To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal
1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal
2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal
3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal
4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal
5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal
6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7
archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal
8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal
9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal
10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal
11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal
12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal
13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal
14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal
15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal
16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal
17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal
18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal
19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal
20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal
21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal
22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal
23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal
25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal
26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal
27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal
28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal
29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal
30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal
31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal
32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal
33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal
34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal
35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal
37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal
38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal
39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal
40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal
42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal
43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal
45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal
46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal
47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal
48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal
49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal
50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal
51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal
52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal
53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal
54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal
55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal
56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal
57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal
58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal
59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal
60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06
To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal
*Now that I have a digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos. Download time should be no more than 5 seconds. The easiest way to navigate going back and forth between photo links and journal text is to click on your "back" button at the left of your tool bar.
TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2002
As my Canadian sister activist Pat was on a train today heading for the "Take Back the Capitol" anti-G8 solidarity demonstrations in Ottawa, I was scooting around town taking photographs of trees, bushes and plants. What does one have to do with the other? I don't know, except to say that when I value the earth, I must work to protect her rights and privileges. And it is the earth and all who call her "home" that are at risk when profit-motive, greed for oil, and military might dominate the concerns of government leaders.
To fight for the earth, we must learn (or re-learn from childhood) to see the wonder around us. This new camera--a capitalistic purchase, for sure--is opening my eyes to the beauty of a knothole in a tree, a patch of earth with a lone dandelion and tiny wild flower, a feather on the sidewalk, cotton from a cottonwood tree carpeting the grass, ferns at the side of the road, a rotting tree and its reminders of the cycle of life, and the self-seeded bushes that surround where I like to sit on our back stoop. Instead of being enthralled with gardens today, I found nature in its raw state most compelling. My search was aided when I remembered the one dirt road that still exists in our upscale residential community. Once there, I saw nature having a chance to show herself without too much interference by humans. I even found a hiding place that reminded me of little Patsy's love of places where mothers and sisters could not find her. I could almost hear their voices calling, "Patsy! P-A-T-S-Y!! Where are you?"
I was where no one could
see me, 55 years ago and again today. I was home where I belong.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2002
Is there anything sweeter than a heavy rainstorm after a week of blistering hot, humid weather? The earth must be licking her lips and saying, "More! Give me more!" Although our walk from the garage to the front door was awash during the storm, I'm sure the moisture will quickly soak into this parched land. And I know there are some in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario who are particularly grateful for today's rain. I'm thinking of those individuals who were responsible for making the decision this morning to postpone tonight's mammoth joint cities' International Freedom Festival fireworks because there was a 70% chance of rain. Of course now the sun is brightly shining again and it's only 7:30 PM!
I continue to take picture after picture. Are you getting tired of them yet? Let me know if you are and I'll see if I can curb my enthusiasm a bit. Ed doesn't get tired of looking at the pictures online; what he gets tired of is waiting for me to take them while we're on a walk/scoot. But, I ask you, could you have walked by this beautiful gloriosa daisy and its yellow and white companions without stopping to take their picture? He was fortunate not to be with me earlier when I saw the scarlet red roses and those with a blush of pinkish-white. But I know he wouldn't have minded waiting for me to take a picture of our house; after 31 years, we both still love this place. He also didn't complain when I took this picture of him writing at his office yesterday. Nice place, isn't it!
Even as I play with my new camera, I am so conscious of what is happening in that heavily-guarded resort outside of Calgary, Alberta. Eight government leaders, each with his--I use the masculine pronoun deliberately--own personal agenda are meeting behind closed doors to decide what's "best" for the world. There's Jean Chrétien with his avowed interest in "helping" the African countries develop--read, become resources for Canada--and George W. Bush using the T (errorism) word in every other sentence to get his (and his oil baron buddies') way. For instance, in a recent speech detailing his so-called "peace" plan for the Middle East, Mr. Bush used the T word 18 times; he did not mention "human rights" or "international law" once. I don't even know enough about the other six members of the G8 to know the nature of their agendas. But one thing you can be sure of: no one will be speaking for the earth or its waters or air or flora or fauna except in terms of how these "resources" can best be used by them and their cronies. What Kyoto Agreement?!?
Do I sound cynical? I often wonder what the difference is between a cynic and a realist.
There's one thing about
these meetings that fills me with hope. Whenever I bring to mind
the thousands of committed activists, young and old, who have
gathered in Calgary to stand strong against these eight men and
the multinational corporations and weapons manufacturers that
pull their strings, I know that the world vision of peace, justice
and equality that so many of us share is coming into being from
the bottom up.
THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2002
I wish I could find words to describe what happens to me when I swim laps, but it would be like trying to describe a state of ecstasy. I go into a place of wonder and harmony, a place that makes me more present even as it sends me swirling off into the unknowable. My mind wanders, but my mind is the least important part of it. And I don't always find that place of wonder; I didn't on Tuesday. That was because I had to share the lap lane with a man who insisted we divide the lane down the middle and each stay on our side. Within that structure, I was unable to relax and find my rhythm. It was a frustrating experience that I will not repeat. Sharing a lane takes concentration but the usual pattern of swimming in counterclockwise circles makes it do-able. I may not go into an altered state--for that is what I'm talking about--but at least I enjoy my swim.
Today was perfection. I didn't go inside the lap lane at all, but swam beside it in open water. Occasionally kids swam in front of me but I found when I asked them if my doing laps there would bother them, they always respected my space. I felt like I was flying. I stopped after 24 lengths but it was like I could have gone on forever.
Is there such a thing as a water mystic?
The remainder of the day was spent catching up on emails, and then scooting down to the office supply store to buy a new mouse. I've been using a so-called "cordless" mouse since I bought my iBook last March. I didn't like it from the beginning, and I like it even less now. For one thing, it isn't cordless at all: there are two parts, one attaches with a cord to the computer's USB port and the other--the actual mouse--is freestanding. The real bother is that this mouse uses batteries...and gobbles them up pretty quickly at that. So I bought a corded optical mouse at half the price and half the bother. Technological advances don't always advance anything except the company's profits.
On the way to the store, I saw some flowers. Surprise, surprise! It is June in Michigan, after all. The first stand of flowers were tiger lilies. I know I took a picture of a day lily recently, but tiger lilies are different; they are reddish-orange instead of golden-orange. Around here, they generally bloom after the day lilies. Next it was purple columbine cascading over a fence, and finally Queen Anne's Lace with a tiny orange insect amongst its blossoms. How I love being able to take these closeups!
Ed and I met for dinner and then he gave me a ride home because it had started to rain.
Is that a lazy summer
day, or what?
FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2002
Today was a lovely sunny day, not as hot or humid as before. After swimming my laps, I scooted over to my favorite spot beside the beach. I was disappointed but not surprised to see that the lake has been "closed" again. For three years in a row, the ecoli bacteria count in the lake has become unsafe by the end of June. They say it's because of the sea gulls and their droppings. Whatever causes it, I'm always sad to see it come; there's nothing more fun than watching kids and adults play in the lake. Fortunately though, it doesn't keep youngsters from playing in the sand.
This zoom is so fantastic! Not only did I use it to take the picture of the kids on the beach, but to capture this moment when the sailboat and laker crossed paths in the lake.
On my way home, I scooted by the garden where last summer I took a picture of a monarch butterfly sipping nectar from a tall purple flower. The flowers are beautiful again and I'll keep my eyes peeled for more monarchs.
My afternoon was spent working on my journal book. I finished the first draft of Chapter 1, which includes the journal entries for San Francisco winter 2000. Pat came over around 5 PM and after a short visit, I lay down for a nap. There's something unutterably sweet about taking a nap with the windows wide open, a fan blowing, and sun streaming in. Reminds me of childhood.
Eddie brought us our favorite dinner--sushi--and we enjoyed hearing about Emily's first week at the University of Michigan. She's enrolled in the Bridge program which offers a well-designed transition from high school to college. And we also celebrated Pat's having passed the National Licensing exam for Massage Therapy on Thursday. Good for her!
After dinner Pat and I
watched a perfect summer video--"The Land Girls"--about
England's women who went into the farms to do the work that the
soldiers had had to leave behind. It was visually beautiful, well
acted and appropriately sentimental. Strange that an avowed pacifist
like me can still enjoy films about wartime. Ah well, no one is
SATURDAY, JUNE 29, 2002
I worked much of the day on my journal book; I'm really getting into it. I guess I'm surprised to find that the journal entries are so interesting, to me anyway. You know, I rarely go back and read past entries what with the time demands of writing a new entry every day. In some ways it feels like I'm reading something for the first time, almost like it was someone else's story. For instance, I'd imagined that when I returned from San Francisco to Michigan in April 2000, my journal would get pretty boring. Well, today I reread those Michigan entries and decided to use them all. I'd forgotten that a lot had happened that spring, including my buying my first scooter--later named La Lucha--and participating in the OAS (Organization of American States) protest demoonstrations/teach-ins in Windsor, Ontario. I may end up doing as a friend suggested, and that is having this book be the first of a series of journal books. At any rate, it always pays to put everything in your first draft; that gives you lots of room to play with your revisions.
My friend Sandra Grace called from San Francisco to have a good long phone visit this afternoon. After we'd hung up, my phone rang again almost immediately. It was Sandra Grace saying, "Oh, I forgot to ask. Can I have your autograph?" I had no idea what she was talking about. But she soon filled me in. Last night she was at the Castro Theater for the premiere screening of "Radical Harmonies", a film about the women's music culture; it was being shown as part of the San Francisco Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Film Festival. And I was in it. I then recalled being interviewed as a spokeswoman for the DART (Disabled Access Resource Team) campers by a filmmaker two years ago at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Sandra Grace said they used two clips of my interview.
There's a pattern emerging here. This week I received a copy of a magazine from London, England, called "Peace News." In it was one of my Word Art pen-and-ink drawings with a quote by Gandhi. I then remembered receiving an email in February from an editor at "Peace News", requesting permission to download this drawing off my web site and print it in their magazine. She'd said she would send me a copy in the mail. Well, with the screwed up postal service I experienced in San Francisco this winter, it took three months to reach me! Time for me to have forgotten about the whole thing.
I'm also struck that, after my asking Carolyn McDade for at least seven years to let our Windsor, ONT/Detroit, MI women's singing community partake in one of her CD recording projects, we have just been asked by her to do that very thing. In September our community will gather in the circle-format Carolyn envisions to begin the year-long process of preparing songs for a CD projected to be released in autumn 2004. We will be one of three bioregions represented.
And, on a smaller note, I think about how I dared to stand up (OK, sat!) in front of a live audience and performed an original song at the National Women's Music Festival Open Mic, a very uncharacteristic thing for me to have done.
Then there's my web site. Just this week I received an email from a man in Minnesota and a woman somewhere far away from Michigan, telling me how much my site and/or journal meant to them. And Jamie Anderson, the wonderful singer/songwriter/bellydancer I meet up with at music festivals, just had a link to my National Women's Music Festival 2002 journal posted in her monthly e-newsletter. Joyce Warner-Stone, the NWMF producer, has also been in touch with me, raving about my festi-journal and asking if they could provide a link to it on the NWMF home page as they did last year.
And now I'm working on turning my online journals into a book. I seem to be entering a public phase of life, some of it by choice and some by happenstance.
How do I feel about that? Well, as long as I don't become a "success", I can live with it. There's a rightness to it all, actually, in that I do believe what my Canadian sister activist/friend Pat Noonan said at Carolyn McDade's retreat two weeks ago, and that was, "The most important thing we have to offer is our story." Our younger years are devoted to composing that story, and our latter years are for sharing it. So I am now in the sharing times. Of course, that doesn't mean I stop composing new stories, it's just that I take time to tell them.
I do love surprise endings! And this day had one for sure. After a quiet day working at the computer, Ed and I took a walk/scoot after dinner (I saw another rabbit). I knew that our community's fireworks display was scheduled for tonight, and that there was to be a live band playing beforehand at the park. I decided to scoot down and check it out.
What fun! The band played fabulous dance music that had the kids dancing up a storm. I enthusiastically joined them in my unique scooter-seated style. And I was fortunate to meet some wonderful people. One was a 7 year-old boy whose mother whispered in my ear that, "He really thinks you're cool because you're having so much fun!" This generous-spirited young man gave me one of those colorful wand-like things that light up at night--all the kids were begging their parents to buy them one--and I wore it like a crown before passing it on to another new friend. She had taken a real liking to me too and had even invited me to dance. We shared a special connection that later transferred to me and her mother. After the fireworks with all their "Ooh's" and "Aahs", this powerful woman of color and I had a searingly honest, eye-opening (for me) talk about her many encounters with racist attitudes and actions since moving to this community 15 years ago.
Tonight I'd not been able
to attend my goddess daughter Emily's graduation party because
my foot didn't feel up to it. Her party was at her aunt's house
about 40 miles north of here and just felt like more than I could
handle. So here the Universe allowed me to party it up three blocks
from home, without ever leaving my trusty scooter. Thanks, I
SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2002
As I swam my 20 lengths of the pool this morning, I thought about the conversation I'd had last night down in the park. In particular I thought about the toxic effects of hatred.
The powerful woman of color I met last night has encountered a lot of hatred here in this community where I've lived comfortably as a white woman for 31 years. And that in turn has bred a deep hatred in her. It reminds me of the Israeli and Palestinian people, of Rwanda's Hutu and Tutsi tribes, of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, of George Bush, Sr. and Sadaam Hussein, of his son George W. and Osama Bin Laden. Every one of these groups and individuals has been consumed with a deep hatred that in turn bred more hatred. What quickly becomes unimportant--and often forgotten--is who started it. The life-altering choice is who perpetuates it. If both parties hold tight to this hatred, make decisions based on it and refuse to find an alternative, death and destruction inevitably follow.
I think of last night's conversation and my companion's vow to use her licensed, loaded gun on anyone who dares to trespass in her home. This is a tragedy waiting to happen. When I suggested we consider working together on anti-racist programs or workshops with the kids in this community, she refused pointblank. "They're already lost because of what their parents teach them."
Racism is a crime. It destroys individuals, communities, trust, mutual respect and tolerance for different ways of being in this wonderfully diverse world. I am deeply disappointed and profoundly distressed that such a destructive force has been unleashed in this community. It makes me feel guilty by association. At the same time I found my companion's hatred to be like a toxic substance fuelling her decisions, attitudes and actions. Meeting hate with hate is deadly.
I think of Rabih Haddad who has every right in the world to hate the government, country and individuals who have kept him locked up unjustly for over six months. Yet I experience no hatred in Rabih. Sometimes he expresses pain, sadness, anger and despair, but never hatred. For this reason, Rabih is more free than the woman I met last night.
Injustice, whether institutional
or personal, must be acknowledged and met head on. It may breed
anger or even rage, but these are not the same as hatred. Hatred
is like a cancer that eats healthy cells and spreads if unchecked.
Instead of hatred, injustice must be met with honesty, clear thinking,
determination to effect change, and a belief in the possible.
Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt,
Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva and Grace
Lee Boggs all shared/share this kind of vision, a vision born
of non-violent, unbowing willingness to do what it takes to break
the cycle of hatred and cultivate peace and justice in its place.
May I be willing to stand at their sides and do whatever is mine
MONDAY, JULY 1, 2002
Without consciously trying, I'm developing a rhythm to my days. I start the day with a swim, then scoot over to the spit of land beside the beach and do a little reading; today it was Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life. Around noon I have lunch either at the park or at home. I then go upstairs to my computer and work on the book for 3-4 hours. Late in the afternoon I like to take a scoot, take some pictures and visit Ed at his office; today I found him at the library. This feels balanced and respectful of the heat wave we're in the middle of. Besides I like it.
Today the title of my journal book appeared full blown as I scooted to the pool. It is I Thought I Could, taken from my favorite book as a child, The Little Engine That Could. That inspired me to write the first draft of my Introduction, starting with the quote: "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could."
I am really enjoying this endeavor.
Speaking of balance, I
think I've been pretty word-heavy here of late. I owe you some
pictures. As it happens I have a small collection of photos that
somehow had not made their way into the journal. They include
a lovely June
garden with a close-up
of some of the flowers, my view as I prepare to scoot into
our garage, boats
and seagulls as seen from my favorite spit of land at the
park, two views of our living room--one looking toward
the dining area and the other looking toward
the front window--my scooting sidewalk beside
the lake, an old wooden
boat that reminded me of my childhood on the Chesapeake Bay,
entrance to a neighborhood, pink
flowers and a frog
TUESDAY, JULY 2, 2002
I feel like I'm already on the Land. Those of you who belong to the FRC (what Ramonajane calls the Faithful Readers' Club) or are festi-goers yourself will know what I'm talking about. For those of you who are shaking your head in puzzlement, I invite you to go to my Mosh Pit Mama and/or Michigan Womyn's Music Festival 2001 web pages and immerse yourself in the wonders of the Land. There's no place quite like it in the world and it will be happening in August, as it has for 27 years.
I couldn't sleep so got up this morning at 5:30 AM. I made my way into my computer/ritual room, turned on my beloved iBook and went to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival web site. I was beginning to get excited enough about this year's festival to want to examine the list of Intensive Workshops and Performances, mainly to try to figure when I could do my two 4-hour workshifts without missing too much. For only the second time this year, I clicked on the Festival Discussion Board. What an active place! I'm obviously not the only one who's thinking about festival!
Once there I learned that the Line--a traditional pre-festival festival--was not going to happen this year, at least not in its usual place. The Oceana County Sheriff's Department has put the kabash on having a three-mile-long line of cars, RVs, campers, tents, womyn and children parked for up to five days on this narrow dirt road that has a speed limit of 55 MPH. Can't say I blame them. So everyone's shifting gears--with occasional whining and irritated oubursts--and trying to recreate a Line-type happening elsewhere. Looks like the local campgrounds are the Locations-Of-Choice. Not for me. I'm fortunate to be staying Sunday night with my festi-friends Kathy and Bonnie in a comfy air-conditioned motel with a swimming pool in town. I'm sure there will be lots of festi-sisters there too.
By the way, there are a couple of reasons why the Line came into being in the first place. Logistically, a good percentage of the 5-10,000 womyn who attend festival every year drive there from all over the U.S. and Canada, so need a place to stay before the gates open on Monday at 1 PM. Secondly, we just love being together and the sooner we can do that, the better. I only started doing the Line in 2000, but was hooked from the git-go. Now we'll all be converging on that 3.2 stretch of county road early Monday morning. I'm sure we'll manage; these womyn are mighty resilient.
Another reason I wanted to visit the Festival Discussion Board was to post a message inviting womyn to come read my festi-journal from last year. I'd had an email last week from a reader who wrote:
What your experience did for me was tell just one of the many stories within stories i was searching for. For instance I've heard of the one world group but you made clearer what it was like to be there and enjoy them along with other groups. Just your few lines were better than the bits and pieces I have had to pull together all these years.
She is now planning to attend her first festival this August. I thought maybe there were others out there who could benefit from "seeing" things through my words and photos. And I guess I was right. I've already received a long list of positive responses to my journal on the Discussion Board. So gratifying and so like my eight-year lived experience of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. These womyn make me feel like a mix between a wise crone and a treasured friend. There's nothing like Michigan.
Let me leave you with a few hot hot summer day pictures. First the pool where I swim 600 meters of the crawl most every morning (lucky me!). You can see the lap lane off to the right. Then a handful of pictures taken on my scoot to and from dinner at an air-conditioned restaurant with my sweetie and our friend Jack this evening: a cooling-to-the-eye green corner of ferns; a pink VW Bug that reminded me of California; a stand of flowers; me and my shadow; Michigan's tall trees; and late sun on the lake.
And the heat goes on...
WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 2002
If the hardest part of your day is trying to pull up your bathing suit over a sweat-sticky body, then you know things are pretty darn swell. I don't always stay conscious of that fact, but today I did.
By the way, I turned upside-down the day's rhythm that I'd so proudly recounted on Monday. I stayed at home and wrote until 4 PM, finishing Chapter Two of I Thought I Could. During the day I also had two wonderful phone visits with my San Francisco friends, Dorothy and Luis, and a nice in-person visit with Ed who gets an award for bringing me a big glass of ice water with lemon in it. Around 4:30 PM, I scooted over to Ed's office and invited him to sit with me as I ate my brealunner--what I named this, my breakfast, lunch and dinner--at the Subway. After eating and visiting, I scooted along the lake to the park. Once there, I met my bathing-suit challenge and gratefully dipped into the refreshing water of the pool. On length #14 I saw underwater that there were torsos with legs walking towards me from across the pool; it was the start of the evening water aerobics class. I stood up and asked if I would be in their way if I continued doing laps there (I was just outside the lap lane buoys). They said, "Not at all! Go on ahead." And so I did.
Although I'd paid my $25 and registered for the afternoon water aerobics class when the pool had opened in May, I had not yet attended a class. I gave myself a lot of reasons--broken foot and the inconvenient time of the classes (from 1-2 PM, when I planned to be working on my book)--but the main reason was that doing laps was so deeply satisfying that I felt no need to add more exercise. Well, yesterday I got in touch with the fact that maybe I didn't need more exercise but I surely did need more time with people. I'd gotten very lonely.
When I told Ed of my feelings, he smiled and said, "The loneliness of the long-distance bookwriter!" He then reminded me of Roger Bannister's autobiography in the 1950s, The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner. Well, it's true. I love to write and I also love people. Since my foot break (or whatever it was) on June 16, I've only seen Ed and my friend Pat (on her two Fridays off). When I'd go to the park for my morning swim and then would sit out by the lake reading afterwards, I'd feel invisible. Lots of mothers with children around and about, but no one there for me. Funny how long it took me to admit this to myself.
Well, today I decided to do something about it. After finishing my laps, I joined the water aerobics class. And there I found just what I was looking for--interesting women to talk to. Judy, whom I'd not met before, has worked with refugees, the chronically mentally ill, and now with a religious community of women; we know many people in common. Liz, with whom I'd been in water aerobics class two years ago, is a band director and music teacher who worked 28 years in Detroit Public Schools and has recently transferred to a very diverse suburban middle school where she is happy. Mary and I have known one another for years; she is best friends with Jackie, my former social work supervisor from grad school days. What perfectly wonderful connections and conversations we had! The exercise was fine too. I will return.
When will I learn that
for things to change, I must openly acknowledge my needs? Sounds
so simple yet is so hard for me to do.
THURSDAY, JULY 4, 2002
"Alter route advised."
I saw this sign on the expressway as I drove home from Dayhouse's alternative celebration of the 4th of July today. Yes, that was our consensus exactly! We definitely advise the U.S. to take an alternative route as soon as possible, hopefully one that will be less nationalistic, more respectful of the earth and all who live here, less militaristic and more humble.
But before taking time to reflect on what this holiday meant to each of us, we did as people did across this country...we had a picnic. We sat as Julie sits in this picture, under the trees beside the newly-painted Dayhouse. Although it was warm and sunny, we enjoyed a lovely breeze and delicious food. DeeDee, who missed the picnic because her aunt was in town, had gotten up at 5 AM to start preparing our meal! And she and Pat had something for everyone, no matter what their dietary preferences. Dee Dee had asked me on the phone last night to tell her my favorite food and I could not tell a lie...deviled eggs. So we vegetarians had deviled eggs, potato salad, Pat's spinach salad and her carrot/parsley salad, corn-on-the-cob, the Middle Eastern food I'd brought, and fresh fruit kebabs. Meat eaters had all of the above plus barbequed chicken.
The food was great but what I loved best of all was just being with these women. My goddess daughter Emily and her friend Nicole, Julie and Janet whom I have known here at Dayhouse for years, our German sister Alexandra who is back at Dayhouse for three weeks, guests Miriam and Regina with baby Justus who had moved in within the past few months, and brand-new staff member Teresa.
After we'd finished our meal, Pat, Alexandra, Teresa and I talked about what the 4th of July means to each of us. Of course, it doesn't mean much of anything to Alex, but for the rest of us, it triggers a variety of thoughts and feelings.
I'd brought along the scooter flag I'd painted last January. I showed it to the women with the words, "This is the flag to which I pledge allegiance." I pointed to the peace symbol, the hand reaching to connect with others, the purple squiggles as symbolic of the snake of change, the gold circles showing a non-hierarchical way to relate, the sun of illumination, the triangle of equality and the spirals of life. I shared how hard it is for me to live with America's post-September 11 red, white and blue obsession that even includes swimsuits and beach blankets. Alex told how it felt to enter New York's LaGuardia airport last week with its flags plastered everywhere, including a mammoth one she had to walk under. She said, "If this made me so uncomfortable, what must it be like for refugees and those seeking asylum in the U.S.?"
Teresa brought out the need to look at the good in this country even while we recognize the bad. Pat put America's current struggles within the context of developmental stages such as one sees in children, with the U.S. perhaps being in its adolescence. Alexandra offered a global perspective that sees the U.S. as overly nationalistic and basically a worldwide bully. She went on to tell of her experiences growing up in a Germany that had little pride in itself or its history. She told how students were taken every year to visit concentration camps so they could see firsthand the horrors of Hitler's regime. For this and other reasons, Alexandra sees herself as a global citizen more than a citizen of any one country; she has no use for nationalism.
As we discussed these issues, a man approached and asked if we had any bread or flour we could give him. Pat went inside to gather what she could, and I invited the man--Harrison--to join our discussion. Harrison spoke of how much it had meant to him as a young student when they'd start the school day with prayer and the pledge of allegiance. He said it made him feel as though everyone in the class, no matter what their race, came together as one. I suggested a more universal pledge like a pledge to the earth might serve the same purpose. He agreed.
Soon Pat returned with a bag of goodies, Harrison went on his way with thanks for the food and the talk, Alexandra had to go upstairs to do some work, and Teresa had already left to finish plastering the wall in her bedroom. Pat and I stayed outside under the trees. We talked of this and that until a woman who was walking by, stopped to chat.
Well, Bertha turned out to be an amazing person. Since her husband's death she has lived by herself in a nearby apartment with her dog, cats and birds. She repeatedly described herself as "the black sheep and bastard" in her family, but who we saw was a woman with a twinkle in her eye and a strength and resisliency that belied her apparent advanced age. It was a privilege to spend time with her.
Before leaving, I asked
Pat to take a picture of her urban
garden so my readers could see it again this year. Her childhood
summers on her grandfather's farm are certainly bearing fruit!
FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2002
After all the pictures I've taken of beautiful flowers, flowers that someone took the time to grow, tend and nurture, I've finally met one of the gardeners! On my way scooting down to meet Jack, Bob and Ed for dinner, I stopped and took pictures of a lovely garden with purple columbine and roses climbing the fence. Even though it made me late meeting the fellows, I just couldn't resist. On my way home (after celebrating Bob's birthday), I scooted by the same garden and saw a woman going in the front gate. It turned out this was Elli, the gardener whose love and attention helped create such beauty. What a delight it was to show her the pictures on my digital camera and to thank her for her garden. She seemed pleased.
I want to tell you a little about Ed and his buddies, Jack and Bob. These three guys have been getting together for dinner for years and years. Believe me, I'm particularly grateful for this when I go to San Francisco in the winters. It's awfully nice to know Ed is not eating alone. Now, about Bob's birthday. His actual date is July 4 and when he was little his family told him all the fireworks were to celebrate little Bobby's birthday. He says he believed it until he was 11! I wonder how it felt to find out they weren't for him after all.
Although I didn't leave the house until 6:45 PM on this lovely cool day, I still managed to feel as though I'd travelled. Believe it or not, my online friend Margaretha in Sweden and I talked by phone three times today! I'd sent her my old digital camera and after receiving it yesterday, she'd taken lots of pictures of her house, her family and their garden. Then the darn things wouldn't download onto her computer. These machines can be so frustrating! After a few emails back and forth, we moved to the telephone. With creative perseverance, she finally got it to work and sent me four pictures in an email. They turned out fabulously well! What fun to be able to share a day like this with my friend; it was as if we lived next door.
Today I also talked by phone with Sulaima, Rabih Haddad's wife. She'd sent me an email telling me of Rabih's father's death in Lebanon on Wednesday, and how hard it had been to go to the jail yesterday to give him the news. I was terribly distressed to learn that the Monroe County jail, the suburban Detroit facility where Rabih was transferred about a month ago, is treating him worse than Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC). He has been put back in solitary confinement and Sulaima and the kids are not allowed "contact" visits, meaning they are separated by plexiglass and can never touch. She begged the jail officials yesterday to at least let her have contact with Rabih for five minutes so she could give him a hug as she told him of his father's death, but they refused. She said it was so hard to watch him weep by himself.
Remember, all the INS
has on Rabih is a minor visa violation. He has been imprisoned
since December 14, 2001 with no bail and no charges
having been brought against him. It is hard to write these things
without screaming. Where is the justice?!!
SATURDAY, JULY 6, 2002
The honeymoon is over. My new camera has started acting up, darnnit. Since yesterday all the shots I (or Ed or Pat K.) took inside the house turned out blurry. I tried both photo cards that came with it, always with the same results. By the way, when you look at today's photos they might not look too bad, but I've doctored them up with my Adobe ImageReady software. Even so, they're not the quality I expect. So I'll call the Fugifilm tech Monday morning and, unless they perform a miracle, I will probably be sending the camera back. Ah well, as I've said before, if this is my most serious worry, life is good.
Other than that, today was glorious. Another crisp, clear mild-but-not-hot day in Michigan. I began by swimming 22 lengths of the community pool. If anyone is surprised to hear that, they haven't been reading my journal much of late! I then came home and prepared for my dear Canadian sister/friend Pat N.'s visit; she was coming for lunch around 1:30 PM.
How I love that woman! Her energy, humor, honesty, passion and political consciousness make for exciting conversation. We travelled the waterfront, spending most of our time discussing the proposed River Voices (Pat's name) project that will culminate in recording a CD with Carolyn McDade and two other communities of women. Pat had more knowledge about the vision and mechanics because her close friend Joan is the coordinator for the Windsor side of the river.
The more I hear about what this year-long commitment will mean, the more thrilled I become. It is a living out of a quote from The Millionth Circle that in essence says, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I see our work together as more about creating a movement than creating a CD, and I think Carolyn McDade would agree. Once this circle of twenty women from the Windsor, ONT area and twenty women from the Detroit area starts meeting, it will determine its own path and way of being the change we envision. As I said to Pat, it also puts me in mind of an Adrienne Rich quote I read recently that said, again paraphrased, women must devote their energies to creating a new world rather than spending any more time cleaning up men's messes.
How I relate to that when I think of men like Ashcroft, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield. Let them clean up their own messes! I am going to use my precious energy and creative power to dream new dreams and weave webs of transformation...always in circles and communities that breed life rather than destroy it. That is how I envision River Voices, or whatever we choose to call ourselves. To be honest, it makes me reluctant to go off to San Francisco for too many months next year. I want to be here!
While Pat N. and I were still sitting in the kitchen discussing important things, another Pat--Pat K.--came over. We moved into the living room and picked up our threads of conversation, this time with Pat K. adding her strand to the tapestry. It was grand to sit with these two women who mean so much to me and listen to their wisdom. Except for missing our sister Ella, it was like the old days when we four met every Thursday evening at Dayhouse to drum and share life. Too soon Pat N. said she'd best get across the tunnel before the Saturday night Casino folks made it impossible. I asked Pat K. to take a picture of the two Patricias, #1 and #2. That's one of many ways we refer to ourselves in emails.
Pat K. then did us the honor of staying for a sushi dinner (thank you, dear Ed). After dinner she and I watched an exceptional Iranian film called "The Color of Paradise." If you rent it--which I recommend--be prepared to experience every emotion you can imagine while gasping in wonder three-quarters of the time. This film about a blind boy, his father, granny and sisters is one I will never forget.
Speaking of Ed, that dear
man just came upstairs to say, "Get another camera like you
did with the scooter, so you always have one in reserve."
Is he thoughtful or what! I'm not sure exactly what I'm going
to do, but it's nice to know I have options. There's no question
but that my digital camera is important to the work I do here
on the web. For instance, if Rabih and Sulaima's hearing goes
forward as scheduled on Tuesday, I can't imagine not taking pictures
of our solidarity demonstration. But no matter what I end up doing,
I wouldn't change for a minute my decision to send my Hewlett-Packard
digital camera to Margaretha in Sweden. No, that was a great
MONDAY, JULY 8, 2002
I guess yesterday was the first time I've left you without advance warning in a long time. It wasn't planned, but, believe me, it ended up being just what I needed.
I know I haven't said much about it, but these last three weeks of foot-healing have taken their toll. The physical healing was no problem--the foot's as good as new now--what got to me was being unable to drive so that I was always at home or within scooting distance of home. I love Eddie and our house but, you know me, I like a little variety in my life. Well, yesterday I made it happen. When Ed wasn't interested in going to Ann Arbor with me, I went on my own. Not only that, I ended spending the night! Pretty cool move, if I do say so myself.
I stayed at the Michigan League. This is where Ed always wants to eat when we go to Ann Arbor, and is where he remembers his Mom giving him a birthday party when he was a little boy (Ed grew up in Ann Arbor). Besides the cafeteria on the first floor and a fast food restaurant in the basement, there is a theater, a ballroom (for weddings and conferences), meeting rooms and 21 hotel rooms (up on the fourth floor). It is next to the Burton Tower, one of the University of Michigan icons.
Actually, the League is in the middle of everything and I should know because I scooted every place worth scooting yesterday! Across the Diag to University Street where I enjoyed a cup of frozen yoghurt--one scoop of strawberry cheesecake and one of butter pecan--at Stucchi's. Down Liberty Street to Main Street. On the way I stopped at the Michigan Theater to check out the movie I thought I'd like to see at 7 PM--"Lagaan", a relatively new epic film from India. I also kept my eyes open to see what kind of food I wanted for dinner; Ann Arbor has LOTS of good choices. Then it was back to the Diag where I watched two little girls and their brother feeding peanuts to--and occasionally just contemplating--the squirrels that seemed to know they had a good thing going and stayed close at hand.
On my way back down to Main Street for dinner, who should I meet on the street but my goddess daughter Emily! Remember, she's in the Bridge program at the University of Michigan this summer and will start as a freshman in the autumn. She gratefully accepted my invitation to join me for dinner. All she said was, "Can we go someplace good? I am so tired of dorm food." We went to a Louisiana Cajun restaurant, sat outside and ordered a crabcake sandwich (me) and a blackened catfish sandwich (Emily). It was good!
We did as we always do when given half the chance and talked on a deep level about life, love, values and meaning. I am so grateful to know this young woman; she is very much her own person. We talked to Ed on her cell phone--which pleased him--and I was a bad influence and talked her into going to the movie with me instead of going back to study. But we did leave at the intermission--the movie was over 3 hours long--and walked/scooted to her dorm where I let her get on with her life. Last night, that meant going to a poetry reading by the Bridge students at the Diag. I went back and finished the movie. I liked it very much.
It was now 10:30 PM and I had one more place I wanted to go. I'd read in the Ann Arbor News that there was a Sunday night music jam at the jazz club, the Bird of Paradise, on Main Street. Couldn't pass that up! Well, I'm glad I didn't. The musicians looked like university students but could have still been in high school for all I know. Whatever their ages, these fellows really knew how to make music. I was particularly impressed with a trumpet player, a bass player and a piano player, not to mention the drummer. It was great to hear them improv. When I closed my eyes, I swear they were so good I could have been at Yoshi's in Oakland. They closed down about midnight and I scooted back to the League, happy as a clam.
The joy spread over into today. I met a fascinating woman at the library (she complimented my clothes, and I complimented her's) and we went to my favorite Ann Arbor Indian restaurant for lunch. This restaurant, The Earthen Jug, is run by Guchi, an old friend of mine from Windsor, ONT. It felt like coming home to an old and to a new friend. I couldn't stop pinching myself.
I drove home in time to take a nice swim and have a good catch-up conversation with Eddie. Tonight I made a sign for tomorrow's Immigration Court hearing for Rabih, Sulaima and three of their four children. It is scheduled to be open (we'll see!) and I'm planning to get there by 7:15 AM in hopes of getting a seat in the court room. If not I'll bring out my sign and take to the streets with the hundreds of sisters and brothers I expect to be there.
Please hold Rabih, Sulaima
and their children in good energy starting at 8 AM EDT. May he
be freed from jail and may they be allowed to stay together as
a family in the US, which is their wish.
TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2002
What I will not forget is Rabih's face and the dignity in his voice. For six and a half months I've fought for this man's right to be free, yet today was the first time I'd ever seen him. And even then it was on closed circuit TV. But it was Rabih, the man I call my brother, there before me in that crowded immigration courtroom that we'd never imagined we'd be able to enter. He was hearing and seeing what I was hearing and seeing. Though, for him, it was on a television in jail.
He sat so still that at first I wondered if it might be a still photo on that video screen that was facing the judge. I was lucky to be able to see him at all. I have La Lucha, my travel scooter, to thank for that. I was parked in the middle at the back of this small room that had more seats for media than for supporters. But a few of us got in and for the first time since Rabih was "detained" (imprisoned), a hearing relating to his case was held in an OPEN courtroom. Until now, no one but Rabih's lawyer and the government attorney had ever even seen this woman, Judge Elizabeth Hacker, who holds Rabih's freedom in her hands (or does it go higher up than that?). But the government didn't give up easily on their demands for secrecy.
The only reason today's hearing was open was because of a lawsuit filed this winter by Congressman John Conyers (Rabih's greatest advocate in the federal government), the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Ann Arbor News and the Detroit Metro Times. In April, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds of Detroit ruled that the hearings must be open, and that the thousands of pages on file regarding his case must be released to the public. The government appealed. It went to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and they upheld Judge Edmund's verdict. The government appealed that decision. However they did release the files for public viewing. Today's hearing had first been scheduled for April 10 and then again for April 24; in both cases the government got a continuance. Of course, each time the hearing was postponed, that meant Rabih had to remain longer behind bars with no bail. And now he has to stay there for another month and a half until his asylum hearing on August 27 at 9 AM. That was Judge Hacker's ten-minute determination today.
But if I have anything to say about it, his conditions are going to get better at that county jail than they are now! This business of there being "non-contact" (behind plexiglass) visits between him, Sulaima and the children is totally unacceptable. Not only that, they have a right to visit for more than 10-30 minutes twice a week. Besides I gather there's a guard whose hobby is making life miserable for Rabih by taunting him, waking him at 4 AM to "give him his mail", and such. That is way out of line. Anyway, I know where to go with such complaints and that is directly to Alexia Smokler, Representative John Conyer's legislative assistant. It is she who has worked behind the scenes for Rabih by giving Conyers information and helping to coordinate his many efforts to alleviate Rabih's suffering. For instance, it was after Congressman Conyer's onsite visit to Rabih at Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center that Rabih was given the option to get out of solitary confinement and to have contact visits for longer periods of time with his family. If you recall, before Conyers (and others) went to bat for Rabih, he was only allowed one fifteen minute telephone call to Sulaima per month!
I keep having to remind myself that this man has had no charges brought against him in the six and a half months of his imprisonment, that he has never been convicted of any crime in his life. Whatever happened to "presumed innocent until proven guilty?" What about habeas corpus and due process? I keep having to ask, is this really America??
Anyway, this morning I finally met Alexia Smokler face-to-face after months and months of email correspondence. I was able to tell her about how badly Rabih is being treated in the Monroe County Jail (just 30 miles southwest of Detroit). She was not aware of these things and assured me she'd let the congressman know. As she said, "Maybe it's time for another onsite visit." So when I got home, I sent an email to Representative Conyers detailing the problems and asking him to conduct an onsite visit to Rabih in the Monroe County Jail. He's a good man; I trust he'll do what he can.
I also had the delight of meeting Phillis Engelbert, a tireless worker/organizer for Rabih's freedom. Again, she and I have been in email contact for a long time, so it was wonderful to see and talk to her in person. Phillis is the woman to the far left in this close-up picture of the rally outside the court this morning. Rabih has written telling me how much her support means to him and Sulaima.
And I guess the sweetest moment of all came when I could hug my sister Sulaima again. She and I email regularly and occasionally talk on the phone, but we'd not seen one another since the demonstration outside the closed courtroom on January 10. As sweet as it was to see her, that is how sad I felt when I heard the lawyer request relief for Sulaima and the children in the form of voluntary departure, should Rabih's request for political asylum be denied in August. The judge accepted the request. That brief exchange made their possible departure very real indeed.
I have two more pictures of the rally that I took from the car--photo one and photo two. After the hearing--which you can read about in this excellent email report sent by Phillis this afternoon--and the media/press feeding frenzy around the lawyer and Sulaima in the lobby downstairs, I scooted to my car, got help from two supporters to put La Lucha in the car, and drove out the front gate. I didn't know there was still a rally going on or you can be sure I would have kept my scooter out and joined them. As it was, I managed to drive by a couple of times, honk my horn and take pictures.
Please remind me of what
I saw enacted in that courtroom today whenever I start fussing
about cameras that don't work and other such really important
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2002
I realized today as I sent my digital camera off to be replaced that I'd best come up with some way to continue bringing you pictures for the week that I'll be cameraless. Ed, for one, would be desolate otherwise. And so would I. After over a year and a half of using photos in my journal, it's hard to imagine going even one week without them. So I came up with a plan. Instead of new photos, I'll be showing you artistically enhanced versions of some of my old ones. This Adobe ImageReady software is full of tricks! Here's just a few of them.
From the Carolyn McDade retreat weekend on July 14-16 at the Leaven Center between Lansing and Grand River, MI, I played with three photos:
2) Patricia (me) and clouds
3) A turn in the path
4) Land and sky
From the land upon which I live here on Detroit's East Side:
2) A daylily
By the way, I decided
I'd probably gotten a lemon, so am going to try another one of
the same Fujifilm FinePix 2800 Zoom digital cameras. If that one
goes bad, we'll go back to the drawing board. But I expect it
will be fine. Isn't it helpful to be able to read customer reviews
online? In this case, no one mentioned having had the problems
I had with inside pictures being blurry. Hopefully I'll get my
new model before next weekend, July 19-21. The Concert of Colors,
Detroit's world music festival that I love so much, is that weekend
and I simply mustbe able to take you with me!
THURSDAY, JULY 11, 2002
My Netscape Composer web design software is acting snarky tonight. I had written today's entire journal entry when it crashed, leaving nothing saved. Computers, computers! They're great when they work and totally irksome when they don't. I also lost the journal picture I'd been using and have no idea where it went.
It's really late now so I'm not going to write very much. In a nutshell, I had a good swim in the morning, worked on my book much of the day, had a wonderful phone visit with my SF friend Dorothy, and went to a free street concert by the Sun Messengers (a jazz/motown Detroit band) that was held in my community's shopping district this evening.
I created a few more enhanced photos, all of them taken originally in San Francisco this spring.
From the SF Botancial Gardens/Arboretum, here is the first view as you enter the grounds. I also played with a photo of the South African Veldt Fire flowering bush.
From the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence easter birthday party at Dolores Park, here is Baggs in his Superdog costume. And, of course, I couldn't leave out these four Sisters in their splendiferous finery.
My final pictures are
of the Bay
and Marin Headlands as seen from the golf course beside the
Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the
city as seen from the top of Dolores Park.
FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2002
My San Francisco friends
Scott and Phil arrived today for a visit. They'll be with us until
Monday. These fellows are like family; as Ed said, they are sacrosanct
in our eyes and can do no wrong. I guess my favorite part of the
visit thus far was when we three sang together as Ed played the
piano after dinner. It is such a joy to have them here. Tomorrow
we're going to explore Ann Arbor. I expect to get home late so
my journal entry will probably be pretty short. I'm sure you understand.
SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2002
It's now 10:30 PM Sunday and I think this is the first time I've sat still by myself since I put up my journal late Friday night. Phil, Scott, Ed and I have had a wonderful visit. And Scott, Phil and I--Eddie stayed home by choice--sure managed to pack a lot into a short amount of time!
Yesterday we went to Ann Arbor, arriving there at 2:30 PM and not leaving until 1 AM. Yes, that's 1 AM! We got home at 2 AM and even though I'd planned to write a brief journal entry, my body had other ideas. I was asleep almost before my head hit the pillow. Tonight we got home at 10 PM after sharing dinner at a suburban Detroit family-style Italian restaurant with Phil's sister and members of her family. Before our dinner date, Scott, Phil and I spent the afternoon at Windsor, Ontario's lovely Peace Fountain Park on the river. Scott had remembered the lush flower gardens from two years ago and was anxious to see them again, especially now that he's anticipating having his own yard in which to plant a garden.
Scott and Phil shared with me on Saturday that they are going to buy a house of their own, hopefully in September. And that house will be in San Diego not in San Francisco where Phil's lived for eighteen years and Scott for all of his life. What a surprise! I'm so happy for them and can certainly see how this will be an exciting new chapter in their lives together--they've been a couple for fourteen years--yet it's hard to imagine San Francisco without them there.
From the first time I visited my heart-friend-and-train-buddy Joel in San Francisco in December 1993, his roommate and best friend Scott, and Phil, Scott's partner, have been like family to me. After Joel's death, whenever I'd come into town, there would be Phil and Scott at the airport or train station, greeting me with open arms and strong shoulders ready to carry my often heavy luggage to wherever I was going. Anytime I'd need help of any kind I knew I could call on them...and frequently did. I can't count the number of times I've stayed with them, first in their Oakland apartment and for the last five years, in their San Francisco condominium. Whenever I'd need to put down a name to be contacted in case of emergency in San Francisco, I'd always put Scott's and Phil's. The depth of our connection is impossible to articulate, but something that Ed feels too. That's why he said on Friday that these fellows are sacrosanct in his eyes and can do no wrong. We can never adequately express our gratitude for all they've done to make my winters in San Francisco not only pleasant but possible.
Now here's something odd: the same year Scott and Phil have decided to leave San Francisco, I've pretty much decided to stay in Michigan for the winter instead of migrating to San Francisco as I've done for six of the past seven years. It's almost like we're on the same wave length.
My decision has been incubating since June 14 when Carolyn MDade first told our Detroit/Windsor, ONT women's community about the CD project she wants to do with us this year. Although I've been assured that I would be part of the project even if I went off to San Francisco for the winter, the more I hear about it, the more I know I don't want to miss a minute of the year-long circle gatherings that are at the heart of the process. Then last week when I realized Ann Arbor was a close-to-home alternative to San Francisco, the idea to stay home grew stronger and more tenacious. I'm thinking of possibly spending one weekend per month in Ann Arbor during the winter. I can stay at the Michigan League, where I stayed last Sunday, and take advantage of that city's exciting cultural and musical events and opportunities. It's such a scootable city that even with the cold and snow, I should be able to get around Ann Arbor 95% of the time. Of course, staying in Michigan also means I'll be able to keep working every week with the kids I love at the school in Dearborn. And Ed is delighted with the prospect!
Scott and Phil's visit has definitely helped solidify my plans. It's been fun to share our dreams and celebrate one another's new turnings in the path. And I'm grateful that Phil's father and so many members of his family live in the Detroit area, so we'll be able to continue seeing one another...it'll just be here rather than there.
Another day I'll tell you some stories of our weekend explorations and adventures. When Phil gets home tomorrow night, he promises to email me some of the digital photos he took. Yea! Pictures on Patricia's journal again! I can't wait.
And now it's almost 1
AM and time for bed.
MONDAY, JULY 15, 2002
This morning we celebrated Phil's 40th birthday (officially on July 20). I crowned him with the beautiful purple crown my women friends had used to celebrate my 60th birthday in June. Scott and I sang "Happy Birthday" as Phil opened Ed's and my birthday card. My gift to him required some effort on his and Scott's part: it was an open invitation to choose some of my paintings to take home. The hard part was unloading them from my "art" closet. This is a closet beside my computer/ritual room that is filled to the gills with every piece of art that wasn't sold or lost during my twenty years of making art. Not only are there hundreds of paintings and drawings--a lot of it student work--but each symbolizes for me what was going on in my life at the time. Believe me, what I had to say when I was 32 was signficantly different from what I needed to say at 52.
I hadn't seen many of these paintings--most of which were watercolor or watercolor and mixed media--in a very long time. It was like seeing the story of my life unfold, image by image. Funny how each painting brought back memories of when, why and how I'd made it. As artists often do, I'd worked in series over the years, often dealing with personal issues symbolically through my art. I was surprised to see how powerfully some of these images touched me, especially those from chapters I'd rather forget. But it was all there, out in the open. Of course, Scott and Phil didn't see in them what I saw, but that's always true with art. Each found paintings that spoke to them and seemed to be happy with their choices. I was delighted to share this gift with such dear friends. I'd like to do more of it. Art stuck off in a closet benefits no one.
After packing, washing and replacing the sheets on my beds--thanks fellows!--Phil and I went for a brief walk/scoot down to the lake while Scott took a quick nap. I stayed under a tree while Phil ventured across the street to the grassy area directly beside the lake. When he returned, he told me this story:
As he walked, he suddenly heard a loud squawk from a bird at his feet. It was a tiny finch chick who seemed not to be doing very well in its flying lessons. Immediately, the mama finch set up raucous cries from the nearby pine tree, obviously trying to distract the attention of this dangerous human. Within seconds, Phil was surprised to hear from the same tree a deafening chorus of bird warnings--everything from crows to red wing blackbirds--echoing the mama finch's cries. We loved the symbolism of this, in relation to how we'd like to see humans act to protect the young of all species. Squawking together has so much more power than squawking alone.
At 2:30 PM, the fellows took off for the airport and I scooted down to the pool. It had been five days since I'd swum my laps and I cannot begin to tell you how good it felt to stretch out in that wonderful water!
Tonight I played with some more photos (it's such fun!). Here they are:
pond at Lisa's.
A cozy nook in her house.
A view from out in the country.
A boy drawing at school.
The fourth grade girls.
Some crazy boys.
TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2002
Can the news get much worse? Bush's new domestic weapon--Homeland Security--that he wants raised to cabinet status with rights and privileges that will be outside Congressional supervision. Ashcroft's latest Justice Department program called TIPS that invites volunteer citizen informants to spy on their neighbors and those homes to which their jobs allow them access.
Is any sane American still imagining they live in a democratic country? At what point do you look around and see there are no Constitutional rights and freedoms remaining? When do the flag-wavers say "Enough already!" Why is Congress so willing to give their Constitutionally-mandated powers to the Executive branch? Where are a press and media that question rather than acting as though this is another ho-hum day at the office? Where are the checks and balances upon which our government was founded?
Are we all sleepwalking? Because if we are, one day in the not-too-distant future we're going to wake up and find ourselves living in a country where one can be arrested not simply for speaking against the president but for not having his picture on our living room wall. Does anyone remember Nazi Germany? Do they think the SS emerged full-blown one day? Hardly. It happens step-by-"secure"-step. Fear is its binding force. Fear and a leader or leaders who know how to use that fear to gain total control of the government, military, communications industry and the people. When we start using citizen informants to spy on their neighbors, and allow homes to be searched with no warrants and no need to inform the homeowner that their home was ever searched--see the Patriot's Act 2001--we are not too far away from the establishment of a Secret Service. Although, of course, they wouldn't call it that; they'd call it something like Homeland Security.
Now I know how German citizens who were awake and aware in, say, 1935 must have felt. You want to shout from the highest rooftop, "Wake up! Wake up before it's too late!" But even when you do--as I do here in my "rooftop" web site--you can't help but wonder if your words are falling on deaf ears, ears that are plugged by flags soaked in fear. Sometimes I just have to get off my rooftop and walk away. I did that today. Well, I did that after I'd sent about 200 emails to groups and individuals with copies of today's Washington Times article about the TIPS citizen informant program pasted to every email. I simply left the country and went to Canada, a country where freedom and democracy still exist.
I picked up my friend Joan in Windsor at 11 AM and we drove out into the county. Joan and I have similar views on feminism, religion, the environment, war, globalization, world events, the US and Canada, so we never run out of things to talk about. And we are both committed to the Carolyn McDade CD circle-singing project--she's the Canadian coordinator--so never tire of discussing that subject. I value her friendship tremendously.
Our official destination was a tearoom she'd introduced me to years ago; it is in Kingsville near where the river empties into Lake Erie. After a delightful lunch, we stopped to visit Brook, his blind dog, crow with a broken wing, cockatoo, turtle, goldfish and four cats, one of whom is brain-damaged and not allowed upstairs because he pees without fail. Brook and his wife, who was at work, are animal-rescuers. He said that not one of their creatures was bought; all were saved.
We sat on their lovely deck overlooking woods and gardens, a pool, two sleeping cats and Crow in his outdoor (heated in winter) cage, and talked of this and that. Joan takes care of their house and animals when they travel, and will be there for most of September. On the way over, I'd told her I really needed to get out of the country for September 11; I didn't think I could survive the massive amounts of flag-waving that day would bring. She'd invited me to spend the night with her at Brook's house and he echoed the invitation. Whew! That's a relief!
We followed Lake Erie for awhile on our way home, then stopped at a blueberry farm. We each bought half a kilogram of fresh-picked blueberries. I also had a blueberry milkshake and Joan had a chocolate ice cream cone. Today was a very hot day, even out in the county.
I arrived back in the US feeling as though I'd breathed clean, fresh air for six whole hours. Just enough to give me the energy to climb back onto that rooftop and keep sounding the alert.
"Wake up! Wake up
before its too late!"
WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2002
After the discouragements of yesterday, I was given exactly what I needed today to restore a sense of balance and belief in the goodness of people.
It started with an email from Sulaima telling me of her being interviewed live last night on the new cable-TV Donahue Show. Apparently the interviewer was rude and kept cutting her off when she'd try to answer his questions or counter his accusations, but she did feel she got a few significant things said. I gather they also interviewed Rabih by phone from the jail, and that was hard for Sulaima to hear. She wanted my opinion as to how I felt it had gone, but since we don't have cable (I never watch TV) I hadn't seen the show. But I assured her that just being seen and heard by the general public was the important thing. She and Rabih are so filled with goodness, sincerity and dignity that who they are radiates from them no matter what is said or not said. I think people just need to see them as real live people rather than names in a newspaper to begin to recognize the injustices they have suffered. I found it hopeful that their story was featured on national TV.
Then it was 10 AM and time for a delicious swim on this hot summer day. 660 meters felt just right!
After a shower and a couple hours on the computer, I drove downtown to meet my Canadian sister/friend Pat N. She drove us out to the northern suburbs to our monthly women's book group meeting at Penny's house. July is traditionally our poetry meeting and tonight we read aloud from Mary Oliver's most recent book of poetry and prose poems, What Do We Know. Penny served us a wonderful cold dinner on this warm night, and as always, we discussed world events, literature, women's culture, the Carolyn McDade CD circle-singing project that all of us are going to be part of, and the continuing sagas of our lives. Spending time with these women is like sinking your teeth into a juicy peach (from a poem read by Penny), running through a sprinkler on a sweltering day, and challenging yourself to climb a mountain you've never climbed before. I love and value them dearly.
And now I'd like to share Phil's photos with you from last weekend. Be prepared! There are lots of images here, and more of me than I'm comfortable with, but you need only click on the links that interest you. Like a buffet table with lots of salads, entries, breads and desserts, only eat what appeals to you.
It all started on Saturday, July 13. Phil, Scott and I decided to go to Ann Arbor; Eddie, by choice, went to his office. As I did my last minute preparations, Phil was outside taking a picture of Scott in front of our house and another of our lamp post with its hanging basket of white petunias. He then caught Scott helping me down the front steps, and we were on our way with me driving us in my little red Neon.
An hour later we pulled into a good on-street no-metered parking place near Kerrytown, the home of Ann Arbor's farmer's market. The first thing we saw after the fellows got La Lucha set up was a painted van, ala California-style. By now it was 2:30 PM and the Saturday farmer's market was already closed.
The next hours involved a lot of walking for my two-legged companions, while I leisurely scooted along on my three-wheels. We got sandwiches and salads at a deli on State Street and took them to the Diag for a late lunch. While there, we asked a passerby to take a picture of the three of us, and later Phil took a picture of a baby squirrel who had the right idea on this warm sunny afternoon. And since I'd told Phil you weren't supposed to walk on the big M in the middle of the Diag, of course he insisted I drive across it with my scooter. He made me do it!
I showed them a funky store called Middle Earth on University Street. Then Phil asked if they could see some Ann Arbor neighborhoods so I took them over to Forest where Ed had lived as a little boy. We met Johanna, who now lives next door to little Eddie's old house, and found that she had recently moved to Ann Arbor from the Bay Area. That was a fun connection. I then led Scott and Phil around the corner to see a beautiful old house that, because of the cross on its roof, looks like it might have been a church, school or convent.
By now the heat was really getting to us, so we headed back to University Street for some ice cream. After finishing our cone, cup and smoothie, we went into a frenzy of picture-taking. I took one of Phil and Scott, Phil took one of Scott and me, and Scott took one of Phil and me. I warned you about a lot of pictures!
Next, I wanted to show the fellows my new home-away-from-home, the Michigan League. I even showed them one of the hotel rooms on the fourth floor where I hope to do my winter overnights. Then back downstairs in the lobby, I called Eddie on my cell phone just to check in. What did we ever do without these appendages? Before walk/scooting down to Main Street for our evening activity, we stopped by the fountain in front of the League and Phil joined a crowd of folks who were dangling their bare feet in its cool waters.
It was now 7 PM and the Ark, where we planned to see a concert, would soon be opening its doors. When we arrived fifteen minutes later, a line had already formed out front and Main Street was hopping! Up and down the street, the sidewalk restaurants were jammed with people. Guess we found out where everyone had been all day because the area around the university had been very unpeopled.
Josh White, Jr. was performing and what we didn't know was that he was going to record a live CD that night. What a blast! Not only is he a fabulous singer/guitarist but the musicians he gathered around him were outstanding. It seemed they could each play a multitude of instruments, and proceeded to do so. What was particularly fun for us singers was that he encouraged a lot of audience participation, so when you hear "Josh White, Jr. Live At The Ark", listen for Scott, Phil and me! The show went on from 8:15 PM until 11:30 PM. We certainly got our money's worth and then some. Phil even got a good picture of Josh and the musicians as they posed for the CD cover after the show.
We weren't done yet. By now we were hungry so we went next door to the Cajun restaurant where Emily and I had eaten last weekend. We had a scrumptious meal before heading back to the car and home to Detroit. I sure was grateful to Scott for offering to drive. As I'd written earlier, we rolled in about 2 AM and fell into our beds, exhausted!
Now I'm going to take
a breather and finish the weekend story tomorrow. After all, we
still have Sunday and part of Monday to go.
THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2002
I don't recall ever being so happy to see rain. Well, maybe on Thursday of last summer's Michigan Womyn's Music Festival after we'd had four solid days of temperatures close to 100°. But now it is the trees and bushes that are celebrating; I can almost hear their sighs of delight. To be honest, I can't remember when we last had rain. It must be more than a month. The grass is already browning out, but, to me, the saddest thing has been to see dry, droopy leaves hanging listlessly from trees. As I'd scoot by them on the road, I'd hear their cries. It has made me very sad.
But this afternoon we had three thunderstorms in a row, with each one dropping buckets of rain. I know what we really need is three steady days of gentle rain, but this is good enough for now. At this point we'll take any moisture we can get.
And now I'll tell you about the last two days of Scott and Phil's visit. On Sunday, July 14, we awoke to another warm sunny day. We had a dinner date at 6:30 PM in suburban Detroit with Phil's sister, brother-in-law, niece and her fiance, so had a whole day to do with in any way we pleased. Scott requested that we go to Windsor, Ontario and visit the Peace Fountain park I'd shown him two summers ago. We gathered our hats and sunscreen and took the tunnel over to Canada.
What a good choice! Even with our extended drought, the gardens were lush and colorful. Scott, especially, could not get enough of examining each plant, seeing what it was, whether it liked sun or shade, what plants looked good next to it...all the things true gardeners notice. Phil did as true photographers do and set up interesting shots like this one of the three of us with the Detroit skyline in the background. Some shots just happened, as when I chose to cool myself under a sprinkler. And then there were the ones his photographer's eye found, like these beautiful purple thistle flowers against the yellow marigolds and pink and white petunias. Oh, I almost forgot the picture of me, a bumblebee and a lavender plant. Too bad the bee was shy. But luckily Scott and Phil weren't too shy when I asked to take their picture in front of the gardens.
We had such a lazy afternoon looking at flowers, sitting by the river, playing cribbage and eating ice cream. To be honest, Scott and Phil were the ones who played cribbage, and I went to get an ice cream cone. I seem to be on an ice cream kick of late. By the way, Phil won not only the cribbage game but also the "The Minister's Cat" word game that occupied our time as we waited in the l-o-n-g s-l-o-w line at the Bridge coming back into the U.S. By the way, I learned that I'd best start carrying my passport when I go to Canada from now on; in both Canada and the U.S. they gave me a hard time for not having either my birth certificate or a passport. It's not worth the hassle.
We had a lovely dinner with Denise, John, Emily and Charlie, and we got back home by 10 PM.
Monday was spent packing--Phil had been gone a month so had some serious consolidation to do--and then we had an early celebration of Phil's 40th birthday (it's actually on Saturday, July 20). Besides his card, I gave him the choice of my paintings. Both he and Scott found a few that spoke to them and I signed the ones that were as yet unsigned. The fellows left for the airport at 2:30 PM.
It was a wonderful visit, and I certainly thank Phil for taking and emailing me his digital pictures. By the way, I just heard yesterday that my replacement camera is on its way. Tomorrow night (Friday) is the beginning of the Concert of Colors world music festival here in Detroit, and I'd hoped to have my camera by then, but now I think that's pretty unlikely. Guess I'll have to paint word pictures instead.
Speaking of the Concert
of Colors, this is going to be another weekend when it's going
to be a challenge for me to keep up with my journal. Whenever
I immerse myself in these wonderful music-filled weekends, it's
hard to do much of anything beyond trying to get sleep at night
and maybe take a swim in the mornings. If I can't keep up as I
go along, you can be sure I'll catch you up to date later. In
the meantime, if you'd like to read and see my journal entries/pictures
from earlier festivals, just click on the Concert
of Colors 2000 and Concert
of Colors 2001. That will give you a taste of what's to come!
You can also check out New Detroit's Concert
of Colors web page to see this year's schedule...just be sure
to scroll all the way to the right so it will show up on your
FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2002
In a little more than an hour, Pat K. and I will go down to the opening night of the Concert of Colors. I am as excited as if I were going to a family reunion...which I feel like I am. These people, the ones who gather beside the Detroit River every July to celebrate this city's magnificent diversity, are my family. Why is it that the word "family" means so much more to me than its usual definition? Actually, my blood-related family on my mother's side is having a family reunion down in North Carolina this weekend, but the prospect of either flying to Raleigh and then driving three hours to my cousin's lakefront home or driving 1400 miles roundtrip put me off from making the trip. I trust they will have a wonderful weekend, as will I.
My digital camera has arrived! Now to unpack it and set it up for tonight...
It was just as I imagined! A glorious celebration of Detroit family. I saw so many friends, some of whom I know by name and some by sight. For instance, there was Marion and a man, both wonderful dancers whom I see at every Detroit music festival, up in the aisles moving to the music of Hassan Hukmoun from Marrakech. Actually, almost everyone was up on their feet dancing before this night was done. You couldn't sit down if you tried...especially dancin' fools like me. I was up on my feet, leaning against my scooter or holding onto her steering handle, for hours. Helped me realize that I won't need to swim to get exercise before going to the festival on Saturday and Sunday. I love to dance!
The evening was filled with one energetic band after another. Hassan Hukmoun started off. He was followed by Ozomatli, a very popular band from Los Angeles. I saw lots of Ozomatli T-shirts in the audience. They were fabulous! Ten young men of diverse ethnic backgrounds, utterly engaging and excellent musicians. When they came into the audience at the end of their set, the crowd went wild. And after them was a Detroit--and worldwide--favorite, Femi Kuti from Nigeria. The minute he, his band and dancers appeared on the stage, folks jumped to their feet and never sat down. It made it tough for photographers like me, but, heck, I didn't care. I was boogying down myself.
Pat and I had gotten to Chene Park a half hour before the first act was scheduled to appear. We sat by the river and enjoyed the Middle Eastern food, Odwalla juices and blueberries I'd brought. The few food concessions at this festival are not particularly vegetarian-friendly and get very crowded, so we like to bring our own food. Soon we heard Hassan Hukmoun's set starting up on the Mainstage, so Pat took our picnic stuff back to the car--they don't allow you to bring food or drinks into the Mainstage area--and I scooted over to get us a good accessible spot.
As I've said in years past, this is an extraordinarily beautiful performance space, with the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario as backdrops. To sit in this amphitheater and watch lakers, tour boats and pleasure craft go by--or anchor in front--is pure delight, especially on such a perfect summer evening as this. By the end of the night, there were few seats available in this 2-3000 seat space. I'm sure it will be crowded to the gills when Ray Charles appears on Sunday night!
Pat had her "family reunion" too. Emily's babysitter from when she was two-three years old came over to say "Hi." I took a picture of Kim and Pat so Emily at the University of Michigan can see her old (not old in years) babysitter!
And again, there was a wonderful variety of dress among the audience members. I was fortunate enough to meet a daughter and her mother from Nigeria, Karen and Sarah in the parking lot after the show. They told us that Sarah, who has been visiting Karen for five months, wanted to see Femi Kuti. "When he walks down the street at home everyone comes runninng out and starts to party!" Well, we here in Detroit did the same thing as Nigerians...we partied!
Isn't my camera doing
well?! May it continue.
SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2002
What a perfect festival day! Clear blue skies, inviting sun, no humidity and a refreshing breeze coming off the water. Pat K. (who had spent the night) and I got down to Chene Park at 2 PM, just in time for me to join the Samba Clinic with Eric "The Fish" Paton at the World Rhythm Stage. Drums, tambourines, cowbells and my Vietnamese wooden frog came together in jiving ways that made you want to get up and dance. It was a great warm-up for the Samba Party tonight.
After awhile I scooted over to the river side of the park where I hooked up with the two Pats, Pat K. and Pat N., and met an enchanting little girl named Alia. She and her mother, Avonda, were in town from New York visiting Carol, their grandmother and mother. Later in the day I took this portrait of the three generations. I've known Carol since she and Lori became partners a few years ago. Lori is the gifted drum facilitator that my women friends and I have worked with for years; I also see her at most women's music festivals.
Very soon our friends Sooz and Mary showed up. Today was a day for me to celebrate friends, old and new. While we were visiting, I saw a beautiful sight over by the World Rhythm Stage. It was a circle dance peopled by old and young, black, white and red, suburban, city and street folks; it was the world. And they were dancing to the drum beat created by a circle of drummers led by the Snake Island Singers.
By now it was time for us to head over to the Main Stage; we wanted to see the Philippine-American percussionist Susie Ibarra. I found Susie's music to be an original blend of Asian-inspired melodies, American jazz, funky fushion with her zen-like spirit infusing it all. She played several percussion instruments and sang as well. Pat K. later talked to a WDET-FM radio announcer who said he'd never heard of her singing before. It was haunting.
But Susie and her band were not the only ones in the public eye. There were two little girls who found the beat and never lost it. These fey creatures twisted, jumped, turned, crawled, skipped and danced through Susie's entire set, adding a dimension that seemed to complete the whole. To me, the entire performance was mesmerizing.
Outside the Main Stage area were dozens of booths with international clothing, textiles, jewelry and community information, including Revolutionary Books where I bought Michael Moore's Stupid White Men. While I was making my purchase, Pat N. was talking to a fellow named Justin who she felt looked just like Stevie Wonder. Pat has never met a stranger.
Sooz, Mary, Pat K. and I (Pat N. had to get back to Windsor) sat down near the river for a late lunch. Sooz had made delicious potato salad, Mary had brought blueberry cake-like treats and nuts/raisins, and I had a good supply of my usual Middle Eastern food and Odwalla juices with fresh blackberries for dessert. It was a feast of food and friendship.
While eating, we heard a roar from the Main Stage tent signalling the appearance of the South African musician Hugh Masekela. We finished up and headed over. What energy that man brings to the stage! As Mary said afterwards, he is as much preacher as musician. And the audience--a full house at 5 PM--adored him.
After Hugh's performance, I happened upon Glen Velez on the World Rhythm Stage. I've been hearing about this master drummer for years because he comes to Detroit regularly to give frame drum and tambourine workshops. I could not believe what I was hearing him do with his hands and his voice. It was like magic!
Sooz and Mary had taken off after Hugh Masekela, and by now Pat and I needed a nap. Dear Lori gave us a blanket and pillows and we rested comfortably on a grassy knoll overlooking the river. My new best pal, Alia, played in my scooter and happily chatted with me as I lay there. I fell in love with that little girl...so much so that after my rest, I invited her to sit in my lap and we took some spins around the paved area in my scooter. I'd never done that before; it was fun!
But before Alia and I went scooter riding, the Samba Party had begun. Even though the band was on the Rhythm Stage behind me, I had a front row seat to watch my favorite couple dance the samba. I've seen them at several music festivals here in Detroit and have always admired the fluidity of their movements; it's as though they read one another's minds. By the way, that link may take awhile to come up as it contains four small photos. I wanted to give you a sense of being there.
Pat and I decided to check out the electronic dance music over on the Main Stage. Carl Craig, a famous DJ, was performing and I guess that meant he had put together the music for folks to dance to. Well, it looked more like standing around than dancing, but the kids seemed to be having a ball. I must say this kind of music did not particularly appeal to us old fogies, so we didn't stick around too long.
Actually I was much happier
at the Samba Party where I saw a proud father named Larry
dancing the samba with his baby girl, Alexis. This party closed
down around 9:30 PM so I was home at a reasonable time, ready
for some sleep. Had to get rested for tomorrow!
SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2002
This was such a sacred day...and I don't use that word lightly.
It started with a glorious cloudburst that soaked our dry land with rich, deep moisture. I'd seen dark clouds to the northwest as I pulled out of my garage at 1:30 PM, but didn't let them stop me from heading down to the Concert of Colors. Huge raindrops began to splatter my windshield four blocks from Chene Park. Soon the drops became a river. I pulled into the parking lot--causing the attendant to get drenched as he took my $5--and parked in the handicapped/staff area near the entrance. Judy Piazza, the marvelous Detroit-area drummer who had booked all the talent for the World Rhythm Stage, was sitting in her car beside mine. We waved, and waited for the rains to stop or at least slow down. I'm happy to say we waited 40 minutes! That was a good rain.
I was by myself today so had need of finding helpers to unpack and assemble Ona my scooter from the car. After the rains diminished enough for me to get out of the car, it didn't take long before a friendly young Concert of Colors volunteer came by and did the job for me. I am grateful for her help.
I scooted right over to the World Rhythm Stage to experience Kalpulli Tekpatl, a group of young people and their teacher who dance in the Mexican Aztec tradition. They were accompanied by two men--one an elder--on handcarved drums that were made in Mexico from tree trunks. As both the elder and the teacher told us later, it is essential that we pass on our traditions and knowledge to the generations coming after us. "Our young people need this!" Well, so does our city and the world. That circle generated a deep healing.
There are three moments I will not forget. The first was when the dancers and drummers prayed to the four directions. The smell of sage, pulse beat of drums, shaking of rattles and the sound of conch shells being blown touched me deeply. The second was seeing how the elder (who was drumming) never took his eyes off the boy or girl who was given the privilege/responsibility to lead the beat and dancing. It was as if he were consciously willing the spirits of the ancesters to direct the minds, spirits and bodies of these young people in ways that would be pleasing to them. I expect this depth of attention is met with a mix of pride, discomfort and gratitude in these teenagers who are growing up here in Michigan with one foot in each world, the old and the new. The third moment I will remember came when those who were watching were invited to join the circle so that we might all dance together. When I scooted to the perimeter of the circle, the drummers motioned for me to join them in the center. It was like sitting within the beating heart of our spinning planet.
From there, I went to the small Acoustic Stage near the entrance to Chene Park. A woman at the Kalipulli Tekpatl performance had told me of a group of First Nations women singers from New Brunswick called Wabanu who were not to be missed. Was she ever right!
How can I tell you what it was like to be taught, soothed, stirred up, challenged, nurtured and treated like family by this gathering of women singers/dancers? The matriarch (to the right in this picture) is one of those wise women you read about, the ones whose every word is like a loving sword that cuts to the heart of things. She told a story about the loss of the First Nations' culture and how it was held for them by the whales. Then the whales sent porpoises close to the shore to see what the humans were doing. The porpoises saw that the human family was beginning to remember, to sing their songs, to beat their drums, to dance their dances, to feast again. The porpoises gleefully swam out to the deep seas to tell the whales the good news. Whereupon the whales told the porpoises to tell the humans not to worry, that they (the whales) were the storehouses of their knowledge and would teach them everything they needed to know. That was just one story. In addition to the singing and storytelling was dancing. A young woman joined one of the singers in several dances, and a young man also danced to some of the songs. At one point all the women in the audience were invited to come forward and join the dancers in the Pine Needle dance.
As far as I was concerned, they could have gone on forever, but I guess events like this have to keep to some kind of schedule (which the rain had messed up anyway). After they left the stage I scooted over to meet them. I just had to connect personally with these women. Then I got some of their story. They are mostly members of a family who originally lived in New Brunswick. The mother now lives in Maine, one daughter in Ontario, another daughter outside Cleveland, and the other singer--I don't know how or if she's related to the others--still lives in New Brunswick. The young dancers are children of the daughters. I asked what tribes they are from and they wrote down three names: Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac. There was an official Concert of Colors photographer who posed them for a portrait, so I used that opportunity to take my own Wabanu portrait.
Next to the Acoustic Stage was a tent housing a fabulous henna tattoo painter whose artistry I'd admired yesterday on Avonda's arm and Alia's ankle. She was available, so I sat down--oh, that's right. I already was seated!-- put my foot in her lap and asked her to paint an anklet using any design she pleased. Hanifah painted a lyrical design with black henna paste and only charged $12. Makes me want a real tattoo. Now that's dangerous!
By now my tummy was rumbling. It was 5:30 PM and I'd yet to eat. I set up beside the river and enjoyed my usual Middle Eastern fare washed down by an Odwalla juice. I even had enough to share with David who lives at Chene Park in the summer and in a shelter in the winter. He was very much a part of the festival all weekend but I never saw him ask anyone for anything. A man with a great deal of dignity.
While eating, I heard a terrific band start its set at the World Rhythm Stage behind me. So when I'd finished, I scooted over there. It was Detroit's own Uprizin' Steel Pan Band and they were fabulous! Like bees to honey, more and more folks kept gathering until we had a real hot happening going on. I was particularly tickled to see a woman playing with their group; apparently she and the man in my picture are from Trinidad and Tobago. We need to see way more women instrumentalists!
When their set was done, I looked at my watch and saw it was 7 PM, time for me to scoot over to the Main Stage. In an hour and a half Ray Charles was scheduled to perform and I wanted to get a good spot. Good thing I went early. Not only was the amphitheater filling fast, but there was a lively Caribbean band onstage. Square One had folks on their feet, waving their arms, singing to the music, clapping their hands, dancing, jumping and just having a high old time. Ray Charles couldn't have asked for a better warm-up act!
By 8:30 PM there was not an empty seat in this tented performance space that must seat 2-3000 people. As Detroit's Mayor said, "Where else but in Dee-troit can you see Ray Charles for free!!" Although Kwame Kilpatrick's appearance felt pretty political, he shared the stage with the real people who made this wonderful Concert of Colors happen, representatives from ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), New Detroit (the Coalition), and Daimler Chrysler, a major corporate sponsor. And then the show began.
We heard two numbers from
the Ray Charles Big Band, but when Ray Charles appeared offstage
right, the crowd went bonkers. Folks jumped to their feet and
started screaming. By the time he was announced and took the stage,
the roar was like a plane taking off or a giant lion. Amazing!
And this was from the most diverse crowd of people imaginable:
men and women in African garb, scarved Muslim women with their
husbands and children, teens with dreadlocks, assorted tattoos
and piercings, suburban Caucasian and African American families,
old hippies and flower children, men in turbans and women in long
flowing gowns, elders of all races/cultures, babies in arms, toddlers
and schoolage kids, disabled folks in wheelchairs, scooters or
walking with canes. I can't begin to describe in words everyone
who was there. But as Ray
Charles sat at his keyboard, smiling his radiant smile, singing
new and old songs, I thought to myself, "This is who we are.
This is who we really are!" One family, one world,
one people, each with a unique heritage and culture, each with
special gifts to offer. And isn't that what this Concert of Colors,
the festival that celebrates Detroit's diversity, is all about?
MONDAY, JULY 22, 2002
How do I write an interesting
journal entry about writing a journal entry? I guess I don't.
Suffice it to say, I spent this entire day working on Sunday's
journal entry about my experiences at yesterday's Concert of Colors.
I intend to write Saturday's entry tomorrow. You know, I love
these active weekends but I end up spending at least as long telling
about them as I do living them!
TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2002
Happily, I did more today than sit at the computer...although I did my fair share of that too (see the newly created Saturday, July 20 journal entry). I swam my usual 600 meters of the crawl, took portraits of funkia flowers, tiger lilies and a bumblebee, scooted two miles to meet Ed and Jack for dinner, ran into an activist friend who was on a bike ride and stopped to talk progressive politics, met Ed on his walk by the lake, and watched another video with him from the BBC series, "Pride and Prejudice."
This was a lovely day.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2002
Even as there are bumblebees drinking the nectar of flowers, blue skies and radiant sunlight, glorious festivals celebrating our diversity, so there is unending need of taking action to protect our beloved freedoms and civil liberties.
Today's email inbox contained two such calls to action, to which I responded by sending emails to groups and individuals I trust will do what they can. I want to share these emails here in hopes that you, dear reader, will respond in kind.
Dear sisters and brothers
Here is our opportunity to say a loud resounding NO to Bush's plan to institute a national citizen spy program. Please take a few minutes to let your voice be heard in Congress.
in peace & solidarity
To: ACLU Action Network
FR: Damon Moglen, National Field Coordinator
DT: July 24, 2002
In the last several days, a national firestorm has started to build around a program proposed by President Bush to recruit one million volunteers to act as spies and informants against their neighbors. Under the proposed program -- which the President is calling Operation TIPS -- the government would recruit letter carriers, utility workers, cable installers, and others whose jobs allow them access to private residences to report "suspicious activities."
But the plan has run into trouble in Congress. The House is moving to reject the President's program. It is not clear what the Senate will do, but it is likely to vote on the bill in the coming days. The fate of this deeply misguided program could very well rest with the Senate.
Take Action! Your Senators will play a key role in deciding whether or not Operation TIPS will go ahead. You can read more and send a FREE FAX to your Senators, urging them to reject this misguided program, from our action alert at:
The second message relates to our brother Rabih Haddad.
Dear sisters and brothers
Many of you have asked what you can do to help support Rabih Haddad in his efforts to be released on bond. The time has come to FLOOD Judge Elizabeth Hacker's office with letters! Her address is:
Judge Elizabeth Hacker
1155 Brewery Park Blvd. Suite 455
Detroit Michigan, 48207
According to an email I just received from one of Rabih's students, the INS has no objection to his being released on bond. His fate rests in the hands of one person, and that person, Judge Hacker, has been reluctant to allow this peaceful, law-abiding Muslim leader, against whom NO charges have been filed during his SEVEN MONTHS in prison, to go home and wait with his wife and four children for his August 27 asylum hearing.
Your letter doesn't need to be long, just say what you believe. The Free Rabih Haddad Committee recommends the following talking points:
1) Rabih Haddad has been in Jail for 7 months without charge. There are no charges filed against him other than his visa violation and thus he should be released on bond immediately.
2) Rabih Haddad has been getting a strong and continuous support since his arrest from Ann Arbor Community and other communities (Muslims and non-Muslims) and it only shows that Rabih has very strong ties with the Ann Arbor community and he is not by any means a flight risk and should be released on bond immediately.
3) All the accusations we have been hearing in the last seven months about Rabih Haddad were proven to be false accusations and have no basis in truth. They accused him of being dangerous to community for having a hunting rifle when they arrested him, but never brought it up again.
As for the Cash accusations, here is what Rabih said in his own words, "And as to the bundles of cash, it was actually 'bricks' as they put it and the agent claimed I was trying to hide it from him. He later admitted on cross examination that the denomination of the money was 'ones' which makes one wonder how he was able to determine that if I was trying to hide it from him, and having determined they were singles, why portray it in such suspicious light. The fact of the matter as that December 14 was one of the last days of the Holy month of Ramadan. 'The month of charity' as Muslims call it, the cash I had was donations given to me during that month which totaled $600 as I was later told. So yes, I had six bricks of $100 each of single dollar bills which constitute, by far, the majority of cash donations. Anyone involved in charity or church work knows that."
For a background summary on Rabih's case go to the Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace at:
I am just sitting down to write my letter of support in longhand because my printer isn't working. It doesn't matter how you do it, please just do it. And please forward this message to all the groups and interested individuals you know. We are the only voice Rabih has.
in peace & solidarity
And even as there is need
to take action to protect our freedom and liberties, so there
are flowers that shine their golden
faces toward the sun, carpet
the earth in beauty, and offer lessons in how to live
together in grace and harmony.
© 2002 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.