Windchime Walker's Journal 3 Archive

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, Journal 73 archive 2/25-3/24/06, Journal 74 archive 3/25-4/24/06, Journal 75 archive 4/25-5/24/06, Journal 76 archive 5/25-6/24/06

To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal


I drive my beloved red Neon through flat Ontario farmland with my friend J.T. at my side. We share stories of the past 4 months as the fields beside us are turned by tractors, weeping willows sway over swollen creeks, a heron stands poised in the marsh, and we follow sparkling Lake Erie home from Kingsville. Lunch out in "the county", as Windsor folk describe the semi-circle of farms that surround their city to the north, east and west (the Detroit River hugs the south shore). Our favorite tea room with its homemade soups (today's was tomato/potato with thyme and italian seasonings) and special desserts (J.T. ordered the lemon/pineapple cheesecake, and I devoured the lemon meringue pie). Yummy and so very British with tea cozies and mismatched floral bone china.

One of Detroit's hidden treasures is being next door to Ontario...a half hour from my house by tunnel or bridge. When I come up on the other side of the tunnel (my usual way of going), I literally breath a sign of relief. Such a gentle-spirited country, slow-paced and civilized. Even with Windsor's big casino that draws busloads of elders from Ohio and Michigan, the energy of the city is laid back and respectful.

For the 35 years that I've lived in Detroit, Windsor and the county have drawn me into their orbit. The Peace fountain and lush flower gardens by the river. Jackson Park, the starting point for the two marathons I ran in 1979 and '80 (we ran through the tunnel, by my house and ended on Detroit's Belle Isle park). The PRH personal growth workshops that helped me grapple with my personal demons in the 1980s. Point Pelee provincial park, my traditional sacred place of solitude in nature. WOMANSPIRIT and singing with Carolyn McDade since 1993. Precious women friends who have come to me through that group. Storytelling at the Windsor Women's Coffeehouse in the mid-90s. My current monthly women's book group. Solstice and Equinox ritual gatherings in friends' homes and at a park by the lake. Therapeutic horseback riding during the winter of 1998-99. James, Suzy and their continuing gifts of acupuncture and chinese herbs.

Oh yes, Windsor is so important to me! And now the OAS is holding their big meeting there the beginning of June. I hope to hook up with my activist friends and join the protest demonstrations. As J.T.  said today, Windsor has probably bitten off more than it can chew by hosting this event. Seattle, Washington, DC and now Windsor, ONT. May the traditionally gentle spirits of Windsor's powers-that-be not desert them in the press of peaceful protests against such an oppressive and violent giant as the Organization of American States.


I'm surprised that I've been keeping this online journal for two months now. When I wrote the first entry on February 25, I didn't know if I'd want to continue. It's such a vulnerable, public place to be. I've kept journals on and off for over 15 years as a tool to make my way through life with a measure of grace and objectivity. Privacy was a prerequisite so I could say anything and hear myself saying it. This journal is about as open and out there as anything could be. I have no idea who might be reading it or how they might interpret what I write.

First off, I had to find a way to protect the privacy of other people in my life. Maybe I'm willing to tell my story to the world, but they've made no such choice. So I decided to use initials instead of names, except for folks who are already public figures. And as honest and forthright as I've tried to be, I wasn't interested in making readers listen to carping or negativity. It's one thing to say it like you see and feel it; quite another to wallow in mindless muck. Actually--journal or no journal--I've been avoiding dreary places within myself of late. Seems like something shifted when I got rid of 9 years worth of hair in March. No more carrying around unnecessary weight, whether in the form of a braid or grudge or snivelly complaint. If something's awry, I try to address it as clearly and directly as I can. Maybe stupid stuff gets in the front door but I generally usher it right out the back! No taking up residence, thank you.

The journal helps. In being mindful of what I might write, I find that each day offers an abundance of experiences, thoughts, reflections and stories. Such a simple way to celebrate the present. I can't remember feeling better than I do right now. Can't say I walk or use my hands any better than before, but dammit I feel pretty terrific!


Another day of packing...before I'm fully unpacked from San Francisco! Tomorrow at 6:25 AM (argh!!!) I'm off to the Washington DC area to visit my Mom and help celebrate my sister's 60th birthday. As an additional treat I'll be seeing two of my grand nephews for the first time in a year and a half. When one is under the age of 6, a lot changes in that short amount of time!

This afternoon I'm scheduled for my first "house duty" at the transitional shelter for women and children where my good friend P.K., and my goddess daughter, E.K., live and work. After the wonderful 4 months working once a week at Simply Supper--the free dinner at San Francisco's Metropolitan Community Church in the Castro--I wanted to set up another opportunity to hang with interesting folks here in Michigan. "House duty" simply means answering the door and phone and schmoozing with the women and kids living in the house. I expect to spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch, watching the world pass by. Such a gift!

I'm taking my laptop for this short (5 day) journey, so expect to be able to keep the journal updated. Going to DC, where I grew up, always means traveling at least 3 weeks ahead of eastern Michigan in terms of the season. So now I'm on my way back to a full-blown spring! Azaleas and dogwoods...

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2000

I make my way through the normal stresses of air travel. Getting up at 4:15 AM to catch an early flight to BWI (Baltimore/Washington International) airport. Pushing windchime walker loaded with laptop over one side and suitcase over the other through two airports, in and out of restrooms, on and off the plane, and into the shuttle taking me to Gaithersburg, MD. Exhausted, I sink into the front seat beside the driver, E. from Nigeria. Then the most heavenly music starts coming from the seat behind me. I turn around to see a gentle-spirited bearded man playing a long wooden flute. J. is his name and the instrument is from India, a bansuri. Thus began the most enjoyable airport shuttle ride I could ever have imagined! Lilting, meditative, playful, chant-like, soaring, soothing music for an hour. What an unexpected, gracious gift of the Universe. A lovely interlude before seeing my mother in the nursing care facility.

She is truly happy there. Loves her private room, says the nurses and caregivers treat her well, has no complaints about the food or the facility. It's just that visiting her now is like trying to find your way through a funhouse of mirrors.

Conversation will be going along in a fairly predictable way when suddenly she'll show you the "man" on the roof of the tall building out her window. The man she says is there every day, rain or shine, sometimes covering his head with a sack to ward off the birds. The man who can be saved by the building next door that will physically move over to help him if needed.

Or she'll be looking at the photos on the wall of her and Dad at the time of their wedding in 1937. "I don't know who that man is", she'll say. "That's Dad, Mom. You know, when you two got married." "That's not Dad! I'd certainly know him, wouldn't I?" "Well, why would there be a picture of a stranger on your wall, Mom?" "Oh, I know the answer to that", she asserts. "A photographer came up here and saw I didn't have any pictures and just took one from his shop. He doesn't know who it is either." And the photo of her? "That's not really me", she says, "It's C., your sister." "Gosh, Mom, we've always been told it was of you when you and Dad got married." "Well, it used to be but it's not anymore. And I want to talk to C. about getting that dress from her. It needs hemming."

After 7 hours with Mom, I begin to wonder if up is still up and down still down. What a relief to come to my motel room, set up my laptop and re-enter a world that is more familiar and understandable!


Family. How rare for me to be surrounded by family as I am today. Spread across the country, we usually gather at weddings and funerals. Today I have the luxury of 10 hours of pure family time!

I spend the morning and early afternoon with Mom at the nursing facility. Though the man is up on the roof again ("He spent the night up there last night!), it doesn't seem to disturb me today. Then, from 3-9 PM, I join my sister C.D.'s sons and their families as we celebrate her 60th birthday. My first-born nephew B.D. and his wife M.'s gift of hospitality creates a loving space and delicious dinner for us to share. My second-born nephew J.D., his wife K. and their two sons--my grand nephews, O., aged 5, and H., aged 3--drive in from Pittsburgh for the party. The boys try to teach me how to play Nintendo motorcycle never makes it around the first turn without crashing! I sit outside and watch O., H. and their Dad play at the neighborhood park across the street...their gift to me being enthusiastic arm-wavings and yells of "Hi, Aunt Patty!" We all join in teasing my sister about her always-packed refrigerator, one of the unsung wonders of the world. As H. prepares to leave, he hugs B.D. and says, "Goodbye, Uncle B. Thanks for letting us jump on your couch!" I am kissed and hugged by 8 members of my family in one day.

Simple stuff. Normal family fare. Priceless to me.

SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2000

Oh, I do love days like this! Days that start out rather predictably, then end up someplace totally unexpected. My plan for today was to give myself the morning off--sleep late, catch up on emails, have brunch here in the motel--then go visit Mom for the rest of the day. Well, everything moved along according to schedule until I sat down to read the Sunday paper in Mom's room at about 1:30 PM this afternoon.

Now, this story actually starts last August at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. During one of the Night Stage performances, an announcement was made about the Millennium March on Washington DC for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender rights on April 30, 2000. I signed up to receive information by email, assuming I'd come visit Mom and do the march at the same time. Well, life seemed to have its own plans. My sister's 60th birthday celebration on April 29. Then no wheelchair and no wheelchair-pusher, both of which I'd need to do the march. Besides I was feeling I should (watch those shoulds!) spend the day with Mom today since I'd been with her so little yesterday.

But it kept eating at me. How could I be in DC this weekend and not go to the Millennium March! Yet how could I possibly do it with my physical limitations and family commitments. By yesterday I'd pretty much given it up.

Then I read today's Washington Post and saw photos of yesterday's mass wedding ceremony of 3000 couples at the Mall. It looked like a blend of the Castro in San Francisco and the women's music festivals I love so dearly. There was a schedule and map of today's events. Yes, the rally had started at 10 AM and the march at 11 AM, but the Millennium Festival was going on until 8 PM. Over a mile of Pennsylvania Avenue closed off to traffic...right next to a Metro stop! I could certainly manage to do that with windchime walker's help.

And my mother's response? "Of course! Why don't you start out right now so you don't miss any more of it!"

By 4 PM I was surrounded by 1000s of sisters and brothers at a street festival to beat all street festivals. Beautiful warm sun, blue skies and refreshing breezes. Music. Dancing. Food. Drinks. Booths with things to buy and information to pick up. Stickers decorating everyone's t-shirts, except for the bare-chested muscle boys! Smile after smile after smile everywhere I looked. A free t-shirt ("So you don't get cold later!") and a fragrant white lily given to me by two different fellas. A significant conversation with M., a wonderful woman in an electric wheelchair, and J., her partner of 22 years, who came down together from NYC. Windchime walker and I dancing with all the guys in front of the music tent. The delight of running into two friends from the women's music festivals, one of whom gave me enough food tickets to pay for a delicious Thai dinner. Countless folks asking to take my picture and coming up to compliment me and windchimer.

I stayed till things began to close down about 7:30 PM. Thank goddess for my walker seat. I must have walked at least a mile today...not to mention the dancing!

Whenever I'm with "family" (the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community), I feel total love and acceptance. What a healing world in which to walk. When will the dominant culture recognize and value these gifted people whom they continue to push to the margins of society? In my lifetime, may I see such a cultural r/evolution of attitudes!

MONDAY, MAY 1, 2000

I am ready to be home!

I spend the day with Mom, sitting in her room mainly reading. She stays in bed. "The doctor says I have to stay in bed." "Why, Mom?" "Because of my broken leg and hip." She has no broken leg or hip. When I say the doctor actually wants her to get out of bed so she won't develop pneumonia, she argues and then clams up with that pursed-mouth I remember from childhood. Yep, it's time to go home.

I sit outside her nursing facility in the late afternoon sun to restore myself before tonight's dinner date with my nephew J.D. and K., his woman friend. Find myself making up new words to Harmony's "Letting Go" round that we'd sung at WoMaMu music camp a very long two weeks ago.

I sit soaking up the sun
Letting my mind go free, letting my mind go free
All day long I've tried to be what I think I should be
All day long I've tried to do what I think I should
Now it's time for me, time for me, time for me, time for me
Now it's time for me, time for me, time for me, time for me

The red cardinal in the leafy green maple tree accompanies me with loud chirps. Gusty winds add a soft percussive sound. A squirrel stands on its hind legs with paws clutched to its chest, ready to clap. I sing and sing and sing.

Yes, I can do one more day. But tomorrow night, I sleep at home in my own bed!


I wake to sun streaming on my blue cotton quilt. The prism's rainbows play on golden walls at the foot of my bed. Tiny rusty-green leaves shimmer on the maple tree outside my window. Yesterday's travel nightmare has passed. I am home.

I learned so much about myself yesterday. Yes, I am a good traveler...but only when things work out pretty much according to plan. I've learned to set everything up ahead so that my special needs can be met with a minimum of anxiety. That means getting to the airport as much as 2 hours ahead of departure. Whether I choose to walk out to the gate or ask for wheelchair assistance, everything takes time. I use windchime walker as a beast-of-burden so I can avoid the hassle of baggage claim. My laptop slips over one arm of the walker, and my suitcase over the other. It makes for slow-going and needing a wide berth getting through doors, but I appreciate the independence of being able to carry everything I need by myself.

Yesterday's 9:25 PM flight required many pieces to fit together in timely order. I checked out of the motel around noon, and left my bags there for later pick-up. Next, the motel's courtesy van drove me over to Mom's nursing facility where I planned to visit until late afternoon. I'd scheduled the van to return for me at 6 PM. Then back to the motel where I'd get my luggage and wait for the airport shuttle to pick me up at 6:30 PM. I'd allowed plenty of time to get to the BWI (Baltimore/Washington International) airport before my flight, hoping to have time to eat dinner there first. Well planned, yes?

At 4:20 PM I called ProAir to confirm my reservations. "Oh", the woman's voice said, "you were on the 9:25 PM flight to Detroit, weren't you?" My heart sank. I didn't like her using the past tense, especially since I'd already had experience of ProAir cancelling my flight from BWI last year. Yep. "Sorry, that flight's been cancelled. But we have you booked on the 8:30 AM flight tomorrow." I don't think so! I was so ready to be home I could taste it. Well, the next hour and 10 minutes were filled with probably 20 different phone calls interspersed with tears of frustration. My mother lay in her bed, looking helpless and sad. Guess that's the first time in years she's seen me in such a state. But, dammit, I got home last night after all!

As often happens, there was a silver lining to this gray cloud. My shuttle ride to the airport ended up being a delightful tour through Maryland farmlands, quaint towns and wooded forests. Alex, originally from El Salvador, knew how to beat the horrendous rush hour traffic on 495 by taking back roads. We breezed to the airport in a record 45 minutes. Not only that, he graciously let me make 3 calls on his cell phone as mine was battery-dead by then. Muchos gratias, mi amigo!


After dinner yesterday with my old friend, D.T.--longtime, not old!--it's still light out, a warm spring evening. I decide to drive down Detroit's main drag, Woodward Avenue, and check out my city. Pass by a darkened Orchestra Hall. See folks going to a big blues show at the Fox Theater. The new Comerica ballpark on my left.  The Detroit Opera House. The elevated People Mover filled with passengers. A block-long hole in the ground where the old J. L. Hudson's department store used to stand. Noguchi's fountain on the Riverfront Plaza. The entrance to the Windsor, ONT tunnel beside the 70-story Renaissance Center.

A mile east of downtown I make a right turn over the bridge to Belle Isle, Detroit's Central Park. Sun-lit city skyline ahead. Fishing boats on the shimmering water. Windsor's riverfront parks across the river. Their casino sign blazing red. The island crowded with walkers, joggers, bikers, folks picnicing, teenagers cruising. I stop to watch a dozen does and fawns munching grass by the side of the road, 2 white, 2 whitetail and the rest mule deer. Farther along, in the wooded area, a dozen bucks lay in tall grass, chewing their cuds. Six miles around the island, 20 MPH speed limit. Where I first learned to run. Where I passed the finish line in the 1979 and '80 Detroit Free Press International marathons. Where we used to train for the century biking tours we did in the late '70s and early '80s. Where E.D. and I used to belong to the Detroit Boat Club, his childhood home-away-from-home. Where we'd ride across the river in our Boston Whaler runabout from the marina beside our highrise apartment. Where E.D. asked me to marry him while driving across the Belle Isle bridge 34 years ago this May.

It's always hard to leave San Francisco after my winter stay is over. I love that city's people, life, beauty and energy. But the truth is, Detroit's my home. Wounded, wonderful, totally real Detroit.

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2000

A girl, mature beyond her years, acts as interpreter for her mother and siblings. The mother, with a blackened eye, smiles shyly. An energetic younger child with a ready smile puts out a hand to pet the cat who promptly runs away. An even younger one runs after said cat, giggling.

At 4:45 PM, the phone rings for perhaps the 12th time since I took house duty at 2 PM. The 4th request for a room today. This transitional shelter for women and children has one room available. P.K., my friend and one of 3 staff members, is holding out for a woman with children. "It's so hard for them to find housing, and this room would work. It has two beds, one double and one single. Perfect for a mother with kids." This request is for housing a Spanish-speaking woman and her children. P.K. says yes. "When are they going to get here?", I ask. "In a half hour", P.K. says, rushing upstairs to make beds and prepare the room. I see about putting the pizzas in the oven. Luckily, T.L., who's gone off to perform a wedding, made two pizzas and a salad for tonight's dinner. Should be enough if I go home to eat instead of staying as I'd planned.

"We don't think it's a good idea to have the kids go to school", says the social worker. "The father might go there. If he shows up here, call 911", she continues. "A police report's already been filed." The mother and older girl remain silent.

As everyone sits down to dinner, I say goodbye. "See you on Tuesday!" And I leave, deeply grateful for the opportunity to return.


The strangest thing is going on with my web site. I'm getting a bit dippy with it!

Last night I decide to update my home page (/index.html) after not having really looked at it in eons. I update the journal page every day, but nothing else. Anyway, when I pull up my /index.html file from Netscape Composer (the web design software I use), I'm shocked to see that the wrong content is filed under that name. Instead of my usual home page, I see the home page I constructed to be run posthumously! Though I'm not aware of ever having uploaded that file to my site, there it is saying, "When you read this I will have passed on", etc., etc. How long has that been up??!! No wonder I've received so few emails from my site of late, though the number of hits has increased. My goddess, everyone must think I'm dead and buried. Yikes!!!

So I figure, no problem. I'll just recreate the index page the way I want it and upload it pronto. Sounds simple. I even take the other file marked /index. html (posthumous) out of my regular web site file, and put it somewhere else so there won't be any more mix-ups. After I upload the revised index file, I go back online and click on my site expecting everything to be OK. Nope! Not OK! The old posthumous home page just keeps popping up. I continue trying--to no avail--to get it to come up properly until after 1 AM. Finally I trundle off to bed, feeling very unsettled.

I can't sleep. So I get up at 5 AM to see if, by some miracle, things have improved overnight. The proper home page comes up fine under one screen name, but not under the other. I finally remember about using the Restore button, click that, and all is as I want it to be. I breath a big sigh of relief and stay online answering emails.

About 9 AM, E.D. and I ride our tandem bike to the grocery store, a weekly good-weather activity. As usual, I sit at a table outside of Starbucks with a sweet roll and cold Tazo tea, while E.D. goes to Kroger's and shops (good division of labor, eh?). When he comes out, he hangs the plastic bags from his front handlebars--we've got this down to a science--and we ride home through the neighborhoods. Going there we always ride beside the lake.

So all is in a normal rhythm. Beautiful hot day. Fragance of lilacs and lilies-of-the-valley everywhere. Deciduous trees all greening up. Fruit trees in full pink, purple and white bloom. Everybody outside enjoying this first real taste of summer.

After we return home, I go upstairs to work at my computer. Just for the heck of it, I check my site to be sure everything's still OK. Well, one screen name is fine...and the other? Back to the posthumous home page!!!! So I call my web host tech support and explain this weirdness to a man named M. Could I have a virus or a hacker messing around here? "Nope", he says, "this happens sometimes." The posthumous home page is probably "cached" in my computer's memory. It'll stay there until the name server--in my case, AOL--updates their browser. Hopefully that should be accomplished within the next 12 hours. So it seems that anyone who bookmarked my site during my "death" will still think I'm gone for anywhere from hours to days from now, depending on when their ISP updates its files. Great!!

I go downstairs and tell E.D. about my latest home page trauma. He laughs and says, "So put in that 'Reports of my demise are premature!' But, really, it's only a half-truth. After all, your body's fingernails and cells die and regenerate every day!" We both start giggling. Later in the day, E.D. checks my site on his office computer. Yep, I'm still dead there too. We really begin to lose it then! E.D. says, "Well at least now I know what kind of letter you'd write for me to read after your death! How do I print this thing out?", he says.

And all this because I tried to look ahead! I mean doesn't everyone say you should make wills and tell folks what you want done after you die? Zowie!! Guess I'd better stick around for good long while.

SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2000

The first Sunday of the month. Notable Women chorus rehearsal. How wonderful to sing again with my Michigan women's community! We celebrate Mother's Day a week early. Not the Hallmark holiday, but the meaning behind the original celebration in 1870. Julia Ward Howe's call to mothers to gather and work toward putting an end to war. Her Mother's Day Proclamation states in part:

Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage,
for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
all that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy, patience.
We women of one country
will be too tender of those of another country
to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated earth
a voice goes up with our own.
It says "Disarm, Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

Women of the United States knew after the Civil War, just as our women of today know after the Gulf War and the continued bombings of Iraq, the war in Kosovo and Yugoslavia, bombings of Afghanistan and the Sudan, "peacekeeping" in Somalia and elsewhere...that war accomplishes nothing except to teach our children violent means of settling disputes.

May next Sunday's Million Moms Marchs around the US, Canada and other countries bring us together in ways that will transform our swords (guns for killing) into plowshares (tools for planting peace).

MONDAY, MAY 8, 2000

A day devoted to taking care of business. I call to arrange for a single accessible room with air conditioning at the National Women's Music Festival at Ball State University in Indiana the end of June. "I remember you, Patricia! Do you remember me?" "Please help me out! Where did we connect?" "We danced together at the last festival!" "Oh yes! How could I forget one of my dancing partners!" And, happily, she's able to save me the room I need for my 5 night stay at this, my 4th National festival. Such lovely validation of my choice to attend National instead of going east that weekend for my 40th high school reunion. Feels like an opportunity to celebrate the present rather than the past.

Then letters to prepare for mailing, phone calls to make, plans/finances to update, and emails to send regarding the Carolyn McDade singing retreat that Notable Women chorus is sponsoring in early June. This will be my 9th time singing with Carolyn since March 1993. She is probably the single most transformative human agent in my life. A weekend singing her songs of women, the earth and justice always takes me to some new, unexpected place. So I am only too happy this year to be part of the team of women helping to make it happen. Oh, and where it happens is part of the magic! At a small (27 beds) retreat center on the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario between Kingsville and Windsor. We sing in a second floor room, windowed on three sides, surrounded by trees and water. How often we sing of herons or geese as they are skimming over the lake. Or rain as it cascades from the roof. Or rainbows that bow over the horizon. Or sun dappled leaves. Or sing of those who work for justice and peace as we stand in a circle of just such women.

This kind of "business" is what makes my life a grace-filled work of art. How fortunate I am to live as I intentionally choose to live. So when people ask me what artistic medium I'm working in at present, I'm inclined to answer, "Life!"

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2000

What a delight to do house duty at a shelter with children running around! The mother and kids who moved in on Friday seem to be feeling at home now. As I arrive, the preschoolers are giggling as they push one another around the house in a Fisher Price wheelbarrow. The older girl sits beside her mother at the dining room table, listening to the three Spanish-speaking women guests converse. I invite the youngsters to join me on the front porch. We play "Simon Says". I read aloud from "Arthur and the Sleepover". We pretend to be different animals. We talk.

The older girl tells me she misses going to school. "I miss my friends." She names about 7 special friends. "We left before I could tell anyone." Her mother doesn't want her to phone her friends for fear they might have caller ID. They cannot take any chance of the father finding them. Today the staff arranged for her teacher to start faxing her homework to the house. Luckily she's a good student. "Except for computers. My hands move too slow!" As we talk, her younger siblings take turns sitting in her lap. She just keeps talking, gently hugging the little ones with unselfconscious affection.

Whenever the phone rings, she helps me by running upstairs to get the person who's being asked for. As P.K. starts to prepare dinner, my young friend says, "Can I help? I want to learn to cook!" She prepares the salad--"My very first!"--and grates all the cheese for P.K.'s spinach/summer squash quiche. A wonderful child, though far too old for her years.

The strain she's under showed only once today. While we were out on the front porch, her face suddenly went ashen and her eyes widened in terror. The moment passed quickly. I suspect a car passed by that looked like her father's. I wonder what she has seen and heard in her short life. May she, her mother and siblings be safe now. May she be allowed to be a child!


The heat has broken. I wake early to turn off the fan and pull up my blanket. Last night's rain continues falling softly on the roof. But it is nothing like the storm that woke me early Tuesday morning!

Monday night I went to bed, feeling sticky and hot. No sheet covering me, windows full open and fan pointed directly at my bed. There was no premonition of change, except for breezes beginning to stir trees outside my window. I fell asleep quickly. At 4 AM I awaken with a start. Curtains whip over my bed, strong loud winds bend trees, flashes of lightning intermittently paint the sky blue-white, thunder crashes overhead! I scurry around--as much as I can scurry--closing windows in the upstairs rooms. Suddenly the skies open and raindrops, each sounding like the size of a quarter, deafeningly drum at the (thankfully) now-closed windows. I sit in the front room and watch the show. It moves through like a freight train on a busy run. Ever-fainter echoes of thunder soon move eastward over the lake. Rain diminishes to a drizzle. The sky settles back into dark. 15 minutes from beginning to end. There is absolutely nothinglike a rip-snortin' midwestern thunderstorm!

My transplanted friends say there are two things they miss in California: thunderstorms and autumn leaves. During El Niño, the winter of 1997-8, San Francisco's occasional thunderstorms were reported with wonder in the daily newspaper and on the radio!

Of course, these thrilling events of nature can leave devastation in their wake. On my way to work at the shelter yesterday, I saw a large maple tree lying on the ground, totally uprooted. Its top branches had landed a few feet from a neighbor's house; its roots nestled in a ball of earth lying on its side at the edge of a deep hole. Such beauty has its costs!

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2000

There is nothing to rival first graders for enthusiasm and energy!  Today I had the delightful opportunity to teach disability awareness to two first grade classes in a local school. Whenever I'm asked, I act as a volunteer teacher of a program called Attitudes, developed by the Kenny Foundation, an organization dealing with mobility disabilities. It's a well designed program that really keeps the kids' interest.

We talk about the different disabilities and assistive devices people use. We also figure out how best to offer help to persons with disabilities. We watch and discuss a short animated video of a little boy who uses arm-brace crutches and leg braces. We have volunteer students role play various accessibility situations--with suggestions from the class--while using arm-brace crutches and a child's wheelchair that I bring along. I finish by asking each child to draw a picture of her- or himself playing a game or sport with a friend who's disabled. The theme is "People with disabilities are the same as everyone else; they just do things differently." I use the sign of both index fingers held together for same, and the same two fingers crossed then pulled apart for differently. The kids and I repeat these signs over and over during the hour. Hopefully that imprints the message.

Questions and sharing of stories by the kids make this experience unique to each class. Today I heard:
"My Dad uses his wheelchair when we go anyplace."
"My Mom uses crutches sometimes when she gets tired."
"How does somebody in a wheelchair go up stairs?"
"Can they play soccer?"
"How do they drive a car?"
"My grandma has a walker like you."
"One time I had to use a wheelchair when I was hurt in a car crash."
"When I was little I used a walker but it was different from your's. The wheels were in front."

When it came time to call on volunteers to use the crutches and wheelchair, kids were on their feet, arms waving, voices pleading, "Me! Let me do it!" I tried to call on youngsters who might not generally be out there in front doing things special. Their smiles as I pointed to them were as radiant as any winner of today's lottery!

What a gratifying experience! This unasked for diagnosis of MS has certainly opened doors to people and places I would never have encountered without it.

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2000

A warm muggy day spent in various and sundry ways. Read/send emails. Pay San Francisco phone bills. Call Mom (she went to an orchestra concert last night and got overtired!! Her dreams are very vivid). Order her Mother's Day flowers. Get a haircut (LOVE the feel of my white feather brush cut!). Visit the bookstore where I used to work. Talk to an old friend there. Buy two books with E.'s gracious sharing of his birthday gift certificate. Stop for dunch (dinner/lunch) and a corner piece of deep dish cheese pizza. Drive along the lake enjoying geese, ducks, green green trees and grass. Receive/read the May/June "Disability Life" magazine with an article on windchime walker. Email article's author and mag's publisher asking them to print an addendum in the next issue with my URL (the reason for the article, in my view). Accept an online friend's invitation for my differently abled online community to join her new forum. Send emails with the invitation to my list of women. Write today's journal entry. Looking forward to continued viewing of an excellent Chinese video with E.D. tonight. Plan to go to bed at a reasonable time in preparation for tomorrow's women's drumming workshop and performance/concert in Lansing. At 11 PM my time I'll be sending good energy to my Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF as they perform their spring concert, Mission ImPOPssible, a sure winner!

Life as a richly colored, multi-textured tapestry.

SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2000

Isn't it interesting how we'll do something or go someplace for one reason, only later to discover we were there for quite another. So it was yesterday. I went to an afternoon drum workshop and evening concert 90 miles from home because I like the teacher and wanted to be drumming again. Ever since I first heard of this event, I knew I had to be there. One of the draws was the women's concert at which we'd be performing that evening. Repercussions, my favorite drumming group, was headlining with another group I didn't know.

So my friend, P.K., and I drove up to East Lansing. It took us longer than anticipated and we hurried into the workshop just as it began. Well, four hours later, a dozen women and I had learned two drum rhythms and were "ready" to open for the concert at 7:30 PM! I managed to catch a quick nap in Repercussions' dressing room while P. and a new friend went out to dinner. Then as I ate the delicious Chinese carry-out they brought back to me, my two friends lay down on couchs in the dressing room and took their turns napping. This was to be a long day, from the workshop's start at noon to concert's end at 10:30 PM.

It turned out to be a joint spring concert of Repercussions and the Lansing Women's Chorus, Sistrum. So that was why I was there! To see and hear Sistrum. Not only was their sound and energy exceptional, their repertoire global and socially aware, their director enthusiastic and musically superb, but the entire concert was interpreted by a gifted sign language "singer"! When the chorus sang one of my favorite Carolyn McDade chants, they were accompanied by the director on cello, another chorus member on violin and their regular pianist. S-i-g-h! We are so in sync that I could sing along with almost half of their songs! By the end of their set I knew that I wanted to join this chorus. An hour and a half each way to weekly rehearsals will only give me more time to practice with the rehearsal tapes I plan to make!

At intermission I talked with Sistrum's director, R., explaining that I spend the winters in San Francisco but that, when in Michigan, I'd like to sing with their group. She's open to my joining them! Rehearsals start again in September and I'll be there for their annual mid-November concert. Some of the chorus members I talked with later said I might even be able to keep up with tapes so I could also sing with them in next year's spring concert.

A rather uncanny part of this weekend's discovery is its timing. Last night as I attended Sistrum's spring concert, my Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco was preparing to perform our spring concert in 3 hours (Pacific Time). Was it the windchime I gave them to ring during "The Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In"? As windchime walker rang here in Michigan was Tinkerbell sprinkling her fairy dust?

Besides all this, the drumming was a real kick!

MONDAY, MAY 15, 2000

I'm still surprised at how easily I can be swept up by emotional responses to things. Especially relating to how I'm perceived by others. It seems as though my sense of self is strong and grounded. I believe I'm pretty mature, at least mature enough. People trust me and often come for counsel. Most of the time, my actions reflect my words. I don't fly off the handle, but generally treat people with sensitivity and respect. And if I don't, I'm quick to go back and apologize. I say all these things to remind myself of who I am because the past few days I've begun to wonder.

I don't need to go into details about the difficult interpersonal situation that is challenging me except to say that I had no warning it was coming. I've been left reeling from the impact of another's words and perceptions of me, someone I do not know well but with whom I've been working--I thought compatibly--on a project. It's been hard to sleep at night and whenever I think of it during the day I feel deeply disturbed. I guess it hasn't helped that for three days running I've received elaborations on the original theme via email.

Last night I was in a sorry state. So after doing all the "feeling my feelings" stuff, I stopped and looked at what was going on with me. The other person's negativity was not the issue: my feelings about myself were. I was a mess! No self confidence. Poor perceptions of myself. Forgetting who I am. Ignoring my gifts and obsessing about my limitations. Around and around I went, like a rat in a maze. Well, I drew myself up short and said, "Stop it!" I repeated to myself over and over, "I am good. The world is better off because I exist. No one has the power to destroy my sense of self. Someone else's issues are not my issues. I am only responsible for myself and my life." The whole affirmations scenario. As I said these things to myself, I brought to mind positive effects I've had in other's lives, gifts I've been able to give.

You know, it worked! I was finally able to sleep feeling confident and whole within myself. Yikes, do such learnings never end?? Guess we're all enrolled in the college of lifelong learning whether we want to be or not!

After I finished writing this journal entry today, I received the following most apt and fitting email forward from a crone listserv to which I gratefully belong:

Imagine A Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman. A
woman who honours her experience and tells her stories. Who refuses to
carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who believes she is good. A woman who trusts and
respects herself. Who listens to her needs and desires, and meets them
with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past's influence on the
present. A woman who has walked through her past. Who has healed into
the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life. A woman who exerts, initiates,
and moves on her own behalf. Who refuses to surrender except to her
truest self and to her wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods. A woman who imagines the divine
in her image and likeness. Who designs her own spirituality and allows
it to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body. A woman who believes her body
is enough just as it is. Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and
cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honours the face of the Goddess in her changing
face. A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her
wisdom. Who refuses to use precious energy disguising the changes in her
body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life. A woman who sits in
circles of women. Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she

Imagine yourself as this woman.

(author unknown)

TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2000

With our young interpreter off at school, her mother and I are left to our own devices at the shelter today. It turns out to be a blessing. We sit together at the dining room table and take our time searching around for creative ways to communicate. The Spanish/English, English/Spanish dictionary serves as fall back when we come to words like gift and care for. I learn some Spanish, she learns some English, and we both learn more about one another. It's wonderful to see her coming more and more to life every week. Such a gentle-spirited, tenacious young woman! She'll make it.

Then in drags her eldest daughter, home from school. I say drags because she is so low-in-the-mouth she's practically crawling on the floor! Second day at a new school (down the street). The kids won't play with her. The work's too hard. The teacher goes too fast. The math problems are different from what she's used to. She has homework she doesn't know how to do. Does she have to go back?

After encouraging her to talk about everything that feels hard, we pick up the stapled sheets of homework and set to work. The fractions look different from what she's used to, so I ask her to bring down her math book from the other school. We see how they relate. The division problems are too hard. She shows me how she learned to do them in her old school. We find that, with small adaptations, she can do them the same way now. As she does problem after problem correctly, her smile reappears and she begins to whiz through them with increasing confidence. A page on nutrition calls for looking up definitions of words such as vitamin, mineral, protein, carbohydrate. We find the shelter's dictionary and I teach her how to use it. Believe me, I could hardly understand those definitions myself! Next week I'll bring in a children's dictionary for the house.

It's so gratifying to see the transformation she undergoes in a little over an hour. Gives me new insight as to why teachers teach. Not to mention why I love coming to this shelter every week!


I'm weary but today has been a most satisfying day...and it's not over yet. I still have my women's book group gathering tonight, a group I always find engaging and stimulating.

The lunch date I'd dreaded went swimmingly! Amazing how simply seeing and talking with another can help barriers break down and misunderstandings get resolved. Email's great but it'll never replace conversation...that is if both persons come to it openly with good intentions. It takes energy and guts to really hear another's story and truthfully tell your own. What would happen if the leaders of nations--not their representatives--took the time to meet face-to-face and talk about differences and conflicts before taking action? Would there be bombings and wars? Anyway, the interpersonal conflict I was struggling with is now over. And I suspect a new friendship is being forged.

After lunch I went to a couple of health care emporiums to look at wheelchairs. It's time to have my own for events--like the upcoming OAS demonstrations in Windsor, ONT--where windchime walker is out of her range. Even though it certainly represents a slide down the disability scale, it feels fine to me. I've now used chairs off and on for years. I've borrowed, rented and in San Francisco even shelled out a cool $50 for a used wheelchair of a friend-of-a-friend's. But this is the first time I'm seriously in the market to buy my own. I want a chair that fits for a change (16" instead of the normal 18"), is lightweight and has detachable footrests and armrests. But I know from my online explorations that even manual wheelchairs can be very pricey (some in the $2000+ category). Since I'm looking into buying an Amigo travelmate scooter this summer--definitely not cheap!--I'd like a wheelchair that is on the low end of the price scale. I don't know if insurance will cover any of this, so it has to fit both my needs and our budget.

Well, I think I've found one I like for $783. That sounds like a lot of $$ to me but I guess it's "cheap" for a lightweight wheelchair! Just called my neurologist for a prescription (there's no sales tax with prescription). According to my salesperson, the doctor needs to write very specific things on that prescription form so the insurance company will even consider covering payment. But there are no guarantees. Ah, the games we play. Well, I'm going to play one too. Don't think I'm shelling out a penny before I've done some heavy-duty online comparison shopping!

THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2000

I awake feeling so incredibly grateful to be alive. Last night, returning home from my book group, my little red Neon was sideswiped by a large van on the expressway going 60 MPH. Neither of us was hurt. In fact the only "damage" was a brown streak of paint on my back bumper. The other driver moved from the middle lane into the right lane without seeing my car. As I felt him coming toward me, I slammed my foot to the floor, giving it all the gas I could. It was that instinctive action that saved us both. I felt the weight of his van brush my car, causing it to shudder and threaten to go out of control. We both pulled over to the shoulder, got out and surveyed the damage. This courtly man apologized, while I replied, "I've come close to doing the same myself." When we saw there was no damage to speak of, I said, "Let's forget it. We are two very lucky people." He agreed.

Why does it take such a close call to recognize the wonder of being alive? My friend K.S. comes to mind, the 35 year-old woman who took her life this winter. I know she suffered greatly from severe effects of MS, but did she know--really know--what she was giving up?

I must admit this experience makes me rethink my decision to join a women's chorus 90 miles from home. Do I really want to drive over an hour and a half late at night every week on expressways with 70 MPH speed limits? Feels pretty risky after last night. Reminds me of how I felt in 1966 after going through a windshield and having 70 stitches in my face. Accidents are easier than we imagine!

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2000

Today I did something I wouldn't have imagined I could still do: I painted a floor! Not the whole floor, mind, but parts of our kitchen linoleum that had become worn and torn. Where E.D. was going to masking-tape large areas and slather on paint, I painstakingly recreated the original brick pattern as best I could. Typical of our unique ways of doing things! I guess I'm my father's daughter, after all. Detail-oriented and probably more than a little obsessive. It's these tendencies that have served me well in my work as an artist. Anyone who's seen the pen-and-ink dot drawings I call "meditation mandalas" would not be surprised to hear me describe myself as bordering on obsessive! And certainly the design and maintenance of my web site has utilized my capacity to work with details...minutia, actually.

Painting the floor used much more than my artistic flair--it required agility and strength. For someone who generally avoids floor-sitting, this was a rather unlikely job for me to tackle. Sitting on the floor is no problem; it's getting on my feet again that presents a challenge. But I did it! Not once, but twice (two coats of paint). I'm plenty tired and a little sore, but so very satisfied.

I need to remember this day when the "I-can't-do-it" bird starts chirping in my ear.

SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2000

A lovely low-key day. Sleep late. Shower and wash my hair. For lunch E. and I share delicious cauliflower soup and fresh sourdough bread from a local carry-out shop. I stretch out on the living room couch and read from The Best American Short Stories 1999, edited by Amy Tan, as E.D. sits in his leather chair reading The Imperial San Francisco by Gray Brechin. The city's maintenance engineer comes over to tell E. that he has repaired the police station's air conditioner next door, thus eliminating the every-60 second-clicking sound that has driven E.D. crazy for two years. E.D. goes off to his office in a rejoicing mood, and I come upstairs to work at the computer.

Before adding a new link to my web site, I decide to check all the links listed and delete those which fail to connect. I then research online information about choosing a wheelchair and print out 10 pages regarding the one I'm interested in purchasing. Our friend P.K. from the shelter comes over to relax on her day off. While P.K. naps, I read and reply to emails. Then P.K. and I visit downstairs until E.D. returns from the office. We three drive to our favorite neighborhood restaurant for dinner. Back home again, P.K. and I watch the first video from the 5-part "Pride and Prejudice" BBC series, while E.D. takes his nightly walk. After P.K. leaves to go home, E.D. takes care of some household stuff like replacing a toilet tank bulb and putting up new spring-adjusting curtain rods in my computer room upstairs. As I sit down to write this journal entry, I hear E.D. in the den downstairs start watching the "Titanic" video for perhaps the 25th time. It crosses my mind for the umpteenth time that maybe he keeps watching it in hopes that maybe this time it'll turn out differently!

And now to bed.

SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2000

Sun glints off the water
White sails billow in breeze
Ed and I pump with vigor
Our bike bumps over streets

White sails billow in breeze
Long-necked geese bob on waves
Our bike bumps over streets
Lawns so green my eyes ache

Long-necked geese bob on waves
Red-winged blackbird's song trills
Lawns so green my eyes ache
Sunday noon by the lake

Red-winged blackbird's song trills
Ed and I pump with vigor
Sunday noon by the lake
 Sun glints off the water

MONDAY, MAY 22, 2000

Today I researched my options for a new mobility-enhancing device. Over the weekend I decided buying a manual wheelchair and a scooter was too much of a good thing...too much $$ that is! Since my need is for something to increase my long-distance range, it seems like a power scooter should do the trick. So the next step was to see which style best suits my needs and pocket-book. Since I have no interest in buying anything that requires a van or hoist mechanism to fit in a car, that means a lightweight, modular scooter.

Actually I've had my eye on a particular model for a year and a half now. A woman I know bought an Amigo TravelMate scooter that folds for easy transport and weighs 61, the body being 47 lbs. without the battery pack. It was co-designed by two men: one in Ann Arbor, MI and the other in Israel. When she bought hers in early 1999, it had just been introduced. I remember saying to her that when it was time for me to get a scooter, that would be the model I'd want. So I started there.

Online research is such an amazing adventure. One site leads you to another, and that one to another, and on and on. After putting in a search for "power scooters", a site came up that offers discount-priced scooters and extensive pre-sales support. Six emails later, I began to feel more knowledgable about the pros and cons of this particular model. Not only that, I was able to explore other lightweight scooters as well. Long and short is that the TravelMate will not be happy with San Francisco hills or anything but well-paved outside surfaces. But any scooter that has hill-climbing or rough terrain capacities is going to be plenty heavy and require special equipment to transport in cars or vans.

Next, I went over to my friend's house to try out her TravelMate scooter. She lives on a hill--not a SF quality hill for sure--but probably similar to going from my apartment down to the BART station on Mission. Really all the hill capacity I need. I like it! But, let me tell you, I'd best practice in an empty parking lot before they let me out on sidewalks. Amazing how fast 3 MPH can seem in one of those little buggies! I discovered that I'd need a pillow behind my back to comfortably handle the steering mechanism, but that's not unusual for short-armed me. I like its simplicity of design, especially the ease of unfolding the body and inserting the battery pack. Besides, it's quite perky!

I came home and returned to the web for further research. Found a most helpful article describing the different types of scooters, with particular emphasis on how to choose the proper one for your needs. I'm still inclining toward the TravelMate. Am now checking out prices and such. There was even an online ad for a used TravelMate scooter near Ann Arbor, MI, so I've left a message with the seller. I'm following the same process I followed last year when I bought my car. The web allows me to be an informed consumer without fatiguing myself in the process. What a boon!

Thoughts of where I might go and what I might do with such a scooter dance in my head. The OAS demonstrations in two weeks, Windsor's gardens and parks, summer festivals at Detroit's riverfront plaza, the National Women's Music Festival in June, the Ann Arbor Art Fair in July, museums, the zoo, botanical gardens...endless opportunities! Instead of feeling a sense of loss as I become more dependent on assistive devices, I feel a sense of liberation. Isn't this what it's all about?

TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2000

A purple letter day!! (As opposed to a red letter day!) The day I buy my scooter!

After yesterday's online research, today I go local. In the yellow pages there are several wheelchair/scooter dealers listed in the Detroit area. I call the one that deals exclusively in scooters and am surprised to find the price he quotes for the Amigo TravelMate is the lowest I've yet heard. Another plus is that he does all his own service, throwing in free labor for the duration of the warranty. Besides, he has 14 different scooters to try out right there in his store. So E.D. and I start out after lunch.

After riding four different scooters, I'm here to tell you that scooters are definitely not all the same! The TravelMate is extremely difficult to steer, not to mention its sluggishness on carpeted surfaces. The next one I try (also front-wheel drive) is a real teeth-rattler out on the sidewalks. Then we go to the rear-wheel drive models, that is scooters that can handle hills and rough terrain, but are heavier to transport. What a difference! It helps me see where scooters get their name as it fairly scoots over grass and sidewalks alike. But this one is pretty wide and not as durably constructed as the Amigo line. By now, I feel like Goldilocks trying out Papa, Mama and Baby Bears' beds. And the last one I try fits just right!

It is an Amigo RT, and is apparently the best-selling of all Amigo scooters. I can see why. It handles like a dream, is comfortable to sit in, stable and powerful. It is also the most narrow of all scooters at 20", meaning it can get through doors and halls that wider models can't. Besides, it comes in Majestic Purple!!! Need I say more? So, for the same price as the TravelMate--actually $99 less--I have a vehicle that can take me all over San Francisco, hills and all, without recharging the batteries (17 miles capacity). Not only SF, but the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival where pavement is nonexistent (they do have carpeted wheelchair paths "downtown"). Instead of needing to put my "I love pushy womyn!" on the back of my 3-wheeled bike, I'll just scoot up those Michigan hills on my own! Not that I won't always love pushy womyn!!!

It weighs 117 lbs. and breaks down into 4 component parts (not counting the two batteries). No hoist or van is needed, but it will definitely take more strength than I have to get it in and out of my car. Luckily I have a strong husband and strong friends! It'll work out, I'm sure. Actually, the so-called super lightweight TravelMate turned out to be beyond my ability to hoist around anyway.

So probably next Tuesday my new friend will be delivered, all put together and ready to roll. Now my thoughts run to decorations and a name! Ah well, she'llshow me what she wants. Of course, my scooter's a she...she is purple, after all!


I awake very early, too excited to sleep. My mind racing with thoughts of my new scooter and where it might take me. What a friend already calls my "purple chariot". It's strange to recall how I felt about wheelchairs and scooters 12 years ago when I was first diagnosed with MS. They loomed in my imagination as darkly ominous examples of a future I feared. To me then, the idea of becoming so disabled that I might need to use such devices was the worst possible scenario. Much as I tried to have a "good attitude" about the diagnosis of chronic progressive MS, within myself I absolutely hated the thought.

At that time I was strong, capable of running and biking relatively long distances, could play tennis and still do modern dance if I wanted. The 3 falls that had led me to see a neurologist in July 1988 were exceptions, certainly not the rule. My body had been an excellent instrument all my life and I couldn't imagine it any other way. Then came the diagnosis. I felt betrayed. How could my body turn on me this way? What would happen if it got so I couldn't even walk unaided? How could I continue to be who I'd always been? Capable. Independent. Quick. Athletic. Graceful. Spontaneous. Strong. Proud.

So here I am 12 years later, celebrating the purchase of a scooter! No longer able to walk unaided by cane, walker or wall. By necessity, one who carefully plans ahead before going anyplace. Comfortable asking for and receiving help. Slow and awkward in my movements. Unsure of my body's strength and abilities. Happy to get through each day without falling.

Something has changed within, even more than without. Yes, my body acts very differently than it did 12 years ago, but I'd say my attitude has changed even more. Not knowing what the future might bring has forced me to become a present-liver, one who savors this moment now. There's joy that comes with that, a sense of freedom. Like the moment today when I saw a hummingbird in our honeysuckle bushes out back, only the second or third hummingbird I've seen in my 34 years living in Michigan. Nothing needs to get better than that! Maybe the change-within is being more easily satisfied. My idea of what is enough is less grand. So now, looking at being able to go to a park or restaurant or demonstration or concert under my own power, so to speak, is as wondrous as going to Europe or running a marathon might have seemed 12 years ago.

I prefer this way of being in the world.

©2000 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

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