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FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2004
You know, now that Sojourner (my handicap-accessible minivan) gives me such freedom, it's getting tougher and tougher to keep up my journal. I'm just not home much anymore.
Today I left the house at 11 AM and didn't return home--except for 10 minutes in the late afternoon--until 11:30 PM. Such a busy--and FUN--day!!!
It started with a change of plans. I had a noon appointment with Leesa in Windsor--just across the river from Detroit--to get my hair cut, but when I saw the mile-long line of cars and trucks waiting to take the tunnel into Canada, and then the same kind of line at the Ambassador Bridge, I called to cancel. As it happened, I found myself in Southwest Detroit, an area known as Mexican Town. I went to a local restaurant--easily getting in and out of my minivan!--and had a yummy burrito for lunch. By then, I wasn't far from the refugee shelter where I used to facilitate art for the guests. It's been in my mind lately, so I stopped in unannounced.
After talking with Heidi, a University of Michigan intern who works there in the legal department, I sat at the dining room table and met some of the guests. There were two families from Colombia and two men and two women from Africa. I asked if they'd be interested in making art and everyone said yes. So I have a call in to the shelter's director to see if she'd like me to facilitate art on a weekly basis like I did back in the early 1990s. I'd like to be there again; the people are amazing.
From there, I drove to the gym not far from my house. After parking, I stopped in at the Subway where I knew Eddie would be eating lunch. We chatted awhile and then I went next door and did a good, hard workout at the gym. That was followed by a melon and coconut gelato milkshake--my trainer Matt had told me I needed calories after working out!--and another visit with Ed.
While there, I checked the Metro Times to see what live music options were available tonight, and called my friend Pat Kolon with my findings. We decided to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts which was having Benny Cruz and his Latin band perform out on the lawn. That concert was LOTS of fun, and I danced for much of the time. I took a lot of photos that I'll put up tomorrow.
When the concert was over, it was still light out--about 9 PM--so we went down to Greektown to Sweet Georgia Brown's, an elegant restaurant that has live jazz. Greektown was really hopping with lots of people walking the streets and even buskers to add to the fun. Felt like we were in Chicago or New York!
And now I'm home and ready for bed. Night night...
Photos from Outdoor Friday at the DIA:
It took awhile for the adults--except for me and one other "dancin' fool"--to get up on their feet and dance to the Latin beat of Benny Cruz's band, but the children weren't so shy. The audience was entertained not only by the music but by these two sisters (photos #1 & #2), two best friends (photos #1 & #2), and one boy who just couldn't keep from dancing. But when they played a salsa tune, a fabulous dancing couple (photos #1, #2 & #3) got up and showed us how it should be done.
Benny Cruz really knows how to engage an audience. My favorite moment was when he invited the kids to come onstage and create their own percussion section (photos #1 & #2). At the same time a boy joined his Dad on the conga drums. Pretty darn impressive for 8 years old! After that, more adults got up and danced. I don't know how they stayed seated for so long! And although she didn't join the dancers, Pat enjoyed the concert as much as I.
By the way, they're doing extensive renovations to the Detroit Institute of Arts but the main entrance on Woodward looks as lovely as ever.
his decisions to be "God's will" and then tells aides to "f**k over" anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.
"We're at war, there's no doubt about it. What I don't know anymore is just who the enemy might be," says one troubled White House aide. "We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing."
Aides say the President gets "hung up on minor details," micromanaging to the extreme while ignoring the bigger picture. He will spend hours personally reviewing and approving every attack ad against his Democratic opponent and then kiss off a meeting on economic issues.
"This is what is killing us on Iraq," one aide says. "We lost focus. The President got hung up on the weapons of mass destruction and an unproven link to al Qaeda. We could have found other justifiable reasons for the war but the President insisted the focus stay on those two, tenuous items."
Aides who raise questions quickly find themselves shut out of access to the President or other top advisors. Among top officials, Bush's inner circle is shrinking. Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen out of favor because of his growing doubts about the administration's war against Iraq.
The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory George Tenet Wednesday night is, aides say, an example of how he works.
"Tenet wanted to quit last year but the President got his back up and wouldn't hear of it," says an aide. "That would have been the opportune time to make a change, not in the middle of an election campaign but when the director challenged the President during the meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by saying 'That's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I want it now."
Tenet was allowed to resign "voluntarily" and Bush informed his shocked staff of the decision Thursday morning. One aide says the President actually described the decision as "God's will."
God may also be the reason Attorney General John Ashcroft, the administration's lightning rod because of his questionable actions that critics argue threatens freedoms granted by the Constitution, remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft "the Blues Brothers" because "they're on a mission from God."
"The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion," says one aide. "They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God."
But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them "f**king a**holes" in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him "unpatriotic" or "anti-American."
"The mood here is that we're under siege, there"s no doubt about it," says one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. "In this administration, you don"t have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President."
The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the record.
SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 2004
My letter to the Detroit Free Press:
For 39 years I have lived in the Detroit area. During that time I have regularly attended Detroit's Concert of Colors, the Taste Fest, the Festival of the Arts, and the International Jazz Festival. I saw Stevie Wonder perform at the Tricentennial Celebration, and was there at Tiger Stadium in 1990 when Nelson Mandela spoke to our city after having been released from prison. I attended 19 baseball games--most of them by myself--the year the Tigers won the pennant in 1984. And I was at Hart Plaza for the fireworks on Wednesday, June 23, 2004.
My experience on that beautiful night was the same as it has always been in Detroit--like being part of a wonderfully diverse, loving family. The next morning when I learned of the shootings, I was shocked and saddened. Even as I hold the wounded in my heart, I do the same with our wounded city. But I say with confidence that the actions of one crazed individual will not stop me from continuing to celebrate the community we have formed here in our city. I will be at the Taste Fest next weekend and hope to see more people than ever in attendance.
I have put up an International Freedom Festival 2004 photo/journal on my web site that shows what 99.9% of the people at Hart Plaza experienced that night. The URL is:
SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2004
Another HUGELY wonderful day. It started with a half mile swim at the park pool this morning, after which I happened to meet my peace friend Aly in the pool and we stood there for at least a half hour discussing the world situation. I had a quick sandwich from the concession stand and scooted off towards home about 1:30 PM. On the way I stopped for a brief chat with Michael, our neighbor. After a hot shower I was ready to go. The Detroit peace community was meeting at the Royal Oak Main Theatre at 4:15 PM to see "Fahrenheit 9/11", after which we planned to have an anti-war vigil on Woodward Avenue and 11 Mile road, a busy intersection.
I was happy I got to the theater 45 minutes ahead of time to buy my ticket because when I came back after a brief scoot down Main Street, the lobby was packed! And the fun thing was that it was packed with tons of people I know.
I'm not going to go into detail about the movie, all I want to say is, "DON'T MISS IT!!!" Michael Moore has REALLY done it this time. This film is tightly constructed, immensely informative, filled with truth, and deeply moving. I came away knowing the true cost of Bush's war in Iraq in a way that I had never known before. I feel more encouraged than ever that Bush will not be re-elected. Not now. Thanks in large part to Michael Moore.
It was perfect to go from the theatre out onto the streets protesting Bush and his war! And we had a good turnout too. I'd guess there were at least 200 people of all ages who stood--or sat in wheelchairs, scooters or walkers with seats--holding up signs that said: 1) Bush lied; 2) 1000s died; 3) NO WAR. We lined Woodward Avenue going north and south and received MANY MANY honks, thumbs up and peace signs. I only saw one "finger" the whole hour!
After a brief gathering to make announcements about upcoming peace events, I scooted with some folks back to Main Street, where I met Maryanne, a new Raging Granny, for a delicious Lebanese dinner at an outdoor cafe. I was home by 10 PM.
Don't you know I just LOVE my new handicap-accessible minivan that makes days like today possible? Let's hear it for Sojourner!
P.S. In case you're
wondering...I decided I didn't need a retreat after all ;-)
MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2004
It's 1 AM and I've just gotten home after a fabulous night of jazz. I know that Monday night is not a night folks think of going out to hear live jazz--at least not here in Detroit--but tonight was special. Bill Foster of the SereNgeti Gallery hosted a celebration of Mack Avenue Records, a Detroit-based independent jazz label that records top musicians from around the country. Gretchen Carhartt, the owner/executive producer, was there, but the main attraction was the Mack Avenue All Stars.
The core members of the group--which just started performing together on tour this week--are Ron Blake on sax, Sean Jones on trumpet and Eugene Maslov on piano. Last night they were joined by Charles Fambrough on bass and Wilby Fletcher on drums. They were exceptional! It was fun to meet and sit with my friends, Miki, Akira and Charles. In addition to us die-hard jazz fans, the audience was filled with many of Detroit's finest jazz musicians. A special moment for me came after the show when Eileen Orr, one of Detroit's most gifted jazz pianists, and I unexpectedly fell into a deep conversation.
Do you ever find words being channeled through you, so that, without knowing how or why, you seem to be saying exactly what the other person needs to hear? That was what happened last night and Eileen was immensely grateful. So was I.
I'd gone to the SereNgeti directly from a protest demonstration mounted by our city's librarians and library staff. They picketed and leafleted the groundbreaking for an new multi-million dollar library building in our community. In a community with the third highest median income, our librarians and staff are the lowest paid and have the poorest benefits in southeastern Michigan! They have been without a contract for three years. They've gone through arbitration and a Michigan state fact-finder recently examined the issues and proposed a new contract. Although it did not give the library staff everything they'd asked for, they still approved it. The Library Board would not pass it. By the way, this Library Board is appointed by the School Board, but is accountable to no one. They have millions of dollars to spend on new buildings but refuse to give our library staff a living wage. It is terribly unjust and I'm glad the library staff are finally going public with their complaints. As one of their signs said, "Can't keep quiet any longer."
Now it is time for bed.
TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2004
I had a much needed quiet day with the most strenuous moments coming during my weekly workout with Matt at the gym. After that, I had lunch in front the Gelato Cafe with the co-owner Peggy and her father Socrates. Ed joined us in time to hear some of Socrates' stories about life in his home village of 700 people back in Greece.
In one story he told us about how he and his buddies used to climb the mountain that overlooked his village and roll huge boulders down its side. When I said, "But wasn't that dangerous for the folks down below?" Socrates shook his head and said, "Naw. We always looked to be sure no one was there." I'm kind of glad I wasn't living in his village!
Once I got back home I took a lovely nap, and then spent some time on the computer. If you re-read yesterday's journal entry you'll find photos and some more details, both about the library protest and the night of jazz.
I realize that I neglected to invite you to go back to my Friday, June 25th entry to see my photos from the Benny Cruz concert out on the lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts. There are some pretty cute pictures of children, so it might be worth your while to check it out.
Regarding world affairs, the so-called "transfer of power" in Iraq was even more of a farce than I'd expected. Furtive, secret from the people who were supposedly coming into their "sovereignty," and about as undignified as anyone could imagine, it was merely another example of the U.S. at its imperialist worst. But at least there are signs that the American people might be waking up from their long sleep. Could it be that the prince who kissed them into wakefulness was none other than Flint, Michigan's favorite son, Michael Moore?
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2004
I wonder how many people travel to another country to get their hair cut? Well, actually, my friend Pat Kolon does, but beyond Pat and me, do you know anyone else?
This is among Detroit's greatest advantages--being a border city to Canada. So today I took the tunnel over to Windsor for my 11 AM appointment with Leesa.
When you have a haircut like mine--a short buzz cut--it HAS to be cut well or you're in real trouble. It may look all right for the first week, but if the cut is bad, when it starts growing out you begin to look like a cross between a punk rocker and a scarecrow. Leesa takes her time and always gives me a good cut. I've tried numerous haircutters on the Detroit side but have yet to find one as consistently good as Leesa. Besides she's a real sweetheart. And so are her three kids--Sarah, Emily and Michael--whom I've watched grow up over the years. Well, they're not exactly "grown up" now at ages 11, 8 and 5, but I've known them since they were 8, 5 and 2. A lot changes in three years when you're young.
She was finished by 11:30 AM and I could have driven over to the Ambassador Bridge and joined my Windsor friends at their weekly Women In Black vigil, but I decided to go to the park instead. As it is, I will be in an activist mode five times this week, so time among the flowers seemed a good idea.
I drove over to Rheame Park on the Detroit River, fifteen minutes from Leesa's hair salon. This small city park has lush and lovely flower gardens, as well as delightful topiary. It is also the home of the Peace Fountain. Of course I took photos and, in order to give you a sense of walking through the gardens at my side, I've just created the Rheame Park photo album 2004.
After sitting beside the water for about an hour, letting the breezes cool me on this rather warm day, I got in Sojourner and headed towards Erie Street, home of Windsor's Italian community. After finding handicapped parking on the street, I was disappointed to discover that my favorite restaurants were inaccessible. So I made do with a sidewalk cafe where I had an Italian soda, caesar salad and gelato for dessert. It wasn't the thin-crusted quatro fromage pizza I had my heart set on, but I think I'll survive.
Then I sat in a line on Goyeau Street for 50 minutes until I finally made it into the tunnel. Although the border guard on the U.S. side let me through without even looking at my passport and driver's license, the whole process still took an hour. That's what happens when I wait until 3 or 3:30 PM to return home. I get caught in the Wiindsor Casino traffic coming back to the States. I'll keep that in mind the next time.
But I have no complaints. It was a beautiful, relaxing day. Hope it was the same for you.
THURSDAY, JULY 1, 2004
Hey, George W. ain't the only "Stupid White Man" (see Michael Moore's book) in town. I'd guess every community has its share. Here in mine, they seem to like sitting on the Library Board. They operate much like our Commander-In-Chief: secrecy is a given, control a big issue, accountability doesn't exist, appearance wins over substance, basic human needs are ignored, Big Money interests determine policy, and anyone with brains and education is considered a threat. The main difference between our current Prez and the Library Board is that the former can be voted out of office--May it happen!--while the latter are appointed, it seems, for life.
With that kind of "leadership"
it should come as no surprise that our community's librarians
and support staff are entering their third year without a contract.
But, dammit, that is soon going to change. These beleagured folks--each one an exceptional asset to our community--have finally said, "Enough already!" and this week started going public with their complaints.
On Monday, they picketed and leafleted the official Groundbreaking for a new library building, and today they mounted a demonstration in front of our Central Branch library while contract negotiations were going on upstairs. On Monday I'd guess there were 20 of us picketing, but today we must have had 35-40 folks of all ages marching up and down the sidewalk, carrying signs (photos #1, #2, #3 & #4) and chanting
"2-4-6-8 Library staff deserves a break"
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?" "Now!"
As you might have guessed, I was a lead chanter, but, hey, many of these folks had never picketed anything in their lives. I must admit I did have my work cut out to get these "Please-be quiet-in-the-library" folks to open up and give proper voice to their chants. But after a little coaching, they caught on. Actually they did so well that the librarians' negotiating team heard us from inside the building and came out on the balcony to applaud!
Our numbers kept swelling as library patrons joined us. One patron even gave us flowers and chocolates to show her support. I was most touched by the youngsters who love their library enough to take to the streets to see that the storylady gets the pay and benefits she deserves (photo #1 & #2). And spouses and children of several of the library staff joined in as well (photo #1, #2 & #3).
I sensed that many of my sister and brother demonstrators were surprised at their ability to put themselves and their concerns forward in such a public way. For three years they have continued to go to work every day, giving us library patrons the best they have to give, while not being paid a living wage and having to worry about inadequate benefits.
As for myself, I will never forget the special help I received from one of the librarians soon after September 11. I'd gone to our Central Branch--my library for 33 years--in hopes of finding information on Islam and the Arab culture. After 9/11 I'd decided to volunteer at a Dearborn K-5 school where at least 85% of the student body was Muslim of Arab descent. Within a week I had 16 books and 4 videos to use as resources! That's what I mean about an excellent group of librarians and support staff.
So today we all found our voices. And Kathleen, the Children's Librarian, may have found a new calling as leafleter. She was awesome!
We will continue our protests until a new contract is signed. As I told my sister and brother picketers, going public is the only way. In a small community like ours especially. There's no place for the Library Board to hide here. Secret no longer.
FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2004
A belated note to explain why I didn't post an entry on this day:
Lunch in Royal Oak with Jackie and Jan took more time than I'd expected because I had to go to the police station and file an accident report. My precious Sojourner was hit by a shard of mortar off a building under construction, and sustained her first dent. Not serious, but irritating and time-consuming. I was home by 4 PM and went straight to bed for a short, but sorely needed, nap. By 6:45 PM, Pat and I were off to Ann Arbor to see the all-women's jazz group, Straight Ahead, perform at the Firefly jazz club. Eileen Orr, their pianist, had called yesterday morning to ask me to attend. She said the trio would be performing a composition she was dedicating to me. She said she couldn't have finished writing it without my encouraging words to her on Monday night. Called "Full Moon Wise Women," Eileen on piano, Marion Hayden on bass, and Gaylynne McKinney on drums created *magic* with it last night! Pat and I stayed for two sets, and I didn't get home until 1:30 AM. Knowing I had to get up early to attend our friend Bob's funeral on Saturday morning, I went right to bed.
SATURDAY, JULY 3, 2004
The 4th of July 2004
Stars and stripes forever
Rivers of blood run down the white of forgetfulness
Stars shine on the uncounted dead in Iraq
A midnight blue sky anchors each star in grief
Rivers of blood run down
the white of forgetfulness
Picnickers clothe themselves in this symbol of American hubris
A midnight blue sky anchors each star in grief
Why do our people not weep?
Picnickers clothe themselves
in this symbol of American hubris
They wave flags that the world now hates
Why do our people not weep?
I weep, and use their flag to wipe my eyes
They wave flags that the
world now hates
Stars shine on the uncounted dead in Iraq
I weep, and use their flag to wipe my eyes
Stars and stripes forever
by Patricia Lay-Dorsey
SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2004
I'm too excited to sleep. Although my alarm wasn't set to go off until 7:45 AM, I've been up since shortly after 6 AM. Certainly not my norm!
Today the Raging Grannies Without Borders are not only going to be part of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace contingent in the annual July 4th parade, but we are the FEATURED artists. Artists? Well, activists. The indefatigable members of AAACP, under Phillis Engelbert's able leadership, have decorated a peace float on which the Grannies will ride. We'll even have our own sound system. BIG TIME!
A year ago we Raging Grannies marched and sang in this same parade at the side of over 70 AAACP peace activists and friends. The parade route through the center of town was lined with women, children and men dressed in red-white-and-blue and waving American flags. We were surprised at their reactions to us counter-cultural older women and our anti-war songs. They cheered and cheered! So often we preach to the converted, but on this day we were really "out among them," so to speak. It was great.
After today's parade we're meeting at Amer's restaurant on State Street to get some nourishment and talk with anyone who might be interested in starting a Raging Grannies gaggle in Ann Arbor. Since we're based in Detroit, it's a trip--about an hour each way--for women from Ann Arbor at attend our meetings. Besides, most of our gigs are in Detroit. Peace folks in Ann Arbor have been so receptive whenever we've sung at their rallies and marched in their parades, that we suspect there's enough interest for them to have their own gaggle. It'd be wonderful to have sisters close by.
By the way, if you found the poem I posted yesterday to be rather dark, it had come out of my discouragement at having seeing a ton of red-white-and-blue star-spangled-bannered tableclothes, flag-decorated shirts/shorts/hats/swimsuits/beach chairs, and waving flags at our community park yesterday. I know these are traditional symbols of the 4th of July, but after what this country has done and continues to do in Iraq and elsewhere, it made me sick to see such patriotic fervor. Talk about being a stranger in a strange land.
Thank goddess, today I'll be with sisters and brothers who are also swimming against the tide. How that helps!!!
MONDAY, JULY 5, 2004
If you're a regular reader of my journal or blog, you've probably already figured out that July 4th is not among my favorite holidays. It hasn't been since George W's dad unleashed his war against Iraq in 1991. That year a peace friend and I mounted a two-person anti-war demo in front of our community's War Memorial community center, the end point of a parade in which young children waving American flags rode through our streets in an army tank. I remember my sign said, "Salute the USA at peace not at war."
But 13 years later, I was no longer standing with just one person but in the company of dozens and dozens of folks (photos #1, #2 & #3) who do not see war as the answer to anything. And more significantly, at my side were eight feisty Raging Grannies who take risks for peace every day, yesterday being no exception.
Let me tell you, simply getting ourselves up onto that peace float/flatbed truck--even with the able assistance of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace organizers and workers--was no small feat! There was Granny Marilyn with her bum knee and her cane climbing up on a chair and then scrambling onto the truck with not a word of complaint. Grannies Emilie and Magi, who are in their mid-80s, did the same. And I experienced my own sense of risk as the sound man, who assured me he worked out with weights, picked me up in his arms and deposited me onto the truck, then climbed up and lifted me in his arms to wait for Ona, my precious scooter that was undergoing her own risky adventure.
But once settled in our chairs and my scooter seat, we Grannies were ready to go! They had three microphones onboard--a new level of professionalism for us--so we didn't even have to strain our voices to be heard. At Phillis's invitation, we warmed up the crowd with our own version of July 4th songs, most of which give a new slant to the word "patriotic." Since we were in an area surrounded by peace people, we let it out a bit and sang some of our more satirical songs. I guess the sound system was pretty good because Phillis, the director of the AAACP, received a complaint from one of the parade marshals that someone had expressed the view that our songs were "inappropriate to the occasion!" Once we got on the road (photos #1, #2, #3) we were more circumspect and kept to the repertoire we'd decided made our feelings about war very clear but focused more on peace annd freedom.
The streets were lined with flag-waving families and stars-and-stripes clothed older couples, but among them were plenty of folks who expressed their agreement with our lyrics by cheering and holding up their fingers in a peace sign. Actually we got cheers and waves from all kinds of folks. I think just seeing these older women dressed in outrageous hats, colorful aprons, old-fashioned dresses and granny shawls, singing--often off key but always enthusiastically--surprised and tickled them. Of course we also saw our share of tight-lipped frowns, but that comes with the territory. We sang without a break along the entire parade route, perhaps a mile and a half.
The moment I'll most remember came down on Main Street when the Blue Angels fighter jets roared overhead, drowning out our voices. We immediated started singing GranMotoko's song that goes (to the tune of "Frere Jacques"):
Are you sleeping?
Are you sleeping?
Uncle Sam? Uncle Sam?
Anti-war bells ringing
Hear the people singing
NO to war!
NO TO WAR!
After the parade, we met at Amer's restaurant on State Street for a bite to eat and to talk with anyone who might be interested in starting an Ann Arbor gaggle of the Raging Grannies. We were delighted to have Emily and Joy join us. With our own Granny Marilyn's help, it looks like an Ann Arbor gaggle might indeed come into being. Let's hear it for Ann Arbor!
Granny Judy and I got back to the east side of Detroit around 3 PM. I called my friend Pat Kolon to arrange our evening activity, and lay down for a much-needed nap. By 6 PM Pat and I were on our way to the Taste Fest, another of Detroit's free summer festivals. This one is a true street fest located in the New Center area beside the Fisher Building where my Eddie had his office for at least twenty years. It gets its name from the blocks of booths serving food from Detroit area restaurants. There are also playscapes for kids (and adults), a block of booths run by local artists, and four sound stages with continuous music of all different kinds.
Pat and I first explored our food options. We finally settled on Polish dill pickle soup for her, gazpacho soup as well, and an East Indian veggie combo plate for each of us. We also enjoyed watching children and adults climb the "mountain" on Second Avenue (photos #1 & #2).
It was good to see that the shooting tragedy at the Detroit Fireworks display a couple weeks ago had not seemed to scare anyone off. The streets were PACKED with people!
After dinner we walk/scooted over to the Fisher Building parking lot where Pat recalled having seen a long line of porta-potties. As always, they had two handicap-accessible potties that I could ride into on my scooter. There was even toilet paper still available at 8 PM! And they also have handwashing machines in that area. Nice.
We looked to our right and saw TONS of people sitting and standing in front of what was billed as the Main Stage. We went over to see what was going on, and ran in to a friend of Pat's, Sean, who is a singer/guitarist himself. He told us that Buddy Guy, one of the best blues guitarists in the country, was scheduled to perform in a few minutes. We decided to stay.
WELL...Sean sure knew what he was talking about! Buddy Guy and his band put on a FABULOUS show. A happy surprise was seeing Granny Josie and her husband Tony sitting beside us. And then Tom, a fellow we often see at Detroit's festivals, came up and gave us each a cookie.
Did that audience ever get into Buddy Guy's music! Not just his music, either, but his ability to galvanize the crowd. When he left the stage and started walking through the audience, I thought people were going to go off their rockers. And when he came up to me (!), stopped with a smile on his face, leaned down to kiss me and say, "Hey, I love ya!", and then put my hand on the strings of his guitar and told me to strum it...I knew I was going off MY rocker!!!! His assistant gave me a guitar pick with Buddy's name and "Let it tear" printed on it. After that I was famous in our section!
But that wasn't all. Soon after Buddy had made his tour through the audience, it started to sprinkle. No one left; folks just donned rain ponchos and opened their umbrellas. Soon I saw people looking over their shoulders and grinning like children. Behind us was the most beautiful rainbow hanging across the sky! Pure magic.
We stayed at the festival until the last musical group sang and played their final note. That was the Urban Folk Collective, a wonderful band of young Detroiters who had me up on my feet dancing the whole time!
Pat stayed here overnight and we're enjoying a quiet morning and afternoon before we head back down to the Taste Fest. What a surprisingly wonderful 4th of July!
TUESDAY, JULY 6, 2004
From Kathleen, the "Story Lady" at our library:
Thank you to everyone who has supported us. The union negotiating team will be meeting with the mediator and Library Board lawyer this Thursday, July 8 at 5 pm. While they meet, we plan to picket outside the Central Branch, 10 Kercheval (the corner of Kercheval and Fisher Rd.), Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236 from 5-6:30 pm. We welcome all.
I hope to have a website up and running soon. In the meantime, thanks to Patricia for letting me post comments and update everyone. If anyone needs directions or more information, please feel free to email me.
The Grosse Pointe School Board (that approves the "appointments" of Library Board members) will be meeting next Monday, July 12, 7 pm, at Grosse Pointe South High School (the corner of Fisher Rd. and Grosse Pointe Blvd.), Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236. We are trying to get as many people as possible to attend the meeting. Come at 6:30 PM and join our picketing in the parking lot.
Also, the Library Board will meet on Monday, July 26, at 7pm, at the Grosse Pointe Neighborhood Club. We want as many people as possible to attend that meeting. I am hoping we can really turn the heat up and increase the pressure.
Kathleen E. Gallagher
Librarian, Youth Services
Grosse Pointe Public Library
When we talked today, Kathleen told me she plans to picket/leaflet outside the Central Branch every Thursday at 5 PM until they get a contract. She would LOVE to have supporters join her. I also learned that last Thursday's contract negotiations were totally unsuccessful. But the library patrons are getting behind the librarians and library staff as they begin to hear about the situation. It helps that each member of the library staff is now wearing a shocking pink button that says "3rd Year--No Contract" on the job. They've also taken out an ad in the Grosse Pointe News that should run this week.
The more public attention we can get, the better. So if you want to show solidarity to our woefully underpaid librarians and library staff, we would appreciate your help.
1. Grosse Pointe Public Librarians and Support Staff are entering their third year with no contract.
2. Grosse Pointe Library employees hired after 1994: lowest paid/worst benefits in Southeast Michigan of all comparable libraries.
3. Library Board admits, and the impartial Fact Finding Report confirms, the ability to pay fair and equitable wages, benefits and pensions without raising taxes!
2003-2004 Grosse Pointe
4. MERC Fact Finder's
"Woefully underpaid" states Fact Finder.
The Library Staff accepts the Report.
The Library Board rejects the Report.
GROSSE POINTE NEEDS AN ELECTED LIBRARY BOARD
Accountability: The Library Board members are appointed by the Grosse Pointe School Board, and have no term limits and under the District Library Establishment Act of 1989 are permitted to issue bonds without voter approval, unlike all school districts and municipalities in Michigan.
$9,900,000 for a new G.P. Park Branch
$10,300,000 for a new G.P. Woods Branch
Michigan Representative Edward Gaffney is sponsoring legislation in Lansing to amend the District Library Establishment Act to give Grosse Pointe the option of an elected Library Board with full accountability to the Grosse Pointe taxpayers.
Voice Your Support:
Call 1-888-254-LAW1 or
WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2004
Last night I checked out a blog I read occasionally--brokenclay.org--and clicked on a link posted there. The link was to a blog called Erik's Multiple Sclerosis (MS) blog. It is written by a fellow who was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS in May 2003. After reading a few entries I was struck by how the combination of meds he takes for the MS affects his quality of life.
As one of a minority of persons diagnosed with MS who has chosen to live medicine-free, I felt it was important to write and tell him a bit of my story. In the US, one doesn't hear very much about this option. It then occurred to me that maybe other folks would find my perspective helpful, so this is what I said:
I found your blog last night through a link on brokenclay.org. Good for you to be willing to put it all out there so honestly! Blogs are great tools for expressing our own truth and helping others to understand what we live day-to-day. I've kept a daily online journal since February 2000 and a blog since December 2003, so I know how helpful it can be.
By the way, I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 1988, so we have some things in common. I know that your diagnosis is more recent and of the relapsing/remitting type, but just dealing with the mysteries of this chronic condition gives us a bit of a connection.
Your entries give me the impression that the meds are giving you more grief than the MS itself. From what I understand, that is common. I'm also inclined to question whether some of the symptoms you mention--specifically loss of short-term memory--might well be meds-related rather than a manifestation of the MS. Friends of mine who use meds like Zoloft often complain of problems with their memory.
I bring this up to say that there are other options. Not other medicines, but the option of living medicine-free. Most neurologists will not tell their patients this. Seems their only concern is which meds to prescribe, how they interact when used together, and what dosage the patient can tolerate. Please don't think I'm going to tell you about some nutritional supplement or other "miracle" treatment for MS; I'm not. I just want you to know that not everyone who is diagnosed with MS buys into the use of medicines.
So what do I do instead of takng meds? Basically, I live as healthy a life as I can. No alcohol, no caffeine (not even chocolate), no meat/chicken/seafood, lots of sleep, good exercise (for me that means swimming a half mile of laps a couple times a week plus working out at the gym with a personal trainer), getting out among people LOTS, enjoying the jazz concerts I love, music festivals (one of which is a weeklong camp-out with 1000s of women in Western Michigan), singing in women's groups, anti-war activist demonstrations where I sing with a group I co-founded here in Detroit called the Raging Grannies, etc. I use whatever assistive devices I need to stay active and independent (first a cane, then a walker, and now a combination of scooter and walker, plus my newly-purchased handicap-accessible minivan). And most importantly, I don't spend too much time focusing on the MS. My life is too full for that.
In relation to medical care, again I've traveled a different path from most people. My neurologist retired 4-5 years ago and I just haven't bothered to get another one. Except for going to a dermatologist to check out my moles, an opthamologist to prescribe my glasses, and orthopedic surgeons for my occasional broken bones due to falls, I haven't seen any doctors in years. I used to go to a wonderful acupuncturist, but when I started doing regular exercise I found I didn't even need that. The only meds I take are multi-vitamins, calcium and the very occasional aspirin for a minor headache. I've never taken any meds for the MS. My blood pressure is 90/64 and I consider myself to be extremely healthy. By the way, I recently turned 62.
I don't know if this helps, but at least it lets you see that there are different options available to you.
May you find your best path to a full and healthy life.
THURSDAY, JULY 8, 2004
Here are some pictures I took on last night's after-dinner scoot. If you only have time to look at one, be sure you click on the "white rose against the sky":
Our neighbor's daylilies
across the street.
A close-up of one of the daylilies.
A pink rose I saw on my "singing street"
A white rose against the sky.
A sailboat on the lake.
Clouds in a sunset sky.
FRIDAY, JULY 9, 2004
I was too exhausted last night to write and tell you I was too exhausted to put up my journal, but after a good 6-7 hours sleep, I'm feeling fine.
After a good hard workout at the gym, I joined Thursday's solidarity picketing in front of the library (photos #1, #2 & #3). The librarians' and the library support staff negotiating teams were again meeting inside to try to work out a fair and equitable contract with the Library Board lawyer.
I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why the Library Board refuses to pay our librarians and library support staff a decent wage, with acceptable benefits and pension. It isn't as if they don't have the money: they do. What in the world are they thinking? But at least now the community knows how obstinate the Library Board is being, and they're having none of it. Each time we take to the streets, there are more of us and we're getting quite feisty too. Our chants are louder--thanks to activist David Sole's megaphone yesterday--and we're receiving good publicity. We were front page news in both the Grosse Pointe Times and the Grosse Pointe News, and yesterday Channel 4 was there filming our picket line and interviewing participants. May John Bruce and the Library Board be ashamed of themselves!
We had wonderful signs, some old and some new:
Honk If You Care
Nice Place To Visit, Bad Place To Work
Thank You, Patrons, for Supporting Your Library Staff
G.P. Librarians--Lowest Paid In Southeastern MI
We Want To Stay, But Need Better Pay
3rd Year, No Contract
Tell the Library Board It's Time For A Change
G.P Library: Best Patrons, Best Staff, Worst Pay
Can't Keep Quiet Any Longer
C'mon Board, Soften Your Hearts!
It's Time To Increase Wages, Benefits & Pensions
The librarians and support staff had new leaflets to hand out, water and chairs to assist the picketers, and lots of support from family, friends, colleagues and library patrons. And after a cold, grey day, we had sun and mild temperatures. We concluded at 6:30 PM by holding a brief rally under the balcony where the Librarians' Negotiating Team stood, applauding us. We applauded them right back.
Our next solidarity event is Monday, July 12. We're to meet in the Grosse Pointe South High School parking lot (corner of Grosse Pointe Blvd. and Fisher Rd, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236) at 6:30 PM to picket for a half hour before we go inside at 7 PM to attend the G.P. School Board meeting. They are the group that appoints the Library Board and they need to hear how we feel about the Board's conduct.
I feel SO encouraged that we will win this struggle. With community support and publicity, there's no way we can lose. Solidarity Forever!
It's been a productive day. Four of us Raging Grannies--Kathy, Charlotte, Judy and I--went to the University of Windsor across the river in Ontario to see about arrangements for the Unconvention that our gaggle is hosting in the spring of 2006. This is the biennial gathering of Raging Grannies from around the world. It's hard to imagine, but we need to get things set as soon as possible in terms of dates, types of accommodations, meeting rooms, food and a general idea of the costs. The University of Windsor, where we plan to hold the Unconvention, already has several conferences planned for 2006.
We were fortunate to have a wonderful fellow working with us. Phil has recently come to the University specifically to increase their conference business. Since he's worked in a seniors-oriented travel business for years, he was most sensitive to our needs. But I think he was surprised and delighted when we started telling him about the Raging Grannies and what we do. When we sang him a couple of our songs, he was obviously tickled.
It appears that the University of Windsor has a couple of good options for us. Now to see what kind of package they can work out for us, money-wise. Phil doesn't make those decisions but our guess is that he will be advocating on our behalf.
After our two-hour tour of dorms and meeting facilities on the campus, we went to a Chinese restaurant Judy and I know for lunch. As part of the Unconvention, we Raging Grannies--probably 80 or more of us--will put on a Granny rage in Windsor. Of course we can't know what issue will be prominent then, but we're already writing down ideas. The chances are we'll bus the Grannies into the middle of Windsor for the rage, and go to a restaurant for dinner afterwards. This restaurant--the Jade--came to mind as a possibility because of its central location, large airy room with lots of tables, and excellent food. Our waitress seemed confident that they could handle it.
It was pretty obvious that they could handle large numbers of patrons because today the room was filled with families enjoying dim sum. We ordered dim sum ourselves--which I adore but haven't had since I was last in San Francisco--and found it to be delicious. By the way, dim sum makes me think of my friend Jeff. I can see us enjoying a lunch together at a superb Chinese restaurant in the Sunset district of San Francisco, and delighting in all the tastes and textures of the dim sum they'd pass around on trays. If I remember correctly, we stuffed ourselves!
Today the Grannies and I were home by 3 PM. After last night's strange pattern of sleep, I was ready for a nap. I didn't wake up until 5:45 PM. Knowing Ed and I are going to Ann Arbor early in the morning, I'm going to try to go to bed at a reasonable time tonight, but getting to sleep might be a challenge. Just lying there relaxing will help. I never mind doing that.
SATURDAY, JULY 10, 2004
This presidential election campaign has more complexities than most...even among people who plan to vote for the same candidate. Everyone in my circle of friends wants Bush out. That's a given. But when you dig deeper, it's not unusual to find differences of opinion as to how to make that happen.
At today's meeting of the Raging Grannies, this topic came up and a passionate discussion ensued. We'd been invited to sing at two Democratic fundraisers for Kerry, but since we'd always identified ourselves as "non-partisan"--as a gaggle, not as individuals--we needed to decide whether or not we were going to hold to that.
Wow. That's when the floodgates opened.
I said emphatically that I will be voting AGAINST Bush but not FOR Kerry. Yes, I'll cast my ballot for Kerry, but I do not support most of his policies, especially his pro-Israel anti-Palestinian policies. Another Granny said that she insists on her right to choose the best candidate, so might even vote for Nader. The Granny beside her said that amounted to a vote for Bush. The first Granny disagreed. Another Granny said she has always supported the Democratic Party and will be doing so this time, even if she disagrees with their candidate's policies. Whether or not the Raging Grannies decide to sing at the Detroit-area Democratic fundraiser, she plans to attend as a supporter. Sitting in the chair beside her was a Granny who wants to sing not at the fundraisers themselves, but on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to give voice to our desire that Kerry espouse peace and justice instead of more war and oppression. Her suggestion was countered by yet another Granny who said that might be seen as anti-Kerry and we shouldn't do anything that might give that impression: it is too important to get Bush out. That opinion was echoed by another Granny who expressed concern that progressives were doing damage to Kerry's chances of beating Bush by criticizing him so strongly. She maintained that we'll have plenty of time to protest Kerry's policies AFTER we get him elected. Two other Grannies stressed that helping to get the vote out was the most important thing we could do, and that we should be working on voter registrations.
As I said, this campaign has more complexities than most.
After a healthy expression of our individual views, we reached a group consensus: we will remain non-partisan as a gaggle, and will not accept invitations to sing at political fundraisers. Nor will we sing as Raging Grannies in any place that might do damage to Kerry's chances of being elected. To us, being against the re-election of George W. Bush is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of saving the planet. We are not opposing him because he's a Republican, but because he is the worst--and most dangerous--president in American history. We MUST get him out!
SUNDAY, JULY 11, 2004
What a lovely summer weekend! Yesterday morning Ed and I drove to Ann Arbor and went to the Farmer's Market in Kerrytown. While there, we ran into our dear friend Frank Blumenthal, whom Ed has known since they were boys together in Ann Arbor's Angell School in the 1930s. We walk/scooted around town a bit, and got home in time for my Raging Grannies meeting at 2 PM.
This morning I swam laps down at the park pool. On the way home I ran into our neighbor Al Mackey who said that her son, Bill, and his partner, Andrea, were in town for the weekend and wanted to see Ed and me. Since I'd planned to go visit Casey and Jeanne out at their home in the country, I scooted over to Al and Bill's in hopes of seeing Bill and Andrea before I left. We had a wonderful visit out back.
By 3:30 PM, I was at Casey and Jeanne's which is at its loveliest. I'm sorry I neglected to bring my camera because the lilies alone--at least 20 different varieties--were breathtaking. Not to mention the other flowers and vegetables, many of which towered over me in my scooter. I had iced tea that Casey had made from flowers in their garden, and our dinner consisted of lettuces, radishes and all manner of tasty green plants and herbs as well as freshly picked red and black raspberries over ice cream for dessert. Perfect on this hot summer day! Just being with these wonderful women was the greatest treat of all.
I got back home by 9 PM and had a good visit with Eddie before coming upstairs to write this entry, and, hopefully, get to bed early.
I dearly LOVE summer.
MONDAY, JULY 12, 2004
There's nothing like a struggle to build a sense of community. I've lived here for 33 years and never before have I felt so much a part of this community. Until now I've always identified primarily with Detroit, but there's something about this injustice to our library staff and the public pickets that have risen up around it that is changing my definition of community. And if that hadn't happened before, it most certainly would have happened tonight.
Tonight was the School Board meeting, and not only did we picket out in front of the high school where it was to be held, but at least 15 residents got up during the "public comments" part of the meeting and told the school board members what the librarians and library staff mean to them and their families. They also said in no uncertain terms what they think of the Library Board (that is appointed by the School Board) and the shabby way they've been treating our excellent librarians and support staff. Many openly expressed their outrage and shame at the fact that these people, who are irreplaceable assets to our community, have been forced to go out on the streets and picket in order to bring attention to the fact that they are now in their third year without a contract. Former librarians spoke. Mothers spoke, one with her children at her side. Long-time residents spoke.
It was a real example of a community finding its voice and saying to its elected officials, "Do something! Don't just sit there!" There was a repeated call for the Library Board to be elected, to be held accountable to the tax-payers whose money they so liberally spend on buildings but not on people. But even before that can happen, the community is saying--is insisting--that the School Board step in and do whatever it takes to cut through this impasse.
I was sitting beside the librarians and library staff who filled the first three rows. They were dressed in black and wore their pink "3rd Year--No Contract" pins. And many of them wept as they heard--FINALLY--what they mean our community, how we value them. And theirs weren't the only wet eyes in that high school library. I saw a brand new School Board member, Ahmed Ishmael, wipe his eyes at one point. That's a good sign.
But we're not going to stop there. A number of folks read letters they've written to our local newspaper about this issue. We're supporting our local Michigan House representative's bill that would give our community the option of electing its Library Board. We'll be out in full force at the next Library Board meeting on July 26--watch out!!!--and we're going to continue picketing in front of the Central Branch every Thursday from 5-6:30 PM. I'll be there with the Raging Grannies this coming Thursday, singing songs I'm adapting from our solidarity pickets with the Border's workers in Ann Arbor last winter.
If you want to join us at any of these events and need more information, feel free to contact me, or email Kathleen, the Youth Services librarian at the Central Branch. We can use all the support we can get.
TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2004
This is one of those summer days when you do your best not to be crabby. For me that means avoiding close encounters with people. It is not only hot but oppressively humid. A day when you keep saying to yourself, "When is it going to rain!?!" It was also the day I work out at the gym with Matt. Yep, I'm pretty much good for nothing right now.
It's 6 PM and I'm sitting at the computer with my fan set on "medium," pointed directly at me. This is no time for oscillation. Before I came upstairs, I sat in the living room with another fan--our large floor fan--pointed right at me while I devoured a book I just got from the library, Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones." It's hard to put down.
I realize my need for solitude comes not just from the weather, but from a string of peopled days and nights that started last Wednesday. As gregarious as I seem, I have to weigh people-time with alone-time. And alone-time has gotten short shrift of late. I am so fortunate to live with a fellow who needs even more solitude than I. He always understands when I go into my cave.
May it rain!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2004
I can't remember the last time a book has consumed me as totally as Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" did. I read all day long--except for maybe an hour or two--and finished it tonight. My goodness. What a story. And, to tell you the truth, if someone had outlined the plot for me ahead of time, I doubt if I would have bothered. I mean, do you see me reading a book about someone who's died and gone to "heaven"? Not too likely. But fortunately, when my friend Diana, the librarian, saw me looking in the Fiction stacks, she brought this book over with the words, "It got rave reviews and has won numerous awards. I think you'll like it." That kind of recommendation means a lot to me. She then said, "It's kind of dark: it's about a rape." But if it's well written, I can manage "dark." After all, I love Margaret Atwood.
Anyway, I'm not going to give you a book report, but instead want to share what this book triggered in me.
It made me think of persons I call the "unsettled dead." These are women, men and/or children who have either died violently, or before they were ready. They are the ones who make you feel uneasy when they come to mind. Occasionally you can hear their cries in your sleep, or feel their sadness in your waking. Sometimes they carry you into the killing fields where they died. The extent to which you experience them depends on your willingness to "suffer with," which is the definition of compassion.
It might be someone you knew, but often not. I can recall experiencing the unsettled dead of El Salvador, particularly the housekeeper and her daughter who were killed with the six Jesuit priests at the University in November 1989, the Tutsis as they were massacred in Ruwanda, the people of Iraq during the first Gulf War/the 12 years of sanctions that killed millions of children/and Bush's war that started on March 19, 2003 and seems like it will never end.
I have also known a number of "unsettled dead" personally. The one who comes most readily to mind is my "heart friend and train buddy," Joel Payne. He died of complications from AIDS on November 30, 1994. Joels was only 35 years old and not ready to die. The night of the day I learned of his death--December 1, 1994--I attended a World AIDS Day Remembrance Service at a church in Windsor, Ontario. I did not find Joels there, but instead he came to me after I left early and started driving with my windows wide open through the cold, dark fields surrounding the city. He howled and wept through me on that drive, loudly and messily, with no restraint. I knew then that it would be a long time before Joels would find even a measure of peace.
During my six winters in San Francisco, I often felt Joels at my side. Sometimes he was happy, other times, sad. I could tell he missed his city dreadfully, but it seemed to comfort him that I was there. I know it was Joels who found me the perfect sublet apartment in the Mission. Joels who got me singing in his beloved chorus, the Lesbian-Gay Chorus of SF. Joels who shared his friends with me, especially Jeff, Scott and Phil who became like family. Joels who showed me his favorite hang-outs in the Castro. Joels who sat with me in my darkened apartment, with incense burning and a cup of hot herbal tea at my side. Joels whom I saw in every bubble I blew off my balcony with my soap bubble wand.
But as time passed, Joel's presence grew dimmer, until finally he was gone. I know that was when he had finally made his peace with death. It took 8 years.
Please don't mistake my words for those of someone who believes in "heaven" or "hell." I don't. But what I do believe in is the willingness of the dead to give up their hold on life and the living...or not. I believe it can take a long time for the "unsettled dead" to come to peace. I also believe that some persons--like my mother--release their hold so thoroughly while they are still alive, that when they stop breathing they disappear as gently as morning mist lifts off a lake. And their legacy is a feeling of deep peace whenever they come to mind.
So read "The Lovely Bones" and see where it takes you.
THURSDAY, JULY 15, 2004
Another union contract negotiating session inside the library; another picket out on the streets. This time the Raging Grannies--Charlotte, Judy and myself--joined the picket and sang songs I'd adapted from our solidarity rages with the Ann Arbor Borders' workers last winter. I'd made 60 copies hoping to have folks sing along with us, but couldn't drum up any interest at first. Much later, while we were waiting for the Metro Times photographer to show up, Kathleen (the children's librarian at the Central Branch) and Nancy (a member of the support staff at the Grosse Pointe Park branch) stood with us and sang their hearts out.
Speaking of the Metro Times, today I finally met Ann Mullen, the reporter who had traveled to Lebanon to interview my brother Rabih Haddad last winter, and who'd returned home to write an excellent article about him . I felt like I was meeting a sister.
Next on our library solidarity calendar is the Library Board meeting next Monday, July 19, at 7 PM at the Neighborhood Club (17150 Waterloo, Grosse Pointe, MI 48230). Interestingly enough, they've changed their published meeting date twice in the past two weeks. Scared, are we? But, believe me, there is no place they can hide in this community; it's too small. And you can be sure that John Bruce and the Library Board watched last Monday's School Board meeting on cable TV. They know what's coming and I doubt if they're looking forward to it. With all the recent newspaper articles, editorial, letters to the editor, front-page photos and TV news report about the outpouring of community support for our library staff, there has not been a peep out of the Library Board president, John Bruce. He has been "unavailable for comment."
Well, next Monday--or whenever they actually end up having the July Library Board meeting--there are going to be LOTS of library patrons "available for comment," myself included! I would really like to know the Board's rationale for refusing to accept the Michigan Employment Relations Committee (MERC) Fact Finder's report and recommendations. They've got a LOT of explaining to do.
FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2004
I am putting up today's journal entry early because tonight is the start of another Detroit free music festival weekend, the Concert Of Colors at Chene Park. I've been told this is the largest free festival of World Music held annually in North America. It is co-sponsored by two community organizations--New Detroit and ACCESS (the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services)--and Daimler Chrysler. This year's line-up includes both Ani DeFranco and Little Richard. Now there's an example of the diversity this festival celebrates! But they aren't all. We'll be seeing and hearing musicians from many countries, each of which is represented by residents of the greater Detroit metropolitan area.
How grateful I am to live in such a multi-racial, culturally-diverse community!
If you're a regular reader, you already know that this is one of my favorite festivals of the year. If so inclined, you can see pictures of previous Concerts by going to my Music Festivals web page and clicking on the Concert Of Colors links.
I don't expect to be putting up another journal entry until Monday, so I'm sending you good wishes for a great weekend!
SATURDAY, JULY 17, 2004
I surprised myself by getting up early this morning and having the time and inclination to put up my photos and write a journal entry about Friday night at the Concert of Colors. I can't promise what will happen tomorrow morning--actually, I expect to go for a swim--but you can get the first installment of this weekend's activities by going to my Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal. The festival is FABULOUS so far!
MONDAY, JULY 19, 2004
It's almost 1:30 AM (Tuesday morning) and I'm totally immersed in all that I saw, heard and experienced at the Concert of Colors this past weekend. Even though it is going to take many more hours to complete my Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal, I am relishing the opportunity it gives me to relive and begin to integrate all that happened. What a remarkable weekend!
But my work with photos and journal entries didn't stop me from doing laps at the pool this afternoon, spending time with my sweetie at dinner, on an after-dinner walk/scoot, and watching a video ("Seabisquit") together tonight.
Yes, life is to be shared via the internet, but more importantly, it is to be lived. And I certainly do feel that I've been living life to the full of late. I am so grateful.
TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2004
Another hot humid summer day. I value every one, especially now that we're in the final weeks of July. It's going too fast. On tonight's after-dinner walk/scoot, we noticed it was already getting dark by 9 PM. A month ago it didn't get dark until almost 10 PM. For a summer-lover like me, these "dog-days of summer" (July 15-August 15) are precious.
Today was my weekly work-out session at the gym with Matt. Wow, that man really works me hard! But we both see such improvement in my strength, endurance, balance and abilities that I can only feel grateful, even when I'm straining and grunting. I must admit I get a kick out of having and showing off my new-found muscles. I now do pose-downs with the best of them. Poor Ed is always being instructed to "Feel these muscles!"
Believe it or not, I'm off to another music festival on Thursday morning. As I told a friend, summer is my festival season. That's why I'm working so hard to finish my Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal. After this coming weekend I'll have another photo-journal to put up...one from the National Women's Music Festival. I'm looking forward to this festival, which I think is my 6th or 7th NWMF since I started going in 1995. This year three friends--Sooz, Penny and Judy--and I are driving Sojourner my new handicap-accessible mini-van down to Columbus, Ohio together. Our friends Judith and Nancy plan to caravan behind us with their car. The festival is being held at Ohio State University. We'll be home late Sunday night.
Today I received an email from Steve Heath, the Events Coordinator of ACCESS, who is anticipating my photo-journal getting up online. He also mentioned recommending my name to Mohannad Haimour who is producing a new Arab newspaper and is looking for someone to write an account of the Concert of Colors. Steve's take on it was that I'd probably seen more of the festival than anyone, besides he said I'm an "excellent writer." What affirmation! Wish I could say yes, but I'm barely going to have time to do my own online account before leaving town early Thursday morning. Unfortunately Mohannad's deadline is Friday.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 2004
I'm done!!! My Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal is up and running. Hope you enjoy it.
And now on to the next festival, the National Women's Music Festival. My friends and I plan to leave Detroit tomorrow (Thursday) between 10-10:30 AM and hope to arrive at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio by 3-4 PM. Mapquest says it takes 4 hours but we'll be stopping for lunch on the way. I'm looking forward to the drive down as much as the festival itself. We four were part of recording the "O Beautiful Gaia" CD, and we're fortunate to have one low voice, two middles and one upper in the car, so we can sing in full harmony the whole way if we want!
If you're interested in reading about and seeing pictures of my past experiences at the NWMF, go to my Music Festivals page and scroll down until you find the links to the National Women's Music Festivals 2001 & 2002.
We will probably get home late Sunday night so I'd better not promise I'll write anything then. But I hope to see you on Monday. Have a great weekend!
Ann Mullen of the Detroit Metro Times wrote a good article about the Grosse Pointe library situation that appeared in today's edition of the paper. Click on "Book Poor: the Grosse Pointe library staff is making noise in labor spat" to read the article online.
© 2004 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.