmations that fill you to overflowing? These young women make
me feel like a million bucks. Thank you, dear Laura and Claire.
Keep doing what you're doing; you women are on amazing paths.
TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2002
I am in my home, not my current home but the house I grew up in. I am an adult and the time is the present. I hear a noise outside and look out the upstairs window. I see a very wide orange vehicle pull into my driveway. It is like a military vehicle with no top; kind of like a wide jeep. A couple of people get out. I see them go next door. Soon I hear my doorbell ring. I go downstairs and open the door. Standing there is a woman in a dark blue uniform; she asks to be admitted. Once inside she shows me her ID. She is an FBI agent and has come to ask me some questions. I know it is because I have been in open dissent of my government's wars abroad and oppressive actions at home.
She pulls out a book and asks if it is mine. It is a book by Starhawk, the Wiccan priestess/activist whom I admire so much. I know I do own this book but wonder if I should admit it. I decide to play dumb. The woman wants to search my house. I lead her into one room at a time and am pleasantly surprised not to see any evidence of my politics anywhere in sight. A friend appears at my elbow and whispers, "Tell her about all the bibles you have in your house." I ignore her. I refuse to pretend to be something I am not. We continue to go through the house, room by room. I know that eventually we'll come to the room where I keep my political books and ritual objects. It is now unclear whether I am under suspicion of being a witch or a spy or both. Whatever it is, this FBI agent is polite but determined. I wake up.
I hope this morning's dream is not an premonition of what is to come, but I must say it echoes thoughts I've had of late. With the news of the FBI's recent expansion of domestic powers comes a ripple of uneasiness among those of us who openly express dissenting opinions in these days of governmental policy that states, "If you aren't with us, we consider you to be a terrorist." I've long felt it likely that my online journal is being monitored by either the FBI or something similar. Not that I'm paranoid, rather that I'm realistic. I'd guess that my site would turn up on any search of keywords of interest to those who are waging the domestic war on terrorism. Even the name Rabih Haddad is likely to be among such keywords and if you are a regular reader, you know how frequently his name comes up on my site.
Being aware that FBI agents are probably among my regular readers has not changed the nature of what I write. I'm pretty honest and forthright in expressing opinions that differ from those held by the government, at least those policies we read about in the mainstream press. I will continue to speak my mind and heart for as long as I am able. The comforting fact is that I'm definitely small potatoes in the scheme of things, but the day could come that I am perceived as a threat and my web site could be shut down; it has happened to others. I'd advise those of you who come here regularly to make note of my email address so you could contact me if my site suddenly disappears.
It's hard to write these
things without sounding like a bad spy novel, but in times such
as these we cannot know what the future will bring. I'm sure Rabih
Haddad would not have believed it if someone had told him last
August where he would be spending the winter, spring and summer
of 2001-2002. Since September 11 our civil liberties and Constitutionally-mandated
rights and freedoms have been melting away like spring snow. I
do not yet see signs that the pendulum is ready to swing in the
other direction, so it is best to be prepared.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5, 2002
It never ends, does it. Seems as though it's just one struggle after another. Struggles to protect the earth, water, air, creepy-crawlies, two-leggeds, four-leggeds, plants, trees, natural resources, etc., etc. I'm not complaining, just realizing that one's work intensifies day by day once one wakes up to all that is being threatened by human choices.
Today it was an email from an amazing activist who is committed to the earth and its water. Kym Spring, Community Organizer for the Clean Water Fund in Grand Rapids, MI, gave me a wake-up call about an issue I was unaware of--the U.S. Department of Energy's proposal to transport nuclear waste from all over the country and then store it under the Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The danger in transporting such radioactive materials plus the ill-advised choice of a storage location on a fault line were brilliantly put forth by Kym in her email.
This is an issue that we have little time to work on because it has already passed the House of Representatives and is going up for a vote before the Senate in the next three weeks. It is imperative that we contact our senators by letter, FAX, phone or email and urge them to vote NO. I was dismayed to learn that both of Michigan's senators, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, are currently supporting this bill. Levin refused to even meet with delegates from 100 Michigan groups who are particularly concerned about transporting nuclear waste on the Great Lakes, as they intend to do, and an hour-long meeting with Stabenow bore little fruit. What are they thinking?
I lifted Kym's words almost verbatim and sent the following message to 100 folks on my email list:
What follows is a copy of the message I just sent my senators. Whether by FAX, phone, letter or email, please let your senators hear from you as soon as possible. Within the next 3 weeks, they will vote on the DOE's plan to transport and store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. It has already passed the House so we need to act fast.
I strongly urge you to vote against the U.S. Department of Energy's plan to transport and store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
I am aware that the DOE presented its 67-pound report to President Bush, and it became available for study only three months ago. I believe this legislation is being fast-tracked through Congress in an attempt to quiet the certain public outcry before it can start. It obviously takes time and scientific evidence to refute a plan on which $4 billion has already been spent. But even upon first glance, it is obvious that spending another $54 billion to send 150 million pounds of potentially lethal radioactive material traveling 1 million miles on roadways, rails and the Great Lakes, to a repository located on top of a fault line is both foolhardy and dangerous. As always with such ill-conceived plans, I wonder into whose pocket this money will go.
625 quakes greater than 2.5 on the Richter scale have struck within 50 miles of Yucca in the past 25 years. In 1999, a quake derailed a train there that could one day be hauling nuclear waste. The shipping containers cannot withstand high temperatures like the heat of burning propane in Potterville, nor a fall from a bridge as high as the one in Oklahoma that collapsed last week.
This solution is an illusion. Almost all the nuclear waste, even if Yucca Mountain site is filled to capacity, would be replaced by the new waste produced everyday, even when filled to capacity.
I know the Yucca plan has already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. I beg you to let your vote reflect the feelings of your constituents and vote NO to this DOE plan to transport and store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Please do not let us down.
I received the following email from: Kym Spring
Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 3:18 PM
Both Michigan Senators Stabenow and Levin are currently supporting this plan. Do you know about your senators?
More information about Yucca Plan below:
The Department of Energy (DOE) has been researching the feasibility and potential locations for a national repository for nuclear waste since the early 80s, at a cost of $4 billion. They focused initially on several states, selecting the state with the smallest Congressional delegation (the least amount of votes in Congress) Nevada. They have been working ever since to try and show that burying the wasteunderground at Yucca Mountain is a sound plan, and worth the additional $54 billion cost. Their report indicates that it will take 13 years to ship the waste and fill Yucca to capacity. However, the plan is trying to create the illusion that Yucca answers the question to nuclear waste disposal.
The Yucca plan does not solve any problems, it actually creates more.
Some of the waste would be removed, shipped in unsafe containers and deposited in an unsafe repository. Simultaneously, most of this nuclear waste would be replenished by continued nuclear power operations. We will still have high-level nuclear waste stored at every current location, including the Great Lakes shorelines.
This is an orchestrated opportunity for energy companies to fool the public into thinking they have solved the waste problem and should, therefore, be given the green light to both continue and expand nuclear power sources.
The energy companies
in Michigan have lobbied almost every County Board of
Commissioners, giving out skewed fact sheets and sample resolutions that support the Yucca plan. As instructed, these resolutions have been sent to our U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives from the Michigan Association of Counties, and County Commissions in Allegan, Charlevoix, Clinton, Emmet, Ionia, Manistee, Monroe, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Joseph, Van Buren and more.
The lobbying efforts of the energy companies have been highly effective. Only three Representatives from Michigan voted against the Yucca plan in early May, and already, both our Senators are supporting the Yucca plan. The Senate vote has not yet taken place, but they will surely vote before leaving for summer recess--within the net 3 weeks--otherwise the Governor of Nevada's veto will halt the plan.
For more information go to:
or contact Kym Spring with Clean Water Action by phone at 616- 742- 4084 (in Lansing, MI), or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She would very much like to hear from anyone who takes action on this issue.
It's so easy to say I don't have time or this doesn't interest me or nothing I do will make any difference anyway, but if I don't speak up for the earth, who will? The earth? Its only way of expressing disgust is through what we call "natural disasters". Well, maybe they're not so "natural", after all. Maybe earthquakes, tornados, tidal waves, hurricanes, famines, floods and such are simply our earth's way of saying, "Enough already!" Don't make her speak in destructive ways. Instead let us speak for her right to clean air, clean water, unpolluted soil. Don't give up the fight.
My friends, tomorrow morning
I'm off to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana for the 28th
Women's Music Festival. I'm taking my laptop and hope to have
time to write journal entries but I can't promise anything. If
I remember last year--see the NWMF 2001 entry on my Music
Festivals page--I didn't have time to sleep much less write
journal entries. The entries I posted were written after the fact.
But we'll see. I return home Sunday night. Talk to you then, if
THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2002
This is already a very mellow festival. Of course it's just the first night and not everyone is here yet, but I'm experiencing such a sweet feeling of being with old friends. This is my sixth National Women's Music Festival so I've known many of these women, at least by sight, for years. Each time I come, there is more of a family feeling.
That sense of family happened right away. Less than five minutes after I'd pulled up in front of our main dorm here at Ball State University, I heard, "Hi Patricia! Do you need any help?" It was Deb who has helped at Access Central for years. She assembled Ona my scooter, loaded my stuff on my dolly--I bring my own--and helped me get registered and set up in my room. She even made my bed and parked my car! These women at Access Central really know how to make it easy for those of us who need help.
There was a minor glitch with the housing folks, but they quickly set it right. I'd paid for a single and was surprised when a woman I know came to my room and announced that she was my roommate. I explained the situation to her and went back to the housing folks to clarify that I was to have a single. "No problem", said they, and that was that.
While there I ran into Bobbi and Beverly, friends from last year. We went to the cafeteria together and enjoyed a good visit and good food. After that, I came back to my room, organized things a bit and then scooted off to the Crafts Market. Happily my favorite vendor--Helen of Down Cellar Clothing from Connecticut--was back so I was able to increase my wardrobe! Can you believe I bought two pieces of clothing and neither one was purple? Miracles will never cease. I'll be wearing them during the weekend and will be sure to have someone take pictures.
At 8 PM a song circle was scheduled with my old friend from the Michigan Festival and WoMaMu, Jamie Anderson, facilitating. I got there a bit late and there were already more women than could fit in the circle, but everyone was included. Jamie went around the circle and asked in turn if anyone had a song, poem, story or dance to share. Some women sang original songs, others sang popular songs, and some, like Jamie, taught songs to the circle. I did all three at one time or another myself. My friend Bobbi both sang and recited some of her poetry. And my online friend Laura--whom I met for the first time after the circle broke up--shared several of her original songs. One woman told a story that engaged us all in wonderfully silly ways. Probably my favorite part of the evening was when we older women started singing old camp songs like "Tell me Why", "The Ash Grove" and "The Bear Song". The circle closed pretty early--about 10 PM--because most of us had travelled a fair distance today and were ready for bed.
I'm happy I could share
today with you but I can't promise that I'll have time to write
a journal entry tomorrow. If not, I'll be back home Sunday night.
And now to bed.
FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2002
I never eat breakfast except at festivals. Of course, part of it is that I get up earlier than usual and need fuel for the long days and nights ahead. So this morning I enjoyed the scrambled eggs and spicy salsa I've grown to love here at Ball State University. By the way, their food is great, lots of choices for seafood-eating vegetarians like me.
I met up with the Opening Circle participants a half hour late but happily was in time to join them as they paraded chanting through the Registration area. Once back out on the front lawn, everyone was given bubble wands and soap. Wow!!! Was that ever a success! Drummers drummed as dancers circled amid bubbles of all sizes, some of them positively huge. The children did their part and I heard many whoops of pure joy. What a great beginning to the weekend! And for me it was a special treat to reconnect with Wahru who had created a hand-decorated drum and had it delivered to me as a gift at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival last August. Thanks again, Wahru.
My first workshop was the Reader's Theater rehearsal with Carolyn Gage. We were to perform her play "Battered on Broadway" Saturday morning in front of an audience, so had lots of work to do. Carolyn is a courageous lesbian-feminist playwright who calls it like she sees it; her plays are funny, hard-hitting and extremely well-written. The mainstream may not be ready for her but, believe me, women definitely are. Whenever she performs one of her plays at women's festivals, it is usually standing-room-only. In recent years my time had been committed to the NWMF chorus, so I'd missed seeing her perform. Was I in for a treat!
As it happened, ten of us showed up, just the number needed for the play. The basic outline of the plot is that seven women from Broadway musicals of the past--women like Aldonza in "Man of La Mancha", Bess in "Porgy and Bess", Julie in "Carousel", Maria in "West Side Story"--are invited by Nellie Forbush Debecque of "South Pacific"to an organizing meeting/press conference for a new battered women's shelter they want to build on Broadway. Of course, you need a bit of conflict to make things interesting, so in comes Annie from "Annie" who arrives unexpectedly and announces she is going to blow the whistle on little-girl-abuser Daddy Warbucks at the press conference. This puts the women, especially Nellie, in a bit of a state because they've just received word that Daddy wants to donate ten million dollars to help build this shelter; besides Nellie fears Annie will totally upstage the show. I won't tell you any more--you'll just have to go to Carolyn Gage's website or Amazon.com or your local bookstore--hopefully, an independent women's bookstore--to order your own copy of "Battered on Broadway". Or even better, bring it to your local feminist-friendly theater and put on the show there, or simply have a reading at a friend's house.
Our rehearsal went well and we were excited about tomorrow morning's performance. By the way, in Reader's Theater, cast members sit in a semicircle in front of the audience and use their scripts to read lines. After my morning playing Nellie Forbush Debecque, I began to think I'd be interested in doing this kind of thing more often. I used to act in high school and college and have performed as a storyteller since then, so it wasn't completely new to me. Maybe next winter in San Francisco--I know there's a Reader's Theater that performs at Ft. Mason. It's the perfect solution for a person with disabilities who would like to be cast in non-disabled parts.
I had a lovely lunch with Julia and Anne from Indianapolis. Throughout the weekend I consistently chose to sit at meals with persons I didn't know. It's a wonderful way to hear interesting stories of the lives of women in urban and rural settings around the country, stories I might not hear otherwise. And I can't forget to thank the Access Central workers like Michele who made it possible for me to eat by carrying my tray and filling the plate with whatever my heart desired. Have I told you what a perk it is to be disabled at women's festivals? Help is there whenever we need it; we get front row seats at concerts, and dorm room doors at NWMF that open with the swipe of a plastic card. Pretty cool.
Oh, by the way, here is the picture I promised you of my new blouse that I bought yesterday from Helen of Down Cellar Clothing. I like it lots.
After lunch I went to a workshop/discussion facilitated by Margie Adam, a foremother of Women's Music who was scheduled to perform on Mainstage tonight. The workshop was titled, "Feminist values and politics in women's music--who cares?" Well, 50 women showed up who do care. To me, one of the most interesting times in the workshop was when we went around the room with each woman telling her name, where she was from and what form of activism she was currently engaged in. That sparked a discussion about the current state of the feminist movement in America, the younger generation and their different ways of doing things, the challenge of keeping events like this festival alive financially, and our responsibility to support women with feminist values in music and politics. Margie encouraged us to end by sharing ways to stay hopeful in these times of challenge. I talked about my admiration of the young activists who have been teaching me what it means to be informed, committed and part of a community as we work for change.
Before taking a much-needed nap, I made another trip to the Craftwomen's Marketplace. Yesterday I'd looked at a pair of earrings with stars and a crescent moon fashioned in white and bronze-toned silver with small amethyst and turquoise stones. They were made by one of the finest jewelry artists--and most healing women--I know, Feather of Feather Spirit Jewelry. Today I bought those earrings and put them right on. My 60th birthday present to myself! I then went to the booth where I'd seen a woman painting henna tattoos yesterday. She was free so I sat down and offered her my left hand to paint in any way she saw fit. Well, White Wolf painted a glorious design on my hand. She said later that she kept seeing trees of life that wanted to be painted, and so she did. Now you realize, this picture is of the henna-dyed mud. After that dries, one flakes it off and the design remains stained a lighter reddish-brown on the skin for a week or two.
The evening Mainstage
performances were spectacular: Kara Barnard and Wishing Chair,
Margie Adam, Saffire--the Uppity Women Blues Women and comedian
Vickie Shaw as MC. By the time it was over at 11:15 PM, I was
ready for bed. I hated to miss the late night activities--a dance,
drum jam or Goddess Jam coffeehouse--but my weary body had the
SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2002
I awoke to a glorious warm sunny day. On my way to breakfast I encountered a radiant spirit named Amy. She is just finishing up at Ball State University and was working the desk in my dorm. The students who did such jobs during our festival really helped things run smoothly.
After drinking a quick juice, it was time for me to get over to the Cave where the Reader's Theater was going to perform. Carolyn Gage and her partner Julie Soon made us feel like professionals with their encouragement and helpful suggestions. When we cast members--photos one and two--arrived at 9:30 AM, the audience was already beginning to gather. As I said, Carolyn is a very popular artist/playwright in the women's community; she even won this year's Jeanine Rae award for the Advancement of Women's Culture that is given by the Women In the Arts, the group that has put on the National Women's Music Festival for 28 years.
By 10 AM the seats were all filled, each stair had one person sitting on it, a semicircle of women was sitting on the floor in front of us, and more were standing off to the side. A little intimidating for a Reader's Theater cast that had rehearsed a total of one time! But, you know, it went great. Some of our cast members were experienced theater people and did a smashing job. It was lots of fun for us and the audience seemed to love it. After we bowed to enthusiastic applause, Carolyn invited whomever wanted to stay for a post-play discussion. I, for one, learned a lot about lesbian/feminist politics in theater. What an eye-opener!
On my way back to the dorm I was delighted to see some women allowing themselves to mellow out. It was just that kind of a summer day.
Lunch tasted especially good because I hadn't had any breakfast. When I asked a cafeteria worker where I could find the tunafish salad--I'd had it yesterday and it was delicious--she went in the back and made me some! That's another plus about Ball State U--the people who work in the cafeteria not only make great food but are so thoughtful. And speaking of thoughtful, Access Central worker Linda was my smiling food-carrier for several meals. Thanks, Linda.
I had interesting table companions again; this time it was Carol and Pat. Actually, Carol Miller and I made a significant connection regarding her work on the fourth edition of her textbook, Nursing Care of Older Adults: Theory & Practice. She's been looking for new photos of active older adults and persons with disabilities. After I shared about my web site, especially this photo-rich journal, she exclaimed, "I knew there was something special you had to offer when you sat down!" It would be great if my site could be a resource for her. Just what I like to hear.
My next activity fit into today's theme of "Do something you don't usually do." In honor of my upcoming 60th birthday I had said to myself to just go for it, whatever "it" might be. In this case it was singing my Body song at the Open Mic. Happily, some of my friends preceded me: first, Laura sang a terrific original song--that woman has talent!--and second, it was Heidi reading her poetry. It didn't hurt that the MC was Debra whom I've sung with for years in the One World Inspirational Choir at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (here's a picture of Debra with her partner Carole).
What a blast! I could see smiling faces everywhere I looked, so I never even got nervous. You know, I've finally figured out why I no longer get stage fright, no matter how large the audience or who's in it: it's because I no longer fear making a fool of myself. I mean, who cares anyway? If I mess up, everyone understands. We've all been there, right?
Since the Open Mic was in the Crafts area I just had to take advantage of that. Surprise, surprise! This time I found gifts for someone besides myself ;-) My goddess daughter Emily is graduating from high school so I wanted something special for her. Thanks to Feather, I found the perfect bracelet to grace her long lovely dancerly arms. And I wanted a gift for Susan, the art teacher who has been so generous as to allow me join her classes this year. I won't tell you what I got her because she reads my journal. I want it to be a surprise.
On my way back to my room for a little quiet time before dinner, I saw an amazing vision. When I asked if I could take their picture for my journal, these two women gave me the best they had to offer. Dumb me! It was Bitch and Animal, who were performing at the much-acclaimed SheRocks! Concert. One of my few disappointments of the weekend was that I couldn't take in that concert too. But it is simply impossible to do everything, says she who tries her darnedest!
Do you want to hear my only other disappointment? It's that I didn't think to take a picture of Jamie Anderson, her partner Leigh and their two Moms. Jamie's mother Joy had come from Arizona, and Leigh's mother Jo had come from Wyoming. Now that deserves to be celebrated with a picture! Jamie may find one that someone else took; if she does, I'll put it right here.
I want to celebrate a really cool woman I met today. Her name is Carol and she was carrying the most beautiful handpainted cane I've ever seen. When I asked her about it, she showed me the hidden cats prancing throughout the design. Definitely my kind of woman.
I can hardly remember dinner because of what happened next. Mainstage opened with one of the most incredible acts I've ever seen...and that's saying something! Giwayen Mata is what they call "a dynamic, soul-stirring all sistah dance, percussion, and vocal ensemble" out of Atlanta. How would I describe them? A blend of popcorn popping on a hot fire, summer nights on the front porch watching shooting stars explode overhead and being nestled deep in your mama's womb. That's the best I can do. All I can say is, book them at your festival, local concert hall, conference, college or ask them to give a workshop! Anytime you want a taste of life, energy, exuberance, talent, excitement and community-building, call on Giwayen Mata. Besides, they are simply delightful individuals. You know where I want to see them? The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Let's lobby for it to happen in 2003!
Now I don't want to make it sound like they were the only great act on Mainstage tonight. We had two of my favorite performers. The first was Laura Love whose blend of Afro, Celtic, folk, Applachian and hip-hop has to be heard to be believed. That is not to mention her yodelling. Actually I had my five seconds of fame during Laura's set. She was teaching the audience to yodel when her partner said, "Now why don't you try it on your own...go ahead, lady in red!" She was pointing at me, so I belted it out. Went pretty durn well, if I do say so myself. Whoopie!
The final act was Suede. I've been trying to think of how to describe Suede's voice. What comes to mind is somewhere between a warm knife sliding through cold butter and the slippery feel of buttered hands pulling hot taffy. Sorry for sounding so oral but there's where she sends me. That woman has one of our time's great voices, and I haven't even mentioned how she accompanies herself on the piano, guitar and trumpet. Yes, trumpet! She does it all and has the audience in the palm of her hand the whole time. I was ecstatic to hear she has a new CD, "On the Day We Met". I'm listening to it right now and find myself pushing the repeat button over and over. Buy it! Trust me.
You may wonder how I got these photos of the performers since you're not allowed to take flash pictures in settings such as this. Well, I have Carol Daniels, NWMF photographer, to thank. She told me that the stage lights are so bright you don't need to use a flash. By durn, she was right. Happily, now I can finally show you the fabulous lighting and staging at this festival. Actually, every performer I've ever heard raves about the professionalism of the stage crews, sound and lighting of every women's music festival they play.
Remember last NWMF and what is now called the "Mainstage Miracle"? That was when they raised over $30,000 to save the festival, essentially by passing a hat--OK, more like passing the comedian Vickie Shaw and singer/songwriter/bellydancer Jamie Anderson--around. We saw a more sedate version of that fundraising technique tonight with Vickie Shaw doing things like sitting on people's laps--like that of lucky Heidi--and letting women who gave donations unpin WIA (Women In the Arts) buttons from strategically-placed parts of her blouse and shorts. This year's fundraising miracle was an auction that netted $21,000. Festi-goers will do whatever's necessary to keep NWMF healthy...and have fun doing it!
I'm happy to say I didn't
crump out tonight. After the Mainstage concert I ran into my Detroit
friends, Nancy and Judith, and together we went to the latenight
drum jam. Wahru
was facilitating, some members of Giwayen Mata were there, dancers
moved to the rhythms, and women with drums covered every inch
of that lounge. When I left right before 1 AM, they were still
SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2002
I'm back! I'm back! Tired and happy all at the same time. Tired because I stayed up drumming at Wahru's drum jam last night until 1 AM, then downloaded and worked on yesterday's journal pictures until about 2 AM, and packed until I fell into bed at 2:30 AM. This was after a very full napless day that I will write about tomorrow. I did let myself "sleep in" until 9:30 AM this morning, but from then on this day was non-stop. No complaints, mind, just stating a fact.
Remember, I said tired and happy. I am happy because I had an absolutely glorious weekend at the 28th annual National Women's Music Festival at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana!
As for today, my first order of business was breakfast, followed by loading the car with all my stuff. That stuff included two drums, my cow bells, Vietnamese wooden frog instrument and digeridoo, not to mention clothes, pillow and blanket. By the way, I want to say a huge thank you to Carol for doing that job with such grace and patience. After the car was loaded--I'd already handed in my dorm room key--I scooted over to the auditorium where the festi-goers were performing on the Limelight Stage. I was over an hour late but managed to see, and more importantly hear, the fabulous NWMF Drum Chorus perform with Wahru their inspired and inspiring director. They were also fortunate to have two members of last night's Mainstage sensations from the drum/dance troupe Giwayen Mata drumming with them. I apologize for the blurry pictures but they give you some small idea of the life and energy that was on that stage.
Next up was the NWMF Chorus (pictures one and two). This was the first time in three years that I've not sung with them, so it was a special treat for me to sit in the audience and hear my sisters sing. They were excellent! And this excellence didn't come easily. Justina Golden, the NWMF Chorus director for 2000 and 2001, hurt her back the night before she was to come to Muncie, so the woman who was scheduled to give a Balkan singing workshop arrived on Thursday to the news that she was the new chorus director for 2002! As if that wasn't enough, the airlines lost her luggage and as of today it had still not shown up. Is this woman on a learning curve , or what! But Amity Baker and the chorus members pulled together in creative ways and put on a superb concert. Amity taught them two songs--one Balkan and one Shape Note singing--and Brandy, one of the chorus members, taught an original composition, while another member taught a song her chorus at home had performed. I was especially tickled to see that five of the sixteen members of the chorus were my friends from Detroit's Notable Women Chorus. And, although I didn't get a picture of her, the chorus was fortunate to again have Sherry K the composer/performer, as piano accompanist. Ruth Rowan signed the songs for hearing impaired members of the audience...beautifully I might add.
The final act captured our hearts--it was the annual NWMF children's parade/performance. The little ones who had been in child care during the weekend treated us to songs, dances, a parade, animal sounds and just their delightful young selves. And the adults on stage--some parents, some child care workers and volunteers--were as wonderful to watch as the kids. When you look at the picture linked to the word "parade", you'll see a tiny girl dressed in a tie-dye romper. Well, she looks positively sparkling in that photo, but a few minutes before, she was in tears--see the first photo linked to "songs". Would that we adults could go from tears to smiles so quickly!
Walk/scooting back to our main dorm, I joined Wahru and a cofounder of Giwayen Mata (I wish I knew her name). Wahru was in a hurry so I was surprised when she stopped suddenly and started peering intently at the sidewalk. She said, "Hey, look at this!" There were two ants carrying a twig at least ten times their size; on one end of the twig was a small worm. These workers were slowly making their way across what must have seemed like an endless expanse of sidewalk, trying to get to the other side and the safety of grass. The three of us were looking down at this wonder of nature when two festi-goers approached. They were obviously on their way to the dorm too. We said, "Isn't this amazing?" or something like that. One of the women glanced down at the ants and immediately picked them and their twig up and threw them onto the grass. I guess she thought she was saving them from being stepped on but there was something so unthinking about this action that I found myself crying out, "Why'd you do that? Why'd you mess with nature? They were doing OK." I mean she hadn't even looked to see in which direction these worker ants were going. Actually she flung them back where they had come from. She and her friend walked on as the three of us stood there, rooted to the spot. I was visibly disturbed but Wahru burst out laughing and pointed to the side of the sidewalk where the ants had landed. There was one ant trudging back up onto the sidewalk carrying her/his treasure. As Wahru said, "Nothing's gonna stop that ant!"
I thought of this story later tonight when I read an email from Sulaima, the wife of still-imprisoned Muslim cleric Rabih Haddad, with the subject heading, "It really hurts." May we be like that worker ant and just keep on keepin' on no matter where we're flung.
Once back at the dorm, I got a quick lunch. Then Kiwa from Security helped put Ona my scooter in the car. By 1:30 PM Central Time, I was on the road heading north. That five hour drive felt pretty long but with the help of my air conditioner--hot, hot day!--and my CDs, I made it home by 7:30 PM Eastern Time. Soon Eddie was there to unpack my car, listen to my stories and give me the spinach pie and hummous I'd requested he buy me for dinner. That is one sweet man.
And now it is getting
on towards midnight and all I want to do is go to bed. After I
swim in the morning, I'll work on putting up journal entries for
Friday and Saturday. It's sure good to be home.
MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2002
Friends, I've just completed
the journal entry for Friday, June 7 at the National Women's Music
Festival and it is now 1 AM. I just don't have it in me to write
any more. I'm sure you understand. So check out Friday's entry
and enjoy! I also added a vignette about ants to yesterday's entry;
you might want to read that too.
TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2002
I thought I'd best start today's journal entry earlier than yesterday so it might have a chance to exist. It is now 6 PM and I'm in between activities...for a couple of hours anyway.
We're having blistering heat and it caught up with me today. My water aerobics friends, Joan and Brigitte, had invited me to an early birthday lunch at a very nice local restaurant. Of course I scooted there. I thought I was prepared with straw hat and sunblock, but on the way home it was hotter than ever, even down by the lake. I got inside our front door and dropped my salad carry-out container on the floor. I knew by then I was not in top form so didn't even try to lean down and clean it up.
I must say, one of the bothers for me these days is that my hands don't operate real well so I have a tendency to drop things. That would be OK except that the same problem with my less-than-able hands makes it a real challenge to lean down and try to pick up what I've dropped. Actually, leaning down at all is a bit risky because of my balance issues. All this to say that when I got to the refrigerator and again dropped the container trying to put it on a shelf, I was, as my Southern mama would say, fit to be tied. I just walked out of the kitchen and called Ed, my hero, and asked him to please clean up the two messes I'd made when he got home. He kindly agreed, good man that he is. I took my heat-exhausted self upstairs and stretched out on my bed with the window fan drawing air across my body. After a half hour I felt human again.
But the lunch with my friends was wonderful. Both of them read my journal so know what's going on with me. I find it relaxing to be with folks who already know my stories. The only new thing to share was that I've now spent about four hours working on my book project. This morning I wrote the first draft of my preface and continued pulling together the journals that I intend to be my first chapter; these are from winter 2000 in San Francisco. Joan, who has been an editor and journalist for decades has graciously offered to be my reader. She is also going to dig out the name of the head of a feminist publishing house with whom she used to work in Massachusetts.
I really feel committed to this project. It feels like its time has come and I'm ready to put forth the effort and self-discipline needed to write a book. As you know, it isn't that I have to produce new material; it's that I have to winnow out the reams I already have. I do intend to write an introduction that will give a brief overview of my life. Just putting forth the journals with no context in which to place them would be like removing a drop of water from a river and expecting people to value that drop alone. It helps to see how things fit together. And I will probably need to add narrative in places where I've left out some of the entries. I figure the book will show me how to proceed as I start setting it down. My experience of creativity has been that all the artist is required to do is start; very quickly the art object develops its own voice and rhythm.
In an hour I'll be going to the District Board of Education meeting at the high school where I'll speak to some issues regarding how our libraries are being run. I was approached by a friend who opened my eyes to old-boy's-club politics going on with the Library Board. For instance, no term limits, no public accountability, no announcement of openings, reappointments from within, and recent revisions to their by-laws that tighten their control even more. The president of the Library Board has been in office for eight years and is expected to be given an additional four years in office. I hear that there is only one person on this seven member board who occasionally questions the president's wishes; everyone else rubber stamps whatever he wants. Because of a building campaign now underway, this board will be deciding how to spend millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. Tonight the Board of Education is to approve the four almost-reappointed members of the Library Board. Well, not before I've had my say. So I'll soon be back on my scooter, but happily the oppressive heat has lifted. Now it's just warm instead of hot. I wonder how hot that meeting is going to get?
Hey, that was fun! I've never been involved in any kind of local politics before. It was interesting to watch the process and the players. The three men on the Board of Education seemed ready to approve the reappointments even though they expressed concerns over the process. Sort of a shrug-of-shoulders-smiling-apologetic approach. But the three women didn't fall for any of it. They each said, in essence, if our only option here is to approve or not approve these appointments, I don't feel comfortable approving them without asking our lawyers what power we have to make the Library Board more accountable. They won over the men and the motion to approve was tabled for the second month in a row. It will be brought up again at the June 17th meeting and you can be sure I'll be there, ready to speak again.
Whoever said "Think globally, act locally" knew what they were talking about. Public accountability, open process, fair representation, rotating leadership are important in every political arena, no matter how small. As my friend said, "What if this Library Board decided to start censoring the library books; what recourse would we have if they're a closed, self-perpetuating entity?" So true. Well, they've got me interested now.
Don't you bet their phone
wires were buzzing tonight? I bet they wonder who is this butt-in-ski
woman and where did she come from? I guess if they thought to
put my name in a web search engine, they'd find out soon enough!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2002
I scooted down to the park for a swim about 11:15 AM. The fellow at the entrance said, "Going to the pool?" I nodded my head, and he said, "Sorry, pool's closed until noon. They had an accident." What that usually means is a little one either upchucked or pooped in the water and they have to "decontaminate" it. I have personal experience of what it feels like to close down the pool. In June 1999 I fell trying to get out of pool and cut open my face. The pool also closes for blood.
Anyway, I scooted back home--it's only three blocks--and wrote a couple emails before trying again after an hour. Had a great swim--20 lengths today--and then went to the snack counter for a piece of "Patricia's pizza". As I ate, I watched the hordes of kids on the Playscape. I was proud of myself for staying out of their business. For instance, when a boy started crying because his brother wouldn't let him on the swinging tire, it would have been so easy to say, "Now, come on. Give him a chance". But I didn't. Maybe I'm finally catching on that folks need to work things out for themselves, even little folks.
The rest of the day was spent writing up my festi-journal entry for Saturday, June 8. Lots happened that day! Late in the afternoon I spent some time singing out on the back stoop. Then Ed brought home sushi for dinner and now I'm back at the computer again. I've just pulled together the National Women's Music Festival 2002 journal entries and put them up as a separate page that can be accessed through my "Music Festivals" web page. Enjoy!
I feel as though I've
finished this in the nick of time. On Friday I'm off on another
special weekend--this time singing with Carolyn McDade and my
Notable Women chorus at a retreat center on the Grand River between
Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI. Just one pleasurable thing after
another. Don't I have a rough life?
THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2002
Do you remember the last day of school? How it felt to take things out of your locker for the last time? To say goodbye to your friends, many of whom you wouldn't see until the autumn? To say goodbye to your teachers, both the ones you liked and the ones you didn't? How endless the summer seemed at that very moment?
What about when you were graduating from that school. The mixture of elation and nostalgia, even though you might not know either of those words. Especially when, for the first time ever, you and your classmates were on your way to different schools. Do you remember how it felt to look around at the halls, your classroom, your teachers, your friends and know it would never be just like this again?
I was privileged to see both sets of emotions--and others I haven't named--wash over young faces today. Some had tears in their eyes, others had silly grins and most simply looked dumbstruck. It is an awesome thing to say goodbye to a place and people, to say goodbye to a stage of life. So it was for our fifth graders at their graduation today. Now you may think it's silly to have a fifth grade graduation, but many of these kids have been going to this school for six years, ever since they started kindergarden. It is the only school they've ever known. Even if they don't like it, it's at least familiar. Next August these 117 youngsters will be going to three different middle schools. That is a rite of passage, for sure. And I'm glad it was celebrated as such today...even with "Pomp and Circumstance."
As the fourth graders looked on--probably with envy--from the balcony, the fifth grade classes entered a gymnasium full of parents with camcorders, cameras and younger siblings on laps and/or running around. They stood so we could recognize them, then took their seats in the first ten rows and patiently--well, pretty patiently--waited through speeches, songs, and the other 113 kids (three were out-of-town or sick) as they each went up on stage to receive their diplomas, handshakes from the principal and teachers, and a flower. I particularly noted the clenched hands at the sides of some of our rowdiest when it was their turn to stand before this august gathering and hear their accomplishments read out by their teacher. It was obviously an unsettling moment.
After going down to the cafeteria for cookies, Middle Eastern pastries, punch and lots of hugs from girls and boys alike, Susan and I went back up to her now-empty classroom. What happened next absolutely blew me away. That was the sight, sound and feel--including lots more hugs--of hundreds of youngsters being let out of school for the summer. It was amazing! The energy that was generated in those halls could power a city for a year, if they could ever figure out how to harness it. It was something I will never forget.
Have I loved, adored,
been enthralled with these kids, or what? I'm going to miss them
but realize that nine and a half weeks goes awfully fast for grownups.
Not for kids, though. For them summer is forever.
FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2002
I'm going to put up today's entry early...very early. In a couple of hours I'll be heading northwest to a retreat center called Leaven that is on the Grand River between Lansing and Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'll pick up my friend Sooz on the way and we hope to arrive by 4:30 PM this afternoon. It's only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from here. We'll return home late Sunday afternoon on my actual 60th birthday. I know I've been writing about it for so long you probably thought it was a done-deal. Almost!
When this singing retreat with Carolyn McDade was scheduled a year ago for this particular weekend, I wasdelighted. It would be hard for me to imagine anything I'd rather do to celebrate passing from my 50s into my 60s than to sing with my beloved sisters. I remember going to Oxbow Art Camp for a week for my 40th birthday, and being part of a three-week immersion program with the poor of Oaxaca, Mexico for my 50th. In each case, those choices marked a subtle shift in focus and deepening commitment to the path I was following. And now it is being with women in a creatively transformative way--as it always is with Carolyn McDade--that will propel me into the next decade of life. It feels right.
So, again, you will be without my daily entry...but just for tomorrow. When I return on Sunday I'll at least say "Hi!" And, as I did with the National Women's Music Festival, I'll fill in the details of the weekend on Monday and Tuesday.
Have a glorious summer
CAROLYN McDADE'S RETREATJUNE 14-16, 2002
I know I've said this before, but there are those rare times in life that you know will stay vividly in your mind and heart for as long as you live. This weekend with Carolyn McDade and 24 women whom I know and love is definitely one of those times.
Sooz and I had a lovely drive to the Leaven Center, that is until about 12 miles before we were to turn off of I96 between Lansing and Grand Rapids. That was where the backup began and it stayed with us for the next 7 miles, or one hour's time. As they say, there are two seasons in Michigan: winter and road construction. Well, we certainly knew which season we were in on Friday, June 14th!
But once there we felt like we'd entered Nirvana. There were acres of land and sky, with the Grand River washing through, a labyrinth mowed into the meadow, wildflowers, trees of all kinds, cozy places to pitch a tent if you were so inclined, and a winding dirt road that led to a beautiful retreat center where we would be creating an altar around which we would sing, dance, drum , speak in the voices of the Council Of All Beings (based on the model offered by Johanna Macy and John Seed), celebrate a 60th birthday (mine), share our stories, and be inspired to be emissionaries of love, truth and healing in our troubled and troubling world. All this and more would totally consume our hearts, minds and bodies until Sunday afternoon, June 16th, when we would go forth to do what we are called to do as individuals and as a community of women who love this world and the earth that is our common home.
Let me say straight out that words are inadequate tools to express what happened within, between and among us this weekend. That's the way it is with Carolyn's retreats. Yes, she's a singer/songwriter, so we spend many glorious hours in song, but it goes so much deeper than our voices; it goes into our cellular awareness and consciousness. These short weekends transform lives. I know that from lived experience as this was my twelfth weekend singing with Carolyn McDade since March 1993. She is the single most significant change agent in my life.
The women who organized our retreat were inspired partly by the knowledge that we'd be holding a Council of All Beings on Saturday afternoon, and partly by their knowledge of these women and their lifelong commitment to justice and peace. We began outside the center at 7 PM where most of us listened for our sisters' voices singing on the winds as they walked from the Grand River side of the building across the grass to where we stood. It was an awesome experience to catch whispers at first, that soon rose into rich bell-like tones that we joined as they approached. Once together, we chanted to each of the Four Directions before proceeding into our many-windowed meeting room to create the altar that would center us all weekend. This altar contained whatever objects we had chosen to bring, plus a candle each of us lit to symbolize our intentions and the gifts we hoped to bring to the circle.
We sang several songs with Carolyn as she accompanied us on the keyboard. Before leaving the circle to go enjoy our traditional Friday night snacktime, Carolyn made an unexpected proposal. She asked if we'd like to be part of a new CD that she hoped would come out in Fall 2003. WOW!!! I'd been planting seeds in her consciousness for years regarding our Great Lakes (Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan) singing community being involved in such a creative adventure, and here it was coming to fruition. Of course we said YES!!! Her vision for this new CD is that it will have three legs of women's communities--like a strong stool--with each singing and recording in their own geographical location. There will be the common thread of each community singing the Longing Series that includes a calling forth on behalf of the local endangered species and verses created by local women that speak to their particular bioregion. Carolyn has asked Penny who lives in Michigan and Joan who lives in Ontario to be co-directors of our leg of the project. But she makes it clear that this music is to well up from the center of the circle and be co-owned and co-facilitated by every woman who commits herself to this work. It is a community endeavor.
After a delightful time of sharing excitement and food, we trundled off to bed.
I was so exicited it took me awhile to get to sleep and then I got up on Saturday morning at 6:30 AM, which my regular readers know is not my norm. A number of us gathered in the sunroom overlooking the Grand River--believe it or not, I forgot to take a picture of that beautiful body of water. Sorry!--and enjoyed cups of coffee and tea, conversation and Jackie's photos taken with her new digital camera and printed on Jan's new photo printer. Technology follows us wherever we go...not that I seem to mind!
What we ate was as integral to our theme of reverencing the earth as were our rituals and songs. Thanks to my friend/our caterer, Pat, and Bernadette, her longtime friend who came from Virginia to help, we ate food like congee in solidarity with the people of China, sweet potato quesadillas with our sisters and brothers in Mexico, lentil soup with members of our global family in the Middle East and South Asia, and a salad made of the beans and rice so many people live on the world over. This helped our bodies stay centered and conscious. As has become a tradition, we started every meal with a song of thanks to the earth.
Once we started singing in our morning circle, I forgot about taking pictures. I wanted to be present in the deepest way that I could; and I was.
In no time at all, lunch was ready and we again sat down to eat. Isn't it funny how hungry one can get simply singing? As we finished our meal, Melanie, Leaven's Co-Director, accepted our invitation to share her story of how this retreat center came into being. If one ever doubts the power of women to accomplish miracles, they should hear this story.
After the dishes were cleared away, we scattered to the four winds. It was free time until 3:30 PM when we would gather to enact our Council of All Beings. A group walked with Deanna through the meadow to the labyrinth, some took a nap, others used the time to write with Judith or to make art at the art table, Nancy facilitated movement on the lawn and I scooted to a spot under the trees where I could feel free to make up a song that my Being, the wind, would sing in the Council.
It was after the Wind sang her song in me that I scooted by myself up the dirt road to the entrance, snapping pictures all the way. This one made me feel even more connected with my friend the wind. I soon encountered Sooz on the path and together we walk/scooted over to check out the guest cottage. Once there, we met Julia, Deanna and Judith. Lisa showed up and Deanna took a picture of Sooz, Lisa and me inside that lovely space. Everywhere you look at Leaven Center, there is beauty...and more importantly for me, handicap accessibility is not just a legal requirement with them, but a passionate commitment. I've never been in any buildings that are better designed for persons with disabilities. Thank you, Melanie and April.
As a group of us walk/scooted back to the retreat center, we met more women until there were enough to take a group picture. Deanna really got into using my digital camera and wanted to take this picture of me with the puffy white clouds in the distance.
Before the Council of All Beings got underway, I ran into Jeanne, Peg and Lisa sitting at the table engaged in one of countless conversations that helped us create and deepen our sense of community; and community is what Carolyn's retreats are always about.
What happened next was the heart and soul of the weekend. The Council of All Beings, as dreamed into being by Joanna Macy and John Seed, is a simple way for humans of all ages to give voice to and listen to the concerns of other Beings with whom we share this planet. Some of the Beings who inhabited our circle were wolves, coyotes, Atlantic ocean, snakes, herons, Kirtland's Warbler, soil, wind, Monarch butterfies, raccoons, rain and more. We took turns sitting as humans in the center of the circle, the humans who needed to hear what the Beings had to say. It was among the most profound group experiences I have ever lived, and I am deeply grateful to Peg and Jeanne for facilitating it and to all members of the circle for entering into it so deeply.
And then it was time for another meal. We ate with gratitude and rejoined one another in the circle for our traditional Saturday night Open Mic. After talking for awhile, Nancy said, "Well, I think it's time." Many of the women got up and I said, "Time for what? It looks like everybody but me knows what you mean!" Nancy laughed and said, "They do!" And so began the first surprise party of my life, and the first birthday party I'd had since I'd turned 14 in 1956.
Now I really am speechless. They crowned me with a beautiful crown of purple flowers, green leaves and purple ribbons that Penny, the party organizer, had created. Julia and Judith, who were sitting beside me, became my ladies-in-waiting to help open envelopes and presents. The cards and gifts seemed to go on forever! I read every card aloud and we passed them and the gifts around the circle. After I thought I couldn't receive another ounce of love, Nancy got up to sing her Patricia Song. It brought down the house!
What does one do when all of the sudden the Universe explodes in celebration of a life, and it is yours that is singled out? It can be strangely hard to receive, but I did my best to stay present, reverential of the process and deeply grateful for everything that was happening. Now I want this for every single solitary human on this planet. Think about it. Couldn't we take the time to celebrate everyone we come in contact with? Outrageously, as I was celebrated? How could people make wars or be violent or cruel if they were enveloped in such love? As Carolyn said throughout the weekend, "We must have faith in the power of love, and the intention to support it."
Finally it was time for someone else to be center stage, and next up was a series of slides taken by a friend of Carolyn's from Prince Edward Island. Her vision of the land, sea and sky where she lives carried us into a quiet meditative state. Nancy shared some more songs and then I asked to read a story I'd written in 1993. My Canadian sister Pat has been begging for years to hear "The Homecoming" again. She'd first heard it in the autumn of 1993 when I read it at the Windsor Women's Coffee House. Knowing everyone was getting weary, I invited them to stretch out on the floor for storytime, and most of them gratefully complied. That opened the door to others sharing their stories. As Pat Noonan said, "The most important thing we have to offer is our story." Her words seemed to validate my intention to write a book based on my journals.
When we went to bed, I literally lay vibrating for a couple of hours before sleep finally came. The next morning--my actual birthday--began with a life lesson that Jan had seen in the placement of cereal boxes on the kitchen counter. Our song circle was deep, rich and transformative, especially when Carolyn shared "Among the Many", an antiwar song she'd written this winter in response to the cruel displacement and destruction of communities of people, the earth and its life forms that government leaders have chosen to enact since the tragic events of September 11.
As I always say, you don't
experience a Carolyn McDade retreat without shedding a skin or
SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2002
This time I REALLY don't know what to say. I have experienced the most gloriously loving 60th birthday that anyone could ever imagine. Actually I doubt if anyone who was not part of it could imagine! I can hardly believe it myself, and I most definitely was there. Whew!
I'm going to show you only one picture tonight, and I think it says it all. This was the start of an hourlong celebration of my birthday at the Carolyn McDade singing retreat this weekend. And then I returned home tonight to the most touching card from my sweetie that I have ever seen. What he wrote brought me to tears. Could anyone in this whole wide world feel more loved than I do right now? I feel overwhelmed, awestruck and grateful, deeply deeply grateful.
And now I am taking this
60 year old body to bed. Yes, it may be only 9:15 PM, but I feel
like I've lived nine lifetimes in the last three days. Tomorrow
I'll start telling you all about it...and I've got lots
of pictures to help me!
MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2002
Today was, thankfully, a "down" day. I didn't originally intend it to be so, but my body had its own ideas. And when my body gets her own ideas, she always wins. Last night I was on the edge of exhaustion after the excitement of the weekend, coupled with the weekend before that at the National Women's Music Festival and a rather active week in between. I was sitting in my chair in the living room and reached down to pick up an envelope I'd dropped on the floor. I lost my balance and toppled over, feeling a crunch of bones in my foot as I fell. It was the same foot I'd broken last autumn. The pain started immediately but no swelling or bruising showed up, then or now. Ed helped me get up off the floor and, happily, I found I could walk if I carefully placed my foot flat on the floor. That was partly why I went to bed so early last night. I'm happy to report it's definitely feeling better but is still a bit painful if I move my foot in certain ways. I'm convinced that all it wants is rest, and so that's what I'm giving it.
When will I ever learn to slow down at the first whispers of exhaustion? If I ignore the whispers, my body simply takes things in its own hands (feet?) and makes sure that I take its advice to rest. If I weren't such a slow learner, I'd have figured this out by now. But I do consider the relatively minor nature of this "slow down" to be a gift.
Speaking of which, the birthday gifts keep rolling in, each more unexpected and amazing than the one before. Today I opened a gift from my dear online friend, Margaretha, in Sweden. She had made me a bound booklet of quotes with copies of her own beautiful photographs. A favorite of mine was by Jeff B. that said, "In Life as in motorcycling, a turn in the road is not the end of the road...unless you fail to make the turn." It reminded me of a photo I had taken of the winding road on the Leaven Retreat center land where we had Carolyn McDade's singing retreat over the weekend.
By the way, I spent at least four hours today downloading, resizing, compressing and creating web pages for 40 of the 75 digital photos I took there. I hope to complete those journal entries tomorrow.
After opening Margaretha's gift, I called her in Sweden. It's always a treat to talk with my dear sister across the ocean. She's invited me to come visit sometime and it sounds like a lovely idea. Maybe next summer. I told her I'd be using Ed's birthday $$ to buy a new digital camera today--the Fuji FinePix 2800 that a friend had at the retreat and I fell in love with--and that I'd like to give her my Hewlett Packard hp315 if she'd like it. Margaretha is an exceptional photographer who always sends a photo with every email. She had mentioned wanting a digital camera so it seemed like a good home for my old friend.
By the way, wait until you see the photos from this new camera! The photos of Jackie's that we saw at the retreat were the clearest, most vivid images I've ever seen, digital or non-digital. And the zoom actually works, unlike my old faithful hp315. I did online comparison shopping and managed to save a couple hundred dollars, not to mention meeting a delightful fellow named Neal who took my phone order. He said I should receive it in 3-4 days. Believe me, you'll be the first to know!
Another amazing birthday surprise came in today's mail. It was addressed to " To Miss Lay Dorsey" and was postmarked in San Francisco. A true mystery. I opened the envelope to find a greeting card with the words, "You're Someone Special" on the front with a lovely painting of a bouquet of flowers. On the inside, "Dear Patricia" was printed by hand in tiny letters, followed by the text of the card that read, "May happiness always touch your life a warmly as you have touched mine. Happy Birthday" It was signed--again in small letters--"Love, Eugene Wong." On the other side of the card, in bold script was written, "Hey, Happy, Happy...Jeff (MCC)"
Do you remember the guest I'd told you about from Simply Supper, the man who was so shy and nervous that he often hopped from one foot to the other? He was the one who had come up to me one Wednesday after dinner, leaned down and whispered, "I love you with all my heart", and then quickly ran off. Eugene was the Simply Supper guest who took the news of my planned return to Michigan the hardest. But I remember his asking me, "So when's your birthday?" I told him it was June 16, and he said he'd like to send me a birthday card. What was my address? I thanked him for the thought and suggested he just give it to Jeff, Simply Supper's director, and Jeff could mail it to me for him. And so he did!
My other gift was the news that Rabih Haddad has been transferred back to the Monroe County Jail in preparation for his, Sulaima's and the kids' INS hearing on July 9. That is another gift. Instead of again postponing his hearing to a later date, for the first time it was moved forward from August 6. Oh, to have Rabih back in Michigan again! To have him within miles of his wife and their four children, in a much more humane environment than that hellhole called the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago where he'd been since January 12.
To be honest, I'm experiencing some personal fretfulness over Rabih's transfer. Today I sent a very special letter to his Chicago address, a letter I now fear may never reach him. If it were just something I'd written I wouldn't particularly care, but this was five pages of personal notes of support and solidarity written by at least a dozen of the women at Carolyn's retreat. It was truly soul-stirring and I would give anything to have it back so I could make a copy before mailing it off again. Ah well, hindsight is always 20/20.
In addition to the news of Rabih's transfer was a copy of a good article about him and Sulaima that was in the June 15th edition of the Toronto Star. I guess I'm not surprised that it was a Canadian newspaper rather than one here in the U.S. that finally printed the truth.
I've just received an
email from Sulaima telling me the story-behind-the-story of Rabih's
prison transfer. Apparently he disappeared for days with her having
no knowledge of where he was. After countless phone calls, letters
and faxes sent by his lawyers, family and supporters, Rabih finally
turned up at the Monroe County Jail. This is exactly what happened
when they transferred him to Chicago in January, but that time
it went on for ten days. Does it sound like a democracy where
people disappear and even their lawyers do not know where to find
them? At least Sulaima said she got to see him yesterday. Don't
any problems we have pale in comparison with what Rabih, Sulaima
and their children have faced every day since December 14, 2001?
May we not forget to be grateful for ordinary lives.
TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 2002
I spent the morning sending a group email from Phillis Engelbert to most folks in my email address book with notice of a Biological Warfare & Disarmament workshop being offered in Ann Arbor, an update on and message from Rabih Haddad, a description of the Mock Trial that was held at the 6-month commemoration of his arrest, and a chilling eyewitness account of what happened at Bush's appearance at Ohio State University's commencement last Friday. For me, the heart of the message was the following letter and poem from Rabih:
LETTER FROM RABIH HADDAD
TO THE COMMUNITY
June 3, 2002
Dear friends, brothers and sisters,
I have attempted to write this letter on several previous occasions but was lost for words every single time. How do I express my gratitude to those who were total strangers to me before my arrest on December 14th of last year but have sacrificed their time, effort and money to show their support for me and my family in our predicament, thus becoming friends that I feel extremely honored and priviliged to have. "Thank You" just doesn't cut it. My giant gratitude cannot be confined to the limitation of words.
You have contacted elected officials, you have demonstrated and protested the government's infringements and excesses, and you have written me letters of encouragement and support. All of this was, and continues to be a great source of solace that I draw upon every single day.
The labor pains of September 11th were an excruciating vanguard of a new human understanding. A new HUMAN ORDER if you will, that you seem to have grasped. There are many around us who insist that this precious baby was still-born. But such are the most precious things in life. Babies are born through the pains of labor. The sun rises after a night of cold and darkness. Rocks have to be crushed before diamonds are produced.
Just like a candle burns and melts to light the way for others, and an incense stick withers away to leave an uplifting aroma of freshness and purity, we must endure until we prevail, and prevail we will with God's grace and mercy.
Recently, a friend and penpal of mine sent me a beautiful poem
she had written wondering what Freedom was. I answered with
a poem that I am only sharing with you because of her encouragement.
It is titled :"Freedom"
Freedom is... soaring
snowy peaks of a majestic mountain range, or
sinking to the depths of your soul
Freedom is...making that choice.
Freedom is ....drifting
an Autumn leaf on a sleepy stream, or
being carried on the wings of a cherished memory
Freedom is...making that choice.
Freedom is ...chasing
rabbit on a blooming meadow, or
riding the chariots of your dreams.
Freedom is...making that choice
Freedom is ...watching
a bumble bee
tease the pollen full fluffy buds, or
being swept up be a masterful symphony of emotions
Freedom is... making that choice.
Freedom is... getting
in a blissful downfall of cleansing rain, or
immersing yourself in God's graces
Freedom is...making that choice.
Freedom is ... breaking
shackles that bind over spirit and
transcending the reality of "matter"
to the boundless realm of faith,
Freedom is making that choice,
or ...not making it at all!
*NOTE: RABIH IS BACK
IN MICHIGAN, AT THE MONROE COUNTY JAIL, AND HAS A NEW ADDRESS.
Please write to him.
100 E. 2nd St.
Monroe, MI 48161
I also started writing and sending thank you emails to women who had helped me celebrate my birthday this weekend.
Except for scooting to
have dinner with Ed and Jack at our local restaurant, every other
minute of this day and night were spent writing the Carolyn
McDade retreat weekend journal entry. Whew! As I tell my friends,
living my life doesn't take half as much energy as writing about
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2002
I have had a lovely day that I'll tell you about tomorrow. Right now it is almost midnight; I just returned home from my women's book group meeting in Canada and must put this sleepy body to bed.
Wednesday was a day when I definitely learned my limits. Would that I could respect those limits before I'd pushed beyond them! The limits I hit yesterday had to do with my maybe-broken foot. It was not a happy camper, especially when I put on shoes, even my Birkie sandals, and tried to walk. My old friend the muscle spasms--remember last autumn's broken foot?--returned and made me feel very unstable. Now, I have to admit that this problem didn't really get serious until late at night after I'd been way too active all day. Remember, Patricia, your body is trying to say, "S-l-o-w d-o-w-n!" The silly part is that even now I wouldn't do it any differently; it was too great a day!
At 10 AM I scooted down to the park and swam 16 lengths of the crawl. It was my first swim in a week and felt utterly delicious. This was a good old-fashioned hot summer day and the pool was full of kids taking swimming lessons. Even the gulls didn't seem to want to overdo in the heat. I scooted out to the fishing dock where I met a 4-year old who showed me his first fish, a good-sized one at that. His grandpa asked if he wanted to eat it and when he said "No, I want to keep it!", Grandpa taught him that you either eat a fish or throw it back so it can live some more. Fish don't keep. Good lesson, I'd say.
I scooted back home and sat outside for over an hour reading my friend Dorothy Walters' fabulous new book, Unmasking the Rose: "A Record of Kundalini Initiation". It has just been published by Hampton Roads Press. I was delighted to see the finished product because I'd read and made copious editing notes on an early draft back in 1998. I highly recommend this book, especially to spiritual seekers. Dorothy is not only a wise, conscious and compassionate woman, but a published poet and superb writer of prose.
By now it was time for Lisa to pick me up for our day and evening in Canada. We used my redmoblie (the Neon) because La Lucha my scooter was nestled snug in the trunk. Lisa drove us--my foot doesn't want to drive yet--under the Detroit River into Windsor, Ontario. From my house, that takes less than 30 minutes, all going well. We tried three restaurants to see about getting food to go but they were all closed for their afternoon siestas. So we arrived foodless but happy at the Peace Fountain park on the river.
I adore this park with its flower gardens, trees, imaginative topiary--find the turtle, duck and dinosaur peering over Lisa's shoulder--riverside walkways, grassy picnic areas and the Peace Fountain. By the way, that is Detroit's Belle Isle park you can see across the river. Today we were especially lucky to meet some wonderful people. Ashley and Nicole were in the gardens posing for graduation pictures. Mr. Barrel of Fun was there, as he is most weekends and hot weekday afternoons and evenings. He brings sound equipment so as to play his children's CD (that is for sale) and sing while accompanying himself on the guitar. Hopefully listeners will drop a loonie or toonie in his guitar case as tokens of their appreciation. Mr. Barrel of Fun also makes balloon creatures for kids like Wesley who requested a motorcycle balloon. Through Wesley, we met and had an interesting conversation with his mother Rachel and his Aunt Ann. Just look at this young un's two front teeth, or lack thereof! Lisa kindly assembled and disassembled my scooter to make these encounters possible.
After enjoying a wonderful dinner at The Taste of India restaurant, we went to Joan's house for the monthly meeting of our women's book group. Mary Margaret, Alicia and Penny were unable to join us, but Lisa, Pat Noonan, Lenore, Joan and I were not at a loss for words. We never are; that's what I love about these women. Although we were officially discussing Rosalie Bertell's Planet Earth: "The Latest Weapon of War", our conversation ranged far and wide. It is so lifeggiving, especially since September 11, to be with women who are strong, politically aware, forthright in expressing their views, and open to new ways of looking at things. Of course it doesn't hurt that we would all be labled "dissenters", both in the U.S. and in Canada, and that we have been in it for the long haul. We also laugh a lot! I don't know what I'd do without them. In the words of our own Mary Margaret Parent with music by Carolyn McDade, I sing:
Listen, listen to the
that beg to differ from the rest.
Listen, listen to the voices
that beg to differ from the rest.
The beauty of each
The power of our truth,
The wisdom of our experience,
Sustain and make us community
Sustain and make us community
May the voices gathered
May the voices gathered here
May the voices gathered here
be for all.
by Carolyn McDade; text by Mary Margaret Parent
THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 2002
More and more I see why my foot is trying to keep me down. I really have been on a tear since leaving San Francisco two months ago, haven't I? It is definitely time for some inner rather than outer-directed activities. Time to put my feet up and take in rather than giving out. Time to be rather than do. Sound familiar? Don't I always say the same thing whenever an injury sidelines me for awhile? And, thinking back, aren't I often put out to pasture around this time of year?
Well, whatever the reasons,
I'm beginning to feel comfortable with the idea of taking it easy.
The best part of not doctoring this injury is that I can still
swim. No cast for me, thank you very much. Woman, heal thyself!
FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2002
Happy Summer Solstice! It's only 4 PM here in Detroit but we've already had such a summer day. Hot humid morning followed by a rousing Midwestern thunderstorm that sent everyone, including me, rushing from the park to try and get home before it hit. I almost made it, but, hey, I'd already gotten wet in the pool so what did I care? When Ona my scooter and I pulled into the garage, the heart of the storm was still over a mile away because it was a little more than one second between the flash of lightning and the crash of thunder. As Ed counts it, "Choo choo train one, choo choo train two..." It did remind me of childhood, rushing to get home before the rain. Remember? We're expecting to get more storms today and although my women friends will have to move their Solstice gathering inside, I don't think anyone will complain. We've been super dry here of late.
That statement brings to mind the fires raging in Arizona and Colorado. May Mother Earth and Father Sky do what is best for the balance of nature. May the 2-leggeds, 4-leggeds, multi-leggeds, no-leggeds, winged ones and slithering ones find safety.
After swimming my 20 lengths of the crawl--utterly luscious on a hot day--I scooted around taking a summertime photos. The lifeguard Kevin watering new plantings at the edge of the sandy beach. A mother and children playing on the beach. Another scene of mothers and children--these sitting together on the grass talking. And finally baby Tatum who woke up smiling from her nap as her mother Cary told me about her experiences as an Event Planner in Seattle during the WTO Summit protests in November 1999.
When I returned home, I was disappointed to see a FedEx devilery attempt notice hanging from our doorknob. I'd hoped my digital camera would come today and I guess it had...only I wasn't here to sign for it. According to the notice, they'd try again Monday and, unfortunately, I'd have to sign for it in person. What do folks do who have a 9-5 job?
I called FedEx and talked with a pleasant young man who, in the course of our conversation, told me about his painful Achilles tendon. I explained to him that I work at my computer upstairs and that it was really hard for me to make it downstairs in time for any delivery that needs my signature. Actually they usually leave before I even make it to the top of the stairs. Well, this young man said he'd make a special note of that and ask that the delivery person be patient. He assured me the delivery would be made on Monday sometime between noon and 4 PM. That sounded fine to me because it meant I'd have time to swim in the morning. OK, I was disappointed because I'm really looking forward to trying out this nifty camera and its pictures here on my journal. That meant I'd have to wait three more days.
A half hour later my front doorbell rang. I called down the stairs and asked whoever it was to wait. It was the FedEx delivery person with my digital camera! That pleasant young man I'd talked to on the phone had called the delivery person and asked him to make the delivery today instead of Monday. May my new friend's Achilles tendon heal very quickly indeed!
So now it's 5:15 PM and
I'm closing down here so I can open up my exciting package and
see if I can figure everything out. Whoopee!!
SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2002
I know the G8 is meeting outside of Calgary this coming week, but somehow I just can't really go there. I don't mean physically, I mean in my heart and mind. I have no activist energy in me right now. I feel like I need a little breather, time to think about something besides globalziation, wars at home and abroad, oppression and environmental disasters. I guess I'm saying that it's time for a vacation. Maybe that's what my banged-up foot is saying too. So what could be better to help me relax and restore than playing with a new toy! My Fujifilm FinePix 2800digital camera, to be exact.
Pat Kolon, who spent her day off with us yesterday, was part of the new camera excitement. She took one of the first pictures; it was of me sitting at the table upstairs where I keep my computer and childhood toys (a healthy balance). When Ed got home about 7:30 PM, we went downstairs to enjoy the delectable sushi dinner he had brought us. There are no pictures because I was too busy eating! After dinner, Pat and I went for a scoot/walk. As we passed her car, she showed me the latest custom-decorated candles she'd made for a nun who intends to send them to Rome for her community's convocation. Shortly thereafter we passed this fragrant flowering bush, and in the next block, a lovely flower garden.
We decided to go to the park and were treated to two views of the sunset, one from the swimming dock and the other through the trees near the children's playscape. I was particularly fond of this picture I took of Pat as she stood looking out at the misty lake.
When we returned home, Pat got some chocolate ice cream and I played with my camera. She left early to go home and study for Thursday's massage therapy state licensing exam, and I took that time to study my camera's instruction book. I was particularly pleased to see in my pictures the same clarity I'd seen last weekend in my friend Jackie's photos, whether they were taken outside in good light or inside in low light. I am enthralled with this camera!
The pictures I've shared
thus far were all taken yesterday. I have tons more from today,
but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to post them, partly because
I'm ready to go to bed and partly because I don't want to overload
you with too much of a good thing. I'll just offer this one
teaser , a photo I took using the Macro setting that lets
you get within three inches of your subject. Am I going to have
fun with this, or what?
SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2002
What a summer weekend! Hot and humid inducing that languor that only summer can bring, the kind of languor that allows you to sit by the water reading for hours at a time. Just what I and my tender foot needed.
Yesterday I scooted the mile and a half to meet Ed at the Subway, his usual lunch hangout. The folks there--Doris and Tom, the owners, and Paul and Elizabeth, two of their employees--are really like a second family to him. Most generous-spirited people. I was delayed a bit because I simply had to stop and take pictures with my new camera! I've always loved these two trees; one, old and gnarled and the other, huge and feathery. I took the feather tree photo using the zoom; it was half a block away.
After lunch, I visited Ed at his office. I'd always wanted to get a picture of his fountain with the Tibetan bells that I'd sent him from San Francisco. We visited in the tiny fenced-in courtyard that is attached to his office. He soon brought out an object that he wanted me to use my camera's Macro setting to photograph. It was the molted skin of a fishfly. On Friday, he'd brought a fishfly--an annual visitor to communities beside the Great Lakes--into his office and had placed it on a sheet of paper so he could study its delicate beauty. He went out of the room for a few minutes and when he returned the fishfly had molted, leaving behind its skin. Ed was mesmerized by the process.
I soon set off towards home. On the way I was delighted to run into three young friends. First it was Eliza and Patrick who were in bathing suits with the hose running in front of their grandmother Julie's house, and second was Holly who is staying with her grandmother Joan for two weeks. When Eliza and Patrick heard me honking my pink Clarabell horn, they came running. And when Joan stopped the car to say "Hi!", Holly agilely climbed out the window in response to my request for a picture. After that was accomplished, she looked up at me very seriously and asked, "How do you get up the stairs?" It was the same question she'd asked during a visit to our house last autumn. At that time I had my foot in a cast and was using my scooter inside the house. She remembered.
It was such a hot summer day that I couldn't really go home yet, so I scooted down by the lake toward the park. At least a dozen boats were anchored in the lake at the end of our street, a true summer scene. Boaters like to swim there. Once at the park, I scooted over to the beach and beyond, onto a shady spit of land. My foot was swelling so I wanted to prop it up on a bench. I read Dorothy's book and enjoyed the breeze off the water. The fellows who had been out on this sailboat said it was a perfect day for sailing.
But soon after they had beached their boat, we heard rumbles of thunder to the west and saw streams of people leaving the pool area. Then the lifeguard closed the beach as well. Ever since our community was hit by a terrible storm in 1998 that swept five people into the lake--they all died--our park has been vigilant about getting people out of the water when there's danger of a thunderstorm. This one didn't materialize--at least not in our area--but I appreciate their exercising caution.
Today was more of the same, except that I went swimming. My twenty lengths of the crawl felt grand; I even had the laplane all to myself. It was already hot when I got out of the pool at 11:30 AM. I set myself up in the shade with my book, and enjoyed lake breezes and views of sailboats instead of the fan-air and computer I would have been sitting in front of at home. Ed rode his bike down to the park for a brief visit and then went off to get his usual lunch and go to the office.
Among my favorite images were these of the Canadian geese who had the beach to themselves in the morning, but took off for deeper waters as soon as one little girl joined them. My zoom took this picture of a goose family with mama, papa and three adolescents. Wonder if this stage of life is as much a challenge for geese as for humans! My, but it's fun to have a zoom that actually works.
On my way home, our neighbor's
nodded their sunny heads at me. Then Ed and I saw a cottontail
rabbit on our after-dinner walk/scoot. (I think the picture's
blurry because I jiggled the camera).Whenever I see such creatures
I remember our dear cottontail companion, Scooter, who spent nine
years of his/her life with us. Scooter was the tiny congenitally
-blind bunny we found in the street during a bike ride one evening,
brought home and allowed free access to our screened-in porch.
S/he paper-trained him/herself and thought the world was made
up of indoor/outdoor carpeting. It was a privilege to live with
a wild creature who never lost his/her innate sense of wildness
but grew to trust us anyway. On tonight's walk/scoot we saw another
reminder of our past, the
Helene, upon which we went to a party thrown by a friend years
ago. She is a real Detroit institution.
MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2002
A day of balance. The first in a long time.
I worked on my journal book for three hours, had a good visit with Ed when he returned home from work, swam 14 lengths at the park pool, and a couple of hours later I scooted two miles to join Ed, Jack and Bob at a restaurant for dinner. On the way there I took pictures of purple flowers against a white picket fence, a sweet garden and a rock with plants growing out of it. Coming home, it was this rose that captured my eye. Not to say that Eddie didn't capture my eye too!
My foot shows evidence
of this balance: it is the least swollen it's been for a week.
Hey, maybe I have something with this self-healing business.
May it continue.
© 2002 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.