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6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7
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13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal
14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal
15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal
16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal
17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal
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19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal
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21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal
22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal
23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal
25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal
26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal
27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal
28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal
29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal
30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal
31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal
32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal
33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal
34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal
35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal
37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal
38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal
39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal
40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal
42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal
43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal
45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal
46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal
47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal
48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal
49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal
50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal
51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal
52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal
53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal
54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal
55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal
56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal
57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal
58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal
59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal
60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06, Journal 73 archive 2/25-3/24/06, Journal 74 archive 3/25-4/24/06, Journal 75 archive 4/25-5/24/06
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THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 2004
I am one tired puppy tonight. Believe me, these past three weeks at school have given me an even more intimate view into what it's like to be a teacher. Susan has let me teach shading with a pencil to the fifth graders as they draw their self portraits. I've rarely seen them so engrossed in a project, which for a teacher is both gratifying and exhausting. There were four fifth grade classes today and for the entire 45 minutes, there was a line of students waiting for help from both Susan and me. By the fourth class my patience was wearing thin, but I doubt the kids noticed. They were so into it that their attention (for the most part) never wavered. And they're doing good work. As I say, it was gratifying and exhausting.
Taking on a more active role helps me see how easy I've had it for the past three years. During that time I've simply sat beside the kids at the art tables and worked on the same projects as they. But I had an opportunity to do that in three classes of young students today. I especially loved painting spring in watercolor with the kindergarteners. It was also fun to color my own self portrait (on scooter) with crayons in the second grade class.
I am SO FORTUNATE to be able to be with children in this uniquely wonderful way. And I have Susan to thank for inviting and making me feel so welcome in her classes. She is a terrific teacher, as well as being a dear friend.
FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2004
At the gym today I tripled the number of times I could do each exercise, while adding two weights to the cable for the roll downs and pull ups! Matt (my personal trainer) was amazed, but I wasn't. I know myself and he doesn't...not yet anyway. I am determined to regain as much strength as I possibly can, so I'll be bringing all my powers of will and discipline to the task. Besides, it feels SO good to use my body in this way.
And it wasn't just the exercise that felt good today, it was the gentle spring rain that accompanied me on my scoot to and from the gym. The feel of it, the smell of it, and the results of it as seen in grass turning green before my eyes. Other people were complaining about the rain while I was singing its praises. And it was warm.
How I am loving spring this year.
The smell of rain
The greening grass
with worms held fast
Winter's tight hold
loosened at last
Spring magic unfolds
Her circle is cast
SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 2004
How do you handle praise? I'm not entirely comfortable with it myself. When someone praises me, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. In other words, praise doesn't feel altogether safe. Seems to me when I was praised as a child, the next words often brought me down to size. Mom was worried I'd get a "swelled head."
So when I started reading my friend Dorothy's blog entry for today, and saw the title --"Who is Patricia?"--my stomach sank at the same time that a smile crossed my face. As I read her glowing account of her friend Patricia, my head bowed and I had to stop. At least until I could catch my breath. Now, I know that Dorothy is safe, that she won't say anything to "cut me down to size" after she's praised me, but old habits die hard.
After I'd made my way through the entire entry--with several breaks--I felt seen, heard and valued in a deep and profound way. It was like hearing the eulogy at my funeral. But my physical response was mixed: a blush on my face and tears in my eyes.
Dorothy certainly is a dear friend, and if I were ever to try to write about her, it would be hard to find the words. To my mind, having Dorothy Walters on earth during these turbulent times is a sign that the Divine exists and gives us all that we need. For without Dorothy and her transcendent spirit, I don't know where we would be.
SUNDAY, MARCH 28, 2004
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was so warm Ed wore his new Hawaiian shirt that he bought at the Cancer resale shop. The crocii were in full bloom, and I had on a spring jacket. Today Ed wore a sweater under his spring jacket, the crocii had closed up, and I was comfortable scooting in my usual winter garb. But one thing didn't change: I worked out at the gym both days.
I am really appreciating this opportunity to get exercise whenever I want. Until last week I had felt constrained by the swimming schedule--only Monday and Wednesday nights at the middle school pool. But now I can stop in at the gym and work out whenever I want. Pretty cool.
I wonder if other disabled folks have gone this route? I know a lot of them swim, go to physical therapy, and maybe even have exercise devices of one kind or another at their homes. But it seems to me that a gym is very do-able for differently-abled individuals. Even wheelchair users could use many of the upper-body machines at a gym. And I don't know about you, but I find I stick with it and push myself a bit harder at a gym than I do when I exercise at home by myself. However, if you're disabled, I certainly would recommend that you have a personal trainer supervise your program. Now, maybe I'm just lucky there. Maybe Matt's willingness to work with a person with special needs isn't the norm. Maybe I AM just lucky...
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2004
Since putting up my blog in late December, I've found myself using it more as a political forum than a daily journal. Occasionally I put up identical entries on my journal and my blog, but not often. I've also been more laid back about how frequently I post on my blog, whereas I'm pretty obsessive about posting here every day. Just a different means of communicating.
Now, one great difference between my journal and my blog is that I pay for the former and the latter is free. Of course, on the internet, "free" means you have to put up with advertisements. On Blogspot--the hosting company I use--that means two Google ads at the top of your page. These ads are determined by keywords Google finds in your blog titles (you have the option of titling each entry) and your text. Generally speaking, the ads change according to the topics you write about, so the ads are intended to remain relevant.
At least that's the way it's supposed to work.
But the same 5-6 ads have appeared on my blog for at least a week. I could have tolerated it if the ads were not for: 1) The RNC (Republican National Committee) and George W. Bush, "compassionate conservative;" 2) George W. Bush action toys, shirts and hats; 3) The "straight truth" for homosexuals; 4) A Christian site that wants to help homosexuals. "Help" in that case certainly means helping them become straight, or at least live a celibate life.
If you're a regular reader, you'll have some idea of how outraged these ads have made me. I mean, here I am writing about the abuses this man George W. Bush has perpetrated during his three and a half years in office and at the top of my blog are ads campaigning for him! Or I post an article decrying how Bush has made it legal for federal employees to be fired simply for being gay, and my blog is advertising a place for my gay friends to get the STRAIGHT (heterosexual) truth and to get religious help so they can change their sexual orientation. Gawd!!!
A few days ago, I posted a disclaimer at the top of my blog that said, "The ads at the top of this blog do not reflect my views, specifically I do NOT support the RNC or George W. Bush nor do I think my gay friends need the 'straight truth' or religious help." But even with the disclaimer, it was getting so I couldn't stomach going to my own blog. Every time I'd see those ads I'd want to scream or throw something at the screen. I was very close to deleting my blog altogether.
But this morning I thought I'd try one more thing: Blogspot support. They have a comments/problems page where you can ask a question or describe your problem. My subject was "inappropriate ads" and I did my best to describe the situation clearly but with a sense of the outrage I felt. I asked for suggestions on how to get those offensive ads off my blog, short of my never again using the word "Bush" or "gay" in my entries. I said that would not be an option. To be honest, I didn't have a lot of hope for a speedy or helpful response.
I then got off the computer and scooted on this cool, gray, overcast day down to have lunch with Ed, and then into town to mail a package to Rabih and Sulaima in Lebanon and to return some shoes I'd ordered online. When I came out of the grocery store, it was drizzling but not enough for me to bother putting on my rain poncho. At least that's what I thought. By the time I stopped at Ed's office on my way home, I was pretty damp. Sweet guy that he is, he offered to put my scooter in his car and give me a ride the rest of the way. I gratefully accepted.
After drying off and changing my wet shoes for dry ones, I sat down at the computer. For some reason, the first place I went after going online was to my blog. And there I saw a miraculously ad-free page! I then went to check my emails and found the following message from Blogspot support:
From: Blogger Support
Sent: Mar 29, 2004 3:40 PM
To: "Patricia Lay-Dorsey
Subject: Re: inappropriate ads
Since our online ordering system is not available right now, I went ahead and gave you a complimentary upgrade to Ad-Free.
Who do you think is at the top of my list of wonderful people today? You guessed it--the one and only Kimmy! Let's hear it for Blogspot Support!
In reflecting on the intensity of my reaction to Google using my blog to campaign for GWB and to post what I saw as homophobic ads, I now see the core violation I felt: to my sense of integrity. If I were to name the single most essential aspect of my personhood, it would be my integrity. Kindness, compassion, service, honesty, loyalty are all important, but, for me, integrity is the glue that holds everything else together. So, for my blog to send such mixed messages with my entries saying one thing and the ads saying the exact opposite, literally tore me apart. That may sound overly dramatic, but it's true. When communicating is your special place in the scheme of things, anything that damages your credibility--to yourself or to others--is a serious matter. When Kimmy took away those offensive ads, I could breathe again. Thank you, dear Kimmy.
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2004
My body tired from exercise
I sit in the soft glow of health
Grateful for muscles that work
Abs, gluts and delts that strain
I sit in the soft glow
Recalling marathons run and century rides biked
Abs, gluts and delts that strain
Whether able-bodied or other-abled
Recalling marathons run
and century rides biked
I know today's workout is as good as any
Whether able-bodied or other-abled
I give it my all
I know today's workout
is as good as any
Grateful for muscles that work
I give it my all
My body tired from exercise
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2004
Is anyone else feeling more than a little pleased to see March end? What a long cold winter! And I'm not just talking about the weather. Somehow the approach of April with its promise of green grass, leafy trees, blooming flowers and shirtsleeve temperatures might, just might, bring a smile to people's faces.
Have you noticed that people don't smile much anymore? Look at their faces as they drive down the street in their SUVs, minivans, trucks and the occasional passenger car, cell phones pressed to their ears. Not a smile to be seen. I don't know if this is true in other countries, but it's certainly true in the U.S. Makes sense, if you think about it. What do they have to smile about?
Their country is in the process of utterly destroying an ancient civilization, and taking with it the lives of tens of thousands of human beings--Iraqi, American, British, Spanish, Australian and others. And for what? Well, the reason changes day by day, depending on what part of Bush & Co.'s foreign policy has taken the latest hit by former insiders. And here at home? Job losses at an all-time high, although you'd never know it if you believe the doctored-up stats put forth by Karl Rove & Friends. Of course, any policy-maker who says fast-food jobs fall under the category of "manufacturing jobs" has a lot to answer for. And what about the federal deficit? More zeros there than I can count. Who will end up paying for this mess? Our children, our children's children, our children's children's children, and the seven generations beyond.
By the way, how did he DO it? How did Bush go from a surplus to the largest deficit in the history of our country, and all in a mere three and not-quite-a-half years? Amazing. Then there's our health care, or lack thereof. Schools with pink slips flying like confetti and programs being slashed like we were entering the Dark Ages. And I haven't even mentioned the environment. This planet we call home that has been sold to the highest campaign donor with its oil rigs, mining shafts, industrial pollution, clear-cut logging. You name it.
It's hard to stay upbeat with all this going on. Even though it looks like their house of cards is finally beginning to fall around their power-crazed ears, it's still hard to look ahead without shuddering.
Fresh, new, always unexpected, green shoots pushing out of dead-looking ground, then the wonder of flowers in bloom, birdsong at dawn, squirrels scooting here and there, bare trees with fuzzy branches, longer days, sun that warms, robins dangling worms from their beaks, honks of geese flying north like arrows in the sky, grass greening before your eyes, gentle rain that raises musky scents from the earth, smiles on people's faces.
Well, there was certainly a smile on my face tonight as I swam my laps. After five sessons of exercising at the gym, I noticed significantly more strength in my arms and flexibility in my legs. Those leg swings are definitely helping me extend my legs in more of a flutter kick. And that work with weights is already giving my shoulders more strength and power. I could rotate them faster and with greater ease than ever. Sure do LOVE seeing gains instead of the losses that living with MS can bring your way. My own personal spring (rebirth) here.
THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2004
Relationships. Great when going well, miserable when not. Right now the latter describes my feelings about the subject.
So you go along like two ducks on a glassy lake, swimming together or apart, totally content. Suddenly, the winds kick up, waves rock your composure and you're drenched in cold, hard rain. You look around and ask yourself, "Now where did THAT come from?" It wouldn't have been so bad if you'd had some warning. Then you could have tucked yourself in among the tall grasses at the lake's edge to wait it out. But, no, this storm came like a bolt out of the blue.
So it was for Ed and me last night. Today things aren't much better.
The good thing about long-term relationships--we've been married over 37 years--is you know the storm will pass if you can just keep your head down and sit it out. Sometimes it helps to talk things through, and sometimes not. I sense this is a "not" situation.
It is simply one more example of the fact that we are two very different persons. We see things differently and we express them differently. Where I get caught is that when the lake is glassy, I forget that fact. I imagine we're practically twins; what I feel he feels, what I think, he thinks. Of course, I know otherwise in my head, but we're not talking about my head here. It's my heart that is the myth-maker.
But with each disillusionment, our bonds grow stronger. For that's what a long-term relationship requires: strong bonds and few illusions.
But,dammit, it ain't always fun.
FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 2004
It was the children who helped me today, way more than I helped them. And they didn't even know it. Just by being their lively, interested, loving, enthusiastic, energetic selves, these students of art (the Art of Forgiveness?) broke through the wall of resentment that had kept me captive since Wednesday night. So I came home ready to apologize for my part in the mess with Ed and move on. What a relief! I can't tell you how bad I felt without my best friend (Ed) to talk to. Desolate is not too strong a word.
But no more. And symbolically, after overcast skies all day, the sun came out soon after Ed and I talked. All seemed right with the world. About 6:30 PM I got on Ona my scooter and headed down to pick Ed up at his office so we could walk/scoot to dinner at a local restaurant. On the way I took this picture of the almost-full moon and another of the sunset.
I must say I am particularly fond of the moon picture. Even at full-power (6x) zoom, you never know what's going to come through when photographing something as far away as the moon. But this time it really worked. And I have my Fujifilm FinePix 2800 Zoom digital camera to thank. Except for a poor viewfinder in lowlight conditions, I have no complaints with this camera. The photos come through with high resolution even though it's only 2 Megapixels, and the zoom and macro lens are exceptionally fine. But enough advertisements!
Tomorrow I'll be with the wonderful women of the Great Lakes Basin from 2-9 PM. We're gathering in the afternoon to sing and practice for a presentation that we'll be giving at a suburban Detroit church tomorrow night. It'll be good to sing the "O Beautiful Gaia" songs with them again. I often sing them on my scoots, but that's not the same. If you've heard our CD, you know it takes a community...
SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2004
I am SO TIRED! It's now 11:30 PM. I just got home a half hour ago after having left the house at 1 PM. Bless my friend Judy Drylie for driving.
We Great Lakes Basin women started the day at 2 PM with an opening ritual (photos #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6) outside the suburban Detroit church where we'd been invited to perform our O Beautiful Gaia CD songs and program, then rehearsed (photos #1, #2, #3) from 2:30-6:15 PM, had a quick supper in the church meeting room, returned to the church sanctuary at 7 PM for a drum jam led by Lori Fithian and Jean, performed at 7:30 PM, finished with another drum jam, and stayed afterwards for a reception in the meeting room. Since we had a new accompanist (Karen) and hadn't sung our songs from the CD in months, we had to go through every one of them in rehearsal. I found it somewhat tedious, but the women I sat with at dinner, didn't. They said it felt great to be singing again. Probably because I sing these songs regularly while scooting down what I call the "singing street," I'd already overworked them in my mind.
After so many hours of singing full-out, by the end of the evening a good number of women were saying their voices were shot. Not surprising! Maybe we'll rethink the wisdom of rehearsing in full voice on the day of a performance.
Anyway, it was great to be with my wonderful Gaia sisters again. Not only that, the performance itself was an utter delight. Lori and Jean got everyone rocking with a drum/pail/bell/rattle/tambourine jam, so the audience was warmed up and responsive by the time we began our program. I began to see how it must be for professional musicians who have to perform the same songs over and over. Any tedium you felt in rehearsal is forgotten when you experience the heartfelt attention of an audience that is with you all the way. It's as if you're singing the songs for the first time.
But now I am too tired to write another word. Goodnight until tomorrow. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead...spring forward; fall back.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2004
Reflections on Daylight Savings Time
OK, I'll say it right out. I like daylight. Especially when it's sunny. But night is nice too. Full moon nights like tonight especially. So why do we have to screw around with Mother Nature and say she needs to give us one more hour of daylight before the sun goes down?
Maybe in the olden days, farmers needed that extra hour to plant their fields in the spring and harvest them in the summer. But now? With those monstrous agri-businesses taking over the production of our food--most of it from genetically engineered seeds, I might add--an extra hour of daylight is hardly an issue.
Besides, it isn't as if we're actually getting an extra hour of daylight. It's merely being moved from morning to night. Right?
Anyway, my body doesn't like it. For instance, the clock says it's now 7:51 PM. Am I hungry yet? Hell, no. My tummy says it's 6:51 PM, and Ed and I never eat dinner before 7:30 PM. If we wait to eat until then tonight, it'll be 8:30 PM and that's a little too continental for my taste.
How long does it take your body to acclimate itself to DST? How long do you find yourself saying, "OK, the clock says it's 8 PM. So what time is it REALLY?"
Why doesn't anyone question this silliness? Are we so easily led? Why don't we ask the hard questions and find out who is benefiting from DST? I bet there is a reason hidden under all the non-answers, and I bet it means $$ in someone's pocket.
OK, call me cynical. But ask yourself--Does Daylight Savings time really benefit your life? Or does it simply mess up your internal clock each spring, only to have it messed up again in the fall?
So why do we do it?
There are now photo links up on Saturday's journal entry. You might want to check them out...
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2004
I well remember the first walk I took with my brand-new, partially color-collaged walker in November, 1996. It was a bittersweet occasion. Yes, I was able to travel farther than ever before in the San Francisco neighborhood where I had a sublet apartment, but the thought of using a walker filled me with dismay. This walker--later named Windchime Walker--had come into my life after I'd taken a face-first fall at the corner deli/cafe that had resulted in an emergency room visit to St. Luke's Hospital, ten or so stitches above my eye, and one of the biggest shiners of my life to date. On my Creative Disability web page, I described my transition from cane to walker in this way:
In 1996, I started migrating from Detroit to San Francisco for the winter months. Without a car, my legs got a strenuous workout in this beautiful city of hills. My sublet apartment in the Mission was, in essence, a third-floor walk-up. Buses--even though they "kneeled" to pick me up--still had steep steps to climb, and the BART to East Bay was several long blocks away. Three face-first falls, resulting in black eyes and an emergency room visit, gave me pause. I had to find a way to better protect my body from injury. Thus the wheeled walker--lightweight, foldable and easy to carry up steps--came into my life.
And I had thought the cane ugly! The afternoon the walker was delivered, I started collaging this aluminum reminder of my nursing home fears. Not to be melodramatic, but the truth is that tears mixed with the acrylic medium I used to paste the colored craft paper onto the walker that day. In the early evening, I took it for a walk around my neighborhood and was able to venture farther than ever before. At an herbal shop, I bought a small deerskin pouch filled with "protection" herbs to hang from the front crossbar. That night, my walker changed from enemy to ally.
In May 2000, my first scooter--soon to be named La Lucha--entered my life. I was overjoyed at her appearance because by then I was feeling pretty limited by where I could still navigate by walker alone. At that time, I could still walk a fair distance with Windchime Walker (maybe a block or two), so La Lucha was only used to give me greater range.
Bit by bit, my need for a scooter increased. This was especially true when I had broken bones due to falls. During those healing times, my scooters--in 2001, Ona joined my "fleet"--served both upstairs and down as my sole means of transport in our two-story house. When I was uninjured, Windchime Walker sufficed inside the house, and my scooters were my outside friends.
In July 2003, I fractured my ankle bone and found it to be a long, slow healing. By the time I could finally put weight on it, I'd lost confidence in my walking and had fears about my knee buckling again, as it had done when the injury occurred. In October-November 2003, we had a ramp built from the garage into the house and a stair lift installed between the first and the second floors. It appeared that I was now a full-time scooter user, with Ona downstairs and La Lucha upstairs. Ialso used Ona for around-the-community scoots and for travel purposes. By the way, I still drove (and drive) an unadapted car, my little red Neon that I love.
Five weeks ago today I had an epiphany. I realized that just because I'm disabled doesn't mean I can't be fit. I started monitoring my food intake, and approached the local gym to see if I could work there with a personal trainer. This would be in addition to my usual half-mile swim at a local middle school two nights a week during the winter, and my summer regime of swimming three times a week at our local outdoor pool. Since March 1--a red letter day in my book--I've lost 10 lbs. and have worked out 6 times at the gym (half the time with Matt, my personal trainer, and half on my own). I have already noticed improvement in my strength and flexibility. I have a year's membership at the gym and a standing half-hour appointment with Matt every Tuesday, so I intend to continue this execise regime with the same faithfulness as my swimming. And because I didn't "diet" to lose weight, I don't feel deprived. I will continue eating with conscious intent and trust it will become a habit.
On Saturday, my women's singing group performed songs from our CD at a Metro Detroit church. Even though I was in my scooter, I stood up to sing every song. When I saw a photo of me standing with the group, it shifted something in my head and I decided I liked that look...a lot. So last night, instead of riding my scooter to bed, I walked with my walker. Even though I had to get up to go to the bathroom twice in the night, I managed without a problem. Windchime Walker is still at my side and I'm LOVING the feeling of being on my feet again.
In some ways it feels like I've come full circle from November 1996, but this time I have no mixed feelings about using my walker, only delight and gratitude.
By the way, I'm not planning on being heroic here because I feel that would put me at risk of falls. But I am going to do my darnedest to stay on my feet, at least on the second floor of our house. When my strength and confidence increase, I'll take my walking act downstairs. That could happen tomorrow or in a few weeks. I have no time line here, merely the intention to do as best I can to regain some of what I had lost.
diagnosed with a chronic progressive condition doesn't mean you
have to give up.
On my blog, I've just put up a collection of links to articles, blogs, commentaries and analyses that I read tonight regarding the current crisis in Iraq. Things have really taken a turn for the worse there. Please hold that country, its people, and our young men and women who are stationed there in your heart. May our president and his advisors wake up before it's too late.
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2004
What fun to get responses
to my Daylight Savings Time rant! Different perspectives abound,
but I must admit Jeff's information that DSL saves energy is a
STRONG selling point. But I'll let them speak for themselves.
From Jeff in Northern California:
that daylight savings time is yet another corporate conspiracy
You give those creeps way too much credit. Or are you just having
a really tough week?
OK, you've triggered my DST Lecture:
Daylight Savings Time was invented, of course, by Ben Franklin, that oh-so-rational man of the Enlightenment. And although he suggested it, the idea caught on with greater fervor in Europe than here in the U.S. In fact, we didn't adopt it until 1918. Our agrarian society, where people got up and went to bed much earlier than we do today, hated it so much that we repealed it the next year even over President Wilson's veto and didn't really embrace it until the 1960s and 70s.
Regardless, the point in Franklin's day was what it still is now: save energy. And now that also means protect the environment. In the 18th century it was the amount of oil used for lamps. Now it's the amount of oil and other power sources used for power plants. Estimates are that DST saves more than 300,000 barrels of oil each month.
Studies have shown that daylight savings time saves energy, because artificial as it may seem DST convinces people to go to bed and shut off their electric lights and other related evening power suckers an hour earlier than they would otherwise. So it really has been proven to be good for the environment (and actually bad for big corporations that would want us to consume).
Another thing DST does is allow more children to travel to and from school in daylight, which has been proven to be safer for them than if they had to do it in darkness. It's pretty well accepted that DST has saved the lives of children who would otherwise have been killed in traffic accidents.
The same thing is true of crime. Since people under DST spend less time out in the dark, they are less often the victims of street crime.
Studies also show that most people like DST. I do, for example. Personally I'd enjoy having it all year. In fact, one year I refused to set my clocks back in the Fall, and I kept them on DST all year. It drove my friends nuts. People who visited my home actually became angry at me for confusing them with clocks showing the "wrong" time.
Anyway, there are good arguments in favor of DST. Since you asked "Why do we do it?" I thought I'd email you a few.
From Marcia in Maryland:
Loved reading your lament about daylight savings, just 'cause it gives me an opportunity to gig you!
My brother out in Texas is one of those small farmers who works dawn to dusk and beyond to ready his cotton crops and other growing things for harvest so you can enjoy those beauteous purple cottons you wear with such elan. When you put one of those on each day, think of him crawling out of bed at the crack of dawn to put his hand to the plow. (Granted, the plows are hitched to a massive John Deere tractor equipped with stereo systems and two-way radios!)
Enjoying the daylight hours, especially today without rain or snow.
From Natty in Indiana:
Amen, girl!! As an Indiana-resident, I never did "get" DST... never really had to either. Call me a stick-in-the-mud Midwesterner, but I like not messing with the clock. Every few years the state legislature gets it in it's head that we need to "get with the program" and do DST, but so far, thankfully, this year included, it's failed.
From Kimberley, Calgary, Alberta:
I so agree with you, I find it so hard to adjust to the new time, even though my body does not respond...it is still on the old time...then it changes just as I am adjusting to it...
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2004
The latest from Iraq is that the U.S. forces have bombed a mosque in Fallujah, killing 40 worshippers at afternoon prayer.
Do they have NO sense of what this will mean to ALL the people of Iraq? And not only Iraq. It is a desecration to Muslims across the globe.
Yes, the U.S. has the weaponry to do whatever they want, but, my God, does that mean they have to use it in ways that will further inflame the situation?
And where does the press come off saying this is a "civil war"? It is HARDLY that! The Sunnis are not fighting the Shi'ites, Sistani's Shi'ites are not fighting al-Sadr's Shi'ites; they are all fighting US, the occupiers of their country. An insurrection, if you will. A guerrilla war on two fronts. A rebellion. A revolution. But NOT a civil war. If anything, the American occupation has brought formerly incompatible religious factions together. Having a common enemy can reconcile the most diverse perspectives.
It is madness to think that the U.S. can "prevail", as Scott McClellan of the White House maintained today. Yes, we can crush the insurgents with our military might, but we can NEVER crush the sentiment that drives them. Sentiment that is spreading like wildfire among not only the urban poor of Iraq, but among educated, formerly-moderate members of the middle and upper classes. How can the U.S. prevail against that?
I am checking Juan Cole's *Informed Comment* blog several times a day to hear his analysis of this unfolding nightmare. As a professor of history at the University of Michigan who specializes in the Middle East and Islam, Prof. Cole has been interviewed by countless national and international news services, NPR, and television newscasters in the past few days. By the way, one of his books is titled, "Sacred Space And Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi'ite Islam." Juan Cole understands what is going on in Iraq today, its historical context, and what is likely to happen next in a way that few Westerners do. Even Raed and Riverbend, Iraqis living in Baghdad, respect Cole and quote him in their blogs. How I wish George W. Bush and his advisors would do the same.
Another truth-teller has emerged during these dark days: U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (Democrat, West Virginia). His speech on the Senate floor today provided a masterful analysis of what is happening in Iraq, and a call for sanity by our nation's leaders. I advise everyone to read it in full, but if you can't, at least read this brief excerpt:
This Republic was founded in part because of the arrogance of a king who expected his subjects to do as they were told, without question, without hesitation. Our forefathers overthrew that tyrant and adopted a system of government where dissent is not only important, but it is also mandatory. Questioning flawed leadership is a requirement of this government. Failing to question, failing to speak out, is failing the legacy of the Founding Fathers.
When speaking of Iraq, the President maintains that his resolve is firm, and indeed the stakes for him are enormous. But the stakes are also enormous for the men and women who are serving in Iraq, and who are waiting and praying for the day that they will be able to return home to their families, their ranks painfully diminished but their mission fulfilled with honor and dignity. The President sent these men and women into Iraq, and it is his responsibility to develop a strategy to extricate them from that troubled country before their losses become intolerable.
It is staggeringly clear that the Administration did not understand the consequences of invading Iraq a year ago, and it is staggeringly clear that the Administration has no effective plan to cope with the aftermath of the war and the functional collapse of Iraq. It is time -- past time -- for the President to remedy that omission and to level with the American people about the magnitude of mistakes made and lessons learned. America needs a roadmap out of Iraq, one that is orderly and astute, else more of our men and women in uniform will follow the fate of Tennyson's doomed Light Brigade.
One more thing. Because
of the internet, we do not have to stomach the lies and misrepresentations
the mainstream media call news. Thank God! If you want to hear
it *like it is* in Iraq, go to "Baghdad
Burning" and "Raed
In the Middle", two blogs by persons I highly respect.
And once you've read them, imagine yourself living there now.
These are NOT our enemies, any more than we are their enemies.
We are brothers and sisters caught in the middle of a nightmare
started by leaders who are proven liars. Don't believe Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney
when they describe what is happening in Iraq as a civil war, or
the fault of a "firebrand cleric." The blood is on their
hands more than anyone else's. If they hadn't insisted on attacking
a defenseless country, none of this would be happening.
THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 2004
Back when I was Christian, it never occurred to me how much the dominant religion of a country influences its culture, language, history, politics, economics, labor, communications, even the military. But, believe me, I notice it now. Especially during that religion's High Holidays.
Easter means no more to me than does Eid, Passover or the holidays of other religions. That is not to say I don't treat these holidays and their observances with respect, it's just that it means nothing to me personally. Perhaps that's why I noticed how central Easter seemed to be in people's consciousness this week. For instance, my favorite radio station (CBC in Canada) is already playing music relating to this Christian holiday. And tomorrow's programing promises to be exclusively devoted to religious music of the "season."
Well, I'm sorry but it is not MY season, nor is it the season of my Muslim, Jewish, Pagan and non-religious friends. Actually it is a season of special holidays for some of these religions, but will we be hearing music from their religious traditions on the radio this weekend? I doubt it. That's what I mean about the dominant religion holding the power.
Think about it. Many workers will be let off work tomorrow afternoon for Good Friday services. Most schools have a week of Easter break. Television advertising focuses on Easter finery, food, and family gatherings. Images of Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and Easter baskets abound. Television movies tell "The Greatest Story Ever Told" in a multitude of ways.
It's hard to get away from it, at least on this continent.
Again, I want to make clear that I'm not putting down anyone's religion, I'm just pointing out the Christian-centered culture in which we live. If it is your religion, you, like I prior to 1993, probably haven't even noticed.
It makes me think of being African-American in America, or disabled, or Native-American, or Asian-American, or Muslim, or gay. If you belong to any of these subgroups, how often do you see yourself pictured (favorably) in advertisements, television shows, movies, novels, etc? Maybe a token here and there, but maybe not. Or worse, maybe you're always the "bad guy," or the one to be pitied, or being stereotyped in a demeaning way.
It's unacknowledged cultural traditions that instill attitudes we don't even notice. Attitudes like, "My way is the only way." Or my religion, my country, my language, my sexual orientation, my politics, my holidays, my sports teams, etc.
All cultures have traditions.
But, as responsible adults, it's up to us to recognize them. If
we do, then we can consciously choose which traditions to hold
onto and which to let go. For myself, more and more traditions
fall by the wayside every year. I consider that a healthy state
FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2004
From a reader:
The mosque attack was terrible, senseless...no question. Just wondering why you also don't express outrage over the attack and burning and hanging of American civilians in Fallujah...and the glee and dancing in the streets over those bodies. You often say very good things, make very good points but you are becoming exceedingly one sided and knee-jerk and frankly a tad paranoid (ex. daylight savings time as some sort of conspiracy!! For those of us who work long hours in buildings every day, 5 or 6 months of extended daylight is a blessing!! We can have some time outdoors in the light of day! You have that continually so that would not be an issue for you.) Anyway...don't mean to be overly critical but I think I'll discontinue keeping up with your journal. Wishing you luck, love and good health.
She's right, of course. I am one-sided in my views. And it's true that I didn't mention the horrible deaths, mutilation and public display of the bodies of the American security contractors. By the way, they were not exactly civilians, but were actually described in a number of news accounts as members of the U.S. privatized armed forces or "mercenary troops." But, who they were and what they were doing in Fallujah is not the point. What was done to them was atrocious and has no place in a civilized world.
And perhaps my corporate paranoia was showing when I asked the question, "Who benefits from Daylight Savings Times?" and went on to offer the idea that someone must be making money off of it. She's also right that I hadn't taken into account the joy that that extra hour of daylight gives people who work inside all day.
But isn't this the reason we have so many of us here on earth? To help each other round out our views and temper each one's tendency toward tunnel vision?
And isn't it also the risk of keeping a public journal? When you lay out your inner thoughts and opinions, you are bound to step on someone's toes. That is, if you dare to try to think outside the box.
As for my own particular slant on things, I guess I'm just a contrary character. When I see the media and our government's officials hammering home the same views day after day, I have to take a different tack. And I must ask questions. If I don't ask the questions, how can I examine what we take for granted? Like DST, and Easter-as-a-national-holiday. Or the war on Iraq as a "war of liberation."
My journal and blog are not going to be for everyone. I am SO aware of that fact! If I were to say for whom I write, it would be for other questioners, and those who are trying to think outside the box. I do not write for the majority; they have enough resources already. No, it's us small fish who keep swimming against the tide for whom I write. And the longer Bush & Co. stays in power, the more paranoid I expect I'll become. So be prepared!
And always write and tell me your truthful opinions about my journal and blog entries. For without you, I really WILL go off the deep end. I offer special thanks to the reader who inspired me to re-think what I am doing here. She opened my eyes and, I hope, my heart.
Speaking of open eyes, here are some spring photos I took on my scoot to and from the gym this afternoon:
flowering ground cover on the lawn of a local church
--crocii in full bloom in front of Ed's office
--a magnolia tree getting ready to blossom
--the first forsythia I"ve seen in bloom
--the first daffodils
SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2004
As soon as I put up this journal entry, I'm on my way to Ann Arbor (surprise, surprise!). I won't return home until late afternoon on Monday. Am very much looking forward to a few days away from the computer and news. I have dates with friends and great live music to hear. Have a good weekend and I'll see you in a few days...
MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2004
Occasionally a friend or companion manages to express the inexpressible within your heart. I invite you to go to my friend Dorothy Walter's blog entry for today--"On the Longing For a Perfect Body"--to catch a glimpse of the contrariness that has accompanied me of late.
(as I write this, the "Rilke" bird sets up his/her song outside my window. "Rilke, Rilke, Rilke, Rilke..." How appropriate.)
My concern is not having a perfect body, but it IS having more of a balance between joy and pain, compassion and idealism, knowledge and serenity. These two and a half days away helped me see that something needs to change (within not without) before I tear myself (or those dear to me) apart. My disequilibrium cannot be blamed on the horrendous world situation or my government's lying ways, or the challenges of living with a less-than-able body, or my intolerance of others' different ways of looking at things, or even the weather (will it ever warm up?). What is out of balance is my own attitude, and that is what needs to change.
I must find a way to live in peace no matter what is going on around me. I can no longer give other persons (or governments) the right to determine how I feel and what I say or do. No, I must reclaim my own power, keep a sense of perspective, and do for myself whatever is needed to "lighten my load."
A few ideas come to mind. One has to do with how I exist within my other-abled body and the constraints it imposes on my mobility. The first thing I see is that I've been allowing it to limit me more than it should. I know my regular readers will say, "Oh, here she goes again", BUT it is definitely time for me to get a handicap-accessible minivan. There is absolutely no reason why I need to feel so dependent on Ed and my friends to schlep my scooter in and out of the trunk of my car every time I want to go someplace. There IS another option, and it's time to take it.
Another change that needs to be made is in how much time and attention I give to world events. Now maybe some folks would do well to be better informed, but that is not my problem. I need to be LESS well informed! Not that I won't keep up with what is happening in the world, but not with the obsessiveness that has driven me of late. I must protect myself from the anger and despair that take hold of me when I read too much news. If I can do something about it, fine, but if I am powerless to change the course of events, then I must learn to let them wash over me like a cascading river, not sweep me along like a twig or a leaf. One thing I can do right now is change my online homepage (where I log onto) from commondreams.org to some other, less news-oriented web site. Like my friend Dorothy's blog, for instance.
This weekend in Ann Arbor also showed me where I find nourishment and a rest from my overactive brain--in live music. Saturday night's jazz with Ingrid Jensen (trumpet player) and Project O at the Firefly, and Sunday's combination of chamber music and jazz with the Phoenix Ensemble at the Kerrytown Concert House took me outside of myself in healing and energizing ways. I became the music and it became me. What delight! So I MUST go hear more live concerts. You know, part of what I like about Ann Arbor is that it's a scootable city, but Detroit has its own great music venues; I just have to drive to get to them. With my own accessible minivan, I'll have that capability whenever I want.
In my interpersonal relationships, I need to regain my sense of humor. When I can laugh, I can handle anything. Life is not as deadly serious as I make it out to be. And the things that bug me about other people are not worth making such a big deal over. That's just a fact. So lighten up!!!
As they say, it helps to go away to regain perspective.
TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 2004
During today's workout at the gym, as he saw me perform the exercises I've been doing on my own, Matt said, "Wow! Now I'm going from being your trainer to being your fan!" Things are going so well that next week we're going to extend our half-hour session to a full hour. YIPPEE!
I'm putting my entry up early because tonight is going to be a late night. I'm teaching a class called "Women and Social Movements" for three hours this evening at Oakland University, over an hour north of our house. I probably won't return home until 11 PM. The professor, Sue Rumph, saw us Raging Grannies sing at an Oakland University teach-in prior to the Iraqi war last winter, and was interested in having me speak to her class on how we organized our gaggle. I'm taking it a bit further and am calling my presentation/facilitation, "Creative Dissent...Raging Grannies Style." I'm bringing a songsheet so we can sing together, and a handout I've developed about becoming a creative activist. I plan to tell the story of the Raging Grannies, but also want the class to get involved in telling (singing) their own stories. One way to do that is to ask them to form small groups and create their own songs, Raging Grannies style. Since about 80% of the class will be attending next Saturday's Women's Rights March in Washington, DC, maybe they'll write songs for that. I'm anticipating the evening!
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2004
There are signs I look for to determine if I am living in balance with what I call the Universe. The primary of these is occurrences of synchronicity, or those moments of "happenstance" when the unexpected shines forth in gloriously mysterious ways. Such moments may be small and seemingly unimportant, but I see them as evidence that I am "on the path." Today and yesterday two such moments graced my life.
The first occurred when I came to the unsettling awareness that the directions I'd been given to the Oakland University classroom building where I was scheduled to teach a class, were wrong. The first sign that things were not as I'd been told came as I took the University Drive exit off of I 75 North and discovered that where I had been instructed to turn left, the signs to the university said to turn right. And then, once on campus--a LARGE, spread-out campus, I might add--my directions said I was to follow Meadowbrook Road until it came to a dead end, at which time I was to turn left on Pioneer Drive. Well, I drove and drove for at least 2-3 miles, going through different parts of the campus, and when the road finally came to a dead end, it was at Adams Road, the outside edge of the Oakland University campus. I realized I had to make a U-turn and go back where I'd come from, but I had absolutely no idea where to go from there. As I waited for a car to pass through the traffic light onto campus, I looked up and there were two of my O Beautiful Gaia sisters, Nancy Nordlie and Penny Hackett-Evans, in the car! They stopped, rolled down their window and asked where I was going. I told them my sad story, and when they asked what classroom I needed to get to, it turned out it was the same one they were going to! They told me to follow them, and I did...through many twists and turns, I might add. Once there, Nancy and Penny went off to their African drumming class and within two minutes, the professor who had said she'd meet me in the parking lot, was standing beside my car.
The second instance of synchronicity occurred this afternoon. I was scooting along the "singing street" when I saw Patti--a woman with whom I swim on Monday and Wednesday nights--walking her dog. I stopped and we had a wonderful conversation in which she told me she makes magnetic arm wraps and has been selling them herself and at a few stores. I mentioned how I used to sell my Sacred Stones at psychic fairs, and how interesting that had been. She's been considering vending her magnetic wraps at psychic fairs herself, so was asking me questions about my experiences. Suddenly I heard a woman's voice say, "So we meet again!" I looked up and there was Mary in her red van with her daughter Tory in the backseat.
Now, Mary and Tory were a very important part of last night's class at Oakland University. They are neighbors of the professor, Sue Rumph, and live an hour north of my house in a town called Rochester (close to OU). Sue had invited them to attend the class where I'd be guest speaker, thinking it would probably be one that 9 year-old Tory would enjoy. Well, not only did she delight in being there, but that youngster asked two of the most pertinent, sophisticated questions of the night: 1) What's it like to get arrested? [at a protest demonstration]; and 2) Is it illegal to use names like Pfizer and Walmart in your songs? She and I made a close connection, as did her mother, Mary, and I. They even came down with me to my car at 9 PM after I'd finished teaching and Mary disassembled and put my scooter in the trunk of my car. Then they went out of their way to lead me to the expressway, since I would NEVER have found it on my own.
But why were they here today, driving down my singing street, 40 miles from their home? They were on their way to visit Mary's brother and his family who "just happen" to live on the singing street. After Patti and her dog went on their way, I scooted by Mary's brother's house and stopped in to meet everyone and to say a more relaxed "Hello" to Mary and Tory.
As I say, neither of these moments are huge in importance, but they were oh so sweet.
What was also sweet was last night's "Women and Social Movements" class. I'd been invited by Professor Rumph to speak about my experiences as an activist organizer, in particular as co-founder of the Raging Grannies Without Borders of Detroit. Instead of simply lecturing, I developed an interactive series of exercises that I called, "Creative Dissent...Raging Grannies Style."
There were about 15 students and I asked that they move the classroom chairs from rows into a semi-circle so it wouldn't be so intimidating (for me). We sang Raging Grannies songs from the songsheet I'd brought, I shared some of my personal story of becoming an activist, told them how our gaggle had started and a little about how we organize ourselves, discussed (photos #1 & #2) the six steps to becoming a creative dissenter that I'd brought as a handout, and had some time for them to write their own satirical songs in small groups (photos #1 & #2) and then sing them for the class (photos #1, #2 & #3). My favorite part of the whole two hours was when the students discussed their own personal experiences in relation to each of the six steps. The one that seemed to resonate most emphatically was #2, "Think for yourself but don't take on the world just yet." Many students in this "Women and Social Movements" class have experienced times with members of their families and friends where it just didn't pay to try to argue their newly-formed beliefs and opinions. As one of the women said, "You can't argue with ignorance." Wise words.
THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2004
I am a student in a large college class and George W. Bush is coming to speak. I sit on the floor in the balcony with my back turned towards the podium downstairs where he will be standing. He arrives with a lot of hoopla and I try to close my ears so I don't have to hear him. There are students around me doing the same thing. Fortunately he is late arriving and the class ends soon after he gets there, so we only have to listen to him for a minute or two.
I leave class and take the elevator to the first floor. I leave the building by a door I'm not familiar with and find myself outside but not sure which way to go to get to my next class. Off in the distance to my left is a huge construction site with lots of workmen and equipment plowing up the grounds. To my right is a mountain of sand that looks like one of the tallest ridges at Canyon De Chelly in Arizona. Directly in front of me is a sandy beach with the Pacific Ocean lapping its shores. My feeling is that the classroom building I need to get to is the same distance whether I go to the right or to the left. But first I decide I must dip my feet in the ocean. Even though I have on canvas tennis shoes, it feels great to wade into the water. By the way, it is warm and sunny out, like summer.
But I still have a class to go to, so I turn to the right, dwarfed by this mountain of sand, and realize I must climb over it to get where I am going. I look up and see a good number of women climbing this extremely high, almost vertical surface and begin to try it myself. I find it impossible going. The women yell down to encourage me, but I yell back up that, with my MS, I just don't think I can do it.
Next thing I know, there is another option. Directly in front of me is a high wall--like the wall inside a house, but at least three stories high--and if I can get to the top of that, I will be close to where I need to go. I grab hold of a white rubber-like strip attached to the wall, and start climbing. As I climb, the strip pulls away from the wall, meaning it would be useless if I tried to go back down the wall. Besides, I'm not confident that it will hold without breaking as I climb up the wall. I make it to a narrow ledge, but when I look up I see that I still have a long way to go. I don't see how I can make it. I look down over my shoulder and realize that I'm already so high off the ground that, were I to fall, I'd definitely hurt myself. I don't know what to do.
Suddenly a woman appears at the top of the wall. I tell her I'm stuck and need help. She reaches down and amazingly can touch my hands that are hanging onto the strip above my head. We grab each other's hands and she begins to pull me up the wall. Soon it becomes obvious that she's getting exhausted with the effort. We yell for help and another woman appears at her side and helps pull me to the top. I make it, feeling as though I have captured the Holy Grail. This is obviously about MUCH more than simply getting to my next class; it is the completion of one of life's essential tasks. I bask in the joy of accomplishment and express deep gratitude to the women who helped me. Without them, I could not have done it. I awake still glowing with a feeling of accomplishment.
This dream occurred in the morning, shortly after Ed had come upstairs to say goodbye. I was still in bed. He complained that the New York Times was showing its true colors in how it presented George W. Bush's announcement that the U.S. now supports Ariel Sharon's insistence that the Jewish settlements on the West Bank remain in place. I'd heard the news last night on CBC radio and had been enraged that, in the midst of the U.S.-led Fallujah massacre and the threat of another massacre in the holy Shiite city of Najaf in Iraq, Bush would further antagonize the Arab world by backing down on his earlier request that at least some of the West Bank Jewish settlements be dismantled as part of the Middle East road map. Not only that, Bush is now saying the Palestinian refugees have NO right of return to their homeland, and that, except for the tiny Gaza Strip, EVERYTHING belongs to Israel. Talk about being in Sharon's pocket! I was aware that I'd promised not to get so caught up with world events, but felt I was going to have to write about this, at least in my blog. So that was what was going through my mind as I dropped back off to sleep. And then the dream appeared.
What does it mean?
Well, Bush was there but made little impact on me. What became much more important was my own journey and the need to get from Point A to Point B. There were definitely obstacles in my way, but when I did my best to surmount them, help appeared--the help of women--and I made it. The journey was sometimes confusing, often daunting and not a little scary, but success was sweet.
So what I hear is "Keep
to your own path. Don't get sidetracked into spending too much
energy on decisions made by other people (like Bush). The journey
always involves learning (I needed to get to my next class), but
don't forget to take time to play (wading in the ocean). It involves
not just your mind and spirit, but your body as well. You'll be
required to show courage and have the willingness to take risks
without knowing the outcome. Don't get caught in the trap of thinking
there are only two options; always look for a third option that
is not readily apparent. Be prepared to ask for and receive help,
for that's the only way you'll make it through. And when you reach
the summit, you'll see that whatever it took for you to get there
was well worth it."
FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2004
In our phone conversation today my friend Dorothy Walters and I agreed: "It is the best of times; it is the worst of times." I don't know what it was like during the French Revolution that Charles Dickens wrote about in "The Tale of Two Cities," but I do know what it is like today.
Here in Detroit we enjoyed our first really warm day. Temps in the 70s, sunny, magnolia trees in bloom, trees and bushes greening up, forsythia shining like rays of sun everywhere you looked. Bikers, walkers, runners, roller bladers and scooters out on the streets, everyone with smiles on their faces. Sailboats out in the lake, fisherfolks on the docks, children playing on the playscape and in the sand on the beach. No coats, hats, gloves or mufflers to be seen...even though that was all we'd seen just three days ago. Like being touched by a magic wand.
That was here. The BEST of times.
Across the ocean, things look very different. In Fallujah, the U.S.-led massacre continues. Jo Wilding, a British human rights activist in Iraq who was on one of the few relief trucks allowed into the city on Sunday, April 11, finishes her detailed blog account of her experiences with these words:
And the satellite news says the cease-fire is holding and George Bush says to the troops on Easter Sunday that, "I know what we're doing in Iraq is right." Shooting unarmed men in the back outside their family home is right. Shooting grandmothers with white flags is right? Shooting at women and children who are fleeing their homes is right? Firing at ambulances is right?
Well George, I know too now. I know what it looks like when you brutalise people so much that they've nothing left to lose. I know what it looks like when an operation is being done without anaesthetic because the hospitals are destroyed or under sniper fire and the city's under siege and aid isn't getting in properly. I know what it sounds like too. I know what it looks like when tracer bullets are passing your head, even though you're in an ambulance. I know what it looks like when a man's chest is no longer inside him and what it smells like and I know what it looks like when his wife and children pour out of his house.
It's a crime and it's a disgrace to us all.
The people in the holy Shiite city of Najaf await the same horrors as Fallujah as the U.S. Army's 1st Armoured Division gathers a few miles away, prepared to keep their Commander-In-Chief's promise that "I have directed our military commanders to make every preparation to use decisive force, if necessary, to maintain order and to protect our troops."
In Baghdad, Faiza, wife of Azzam and mother of Khalid, Raed and Majid, writes in their family blog:
At night, I went out to the garden in the darkness, the electricity was off, and the generator was on and making a loud noise, I sat on a chair and I thought of those who die here everyday, Iraqi people, and about the Americans and others who died and the yellow ribbons wasn't much useful for them, and they went home dead bodies, for what? I wondered and I cried and grieved all the lives that we, Iraqi and American people, have lost, I cried a lot, and I felt angry with everyone who lied and made this war for his personal benefit, a bunch of criminals who have no mercy, who accomplish their evil dreams and destroy the whole world from far east to far west, while we, the rest of people, sink in our questions and sadness.
That was there. The WORST of times.
And to think that only an accident of birth separates the two.
SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2004
It's 1 AM Sunday morning and the window is open beside my computer table. Ah, spring!
Tonight my friend Pat Kolon and I went out to dinner and to a wonderful movie at the Detroit Film Theatre. It was so warm that we sat outside in front of the Art Institute for awhile after dinner. Pat had on a light cotton jacket and I also wore cotton. Even four days ago I wouldn't have imagined such a thing would be possible.
The movie was excellent! Here's how it was described online:
JAMES' JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM (Israel-2003-Ra'anan Alexandrowicz)
A canny and charming
modern fable, Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's debut feature follows the
adventures of James (Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe), a devout, wide-eyed
Christian who encounters unexpected barriers of every sort while
attempting a pilgrimage from his African village to the Holy Land.
With terrific performances and a biting, witty script, James'
Journey provides an astute look at the economic, moral and spiritual
hypocrisies of Western society-while stealthily layering such
serious issues with a brightly satirical glint and a lilting,
"Smart and satisfying... James' Journey is a little gem." -Kevin Courrier, Boxoffice
I heartily recommend it.
Earlier, I spent a good number of hours online researching handicap-accessible vans. Things are moving forward in that area. I've arranged to rent an accessible minivan for a week starting next Wednesday, just to give me a better idea of what I might want to buy. As of now, I'm looking into a Dodge Grand Caravan (the minivan I'll be renting), a Toyota Sienna (that just came out with a handicap-accessible model this year), and a Honda Odyssey. These ramp-converted minivans cost a lot of $$ so I want to be sure that I end up with what will best suit me. I am DEFINITELY ready.
But I couldn't spend this whole beautiful day inside. In the mid-afternoon, I scooted down to our lakefront park, and took this picture of a little girl on the beach with her mother. On the way home, I took another picture, this one a close-up of a tulip. But my final picture is my favorite. By now I'd scooted back inside the house, and just happened to look out the front window. Under the bushes right outside the window was a young cottontail bunny rabbit taking a nap. AWWWWW, it was SO cute!!! Don't you think so too?
It is now 1:30 AM and my eyes are getting bleary. Time for bed. I can't wait to go to sleep next to an open window!
SUNDAY, APRIL 18, 2004
Since Bush's joint press conference with Ariel Sharon on Wednesday, I've been trying to figure out why the White House would choose this week of all weeks to announce such a radical shift in foreign policy, a shift that was certain to further inflame Arab people all over the world. It wasn't as if the Bush administration wasn't already doing enough to stir up anti-American sentiment with their actions in Fallujah, Sadr-city in Baghdad, Najaf and other hotspots around Iraq. Why add to it?
Yesterday a lightbulb flashed on in my head and I suddenly saw that the Bush adminstration was acting with great intentionality: that they WANTED to fan the flames of anti-American feeling among Arabs and Muslims. And why would they want to do this? Simple. If they could push these people far enough, they could then point to them and say,"Look! They're barbarians, terrorists every one. We've got to go in there (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, etc.) and put them down or they'll come and attack us here in America!"
2 + 2 = 4
So today I wrote the following letter to the editor of the New York Times:
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Many people scratched their heads in amazement last Wednesday that President Bush chose that week, a week of gruesome developments in Iraq, to further inflame the Arab world by announcing an unexpected foreign policy shift that gave Israel's Ariel Sharon complete freedom to pursue his dream of taking over the West Bank and eliminating any real chance for the Palestinian people to return to their homeland or create their own state in the future.
But timing is everything, and the Bush administration was well aware of the certainty of an Arab-based anti-American response to this announcement. In fact, that was what they wanted. And the more violent the better. For explosive anti-American attitudes and actions by Muslims and Arabs the world over are the President's trump card in this tragic game he is playing with human lives in the Middle East. I say "the President", knowing full well that he is not the one making decisions, but the one who presents the decisions made by others.
There is one decision-maker in Bush's White House right now, and that is Karl Rove, the man entrusted with getting the President re-elected in November. Every decision we see from now on is made with that prize in mind. And Karl Rove is a canny political thinker. He knows that, with the economy in shreds, former administration insiders lining up to go public with unsettling disclosures, Congress beginning to wake from their 9/11 fear-induced slumber and Iraq looking more like Vietnam every day, he has to do SOMETHING to turn this this around, and fast. That "something" is to so inflame Iraqis, Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians, Jordanians, the Lebanese and Turks that all of these people can be painted with the Big T (terrorist) brush and turned into Enemies Of The American People. Hey, it worked with Saddam Hussein.
The best defense is a good offense. But to mount that offensive, you need to create an enemy. So whip up an already beleagured, oppressed, frustrated, terrified, angry mass of people and then mow them down. The "War President" rules again. Simple, says Karl Rove, the genius who got George W. Bush into office in the first place.
I say, wake up, my American sisters and brothers! Don't fall into their trap. Look behind the rhetoric to the substance; it is barely concealed. If we allow ourselves to "hate" a new enemy, we are lost. The stakes are high and we need to play the hand we've been dealt with forethought and cunning. Don't let Karl Rove over-trump us again.
In addition to submitting it to the New York times, I emailed copies of my letter to friends around the world. I was especially pleased with the responses I got back from Raed in Baghdad, and from Rabih Haddad in Beirut.
Raed is an amazing young blogger who keeps us informed about what is REALLY happening in Iraq. His response to my letter was brief and to the point:
that was really great!
do u think they are going to publish that?
I wrote back to tell him that I'd be surprised if the NY Times published my letter because it goes against what I see as their pro-Israel editorial policy, but you never know. I've had luck with them before, but never about such a politically sensitive subject.
And if you're a regular reader of my journal, you already know my brother Rabih Haddad. Rabih's response was:
Your letter to the Times is one true patriot act. All those who truly care about America and what it stands for, should be joining forces and uniting under the banner of: "To be or not to be ... that is the question".
Take care my dear sister and raise your head up high for you are one of the few enlightened persons with a living conscience and a free soul.
Even though we certainly
live in tough times, I continue to be in awe of the close connections
we can make with people the world over. That is a priceless gift.
Beyond writing letters to the editor, emailing friends and reading up on what is going on in Iraq and Palestine, I called Lebanon and had a wonderful talk with Sulaima (Rabih was at evening prayers at the mosque). Then I went out into this GLORIOUS spring day. A high of 80 degrees!!! Trees and bushes greening up, forsythia in full bloom, and jonquils and daffodils everywhere. I wore a short-sleeved shirt and shorts and went to the gym for a good, hard workout. Then I stopped in to see Ed for a few minutes before scooting down to a restaurant I like for a nice supper of salad, soup and french bread. I sat outside at their one of their tables and enjoyed the sounds of birds and fragrance of flowers. At 7 PM I met with our community peace group for their weekly vigil/discussion at a local coffeehouse. Again, we sat outside and, even though it was hard to hear one another, it was a delight to enjoy more of this beautiful day. I was home by 9 PM.
But I have to say, as grateful as we all are for spring finally bringing the warmth and beauty we craved, everyone I talked with today said that last week was a nightmare. I first heard it in an email from Rabih this morning, then Sulaima said it, and finally the peace folks, especially Aly, agreed that they hoped never to have to go through another week like that one. Poor Aly, a deeply sensitive man, was throwing up all week, yet had no fever. These violent choices by world leaders take it out of all of us.
And now Sharon's forces have assassinated another Palestinian leader, this time it was Abdel Aziz Rantissi, a medical doctor who recently took over leadership of Hamas after the assassination last month of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sulaima said that as soon as they heard about this latest assassination, the people of Beirut took to the streets for a huge protest demonstration. Where will it end?
MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2004
Here I am again, starting my journal after midnight. For some reason I've been turning night into day for almost a week now. I haven't gone to bed before 2 AM since last Wednesday; on Saturday it was 4 AM. When I talked to Rabih today, he said he was worried about me the other morning when it was 9 AM his time (2 AM my time), and I hadn't yet put up my journal entry!
Don't worry, faithful readers, I'm just being my truest Night Owl self. But I sleep in, so I'm not short-changing myself in that regard. Actually, I have a herstory of doing this whenever something new is on the horizon. Usually I have no idea what it might be, but I've learned to relax into the process and let things take their course. In retrospect, it always makes sense.
Maybe I'm instinctively putting myself on Middle Eastern time because of the close connections I feel with the people there. I did that during the first Gulf War--even changed my watch to Iraqi time and stayed there until the cease fire. But today when I say "close connections," I mean that I've talked on the phone twice with Sulaima and once with Rabih in Lebanon in the last two days. Like they lived next door...which in today's world, they do. I've also received two emails from Rabih during that time, the second in response to my letter to the editor of the New York Times. In it, he offered his reflections on what is currently happening in the Middle East. He wrote:
I am increasingly perplexed by the simplicity of the issues in comparison with the complexity of the stances that people, institutions, and governments take on them.
For example, the state of Israel was founded based on a 3000 year old promise to return to the land of "milk and honey". They uprooted the natives, scattered them all over the world, demolished their lands and homes, wiped out every kind of hope and aspiration they may have had, amputated every "olive branch holding" hand. All this in the course of a little over 50 years, and now they have denied them the right of return to what is rightfully theirs in the first place. If the Palestinians do not have the right to return to their lands because it is inconceivable, then how was the whole idea of the state of Israel conceived ?
If regime change in Iraq was dictated by that country's "rogue" regime which allegedly did not abide by UN resolutions and possessed weapons of mass destruction, then isn't Israel due for a regime change right about now? No other country has violated more UN resolutions. It is confirmed that Israel possesses weapons of mass destruction developed with American technology. And, above all, it is a regime that engages in state terrorism like other governments collect taxes.
If Afghanistan was invaded for harboring terrorists and offering them material support, then what should be done with an administration that not only sanctions Israel's rogueness but also finances it.
If it is Freedom and Democracy that the US is trying to bring to Iraq, then why is it "imposing" them?
These are just a few of the things that boggle my mind. Don't misunderstand me my dear sister. "Despair" is not in my dictionary. It's just that history is rich in wisdom and lessons that no one seems to be paying attention to. Where is Pharaoh and his armies? Where are the Persian and the Roman Empires? Where is the British Empire? They all transgressed and oppressed and they're all gone!
Rabih Haddad defines the term "wise one," in my view. Even when the news gives him pain--as it certainly does these days--he is able to stand back and see things in an historical context, rather than giving in to pure emotion (which is more my style of late). I am so grateful to have him, Sulaima and their children in my life. When I recall how we first met, I can't believe he is finally free and that we can talk on the phone any time we want. Gratitude is too small a word.
In addition to contacts with my sister and brother in Lebanon, I've had three email exchanges with Raed in Baghdad over the past two days. Raed is an extraordinarily gifted communicator whose blogs have won international awards; I've been a faithful reader of his for over a year. He now has a new blog called "Raed In the Middle" which gives the whole Iraq war and occupation a human dimension. Not only that, his analysis of what is happening and why offers a perspective we in America need to hear. On Saturday night--actually, in the wee hours of Sunday morning--after reading his pained blog entry relating the assassination of the Palestinian Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantissi, I wrote Raed a long email. Actually, that was what kept me up until 4 AM that night. Since then we've emailed back and forth several times, and I continue to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming. The thought that I am communicating with someone in Baghdad, especially now, fills me with awe. Isn't this internet a wonder???
TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2004
In my zeal to get my journal and blog up early today, I've ended up with a patchwork quilt of entries. I'll post them in the order they appeared.
Today a regular reader emailed me in response to yesterday's journal/blog entry. Among other things, she said,
And it is very hard for me to mourn the death of a man who would have gladly killed me simply because I am a Jew, without knowing anything about who I am and what I think. I just want everybody to stop -- stop hating, stop killing, stop hurting, just stop!
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could gather all those who are hating, killing and hurting others--or instructing their followers to do so--and tell each one to go to their rooms for a "time out" until they can learn to get along?
I often want to ask today's leaders if they feel they've made good choices. And if not, what would be a better choice? That's what we do with kids when they misbehave at school. If they can't correct their behavior, we send them down to the office. Once there, the vice-principal sits them down and tries to find out what's going on. If their offense was particularly serious, they are sent home for the day, or maybe longer.
If I were vice-principal of the U.S. classroom, this is what I'd say to you-know-who:
OK, George. What's going on? You've been caught lying again and again. Not only that, you've been sending your buddies into the playground to beat up on the most defenseless students in school. And now you've hooked up with that bully Ariel and told everybody you are with him all the way.
Do you think you've been making good choices here? How do you think you could handle things better? Maybe it's time for you to go back home to Crawford and consider what you've been doing. When you're ready to make better choices, let me know. Then we'll see if we can take you back into school. It all depends on you.
How I wish it were that simple.
I have just read a blog entry that has me shivering in shared fear and bowing in shared gratitude. If you want to hear a first-hand account of what it's like to be an ambulance volunteer (and a clown) in Fallujah, go to the British human rights activist Jo Wilding's blog and read her April 20 entry. When it cuts off in the middle of a sentence, scroll down and pick it up again in entry #2.
Gawd! The courage of some people!!!
The reason I want to get my journal/blog up early today is that I'm already sleepy and it's only 6:30 PM! And I know why: a 45 minute HARD workout with Matt at the gym this afternoon. Yikes! I've got muscles I didn't even know I had and they were screaming for mercy. But I like that, at least when I'm working with my personal trainer. In my book, that's the time to use everything you've got. And Matt's good. He keeps me safe and always listens when I say something hurts or is cramping. But he pushes me. Oh yes, Matt definitely pushes me. But he also respects me. At one point, when I was grunting my way through a particularly tough series of exercises, he said, almost to himself, "I sure wish ALL my clients had your will!" I told him I inherited these bulldog genes, so can't take credit for them.
And even though the temperature had dropped today--almost wished I'd had my mittens on my scoot to and from the gym--the beauty of spring was still in full flower. What could be more lovely than pinks, greens, yellows, blues, purples, oranges and reds after months and months of greys, browns and whites, with the only color being the blue of the sky? I can almost taste spring on the tip of my tongue.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) I pick up the Dodge Grand Caravan rental minivan with a Braun-converted handicap-accessible ramp. I plan to keep it a week just to see what it's like to drive these things, and to continue my discernment over which minivan would best serve my needs. If I'm interested, I can buy this particular van from the rental fellow. Because of my Mom's legacy, price is not a stumbling block to getting a new one if I prefer. (Thanks, dear Mom and Dad). I'll just have to see. But let me tell you, doing the ground work for such a purchase takes time and thought. I've spent many, many hours investigating handicap-accessible minivans online, telephoning various mobility dealers, new car dealers and this rental dealer asking VERY specific questions. Then Ed and I have gone over various aspects of the decision for over a week now, not to mention the cartwheels my brain does night and day about this subject. Time and energy-consuming, yes, but I'd rather have sleepless nights BEFORE making such an important decision, rather than after I'm already committed to a decision I might regret. I've only bought one new car in my life, so I must admit I'm more inclined to go with a used car (if it has an extended warranty, low mileage and is in good condition). The trick is knowing what questions to ask and then getting a good diagnostic of the vehicle by a mechanic you trust. And in this case, I'll also have the advantage of test driving it for a week before I make my final decision. I'm already thinking about all the places I can go and things I can do this week with my rental handicap-accessible van. Freedom calls...
Look at this! It isn't even midnight yet and I'm ready to put up my journal. Early to bed, early to rise makes a woman healthy, wealthy and wise. Or something
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2004
As the kids used to say, "I am REALLY psyched!!!" I picked up my rental handicap-accessible minivan today, gave it a good test drive on the expressway for 50 miles coming home, went through warm weather with the windows open, rain with the front and rear windshield wipers working, tried out the cruise control and CD player, and found the hand-control brakes to be unexpectedly easy to use. This accessible minivan has both hand and foot controls, so you can use either or both. I still use foot controls in my Neon so didn't imagine I'd be using the hand controls in the van--at least not yet--but on the straight-a-way, the hand brakes are pretty cool.
As you know if you're a regular reader, I'm renting this Dodge Grand Caravan for a week to see how comfortable I am driving a handicap-accessible minivan. I'm in the market to buy one so I can transport my scooter without my friends and family always having to assemble/disassemble it every time I go someplace. It will also give me the option of going places on my own, without having to worry about finding a nice stranger to help me get my scooter in and out of the trunk of my car. Again, if you're a regular reader, you'll know how important it is for me to feel independent. And that's an understatement.
If I like driving this minivan, the next question is: Do I buy used or new? If used, the minivan I'm renting--a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan with 25,000 miles--is available for me to buy. I've explored all aspects of this option with the owner of the rental company--price, service records, warranties for both the Braun Entervan conversion and for the vehicle itself--and am satisfied with his answers. Now I will try it out in different driving and parking situations, and take it to my trusted mechanic to get a diagnostic on the minivan itself. As I wrote yesterday, I've bought enough used cars to know the questions to ask (I hope) and the steps to take so as to ensure, to the best of my ability, that I'm not getting a lemon.
I asked Hugh, who runs this Wheelchair Getaways franchise out of his home WAY out in the country, to take pictures to show my journal and blog readers. The first three--photos #1, #2 & #3--show me backing up the ramp in my scooter and parking it behind the power transfer driver's seat. The final picture is of me driving the minivan, right before I started off for home. A happy moment came as I pulled into our two-car garage and found there was plenty of room for me to lower the ramp and scoot out of the minivan. That had been a niggling concern.
This evening I drove the minivan to a Peace Talk being given by Dr. Muli Linder, an Israeli medical doctor who is one of the 600 soldiers and officers of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who have refused to serve militarily in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the interest of peace. They call their movement the Courage To Refuse, and in the U.S. they're often known as Refuseniks. Whatever they're called, these are courageous people whose decision not only puts them at risk of prison but often alienates them from family and friends. Dr. Linder shared that he has not yet been imprisoned (over 200 of the Refuseniks have), but it has been personally painful that his father and mother disapprove of his decision. He describes his parents as strong Zionists who both lost close members of their families in the Holocaust.
I found this young man--31 years old, a husband and father of two young children--to be a true man of peace. His talk was reasoned and honest, focusing mainly on his own story and how he came to his decision to sign the Combatant's Letter in the winter of 2002. There was a lengthy question and answer period that could not have been easy for him. But he managed to defuse even the most antagonistic comments and questions. Of course, his being a psychiatrist probably didn't hurt! It is always hopeful to meet persons of conscience.
THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2004
Night and day. That's what it feels like for me to be pushed in my mother's wheelchair at school as opposed to propelling myself in my scooter. And the kids responded differently too. Instead of the usual lugubrious questions about, "Why can't you walk, Ms. Patricia?", today I heard, "Wow! That scooter is SO cool!! I wish I had one!" You should have seen the faces on the three fifth-grade boys who came down to help straighten out my ramp (it couldn't slide out properly on the grass beside the curb). After I'd scooted out the van onto the sidewalk, and then pushed the remote control to lift the ramp and close the side door on the minivan, those boys' mouths literally dropped open. "I WANT ONE!!!" came out of three mouths at once.
Now I have to say, Susan and the kids have been wonderful about getting my Mom's wheelchair in and out of my car, pushing me to and from the classroom to my car, and even to and from the bathroom when I needed it, but there's NOTHING like independence! I know I sit up straighter and, according to friends, even look differently when using my scooter. The main thing is I feel different. More self-possessed, stronger and happier.
Driving this accessible minivan is already changing my life...and I've only had it two days. I find myself thinking about all the options it gives me to go places and do things. It feels like the world has been opened up to me again. I suspect having such a minivan of my own will be as life-changing as it was to get La Lucha, my first scooter, back in May of 2000.
On the way home from school, I stopped at my local garage and asked the mechanic to do a diagnostic on the minivan. Wally has been servicing my cars for at least 20 years and I trust him totally. Actually, he's given me diagnostics on two other used cars during that time--both of which I ended up buying--and his advice has always been sound. Even though he and his assistant admitted that 25,000 miles is a LOT of mileage for one year, he said the car has been well maintained and everything looks good. He found an oozing power steering cable that would only be $20 to replace, but it obviously wasn't a problem because the power steering fluid was still full. He also said the vehicle had been undercoated after they'd done the conversion, and they'd done a VERY thorough job. These were the best results of any of Wally's previous diagnostics; he had always found a list of minor things wrong on the other cars I'd brought to him. That means a lot.
So far, the only negatives I've seen or heard are: 1) the loud rattling sound of the folded ramp whenever I pass over bumps in the road; and 2) the tendency of the ramp not to slide out properly on grass or uneven surfaces. I've posted a question about both issues on the wheelchair junkie online bulletin board, so I'll see what other handicap-accessible van users have to say about it. Hugh, the rental guy, mentioned the grass problem when he was instructing me yesterday about the minivan, and I've already seen postings about the rattling noise, so it may be that these quirks come with the territory. Tomorrow I'm also going to talk to the accessible van dealer who sells new vehicles to get his perspective on things.
As of now, I'm leaning towards buying this rental van and Ed is playing devil's advocate and bringing up all the reasons to buy a new one. I'm going to sit with all options until my rental week is up. But, no matter what we buy, we ARE going to be getting a handicap-accessible minivan. That's for sure.
Totally off the subject, but extremely important is this article, "Documents Linking Al-Qaeda, Charity Not Found," in USA Today that finally refutes the media accusations that the Global Relief Foundation--the humanitarian aid organization co-founded by Rabih Haddad--was linked to terrorists. Apparently the journalist who broke the story back in January 2002--Jack Kelley--has been totally discredited and charged with plagarism, among other things. Ed told me the editor of USA Today has resigned because of the scandal.
Rabih and Sulaima always
said the truth would come out. I just wish they hadn't had to
suffer so much before it FINALLY did.
FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2004
I'm quickly running out of steam, so this will be a shorter-than-usual entry. It's only 9:30 PM, but after a long drive (90 miles round trip) to have the rental van's Braun conversion--including the rattling ramp--checked over, and a brain-wearying meeting with the salesman that involved LOTS of $$ talk in addition to looking at two possible candidates (both brand new 2004 models), lunch at my favorite Lebanese restaurant (made possible because of the rental minivan), arriving home and setting out for a lovely scoot down to the gym, and then a good hard workout...I am ready for bed! But first let me give you a taste of Earth Day in Michigan:
Azaleas in bloom
A lovely yard
Pansies and tulips
A newly-green tree
Weeping willows beside the lake
SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2004
I hiked three hours in the woods by myself today! Sound impossible? Not with Ona my trusty scooter, a handicap-accessible minivan, and the well-maintained trails at Pt. Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ontario, it isn't!
This was the first time in ten years that I'd been free to hike by myself in the woods. And to sit in silence, with birdsong, leaves rustling, and occasional hikers' voices being the only sounds I heard...except when I sang softly to myself. For an individual who began taking solitary walks in the woods sixty years ago at age 2--I'd escape from our back yard and toddle over to the stream under the big tree where peeper frogs, turtles and caterpillars kept me company--this was the greatest gift imaginable. The following question kept running through my head: "Could I be any happier?" The answer was, "No!"
Tomorrow I'll share the photos I took and tell you more about this glorious day, but now I must get some sleep. It's almost 10 PM and I only returned home a half hour ago after having left the house this morning at 10 AM.
I can't stop smiling.
© 2004 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.