Windchime Walker's Journal 40 Archive

TTo read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal 1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal 2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal 3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal 4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal 5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal 6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7 archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal 8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal 9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal 10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal 11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal 12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal 13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal 14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal 15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal 16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal 17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal 18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal 19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal 20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal 21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal 22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal 23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal 24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal 25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal 26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal 27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal 28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal 29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal 30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal 31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal 32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal 33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal 34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal 35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal 36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal 37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal 38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal 39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal 40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal 41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal 42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal 43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal 44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal 45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal 46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal 47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal 48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal 49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal 50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal 51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal 52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal 53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal 54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal 55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal 56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal 57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal 58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal 59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal 60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06

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

*Now that I have a digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos. To access the photos, simply click on the text printed in color.The easiest way to navigate going back and forth between photo links and journal text is to click on your "back" button at the left of your tool bar.

SUNDAY, MAY 25, 2003

Tonight I was privileged to have a significant discussion with three Muslim men--one from Albania, one from Egypt and the other from Syria--a woman from Germany and a brother US activist whom I've known for years. It was after our weekly peace vigil here in this conservative community where Ed and I have lived for 32 years. The men were describing why they had come to the US twenty and thirty years ago: it was to live in a country where they could have freedom of speech. They all agreed that they no longer feel as free to speak out--especially as Muslims--as they did before Bush and Ashcroft came on the scene. And they nodded their heads sadly when I said that the US goverment under the present administration is looking more and more like fascism every day. What they find particularly chilling is the open discussion in government circles about whether or not torture should be legalized. However they agree that it is still better here than in their own countries; they just don't know how long that will continue to be true.

I would love to tell you more about the vigil and the interesting discussions we had there, but I am about to drop off to sleep right here at my computer. Too much fresh air and sunshine I suspect! But let me take a minute to show you some of today's sights that delighted my eyes:

Canadian geese beside the lake
Thistle-like flowers and green ivy
A sailboat on the lake
Leaves red as flames
Green trees along the shore
Even greener ferns
along the sidewalk

MONDAY, MAY 26, 2003

Memorial Day 2003
by Patricia Lay-Dorsey

It is Memorial Day 2003. The roar of
war planes passing overhead thunders in
my ears, reminding me less of American
soldiers who died for their country than of
Iraqi children torn to bits by bombs dropped
perhaps by these very planes.

It is Memorial Day 2003. I remember
Rachel Corrie who was bulldozed to death
while trying to protect the house of a
Palestinian family on the West Bank.

It is Memorial Day 2003. I remember
Phil Berrigan who lost his fight with
cancer but never lost his willingness to
put his life on the line for peace.

It is Memorial Day 2003. I remember
the British student Tom Hurndall who
lies brain-dead from bullets fired into
his head by Israeli soldiers. His "crime"
was to place his body between the soldiers
and two Palestinian children playing
in the street.

It is Memorial Day 2003 and flags
are flying in lilac-scented air. I see
the blood of innocents pour down each
red stripe onto porches, flagpoles, SUVs
and front doors of Americans who equate
patriotism with unthinking support of
preemptive invasions abroad and the
loss of civil liberties at home.

It is Memorial Day 2003 and I join
my hands, heart, mind and voice with
sisters and brothers around the world
as we plant seeds of justice that we trust
will flower in peace.

11:45 PM

After sending a copy of my poem to the Raging Grannies listserve, Granny Jean of British Columbia posted the following reply. If you recall, it was she who went to the West Bank with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) just a few months ago. Granny Jean is 75 years old.

Thank you Patricia so much for that. I am grieving today. Yesterday I found out that the homes of the two families I lived with in Nablus, Palestine, were destroyed in the middle of the night. There lived 10 people in the first house where Starhawk and I stayed, sleeping in the beds of the two teenage daughters, after the mother tucked us in and kissed us goodnight. Saturday night they were awakened in the middle of the night and told to go outside immediately. They were not allowed to remove their furniture and belongings and the house was blown up. Can you imagine what it was like for them. The father of the house is disabled and the mom worked so hard. She was rolling up rice in grape leaves at 10 pm the night we were there.
In the second house the Khelfi family lived downstairs, and I stayed with them. Hana and her two sons Mohammed and Rahin and daughter Rawind. Upstairs lived two families. There were four elderly adults and several sons and daughter and young children, at least 10 or 12 people, who were Hana's relatives. The crime of these people was that a son in each house was a suicide bomber. The families are grieving the loss of a son and now their house is gone. Will this keep on happening to them for the rest of their lives? How will they heal? While I don't condone suicide bombers, I can certainly understand the frustration of the young people. We all know the violence doesn't work. What galls me is that the Israelis are saying they want the peace process, why then do they continue this degradation of the families who have done no wrong.

Saturday night a well know rock/blues band from Nanaimo, BC, David Gogo and his band, are playing a benefit dance and the money is going to me to go back to Palestine in September. I hope I can find the families and see them again. Thanks again Patricia. It is so good to have the love and kindness of the Grannies around me. Love Jean

TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2003

7:30 AM

"Confessions of an Unpatriotic American."

If I were to give my journals a title, that would be it. Now, I know many in the peace/anti-war movement consider themselves patriotic, and I'm sure that is true for them. It is not for me. The definition of "patriot" in my Oxford Mini-Reference Dictionary is: "A person who is devoted to and ready to defend his or her country."

My devotion is to the earth, not to my country. It is the earth I would defend with my life. I do not share the nationalistic fervor that the tragic events of September 11 set in motion and the Bush administration has used for their own purposes. When I see American flag stickers on cars, vans, SUVs and trucks, flags waving from the fronts of houses, children in stars-and-stripes bathing suits, women and men wearing t-shirts and baseball caps with flags emblazoned on the front, carrying red, white and blue tote bags, sitting in beach chairs and eating off picnic tablecloths decorated like the American flag, I am repulsed.

And then I think of Germany during the time of Hitler and the Nazis. There must have been people like me back then, people who saw the abuses of power and did not go along with them. How did they survive? I guess for them, survival meant more than just getting along, it meant staying alive. It has not come to that yet here in the US, that is, unless you are of Muslim Arab descent and accused of ties to terrorism.

It's funny. I was so looking forward to the spring and summer, especially during those bitter cold months when we Raging Grannies were out on the streets every week protesting Bush's plans to attack Iraq. What I had forgotten was that warm weather meant I would be out on my scooter, riding through the neighborhoods of this conservative community where Ed and I live, going to the park several times a week to swim. In other words, I was going to be out among the general public, many of whom are flag-waving and flag-wearing patriots. I had forgotten that.

I'm not particularly proud of my feelings. It would be grand if I were more like Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who encourages us to love and feel compassion for all people, the abuser and the abused, the oppressor and the oppressed, the cruel and the kind. I'm just not there yet...not even close, I'm afraid.

When I see a house with a brand new American flag waving beside the front door, a lawn sign saying "I support my country and the troops", and children's tricycles out in front, I want to ask, "Do you not care about the children of Iraq? The little ones with their arms and legs blown off and their guts hanging out after being struck by pieces of schrapnel from cluster bombs, their faces burned beyond recognition by depleted uranium bombs?" These are the thoughts that go through my mind as I ride my scooter down leafy green streets where bombs have never been dropped and the loudest noise is the buzz of tree-trimmers.

It is going to be a very long summer unless I can find a better way to co-exist with people who see things differently from me.

7 PM

Well, that's where I was early this morning. Not a pleasant place to be. Not a pleasant person to be. Something in me would like to delete that entry and go on to describe the delightful day I had with the kids at school, but that would only be half the story. It also would be a bit of a cover-up. I don't want to go there. I am a complex human being, one who can get myself into stews of negativity even as I can honor life and its many gifts. Both/and not either/or. If this journal is going to be a truthful account of my life, I must share both sides.

The kids at school definitely bring out my best side. They are so loving, so truthful, so themselves that I often stand back in awe. Today I seemed to get more hugs than usual, perhaps because our time together is running out. And I discovered that I'm not the only one who doesn't want it to end. When I asked for a show of hands of who was looking forward to school being over and who was not, it was more evenly mixed than I would have imagined. The special hugs were also from some of our children who will be leaving early to go to their country of origin for the summer. One fifth grade girl is leaving for Lebanon this Friday. She'll be gone three months. A fourth grade girl is leaving a week from Thursday--she made me promise to sit at her table next Tuesday--and one fourth grade boy left for Lebanon last Saturday.

To be honest, it makes me nervous to imagine our kids over in the Middle East, especially now that Bush and his gang seem to be going down their "axis of evil" list to see who is due for a "regime change" or whatever they choose to call it this time. Iran seems to be in their sites today, but that can change in a minute. One of our girls is going to Syria, and that really sets my teeth on edge. It certainly brings home to me the threat of this militaristic administration.

But it's hard to focus too much on such things when I am surrounded by smiling, bright faces turned toward me like sunflowers toward the sun. That was what it felt like when I read a story to the second graders today. These youngsters know me and my physical limits so well--and accept them so completely--that they begged to be the page-turners of my book. The four kids closest to me--one boy and three girls--got the privilege, and worked it out among themselves as to how to do it. They took turns, going around in a circle for as many pages as it took. Oh, I do love these kids.

And today I saw someone else whom I love. Marlene Zerger, the friend who introduced me to this school, was finally back after months of surgery and chemotherapy. The youngsters were as excited to see her as I. She has worked one-on-one with students new to the country who need English, as well as making the "problem" kids feel special by having lunch groups especially for them. We have ALL missed Mrs. Zerger! But now she's back, at least for a couple of hours twice a week. As a girl at my table remarked after Marlene left the room, "Mrs Zerger brings a lot of love to this school." I was deeply touched when she went on to say, "And there's someone else who does that do, Ms. Patricia!"

How can anyone get caught up with money or material things when treasures like this are so freely given?

I'll end with a photo. When I came downstairs this morning, Ed said I looked so colorful that it deserved a picture. So he took one.


It is after midnight and tomorrow is an early-morning school day, so I'll be brief. Except for this evening's 30 lengths of the middle school pool, I spent much of the day (and night) working on a creative project for my O Beautiful Gaia sisters. Because we want it to be a surprise, and one of my faithful readers is among those we want to surprise, I'll keep the secret until another time.

And now to bed.

THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2003

I should know by now not to read alternative news web sites like Common Dreams.Org so late at night. It just infuriates me and makes it hard to sleep.

Will it never end? Each day I think it can't possibly get worse, and then it does. A friend told me on the phone tonight that people who support the president and his war say to her that she's so negative, always talking about doom and gloom. My god, if they aren't seeing "doom and gloom" in the state of our country and the world--particularly the things that are being masterminded by the Bush White House--then I'd have to say those people have shut down and just aren't thinking anymore. Any thinking person would have to be responding with varying degrees of outrage, pain, grief, horror, disbelief, anger, frustration and sadness to what they read and see is going on these days. Just sitting back and saying, "Oh, I trust the president" is the most irresponsible--and dangerous--attitude imaginable.

For instance, I just read of three teens and seven others critically wounded when they were shot by American troops in Samarra, Iraq earlier this week. Their crime? Shooting guns into the air to celebrate a wedding, the traditional way to celebrate festive events in Iraq. U.S. troops opened fire into the wedding procession. One of those killed was a 13 year-old boy, and a 12 year-old boy is critically wounded. Following the shootings, several American soldiers stormed into the hospital with rifles drawn, demanding to know the names of the wounded. Family members were so frightened, many of them fled. And then the American forces imposed an 10 PM to 5 AM curfew in the city, interfering with evening prayers at Samarra's revered gold-domed mosque.

And the Americans wonder why the Iraqis are not jubilant at being "freed"?

Next I read of President Bush's latest threat to our planet. No, I'm not referring to Iran, although I certainly could be. Instead I'm referring to his plan to undermine one of the most important protections offered by the Federal Endangered Species Act: critical habitat designation. According to a press release put out yesterday by the National Resources Defense Council:

Critical habitat designation is one of the three essential legs on which the federal Endangered Species Act stands; the others are the listing of threatened and endangered species, and the development of recovery plans. Current rules require that habitat be designated for all species.

"Essentially, the administration is claiming that species don't need a home," said Holmes. "We know that the number one reason why wildlife becomes endangered is loss of habitat. If we don't protect the places where these species live, these plants and animals may be lost."

The Bush administration proposal will claim not only that critical habitat is not important, but also that federal agencies do not have the funds they need to conduct surveys and draw maps of each species' critical habitat, as required under the law. Yet scientific surveys have demonstrated that species with critical habitat are improving faster than those without.

So, let me see if I understand this correctly: the Federal Government has over $400 billion to spend on Defense (Offense?) in 2004--not counting the off-budget hundreds of billions for their wars--but they do not have the funds to "conduct surveys and draw maps of each species' critical habitat"?

How can the American people sit back and let this president get away with it? ALL of it. In another article, Sr. Joan Chittister writes:

What may count most, however, is that we may well be the ones Proverbs warns when it reminds us: "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks the truth." The point is clear: If the people speak and the king doesn't listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.

It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly.

When will the American people figure it out, and why don't they even seem to want to? I wish I could figure that out. Why are the majority of the citizens in this country willing to sleepwalk off a cliff, a cliff that is within our sight, that we are crowded around at this very moment? Are they afraid if they look down, they'll see how close to the edge they are? Are they too concerned with just trying to put food on the table and keep their jobs? Are they so afraid of the "enemy"--even White House PR-created ones--that they're willing to give over their freedom and autonomy to "Big Brother" ? Are they so drugged out on TV, shopping, alcohol, prescription drugs and other addictions that they simply can't think for themselves?

My friends who are thinking people are, without exception, filled with horror at what Bush and Co. are doing to our country, the world, the planet and all creatures--including humans--who are trying to live in peace. My brother Rabih Haddad, who has had plenty of time to think while being in solitary confinement (still with no charges, no trial, no bail) for the past 17 months, is so depressed by world events that he could not write even one letter for two and a half months. And this is a man for whom letters provide his only feelings of freedom and connection with the outside world. Today I received my first letter from him since before the Bush/Blair attack on Iraq. In it he writes:

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive your brother who has not written to you for so long. The past two and a half months have been the toughest for me in my ongoing ordeal. The war in Iraq, the situation in the Middle East, the stagnation of my own case bore so heavily on me that I was both mentally and emotionally suffocating. I could not write a single word for the duration. My pad and pencil, once obedient tools, rebelled against me and joined the team of my tormentors. Every time I picked them up to write, my thoughts raced and my anger and frustration would swell within me and choke off any possibility of being productive.

I can understand. Since March 20, I too have not been myself. My former readiness to get out there and protest, sing and RAGE--either with the Grannies or on my own--has dried up. It's taken all my activist energies simply to stay informed--which is almost always painful--send out my group emails, and share my political thoughts here in my journal. It has been the toughest time of my life.

But I'm not being unjustly held in jail, unable to touch my loved ones, at the mercy of often cruel and unfeeling guards, cut off from nature, community and meaningful activities, and worrying about a future that Rabih describes as "ambiguous and more uncertain than ever." I can't imagine how that must feel on top of the horrors that unfold day-by-day in The World According to Bush.

It is for all of these reasons that I so value the time I spend with the children at school. And today was no exception. I finished the two--#1 and #2--pencil portraits of students that I've been working on for a couple of weeks, and just thoroughly enjoyed being around their life and energy...even their end-of-the-year wildness.

And now it is, believe it or not, 2:30 AM! Even though I had a good long nap after school, I'm beginning to get very sleepy. Time for bed.

FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2003

My friend/Faithful Reader, Rima, from Berkeley, CA, emailed today to say, in part:

Regarding my e-mail about flags yesterday, the Great Collective Unconscious is at work again. In this morning's [San Francisco] Chronicle, the Bizarro cartoon shows a woman wearing a flag shirt, a flag hair bow, and flag slippers, sitting on her couch surrounded by a little dog in a flag coat, flag curtains, flag lampshade, flag picture frames, flag-covered ottoman, and a teddy bear in a flag hat and trousers (holding a miniature flag), shouting at her TV (which is covered by a flag table runner): "Throw them all in jail! It should be illegal to desecrate the flag!"

So I went to SF Gate online, and found the cartoon at:

It sure helps to know I'm not alone in my reaction to the current overuse/misuse of the American flag. Rima told me in yesterday's email about her experiences with the flag during her Vietnam War protest days in the 60s. Back then she and her sister/brother protestors were threatened with arrest if they did anything with the flag beyond raising it on a flagpole and saluting it. They were told that even wearing a semblance of the flag on any item of clothing was against the law. I wonder where that law went?

Today was spent working on my part of the arrangements (housing) for the O Beautiful Gaia CD recording weekend, June 13-15. It required a scoot down to the commercial street a mile from my house, so that was nice. But what a roller coaster ride it was! Not my scoot, but seeing the arrangements crumble into dust in one minute and re-form themselves into something much better a half hour--and four phone calls--later. As they say, trust the process.

I am writing my journal entry early today--it's only 7 PM--so I don't again get caught tying up loose ends at 2 AM. Actually, I didn't get to bed last night/this morning until 4:30 AM. That two hour nap after school certainly threw off my internal clock. But since I got up at 10 AM after only five and a half hours sleep, I bet I'll be early-to-bed tonight. Hope so, anyway.

SATURDAY, MAY 31 , 2003

When I get discouraged about the state of the world, my country and its leaders, my sister and brother citizens and their willingness to support wars abroad and the loss of our civil liberties at home, I want to remember today. A day in which I attended a Rebuild Homes house party hosted by a young woman who now lives in my community, but who lived in Gaza and then in Israel before that. Casey Currie wrote the following in her invitation letter:

Living in both Israel and the Gaza Strip on and off the last several years has changed Ian and me. We have had an opportunity to learn more from Israelis and Palestinians about the conflict. We have witnessed first hand the damage and injustice of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and have seen the impact that the threat of terrorist violence has upon Israeli individuals and society. To many it would seem that there is no hope, but as a Christian I say there is always hope. And as a Christian I am committed to do what I can to further that journey of peace.

Since returning from the Mid East in February, I have been exploring various organizations that are working to peacefully end the occupation and hence, the violence. I am convinced that one of the most effective means to stop the violence is through activities that bring Israelis and Palestinians together, face to face to accomplish peace-building activities. One such group is the Rebuilding Homes Campaign. It is a joint project between two non-governmental, non-profit groups: the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER). The Campaign's objective is to raise funds to cover the costs of rebuilding Palestinian homes demolished by the government of Israel within the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967.

Rebuilding homes is a peace-building, non-violent act of resistance to the Occupation. The actual rebuilding activity brings together Palestinians, Israelis and international volunteers who learn about each other while working side by side. This way, individuals are better able to resist the tendency of war to de-humanize the enemy. Rebuilding homes rebuilds trust, an essential component of peace.

This Palestinian and Israeli partnership is being supported by tens of thousands of people around the world who are hosting "1,000 House Parties to Rebuild Homes". I am participating by inviting you to a Saturday morning brunch on May 31st between 9:00am and 12:30pm.

The "house party" was way too big for Casey's home, so she held it at her church. I saw old activist friends there, among them Sr. Barb Beesley of Groundwork for a Just World, who had recently returned from two weeks solidarity work with Palestinians on the West Bank, and Hasan Nawash, a Palestinian poet/anthropologist/engineer who is one of Detroit's most creative and committed peace activists. I also saw my new friends, Ali and Birgit, members of our newly-formed community peace group that vigils every Sunday evening, has sponsored two Peace lectures and is planning a third for June. And I was honored to meet and talk with one Muslim brother who came to the US a number of years ago from Gaza, and another brother who was orginally from Syria. I also met two sister activists, one who now works here in Detroit for End The Occupation, and another who remembered my name from the Women In Black listserve.

More and more, I am coming to see this movement for peace and justice as a deep lake with overlapping circles rippling its surface, evidence of stones of hope dropped every second by persons of conscience across the globe. As the poet Denise Levertov wrote, "How could we tire of hope; so much is in bud. How can desire fail?"

SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 2003

Another day rehearsing with my Great Lakes Basin sisters as we make final preparations to record our portion of the O Beautiful Gaia CD. Two weeks from tonight we will have just completed two long days of recording at an Ann Arbor, MI sound studio. Only one more full day of rehearsal remains. Yipes! Actually today's rehearsal was excellent. Our focus was good, Nancy's directing superb (and exceptionally patient), and I thought we sounded quite well. Staying on pitch is still a challenge, though. As Nancy keeps saying, "Eyebrows up, smiley faces, and sing on top of the notes."

I took some photos, mainly for our dear sister Mary White. Her health continues to improve--miraculously, according to her doctors--but she remains in a rather fragile place that requires constant attention and new ways of being in the world. She recently wrote me that, "The circle of love coming in my way and on out to the universe is incredibly full! My whole life--very being is transforming." What a bright and loving spirit! So here, dear Mary, are pictures of your sisters singing love to you.

The upper voices--#1 and #2
The middle voices--#1 and #2
The lower voices--#1 and #2

During the day I discovered how fragile I was. The stresses of making arrangements for dorm rooms and meals for our recording weekend caught up with me in a most unpleasant way. I really lost it with one of my Great Lakes sisters, and got so angry I was practically incoherent. The last time I reacted with such red hot anger was, literally, in 1989. It is not my usual way of relating. But when someone keeps coming at me in a confrontational way about something that is a source of great anxiety to me, I'm afraid it can push me over the edge. Anyway, the world did not come to an end, and I learned again that I am only human.

Friday's roller coaster ride that took me from the low of hearing at 3:30 PM that the dorm we were counting on was not available, to the high of finding a dorm at another university less than an hour later--and at half the cost--had settled into a long, involved series of organizational emails and phone calls to scores of my Great Lakes sisters. To be honest, I'm not fond of organizing, especially in situations involving money. As it's turned out, 32 of our 46 sisters are going to stay in the dorm. I know it's going to be wonderful once we get there; it's just the nitty-gritty details that can cause sleepless nights. But I'm feeling lots better tonight. Things are coming along fine.

And now I have got to go to bed. I am exhausted.

MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2003

Across the late afternoon sky they come,
an arrow of wings and chorus of honks
coming home, home to a world green with
promise, a region awash in rebirth.

I look up from my computer and see the
shadow of wings momentarily eclipse the sun.
Where have they been? Where are they going?
How long have they been on this journey? How
many were lost along the way, or chose to
lag behind and try new lands?

Three colonies pass overhead within five
minutes. Will I see them again in October?
And where will our world be then? How I wish
the future did not fill me with such foreboding.


Is everyone's life on fast forward right now, or is it just me? I was at my computer by 7 AM taking care of Raging Grannies' business. Before 9 AM, I was on the phone making final revisions to the Confirmation/Contract with Eastern Michigan University regarding dorm rooms and meals for 32 of my singing sisters. We'll be staying there on June 13-14, the weekend we're scheduled to record our portion of the O Beautiful Gaia CD in an Ann Arbor sound studio. I was out the door at 9:30 AM and on my way to school. On the way, I stopped and mailed the signed contract and deposit check to EMU.

School was great. For some reason, I had more heartfelt discussions with the kids than ever. We even sang some peace songs together as they worked. In one discussion about the wars one boy had lived through in Africa, I heard the wisdom of the ages coming out of 10 year-old mouths. "Why is there war? All it does is kill people." When two boys asked me if I ever thought there would be peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, I turned it back to them and asked, "How would you work it out?" "I'd ask the Israelis to give the Palestinians back enough land for them to live."

I got home at 5:30 PM, and began to prepare for my women's book group that was meeting here tonight. By 6:30 PM, I sat down in Ed's big leather car, put my feet up on the footstool and closed my eyes. At 7:15 PM, Joan arrived, and soon Pat N. and Claire, a new member of our group, were sitting together in my living room, laughing, talking, drinking tea and eating cheesecake. Lenore showed up a half hour later. As always, our discussion flowed like a swiftly moving river, creating new paths and carrying along the flotsam and jetsum of our collective lives. Pat started us out by reading the following selection from Starhawk's Web of Power:

All our ancestors were indigenous to somewhere; that is they were deeply rooted in one place, living in a culture in which sustenance, spirit and culture arose from the plants, animals,climate, and resources of that particular land. If we are going to create a new political/economic/social ststem, one that truly cares for the environment and human beings, we may need to become indigenous again, to find one spot on earth we can know intimately.

Pat then asked what place meant the most to each of us. I learned more about these four women in that one discussion than in most any we've ever had. Deep thing, a person's sense of place. Of course, it wasn't long before politics captured our attention, and then we were off.

After my friends left about 10:30 PM, the phone rang and it was one of my Raging Granny sisters needing to talk.

It is now almost midnight and I am getting ready to take my weary, but deeply satisfied, mind/body/spirit to bed.


This was, of necessity, a laid-back, low-key day. By the time I went to bed last night, I was utterly exhausted. It wasn't just yesterday's non-stop schedule; it was five solid days of unusually stressful responsibilties in regard to making the dorm/meal arrangements for our O Beautiful Gaia CD recording weekend. But it's not exactly my style to sit around eating bon-bons, so I worked on drafting and sending out a group email to my political email list. I also called my senators, read articles and op/ed pieces on my favorite alternative web sites, phoned Eastern Michigan University to make dietary arrangements with the dining staff, tried to catch up with emails, and comforted one of the Raging Grannies who called from work.

Here is a copy of the message I sent to my friends:

Subject: WMD and the FCC

Dear friends

As the national and international media and press are aswirl in accusations that the Bush administration lied about and/or doctored intelligence reports regarding the presence of weapons of mass destruction to order to support their long-held determination to invade Iraq--surprise! surprise!--it seems that some members of the US Congress are FINALLY beginning to wake up. A Senate committee investigation into whether or not officials misused intelligence to make the case for a war on Iraq could begin later this month, according to Senator John Warner, Republican head of the Armed Services Committee. See:

We need to urge such an investigation without delay. If you live in the US, please contact your senators and let them know of your support for such an investigation. And also encourage your representative to introduce such an investigation in the House.

When I called Michigan Senator Stabenow's and Senator Levin's offices this morning, I asked to speak with the legislative assistant who is handling this issue. When they got on the phone, I said that, not only did I want my senators to support such an investigation, but that I considered such an abuse of power to be more of an impeachable offense than Watergate or a President's sex life. Might as well say it like you see it.

The even more chilling news--news that is probably receiving only cursory attention in the mainstream press and media--is Monday's 3-2 vote by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to deregulate media ownership rules. What this means, in essence, is that one individual (Rupert Murdoch?) or corporation (Time/Warner?) would now be allowed to own the cable company, the dominant television station, the dominant newspaper, and multiple radio stations in your city or town. See:

If you have recently watched the news on FOX television, you have an idea of how this can look. Diversity of opinions will be in short supply and local news will be pushed onto the back burner. In short, the American people will have a McDonalds-type diet of news and programming, with no alternatives available. Remember, even though you are internet people, the vast majority of folks in this country get their news and views from the nightly news program on their TV, and, in smaller numbers, from their local newspapers and radio stations. Whoever controls these sources of information controls public opinion. And in the US that will mean, whoever has the most money will tell the rest of us what to think.

To see a reasoned, yet passionate, account of the devastating dimensions of this FCC decision to deregulate media ownership rules, please read the dissenting statement of FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein at:

By the way, the chairman of the FCC--which is an appointed body, and currently Republican dominated--is Michael Powell, Secretary of State Colin Powell's son. Although the younger Powell has been widely criticized for pushing this vote through with little debate, no public hearings, no Congressional consultation, and more than a little secrecy, he is now on a fast track to receiving a much more important political appointment if Bush wins in 2004. It obviously pays to make powerful corporations and rightwing political donors like Rupert Murdoch happy.

Whom Michael Powell and the two other Republican FCC commissioners did NOT seem to feel they needed to make happy were the three/quarters of a million individuals who took the time to call, email and write the FCC expressing their concerns over the dangers of deregulating media ownership. Only a handful of those who contacted the FCC were in favor of changing the media ownership rules that had served us well for decades. This is not to mention the strange bedfellows that came out against deregulation, for example the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the National Rifle Association (NRA), conservative columnist William Safire and progressive politician Jesse Jackson.

The good news is that, if they act quickly, Congress can overturn the FCC's decision. See:

And Common Cause and are mounting just such a campaign. To send emails to your senators and representative encouraging them to be part of this effort to overturn the FCC's deregulation of media ownership rules, please go to:

These two issues--the WMD controversy and Monday's FCC decision--are related in alarming ways. With a compliant American media and press, it was all too easy for the Bush administration to make their flawed case for the presence of WMD in Iraq. The more centrally controlled our communications industry becomes, the easier it will be for unsubstantiated accusations to be seen as "truth." A slippery slope indeed.

I am sending this message to both my American and international friends because the issues I raise affect us all. How I wish that were not so, but, until modern nations can learn how to govern themselves in ways that promote the common good, what happens here in the US will continue to carry consequences for us all.

in pursuit of truth

Patricia Lay-Dorsey


One of the assignments in our fourth grade art class today was to draw what you're going to do this summer. I really took to it! Of course what came immediately to mind was recording the O Beautiful Gaia CD with my Great Lakes Basin sisters. Since we'll be in the sound studio the day after school lets out, it counts as a summer activity.

Did I ever have fun! I first drew a crowd of women standing around a microphone, but soon realized I'd left myself out. Since I have to sit in a chair to sing, I put myself in a chair in the front row, just where I'll be when we record. When I'd finished drawing the women, I got the idea of making it look like we are singing at the center of the earth (Gaia). The whole point of our project.

I worked on this drawing through one fourth grade, one third grade and one fifth grade class...not to mention lunch. And the kids got into it as much as I. So I asked if they would like to sing some of the songs from the CD with me. Actually I'd already taught a number of art classes "The River Is Flowing" and "Circle For Peace", but today I added "O Beautiful Gaia." And then I asked them to sing me their favorite songs from chorus.

How these children LOVE to sing!!! And it is in large part because of Cathy, the music teacher. To give you an idea of what I mean, 100 out of the 125 fourth grade students in our K-5 school have sung in the Fourth Grade Chorus all year, even though it has meant arriving at school a half hour early a couple of times a week! And now they've been having extra rehearsals--they and the drumming ensemble--to get ready to perform at this year's Arab Festival on the last day of school, June 13.

I wish you could see these children when they sing. If there were earthly angels, this is what they would look like. Even the kids who always have to be "cool"--even the fifth graders!--absolutely lose themselves in the music. Of course, there are still a few who can't go there, but they are definitely in the minority. I kept thinking to myself that I never want to forget these sights and sounds. Not just the sights and sounds, but the heart. These children sing with their hearts. How I wish you could have been there.

I told each class about the CD project and was gratified to hear their excited responses. Hussein in the third grade insisted that I bring him a pre-order form next week. "If you don't, I'll die!" He sounded serious.

When I fnally finished the drawing it was our last class of the day, the fifth graders. I invited them to sign their names to it, and asked them to send us good energy when we record. They promised they would. Here is my drawing and the names of every fifth grader in that class--even the coolest of the cool--lovingly written on it. Susan, the teacher, signed it too.

Now I know all is going to go well for us on June 13 and 14, for we'll have Susan and the children with us.

FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 2003

I'm staying in a room in a high-rise building (dorm?) with a sliding glass door. I've been working at my laptop out on the balcony when my friends come to the door and tell me it's time to get over to the song conference being held by Carolyn McDade, the singer/songwriter, and Janet Hood, the pianist she always works with on her CDs. Realizing we're late, I quickly bring my laptop in from the balcony and leave it propped beside the partially-open sliding glass door.

I hurry over to the conference center and am delighted to meet up with Carolyn before the presentation begins. She's happy to see me too. I'm surprised to see how short she is: she doesn't even come up to my shoulder and I'm only 4'10" tall. I say to her, "Carolyn, I always thought you were much taller than I!" She laughs and remarks that she's always been small.

Soon Janet comes out and the presentation begins. It's being held in a comfortable living room-type setting, with different kinds of chairs scattered about. Most of the regular chairs are filled so I go to a child's rocking chair up in front. Carolyn laughs when she sees me sit down in it.

The presentation/sharing is good, but what I remember is the pouring-down rain that drenches me as I walk back to my room later. When I get there, I'm horrified to see that my laptop is sopping wet, with beads of water glistening all over it. The rain had obviously come in through the open sliding-glass door and it looks like my laptop is ruined. I'm devastated because I know I've lost all of my work. I'm especially concerned because it means that the room arrangements I've been working on for a future gathering with Carolyn, are gone.

There is the feeling of a memory that when I tell Carolyn what has happened, she is unconcerned. "We'll work something out," she says.

This dream--that I vividly remember over 16 hours later--gives some idea of how anxious and absorbed I am with the O Beautiful Gaia CD project, and particularly, with my responsibilities regarding housing for 32 of our women of the Great Lakes Basin. Tomorrow is our final rehearsal before we record our part of the CD next weekend, June 13-15. I spent much of today putting together an information sheet with directions to the dorm where we will be staying. What a job! I scooted down to Kinkos to have copies made, and also got a haircut while I was down there. On the way home, I saw a cottontail rabbit resting contentedly in someone's front yard. And then I stopped to admire our neighbor's garden. Here are two close-ups of their flowers--#1 and #2. I walked inthe door at 5 PM, got something to eat and then worked from 6:30- 10 PM at my computer. I'll be so glad when my part of the organizing is done.

This Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8, the women of Atlantic New England are recording their portion of the CD. Please hold them in good energy.

I'm also thinking of our Raging Grannies Without Borders who are currently in Rochester, New York, at the Raging Grannies' Eastern Regional gathering. And the women at the National Women's Music Festival 2003, a festival I haven't missed in years (until now). Not to mention tomorrow's Solidarity Picnic in Ann Arbor for my brother, Rabih Haddad, who has been unjustly held in jail for 18 months with no charges, no trial date and no bail.

How I wish I could figure out how to be in two--or more--places at once.


Magic is what I'd call this day. Not unearned magic, but earned magic. We O beautiful Gaia women of the Great Lakes Basin worked our fannies off...and it showed! We have never sounded better, nor has our singing ever been so deeply satisfying. The most amazing part of the whole day was that, after rehearsing hard for at least five hours, we were still on key. And the songs we sing are not easy to keep on pitch. In fact, that has been my greatest concern about our recording the CD. But now we know we can do it, and we certainly will do it in the studio next weekend.

A lot of the credit goes to Nancy, our creatively gifted and unimaginably patient song leader. We couldn't have done it without her. At the same time, each and every one of us Great Lakes Basin women has given her heart and soul to this project, not to mention her time and attention. We've been meeting from 9 AM to 4 PM on the first Saturday of every month since last September, alternately in Canada and the US (our group is half Canadian and half American). Long enough to gestate and birth a baby, and that's just what this process feels like. The labor pains have begun and by next Sunday at this time, the baby will be in our arms reaching for the nipple.

I wouldn't give anything for the wondrous gift of being part of this community, CD or no CD. Just being in the presence of women who love the earth with such passion and commitment has given me all I've needed to retain my sense of hope when, as one of Carolyn McDade's songs says, "hope is hard to find."

What would I have done without these women and our shared song during that long, cold winter when war was all anyone could think about? To come every month and be harbored within the safety of this circle--not as a way of denying the pain of the world but as a way of embracing it--helped me retain my belief in humanity. Yes, both the Great Lakes Gaia women and the Raging Grannies saved me from the despair that attacked so many of my brothers and sisters in the peace movement, especially after our efforts at averting Bush's war seemed to fail.

Our process today was the same as we'd used at our rehearsal two weeks ago--the process taught us by our Gaia sisters of Atlantic New England. For each song, Nancy and the song's Memory Keeper started by sharing technical reminders about the song. We then sang the first phrase three times, followed by a reading by the Memory Keeper. The reading was intended to take us to a deeper level in our heart's understanding of the song. It was followed by silence. Only then did we sing it through without stopping. Following another period of silence, Nancy or any member of the community was free to offer suggestions on how we might improve our singing of this song. We often ran through it at least one more time. Occasionally, we needed to spend extra time going over our parts. We did whatever was necessary to put these nine songs "into our cells." It took us five hours to go through them all.

The other two hours of our time together were spent enjoying the pot luck lunch provided by the American women, working out arrangements about next weekend, and discussing what we want to do with our Great Lakes quilt. The consensus was to keep it as a community and use it to raise public awareness about the earth and her needs. The women from Georgetown, Ontario, whose singing group created a number of the squares, shared with us their ideas about making notecards and posters using the professional photographs they've had taken of the quilt. Our community was most enthusiastic and grateful for all they are doing. Joan, our Ontario Great Lakes Gaia coordinator, also made a most welcome announcement that we will start meeting again on the first Saturday of September. Thank goddess! From the beginning, we'd said that this Great Lakes community was never just about making a CD. As another of our songs says, "We have only begun to love the earth."

I took few pictures today because I was using all my energy and attention on the business at hand, but I did take a picture of the lovely altar that Sooz created for us, as well as one picture of each singing section--what we call the lows, the middles, and the uppers. Thanks, Casey, for taking the picture of the uppers.

But here is probably my favorite photo of our whole time together: a group portrait of the women of the Great Lakes Basin.

By the time we got to dinner, I no longer had to concentrate on anything but my sisters, so I was free to scoot around to the different tables at our favorite Detroit eating place, the Cass Cafe. Here are dinner photos #1, #2, #3, #4, #5. I think you can see pretty plainly on our faces how we felt about the day!

It is now 11:30 PM and I will soon be singing in my sleep.

SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 2003

This was a day to pull together loose ends regarding the dorm/meal arrangements I'm making for our O Beautiful Gaia CD recording weekend, June 13-14. It took me close to two hours to gather the information--I should have stock in MapQuest!--and write a detailed email to send the 32 women who will be staying in the dorm...and then another goodly hunk of time to write the housing director at the university where we'll be staying, to finalize our plans and ask my questions. Even though it has been a mammoth job, things are coming together in an acceptable fashion. A few bumps in the road are to be expected, but nothing serious has gone wrong since my roller coaster ride a week ago Friday. And any discomfort I had about writing big checks on my personal account has disappeared because these wonderful women have now ALL paid me in full!

Before I got to work on that business, though, I had to respond to the distressing news about the probable deportation of 13,000 immigrants that was reported in Saturday's New York Times. These are the men, aged 16-72, from predominantly Muslim and Arab countries, who were forced to submit to a "special registration" by the INS this winter. If you remember, the Raging Grannies and I joined protests that were sponsored by the Blue Triangle Network in front of the Detroit INS building on two bitter cold days in December and February. We feared just such a thing as this wave of deportations would happen as a result of this racial targeting of Muslim men from Arab and South Asian countries.

I started with a group email to the Blue Triangle network, the Raging Grannies and my Muslim friends, asking what we could do to respond to this frightening development. I then wrote the following Letter to Editor of the New York Times:

Re: More Than 13,000 May Face Deportation (June 7, 2003)

Dear Editor

On several bitter cold days last winter, I joined groups of concerned citizens in front of the Detroit INS building. We were there to protest the "special registration" of immigrant men between the ages of 16 and 72 from predominantly Muslim and Arab countries. At the time we feared how this information would be used. And now I read that more than 13,000 of those registered are likely to be deported because of their illegal status.

When I see such evidence of official racial targeting, I am reminded of Hitler's Germany and our own treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. If the newly-named Department of Homeland Security is so concerned with the immigration status of individuals within our borders, why are they not holding special registrations of European immigrants, or those from Central and South America, Asia and Africa?

It looks like a purge to me, and I am ashamed of my country.


Patricia Lay Dorsey

I finished by sending the New York Times article to, asking them to publish it on their web site. You do what you can do.

Late in the afternoon, even though it was spitting a bit, I scooted down to the weekly peace vigil in my community's commercial district. I am so impressed by the faithfulness of these folks. They are now sponsoring their third peace lecture, this one to be held at the local Islamic Center on June 30. They have invited a professor from Wayne State University--who is also an international lawyer--to speak on the erosion of civil liberties in the US since September 11, and in particular, the Patriot Act. As always, we shared information, announcements, and discussed issues relating peace and politics. And to think I've lived in this conservative community for years thinking I was alone in my commitment to peace activism! What a joy to find that I am not alone. I've offered to help by being in charge of sending out their group emails. Their email list already numbers 150 and the group has only been in existence a few months. As Carol, the organizer, said tonight, things are changing from the bottom up. Grassroots is where it's at.

I'll leave you with a picture of the squirrel I saw as I worked at my computer this morning. She was feasting on the maple seeds scattered across our porch roof.

MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2003

Lots of transitions this week.Tonight was my last night of the season to swim at the indoor pool. Soon I'll be back to the lakeside park and that lovely large outdoor pool, but also to lap lanes that I have to share (Tim always gave me a lane to myself at the middle school pool). The last day of school is Friday, and tomorrow may indeed be my last day with these children I've grown to love so dearly. I intend to return when school resumes next August, but our fifth graders will be gone and a number of the younger students have told me they'll be moving to different schools. And finally, we women of the Great Lakes Basin will be recording our portion of the O Beautiful Gaia CD project this Saturday and Sunday, so, after nine months of monthly gatherings/rehearsals, we'll be taking the summer off.

Another change--one that I celebrate--is that the hammock-style manual disabled lift I've had to use at the middle school pool is going to be replaced during the summer with a more modern hydraulic lift. Tonight was my last journey in that funky old contraption. I know Tim, the lifeguard, is happy! This ancient piece of machinery required him to pump iron (me) twice a week.

Tonight I asked a sister swimmer take photos to document the process we've used to get me in and out of the pool for two years now. Here it is, step-by-unwieldy step: #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 (ready to swim), and #6 (me being hoisted back up after having completed 32 lengths of the free style).

I adore doing laps. It reminds me of the days when I used to run long distance--after awhile you go into an altered state and your mind flies as freely as your limbs. You never know where you're going to go. I've used my swimming time to feel my feelings, dream dreams, solve problems, hatch ideas, savor sweet memories and lose myself in contemplation.

Tonight I found myself thinking about a number of life-changing experiences that I've swum my way through these past nine months. Especially vivid was the Wednesday night in November when I'd used my swimming time to let myself feel some uncomfortably raw feelings about a dear friend from whom I had not heard in a long time. That night I came home to Ed standing at the door with the message that my sister had called to tell me Mom was dying and might not make it through the night. I then recalled how the water and swimming had helped me make my way through those horrible weeks of war in March and April. It was the only place where I could let my body do what it needed to do, and that was to churn and push against all the pain and suffering that threatened to engulf me. And then there were the Raging Grannies songs that had come to me here in this inviting element of water. Yes, this pool has definitely companioned me through more than just laps.

TUESDAY, JUNE 10, 2003

On this, my next-to-last day at school, I finally figured out what I'm doing there. I am simply loving the kids with an open, often overflowing, heart. And being willing to receive the love they so generously give me in return.

It took me two full years to figure this out.

What precipitated my awareness was the flood of tears that cascaded down my cheeks as I heard the fourth and fifth grade chorus sing at assembly this afternoon. It was a song many of them had sung for me in our art classes, and I had been touched then. But to hear 100 girls and boys--most of whom I know--sing from hearts untouched by cynicism or despair, grabbed my own heart and twisted it like a wet sponge. Just read these lyrics and ask yourself if you could have listened to them dry-eyed.


I believe the children are our future,
teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.

Everybody's searching for a hero,
people need someone to look up to.
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs,
a lonely place to be and so I learned to depend on me.

I decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadows.
If I fail, If I succeed, at least I lived as I believed.
No matter what they take from me,
they can't take away my dignity.

Because the greatest love of all is happening to me,
I've found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve, l
earning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.

I believe the children are our future,
teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.

I decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadows.
If I fail, If I succeed at least I lived as I believed.
No matter what they take from me,
they can't take away my dignity.

Because the greatest love of all is happening to me,
I've found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve,
learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.

And if by chance that special place that you've been dreaming of.
Leads you to a lonely place, find your strength in love...

Let me make clear that when I say it is my place to love the kids, I am not saying the teachers don't already do that. They do. At least Susan, the art teacher who lets me sit in on her classes, does. It's just that they have so much more that they must do than simply love their students. They must teach them, keep discipline in the room, create interesting and appropriate lesson plans, be sure they have the supplies they need, be a responsible member of the staff, attend meetings, engage with parents, mark report cards, etc., etc. It's absolutely amazing to me that teachers like Susan have any time left to develop close one-on-one relationships with their students, but I see her do it week in and week out. It leaves me breathless.

I, on the other hand, have no responsibilies at all. I get to sit at the table with the students and make art just like them. Unless we're using materials that my less-than-able hands can't handle, I do exactly the same assignment that Susan gives the kids. So when the fifth graders made an Egyptian self-portrait, so did I. And when the second graders drew and colored themselves flying over any place they wanted to go, I did the same. I think it was in the third grade class that we created a monster out of a shoe print on our paper, and in the fifth grade that we used oil pastels to color a contour drawing projected onto a sheet of paper from a photo that we had brought in from home. You've already seen the planet Ahummbay that I created with the fourth graders, and last week's picture of what I was going to do this summer.

These were just a few of Susan's creative assignments.

But my point is that I was totally free simply to love the kids, and to receive their love in return. Now that is a priceless gift. I have yet to meet an adult who can love with such abandon as a child. That's why they're so vulnerable. Their hearts, which have not yet been buried inside their bodies, are worn on the outside like clothing. I guess that's why nothing can hurt me more deeply or enrage me more profoundly than seeing children abused. Maybe this is at the heart of my activist fervor...the children. The children of Iraq. The children of Afghanistan. The children of our own pockets of poverty and violence here in America. The children of India and Pakistan and Vietnam and Korea and El Salvador and Nicaragua and Somalia and Burundi and Nigeria. The list never ends. Maybe it is the children's cries that spur me to action. And maybe that's why I'm attracted to a group that calls themselves the Raging Grannies.

Whatever all this means, I know one thing for sure. I do love these children.


I don't often have the chance to get silly over my grand-nephews, but when it happens, watch out! Today my nephew Joe, his wife Cheryl and their four-and-a-half year old son, Alex, came to spend the day with us. We'd last seen them on Ed's birthday in March, but during the two years they'd been living in Rome, such visits had been rare. They've recently returned to live in the States and arrived in Michigan a few days ago to visit Joe's Dad, Ed's brother John. During our precious day together, I (and Joe) took a LOT of pictures, but when you see this cutie-pie, I don't think you'll mind.

At first Alex was a bit shy, but when Great-Uncle Ed brought out our resident wind-up cow, he began to make himself at home. It soon became obvious that the only things that could compete with the cow were his own dinosaurs, and, believe me, they really captured his attention.

After a lunch of Subway sandwiches and fresh watermelon (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lima beans for Alex), we walk/scooted down to the park. Alex seemed to like riding in my scooter and his great-auntie very much liked having him sit in her lap. But as soon as he saw the playscape, he was off my scooter and into the world of climbing, sliding down slides, hanging from monkey bars, and being pushed by his dad on a tire swing. Soon Joe encouraged Alex to change into his bathing trunks and try out the wading pool. What I didn't know was that the toddler's swim area had been totally redesigned over the winter and now was the most popular place in the park. And with good reason!

From the start, Alex had a blast running in and out of the pool, jumping off the side, and standing on top of the little fountain in the center. But then he began to explore the water wonderland around him. It wasn't long before he discovered everyone's favorite...the water buckets! As Alex got more and more intrigued, so did his parents and great-aunt and uncle. We must have taken 20 pictures of Alex and this ingenious water playscape, and now you get to see 5 of them. They start with Alex standing off to the side watching other children being drenched by a full bucket of water. Next he looks up, patiently waiting for the bucket over his head to spill over. But it didn't, at least not until he had moved away from it. So now he joined the other children running from bucket to bucket, trying to get splashed. When it finally came, Alex was more than ready! And of course, this happened over and over, to his utter delight. His delight...and ours as well.

By the time we'd walk/scooted back home, Alex was pretty tired. I expect he is sleeping very well tonight. I know I will.

There's just one more picture I'd like to show you--our peony that burst into bloom while we were down at the park.


I can tell I'm nervous about this weekend. I have all the signs: irritability, self-pity and hypochondria for starters. The thought of spending 20 hours--2 hours Friday night, 9 hours Saturday, and another 9 hours on Sunday--in a small sound studio with 45 women, even these women whom I love, makes me understandably anxious. And that's before I even begin to think about the challenge of keeping my focus, staying on pitch, and singing from my heart for all those hours. Yipes!

I wish I could remember how many years I've been "casually" suggesting to Carolyn McDade that she include our Detroit and Windsor women's singing community in recording one of her wonderful CDs. Maybe seven or eight? So here we are, on the eve of its actually happening, and I'm complaining. Well, not actually complaining, simply sharing my uneasiness.

Did I expect myself to feel differently?

Not really. I'm never particularly fond of performing, and I guess recording a CD could be put in that category. My favorite kind of singing is free-from-the-heart circle singing, those times when you close your eyes and let it fly. Oh, we've had so many glorious weekends with Carolyn at the Crawfton retreat center on the Ontario shores of Lake Erie. Times when each of our voices went flying off in different directions, only to meet at their final destination, the heart. Like a flock of birds, each unique to herself but an integral part of the whole. No one was listening to us then except the tall oaks, spreading maples and swaying willows. We sang accompanied by the slap of waves on the beach, the swish of wind in the trees, the drum of rain on the roof, the honks of geese overhead. We would go on and on and on, until time no longer existed and our voices came directly from the open mouths of our hearts.

That is the kind of singing I love to do.

I wonder if I could go there this weekend, return to that sacred place where song and nature are one. Could I sing as if I were not crowded into a small sound studio in Ann Arbor, but rather in the open-windowed room at Crawfton where sky and water meet earth and trees, where green is not a color but something you can taste with your tongue, where herons skim the lake and double rainbows paint the horizon, where women create labyrinths on the sand and walk them at dusk? If I could do that, then this CD would have the power to take its listeners to these very places that I so love.

I want to try. I want to sing, not as if I were recording a CD, but as if I were singing because I have to sing. Because it is the only way I can help protect this precious planet on which we live. Because it is the only way I can express my deep abiding love for all that is. I want to sing as if I believe that the song my sisters and I bring to this wounded world can transform it, can change people's hearts and minds, can inspire them to actions that will benefit the whole. Can inspire me to change.

That is what I must bring to this weekend. Not anxiety, not fears, not discomfort, but love and hope and trust and belief. And I ask my Faithful Journal Readers to stand beside us in your hearts, to join your voices to ours, to soar on the winds of song, for together we can create a CD worthy to go out into the world as an emissary of our love and commitment to Gaia and all with whom we share her wonders. May it be so.

FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2003

In a couple of hours, I'll be on my way to our O Beautiful Gaia CD recording weekend in Ann Arbor. I am still feeling a bit nervous, but trust that when I'm with my Great Lakes sisters, I'll settle down. It's just the anticipation that gives me butterflies. I'm sure the reality will make me feel right at home. After all, I've sung every month since September--and weekly of late--with these same 45 women. And the songs we're singing are so familiar to me by now that they are encoded in my DNA. It's just the idea of recording a CD that is scary.

I will not be taking my laptop. Even though I'm planning to spend two nights on my own in Ann Arbor after we finish recording at 6PM on Sunday, I can see that these next four days are going to be so full of living life that I won't have much time (or energy) to write about it. I expect to sleep in on Monday (at the Michigan League), and then basically chill out until late afternoon. At 5 PM I'll be meeting my jazz friend Akira and, hopefully, my goddess daughter Emily to share a meal at my favorite Indian restaurant. Then I'll be off to hear Sr. Jackie Hudson speak at an Ann Arbor church. She is one of the three courageous nuns who are out on their own recognizance until their July 25 sentencing for the "crime" of pouring their own blood in the sign of a cross on a Minuteman III missile silo and hammering on it in keeping with the biblical injunction to "beat their swords into plowshares". Jackie Hudson, OP, Carol Gilbert, OP, and Ardeth Platte (all of whom are in their 50s and 60s) are probably looking at 5-8 years in federal prison. It will be a privilege to see Jackie in person and to hear her story from her own lips. I intend to continue to be a faithful correspondent for the duration of their imprisonment. After Jackie's talk, I will be scooting down to the Kerrytown Concert Hall to hear the 9:30 PM set of jazz great, Wynton Marsalis. The amazing thing about this concert is that the venue is so small. As I understand it, the Kerrytown Concert Hall is in an old Victorian house and only has about sixty seats. I'll be in the front row off to the side, sitting comfortably in my scooter. What a perfect way to spend my 61st birthday.

See you on Tuesday.


There are special moments within even the most ordinary of times, moments that shine forth with a radiance that makes your mind's eye squint as if it were looking directly into the sun. For each of the 46 women and 2 men involved in birthing the Great Lakes Basin portion of the O Beautiful Gaia CD this weekend, this radiance would have come at different times. Although my guess is that certain moments would be on everyone's list.

The first such moment came late Saturday morning. We had already recorded the title song, O Beautiful Gaia, using a gospel beat for the first time. And we'd been delighted that Carolyn McDade had agreed to bring us in with a heartfelt solo. It had been a great way to begin our recording process, and that song was now "in the can", as they say. We'd also successfully recorded our Great Lakes sister, Deanne Bedhar's hymn to the planet called The Circle of Life. Now it was time to bring our hearts, minds and voices to the song we dearly loved but had always found the most challenging to sing, Norma Luccock's Beginners. As our sister Pat Noonan said, these words of the poet Denise Levertov were so powerful that she always had to numb herself to sing them, for if she allowed herself to take them to heart she would fall apart. Well, we tried and tried to record this song. I think we'd completed the third take when Carolyn, the pianist Janet Hood and our song director Nancy Nordlie went into the control booth to confer with Jan Devine and Eric, the sound engineer. We women turned to one another and asked, "OK, how can we find the place we need to go to sing this song as it deserves to be sung?" After several women had spoken, Penny Hackett-Evans suggested we stand in a circle and sing it as we had always been encouraged to do, "looking into the eyes of our sisters with passion, reciprocity and love." Because of the placement of the microphones, we had been singing in more of a horseshoe-shape around Nancy, our director, and Janet at the piano. But now, with no director, no piano and no tape running, we sang our hearts into this song as tears streamed down our cheeks. After we'd finished, Penny said, "Now let's sing it with our eyes closed." And we did. When the last note was sung, the sound of enthusiastic applause came pouring out of the control booth. Carolyn, Janet and Nancy rejoined us and we did yet another take, singing as we'd just sung, standing in a circle with no direction. And although our recording did not meet the standards necessary for inclusion on the CD, we had moved to a deeper place as a community than ever before, and that was more important than any recording in the world.

Another moment that I suspect would be among everyone's recollections of special moments came on Sunday morning. We had started the day with Rachael leading us in warm-up exercises on the grass beside the tall trees--photos #1, #2, #3--and we'd ended with a group massage, so we were already in a tender space. But when we sat down in the studio and quieted ourselves in preparation to sing, we were surprised to hear our own voices singing back to us. Our fearless leaders were allowing us to hear a playback of O Beautiful Gaia, the first song we'd recorded on Saturday morning. I was too busy weeping in awe to think of taking pictures, but Penny took my camera and went around the room--photo #1, #2, #3, #4. That was when we knew that what we had been living together for nine months--our deep joy, longing and commitment to this wondrous place we call Gaia--would indeed be heard and experienced by everyone who listened to our CD. For me, it came as a profound awakening. Until then I don't think I really believed that we could record our hearts in this way. But we did.

We had been struggling for two days to record our region's verses to I Sing the Longing--our celebration of tall trees, sturgeon, the monarch butterfy, les hérons, snowfall, les érables and the rivers. Somehow we just couldn't get it. "It" being, not the words or the music, but the heart of the song. After yet another take, Carolyn and Nancy went into the control booth to listen to our latest efforts and to consult with Jan and Eric. This time Janet Hood stayed seated at her piano. Soon, swirling in the air around us, we heard an almost unearthly sound. It was Janet playing--more like playing with--the melody of I Sing the Longing. Our chatter ceased as Janet's gift wrapped our frazzled spirits in healing ribbons of beauty. And Carolyn, who heard this enchantment as she returned to the studio, had the wisdom to shift gears and say to Jan and Eric in the control booth, "We will do another take, and this time we will ask Janet to introduce our verses by playing what she has just played." And, of course, we sang with open hearts.

And I'd guess that everyone involved in this project would express gratitude for the beauty and earth-friendly setting where we ended up recording this CD. Instead of being in an industrial park as we'd been during the recording of our rough-cut CD in March, this weekend we were at a sound studio sheltered by tall trees and hugging a forest so green it made your eyes ache. This was a place where our songs of Gaia belonged...and so did we. Our lunch breaks were idyllic, with sunny skies, birds singing overhead and delicious food. And because of the thoughtfulness of organizers like Pat Schwing, we even had enough porta-potties so one bathroom didn't have to serve us all. It was as close to perfection as anyone could hope.

And now I'll continue with my own personal list of special memories. Among them are:

1) On Saturday evening, when Sooz and Doris and I met up with a group of our sisters at the Eastern Michigan University park with its paths, pond, fountains and bridges...and spontaneously broke into song. As had often happened before, the minute we began to sing, some of our sisters--in this case Sooz and Deanne--started to dance. And the magic didn't end there. We walk/scooted over one of the bridges to an area where I felt compelled to compose another group portrait. But what I will remember about that time was not captured by my camera. As we sat together between trees and water, our sister Julia shared her experiences of standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people on the West Bank last December. Her sharings led to other sisters telling stories about their work for justice over the years. We then walk/scooted back to our dorm at dusk, singing No! No! No Nos Moveran!, We Shall Not Be Moved, and We Shall Be Moved with a true awareness of what these songs mean to the people of the world.

2) When Nancy Nordlie read the following quote to help us prepare our hearts to sing the Women's Peace Prayer, I had a surprise in store:

So what do I think peace looks like? It does not look like wimping out. It does not lack conflict or differences of opinion. It is not sweetly sentimental. Peace is tough, hard to maintain, and full of harsh realities. It means sitting down at a table--hopefully with unbiased arbitrators on hand--and asking questions and listening, truly listening, to one another's answers. It means using restraint when you'd rather just go in there with fists raised. It means having the humility and gumption to admit you've made mistakes. It means hammering out compromises right and left. It means never giving up. It means being strong and not using that strength to hurt others. It means living with former enemies, not necessarily as friends but as respected sharers of this one home, the earth. It means being creative and original, coming up with ideas that have never been seen before. It means saying "Yes, peace is possible" and then proving it to be so.

As she read these words I found myself resonating with the truth they contained. So when Nancy finished by saying, "This is from Patricia's October 10, 2002 journal entry", my jaw dropped open...literally! I hadn't even recognized it as something I'd written myself. After we'd finished recording on Sunday, Nancy told me that the three verses she'd written to Karen McKay's Women's Peace Song had been inspired by my words. Apparently she'd printed it out when I'd first put it up in October, and it had been taped beside her computer since then. She showed me that she knows it by heart by speaking the words into my ear as we hugged goodbye.

3) For me personally there was a deep sense of satisfaction in seeing 34 of my Great Lakes sisters settled and content in our dorm. After two weeks of hard work making the arrangements--and changing the arrangements--it did my heart good to see my sisters sitting comfortably outside our dorm eating picnic suppers--photo #1, #2--before Friday night's practice at the studio, visiting together during our breakfasts and dinner in the dorm dining room--photo #1, #2, #3, #4--and on Saturday night, hanging out together in front of the dorm talking, laughing and singing until it was time to go to bed.

4) I was the Memory-Keeper for the final series of songs that we recorded late Sunday afternoon. No! No! No Nos Moveran!, We Shall Not Be Moved, and We Shall Be Moved are a combination of powerful songs of resistance and assent. During our rehearsals I had often read my poem about Conchita to help us engage our hearts in singing these songs, but in the recording studio, other things seemed to be serving the same purpose. Carolyn was so passionate about these songs--she had composed We Shall Be Moved in the autumn and had taught it to our community during our rough-cut recording weekend in March--that she wanted us to stand in a circle and sing them with the same energy we would use if we were out marching on the streets. Then Julia shared her remembrance of being part of a line of Israeli/Palestinian/International Women In Black marching arm-in-arm toward an Israeli tank that fired into the air as they approached. But they did not stop moving forward. Talk about We Shall Not Be Moved! There would be no piano for the first song--No! No! No Nos Moveran!--only drums. When it came time to record this series of songs, we gave it everything we had. It was now 4 PM on Sunday so our reserves were running low. After three takes, we still didn't quite have it. Carolyn, Janet and Nancy returned from conferring with Jan and Eric in the control booth and did their best to rouse us to sing it just one more time. I looked around and saw that my sisters were as weary as I. Where would we find the passion and strength these songs required? Conchita came to mind and I said, "OK, so we've been here for three days and we're exhausted. Conchita has been in front of the White House for 22 years and she's still there!" I then read aloud my prose poem, Doing Homage To a Woman of Courage. And we sang those songs as they deserved to be sung. Our last songs were in the can.

I could go on and on sharing my memories of this transformative weekend, but I'd prefer to let my sisters share their stories too. It was too awesome an experience for only one voice to do it justice. I've sent out an email to my Great Lakes Basin sisters inviting them to send me their reflections and memories. Thus far I have received some beautiful reflections from Catherine Ward and a touching poem by Jackie Berz. You can read them on our O Beautiful Gaia Great Lakes Basin Journal web page. I also have so many photographs that I will be creating a special online photo album with thumbnail links. Since I've already worked on this project over ten hours today and five hours yesterday, I think I'll take a breather and finish the job within the next few days.

d and kissed me at least four times. What a sweet man! And what a tired human being. I encouraged him to take some time off, but he didn't seem to feel he could do it. Too bad, because he really needs it. When I mentioned the teenaged boy whom I'd been watching during his show, Wynton said, "Oh yeah, I saw him too. Actually, I was playing to him for most of the night!" I also discovered that Wynton is a gift-giver. When Susan started talking about his most recent CD--the one he had made with his father and brothers--I said I would be going right out to buy it. He said, "No you won't! I want to give it to you myself." He then gave me a name and telephone number and said, "Call and tell her whatever CDs of mine you want, and she'll mail them to you."

Did I have a birthday, or what??!!

TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2003

When the Universe (or whatever it is that determines the course of events) decides to infuse one's life with large doses of magic, the experience can be overwhelming. That is how I feel tonight. After four solid days of magic upon magic upon magic, my senses are reeling and I can barely take in all that happened, much less put it into words. I intend to devote tomorrow to writing my journal account of our O Beautiful Gaia CD recording weekend, but tonight I'd like to share some of my thoughts and feelings...and a few of my many, many pictures.

First of all, I want to thank you, my Faithful Journal Readers, for holding us in good energy during this weekend. I could feel your support and loving presence at my side. For those of you who have recorded a CD yourself, you know what I mean when I say there were times when I didn't know if I could find the energy, voice and heart to do yet another take of a song, or in some cases, a series of songs. When you've given it everything you've got--not once, not twice, but three times--you can feel like you're riding on empty. And then they come back from the control room with that certain look you now recognize, that look that means we're not there yet, let's try it one more time. And you think to yourself, OOOOOKKKKK. It was then that I felt your energy pour into me, giving me what I needed to keep on keepin' on. Thank you for that.

What I feel most strongly tonight is gratitude, immense gratitude. How many persons are ever given an opportunity like this to spend time within a circle of individuals with whom you share a love of song, similar values, hunger to learn, willingness to be transformed, and the commitment to bring something new into the world that will benefit the whole? This is what we women of the O Beautiful Gaia CD project have been privileged to experience these past nine months.

The birthing was good...hard but good. On a personal note, it was different from what I had expected. After plying myself with Vitamin C for weeks and doing everything I could to stay healthy, I developed a sore throat on Thursday night that turned into a full-fledged cold by Friday night. I didn't sleep worth a darn on Friday as the cold struggled to move from the pressure phase to the fluid phase. By Saturday morning--the first day that we were to record--it had turned the corner, so much so that I had to keep a roll of toilet paper in the basket of my scooter and, believe me, I used it liberally. Definitely not fun for me or for my sisters with whom I was sharing such a small space. I fear a number of them will not be thinking too highly of their friend Patricia by the end of this week when they too might have the symptoms I so freely shared during our weekend together. By late Saturday afternoon, my friends were encouraging me to take the heavy-duty cold medicine that another of our sisters had brought along, even though I told them that I never take anything stronger than aspirin. Well, I soon gave up my scruples about taking meds and I'm glad I did. On Saturday night I slept soundly and woke up feeling dried out and ready to sing.

The good news is that we got good recordings of all but one of the songs we had intended to record, and that song--"Beginners" based on a poem by Denise Levertov with music by Norma Luccock--is going to be recorded by Atlantic Canada. The fact that the composer is directing them makes us all feel confident that our sisters in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will sing this powerful song as it deserves to be sung.

By the time we had finished recording at 5 PM on Sunday, there were 110 photos on my digital camera. I spent four hours working with them this afternoon, but hope to whittle them down to a reasonable number before I put them online tomorrow.

Just for teasers, let me show you what this beautiful recording studio looked like from the outside and from the inside, our reaction as we unexpectedly heard a playback of our recording of the title song, and our "official" group portrait. I'd also like to show you a close-up of Carolyn McDade, the singer/songwriter/cultural activist who dreamed this CD project into being. Carolyn is one who lives the admonition that "As women, we must spend the rest of our lives in the best of struggles." 

Now, I haven't even begun to tell you about the magic of my two-night stay in Ann Arbor after we'd finished recording on Sunday, but that will have to wait. I suspect you'll be hearing stories of this weekend for a long time to come!


Since all I did today was work on last weekend's journal entries and photos, you might want to scroll down to the entry titled "O Beautiful Gaia CD Recording Weekend: June 13-June 15, 2003" to read them. Or if you'd like to also read the beautiful reflections and poetry written by two of my Great Lakes Basin sisters, go to the Great Lakes Basin Journal web page and scroll down to the June 13-15, 2003 entries. I am anticipating receiving more sharings from my sisters, and will put them up as they come in. As I said last night, this is a job that will occupy me for some time to come, so I hope you enjoy the process. I certainly am ;-)


Pat Kolon and I went to see an extraordinary movie today. "Rivers and Tides" is a documentary about the Scottish environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy. We had seen an exhibit of his installations and photographs at the University of Michigan Art Museum this winter and were both deeply moved by his relationship to the earth, stones, plants, waters and trees. Well, this movie took us more deeply into this man's vision of art and his reverence for the natural world around him. If you get a chance, go see this movie. It is a treasure.

We then went to pay a surprise call on one of my favorite activists, Sr. Elizabeth LaForest. This 88 year-old Mercy nun has been in the struggle for peace and justice since before I was born. Over the years, she has spent many months in jail, and was actually quite disappointed this winter when the police refused to arrest her at two civil disobedience actions. As she said today, now that she lives in her religious order's retirement center and no longer holds a full-time job, going to jail would have been less of a hassle than ever. How I admire this woman!

After our visit with Elizabeth, Pat and I had a delicious dinner at an Indian restaurant. My third Indian meal in a week! Not that I'm complaining, mind. I could never get tired of samosas, sweet lassi, curried vegetables, chana masala and nan. Yum!

Ed and I went for a walk/scoot after dinner. The air was cool but crystal clear. A beautiful evening.

This morning and again tonight, I worked on and completed a Great Lakes Basin online photo album that contains the rest of the digital photos I took during our CD recording weekend June 13-15. You can check it out at:

And now it's time for me to go to bed. It was almost 3 AM before I crawled in bed last night. Tonight I'm determined to make it before 1 AM!

FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2003

Did I ever tell you how much I LOVE jazz??? If you've been reading my journal for more than a week, I guess that's pretty self-evident by now. But what a special jazz week this has been! First it was hearing internationally acclaimed jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis perform with three local "jazz luminaries", bassist Rodney Whitaker, pianist Rick Roe, and drummer Randy Gelispie, on Monday at Ann Arbor's intimate Kerrytown Concert House. Then tonight it was the Horns in the Hood in concert at the Detroit Institute of Arts, with New York-based Ali Jackson on drums, Robert Glasper on piano, Tim Armacost on tenor and soprano saxophones, and Detroiters, Donald Walden on tenor sax and Ralphe Armstrong on bass. Talk about superb jazz!!! I'm still flying high and I've been home three hours already. Both Monday and tonight, I was able to spend some time talking with the musicians after the show. In both cases they commented on how into the music I get. So much for performers not noticing their audience! And I even managed to get two excellent photos tonight: the first of Ralphe on bass and Ali on drums, and the second of Robert on piano, Donald and Tim on sax. By the way, the background of these photos is Diego Rivera's famous Detroit Industry mural that he painted onsite in 1932.

Before meeting my friend Akira at the DIA at 5:30 PM, I spent the entire day writing my overdue journal entry for Monday, June 16. You can scroll down to read it, but be prepared. There is a LOT of life in that one entry! I also added the following to my necklace of memories from the CD recording weekend:

We had been struggling for two days to record our region's verses to I Sing the Longing--our celebration of tall trees, sturgeon, the monarch butterfy, les hérons, snowfall, les érables and the rivers. Somehow we just couldn't get it. "It" being, not the words or the music, but the heart of the song. After yet another take, Carolyn and Nancy went into the control booth to listen to our latest efforts and to consult with Jan and Eric. This time Janet Hood stayed seated at her piano. Soon, swirling in the air around us, we heard an almost unearthly sound. It was Janet playing--more like playing with--the melody of I Sing the Longing. Our chatter ceased as Janet's gift wrapped our frazzled spirits in healing ribbons of beauty. And Carolyn, who heard this enchantment as she returned to the studio, had the wisdom to shift gears and say to Jan and Eric in the control booth, "We will do another take, and this time we will ask Janet to introduce our verses by playing what she has just played." And, of course, we sang with open hearts.


The Raging Grannies met here today. What a treat to see them again! Because of my almost total absorption with the O Beautiful Gaia CD project of late, I hadn't seen my granny sisters in almost six weeks. After having been together an average of at least once a week since our gaggle formed in November, that was quite a change. I'd really missed these women!

We did what grannies always do--sang, shared our thoughts and feelings, laughed and teased, listened closely to one another, affirmed, challenged, educated, informed, and spoke our truth. Our main agenda was to hear from the grannies who had attended the Eastern Regional Gathering of Raging Grannies that was held in Rochester, NY two weeks ago. Six of the nine were with us today and they had such stories to tell! Not only stories, but very helpful information gleaned from the many workshops they'd attended. These wonderful women had seen to it that at least one Detroit Granny was at each workshop that was offered. Most had diligently taken notes to bring home to share. They truly made us feel like we were there. And here is a picture of six of the ten grannies who gathered here today.

Happily we Raging Grannies will be singing and marching at two special events within the next ten days: 1) next Saturday's 40th anniversary Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Rally here in Detroit, and 2) the July 4th parade in Ann Arbor where we'll join the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace with their float, drummers, band and marchers. It'll be good to be out on the streets again raising a little racket!

Soon after the grannies left at 5:30 PM, I was out on my scooter enjoying this BEAUTIFUL first day of summer. I scooted down to a local restaurant to meet Eddie for dinner. On the way, I stopped only once to take photos of two rose bushes: one pink, and the other red. And then instead of going straight home after dinner, I scooted over to the grocery store to pick up pasta salad to take to tomorrow's Summer Solstice pot luck and ritual at my O Beautiful Gaia/Raging Grannies sisters' house out in the country. At the cash register I met Bernadette who was ahead of me in line. She recognized me from the Benny Green jazz concert a month ago at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit has such a lovely small town feeling, especially for those of us who travel in similar circles. I hope to see her next Friday evening at the outdoor jazz concert in front of the Museum of African-American History. On the way home I couldn't resist taking a portrait of this iris. Irises always remind me of my Mom and Dad. Using cuttings from Aunt Ruth and Uncle Hugh's iris garden in Shelby, North Carolina, Mom and Dad had so many different species of iris in their Blue Ridge Mountain retirement home garden, that their flowering season would last 6-8 weeks every spring and summer.

And now I'm going to do my best to get to bed close to midnight (five minutes from now!).

SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2003

Now I know why it is said there are two seasons in Michigan: winter and road construction. We are obviously in the latter because it just took me an hour and a half to drive the same distance that it had taken me forty-five minutes to drive seven hours earlier. It's almost 12:30 PM and the 600 meters I swam this morning, plus too much time spent in the sun, plus a wonderful Summer Solstice gathering with my community of women...and I am VERY ready for bed. Tomorrow I'll show you a ton of pictures and share my stories, but now all I can think about is how good my bed is going to feel.

The Story:

It's hard to imagine anything sweeter than being in the midst of acres of unspoiled pastures, forests and marshland, sitting under the sheltering arms of a live oak on a warm summer day, within a circle of women who love to sing, drum, share their stories and create a delectable potluck supper. Add to that the sounds of a vast assortment of birds singing in the trees, hidden deer expressing their high-pitched wishes that we would get off their grazing field, a many-voiced chorus of tree frogs at dusk, a walk through the land in silence, a Summer Solstice ritual that includes singing around a blazing campfire as the next-to-longest day turns to night. Does "heaven" have to be any better than this?

I have lots of pictures and no real idea of how to present them. Maybe I'll just start at the beginning and go from there:

--I arrive at 4 PM to sit with my sisters and write about our O Beautiful Gaia CD Project experiences. Jeanne, Casey and I write in silence for about ten minutes and then read our writings aloud to one another.

--More women begin to gather around 5 PM. Photos #1, #2, #3

--Casey leads (and takes photos of) a walk around the pond. Photos #1, #2

--Conversation and song turn to thoughts of food. Photos #1, #2

--The altar is created and our Summer Solstice ritual begins.

--We are invited to take a silent walk and let the land, plants, trees, marsh and creatures speak to us. Dear Casey has a hard time pushing me in my mother's wheelchair that I had brought instead of my scooter. I don't realize until much later that I had the brake on the whole time! But, because Casey is not one to give up when the going gets tough, I am able to see: Photo #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10

--We return to our circle under the oak and share, in pairs of two, what the walk meant to us. Interspersed throughout our ritual (and all of our time together) is lots of song and drumming. Photos #2, #3

--As dusk begins to fall we move to the firepit and continue our ritual, which by now is almost entirely filled with singing and drumming. We find that a campfire brings back memories of old camp songs...which we proceed to sing. We discover that four of us had attended Camp Fire Girl camps around the country, and that Casey ad Judith had gone to the very same camp in Omaha, Nebraska! Photos #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7

--We end our ritual by thanking the Four Directions and opening the circle. Nancy N. and Jackie laboriously push me in my wheelchair to my car. I finally see that the brakes are on. My friends forgive me but say I have yet to hear the last of this!

MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2003

I spent much of the day preparing the photos and writing my journal entry about yesterday's Summer Solstice gathering. To read/see it simply scroll down to yesterday's date and enjoy! Except for that, my only other activity was attending a local Library Board meeting to express my concerns and questions about their proposed bond issue to build two new branch library buildings. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with new buildings, it's just that this is an appointed board of folks with no accountability to anyone and no intention of bringing this issue before the voters. And the part of it that rankles me the most is that our librarians--who are dedicated and excellent at their jobs--are the lowest-paid librarians in the metro Detroit area! Not only that, they're still without a contract because of deadlocked negotiations. Seems to me if you can afford to spend $9.9 million on buildings, you can sure as heck pay your staff decent wages. I brought up my issues very directly at the public hearing and went back and forth with the president of the board three or four times. Of course they went ahead and passed their bond proposal, but maybe they'll be a little more conscious that not everyone in this community goes along with their decisions. And it's so strange that they seem to think all anyone cares about is their own pocketbook. For instance, when I was expressing my concerns, one of the board members said, "Don't worry, we're not going to raise your taxes." I replied that I was more concerned about accountability than taxes! Sometimes I feel like I'm speaking a different language.

TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2003

This was a true summer day from beginning to end. For the first time I'm enjoying the cooling breeze of a fan...and it's already after midnight. I do love summer! The water felt delicious as I did my laps in the heat of the day. Then I sat in the shade and watched the mothers and children in the shallow end of the pool. While there I got to talking to Ann, a grandma about my age who shares many of my political views. That was nice. From the pool I scooted over to the bank and then to the grocery store for an Odwalla juice and some makings for a late lunch. Ed wasn't at his office so I scooted down to the library where I figured I'd find him. I was right. We looked over the videos/DVDs, found one that was billed a "romantic comedy", visited with our friend, the editorial cartoonist Draper Hill, and walk/scooted back to Eddie's office. Once there, we sat in Ed's little courtyard under a beach umbrella while I ate my late lunch. By the time I got back home at 5 PM, I was so tired from swimming and the heat that I lay down and fell sound asleep. I didn't wake up until after 7 PM! Actually I thought it was the morning. After dinner we walk/scooted along the lake. By then it was about 9:30 PM and still warm enough that I was comfortable in my sleeveless cotton dress. We returned home and watched the video. At least I watched it...Eddie couldn't quite make his way through the silliness. For me, silliness was just what I needed and wanted.

And here are three roses from this perfect summer day: one red, one yellow, and the other coral.


© 2003 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

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