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23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
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35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
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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
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43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
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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
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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
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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2003
We here in Detroit awoke to Bing Crosby's dream come true--a white Christmas. Whether or not you celebrate this holiday--I don't--you couldn't help delighting in the beauty outside your window. The snow continued to fall until late afternoon..those wet, fine-grained flakes that outline everything in white. Quite magical! The kind of day that calls for a cuppa hot tea, music on the CD player or radio, a good book, snug slippers on your feet, and no place you have to go. Or if you're a new (and very excited) blogger, it is the perfect day to sit at your computer tweaking your new blog site, checking out other blogs, and generally having a geek-kind of Christmas.
One of the blogs I visited today--thanks to a link posted by Salam Pax on the Where Is Raed?--is called A Family In Baghdad. This is a most important resource that should be required reading for George W if he read which he doesn't. In it, Fayza and her sons--Raed, Khalid and Majed--tell the TRUE story of what is happening in Baghdad as the Americans continue to "liberate" the country they first destroyed and now control with bombs, missiles, razorwire, guns, tanks, etc. But let Khalid speak for himself:
a really nice American lady..Who sent me a mail telling me that
herself and her husband(who served in the war) respect our rights
in freedom and dignity..And that they both really want to help
us..And that they pray for us to build our own civilian proud
she is really sincere..I could easily c it through her words.
well..Here I have to say something..Speaking for myself,,I have nothing personal against the soldiers here..And ofcource not against the civilian American in their country..And I have no dout that most them really wanted to help and to do something good for this country.and for Iraqi people. But what I want to say is that some people with suits and large desks in the white house and other places..Are NOT that nice and sincere,,and..
we have a say : believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear...And believe me..The man who made this say..Never saw the media of these days..Cause if he did..He would have said " believe nothing at all..And kill journalists"
guys..Let me say this:
what if somehow..Lets say Russia occupied your country (which "happens" to be a really rich country with oil and other resources) and actually destroyed the whole country..Killed civilians..Used cluster bombs..Chemical weapons(believe it or not..I have the pictures of the dead bodies)..Destroyed houses..Caused the looting of the whole governmental system..The ministries..All the police stations and fire departments..Airports..Whatever you think..And after that..They make a new TV and newspaper and radio station and start telling you how happy you should be and how grateful you must be for them for liberating you..And a while after..They put the pictures of your country president (doenst matter if you hate him or not) on TV with people playing with his face....Now take a moment..Close your eyes..Look through the window..And imagine that everything you c is destroyed..Every place you love is either bombed or looted..Everyone you love is probably dead or injured..And add to that a vey cold weather..No electricity..No petrol..Now open your eyes and tell me...Does it really matte if the soldiers or their families are kind people?"
# posted by khalid : 12:17
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2003
What a bright sparkling winter day! Even though I was feeling lazy, I couldn't stay inside; I HAD to get out in it. So I bundled up, hopped on Ona my scooter and off we went down to the park. As those of you know who are regular readers of my journal, the park I'm referring to is on the lake only three blocks from our house. This is a BIG lake, a lake that looks like a sea. To the north and to the east, you see nothing but horizon. Looking to the south you see the distant shores of Ontario. Detroit is the only place on the continent where Canada is south of the United States, and we love talking about "our neighbors to the south!"
For me, just being by the water is soothing and/or invigorating, depending on weather and water conditions. Today it was showing its peaceful side. A lot of the snow had already melted but there were enough reminders to give me the feeling of winter. However, there was absolutely no ice in the harbor, which is unusual for this time of year. Hopefully soon I'll be able to show rather than tell you about the kids' ice hockey games in the harbor, the ice fisherpersons and their shanties on the lake, and the ice skating by young and old on the parking lot-turned ice skating rink.
But today it was just
me and the gulls, geese and ducks enjoying the sun and water.
In the days since the arch-villain Saddam Hussein (whom, when it suited them, the US armed and encouraged in his villainous ways) was captured, I've been thinking of a woman with whom I swim on Monday and Wednesday evenings at a local middle school. Weeks before Hussein was caught, she and I had a brief discussion in the locker room about the continuing war in Iraq. At that time, she declared, "If only they'd get Saddam Hussein! That would be the end of it." I disagreed. If I recall correctly, I said, "Catching Saddam won't make any difference at all. The resistance will continue." She shook her head and the discussion ended.
The Monday night after Saddam had been caught, this woman cornered me as I was transferring from my scooter to the disabled lift I use to get into the pool. "Ah", she said, "I thought of you yesterday."
I said, "You did?"
"Oh yes indeed. I thought of you when I saw they'd captured Saddam Hussein. I remembered how you said it wouldn't make ny difference. Well, you can't say that anymore!"
I simply said, "Time will tell."
Well, time HAS told and things are as horrible in Iraq as ever. From Christmas Eve to this morning (Friday), 8 American soldiers and at least 6 Iraqi civilians, including a 13 year-old girl, were killed. The number of Iraqi deaths was definitely higher than 6, but since no one is keeping count, it's hard to know. The medical director at the city mortuary in Baghdad said that 20 bodies were delivered to their facility on Christmas morning, all of them Iraqis and most of them victims of violence. The killing goes on, Saddam Hussein or no Saddam Hussein.
I got this news from the one reporter I still trust, Robert Fisk of the Independent/UK. I read it in his article, "Deaths Mount On Both Sides On Christmas Day In Iraq." This man has been in Iraq off and on--mostly on--since before Bush & Co got their wish and attacked Iraq last March. Fisk was the first one to tell of the looting of the museums, libraries and national offices (except, of course, the Ministries of Oil and the Interior that were heavily guarded by American and British troops). Whenever I want to know what is really going on in Iraq, I go to Robert Fisk. He never overstates the facts--he doesn't have to--but reports what he has seen and heard himself. His articles can often be found on my two favorite alternative news sources: commondreams.org and truthout.org. But I warn you, Robert Fisk doesn't sugarcoat anything; truth is truth. Just the way it needs to be in these times of lies and deceit.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2003
Yesterday I received another email from my Wise Woman friend, Geneviéve. Her message was titled, "Journal Musings", and, although long, I'd like to share it here. By the way, the dream she refers to was the one I had the night Mark first put up my blog. This is the way I described it in my December 24th journal entry:
Then I dreamed about being a blogger, except in my dream I wasn't sitting at my computer but was at an outdoor gathering of hundreds of people...and I was the main speaker! I was to read from my blog. As long as I stayed with the text as written, folks quietly listened with respect. But when I started editorializing, hands flew up and voices were raised in protest.
There's a lesson there! May I stay to the text of my life and not go flying off into places I don't know anything about.
Here are Geneviéve's
Your blog site looks so professional--you've done a good job of setting it up. I still am not sure what a blog is, but yours looks great.
I am glad, though, that you will continue to do your regular journal website. I like going there best. It is more cozy, as though you have invited us into your own home to hear how your day was and listen to your thoughts on the world. The blog site feels more public with the banners and other people posted and all. Sort of like reading of your day on a bulletin board or maybe where you are the main speaker in front of an audience (like in your dream).
I was thinking of your dream and wondering how I might interpret it (obviously you have the right to reject this interpretation because it is your dream, but here's what I see). I was thinking that maybe being a blogger and having (I think this is right) a bigger audience and one that can post things, too, that you are feeling that you have to now "get the facts really right" before commenting or talking of things, that you have to make sure that you only talk of things you know. As though you cannot editorialize because people might raise their hands in protest, so you have to "stick to the text" of your life only and not "go flying off into places that [you] know nothing about."
Now, personally, I
think that the joy of your journal is that you muse upon things,
that you sometimes go into new and unknown territories by exploring
your thoughts online, that you have felt free to go off on a tangent,
if you wanted to (this usually leading to new and exciting things).
It might be that you are subconsciously feeling that on a blog
site (seeing as that you identified yourself as a blogger in the
dream) you have to be correct on things you say, "on the
record", so to speak, while your journal site, being so personal
and cozy, has always felt like it is "off the record."
I see your journal as coyote clothed in Raging Granny clothing.
It appears to be a nice, intimate chat with a "little old
lady" (ha!) who just happens to be an activist. If I might
use the word "suck" in a positive way, it sucks people
in by its innocence and intimacy and then they get hooked on its
charm and start to listen to the very important stuff that you
are talking about. Sort of like hearing the Raging Grannies sing
their outrageous songs, delighting in them and then realizing
that contained in the humour is the serious message. I guess what
I am saying is be very careful that you do not, because of the
way you obviously feel (in the dream) of being a speaker with
a larger and maybe more critical audience, become the Raging Granny
who spoke so seriously that she lost the idea of what a Raging
Granny is. Make sure that your journal stays that intimate, cozy
rendering of your life and thoughts and musings of all the important
stuff of the world that people need to hear. I "hear"
that you are excited because you feel that you have taken a step
out into a bigger world and I think that your messages of truth
and justice and alerting people to what is going on in the world
warrant that, but please, please, please, also keep exploring
the private musings of your absolutely delightful and creatively
wonderful mind on your journal page, no matter where those musings
I know that you are going to put the same writing on both sites, but I really would like to always have the option of going to your journal site. It feels like a personal, more intimate, you. I would also hate to think that you now felt that you had to "edit" the things you say to make sure everything is "right.". I like anarchy and a little disorder and a "slip of the tongue" and people spouting off on things that they might not have all the facts on. Out of chaos comes wonderful things. 'nuff said.
Isn't she amazing?!? Geneviéve really picked up on my feelings about this new avenue of expression called a blog. It does feel more public, even though what could be more public than an online journal? Somehow I do feel more at home here. After all, I created this journal from scratch (no template used as with the blog) and have furnished it with personal odds and ends for almost four years now. And although I haven't a clue who comes here to read my entries, I still feel as though you're all my friends. And, yes, it does feel like inviting folks into my living room. Heck, you even know what my living room looks like from the many photos I've posted here!
So how do I see the blog? Well, it's new. New to me anyway. So I don't feel at home there yet. And just the idea of a blog makes me think of countless people (mostly young) sitting at desktops and laptops around the world, reading one another's words and clicking on their links 24 hours a day. Links are an essential part of blogs. Links to other bloggers, links to articles, links to web sites. Mark, who encouraged me to become a blogger and then set up my first effort, said he reads an average of 100 blogs a day. I'd guess that's not unusual. I read a blog regularly during the time that Bush & Co. were actively bombing Iraq. That was Salam Pax and Raed's blog called "Where is Raed?" I now see that it is put up on the same blog site that I use. Their blog became so popular that it led to trips to London and other European cities, book offers, international interviews, etc. Maybe it's their story that I think of when I think of blogs. A true window on the world.
Well, today I am using my journal and my blog differently. If you go to my blog, you'll read my thoughts on the connection between the horrendous Iranian earthquake and global warming. While here on my journal I'm sharing my friend's and my thoughts and feelings about the difference between blogs and journals. So, I guess I'll just see how things develop. What an exciting prospect!
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2003
I feel as though I'm on retreat--no commitments, dates, deadlines, people, phone calls, and precious few emails. How I needed this! Time to sit and think, scoot and sing, read and reflect. The fact that it was unplanned makes it all the more authentic.
I can remember a decade back when I was a church-going person, how I'd make retreats at retreat centers and be so self-conscious in my Silence. I'd think of myself as some modern-day St. Theresa of Avila, exploring room after room in my Interior Castle. Insights had the mark of Divine Inspiration. Every word written in my ever-present journal would be Gospel Truth. After a weekend, week or whatever, I'd see myself as Forever Changed, my feet planted on a higher rung of Holiness.
It makes me blush to recall my arrogance.
This retreat has been lazy, uneventful and unproductive (except for putting up my blog). I've spent much of my time sleeping late and dreaming vividly, reading, scooting and singing, corresponding with my friend Geneviéve who is in an amazing time of growth, hanging out with Eddie, watching "Seinfeld" reruns with him while eating dinner at the kitchen table, sitting in his great-grandmother's rocking chair looking out the window at bare trees, sparkling sun, puffy clouds and falling snow, learning from my new friend Mark what I need to know to keep a blog, and generally being a slug-a-bug. Any insights I've had have been lower case wonderings rather than Upper Case Knowings. Any changes have been hidden, especially from me. Any steps I'm climbing on the ladder of holiness/wholeness are probably down not up. And I don't mean that in a negative way; it's just that I see the journey to becoming ever more human as a downward spiral not an uphill climb.
All in all, I'm having an excellent retreat.
I realized in bed last night that my journal readers didn't get to see the three photos I took yesterday, so here they are:
nibbling on red berries in a tree in front of the high school.
A tree that I find especially lovely in its silvery winter coat.
The sunset as seen outside the window by my computer. The building (vintage 1920s) next door is our local police station.
[My blog is again different from this journal entry.]
MONDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2003
I'm going to show a side of myself today that doesn't often appear here in my journal. At least I HOPE it doesn't! If it did, I'm afraid the gig would be up, for once an online journal is used to toot your own horn it loses its appeal.
After writing yesterday's journal entry about how much I was enjoying my "retreat", things changed. Nothing outside of myself created the shift; it was all inner-directed. I started to feel isolated and blue. My disability began to get under my skin, especially the changes I see in my mobility--or lack thereof--since last year at this time. With Ed's help I saw that I need to make some changes in how I "do" disability from here on out. He suggested that a good manual wheelchair--one that is custom-fitted, lightweight and made for speed--might help me get some upper body exercise while giving me the assistance I need to get around. So late last night I started exploring the keyword "wheelchairs" on Google. If you go to this morning's blog entry, you'll read what I found.
After going to bed at 3 AM, I slept in until 10:30 AM. When I logged onto my earthlink webmail this morning, there was a long email from Geneviéve. In it she responded to my early-morning blog entry. She wrote this in the middle of her night in British Columbia, a few hours before she was due to make a long drive by herself to visit family. What a friend! Although her words were a bit hard for me to accept, they were just what I needed to hear. Sometimes you need a friend to hold up a mirror--even if their mirror seems overly positive--and just take it in as truth. At least as their truth. I did more than simply take her words in; I tried to believe them. And in the believing, searched for photos to illustrate what she was talking about. Photos of me.
My inner critic says to keep this private, not to share it online. It calls this journal entry self-serving and egotistical. Then my inner friend replies, "So what?" Maybe if I share what I call my "Affirmations page" it will encourage others to do the same for themselves. Maybe it will say, "You are fine. Believing in your goodness and strength is fine. It is nothing to be ashamed of or to keep hidden."
Actually my newly created Affirmations page, which I've saved on Microsoft Word, has not one but two emails quoted in it. There's Geneviéve's, but also one sent yesterday morning by Nancy, a wonderful friend and faithful journal reader here in Detroit with whom I sing and gather in women's circles.
So here goes...
MY AFFIRMATIONS PAGE
Subject: hello and thank you
Date: Dec 28, 2003 1:53 PM
I just wanted to send you a note to tell you how much you, your journal, your activism and your great love for the world have meant to me this year. Singing with you has been a joy, one that I fervently hope will continue on! Your journal has simply got me hooked. I measure so much of my own heart's response to the world and world events by the responses and reflections you offer up to the world every day. Every time I read your journal I feel as though all your years of street activism, painful lessons, hard-won victories and your deep compassionate heart are speaking directly to me. And as I receive, so do countless others. Bless you and thank you, dearest Patricia!
May love and peace and grace and blessings come to you in the new year and always,
Subject: Courage and more
Date: Dec 29, 2003 7:52 AM
You know, my dear sister,
we often see your
enthusiasm and humour and love and sense of honor in your
journal, but you don't often show us your vulnerability and hence
the way in which you live your life with such courage. Reading
your blog entry for Monday, Dec. 29th, and then going to your
postings at the wheelchairjunkie.com site gave me a glimpse of
We see the Patricia that tackles life with a gusto that, quite frankly, makes some of us feel like slug-a-bugs. What you don't often let us see is the effort and courage it takes for you to be so involved in life. I don't mean that in a marytr sort of way, just in a "get up every morning and figure out how to live my life in the best way possible" type of courage. I know, from having at times been "down and out" from car injuries, that the tendency some days is to just curl up and stay in bed, "ta heck with life" and all that. But I hardly ever have seen you even give yourself more than fleeting moments of "this is hard" and or ever give in to self-pity. Maybe you do in private, but, in your journal, we don't often see you sorrowing about your MS--about others' trials and tribulations yes, but not your own.
What I do see is a woman who lives life to its fullest, who takes time for herself when she needs to (mini-retreats) and who then, refreshed, gets on with the fullness of life. I see someone who is always willing to give support and encourgement to others who need it. Depending on how they have come to your site and what you are writing of over the course of a few days, some readers may not even know that you have a disability because you do not ever dwell on it. That is courage.
Also courageous is your ability to know when it is time to move on to the next stage of dealing with your MS. I saw your sorrow when you realized that you now needed a lift and a ramp and I hear it when you talk of realizing that a wheelchair would be helpful. However, I also saw, with lift and the the ramp, that once you had made the decision to bring them into your life, that your life was enhanced and made easier and that you gathered them into the repertoire of your life with acceptance and not pity. See what I mean about your courage? I think that you are an example of how to live one's life, whether one has a disability or not. You are just so darn in love with life that your enthusiasm is catching.
But, now, I want to acknowledge, to friend-of-my-heart, your MS. I have often acknowledged your beauty of spirit, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your love, your activities, your support of others , but not that part of you, the MS, and its attendant difficulties that you deal with every minute of every day, that are also part of your life experience. You know, I first came to your site through searching for "disabilities", but, except in the casual glimpses that you have given your journal readers, have hardly ever remembered that you have a progressive disease.
You live with it every day and yet we see so much the other parts of you that it is only shadow on your journal wall. I'm sure that, for you, figuring out the how-to's and logistics of your life is paramount, but what we see in your writing is your great spirit, all the rest falls away. So, sweet sister, I want to acknowledge the "legs like logs", "the hands that have a tendency to curl", the ankle injury that has descended like a plague on your mobility, the ever increasing need for assistance in your life and your sorrow about that, your blue feelings in quiet moments of your life and your courage. Those parts of Patricia that need acknowledgment and love, too.
Lots of love,
Do you see why I feel WAY better today? What would we do without friends!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2003
I sit under the waxing half moon and write this journal entry. Ed and I walk/scooted to a local restaurant for dinner and were treated to a night sky bright with stars and moon; Orion's Belt led us home. This constellation was a favorite of mine during the two winters I sublet Steve's third floor apartment in San Franicisco's Mission District. I remember sitting out on my balcony on cool winter nights and seeing Orion's Belt shining above the lights on Liberty Hill. For some reason it always soothed and steadied me. Tonight I felt its belt tying together my lives in San Francisco and Detroit.
Do I miss San Francisco? Sometimes. Do I wish I were there this winter? Not really. Of course, the Michigan winter has only just begun. Perhaps I should ask myself that question again in a month or so. But, right now when I think of San Francisco, I think of how much I missed Eddie. Not that I was conscious of the missing, but I now know it was always with me. I can see myself lying on the couch in the cottage Marci and Evan converted for me, reading a book and listening to the 24 hour-a-day public jazz station on my radio. My afghan is pulled over my legs, but I'm still chilly (the cottage was built on cement and had a high ceiling and a small electric heater). And I'm feeling very alone.
Now, if you were to have read my journals during those winter months, I don't think I once mentioned feeling lonely. That's what I mean; it was under the surface. It is only now that I feel that deep aloneness when I think of San Francisco. Strange, isn't it? To have memories bring up different emotions from those felt during the original experience? All I know is that I am so happy being here, snug and warm in my beloved (centrally heated) upstairs room, knowing my sweetie is downstairs watching "The Singing Detective" video on TV.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2003
What a beautiful last day of 2003! Our skies were blue, the sun was shining and temperatures reached into the 40s F. It was a day that brought everyone out on the streets. And wherever you went, people were wishing one another a Happy New Year.
I don't know about you but I'm glad to see this year end. No matter what one's politics, it was a hard year.
You know, I just spent over an hour detailing all the events that made this year so hard, but when I reread it my gut reaction was, "NO! I refuse to bring these things into the New Year, at least not tonight." So I deleted every word. We need to go into 2004 with a positive attitude, one that will move us forward not drag us back.
I met a fellow at the Gelato Cafe today who epitomizes that way of being in the world. Joe suffered a closed head injury in a car crash three years ago. Since that time he has had to give up driving, teach himself to read again, cut back to 10 hours a week of work at his business, and go to Michigan State in Lansing for rehab two days a week (an hour and a half each way), as well as receive physical therapy at a clinic in Detroit's northern suburbs another two days a week. But does he moan and groan about his losses? Not a bit. If anything he sees it as a learning. When I asked him what he has learned, he answered: "Patience and empathy."
So let us bring Joe's learnings into this New Year and meet whatever challenges we find with patience and empathy. Happy 2004, dear friends.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 1, 2004
Do I believe peace is possible? NOW I do, after experiencing today's One Day in Peace with a Global Family Potluck at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Yes, I do. When you see a room full of children, women and men of different religions/no religion, of different races and cultures, from every continent and so many countries I couldn't keep count of them all, people who speak different languages, eat different kinds of food, have different politics and life experiences...if these people can meet in peace, form coalitions dedicated to peace, listen with respect to one another and sit down at table and eat together as one family, then you KNOW peace is possible. Not only possible, but a reality here and now. And it was the children who showed us how to do it, who led us in The World Pledge for Peace. Together, young and old raised our right hands and proclaimed aloud:
allegiance to the world,
to care for earth and sea and air,
to cherish every living thing,
with peace and justice
This was the third January 1st that One Day in Peace--nationally proclaimed as such by President Bill Clinton in his final days in office--had been celebrated in this way at this mosque. We had Iman Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom and Detroit Congressman John Conyers, Jr. to thank for co-hosting the event. Not just them, but all the people behind the scenes who worked untold hours coordinating the many parts of this celebration. And we Raging Grannies were honored to join the wonderful MC, Fadwa Alawieh, the girls from the Islamic Academy, speakers on behalf of the American Indian community, other community leaders, and especially the children.
We've tried war, now let's try peace.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 2, 2004
On the first day of
my true love gave to me
the world as community;
On the second day of
my true love gave to me
two faithful friends
and the world as community...
Today I had lunch at my favorite vegetarian restaurant--Inn Seasons--with two of my favorite people, Jackie and Jan. Because I haven't talked about food in awhile, I'll tell you what I had to eat: vegetarian chili, homemade bread, blue cheese and walnut salad, and two shared desserts--mango soy coconut pudding, and banana pudding. We three get together for lunch maybe 2-3 times a year, but have so much to talk about we might need to make it more often. Jackie and I are in the O Beautiful Gaia CD project together, and Jan is often at the women's gatherings I attend. Since they are both longstanding members of my online journal's Faithful Readers' Club, they know more about me than I know myself. And you have Jackie and Jan to thank for the quality of my digital photos; it was they who introduced me to the FujiFilm Fine Pix 2800 zoom digital camera. Speaking of pictures, here are Jackie and Jan with their precious four-legged friends, ChiChi (American Eskimo breed) and Lucy (part poodle, terrier and I forget what else).
Then tonight our friend Pat Kolon came over for dinner. It was wonderful to sit and catch up with one another. As I shared some of my stories, I realized how much lighter I feel since giving up the job of coordinating our Raging Grannies gaggle. While I was in the middle of it all, I knew it was demanding but I don't think I ever admitted to myself exactly HOW demanding. Isn't it strange how well we adapt to stress? Too well, I'd say. But I have no one to blame but myself. I just kept taking on more and more responsibility, instead of delegating as we are all taught to do. So now I am simply a Granny among Grannies and I LOVE it! It was a joy not to organize yesterday's gig (Granny Kathy did an excellent job!) or to lead the songs (Granny Charlotte was wonderful!). I liked being off to the side rather than smack in the middle as I'd always been before, and I enjoyed feeling no pressure as to whether or not we "performed" well. Long and short is that I had lots of FUN!
I think this idea of lightening my load and having more fun is what I'm bringing into 2004. As they say, life's too short...
SATURDAY, JANUARY 3, 2004
Today the women of the Great Lakes Basin of the O Beautiful Gaia CD project met at The Hospice of Windsor, Ontario for a day devoted to the theme: "Searching for Causes of Breast Cancer." The following was the agenda we'd received by email ahead of time:
for Causes of Breast Cancer
Location: The Hospice of Windsor, 6038 Empress Street, Windsor, Ontario
10:00 - 10:45 Dr. Sicheri, Oncologist at Windsor (with passion and interest in environmental chemicals and their effect on health)
10:45 - 11:00 Break
11:00 - 12:00 First hour of 2-hour video presentation "Rachel's Daughters, Searching for the Causes of Breast Cancer"
12:00 - 12:45 Catered lunch; Sing: "Blessing Song"
12:45 - 1:00 Sing: "Come Sing A Song With Me" and/or "Earth My Body, Water by Blood" and/or "Woman Am I"
1:00 - 1:45 Memory Journal of Women Affected by Breast Cancer. Please bring writings, pictures and memories to share
1:45 - 2:00 Break
2:00 - 2:45 Radiance Treatment
2:45 - 3:45 Second hour of 2-hour video presentation
3:45 - 4:00 Closing Songs: "We Are Sisters On A Journey" and/or "We Are A Gentle Angry People"
The agenda shifted somewhat as our day proceeded, most notably in the showing of the documentary film, "Rachel's Daughters"--the first hour was shown before lunch, and the second hour directly after lunch. That meant our personal sharings about women we have known/do know who were/are affected by breast cancer came after we'd experienced a period of silence following the conclusion of the film. What a tender, heartbreaking time of sharing that was. All of us have been touched by this tragic epidemic that hits one in every nine women in today's Western World.
Dr. Sicheri's presentation showed us the inescapable environmental determinants of many of today's cancers, from the presence of Superfund toxic waste dumps, to airborne carcinogens let loose through burning waste in city incinerators, to the ongoing effects of DDT spraying back in the 30s, 40s and 50s, to today's use of pesticides on our lawns. And that was just the beginning. Apparently Windsor has among the highest incidence of cancer in all of Ontario, and Dr. Sicheri gave us some of the reasons why, among them the carcinogenic sediment present in Lake Erie, sediment that came about through decades of agricultural and industrial misuse of insecticides and pollutants. Her report was chilling.
This was not an easy program to sit through. In fact, one of our Great Lakes women--a survivor of breast cancer herself--had to leave after Dr. Sicheri's talk. What we heard, learned and felt as we saw the epidemic proportions of the tragedy of breast cancer and met the women who were at the heart of the excellent documentary, "Rachel's Daughters", tolled like a death knell. All day long I kept looking around our circle asking myself, "Which of us will develop or already has breast cancer? Who of these beloved women will we lose to this dreadful disease?" I know that many breast cancers are treatable, but I also know that many women die. So unnecessarily!!! I couldn't help thinking if one in every nine men were looking at the certainty of developing as serious a form of cancer as breast cancer, there would be more of an outcry and a stronger insistence on doing something about it!
That was what I came away with today: we women must take the lead and raise our voices against all that we see contributing to the likelihood of our and/or our sisters developing breast cancer. That means taking on corporations, agribusiness, governments and whomever has a stake in keeping carcinogens in our food chain, air, water, land and homes. We can be silent no more.
And we Great Lakes women gave voice to our rage, hopes and determination as we sang songs like, "We Are A Gentle, Angry People", "Woman Am I", "Earth My Body", "Come Sing A Song With Me", and "Hip Swingin' A Safe Road" (photos #1, #2, #3, #4). We will NOT be silent!
SUNDAY, JANUARY 4, 2004
I'm listening to a remastered CD of the original cast recording of "Hello Dolly" on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio. Carol Channing and her bigger-than-life, squeaky, throaty voice brings back vivid memories of seeing her in the pre-Broadway showing of this hit musical at the National Theatre in Washington, DC. It was 1963 and the audience response was unlike anything I've ever seen. I think we stayed on our feet cheering for at least twenty minutes.
My parents were great about taking us to plays in Washington. I remember seeing "West Side Story" in 1957 and falling in love with street gangs. When we went to New York City the following Easter, all I wanted to see were gangs. Forget the Empire State Building or Times Square; if there weren't gangs there, I wasn't interested. I remember going backstage to meet Julie Harris when I was 11. Somehow my parents had arranged it so that I could ask her my burning question: "Should I go into theater as an actress?" If my memory's correct, Ms. Harris was gracious and advised me to get a good education before I made any such decision. During those years we saw Ethel Merman--whom my mother adored--in "Annie Get Your Gun", Mary Martin in "Peter Pan", Gwen Verdon in "Redhead", Rosalind Russell in "Auntie Mame" (the funniest laugh-out-loud play I ever saw), Betty Grable at a Christmas show featuring the Rockettes, and Helen Hayes several times.
My two sisters and I responded by acting in every play put on by our Jr., Sr. high school, and then continuing our acting careers in college. But of the three of us, only my younger sister Emily actually became an actress. After college she entered the drama school at Catholic University (which was excellent at the time) in Washington, DC, and had not a little success in summer stock and professional theaters on the east coast. The play I best remember her in was "The Life and Death of Joe Egg." It was truly disturbing to see my sister "become" Joe Egg, a severely mentally and physically disabled child; her performance was a work of art and, rightfully, received critical acclaim.
All these memories just because I turned on the radio!
It is now 5 PM and the snow has just begun to fall. This morning they were predicting at least 8" of snow tonight, but as the day progressed the predictions dropped to 2-4". But the threat was enough to get me out on the roads. I don't mind the cold but Ona my scooter isn't particularly fond of snow and ice. Well, it was definitely a day when the term "lowering sky" applied. Heavy gray clouds rolled in from the west, but what I will remember was not the clouds but the wind, especially the winds off the lake. The tips of the fingers on my right hand remained red and swollen for over an hour after I'd returned home. And why was it just my fingertips on my right hand that suffered from the cold? Because I had to remove my ski mitten from my right hand in order to take these pictures (photo #1 & #2) of the lake. OOOHH, was it cold!!!
MONDAY, JANUARY 5, 2004
This first Monday after the holidays always feels like a new beginning to me. And I used it that way. I began to explore the possibility of converting some of my journals into hardcopy. I tried this once before but the time wasn't right. What I looked at today were the entries starting with September 11, 2001. I've heard of, seen and/or read many books by journalists and political analysts who have tackled our post-September 11th world, but have yet to see the story from an unknown activist's point of view. Today I re-read Journal archives 19-21 and found it interesting going. I plan to continue to explore this idea. Any suggestions from my faithful readers would be most appreciated.
Tonight Ed drove me and La Lucha my scooter to swimming. Yesterday's snow made the roads and sidewalks too treacherous for scooting. Thanks, Eddie. It felt GREAT to be back in the water!!! Everyone always asks me how were my holidays, but I have to say that I much prefer my everyday life. I have missed both swimming and the kids at school SO MUCH. Tonight's swimming was both familiar and new. I did 20 lengths of the freestyle before my left shoulder--that's been bugging me of late--set up such a howl I couldn't ignore it. I asked Tim to please get me a kickboard and when he brought it over, he suggested that I also try fins. I've resisted this idea for several years, but decided to give it a try tonight. Tim even fitted them on my feet and coached me in their use. I must admit I didn't much like them. I felt like a penquin with too big feet. But the longer I used them--or tried to use them--the more I could see their benefit. Not only could I go faster, but I could feel my thigh muscles getting a workout. That is worth any discomfort! I'll definitely try them again.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 6, 2004
It feels funny to say that I am deeply touched by my own story, but I am. This afternoon and evening I continued reading the journals I'd written after September 11, 2001: today it was Journal 22 and Journal 23. I've now read four and a half months' of journal entries and am amazed at how much happened in my life during that block of time. What especially interests me is how quickly Rabih Haddad and Sulaima moved to the center of my heart and my commitment to justice. It is now January 24, 2001 (in my journals) and I have just arrived in San Francisco for my 3-month winter stay.
It's been interesting to see how the theme of September 11th has run through every entry of those four and a half months. Even if I'm writing about scooting beside the lake on a warm autumn day--as I often was because the weather that year was unusually mild--the horrors of what we had suffered as a nation on that most beautiful of September days, and the horrors of retribution that followed, are never far from the surface.
I now see it was the absence of a common theme that blocked my first efforts to convert my online journals into a publishable body of work. At that time--was it spring 2002?--I'd simply planned to collect a year's worth of journal entries--starting with my first entry on February 25, 2000--and call it a book. The only "theme" was life. Perhaps it was still too close to September 11th for me to see the transformative power of that tragic event. Truly, nothing was ever the same after that. And for a peace activist like me, September 11th and how it was used by my government, narrowed my focus like a laser beam.
I will continue working on this project.
Actually, today helped me see what a good choice it is for me to work at something here at home. Especially during a Michigan winter. I awoke to frost on my window and reports of a high of 17 degrees F. A lovely stay-at-home day. In addition to my journal project, I spent time reading Maxine Hong Kingston's most recent book, "The Fifth Book of Peace", cleaned up my overloaded email files, enjoyed a lovely Middle Eastern lunch, and sat on our living room couch with brilliant sun shining on my face and sang songs I already knew and songs I made up. Soon Ed will be home for dinner and we'll have the treat of eating my friend Pat's homemade corn quesadillas. Then we'll probably end the evening by watching the quirky BBC video, "The Singing Detective."
A nice winter's day.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2004
I'm coming to see that my knee-jerk anger/outrage when I read articles like this one--"Execs Pay to Play with GOP: Fund-Raiser Includes Helping Leaders Write Energy 'To-Do List'"--is not helpful, to myself or to others. I would do better simply to take it in as information that I need to have. It isn't as if getting myself in a stew-fit will change anything anyway. All it will do is disrupt my equilibrium and cause unnecessary stress. I'm sure this Republican-dominated Congress and George W. Bush's administration are not the first to play this game. I can certainly see members of Bill Clinton's administration--including Bill himself--and the formerly Democratic-dominated Congress acting in much the same way. Perhaps the "To-Do List" looked a bit different, but the idea was the same--promises made for campaign donations received. Politics American-style stinks to high heaven and has for a long, long time.
A Buddhist approach, that's what I need. Breathe it in as information received and breathe it out as knowledge shared. No judgements, simply awareness of what is. When action is called for, I'll know, but until then mindfulness will suffice.
What helped me see things in perspective was another article--"Dean's Uphill Battle in Bush Fantasyland"--in which we see the unsavory shenanigans going on in the Democratic party, in particular, Bill and Hilary Clinton's response to the rise of Howard Dean. Who'd a thunk a Democrat would not want the Democratic candidate to unseat George W. Bush in 2004? But when ambition--personal ambition--is at the heart of your decisions/actions/opinions, anything is possible. Interesting.
After a lovely swim--30 lengths tonight--I'm going to bed early. Tomorrow is a school day. I can't wait to see Susan and the kids again! I've missed them.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2004
The kids were great at school today, and Susan was too. It was so good to be back. In addition to reading the book "Mouse Paint" to two kindergarten classes and helping a new fifth grade student who just came to this country from India, I spent the day working on a colored pencil drawing of a special time I'd shared with my family.
I'm drawing my memory of when my sisters and I found horseshoe crabs on a deserted beach. We were on one of our two-week cruises on our sailboat, and had dropped anchor in an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay. In the drawing, my older sister Carolyn and I are kneeling on the beach, looking at these amazing crabs. Our dingy, Cinderella,--that we'd rowed to shore from our boat--is pulled up on the sand beside us. My little sister Miss Em is out in the water with her arms raised overhead, trying to get our attention. We are probably aged 10, 8 and 5. Mom and Dad are sitting in the cockpit of Harem, our boat, which is moored in the middle of the inlet. Across the water you can see another beach with woods behind it. Ours is the only boat around. Just like I remember it.
This assignment is part of the fifth grade year-long project of exploring our own World View. Isn't that inspired? Susan is such a gifted art teacher.
Speaking of inspiration, I had one this morning on my way to school. I came up with a way to write/organize the book that's been niggling at me for some time. Its recently-decided-upon working title is "Scooting Toward Justice." It will be a series of stories of my adventures as a scooter-riding activist, and will include both narrative and journal entries. I came right home after school, sat down at my laptop and worked for three solid hours. Believe it or not, I completed the first draft of Chapter One! In it I tell the story of my brand new scooter and our activist activities at the OAS (Organization of American States) protest demonstrations and teach-ins in Windsor, ON in June 2000. Since I had detailed journal entries already written, it fell together with relative ease. A good beginning.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2004
Today I felt so close to my brother, Rabih Haddad, my sister, Sulaima, and the kids. I received a wonderful, long email from Rabih that caught me up to date with their news. The main news is that Sulaima is pregnant and the baby is expected in early July! But apparently Sulaima has a herstory of premature births, so we must keep her and her little one in protected, nesting energy at least until late May. This dear family has had more than their fair share of difficulties in the past two years. No more already! After he told me of their expecting a baby, he wrote, "Tell Mr.Bush and gang that Rabih Haddad's progeny is still growing."
Rabih said his consulting business is moving forward, slowly but surely, and he is delighted to be starting a study circle for a group of American sisters. He calls teaching his other great love after humanitarian work. I know that everyone I have met who ever had Rabih as a teacher said they would never forget him. He obviously has a true teacher's gift. The children are settling in at school and making new friends, even though they still miss their friends in Ann Arbor.
Rabih concluded his email in this way:
Good always triumphs
over evil, and while "evil" may win a few battles here
and there in a spectacular fashion, the outcome of the war will
no doubt be in "good's" favor. One of my favorite
parables on this is from the Holy Qur'an: "Seest thou not
how Allah sets forth a parable? - A goodly Word like a goodly
tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches reach to the
heavens. It brings forth its fruits at all times, by the
leave of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men,
in order that they may receive admonition. And the parable
of an evil Word is that of an evil tree; it is torn up by the
root from the surface of the earth. It has no stability."
(14:24-26). We shall overcome!!
I hope to hear from you soon, give my best to Ed and may the grannies of the world unite and rage on.
Your (free) brother
After reading Rabih's email, an idea occurred to me. I am riding to Georgetown, Ontario tomorrow with sisters of my Great Lakes Basin community. On Sunday afternoon, our three GLB sisters from Georgetown are putting on an "O Beautiful Gaia" CD Launch party in their community and we want to join them. When I'd gone to the web site of the motel where I'll be staying, I'd noticed it had said that Toronto was only 40 minutes away. Well, Mazen, Rabih's younger brother, lives in Toronto. The one time we'd met at one of Rabih's immigration court hearings, Mazen and I really hit it off. We've been in email contact ever since. And we also consider ourselves to be brother and sister.
So I emailed Mazen with an invitation to join me at our CD launch and/or at brunch on Sunday. I've just heard back from him that we have a date for brunch at 11:30 AM on Sunday! I immediately emailed Rabih and Sulaima to tell them about our plans. I KNOW they will be pleased as punch, if not a little jealous. Well, I haven't totally given up on the idea of visiting Rabih, Sulaima and the kids in Lebanon. Yes, a 12-hour flight is intimidating, but the kids at school--many of whom are from Lebanon or have family there--say it's well worth the long trip. Life is such an adventure.
I'll be off the internet until Monday, so there will be no new journal entries until then. If we get back early enough on Sunday night, I'll check in then. But, to be honest, that looks unlikely. Have a good weekend...
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2004
I am SO glad to be home! We had a wonderful time in Georgetown, Ontario at the O Beautiful Gaia CD Launch this afternoon. Yesterday's drive was great--three hours from door-to-door, sunny, crisp, cold conditions, and the fun of being with three of my favorite women on the way. It was the drive home tonight that was the challenge. Blizzard conditions all the way across Ontario until we got to Sarnia and the Blue Water Bridge into the States. For four and a half hours we were in and out of what they call "white-out" conditions, which means you can hardly see ahead of you. And it wasn't just visibility that was poor; the road conditions were awful. But thankfully, Peg is an excellent driver and stayed a safe distance behind another car so she could follow their tail lights most of the way. We averaged 25 MPH on Ontario's 401 and 402 super highways, and saw 3-4 accidents and/or spin-outs, one involving a truck that had passed us going way too fast. But, as stressful as it was, we sang, listened to wonderful CDs, and did our best to support our driver, Peg. Instead of three hours, it took five and a half hours from door-to-door. We pulled into my driveway at 10:45 PM, and Peg and Jeanne still had another hour to go. The strange thing was that there had been NO snow today on the US side of Lake Huron! The roads were clear as soon as we'd crossed the bridge into Michigan.
Now all I want to do is take a hot shower and stretch out my legs in my own bed. But before I do, I want to show you a picture of my brother Mazen Haddad and me at lunch today. Remember, he's Rabih's brother who lives in Toronto. Mazen kindly drove to Georgetown so that we could spend some time together. What an interesting, funny, intelligent, gentle-spirited man! It was a joy to be with him. Tomorrow I'll show you more pictures and tell you about the rest of the weekend. And now I must go to bed.
MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 2004
On Saturday, Peg, Jeanne, Judy and I arrived in Georgetown, Ontario at 3:30 PM after an easy three-hour drive. We checked me into my motel room and proceeded to stretch out, two to a bed, for a little lie-down before we were to meet our Great Lakes sisters at a nearby restaurant for dinner. Our dinner gathering was fun and afterwards, folks went to Arlene's house to practice singing for Sunday's CD launch. I chose to stay at my motel and go to bed early. The other women were staying in people's homes, but because of my accessibility needs I was staying at a motel. It was very comfortable.
Sunday, after eating lunch and having a wonderful visit together, my brother Mazen Haddad (Rabih's brother) drove me to Milton for the O Beautiful Gaia CD Launch. I arrived a little after 2 PM, just in time to practice (photo #1 & #2) a couple of songs with the ten Great Lakes Basin sisters who had travelled from the Windsor/Detroit area, our three Georgetown sisters--Catherine, Arlene and Dianne--who had organized today's event, and their singing circle with whom we would be singing. Jeanette accompanied us on the piano.
The Launch was held in the sunny, elegant Hugh Foster Hall, and at the center of the room was a lovely altar. By 3 PM, the room was full of friends who had come from as far away as Toronto and Hamilton. I recognized many of their faces because we'd attended a Carolyn McDade retreat together in October 2001 at Five Oaks retreat center in Paris, Ontario. Before today's program began--while we were enjoying the delicious homemade refreshments--I met Daphne and asked her to be my designated photographer. I knew it would be impossible for me to sing and take pictures at the same time. Many of the following photos are her work.
The program opened with Catherine introducing the O Beautiful Gaia CD project. She stressed that we were interested in so much more than simply making a CD; it was the preservation of the planet that motivated and encouraged us to keep moving forward. Throughout the day we sang, always inviting everyone to join in (words to the songs were printed in their programs). Interspersed throughout the afternoon were reflections and/or readings by members of our Great Lakes Basin community, as when Dianne introduced the round, "The Rivers Are Flowing." Thanks to hours of hard work, Cobe was able to show a Power-Point presentation of the endangered species as we chanted their names. Two of our songs were interpreted in dance. Cheryl performed a lyrical modern dance as we sang "The Circle of Life", and Valerie led the community in dancing to "So Great A Love." Daphne took this, my favorite photo, as that dance came to a beautiful conclusion. And then the Assent/Dissent movement songs led into a time of drumming and percussion, with everyone involved, including Pat N. and Jeanne dancing to the beat. We finished by singing "O Beautiful Gaia" one final time.
By the time the program had ended, it was 4:30 PM. Snow flurries were making things look even more lovely, but my friends and I still had to return home to Detroit. The snow seemed to have stopped by the time we were packed up and ready to go, so after posing for this silly picture, Peg got behind the wheel and we set off for home. It wasn't until we'd been on the 401 about a half hour that the occasional flurries had turned into a blizzard, with white-out conditions. We kept up our courage by singing Carolyn McDade and Holly Near songs, and five and a half hours later, we pulled into my driveway, deeply grateful to be home.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2004
I've been reading with interest the excerpts from the new book, "The Price of Loyalty", in which former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill tells of his personal experiences in the Bush administration. As I read, I find my head nodding and myself saying to myself, "Yes, of course, that's just as I thought..." His pictures of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove fit my images of all three.
So will this information change anyone's mind? Will it help us get Bush & Co. out of the White House in 2004?
I wish I thought it would. I wish I believed that if you give the American people the truth, they will act on it. But I've been looking at this entity called "the American people" for far too long to believe that truth has much impact on them. In fact, they seem to prefer fiction to fact every time. Just look at how the American people loved the made-for-TV lies parading as the "Jessica Lynch Story" when the real Sergeant Lynch was publicly discounting everything in the show.
And now I read that President Bush isn't even bothering to refute O'Neill's assertion that Bush had it in for Saddam Hussein from the beginning and had made it clear in his first National Security Council meeting after taking office that he was determined to attack Iraq. In fact, Bush said today, "The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear -- like the previous administration, we were for regime change..." The fact that that statement makes it clear that the WMD and such excuses were hogwash doesn't seem to bother the president. He knows, as do I, that the people don't care. All they care about is holding onto their assumptions that everything is fine, that the president is a good guy and can be trusted, and that Hussein was such a bad guy we had to take him out no matter how or why we did it.
All this can get pretty discouraging.
So where do I find hope? Because I DO have hope, not just for the future but for the present. My hope comes from the young activists--high school and university aged women and men who show such courage and dedication, are incredibly well informed and willing to put their lives on the line for their beliefs.
In today's inbox I found such a story of hope. What follows is an article written by Linda Holzbaur, the mother of Anna Ritter, one of the four courageous young women you will meet through her words and through their own statements. Oona, Marie, Ana and Anna are appealing their prison sentences for a nonviolent civil disobedience action taken in a protest against the war on Iraq at the Army Recruiting Center in Lansing (near Ithaca, NY) on December 21, 2002. They could use our support. Their email addresses are:
Oona GradyDeFlaun: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie DeMott Grady: email@example.com
Ana Grady Flores: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Ritter: email@example.com
And now for their story, followed by their statements to the judge:
Marie DeMott Grady, Ana Grady Flores, Oona Grady DeFlaun and Anna Ritter were sentenced today by Judge William Burin of Lansing to a $250 fine for their participation in a protest against the war on Iraq at the Army Recruiting Center in Lansing on December 21, 2002. The four teens told the judge that they cannot in good conscience pay the fine: they were then sentenced to incarceration for four weekends in the Tompkins County Jail (from 6 pm Friday evening to 6am Monday morning) starting January 9. When the adults refused to pay their $100 fine, they spent from 1 1/2 - 4 days in jail.
On December 21, 2002, a national day of antiwar actions, about three hundred local citizens marched silently through the Pyramid Mall dressed in black with signs that read "No War On Iraq." Thirteen people, including the four teens, then proceeded to the Army Recruiting Center where they laid down on the floor with banners which identified each as a victim of war, either a serviceperson or an Iraqi civilian. They read from Dr. Martin Luther King's Christmas Sermon of 1967 and were arrested when they refused to leave.
The District Attorney, George Dentes, charged the adults with a trespass violation (a violation is on par with a traffic ticket) and the minors with a misdemeanor violation, a more serious charge. The adults who had participated received a $100 fine after their trial last May. Youthful offenders charged with misdemeanors are not entitled to a jury trial, adults are. These youthful offender laws were written to protect young people yet the Tompkins County District Attorney has used them to gain misdemeanor convictions without the expense of jury trials.
Each of the four girls read a statement today, expressing their disappointment that the judge did not understand why they felt called to participate in the die-in that day. Thousands have died, the Administration has lied, their powerful corporate friends have profited, families are divided and irreparable harm has been done to people, a culture, the environment and the stability of the earth. Four young girls are now being jailed for a nonviolent protest: is this justice?
Ana Flores is a student
at the Alternative Community School in Ithaca. Anna Ritter, Oona
and Marie are homeschooled. All four received the William DeWinter
Human Rights Award from the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission
on Dec. 10th, 2003.
Sentencing Statement - Marie DeMott Grady-18
It is easy to forget, to block out our reasons for going to the recruiters' center. If you only take into account the facts that we were there, did lie down, and refused to leave when we were ordered to by police, then obviously we were and are guilty. It seems that somehow, I don't know how, we failed to explain full enough to you our reasons for being there and for that I apologize. We went there to try in some very small way to prevent the pain and suffering being experienced by so many families in this country as they receive the most dreaded news you can give to any parents. Your child......is dead.
I cannot get the picture of the father of the Cornell student killed in Iraq who was in the paper recently and the horror on his face, out of my head. Nor can I forget the face of a young Iraqi boy in the hospital who represents so many Iraqi children who are sick and dying from the poison we have bombed them with. There are thousands of Iraqis still suffering along with our troops. I do not believe that I committed a crime by going to the recruiters' office. I would ask you to give us a time served sentence. We have spent an enormous amount of time preparing for and participating in this court process and I think that all of that time and energy more than makes up for a crime that we did not commit. If you cannot do that, I would encourage you to give us the community service of educating other young people about conscientious objector status and their options concerning the military. It would have a similar message to our action and I would hope that it would be acceptable to you. I must tell you that, meaning no disrespect for you, I cannot in good conscience pay a fine. I feel that doing so would be like agreeing with your guilty verdict and that is something that I cannot do. Please do as your conscience tells you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sentencing Statement - Anna Ritter-17
Good morning Judge
Today you are going to sentence us for what you say was a crime. You found us guilty after we proved our action was legal under international law. I hope you will decide not to punish us, because we should not be punished for trying to save lives. We have the support of our community, in fact the four of us just won the Tompkins County Youth Human Rights Award . If you still decide to sentence us, I ask that you let us organize programs to educate youth about the military. I refuse to pay a court fine, but talking to youth about the military would benefit others, and we would not have to get arrested again, and keep bothering you. I will stand in solidarity with my co-defendants and ask that you sentence us all the same thing. Thank you and good day.
Sentencing Statement - Ana Grady Flores- 17
For the past five days I have been sick with the flu. So sick that I was paralyzed in bed, I couldn't open my eyes because of the horrible pain it came with. I couldnít move my legs because of the excruciating arthritic pain, and most of all my head, Mr. Burin, my head felt like it was being crushed not just once but over and over again. When I needed to go to the bathroom my mom carried me because I could not walk on my own. But you know something your Honor, I was lucky, I was privileged to be in the position that I was in. Not that I was glad to be sick, but I had what I needed. I had clean water that I could drink, medicine which healed me, and a family to care for me in the warmth and safety of my home, unlike the innocent people in Iraq who don't have enough basic medicine like Tylenol and medicine that would cure simple things like diarrhea. They don't have a safe place to go to because their houses have "accidentally" been bombed by U.S. warplanes.
I am not guilty of committing any crime. All we were trying to do was share with our men and women in the service another way and if trying to share with people different options is a crime in this country then we are no longer living in a true democracy. I cannot consciously pay any fine to the court. I am a student and do not have the money. I would like to thank you for the time that you have spent with us.
Sentencing Statement - Oona GradyDeFlaun-18
I did an action almost a year ago and I have been talking to people about it ever since. I went to the US Army and Marines Recruiting station because under International Law, which we are bound to under the constitution, I was obligated to put my body on the line. It was my duty to get in the way of life as usual - because killing people should never be considered life as usual.
I have spent this year talking to people, from my friends and family to total strangers, about why I did this action. This November the four of us were asked to speak at the rally to close the US Army School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia. And just last week we received the William De Winter Human Rights Award from the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission. It is wonderful to have such strong community support.
One of the reasons that I did this action is because of my concern for young people like me who join the military for economic reasons without fully understanding what they are getting into and that there are other options out there. I am going to college in the fall and know first hand that there isn't a lot of money out there to help working class and poor people get an education. But there is one well publicized way of getting it all for free.
As I and my codefendants
have clearly stated and proved to you, we did not commit a crime
and therefore should not be punished. I am not willing to pay
a fine and likewise am not able to cooperate with probation. The
community service that we four have already started - speaking
truth about the military - is a service I plan to continue. I
am planning on educating myself more on how to gain conscientious
objector status first by taking a training and then by giving
workshops with and for interested students and teachers. I plan
on using this knowledge and experience to work with people on
alternatives to the military. Judge Burin, I believe that the
punishment should fit the "crime," and I think assigning
us this community service would be the most appropriate "punishment."
Now, don't they give you hope?!!
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2004
What an adventure! I'm coming to realize that winter in this part of the world is nothing to sneeze at. After our blizzardy drive home from Georgetown, Ontario on Sunday night, I didn't expect a rerun three days later. At least this time it was daylight and I only had to go 20 miles instead of 200.
I'd started out for school early (8:10 AM) because it was already snowing. But it must have just started because there was only a 1" accumulation on my ramp. Ed kindly shoveled it for me, and Ona my scooter and I merrily made our way into the garage. I left Ona parked in front of the car--I use the wheelchair at school--and Ed waved me off.
The snow was dense and fine-grained, a sign that it is the real thing. But it didn't deter me; I just slowed down and played it safe. When I reached the expressway, traffic was backed up to our exit. That was definitely not a good sign. The road conditions were already poor and we could have used the help of a salt truck or snowplow, but none showed up. It was bumper-to-bumper, 20 MPH, for most of the way. Where it normally takes 35 minutes from my home to school, today it took an hour and 15 minutes. But the kids didn't seem to mind the snow when they came running out to meet me at my car and helped wheel me into school.
The drive home was not stop-and-go, but road conditions were way worse. And it was still snowing heavily. I'd guess there was already a 6" accumulation by the time I got home at 3 PM. I couldn't get into our garage without spinning out because the slight grade was covered too high in snow. I parked next door in the police/city hall parking lot, and called Ed on my cell phone. I found him at the Subway, and he came right home and shoveled both the garage entrance and the ramp. I was SO HAPPY to be home that there is no way I'm going to swimming tonight. I plan to tuck my house around me, real cozy-like, and stay put. Enough already!
I want to tell you about an amazing conversation I had with a fourth grade student today. As you know, I don't usually go to school on Wednesdays, but do you remember the fourth grade girl who brought me a big poster/card signed by all her classmates because they missed me so much? These were kids I'd known last year when they were in third grade, but I'd not seen them this year because of my schedule. I'd promised T. that I would come to school on the second Wednesday after the holidays. Wednesday is her class's art day. Well, according to the art teacher Susan, T. had not forgotten my promise and had been asking her non-stop since getting back from vacation if Ms. Patricia was really going to come to school today.
Well, thank goodness I didn't let the snow deter me. T. was in great need of companionship. Her grandmother had died on Friday and she was feeling very blue. So our time making art next to each other was filled with tenderness and an exchange of loving energy. But it wasn't T. with whom I had the amazing conversation I want to tell you about; it was with M.
M. is a fourth grade boy who is originally from Somalia. We'd never met before, but while I worked on my fifth grade memory drawing, he proceeded to tell me about his life. He introduced it by saying, "My eyes opened one day when I was seven." He went on to describe what he meant by his eyes opening. It was when he all of a sudden "understood." He saw everything around him as if he'd awakened from a deep sleep. "Before that I saw nothing; but afterwards I saw everything." Then he told me about the illnesses in his country. "Do you know HIV?", he asked. By the way, this nine year-old speaks four languages: Somalian, Arabic, English and Ethiopian. A world soul. And he wasn't the only citizen of the world sitting at that art table today. There was also a boy from Venezuela, a girl from Mexico, and a girl from Lebanon.
Do you see why I LOVE going to school?
THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2004
Ed has been pouting of late because, except for last weekend, I've had so few pictures posted on my journal. So, even though yesterday's storm made scooting an impossible dream today, I took some pictures from inside the house.
First I wanted to show you how nicely my sweet Eddie had shoveled my ramp. Next I went into the vestibule and took a picture of our snowy front yard. And then I scooted into the dining area and took this picture looking back into the living room. Those pictures were taken this morning. Late in the afternoon, I saw the sun had lit up the trees outside my upstairs back bedroom window. By the way, this is what I see when I sit at the desk in my bedroom. And here are two more pictures of the same view taken at progressively more zoom (photos #1 & #2).
Well, I may have been housebound today, but it sure didn't feel that way. I managed to visit friends in Lebanon, San Francisco and Detroit by phone, and British Columbia by email.
My first call was to my dear brother, Rabih Haddad. We laughed a lot and shared some stories. When I asked him to tell me one story from his past, he replied, "I'll tell you if you promise not to put it in your journal!" He's getting to know me too well! Actually, he surprised me by knowing about the recent adventures I've had with snow. I said, "Have you been reading my journals?" He said, "Sure." Isn't this internet amazing? His news was good. His consulting business is up and running. Sulaima is feeling all right after minor surgery on Tuesday. The kids are doing well. They got their first report cards and Sana, the eldest, was third in her class! I can't imagine how she did that after attending English-speaking schools most of her life, and now being in one where the primary language is Arabic. Rabih said they had very cold weather in Beirut last week. But when I asked him, "How cold?", he laughed and said, "Well, to you it isn't going to sound very cold." It was +7 Celsius. But up in the mountains outside of Beirut, they got a foot of snow. Good skiing weather. We talked about my visit with Mazen on Sunday, and then about his talent as a singer. Mazen had given me his CD--Rabih has a copy too--and I was most impressed with the quality of his voice and the feeling with which he sings. I would love to see him share his talent with a wider audience.
My next phone call was to my San Francisco friend, Luis. He is getting excellent response to his memoir, "A Child of No Importance." Soon after reading it, I had posted the following review on Amazon.com:
Luis C. Miranda's well-written memoir will speak to anyone who has experienced moments, or maybe years, when life did not seem to go as they wished. His ability to recall the details and feelings of his youth and adolescence is extraordinary. Everything he writes rings true. At the same time, he does not wallow in the pain that he encountered, but keeps moving forward in a way that not only holds the reader's interest and makes her or him care deeply about the boy Luisito and the young man Luis. Yes, there is pain here, but the wonder is how this man transformed his personal pain into a glowing account of the birth of compassion.
"A Child of No Importance" is a book that can change lives. I recommend it highly.
I then returned a call
from Aly, a friend from the local peace group that still meets
to discuss peace issues every Sunday night. He said he'd been
missing me and just wanted to see how I was doing. I've missed
the Sunday night gatherings because it's been too cold to scoot
down to Starbucks, and I've also missed the most recent Monday
night Peace Talks because that is my swimming night. Anyway, Aly
is going to come over for a cup of tea tomorrow afternoon after
Friday prayers at his mosque. He and I share many of the same
post-September 11th concerns, especially about the loss of civil
liberties and our government's imperialistic ambitions, so I anticipate
a spirited exchange of ideas.
My final visit today was by email with Genevieve, my dear friend in BC. We had some important things to work out between us, and we managed it with love and respect. Even virtual friendships need redefining as they develop.
And, of course, there was the precious time spent with Ed throughout the day. We visited briefly before he went off on foot to his office this morning. Then he returned home mid-afternoon to get his car, and we had another chance to talk. And finally, there was dinner together, and then one last visit here in my computer room about a half hour ago. We laughed LOTS today!
So I go to bed smiling after a good day spent with friends and family.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 16, 2004
I had such an interesting visit with Aly this afternoon. He and I first met last summer at the weekly peace vigil here in my community. By the way, our peace group still meets every Sunday night, just not on the street corner anymore. During the cold weather months they meet at Starbucks for an informal discussion of national news and local peace events. They also organize monthly Peace Talks with local speakers; last Monday, Detroit's fearless Rep. John Conyers, Jr. spoke on "Iraq, Where Do We Go From Here?" The talk was held at Aly's mosque, and he said about 150 people showed up!
Well, today Aly and I sat at my kitchen table, drank hot tea, nibbled on Pat's banana bread and Aly's gift baklava, and discussed world and national events. As a Muslim, Aly has deep concerns about the post-September 11th targeting of Muslims of Arab heritage in this country. He came to the US from Egypt 34 years ago because, unlike his home country, this was a country where one was free to speak publicly and to voice dissent without fear. As he said today, "That is no longer true. The US has become like a third-world country. We live in fear."
Aly is a gentle-spirited, generous person. We hit it off the first time we met and have always felt we could speak honestly with one another. Today he brought me a gift. As he handed it to me, he said, "This is a thank you for all you've done for Rabih Haddad and his family." He had asked his niece in Egypt to buy me a scarf and to mail it to him. He said he'd wanted to give it to me for Christmas, but it had arrived too late. Here is the Jerusalem scarf draped on our couch, and here is a detail of it. By the way, this is just one side of the design--it's reversable. Isn't it lovely?
Later in the afternoon, Pat came to visit. She brought with her a wonderful zucchini/cheese/sweet potato casserole for dinner, but first we both took naps. Then Eddie came home and played a little piano while Pat put on some soup, I helped by stirring it, and she heated the casserole. After a delicious dinner, we watched the video, "The Goodbye Girl" while Eddie went for his nightly walk. It's been years since I've seen that movie. It is an utter delight! I highly recommend it.
And now it is close to midnight and I'm feeling ready for bed. What a perfect day.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 17, 2004
I've received favorable responses from a number of readers (and friends) about my wanting to write a book called Scooting Toward Justice: "Journals of a Disabled Peace Activist", but I wonder if they realized that meant my journal entries were going to be pretty boring the days that I worked on the book. Today was a good example. I completed the rough drafts of two chapters, so now have the Introduction and three chapters...at least in rough form. But that doesn't give me a lot of time to do anything else. I did manage to spend some time reading my women's book group selection, Hope's Edge: "The Next Diet For a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe. And then tonight Ed and I watched a fascinating Spanish film on video called "Talk To Her."
That's it, my friends. While it snowed outside, I was happy inside, readin', writin' and watchin'.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2004
Tomorrow Detroit will hold its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr birthday celebration; last Friday would have been his 75th birthday. Somehow I find it surprising that he would have been so young had he lived--just one year older than my dear husband Ed.
What would our country be like today had Dr. King been able to live the long life he deserved? What would he be saying about the current US president's choices for preemptive wars, civil rights-defeating bills like the US Patriot Act, over-bloated defense budgets and underfunded social and education programs? How would he see a federal deficit amounting to trillions, a deficit that will be left as a monstrous legacy to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren?
Would all this be happening if we had a national leader of the stature of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? I wonder.
So tomorrow at noon, Detroiters and suburbanites of all ages, races, religions, economic and educational backgrounds, countries of origin and political beliefs will meet at Central Methodist Church--the "peace church"--and at 1 PM, those of us who are able, will walk, scoot, wheel down Washington Blvd., circle around the US Federal Building on Michigan Avenue, and head back toward the church for an indoor--bless them!--rally to be held from 2-4 PM.
The organizers say we will honor "the peace and social justice legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...The rally will feature local speakers, music and a public demonstration calling for an end to the occupation and to bring the troops home now!"
The Raging Grannies Without Borders have been invited to sing two
songs at the rally. The first will be Rochester, NY Granny Vicki
Ryder Lewin's "Follow the Money" (a song that tells
in no uncertain terms who profits from the war on Iraq), and our
second song will be one I recently adapted from a William Wolff
song that one of our Grannies found in an old Unitarian-Universalist
songbook. It goes like this:
WE SING OUT FOR FREEDOM
(tune: We Gather Together)
We Grannies here gather to sing out for freedom,
To join with all people and make justice known.
No dark inquisition will sway our disposition,
In freedom's name we sing for the planet, our home.
So people of conscience, refuse to stay silent,
And dare to reclaim all the rights that are ours.
We make no concession to tyranny's oppression,
Our faith is in the people and their sov'reign pow'rs.
This day as we gather to sing out for freedom
Our voices join others who circle the earth
Together our efforts are tearing down the barriers
So freedom, peace and justice can now come to birth
MONDAY, JANUARY 19, 2004
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR'S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATED
"The hope of a
secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists
who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."
- Martin Luther King Jr., "Strength to Love", 1963
I consider myself one of the most fortunate persons on earth to be part of such an authentic community of disciplined nonconformists who spend their lives working for peace, equality, freedom and civil rights for all. When Detroiters come together as we did on this cold January day to march, chant, sing and speak our commonly held beliefs, then I know peace is possible. We truly are one family united in the struggle for justice. We are working to bring our troops home, to see that our children and elderly have water and heat in their homes, to support our women who are trying--often by themselves--to raise their children, to combat police brutality on our streets and in cities like Miami where the FTAA protesters were beaten, abused and fired upon, to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers both here and on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, to establish a US Cabinet-level Department of Peace, to confront our president's lies with Truth...and not to remain silent, no matter what the consequences.
Thanks to Pat Kolon, I have many more photos. I'll put them up tomorrow. Until then I leave you with one more quotation by the man who would now have been 75 years old had he lived:
"Even if I knew
that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant
my apple tree."
- Martin Luther King Jr., quoting Martin Luther
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2004
Yesterday I again had trouble with La Lucha my scooter. About 12:30 PM, Pat Kolon and I arrived at Central United Methodist Church on Grand Circus Park in Detroit for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom March and Rally. Because I was disabled, the parking attendant at the church let me park right beside the door, even though the lot was completely full. Pat got La Lucha out of my trunk and assembled her with no problem. She must have done this 100 times. But when she tried to position the scooter so it would be easier for me to get into, it wouldn't move. Not an inch. Not only that but the light on the control panel was blinking. It should have stayed steady. After checking the battery connections, we gave up and Pat put La Lucha back in my trunk. She then got my wheelchair out of the back seat. Thank goddess I had it with me.
So all day I had to be pushed instead of being independent. Not my favorite way to travel, even though Pat, Ron Dale and Granny Kathy Russell were wonderful "pushers." When I got home late yesterday afternoon, I called Randy, my Amigo scooter repairperson. In addition to asking him to take La Lucha up to Dave, the Amigo Service Guru up at the Amigo factory in Bridgeport, I asked if I could possibly have a loaner for the duration.
Today Randy brought me a brand new Pride GoGo scooter, which I guess is the latest kid on the block in terms of portable/take apart scooters. He said for me to try it out at no charge. Of course, his buddy who sells them, hopes I'll want to buy it. And I just may. It's cute as a bug, smaller and lighter than my Amigo RT and RT Express, and the right color (red). But it's most appealing feature--so far anyway--is how easy it is to assemble and disassemble. Not only that, its inner parts are better protected than my Amigo's, meaning wires can't inadvertantly be pulled or yanked by unsuspecting helpers. The negatives are a smaller place for my feet and legs--don't know how taller folks could be comfortable for extended periods of time--no bumper in the front with which to open doors, an accelerator lever that is a bit of a stretch for my gimpy thumb, and a 10 mile range per charge instead of the 18 (which I never actually got) on my Amigos. But I've still to see how she rides outdoors. And we're going to have to get a bit of thaw before that will happen.
Except for riding around the house in the GoGo scooter, I worked at the computer to create a journal/photo page for yesterday's Martin Luther King, Jr. March/Rally 2004. You can check it out by clicking on this link.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2004
I know I must sound like a broken record when I say every month how much I love our women's book group, but I can't help it. They really are great. Funny, intelligent, questioning, opinionated, informed, skeptical, hopeful, loud, involved, committed, silly, serious, inventive, resourceful. I can't think of enough adjectives that adequately describe these women. Tonight Peg and Jeanne--two of the O Beautiful Gaia women with whom I'd gone to the Georgetown, Ontario CD Launch two weeks ago--joined us for the first time. That made nine in all: Joan, Pat N., Sooz, Judy, Alicia, Clare and me. Lenore was visiting her sister in New Mexico, Penny was at a drumming class, and Lisa rarely makes it because she lives over 50 miles away.
Tonight we discussed the first seven chapters of Hope's Edge: "A New Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappe and her daughter, Anna Lappe. It triggered lively discussions about grassroots movements across the globe, their significance, their growing numbers, their being our hope for the planet. We talked about Monsanto, genetically modified seeds, corporate domination crossing national borders, and the rise of fascism. We discussed "learned helplessness" among peoples the world over, including the citizens in our own countries (Canada and the US). We asked ourselves why people don't question what they read or hear on the news, especially in light of the lies propounded by government leaders like George W. Bush. Our Canadian sisters talked about their suspicions that their new Prime Minister, Paul Martin, is going to be a pushover for Bush. We talked about the rise of Hitler in Germany, what led to the people giving him the power they did, how easy it is for power-hungry leaders to use fear and scarcity to increase their popular support, and how important it is for each of us to work against these trends today. We celebrated the courage and creativity of the women whom the authors had met in California, Bangladesh, India and Kenya. We saw their willingness to share power communally as a key element in the grassroots movements that are going head-to-head with corporate giants like Monsanto. We highlighted places where the indigenous traditions of farming and food choices are being reclaimed by the people, how even one person can start a movement by planting a tree or lending small amounts of money to persons in their town. We talked about how we stay awake and aware to what's going on in the world, yet don't fall into the traps of despair and depression. And we laughed. We ALWAYS laugh. And next month we're going to eat. We always have dessert and tea, but in February we're planning a potluck dinner to try out many of the recipes from around the world that are included in Hope's Edge. I can't wait!
THURSDAY, JANUARY 22, 2004
What a fun school day! I finished my fifth grade "favorite family memory" project--the colored pencil drawing of my older sister Carolyn and me examining horseshoe crabs on the beach of a Chesapeake Bay inlet while my little sister Miss Em was waving to us from the water and my parents were relaxing on our sailboat "Harem." I also worked on my kindergarten project based on the book, "Mouse Paint." Susan Briggs, the art teacher, came up with this project and I think it's inspired.
Two weeks ago I read "Mouse Paint" to the kindergarten class. It is a book that uses images of mice playing in different cans of paint to teach about color mixing. The children then went to their seats where Susan had waiting for each a big sheet of white paper with three blobs of tempera paint--red, blue and yellow--covered by saran wrap. The children were to "paint" with their fingers and mix the primary colors to make green, purple and brown. The fact that the paint was covered by saran wrap meant very little mess. She then had each child bring their painting over to the trash can and she helped them lift the saran wrap and throw it away. The paintings were then put in the drying rack.
Last Thursday--which I missed because I came to school on Wednesday instead--Susan showed them how to turn their painting--which looked like a colorful blob--into a mouse. She gave them scraps of colored paper to cut into eyes, tails, paws, whiskers, noses and ears. Then the youngsters glued these mouse features onto their painting...and viola, A MOUSE (sort of)! This week they added grass, flowers, little mice, hunks of cheese or whatever they wanted to add to their paintings. It was the first time the kindergarteners had cut and pasted, so it was a great learning exercise. Besides, they'd never worked on the same project for three weeks in a row.
All in all, it was a tremendous success for kindergarteners of all ages ;-)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, 2004
After a week like this, how could I ever regret staying here in Michigan for the winter? Even though it has been a VERY snowy January--it's snowing outside as I write--the weather has not hampered my experiencing the abundant diversity of life. Here's a brief run-down of this week's activities thus far:
Monday: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom March and Rally 2004 in downtown Detroit, at which the Raging Grannies marched and sang.
Wednesday: My women's book group met here to discuss Hope's Edge and every aspect of current events that came into our lively minds.
Thursday: I made art with children at a K-5 school that defines the word "global."
Friday: Two friends and I got together for a mid-winter Art Day to decorate BRAS!
Yes, today was Art Bra Day, thanks to Penny. She'd seen a magazine article about turning bras into art objects, political statements and/or whimsical confections, and invited Sooz and me--Pat N. couldn't make it--to let bras take us to new creative heights. Luckily Penny brought some extras because I haven't owned a bra in years. She also brought her latest art journal for show-and-tell. Penny's journals are amazing!
By 11 AM we three were seated at my dining room table, surrounded by sequins, fabrics, needles and thread, various kinds of glue, scissors, glitter paints, sparkly stars, magic markers, felts, ribbons, old jewelry, and much, much more. As we "worked", we talked about everything from our Gaia group to globalization. Penny surprised us by how quickly she had her first art object completed (photo #1 & #2). She had written the following poem that she cut out and pasted on a plastic breast-like form that had come with her swim suit.:
My bra lifts and separates
Crosses my heart
And locks up my breasts.
Each breast in solitary
Guarded by underwires
Sized by unmentionable letters.
Bound into acceptable
Prevented from moving
Details carefully hidden.
What was their crime?
Being too loose?
I refuse to have my
Serve any more time
For crimes they did not commit!
January 15, 2004
What a powerful beginning!
Sooz brought her own sheer black underwire bra, and spent patient hours gluing sequins in spiral patterns. She was elated when she found two pearls in Penny's jewerly box to paste at the center of her spirals. I used a soft white cotton bra as my palette and colored ink pens as my drawing tools. I just let the spirit of design and fun carry me where it wanted, with no preconceived ideas to get in the way. One of our topics of conversation was our first bra. Do you remember yours? (OK, Ed, I know, I know! You never wore one.)
We had an unexpected visitor show up in the middle of the day: it was Randy, my Amigo repairperson, who brought La Lucha my scooter back home all fixed and ready to roll. I asked him to take a picture of the three of us, and he laughed and said, "I'm not even going to ask what you're doing!" I'd guess he had some tales to tell when he got home tonight!
After a couple of hours we took a lunch break. But before we did, we took photos of our works-in-process (photo #1, #2, #3). And then it was time to let ourselves delight in senses besides sight, touch and hearing. Sooz's homemade caulifower, carrot and cheese soup, her cabbage/peanut salad and Penny's loaf of cheesy french bread awakened our taste and smell in delectable ways. Food is an art form too.
Soon we were back at the table, completing our maestrapieces. Here are the finished products, as modelled by the artists: 1) Sooz (photo #1 & #2); 2) Penny (photo #1 ); and 3) Patricia (photo #1 & #2). And here is a portrait of our Art Bra Exhibit 2004.
Bras have a lot to say if we stop to listen.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 24, 2004
My active week continues...
This morning my friend Pat Kolon called. She wondered if I'd be interested in going up to Lansing with her today to hear Rachel Corrie's parents speak at MSU (Michigan State University). How could I say no? Yesterday's snowstorm had made us cancel our plans to go hear them speak in Dearborn. But even though Lansing is farther away--an hour and a half as opposed to 35 minutes to Dearborn--today is a bright, blue-skied day and perfect for a drive. Cold, yes. VERY cold. But that shouldn't be a problem in the car. So I'm writing my journal entry early because Pat is picking me up at 3 PM, and I'd guess we won't be home until after 11 PM.
To give you some background on the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) and Rachel Corrie, I'm going to quote from my blog entry for Thursday, January 22:
Rachel Corrie was the young International Solidarity Movement member who was bulldozed to death on the Gaza Strip by an IDF (Israeli) soldier in 2003. Brian Avery [who is also on the program] was shot in the face by an IDF soldier and is still undergoing reconstructive surgery. All funds collected at this event will go to the International Solidarity Movement.
The ISM is "a Palestinian-led non-violent movement of Palestinian and International activists working to raise awareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to the Israeli occupation."
I know a 76 year-old Raging Granny, Jean McLaren, from Gabriola Island, BC who has joined the ISM in Israel and Palestine twice in the past year and a half. In addition to giving non-violent training sessions to ISM activists, Jean served as a companion to Palestinian women, men and children under threat of injury or death, the bulldozing of their homes and the destruction of their olive groves. Starhawk was also with the ISM in Israel and on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 2003.
The important thing to remember is that the ISM is totally non-violent in their attitudes and actions. They also do what they can to educate and promote understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. Often they work together.
In my blog I discussed how this issue--the Israeli/Paelstinian conflict--is extremely contentious between persons who share progressive beliefs. Progressives of Jewish heritage often (not always) take exception to their sisters and brothers in the movement criticizing Sharon and what we see as his militaristic oppression of Palestinians, the increasing numbers of Jewish settlements that encroach on Palestinian land, the Wall that Sharon says is being built to protect these Jewish settlements in particular and the Israeli people in general, and the $15 million PER DAY that the United States gives Sharon and his military to continue doing what they are doing. The fact that many Progressives speak and act in solidarity with the Palestinian people drives an ever-larger wedge between the two "sides." For many of my Jewish friends, such criticisms and expressions of solidarity smack of anti-semitism. To their way of thinking, when progressives support Palestine they are supporting suicide bombers. It is hard to bridge the gap.
But I believe people like Rachel Corrie, Brian Avery, Jean McLaren and Starhawk (who is of Jewish heritage) are doing their best to bring people together, not drive them further apart. Most of the activities engaged in by the ISM involve people of all backgrounds: Palestinian and Israeli; Moslem, Christian, Jew, Pagan and those of no religion; Middle Easterners, Europeans, Africans, Latin Americans, North Americans, South and Central Asians; young, middle-aged, elderly; women and men; employed, unemployed, student, retired; political and non-political; left-wing and middle-of-the-road. As I see it, the International Solidarity Movement attracts persons of commitment, courage and compassion, persons who cannot stand by and watch their sisters and brothers suffer and die needlessly, be forcibly separated from their means of making a livelihood, have their homes destroyed, their children put at risk, and their sense of personal dignity subject to daily humiliations.
I know the people of Israel also live in a constant state of fear. And, as we all know, fear can lead even good-hearted persons to embrace violent attitudes and actions. We Americans don't have to look to Israel to see that; all we have to do is examine how our own country has acted since the day we experienced the fear of being under attack. But there is a BIG difference between acts of terrorism and acts of war. The former are born in powerlessness and desperation, while the latter can only emerge from a position of power and a desire to dominate.
I know that whatever I say can only begin to address this terribly complex subject. I trust that tonight's presentation will add to my understanding.
© 2003-2004 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.