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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 2003
The Raging Grannies sang at an excellent teach-in at Wayne State University, I had a terrific swim, but all I can think about is what just happened. I thought I'd lost my Eddie. As it turned out, he's perfectly fine; all that had happened was that he'd lost his keys and therefore acted in unpredictable ways.
That's what got me going--the fact that Eddie is so regular in his habits. It didn't make me nervous when he wasn't home by the time I was going to scoot off to swimming. I thought it was a little strange that he hadn't called to check in this afternoon, but occasionally he doesn't. And it certainly wasn't unusual for him not to be home by 7:10 PM. He often comes in closer to 7:30 PM. So I left with no real concerns.
As I say, I had a good swim, but was a little disappointed when I saw wet pavement as I scooted out the school doors at 9:15 PM. I'd forgotten to bring my rain poncho, but the rain wasn't very heavy so I didn't really fret. Then four blocks from home, La Lucha's low battery indicator started to blink. I almost called Eddie on my cell phone to have him come pick me up, but I thought I'd keep going and see how far I could get. By now it was later than I usually get home--about 9:30 PM.
My scooter actually got me all the way home, but that was when things started going bad. As I pulled into our garage I was shocked to see that Ed's car was not there. Not only that, but the only lights on in the house were the ones I'd left on myself. I could see that much from the garage. I tried to call both our home and Ed's office. No answer either place. Now my heart was in my throat. I had visions of Eddie lying on the floor of his office for hours with no one to help him. I considered going next door to the police station and asking them to come with me to check Ed's office, but decided it made more sense for me to drive the mile and a half to his office and see if his car was there. If it was, I feared the worst.
It was there, parked just where he always parks it. There were no lights on in his office.
I was still calm--that's how I respond to crises--but now felt the worst had happened. I parked beside his car to see if by any chance he might be slumped over the steering wheel. My next call was going to be to his landlord, a dentist who lives nearby. I figured Bill would have a key and could open Ed's office, where I was now certain that he would be lying on the floor, possibly dead. As I reached into my purse to get my cell phone, I heard Ed's voice outside my car saying, "Hi!" I burst into tears and sobbed for a long time. Ed told me his story of having lost his keys and the back-and-forth adventures he'd had trying to find a key that would work. I could barely hear him I was crying so hard. Eddie put his arm around me and couldn't help saying, "Now I really do know you love me." But what a painful way to show it.
After we returned home--where, by the way, I immediately saw Ed's key in the bottom of the plastic bag he always carries--I took a hot shower to stop my teeth from chattering. As the water comforted me, I thought of all the women in Iraq and in Palestine whose lives are filled with such horrible imaginings. And how, for so many of them, the story does not have a happy ending.
But, for me tonight, it
did. And yes, I really do love my Eddie.
THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 2003
Children are often wiser than their elders. Just read this story written by Ali H., one of our fourth graders, and see if you don't agree. Please take special note of its unique ending.
Dragon World in Pictures
by Ali H.
There once was a planet. The planet was one of the most peaceful planets that was ever made. Soon people came and fought war with the dragons that lived there. The fight took a long time, but it had an end. The war was called Balloon to an End. When the war ended, the people won. Soon another war came. This time the dragons won. They started to hate each other. They wrote a new rule that said, "Be Bad To Dragons." The words were wrote in big letters. They soon fought in a war that whoever wins will decide if they should get along or not. The war began. One brave and kind BOY won! He said, "Let's get along." So they did and everything was back to normal.
so you Can't die.
FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 2003
This was a day that I will bring to mind with gratitude in the weeks and months to come.
Carolyn McDade, whose vision and coordination is at the heart of our "O Beautiful Gaia" CD project, arrived from her home on Cape Cod to the Detroit/Windsor area today for a weekend of song. Tomorrow our Great Lakes community will meet in Windsor, Ontario to sing with Carolyn from 9 AM-4 PM in preparation for Sunday's all-day session at the recording studio in suburban Detroit where we will make a rough-cut CD. We are also honored to have Jan Devine here from Prince Edward Island. She is the coordinator of the Atlantic Canada part of our project.
I was asked to meet Carolyn at the airport about 11 AM this morning. Joan Tinkess, the Ontario coordinator of the Great Lakes region and Jan Devine would be picking Carolyn up at my house at 3 PM. That meant we had an abundant four hours together to spend as we wished. In the ten years that I have sung with Carolyn, we had never before had time apart from the group, so this was a rare treat.
Ed had gotten us special lunch-makings from a local Lebanese carry-out, so when we arrived at my house, everything was ready for us to sit down to eat. I had invited Ed to join us so he could meet Carolyn whom he admires through her music and through my stories. I called to tell him we were home and he came right over. That was sweet. Then the phone rang and it was my friend Pat Kolon who was in the neighborhood with her community member DeeDee and wanted to stop over. We soon had five sitting at our table! Such a wonderfully unexpected party. After about a half hour, Pat and DeeDee had to leave, and in another half hour Ed said it was time for him to go back to his office too. With a little arm-twisting, we got him to play one boogie-woogie song--his specialty--on the piano before he left. He also took a picture of Carolyn and me, after I had taken one of him and Carolyn. And then there were again just two at our table.
Whether alone or in a group of friends, Carolyn and I never find it hard to find things to talk about. Our minds work in similar ways, and our hearts as well. So, of course, this tragic war was much with us throughout the day. It was great comfort to speak with a sister who sees and feels things as intensely as I. We also share a love of critical thinking and a need to express ourselves creatively. Maybe because we're both Geminis.
After we'd finished eating, I invited Carolyn to visit my "upper flat", the second floor of our house where I work at the computer, read, paint and sleep. It is very different from the downstairs in how it looks and feels--more a result of personal evolution than intentional "decorating." She was reverential of this space that means so much to me. When she saw my altar in the bathroom, her face was a study in wonder. This is a corner of the bathroom counter to which I've been adding meaningful (to me) items since the late 1970s. Someday I'll take a picture of it, but for now, it feels too sacred to show to the world.
We then went outside to enjoy this beautiful spring day. We walked/scooted down to the lake. Both of us love the water, she her Atlantic ocean and I my Lake St. Clair. Rather than have us walk beside the traffic, I took us into the lakefront park. That was where we encountered the magic.
After walk/scooting along the lake edge of the park, with the wind from the south caressing our faces and blowing Carolyn's hair--mine's too short to blow--we came to the harbor. By the way, the only sign of winter we'd seen thus far was the iceberg--a little smaller now--that I'd seen floating in the lake on Monday. But when we got to the harbor we saw that it was filled with crushed ice. Carolyn stopped and whispered, "Listen." The sound was unlike anything I'd ever heard. The best I can describe it is to say, imagine a rainstick filled with shards of glass. It tinkled and actually breathed in and out with the movement of the waves. Like ice music.
We stood in silence and let the sounds wash over us.
But soon we saw it was 2:40 PM, time to head home. Before we left the park, I took this picture of Carolyn looking out over my beloved lake. We arrived home to Joan's car parked out in front but no sign of Joan and Jan. We figured--rightly, as it turned out--that they'd gone looking for us. Within ten minutes they showed up at the door.
It was the first time I'd met Jan Devine in person, but we'd been co-designers of the O Beautiful Gaia web site, so were already friends in the virtual sense. By the way, the Gaia home page is her inspired design. Here are Carolyn, Jan and Joan before they left for Penny's house and their Gaia project coordinating meeting and sleep-over (sounds like camp).
As I say, this day will
feed and nourish me when times get rough. Or maybe I should say,
SATURDAY, MARCH 29, 2003
It is only 9:30 PM and I will soon be in bed. Zowie, but I'm tired! Our weekend of singing is proving to be glorious and exhausting, in equal parts. I must admit, though, my exhaustion is not simply a result of my having gotten up at 6 AM this morning after a fitful sleep, nor is it the fact that we sang with intense concentration from 9 AM to 4 PM with one hour for lunch; it is in large part the bad news that our dear sister, Mary White, whose 75th birthday we were to celebrate today, is in intensive care at a hospital near her home in northern Michigan. The seriousness of her condition has shocked and saddened us all. Mary is truly one of this planet's brightest, most loving spirits. She has spent her life working for justice and protecting the earth. For example, she is the only person I know whose home is powered totally by solar and wind energy and whose sole source of heat in the frigid northern Michigan winters, is her wood-burning stoves. Mary White acts on all the lovely earth-saving things the rest of us just talk about. As you can imagine, she has been a true gift to our O Beautiful Gaia community. I ask you to please send our beloved Mary large doses of healing energy. Our world needs her bright spirit now more than ever.
Tomorrow looks like it will also take a lot of focus and attention. I pick up my friend Judy Drylie at 7:30 AM so we can be out to the recording studio by 8:30 AM. We will be recording a rough cut CD from 9 AM to 4 or 5 PM, with time out for lunch. I've never even seen a recording studio, so much will be new. But, even though I may find the process tiring, being with these wonderful women and singing our love songs to the earth is the perfect antidote to war. How fortunate I am to be part of this creative adventure in truth and hope.
Fifty women of the Great Lakes Basin gathered at Assumption High School in Windsor, Ontario for a full day of singing in preparation for tomorrow's recording of a rough cut CD. The special treat was having our sister, Carolyn McDade, in town to companion us through the process. The O Beautiful Gaia project that we've been working on since September is the fruit of this songwriter/spiritual feminist/social activist's vision of community building to protect our planet, Gaia.
We began by each of us choosing one stone from a pile of stones gathered from the shores of Lake Huron, our Great Lake to the north. We then placed our stone on the altar made up of crocii and hyacinths that was covered in brightly colored scarves. This led spontaneously into the weaving of dance, drums, song and waving of scarves. After Pat Noonan lit our candle--her traditional part of the ritual--Charmaine read a poem titled, "Crocus-Minded" by Jo Sorley. It was then that we heard of our sister, Mary White's life-threatening illness. Many of us had wet eyes off and on during this day of song. Mary was so missed and so with us.
This was truly a day of song. For hours we went over every song we plan to sing on the CD, ten in all. Nancy Nordlie directed and our musicians, Deanne Bednar on keyboard and Sandy Yost on clarinet, accompanied us for most of the day. We sang in our sections--high, middle and low--and stayed focussed amazingly well. Oh yes, I forgot, on one song Penny Hackett-Evans played the rainstick, and sometimes Peg Case added the drum.
Just before lunch, Joan Tinkess showed us the dancing woman wood sculpture she had carved for Mary White and had planned to give her today on her 75th birthday. For the rest of the day, the sculpture rested on the altar, bringing Mary's dancing spirit to our circle. But, as it turned out, we did have a birthday to celebrate! On April 10 our sister Jean Overholt will turn 85. We got a head start on celebrating her birthday in today's circle.
Lunch was delicious. To make things less complex in terms of crossing the border, it has been our habit to ask the women of the country where we meet to bring lunch food for us all. The Canadian women always pack two bag lunches, one for themselves and one for an American sister. There is something so comforting about eating a bag lunch lovingly packed by someone else, rather like being a child and having Mommy there again to feed you. My lunch bag was filled with tasty things like cucumber spears, red peppers, a firm green apple, oatmeal raisin cookies and a big tunafish salad sandwich on multigrain bread.
We returned from lunch ready to sing some more. But first, Joann led us in a circle dance that had an inner circle and an outer circle and songs that accompanied the movements. A perfect way to get back into the spirit of the day. We had much more singing to do, but more importantly we needed to receive words of encouragement from Carolyn, words that enflamed our hearts and helped us reach ever deeper into the meaning--the heart--of that which we were singing. Whether you were a high, middle or low voice, you couldn't help realizing that the survival of our earth, our precious Gaia, depends on these songs we sing. As much as we must educate ourself and act wisely, so we must also sing and dance, paint and sculpt our planet into the transformation she deserves. That is where dreams are born.
Our day came to an end when the altar was disassembled and placed in a bread basket from Avalon Bakery. It was then that Jan Devine, our visiting sister from the Atlantic Canada region gave Penny, our Great Lakes-American coordinator, a shell she had brought us from Prince Edward Island. And she so generously gave me one too. Jan and I have been working together long-distance on the O Beautiful Gaia web site and have become friends in the process.
Thirty-one (!!!) of us
went out to dinner
together. I know the other customers and wait staff must have
wondered who was this group of women--women who kept breaking
into song as naturally as other people talk. But every one of
us was tired from this day of intense concentration and song.
We were well aware that tomorrow would be another BIG day. The
idea of bed looked pretty good.
SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 2003
Instead of today being tiring as I'd expected, it was energizing. Yes, it requires total attention to record a CD, even a rough cut, but somehow that very intense concentration is purifiying, rather like making love. I thought of nothing else during the hours that we spent in the studio, not the war nor our friend Mary's illness nor any of my other worries. I guess on a deep level they were with me, but not in a way that took emotional energy. It was almost restful in that way.
Next weekend we will each receive a copy of the CD that emerged from today's session. That will be interesting to hear. When you're part of a group of fifty singers, it's hard to know how the whole sounds. I do know that it felt very good, and that I was always able to hear the sisters singing beside me. That's what you want in choral singing; it generally means your voice is not standing out but blending with the others as it should. Another thing that felt very good was how often we were singing from our hearts. Carolyn McDade is a powerful example of that kind of singing; her passion inspires every sound that comes from (through) her, whether on the piano or in song. And our director Nancy Nordlie's heart is so open that she opens ours as well.
It was a good day.
And yes, tomorrow I'll share photos and stories from this amazing weekend. All I can say now is that I feel full to bursting with love and gratitude for these women and for this O Beautiful Gaia CD project being in my life. I am also deeply grateful that our dear sister Mary White is hanging in there and is surrounded by her loving children. May she pass a restful night.
Judy Drylie and I arrived at the recording studio at 8:10 AM, about twenty minutes early. A number of our sisters met us in the parking lot and helped Judy remove Ona my scooter from the car and get her assembled in short order. As it was surprisingly cold--25º F--we quickly made our way into the studio. And what a surprise that was! I guess I'd seen too many movies because I was expecting to spend the day crammed into a dreary room filled with tons of equipment and no evidence of creature comforts. Instead we were in a large airy room painted a beautiful shade of slate blue with a wooden parquet floor covered in oriental rugs. The planning committee had even re-created yesterday's altar in the middle of the room. Yes, there were microphones, but nothing felt intimidating or scary. And Darren and his co-engineer were so friendly and professional that they immediately put us at ease. Our only challenge was one toilet for fifty women...but we managed.
Nancy Nordlie directed our singing and Carolyn McDade accompanied us on the keyboard. I don't know what we would have done without either of these women. Nancy directed us with such technical expertise and gentleness that, even though she was also having to communicate by headset with the engineers in the control booth, she never once lost her patience or sweetness of spirit. And it is always Carolyn who shows/exhorts us to sing with such passion and heart that we can never forget why we are singing/recording these songs that express our longing and love of the earth, Gaia, our beloved home. Especially during times such as these, heart is what we must bring to all our creative efforts for peace and transformation. And it was heart that we brought to that recording room on this cold Sunday in March.
The code word for the day was not simply heart, but focus. Total, complete, unremitting focus. I never took pictures while we were recording, but instead chronicled our breaks. Except for an exhilarating, spontaneous dance break that was led by our drummers and involved some wonderful silliness by our sister Patsy who always makes us laugh, even our breaks were quiet and subdued. Often Nancy was communicating with the engineers during those times and had to be able to hear. But occasionally, she would lead us in brief practice sessions, either as a whole or in sections. It was all such a learning, and one that will definitely help us feel more comfortable and confident when we do our final recording of the O Beautiful Gaia CD in June.
We had a welcome hour for lunch. As with everything else, our coordinators Penny and Joan and the planning committee had things so wonderfully organized that we could relax and enjoy the delicious pizza and salad. They pre-ordered the meal and paid the bill so things would go swiftly and smoothly. The restaurant was a short walk away and I enjoyed spending time with Linda, Charmaine, Pat and Courtney, our youngest Great Lakes sister at 14, on the way back to the studio.
Today we were fortunate to have Carolyn playing the keyboard, Sandy Yost (who also sings with us) on clarinet and sax, and Lori Fithian and Jean join us on the drums. In June we will add a flute, cello, bass and guitar. I know it will sound wonderful when the CD is completed. By the way, we are in the middle of an advance sales campaign of this double CD. The price is $25 in both US and Candadian funds, plus shipping. If you would like to pre-order a CD--they are expected to be released in autumn 2003--you can do so on our O Beautiful Gaia web site.
There was a very special
component to this weekend, and that was the presence of four of
the five coordinators
of the O Beautiful Gaia CD project here with us in Windsor/Detroit.
Not only did we have Joan Tinkess of Great Lakes Basin-Ontario
and Penny Hackett-Evans of Great Lakes Basin-Michigan, but we
also had Carolyn McDade of Atlantic New England and Jan Devine
of Atlantic Canada. Only Chris Loughlin of Atlantic New England
was missing. And not only were the three O Beautiful Gaia regions
represented, but the women of the Women~Land~Spirit
Sacred Web Project in the four Western Canadian provinces
had sent sprigs of sage for each of us, sage that they had gathered
from the Grandmothers'
Hills of Saskatchewan and dried themselves. These are the
women who recorded "We Are the Land We Sing", the most
recent CD coordinated by Carolyn McDade. What a privilege it is
to be part of such a passionate, powerful global women's community!
It gives me hope "when hope is hard to find", as it
says in the song.
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2003
I was so conscious this day of a number of women who needed special support and good energy sent their way. The first, of course, was Mary White, our beloved sister who is still in intensive care fighting for her life. We had good news about her raised hemoglobin count, but still no news about the kidney biopsy report that they expect will verify a diagnosis. Her daughter Beth has just arrived tonight from West Virginia, so now all of her children have been able to be with her since the crisis started on Thursday. They say she slept well last nght, so please continue sending Mary your healing thoughts. There is great power in communal intentions.
I was also holding the three nuns--Carol Gilbert, OP, Ardeth Platte, OP, and Jackie Hudson, OP--in my heart as their trial began today, the trial that puts them at risk of being imprisoned for 30 years, which would, in reality, be for the rest of their lives. To read about their trial, you can click on this link:
If you would like to write Carol, Ardeth and Jackie with expressions of support, I know they would appreciate it. You can send your notes and letters to them jointly at the following address:
Carol Gilbert, OP
Ardeth Platte, OP
Jackie Hudson, OP
P.O. Box 518
Georgetown, CO 80444
And the fifth woman who walked with me today was Carolyn McDade. It wasn't so much that she needed good energy sent her way, it was more that I was filled with gratitude for our time together. Being with her for the past three days was a special gift. For some reason, she and I stay deeply connected even if months go by without our seeing one another. And it is not a connection that needs words; it just IS. As I say, a gift.
And, as always, the women of Iraq were with me, waking and sleeping. The suffering, dying, fearful, weeping women of Iraq.
I spent much of this day--when
I wasn't sleeping late or swimming--preparing my O Beautiful Gaia
journal entry and photos for yesterday, Sunday, March 30. You
can scroll down to read it. Tomorrow I hope to complete Saturday's
TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2003
It is after midnight and
I still have to upload a lot of photos and my journal entry from
Saturday, March 29, 2003. I think
I'll let that entry speak for me today, except to say that Mary
White seems to be improving and will soon be taken off the ventilator.
Thank you for sending her healing energy. Please keep those loving
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2003
What an abundant universe! After spending such a richly intense weekend with my singing sisters, today I was gifted with the joyful opportunity to join with three of them for one of our delightful "art days." Penny, Sooz and Pat came to my house soon after 10 AM bearing magazines, glue guns, sticks of wood and boxes of assorted beads, yarn, felt, feathers, buttons, stones, ribbons and treasures from their lives. Pat Noonan even brought her old crucifix that she'd worn during her years as a nun. Our intention was to create assemblages and collages with these materials. We began with the collages.
Penny facilitated the process. Each woman chose a sheet of colored paper and on it we were to find some image in one of the magazines to serve as a head. It was not to be a photo of an actual person's head, but rather an imaginative depiction that we wanted to be a head. When we'd glue-sticked it onto the paper, we passed it to the woman on our left. Next we were to find a trunk and paste that under the head. Again it was not to be representational, but fanciful. Then the paper was passed again to the woman on our left. We continued this process for each arm and each leg. When the "person" had a head, trunk, two arms and two legs, we passed the paper one more time and each of us was instructed to "finish" the collage in any way we wanted. Here are our final creations. What a fun project!!!
Our next work of art was to create a magic wand. We started with one of the sticks Penny had brought and followed our own individual Muse. This was where the glue guns came in handy, and also where we could incorporate items from our past. I used an old hairwrap from when my hair was below my waist. Pat used her Vagina Monologues pin and a pin she'd been given when she'd gone to Nicaragua back in the 1980s. Here is Sooz working, then Penny and finally Pat. And here are our finished creations: Sooz's wand, Penny's wand, Pat's wand, and Patricia's (my) wand. Before we left for the day we did what magic we could with our wands to bring healing and peace.
And, as always, we ate and we ate well! Tender asparagus with lemon from Sooz, Indian somosas from Windsor brought by Pat, cookies brought by Penny, and assorted Middle Eastern foods bought for us by Eddie. As we ate, the O Beautiful Gaia CD project was our main topic of conversation. We each feel so committed to this community and its vision.
I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have friends like Sooz, Penny and Pat with whom to play and to make art.
After the women left about 3 PM and I got on my scooter and went out into this beautiful warm sunny day. Ed and I had a funeral to attend at 4 PM, and I met him at his office so we could walk/scoot over to the church.
I had not been looking forward to this funeral. It wasn't so much sadness over the death of dear Charlie Morris, who had been ill for a long time, as it was uneasiness about being in environments that are not within my comfort zone--a church and a country club (where a reception was to be held). But these folks are dear to us, especially Charlie's children who grew up in our house back when we were the unofficial neighborhood youth center in the 70s and early 80s. I wanted to be there to support them.
As so often happens when I don't let my prejudices/assumptions stop me, the reality was totally different from what I had expected. I actually felt all right in the church and was deeply touched by the remembrances shared by Charlie's children, a grandson and a neighbor/friend of ours who had known Charlie for sixty years. Then I had a beautiful scoot home--singing all the way--where Eddie met me, and we walk/scooted over to the country club, about a half a mile from our house.
Now that was the real shocker because I ended up having a ball! I hooked up with the youngest generation--the children of the kids who had hung out at our house so many years ago--and became as Ed called it, the "Pied Piper." We played the Ahumbay planet singing game I often play with the children at school, and I gave them numerous rides on my scooter with the little ones merrily honking my horn. Ed and I were among the last non-family members to leave!
So today I learned--again!--not to let my prejudices/assumptions keep me from entering into life. It sure would be nice if I could stop having to learn this over and over.
Tomorrow after school, I'm off to Ann Arbor to see Joan Baez in concert. Lucky me! I'm going to spend the night at the Michigan League and will not be bringing my laptop, so that means no journal entry for Thursday night. By the way, I have a dinner date with Miki and Akira, the wonderful Japanese couple whom I met the night I saw David Sanchez at the Firefly Jazz Club a few weeks back. We will be going out for sushi before my concert. YUM!!
The news from Mary White is good. She is still in Intensive Care but is off the ventilator. And they removed her feeding tube so she was able to eat a soft meal. She is apparently talking a little and her son's partner said, "It's like she has returned to us." The diagnosis is not totally certain, but it looks like Mary has a rare auto-immune disorder that affects the blood, lung and kidneys. The good news is that there is medicine--which they started her on when she first arrived at the hospital last Thursday--that has the capacity to offer a remission. May it work for Mary.
And I do not know how
the trial is going for Sisters Carol Gilbert, Ardeth Platte and
Jackie Hudson, but please continue to hold them in good energy.
These women of courage are our present-day canaries in the mine.
Let us not ignore the message they give us with their lives.
FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2003
There is an unbroken thread of singers for peace. That's what brought tears to my eyes last night and today. Joan Baez, at 62, standing tall and singing with passion and depth songs both new and old to a standing-room-only audience at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor last night. And today at an excellent anti-war teach-in at my local high school, there was Ruth singing in a pure bell-like voice one of Joan's most famous songs, "Blowing In the Wind." It was as though those winds had blown straight through four decades, and been held firm within the hearts of all who have let their voices sound the cry for peace. It gave me such a sense of comfort in the steadfastness of this long movement, and a rising tide of hope for the future.
Although it is only 9
PM, I don't think I can last much longer before I put my head
on a pillow. Tomorrow is another full day--surprise, surprise!--with
the monthly O Beautiful Gaia practice/gathering. I have many stories
to tell, but they'll have to wait.
SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 2003
Today's gathering of Gaia women was quite wonderful. We were a small group for a couple of reasons. First, it would have been difficult for our Toronto and Georgetown, Ontario sisters to turn around and return after just having been here last weekend, and secondly, the storm that coated our world in ice this morning made travelling dangerous for some.
But numbers were not the point; we had heart enough for all. After having had to be so disciplined during last weekend's recording session, we were now able to allow the songs to emerge more organically from within the center of our circle. Not only did we sing the words and music, but we caressed their meanings. Many of us became midwives to their birthing. Whoever felt called to introduce a song would do so--not simply leading it, but often sharing what it meant to them. That would lead to sharings by others as well. Often we said the words together as a poem to help us hear it more deeply. And then we would sing it until it felt like we had touched--or at least begun to touch--its heart. What a nourishing way to sing!
Even though the day fed me in deep ways, I found myself surprisingly tired by the time I returned home. I was in bed by 6:45 PM and slept soundly until 2:30 AM! It wasn't this day of song that made me so tired, it was the last two weeks of intense emotions and activity that finally caught up with me.
I am writing this entry at 3 AM while listening to our rough-cut CD. Yes, it is certainly ragged in parts, but it sounds a lot better than I'd imagined it would. And now, after having seen what we did with the songs today, I'm feeling confident that we'll be ready to record the final CD in June. We not only have three more first Saturdays of the month to practice, but we've added three extra rehearsals as well.
What a grace and a gift
it is to be part of this project. How I love this circle of women.
SUNDAY, APRIL 6, 2003
Today was a true day off. No phone calls (well, just one). No computer time the whole afternoon. I read a book that my friend Peg Case had loaned me. It is a novel about a woman private detective--actually, the only woman private detective--in Botswana. And then I watched a video of the life of Leonard Bernstein. Just the kind of day I needed. I did write and send out a group email about the current "war on words", but not until late tonight. Most of the day was wonderfully irrelevant.
Tomorrow the Raging Grannes
are scheduled to be part of a "Women and Activism" workshop
at Oakland University, but comparatively speaking, it looks like
an easy week. That would be nice.
MONDAY, APRIL 7, 2003
Ah, we humans can make all the plans we want, but when Mother Nature decides to take control there's no ignoring her.
I awoke at 9 AM and the first thing I saw was a blur of white outside my bedroom window. It wasn't simply snowing; we were in the middle of a blizzard! I decided that it was too hazardous for us Grannies to try to attend the workshop at Oakland University, and called/emailed everyone concerned. I then went back to bed and slept soundly until 1 PM, when Ed returned from his work downtown. He said it was the worst driving conditions he'd seen in a long time. And this from a hardy Michigander who generally handles whatever the winter dishes out. Of course, this wasn't true "winter" weather, but you could have fooled me. To be honest, I was happy to stay home.
I had a lovely quiet day. First I took care of emails that had piled up, and then pulled together the Great Lakes Basin journal entries and photos for Saturday. I'd asked Pat Schwing to write up the day and she did a fabulous job, so I just had to prepare my photos and link them up to her words.
This is what it looked
my bedroom window after the snow had stopped in the early
afternoon. And here are some maple
buds wearing their April-white jackets.
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2003
An email I sent to my group list today:
Somehow I knew. The minute I woke up this morning, I was covered by a heavy blanket of gloom. Of course this grey-skied, still snow-covered Michigan day didn't help; but it was more than that. In my gut I knew something horrible had happened. I suspected it was in Baghdad.
Well, yes, it WAS in Baghdad, but it was also in Denver. Not only are there children lying soaked in their own blood, thrashing their way to death, or worse, to life alone without their family all of whom were killed when the missile ripped off the 12 year old's arms and shot shrapnel into his sleeping body, but there are now three nuns who are looking at the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in prison. And for what? For acting against the very military machine that has destroyed the lives of these children in Iraq.
What have we come to.
If you have the stomach for the truth, I ask you to read Robert Fisk's latest article from Baghdad. It will be quite different from anything you will read or see presented by the journalists who have sold their souls to be "embedded" in the belly of the American/British troops who are acting upon orders to destroy a people and their land in order to benefit a few rich men who will never see who it is their arrogance and greed are maiming and killing.
Published on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 by the lndependent/UK
Amid Allied Jubilation, a Child Lies in Agony, Clothes Soaked in Blood
by Robert Fisk in Baghdad
And then go to the Denver Post and read about three women of conscience, Carol Gilbert, OP, Ardeth Platte, OP, and Jackie Hudson, OP. Read about their being found guilty of "obstructing national defense and damaging government property after they cut through fences and sprayed their own blood on a Minuteman III missile silo last year," charges that carry a recommended 30-year sentence in prison. For these women who are in their 50s and 60s, that would be for the rest of their lives.
Published on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 by the Denver Post
3 Nuns Guilty in Silo Protest
by Mike McPhee and Kieran Nicholson
And then I ask you, as I asked myself, to put these two stories together, to see their connection, to look at how one leads to the other in an unending cycle of violence. What can we do to break this cycle? What can EACH ONE of us do to support life not death and destruction? How can we, in our own lives, act in ways that will help protect these innocent children of Iraq rather than blow them to bits?
This is the time for action born of conscience, the time to stand up and say, "NO!!! No more war, no more killing, no more maiming!!! This is NOT being done in my name and I refuse to be silent any longer! Stop this massacre!!! Protect the children..."
in pained pursuit of
What a hard day. Lots of tears, sadness and anger. It is SO hard to stay open to what is being done in the killing fields, deserts, streets across the globe. When I close my eyes, I see the children. I hear their cries and the cries of those who love them. The fear. The panic. The pain.
And yet I must go there. I must allow them into my heart. I cannot close my eyes to their suffering. If I did, I would not be able to live with myself. This is what it means to be human, fully human. Without touching their sorrow, I cannot be part of their transformation. It is all of a piece.
Do you know who comforted me today? My dear Eddie, who sat with me as I wept, not trying to make it better but saying, "You know how to make your way through this. You have done it before." And Denise Levertov, the poet who died in 1997. In the O Beautiful Gaia project, we sing a song called "Beginners." It is based on a poem by Denise, with music by Norma Luccock. This is the poem that Denise Levertov wrote and dedicated to the memory of Karen Silkwood and Eliot Gralia:
"From too much
love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea--"
But we have only begun
to love the earth.
We have only begun
to imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope?
--so much is in bud.
How can desire fail?
--we have only begun
to imagine justice and
only begun to envision
how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.
Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet--
there is too much broken
that must be mended,
too much hurt we have
done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.
We have only begun to
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.
So much is unfolding that
complete its gesture,
so much is in bud.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2003
Today I received a reply from a friend to yesterday's group email, "The cycle of violence", in which she gently took me to task for my signing it, "in pained pursuit of peace." She said that was an oxymoron and asked me to "rethink" my position. And so I did.
The more I thought about it, the more I saw that the use of "pained" and "peace" perfectly reflect the times, at least from my perspective. Now, if one sees peace as all sweetness and light, then yes, my phrase would be an oxymoron. But, for me, true peace often embraces pain as an essential part of its nature, just as hope embraces despair and joy embraces sorrow. I mean, how could I as a thinking, feeling person not feel pain during these dreadful days when innocent children, women, elders and now journalists are being killed by weapons that defy description in human terms? Yet, that pain does not stop me from working for peace; if anything it enflames my passion and commitment to a world where such violence no longer exists. So, my pursuit of peace is filled with pain. How could it be otherwise?
I have good news about Mary White. Her recovery continues and, even though her kidneys will never be fully functional again, they seem to be doing their job well enough so she will not need dialysis, at least for now. Her lungs are operating at much fuller capacity, and her heart, although still under stress from the steroids, is stable enough that they are talking about possibly sending her home on Saturday.
Mary is a warrior, as her longtime friend Peg says, and her will to live plus the loving support of her family and all the healing energy sent by you and her many friends has seemed to turn the tide. May she continue to heal.
Tonight I will be writing Carol, Ardeth and Jackie, the nuns who were found guilty on Monday of damaging government property by pouring their blood and hammering on a Minuteman III missle silo in Colorado last October. We will not know how many years they will spend in federal prison until they are officially sentenced in July, but until then, they are confined to a county jail which is the hardest place to serve time. In county jail you spend at least 23 hours a day in a cramped cell, and you are never allowed to go outside. At least in federal prison, inmates are allowed to work and to get outside on a regular basis.
I invite you to write these wonderful women of courage and conscience. They are excellent correspondents and so appreciate hearing from friends, new and old. Their address is:
Carol Gilbert, OP
Ardeth Platte, OP
Jackie Hudson, OP
P.O. Box 518
Georgetown, Colorado 80444
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003
When "reality" goes off the deep end, it is time to create a new reality. Some might call it fantasy; I call it dreaming truth into being. That's what the kids and I have been doing in our third and fourth grade art classes of late.
The assignment was to create your own planet with its own creatures (the kids like to call them aliens), their own language, pets, natural environment and culture. We started by sketching the shape of the planet in pencil, and then answering a list of questions about them. After sketching the inhabitants, we each chose a piece of construction paper in whatever color we liked. We drew our planets on this paper, cut them out and painted them with tempera paints. Next, we drew and colored the creatures (aliens), their pets and any life forms that grew there. We pasted our cut-out planets and all our other creations onto a larger piece of colored construction paper. Then it was time to write a story about our planet, either describing it or telling of something that had happened there.
We've been working on this project for weeks now, weeks that in the "real" world have been full of such horrors that creating a new reality has been profoundly healing, at least for me. My planet is called Ahummbay. Its name comes from the fact that the only way its inhabitants--ahummbats--communicate is through humming or singing. Their pets are ahummbogs, which are part snail and part dog. Even the ahummbogs sing instead of merely barking. The trees are musical notes with hearts at their base and polka-dot leaves growing out of their note-like branches. Ahummbats have large ears so they can listen to one another, and their mouths are always open to sing. A light bulb shines from the top of their heads. Their bodies are hearts because ahummbats are pure love. No wars or violence ever happen on the planet Ahummbay. How could you fight and sing at the same time?
The story of Ahummbay's origins goes back in time to a planet where there were endless wars. On this planet lived a species called humans and they just couldn't seem to get along. No matter what one human did, there was always another who didn't like it. And so it continued for many millennia. That is, until the time that it got so bad it looked like this planet might not be able to survive all the violence that existed there. As the wars and hatreds got worse, there grew up among the violent ones, humans with heart, humans who refused to fight, humans who chose to love. It was hard for these heart people because they often felt alone, but through one thing and another they began to find each other. Even though they spoke different languages, they seemed to understand an unspoken language that they all shared...the language of love. On a day when it appeared there was no hope anywhere, when it looked like this planet would explode in violence and hatred, each of these heart humans closed their eyes, opened their mouths and began to sing. As their voices rose on the winds, the sound encircled the globe and drowned out all the wars, quarrels and fights. And those who were still practicing violence stopped in their tracks to listen to this unearthly sound. As they listened, they closed their eyes, opened their mouths and began to join the song, one by one by one all around the planet. As they sang, the planet itself could finally sing its song of love. And everything changed. Not in an instant, not even in a year, a decade, a century or a millennium. But, slowly, slowly, slowly things changed. At first no one noticed, but in time the humans looked down to see that their bodies had become hearts, their ears had grown very large, the tops of their heads shone on the darkest nights, and their mouths were always open in song. This was catching. So much so that even their pets caught it. Even their trees caught it. Finally the day came when no one even remembered what this planet had been like before. In fact, they called it by a new name, Ahummbay. And instead of humans, they called themselves ahummbats. And their pets, which were part snail and part dog, became known as ahummbogs. But the most beautiful change of all was that singing and humming were their only ways to communicate. And no one even remembered the word "war" or the word "violence." All they knew was love.
Well, that was what happened in our art classes today. At the beginning of the day, the children were full of talk of war. "Did you hear the war's over? They killed Saddam Hussein, so it's all over now." "My Dad is hypnotized by the TV. I try to talk to him and he just shushes me." "There have been wars in my country for seventy years. I'm Palestinian."
And then Susan the teacher asked me if I knew the words to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I said I did and she asked me to sing it. After I'd sung it to her, she asked if I'd use her microphone/headgear and sing it to the class while they worked on their planets. I did and then Susan said, "Why don't you sing them some of the songs from your CD project." I did and then I taught them the songs I'd sung. I taught them "Circle Round For Freedom", "O Beautiful Gaia" , and "The River Is Flowing." Then they sang me a song they know from the fourth grade chorus, "A Candle in the Dark." (How I wish I could show you their faces!)
And do you know what happened?
Even the "bad boys" stopped being bad and started singing.
Even the youngster who has so much trouble concentrating was totally
with us. Even the girls stopped whispering in each other's ears
and sang. It was like Ahummbay had come to earth. We did this
in two classes--the fourth and third grades--and our hearts were
full of love. And there was no more talk of war because we forgot
the word even existed. I think my ears grew at least an inch today.
FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2003
I heard from a good number of ahummbats today. Such wonderful folks! They were writing in response to yesterday's journal entry. Let me share just a few...
From Jean McLaren, a 75 year-old Raging Granny from Gabriola Island, British Columbia:
I didnt read your whole journal nor look at the pictures yet but just wanted to tell you how much I loved your story. Unbelievably, our choir, sings Circle Round for Freedom and I know the other songs. Following is my lazy way of telling of some of my experiences in Palestine. I just returned last week. It is a story that was in our local paper. It will have to do for now as I am weary of writing so much and have things to do for peace.. Love Jean
She's back! Story by Denese Izzard
Gabriola's Jean McLaren is someone Einstein would have loved for testing what he wrote: "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
Hers was not take up arms, except in love. Hers was to witness for peace in the face of war.
Only days home from the Middle East after trying to do something about the darkness of those who violate the rights of the innocent by perpetuating war against them, she was off again, this time to Folk Life Village, to a Sunday evening candlelight vigil for the people of Iraq, devastated by the current war.
Also a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), she was in Palestine, as the lone Canadian, two Palestinians, and many Europeans from Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark, whose mission it was to escort youngsters, disenfranchised refugees, to help them express their hopes and dreams through the world of art. However, because the war in Iraq, the plans were changed.
Their chances rest only on a thread, as McLaren saw the Israelis continuing their push further into Gaza, demolishing houses. Referring to Rachel Ailene Corrie, the American from Oregon, who died in Rafah, when she was deliberately run over twice by an Israeli driven bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a doctor's house, McLaren says, "Rachel Corrie is a hero to Palestinians. Many Israelis don't know what's really going on, nor do Americans.
"The world knows the Palestinians want a homeland, and the Israelis are doing everything they can to prevent this from happening by acquiring more settlements in Palestinian territory.
"In another incident, three cars were going through Beit Sahur, near Bethlemen, police believing the middle car held members of Hamas began shooting. The car behind, with a man, woman, and their two daughters, 10 and 8, swerved to get away. Then police opened fire, killing one daughter, injuring the father and other daughter, while the mother had a nervous breakdown on the spot."
Where is the help? United Nations representatives are working in Palestine, but it seems there is little they can do but represent the UN. Dismayed by much of what she's seen, McLaren said, "Globalization means loans to countries chosen by big US corporations looking for cheap wages, and big profit. Further, an American man on the plane home said 'US government doesn't want to rectify the differences between Palestine and Israel because both Republicans and Democrats fear they won't be re-elected, as many funds are given by people who wish to maintain the status quo in Israel."
The night the Iraqi war broke out, Jean and Mrs. Kelfi, her Palestinian host, mother of Jihad, a 19 year old boy who had been a suicide bomber, were awakened by gun shot from a distant hilltop Israeli military compound. They were also frightened by the sound of tanks, until they disappeared. Here Jean guarded a floor of the house, as it is in danger of being demolished. Having had difficulty dealing with the fact of the suicide bomber, she stopped short on hearing news talk praising of American soldiers, and their successful US bombings. "While I do not condone either suicide bombing or the killing by 'professional soldiers' in wartime, I do understand why people in frustration forget to negotiate and take the easy way out and kill. Our soldiers are made hero. The Palestinian soldiers are the suicide bomber. There is really no difference. Killing is wrong."
The day her group went to monitor students in buses going to one high school, Israeli tanks denied them access because the soldiers believed their teacher was teaching terrorism. "I also went to three schools, which were Arab-Israeli, on the Israel side. On the way I saw The Wall --a fence dividing Israel from the Occupied Territories. People can't visit relatives in the other side even if they have an Israeli passport. Talking to high school principals, I asked about their students' hopes and dreams. The general response, "All they want is to survive."
"One day we picked up Palestinian children at a Catholic school, St Josephs in Nablus, and with their teacher went for a Mother's Day visit to two mothers whose children were shot, one in the heart and the other in the head. The children were 10 and 14. They had done nothing, but were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Just before my return I came upon a shop in Jerusalem in the old city run by the Arab Orthodox Society Rehabilitation Program where fine traditional cross stitch sewing crafts are taught. I gave the teacher threads from my daughter who is also a weaver," says Jean showing beautiful examples she'd brought back: small purses, bags, and a red Anglican stole, embroidered with green crosses, for her grandson's wife who is an Anglican priest in a town in Ontario.
McLaren describes homelife in Palestine as caring. "Most people have cell phones, as land lines are unreliable, but no freedom to move. And there's no mail delivery, as she discovered in Nablis. Unemployment runs at more than 50%, in Israel probably about 40%, where they would not survive without huge amounts of US aid.
"I found food is wonderful and plentiful, and with Palestinians looking after each other, no need for homeless people." She was also impressed by their dignity, resilience and ability to be happy.
Going back to her arrival in Tel-Aviv, Jean says she paid US$90 for a taxi to Huwara, near Nablis. On leaving the Occupied Territories she was free to walk through, but decided to stay with the Palestinians.
Lined up like sardines, they were hassled by an Israeli soldier for being "unruly." Jean, standing on one foot, as they were pushing for lack of room, told the soldier, "This is terrible, like cattle. For three and a half hours. How would you feel?" Downcast, he said, "Terrible." She remembers his big brown eyes, his vulnerability; that he wasn't angry, but embarrassed.
McLaren met Uri, another Israeli. "A lovely man with who I paired for telling our life story during the Training Session I helped to teach. It's called active listening, while responding to show that we understood. He told me about being with a group of Palestinian people at a workshop. His first time really talking with people from the Occupied Territories. He said that it squeezed his heart. In his early twenties, it was a huge turning point and he decided he wanted to do something, risking his life just for going to the workshop." Helped by Jean and her friends, Uri was sneaked across an unguarded line between Jerusalem and Beit Sahur.
"At another checkpoint near Nablis, it was freezing cold, and I was soaked to the skin. For over 3 hours, they weren't letting anyone through. With a man I was working with from UK, I asked a soldier why. He asked me what group I was with, and when I replied, "The Raging Grannies", he laughed, saying "What's that?" Jean's story broke the ice, and got them through.
Cold with snow, she had layered herself with sweaters and long pants. Soon she had to throw away her shoes, ruined by the wet weather.
Settled in her own bed on Gabriola, she was awakened by a strange feeling. "I went to my computer and there was a message with the news that an ISM friend, Brian Avery, a 24 year old from New Mexico, about to celebrate his April 10th birthday in Jeneen, had had his face pummeled by rocks, from gunshots fired into the ground in front of him, by an Israeli tank, 50 yards away. Falling to the ground, he lay in a pool of blood, as the tank rolled by. Avery had been wearing a fluorescent vest, with a White Cross insignia.
"An ambulance was called, but had trouble getting through. Hospitalized in Palestine, he was transferred to two hospitals in Israel. Suffering lacerations to his cheeks and tongue, there was good news that his eyes were spared. I'd previously told him that if I were there on his birthday, I would bake him a cake."
Jean McLaren returned with a heart still weeping for the inequities, and injustices rent upon the Palestinians, a warmhearted, loving and gentle people whose culture has been thwarted by a terrorist image.
"I care about kids. There are 100's of people a day going into hospitals in Baghdad, from constant military bombardment. Anything that causes people to be demeaned, humiliated, and ultimately bombarded, is inhuman. We must find another way. My friend, Starhawk said, 'It's fine to do vigiling, but we've got to do more!"
Hearing about a May 31st
fundraiser, with Dave Gogo and his band donating their services
for her cause, in near disbelief, she said "Wow." Smiling
to hide her tears, she said, "I want to thank everyone who
gave me money for the trip. It was put to good use."
Another ahummbat I heard from today was Harmony Grisman, a wonderful singer/songwriter who lives in Northern California. She and I have sung together at numerous WoMaMu (Women Making Music) camps at Bishop's Range in the California vineyards. By the way, my WoMaMu sisters are meeting this very weekend. I am with them in spirit.
Thanks for the wonderful journal entry. It is helpful to hear to hopeful, singing visions. I've been telling people that some of the most important work we can do for peace is to find a way to keep our spirits up and vibrant enough to create and hold another vision, another way of life, even in the midst of this horror. Pamela who does such great work with comedy improv said she could hardly bear to do her show the other night. I said, well I can imagine how you feel. But it's more important than ever to help people to laugh, to raise their spirits, so they can IMAGINE something better. We have to imagine it first, before we can enact it.
Anyway, I'm writing to tell you a little story that I will be repeating at my annual children's music recital this Sunday. It seems there was this village high in the Andes where a team of World Bank engineers stayed for about 9 months in order to anyalze the possibility of a giant dam to harness the hydroelectric power there. When they were ready to leave they wanted to thank the village. They went to the elders and said, we have a substantial sum left in our budget which we would like to donate to you for a major project here. PLease tell us what you would like to do with these funds. So the village met and the elders came back a few days later and told the engineers that they would use the money to buy musical instruments. The engineers said, no, no... perhaps you don't understand we were thinking of something more important to your people like an electric plant, running water or a road. But the elders explained that when the people met in council to discuss the problems and issues confronting the village they always played music together before they began to speak. They explained that their instruments were very old and pretty much worn out and they needed new ones, because without the music our spirits fall apart.
And you know, I started
imaging what kind of world we would have if our governments, the
U.N., local committees,etc all followed this practice of making
music together before speaking of important matters. I saw
that this made such perfect sense because the skills we develop
to play music together are exactly the ones we need to be in harmonious
1) we need to know how to listen, carefully and openly
2) we need to respect and include everyone's voice
3) we need to know when to lead and be strong and when to blend in and be supportive of others
4) we need to be unafraid to let the truth of our bodies, hearts and souls sing!
So, hope you enjoyed that story. I love you Patricia, be well. Harmony
Aren't I fortunate to
know so many ahummbats!?!
SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2003
Ah, those Raging Grannies! It's hard to imagine a more lifegiving group of women, full of zest, strong opinions and truth. I love them dearly and can't imagine where I'd be without them. Especially now, when the world is in such disarray.
Today was our April Grannies gathering here at my house and eleven of us were present. We were delighted to welcome two new Grannies--Josie and Barbara--both of whom had sung with us but had not yet joined us for our monthly gaggle gathering. They each bring unique gifts to our circle and we are fortunate to have them with us. I'm always amazed at how just the right women find our group and somehow know they belong. Such a gift!
And now I'm going to honest, as I always try to be here in my journal. I am too pooped to pop and simply want to watch a little video with Eddie and go to bed early. The photos and stories of today's gathering are too good to rush through, so I'll postpone sharing them until tomorrow. Thanks for understanding. I always know you do.
Our Grannies have been through a lot. Since we formed our gaggle--the Raging Grannies Without Borders--five months ago, we've been out on the streets singing and protesting more times than we can count. We've sung in Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan and Washington, DC. We did all we could to prevent Bush's war (massacre) against the people of Iraq, and have protested it since it began in earnest on March 20. We have stood in solidarity with Muslims of Arab and South Asian descent when the INS targeted them for "special" registrations that we fear could too easily lead to detention camps. We have joined rallies in front of the Detroit Water Board to protest their having shut off water to thousands of Detroit residents, even during this especially cold winter. We've been on the programs at high school and university teach-ins. We sang and leafleted during the holidays in front of a JC Penney's store to encourage parents and grandparents not to buy war toys as gifts for their children. We've sung at fundraisers and meetings of community action and peace groups all over metro Detroit. We have frozen our tushes more often than not, and braved sleet, snow and rain. We Raging Grannies are NO sissies!
But now we are tired, tired and discouraged. These past three weeks of war have really taken it out of us. We kept raging, yes, but our spirits have suffered. It's been very hard for us to stay upbeat, outrageous and funny. Since the war began, I couldn't even bring myself to wear my red polka-dot apron to our gigs. I could not wear color of any kind, even for the Grannies. These have been hard days and weeks for anyone who is awake, aware and actively working for peace.
So when we gathered today for our monthly gathering/rehearsal, a number of us admitted to feeling depressed. It was the perfect circle in which to share these feelings. We sang a lot, both our Raging Grannies' songs--old and new--and songs of healing that sisters brought to the circle. We talked about how we'd been making it through this last month as things seemed to change day-by-day, and played with new ideas about how we Grannies could creatively work for peace and justice. We agreed that even as we work for world peace, we need to focus on injustices right here in our local communities. We shared some ways in which we as individuals find healing, and brought new actions to the group.
It was profoundly healing and empowering. So much so, that ten of the eleven Grannies stayed from about 1:30 PM until 5:30 PM! Normally we try to finish up about 4, or at the latest, 4:30 PM. But no one even looked at their watches. It was too precious a time.
Among my favorite moments
was when I asked the gaggle to stand and sing "Look Around
You", the song we'd decided to bring to the WAND
Michigan Mother's Peace Day Breakfast in May. I encouraged them
to add more theatrics to their presentation and to spontaneously
make up gestures to go with the words. These are a few that burst
forth to the words: "Look
around you", all
races live together", "no
pollution on the planet", "a
new world will come to birth."
What would I do without
these women in my life?
SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2003
I spent much of this beautiful spring day at the computer. It was not exactly what I'd planned, but very much what I needed to do...especially after reading about what has been happening the last two days in Iraq. I ended up sending out another in my series of political group emails, this one titled, "Victory?" You know, I've received numerous emails of late from people who say they count on my group emails and journal entries to give them a different version of the truth from what they're reading in the newspapers and seeing on TV, so I feel a certain sense of responsibility to continue.
I also wanted to finish writing about the gathering of the Raging Grannies here at my house yesterday. You can read it by scrolling down to the journal entry for Saturday, April 12.
And finally I wanted to make a new sign to take to a peace vigil in my community at 7 PM tonight. After having read my most trusted alternative news web sites--ElectronicIraq.net and commondreams.org--the words for my sign flashed clearly in my head. "To the Victor goes the spOILs." By the time I'd finished making my sign, it was time to get on my scooter and head down to the community shopping district where the vigil was to be held.
This was my first time vigilling with this group. Actually, until the Raging Grannies and I were part of a teach-in organized by the Flagpole Protestors at my local high school, I'd never even known a peace group existed here. It was good to see a hardy group of 30 show up, some with candles and others with peace lawn signs. I saw my friends Tom and Jimmy of the Flagpole Protestors, and met a number of people, including Brigitte from Germany. There was a period of silence, then sharings and finally they asked for a song to be led by Granny Patricia. I led them in the song that had come to me as I scooted down to the vigil. Based on GranMotoko's original round to the tune of "Frere Jacques", I adapted it to say:
Are you sleeping?
Are you sleeping?
Children you are killing.
Don't you find it chilling.
Have some shame.
Have some shame.
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2003
The Day the Museum Fell
Only poetry will serve
today. Words that fit together
in some semblance of order, because
order is gone. Antiquities from the cradle
of civilization lie smashed on the
floors of a museum left to
defend itself from angry
mobs let loose by war.
Is this what they mean
of war?" That everything in the
vanquished land is spoiled?
Death, blood, gore. All
this and more have been daily
companions of people under attack
for what? For having the misfortune to
live in an oil-rich nation with a dictator who
refused to bow to the unelected emperor
to the west. And now their (our)
history is gone, torn to shreds
by a force that says it is
liberating the country.
Liberation? This looks
destruction to me. The millennia-old
fabric of an ancient land and its people
is being torn from their bloody bodies, many
of them barely alive. Is this the face of democracy
or is it simply another in a long line of empire-
building excuses, another moment in
history when the strong beats up the
weak and takes their treasures?
Yet, this time, the treasures
are not antiquities but a stinking, black
viscous fluid that can power machines that
destroy the air we breathe and will eventually
make our home uninhabitable. Yes, a
treasure so precious it will destroy
us all. Welcome to democracy.
...written after reading Robert Fisk's article
"A Civilization Torn to Pieces"
TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2003
In the midst of the horrors that Iraq is suffering at the hands of those cold-blooded "leaders" in the White House and Pentagon, and the threatened horrors awaiting Syria (How can they DO this?), life is also full of wonderful surprises. Like last night's program put on by the peace group here in my community.
After standing vigil with thirty peace people on Sunday night, I found myself surrounded by at least double that number last night. What a surprise! After all, I live in one of this country's most politically conservative communities, a place where the status quo has served them very well indeed and they are anxious to keep things pretty much as they are. Well, did I have a thing or two to learn about my long-held assumptions! There are folks out here who are every bit as radical as I, maybe even more so.
The talks were very good--representatives from the Cranbrook Peace Foundation and Women In Black--but what took my breath away were the comments/questions from the audience. It turns out that we have a woman living in our community who has just returned from Gaza, where she and her husband, a water treatment expert, lived for two and a half years. She mentioned, during the discussion period, her work with the Rebuilding Homes Campaign while she was in Gaza. Of course, I sought her out after the program to exchange email addresses and see if we could get together sometime and talk. And Casey wasn't the only one. I sat next to Rose whose brother had lived in El Salvador during the 1980s and who has been feeling very alone in her anti-war beliefs. After we'd talked awhile, she seemed to brighten up and come alive. How hard it must be to feel you are the only one who sees the truth of this massacre. I encouraged her to spend less time with the mainstream news and more time getting her news on the internet. Then there were four of the Flagpole Protesters from the local high school--Susanna, Tom, Mike and Paul--with whom I had a good conversation. Tom told me about a debate he'd had with a pro-war fellow student that was taped yesterday by the school's cable TV network. He felt he'd presented his case well. I'm sure he did; Tom is incredibly well-informed, articulate and committed to peace. Finally there were two couples, probably in their mid-30s, who had brought up interesting issues during the discussion, issues about such things as the need for global community, the holding of property communally, a break with the patriarchy and class systems that have not worked, and historical examples including Native American traditional ways of living in harmony with the earth. As you can imagine, we connected afterwards as well, and I've already exchanged emails with one of them, a woman of Palestinian descent named Andrea.
WOW!!! I never imagined such people were living in the houses I scoot by on my rides around town. So much for my notion of this community as being stuffy.
But this abundant Universe wasn't finished with me yet. After being snowbound one week ago, today's temperatures soared above 80º F! And I was out in it for six delicious hours. Although most trees are not yet sprouting leaves, a few species were showing their spring finery, especially the magnolias. And I don't know what kind of tree this was, but it looked ready to burst forth at any moment. In Michigan, spring creeps in on tiptoes, giving weeks of hints before it finally shows its full splendor. This gingerly approach makes each sight of spring precious indeed. When I saw my first forsythia blossom today, I had to catch my breath. Actually, each burst of color--these golden crocii and purple pansies --felt like a miracle unfolding before my eyes.
I felt like a spring flower myself--well, more like a fuzzy white dandelion--after getting an excellent haircut from Sandy, a woman who works at a salon only a mile from my house and who's been giving my friend Judy fabulous haircuts all winter. Much as I love Leesa over in Windsor, it sure is easier to scoot one mile from home to get my monthly haircut rather than having to get in my car and cross the border.
After the haircut, I scooted over to Eddie's office and he and I went across the street to watch a little of a high school track meet before I finally headed home...along the lake, of course.
Thanks. I really
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2003
I'm getting tired of being such a voice of doom and gloom. It's getting to be like worrying a scab that has not yet healed, the way I focus on all that is wrong with the world today. So, yes, there is certainly a lot wrong. No one I know would argue that. It's just a question of where do I want to keep looking, to the horrors or the wonders of life? Both exist. The horrors are in your face, while the wonders take a little time and attention to see. It's kind of like having either macular degeneration, where you become blind to what is in the center of your vision, or glaucoma, where your peripheral sight goes dim. For me, the bad is smack in front of my eyes, while the wondrous is lingering just outside my focus. Either I've got to turn my head to see the light, or keep falling into the dark pit at the center of things.
So many friends have expressed concern about me of late. They keep encouraging me to "get my mind off things" by listening to good music, reading a lighthearted book, spending time in nature, pampering myself in some way or other. I keep saying that doesn't help. The people of Iraq are with me wherever I go, whatever I do. So now I say to myself, then find a way to carry the suffering even while you are entertaining delight. Stop thinking it's either/or. Life has always been and will always be both/and. It's up to me to accept the paradox and embrace it.
This afternoon I found myself drawn to Etty Hillesum's diaries from World War II Germany (An Interrupted Life, Pantheon Books: 1981). Etty was a young Jewish woman who kept a journal and wrote letters prior to her internment in Westerbork labour camp, during that internment and a brief respite she got because of illness, and right up until she and her parents and brother were shipped off to Auschwitz where she died six months later. It is amazing how filled with life and hope are her writings. She wrote such things as: "Those two months behind barbed wire have been the two richest and most intense months of my life, in which my highest values were so deeply confirmed. I have learned to love Westerbork." Yet it was also a place where people suffered and died, children starved, hunger and cold and fear permeated everything.
Yesterday I received mail from three modern-day Ettys: Sisters Carol Gilbert, Ardeth Platte and Jackie Hudson. They had written me on April 8, the day after they had been found guilty of "obstructing national defense and damaging government property after they cut through fences and sprayed their own blood on a Minuteman III missile silo last year." The recommended sentence is 30 years in federal prison, but the prosecutor assures them they will probably "only" be sentenced to 5-10 years. Yet what did they focus on in their notes? Their gratitude for my letters and my presence as "a witness" of peace. They enclosed copies of articles about their trial and Ardeth wrote simply, "Now we are continuing our prayer for spiritual strengthening for the very long haul." No doom and gloom there.
If Etty, Carol, Ardeth and Jackie can find joy in whatever life brings, I guess I'd better learn to follow their example. Truth and joy, suffering and hope. All of it mixed up together. And didn't my book group sisters help me practice my new way of being at our gathering tonight! We speak more truth, laugh harder, touch one another more deeply, and discuss everything from Bush's appalling war on Iraq to childhood poems we remember with fondness. A perfect both/and evening.
Yes, I can do this.
And now it is close to midnight and I have just been given a gift, a treasure really, from a woman I know only over the soundless waves of the internet. Jean McLaren, the Gabriola Island, BC Raging Granny I've written of before, the 75 year-old peace pilgrim who recently returned from companioning the Palestinian people in their struggle to keep their homes from being bulldozed and to live with dignity and freedom from fear. In response to a plea I made over our Raging Grannies listserve today, Granny Jean sent me the following message from Elias Amidon, a man who helped me with his Letters From the Road back before this nightmare began in earnest on March 20. And here he is tonight, coming to me with exactly the words I needed to hear. Whoever you are, dear Elias Amidon, please accept my loving gratitude for your healing spirit and wise words. You speak to my heart and help me know that my pain is shared.
I can stand most anything
if I know what it is. And now,thanks to Elias, I recognize my
raw feelings and loss of energy as signs of the grief I am carrying
after the terrible losses sustained since March 20. And grief
needs time to heal. Now that I realize that, I can proceed with
gentleness and respect for the process.
THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2003
Elias Amidon has really helped me. It wasn't simply my finally recognizing that it is grief I've been feeling in response to the Iraqi massacre, but it was his suggestion that I hold in my soul the children, women and men who died such horrible deaths there, and in that way, attempt to help their unsettled spirits come to a place of peace. He made clear that this is not about religion, but about spirit.
I relate to that. I have no religion or concept of an "afterlife", but I do have lived experience of the difference between a person's dying in peace or in a state of disturbed agitation. When my 89 year-old mother died last November, she released her hold on life so gently that she left behind a radiance of peace. Whereas my friend Joels, who died of AIDS-related complications at age 35, struggled and resisted his passing until the moment he took his final breath. I could literally feel his disturbed presence for months afterwards. It is that same feeling of disturbance, of unresolved struggle, that I have been experiencing since this massacre began. I now believe it has been the soul-disturbance of the unpeaceful dead.
Last night, after reading Elias's wise words, I went to bed and consciously held the children, women and men--of all ages and nationalities, civilian and soldier--in a gentle, calm, comforting place within my soul. I experienced a depth of peace that I have not known since this nightmare began. As I woke and slept throughout the night, I continued to hold these dear ones close to my heart. And even as I drove to school this morning, I did the same. I'm discovering that as I give them peace, they return the same to me.
And this being Thursday, my life was made light not only by the dead but by the living--the school children whom I love. We sang in a number of classes again today, and the third grade girls delighted me by not only begging to sing, but by remembering all the words and tunes that I'd taught them last week, their favorite being "Circle Round For Freedom." So there we were with our arms around each other, swaying side to side, singing peace songs! A number of the boys joined in too. Susan the teacher took our picture, and even though I'm not allowed to show you the faces of these beautiful children, I've converted the photo to a crosshatch version that I think protects their identity. I just had to share this magical moment with you, my readers.
After I returned home,
an idea came to me...probably as a result of the magic I'd just
experienced at school. I realized that this would be the perfect
weekend to go to my beloved Ann Arbor and spend a couple of nights
at the Michigan League. So, with Ed's encouragement, I called
and made reservations. As before, I will not take my laptop, so
there will be no journal entries for at least two days, Friday
and Saturday. I trust you will have a good weekend. I know I will.
FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2003
I will soon be off in my little red Neon for two days and nights in Ann Arbor. Tonight I will share an Indian meal with Miki and Akira, and then we will be going to what promises to be a very special night of music at the Michigan Theater. Audra McDonald, a classically-trained singer of consummate grace and wondrous voice, is performing there with her jazz trio in a University of Michigan Musical Society concert. Tomorrow morning, if I wake up early enough and it's not pouring rain--it's a little drizzly right now--I'll scoot down to the farmer's market and help my friends from the Ann Arbor Peace Committee pass out literature and lawn signs. Then tomorrow night--Saturday--I plan to enjoy sushi for dinner before going to the Ark to hear folk and bluegrass instrumentals and vocals performed by the Grammy award-winning duo, Cathy Fink on banjo and Marcy Marxer on electric guitar.
I sense this is just what I need to re-establish my sense of balance and grounding. How fortunate I am that Ann Arbor is only an hour away and that I have such a perfect place to stay, right in the heart of town so I can travel everywhere by scooter. I'm hoping Eddie will come visit me tomorrow.
It has been one month
since I took three nights and four days in Ann Arbor to try to
restore myself before the massacre of Iraq began in earnest. It
feels like a lifetime ago. And for thousands of children, women
and men, it was.
SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2003
How I wish everyone in the world had a place they could go to restore themselves, a place that for them is like Ann Arbor is for me. Because after only two nights away, I feel ready to face this world and all it brings with a new sense of balance and grounding. Just what I'd hoped for. And what was it exactly that healed me? Time spent with friends, lots of live music, 11 hours sleep, superb food, shirtsleeve weather and a drum circle for peace. Anyone who knows me can see that everything was in place!
Friday evening began by my sharing a delicious dinner with my friends, Miki and Akira, at an Indian restaurant. This is the couple I met a month ago when we were seated together at the Firefly jazz club to hear the David Sanchez quartet. Then a couple of weeks ago, we got together for sushi before I went to hear Joan Baez at the Michigan Theater. I so enjoy spending time with them. Their views on world events and on America, in particular, are interesting because they look at things from a Japanese perspective. Akira has been here for ten years, while Miki has been in the US for four years. They are both biochemical researchers at the University of Michigan. As I understand it, Akira discovered a new enzyme and Miki helped find the gene to which it was related. They met at the U of M lab and have been dating for quite a while. For Miki that means spending a LOT of time listening to live jazz because Akira is the most devoted (oddicted?) jazz fan I know! So I wasn't surprised when he said that he and Miki were going to catch the late show at the Bird of Paradise jazz club after Audra McDonald's concert at the Michigan Theater. I invited myself to go along. But first we three had the good fortune to experience Audra McDonald.
This woman is a dynamite performer! Her vocal mastery is coupled with a dramatic flair that takes you wherever she wants you to go. Sometimes her voice is as tender as the flutter of butterfly wings, and other times it can take down the roof. She had the sell-out audience in the palm of her hands for two solid hours.
And then we discovered--new to us anyway--a jazz pianist that even Akira had not heard of before, Lynne Arriale. She and her trio--Jay Anderson on bass, and Steve Davis on drums--were breathtaking in their clarity, blend and originality. The empathy between these three was palpable. It would be hard to imagine one without the other. She told me later that she and Steve have been playing together for ten years, and Jay has been with them for the last four.
Even on jazz standards, Lynne's trio made you feel you were hearing these old chestnuts for the first time. But when they played "Calypso", an original composition by Lynne, and Abdullah Ibrahim's "Mountain of the Night"--each totally different in mood and tempo--I thought I'd entered another dimension. Especially "Mountain of the Night", which is utterly haunting. As I told Lynne later, I could not listen to it with my eyes open, it has such a mystical sound. They were so good that even though we had already purchased tickets to go to different performances on Saturday night--Miki and Akira to the Kerrytown Concert House, and me to the Ark--we agreed to meet here at the Bird of Paradise afterwards for Lynne Arriale's late show.
I could never get enough of her and her trio! I ended up buying two CDs and have now listened to them both. I just keep playing them over and over; they're that good. Apparently the reason we'd not heard of her is that she spends a great deal of time touring in Europe. Lucky them!
So on Friday night I didn't get back to my room at the Michigan League until 12:30 AM. I fell asleep immediately and didn't get up until noon on Saturday! By 1 PM I was off and scooting into a warm, sunny day. As soon as I left the League, I heard the sound of drumming. It was coming from the University of Michigan Diag a half block away, so I scooted right over. WELL...it wasn't just drumming I was hearing, but a circle of folks who had gathered to Drum 4 Peace, as a sign stated. Did I feel like a pea that had been dropped into her family pod, or what?!?
There were some signs--among them "Iraq War Winners", "Chalabi Says American Companies will have a Big Shot at Oil", "Vietnam Veteran Anti-War", and the one I liked to hold, "Drop drums not Bombs"--but this was more about drumming and dancing for peace than anything else. At one point I counted twenty drums and plenty of rattles, cowbells and shakerees. Our youngest drummers were perhaps 10 and 12, our oldest in their late 50s, with every age in between. Although it was mostly men drumming, there were also women in the circle--drumming, dancing, holding signs, holding babies, shaking rattles and shakerees. The energy was so infectious that lots of people stopped to listen, no matter what their politics. That's how I met Shannon and Tristan.
Speaking as a former drummer myself, the drumming was truly superb. The beat would shift and change so organically that you never knew where it would go next, but once there you felt that was the only place it could have gone. I even got up and danced myself...while holding onto my scooter, of course. Oddly enough--though maybe not so odd--as I danced with my eyes closed, I was transported to Iraq where I felt the people's fear, pain and grief. After awhile, I just sat down in my scooter chair and meditated for timeless time. It felt right to be with my suffering sisters and brothers in this way.
Among the things I appreciated about this circle was its diversity. We had a fellow from Ann Arbor's streets join us, and although he didn't always follow the"etiquette" of drum circles (do not pound on someone else's drum, especially while they're using it), he was accepted and valued for his own unique gifts. I found his use of a rattle as a tool of healing particularly powerful. A number of African brothers joined our circle, giving us a shared sense of global authenticity.
I met a man named Thomas whose gift is creating and producing pins for peace. I bought a good selection of them for the Raging Grannies. When we exchanged email/web site information, he said he'd already visited my site a few months ago when he was looking for links to the Raging Grannies and the Radical Cheerleaders. We spoke of our struggles with despair, especially now that Bush & Co. are making sounds that they might attack Syria. To me, one of his most powerful pins said, "No War On Syria." The word "Syria" was covering the word "Iraq" which was covering "Afghanistan." No wonder he's battling despair.
As our cicle began to break up around 3:30 PM, a woman approached me and identified herself as being from Iran. At that time, my scooter basket had a sign on the front that read, "Is Syria next??? Stop Bush." She objected to the message, saying that when we put it that way, we are in essence targeting Syria and implying the US has the right to make such judgements. She said she was so disgusted with this country that she was moving back to Tehran next week. What she said made me think of one of our Raging Grannies who had refused to hear talk of plans for a demonstration on the day Iraq might be bombed because she had said talking of it ahead of time "put that energy out into the Universe." I respect the perspective of both these women and will do my best not to fall into that trap again, even while I work against the possiblity of more preemptive attacks by the Bush adminstration. A delicate balance, but one that I feel I need to maintain.
I arrived back at the Michigan League at 4 PM, just in time to take a phone call from Miki. I was delighted to hear that she and Akira wanted to meet me for sushi before we went off to our respective concerts that night. After a delicious dinner, Miki and Akira went to the Kerrytown Concert House to hear Wendell Harrison and Mama's Licking Stick Clarinet Ensemble, while I went off to the Ark to hear Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, the Grammy-winning bluegrass/country/folk duo. I found their instrumentals on banjo, electric and acoustic guitar, and mandolin, coupled with their tight vocal harmonies, utterly mesmerizing. Afterwards, I heard Cathy point me out and say that I was the perfect person to have in the front row because I never stopped smiling the whole night. Well, that was because of them!
By the time I got to the Bird of Paradise--which was just a short elevator ride away--Lynne Arriale and her trio only had four more songs to perform. I easily found Miki and Akira who had saved me a seat in the crowded club, and was immediately transported into a form of jazz heaven. I so recommend your seeing/hearing the Lynne Arriale Trio, if at all possible. A live performance is best, but the CDs are also wonderful. I bought "Inspiration" and "Lynne Arriale Trio Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival", but there are lots more and I'm sure they're all good.
I want to show you an example of why I feel so at home in Ann Arbor. Miki noticed this stop sign on Liberty near State Street on Friday night, and my friends from the Ann Arbor Peace Committee even had a table with literature, pins and bumper stickers in the lobby at the Ark on Saturday night. There are lots of us out here!
So I return home feeling
lots lighter and brighter than when I left on Friday. How fortunate
I am to have access to a place where my wounded beast-within can
be healed and restored. And what a good man I chose all those
years ago, a man who totally respects my need to take care of
myself in this way. That Eddie is a good 'un.
MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2003
I'm going to assume that my FTP software will not freeze up tonight, as it did several times during the day. I can understand the reason for its unhappiness, but have yet to find a way to make it feel better. The problem is an overloaded memory.
Because I have thousands of digital photos stored in my journal archives, I use up a lot of memory--257 MB at last count--and I don't think there is a file transfer protocol software in existence that would not find that a bit much. By the way, it is the FPT software that moves files from my computer to my web host so they can go up on my web site. It is the bridge between the two lands, and without it, my writings, art and photos would stay here at home instead of travelling the globe.
I'm already way over the 150 MB allotment for my web hosting plan, but that simply means I pay more and more every month to keep my web site going. I think my bill is up to $50 this month. I can live with that because this web site means so much to me, but if I can't make my FTP software happy, I might have to buy another domain name and start Journal #2 over there.
I have two email requests for help in to techies, and spent a goodly while on the phone today with two others. Somehow, I trust we'll work it out, but in the meantime, things are a little iffy around here. As I've noted above, if my journal is not updated of a morning, you'll know my FTP software said a resounding "NO!" when I tried to use it. But if that happens, I'll just go to Plan Two and see about getting a new domain name.
Whatever happens, you
can be sure I won't give up on my commitment to keeping a daily
photo-journal. It means too much to me.
TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2003
Have laptop, will travel.
As it turns out, my problem with the FTP software has its roots in how I have managed--or more like mismanaged--my web site since putting it up in 1999. Instead of organizing my files into folders, I just uploaded them willy-nilly to my web site, meaning the now-257 MB of material is in tens of thousands of files instead of a more manageable number of folders, like maybe fifty. So every time my poor, hardworking File Transfer Protocol software was launched, it had to bring up tens of thousands of items, all at the same time. It's amazing it kept going as long as it did.
I learned all this from John, my nephew, who just happens to be one of the best informed and most imaginative computer geeks on the planet...not to mention being a heck of a great guy. I had sent out a "HELP!" email to him yesterday, and today received several long, involved emails with suggestions on how to remedy my problem. These fairly took my breath away in their (to me) complex and time-intensive instructions. So when John called by phone to get more information and discuss how to proceed, I asked if by any chance he could help me in person if I were to drive to Washington, DC where he lives. He sounded pleased with the idea, probably because he could see it was going to take lots longer to talk me through the process than it would to simply do it himself. Of course, he'll still need to teach this old dog some new tricks, but he's a good teacher and I'm ready to learn. This coming weekend worked best for us both.
So on Thursday afternoon, I'll turn my little red Neon east toward Washington, DC, spend the night at my old friend the Cranberry Township Pennsylvania Red Roof Inn, and arrive in DC--specifically, Bethesda, Maryland--early Friday afternoon. I'll be staying in a handicap-accessible room at a motel near John and Kirsten's house, one that is just two blocks from a Metro subway station. On Friday night, we'll probably get together for dinner and I'll leave my laptop with John for him to work his magic. They already have plans during the day on Saturday, so I expect to take the Metro into DC and mount another of my solitary White House protests. Then I hope we'll get together on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. By Sunday, John will probably have gotten things in good enough order to spend time teaching me how to keep my material better organized from now on. He will also help me familiarize myself with the new web design software he's planning to install.
I'm expecting to climb a pretty steep learning curve this weekend, but, as I say, John is an excellent teacher. And, according to him, from here on out things should run more smoothly. Of course, it won't hurt that I'll have my own personal "techie" to call when/if I run into problems in the future.
When I tried to thank
him, John smiled (I could hear it in his voice) and said, "Hey,
sometimes you just gotta be a mensch."
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2003
I spent most of the day cleaning closets. Well, in a way. Before my computer goes to the doctor, I want it to be in as good condition as possible. So I went through files, throwing out what I no longer need. Then I organized what was left. Tomorrow morning I'll back up everything to a CD, just in case. Time consuming but satisfying work.
I'm looking forward to
the drive. This will be at least the seventh April that I've gone
to Washington, DC, and I always enjoy the journey. It's especially
beautiful going through the country at this time of year. Most
of the trees are still in bud, at least in the farmlands of Ohio
and the mountains of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and northern
Maryland. But sprinkled throughout are splashes of yellow (forsythia),
white (magnolias), pink (early flowering fruit trees), and lime
green (newly leafed bushes and trees). Fields are loamy brown,
ready to be planted, and the grass is so green it makes your eyes
ache. Yes, a nice long drive is just what I need.
THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2003
This is my last journal entry until next Tuesday night, April 29, when I will have returned home from Washington, DC. Not only will I not be putting up my usual journal entries, but over the weekend, I expect my whole web site will be down for at least 24 hours. John, my mensch nephew, will be doing heavy-duty work on my site to better organize it so I can keep on keepin' on.
I'll be on the road in
about two hours and am happy to report that the sun is shining
and the birds are chirping. A perfect day for a drive! Have a
© 2003 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.