Windchime Walker's Journal 54 Archive

To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal 1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal 2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal 3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal 4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal 5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal 6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7 archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal 8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal 9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal 10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal 11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal 12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal 13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal 14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal 15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal 16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal 17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal 18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal 19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal 20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal 21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal 22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal 23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal 24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal 25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal 26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal 27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal 28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal 29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal 30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal 31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal 32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal 33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal 34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal 35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal 36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal 37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal 38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal 39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal 40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal 41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal 42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal 43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal 44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal 45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal 46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal 47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal 48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal 49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal 50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal 51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal 52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal 53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal 54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal 55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal 56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal 57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal 58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal 59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal 60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06, Journal 73 archive 2/25-3/24/06, Journal 74 archive 3/25-4/24/06, Journal 75 archive 4/25-5/24/06

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

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MONDAY, JULY 26, 2004

Do you know what was hands-down the most fun of my entire four days away? The drive up and back! Not that I didn't have fun at the National Women's Music Festival, but those five hours traveling down to Columbus, Ohio on Thursday and the four hours coming home yesterday with my friends Penny Hackett-Evans, Peg/Sooz Collins and Judy Drylie were absolutely fantastic! Like an extended sleepover, we really let our hair down and talked about things I haven't talked about with my girlfriends since I was 13. Nothing was too personal, too controversial, too politically-incorrect or too silly to be discussed. And we sang and sang and sang. What a kick!

On the journey down, one of our topics of discussion was "What would you like to happen at the festival?" Judy wanted to have fun, Sooz wanted to know that women are working to get Bush out of office, Penny wanted to have a "high" similar to the one she'd had when she first played in the drumsong orchestra with Ubaka Hill at Michigan, and I wanted to dance LOTS AND LOTS. In one way or another we each got our wish.

This was a more challenging National Women's Music Festival than usual. It was held at a new location--Ohio State University--and the organizers had been through tough times with three different festival producers in one year. But it was the 30th anniversary of this icon of women's music, and that made it very special. Perhaps the most special moment of the whole weekend was when we learned that every single solitary performer was performing for free as their gift to the festival! And we had some of the most loved and respected performers of women's music and comedy: folks like Ubaka Hill, Alix Olson, Margie Adam, Cris Williamson, Suzanne Westerhoefer, Pamela Means, Tret Fure, Kara Barnard and Wishing Chair, Jamie Anderson, Lisa Koch, Ember Swift, Zoe Lewis, Vickie Shaw and Sister Funk.

For me, there was one serious challenge regarding accessibility. My "handicap-accessible" shower had no hand rails and the built-in seat was so far removed from the shower controls that I had to stand up (when I was soapy) and walk over to get the shower hose while trying to hold onto the wall; I came very close to falling. Ohio State needs to install hand rails in the showers of their accessible dorm rooms, or at least provide a shower chair if they want to stop putting disabled folks at risk.

Part of what made things especially hard was my tendency to compare OSU with Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana where I'd attended my 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th festivals. That university is a national award-winner for its campus-wide accessibility. But except for the dangerous shower situation at OSU, my other accessibility needs were met. Most of the doors had automatic door-openers, including the one to my dorm room. All the restrooms had handicap-accessible stalls and there were curb-cuts on the streets throughout the campus. To be honest, my dorm room was even more comfortable than the ones I'd had at Ball State--it had a sitting room with a couch and desk, a microwave oven and small refrigerator, as well as a separate bedroom with two twin beds.

But having a new venue meant lots of other comparisons were being made as well.

For instance, the cafeteria at Ball State had been excellent, with numerous stations for different types of homecooked food. We'd also had it totally to ourselves, so meal time was an opportunity to meet new people and/or visit with old friends. A real sense of community was formed there. The cafeteria was also the setting for our late-night Goddess Jam concerts and you could always buy snacks, pop, juices, desserts and sandwiches to nibble on while you listened to festi-goers perform.

At Ohio State University, the cafeteria was only open for breakfast, lunch and dinner...and it was full of young people attending cheerleading camps, church missionary programs, cultural exchanges and sports camps. It wasn't air-conditioned and was especially steamy on Thursday. They charged a flat rate for each meal, and many of us had paid for meal cards when we'd sent in our registration. I ended up eating only two dinners and one breakfast there, as the food wasn't especially good, the choices were limited--one vegetarian entree per meal in addition to a nice salad bar--and it was too far off the beaten track to bother with. I ate most of my meals at the food court in the Ohio Union which had lots of good choices and reasonable prices. Unfortunately, though, there was no late-night snacking because the food court closed after dinner. So on Friday night, Penny, Sooz and I found a local diner on High Street across the street from the campus, and shared a falafel sandwich, fried onion rings and Sooz had a donut. It reminded me of going to Tops Drive-In on Lee Highway across from my high school after night football games in the late '50s. Lots of fun!

And, although I wasn't originally enthusiastic about the workshops being offered, I ended up attending several that were enjoyable, involved wonderful women, and gave me new information and creative ideas.

I attended a Music Reading Made Easy workshop, a superb poetry-writing workshop, two Sacred Circle singing workshops, and one rehearsal of Wahru's Drum Orchestra. The Sacred Circle singing workshops planted the seed of an idea that I could start such a group here in the Detroit area. When I mentioned the idea to my friends in the car coming home, they were most enthusiastic. It's a pretty simple proposition, actually: I just get the word out to my women's singing groups, open my home once a month (we're thinking of having it from 3-5 PM on the second Sunday of every month starting in October), and have some chants and short songs ready to start us off. I plan to bring a tape recorder to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival so I can tape Coco's and Linda's Sacred Song Circle that is held Tuesday-Saturday mornings in the sacred grove. And, of course, each woman who joins us here in Detroit will bring (or compose) her own favorite chants and simple songs. Singing in circle like this, with no sheets of music to get in the way, or need to learn set harmonies (women are invited to create their own harmonies in song circles) helped me see what I've been missing. This is the way I like to sing.

Another gift of the weekend was seeing lots of women whom I've known at festivals over the years. In addition to festi-goers and craftswomen, I enjoyed reconnecting with Jamie Anderson, Wahru, Zoe Lewis, Alix Olson and Pamela Means. Alix surprised me by recognizing me and remembering my name on the Saturday night SheRocks! stage. As she was taking her bows, she grinned and said, "There's Raging Granny Patricia!" Then she, Pamela Means and I had a delightful conversation during the H.I.S. Drag King show later that night. Alix and Pamela are now on tour in Sweden, knocking them dead, I'm sure. I'll be seeing them again on the Night Stage at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival two weeks from this Wednesday!

If I were to choose my favorite concert of the four days, it would have to be the Saturday night SheRocks! concert that was held from 8-11 PM in the East Ballroom of the Ohio Union. Not only did Pamela Means perform solo with vocals and guitar, but she also teamed up with Alix Olson as Alix performed two poems. The second--a truthtelling one called "Pirates" that articulates all that the Bush administration has brought to our nation and the world in the past four years--reinforced my respect for this young woman who sees it like it is and tells it like a hammer nailed into your heart. They were followed by two bands--Swank with Mary Player from Cleveland and Toronto, and Sister Funk from Connecticut--that had me up on my feet from the first note until the last. Zowie!!! What musicians and what a beat! Mary Player, an older African-American R&B guitarist, positively blew me away.

I gave myself permission to stand out from the crowd whenever I felt called to do so. That meant standing up to dance when so inclined, performing with Wahru's Drum Orchestra on Sunday, parking my scooter where I could see--sometimes meaning I was right under the stage--and scooting up to give a dollar bill to the MC at the H.I.S. Drag King show late Saturday night. I was also perfectly comfortable being hidden from view, as at the Main Stage concerts where the disabled seating was in the last row of Wiegel Auditorium. I liked being up there because I could stand and dance without having to worry about blocking anyone's view. Whether hidden or out in the open, I felt totally free to be myself.

One of Ohio State's advantages over Ball State was having the crafts area right in the middle of things. I was delighted to see my favorite textile artist, Helen, was there with her Down Cellar Clothing. I found a new purple-blue jacket to replace the purple one I'd bought from her three years ago that is now looking pretty worn. Eddie had given me birthday $$ for "non-necessary" purchases, so I also bought a lovely Australian fire opal silver pendant on a chain. I tried to find tie-dyed leggings for my friend Rima's 60th birthday present, but Willow Moon didn't have any long pants with them. They promised to have a good selection at the Michigan festival, though. And after seeing Sooz having a tarot reading with Chris Rivers, I opted to do the same thing. It was most interesting, especially when the card I turned up to represent my life right now was the Moonwatcher from the Matriarchal Clan. Chris described it as the most powerful card in the entire deck, and said it meant I was currently at the height of my powers. She said I was destined to be a transformative agent in today's world. As I say, it was interesting.

All in all, it was a good festival for me. And I definitely got my wish. I doubt if anyone danced more than I did!

By the way, I've completed the first stage in preparing my digital photos to go online, so in the next day or two, you'll have a new festival photo album to peruse.


TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2004

My National Women's Music Festival 2004 photo-journal is up. By the way, I revised the text a bit since yesterday.


I don't know if I'd mentioned that dear Sojourner, my new handicap-accessible minivan, has had a bothersome problem since I bought her last May. Even though it is fitted with hand controls, I prefer using the foot controls. The problem is that the gas pedal is too far off the floor for my short legs and size 5 foot, meaning I always have to keep my leg elevated through shear muscle power in order to hold down the pedal. It doesn't really get to me except on trips over 50 miles or so. But knowing I'll be driving by myself to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival--about four and a half hours each way--I'd begun to try to find ways to correct the problem. I guess if you are tall and have long legs and relatively large feet, the accelerator would work fine for you, but being 4'10" puts me at a distinct disadvantage. One size DOESN'T fit all!

Through online research and talking to my local mobility store that converts minivans and vans into handicap-accessible vehicles, I discovered an item called "pedal extenders." These contraptions fit onto the existing gas and brake pedals and make them stand out an additional 2-5". Yesterday I talked with a distributor in California who assured me that his pedal extenders would take care of my problem. When I looked at the photos he emailed me, I wasn't so sure. They are mainly designed to help short-statured drivers become safer by allowing them to sit 10" behind the steering wheel so they won't be crushed if the air bag deploys. But in terms of extending the pedals closer to the floor? Maybe yes and maybe no.

So after working out with Matt today at the gym and then having lunch with Ed at the Subway next door, I came up with the idea of seeing if a couple of books on the floor might do the trick. Ed got one of his rarely-used medical books and a calculas text, taped them together with packing tape, then taped them to the movable platform that acts as my floor on the driver's side, and VOILA! It works like a charm!!!

For the first time since I used to drive VW bugs, I can rest my heel on the floor and push the gas pedal down with little effort. It's also easier to hit the brakes. If this adaptation continues to work, I could drive comfortably across the country by myself. Now THAT is freedom!



Dear readers, I have lots of pictures from two events that I attended today. The first was an outdoor rehearsal of Matrix Theatre's interactive play, "Marsh Magic," involving kids from a recreation center in Southwest Detroit. Sooz and I accompanied them with songs from "O Beautiful Gaia", as we have done many times before. Tomorrow evening we'll be putting on the show for a large gathering of folks at a fish fry picnic at a park on the Detroit River.

After a brief stop at home for a little nourishment, I scooted down to the library at 5 PM for another hour and a half of picketing while contract negotiations were taking place inside. Then Ed and I walk/scooted to a local restaurant for dinner. I scooted along the lake on my way home, and now--at 9 PM--have reached the bottom of my well of energy. Maybe it was being out in the sun all day, or maybe I'm still recovering from my active weekend away, but whatever it is all I want to do is go to bed. So I am.

I'll catch up with my journal tomorrow.



This is a direct quote made to me yesterday by the Michigan Education Association union representative after yet another frustrating attempt to negotiate a contract with the lawyer for the Grosse Pointe Library Board:

"I've been representing public employees since 1970 and this is without a doubt the single worst employer I've ever had to deal with."

That says it all.

We were again picketing and leafleting (photos #1, #2 & #3) in front of the Central branch of the library yesterday afternoon from 5-6:30 PM as the contract negotiations were going on inside the building. I know we're going to get a good contract eventually, but they sure aren't making it easy.

By the way, the union rep also said that the Library Board has managed to float bonds totalling $20 million for their two new library buildings but still say they can't afford to pay the librarians and support staff decent wages with benfits and pensions. Talk about misplaced priorities!

Today Julia joined Sooz and me to sing at the Matrix Theatre's performance of "Marsh Magic" at Detroit's Riverfront Park just downriver of the Ambassador Bridge. I've put up the photos from yesterday's rehearsal at the Rademacher Recreation Center in Southwest Detroit on my Matrix Theatre July 2004 photo album. Please check back tomorrow and I will have added the photos from this evening's performance and fish fry.

I have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming when I'm allowed to be part of such creative magic with wonderful kids and caring adults. It's experiences like this that keep me grounded in hope.


FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2004

A grey day in Detroit. Relaxing, actually. I did lots of computer work, then scooted down to join Ed for lunch at the Subway (Surprise! Surprise!). Encountered a fine drizzle on the way home but not enough to bother putting on my rain poncho. My Matrix Theatre July 2004 photo album is now complete. I was delighted to have a comment posted from Javon, one of the Matrix gang, saying he'd printed out a picture and had shown my photo album to the rest of his Matrix buddies.

It feels good to have a quiet weekend with no plans. Feels like it's been a long time since that's happened. Next weekend I'll be leaving for my annual nine days away at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, so quiet time spent with Eddie is precious.


I've not been watching the Democratic National Convention on TV, but have been reading articles and columns about it on alternative news web sites. Actually, I've been watching and reading about John Kerry since he won the Iowa primary and seemed to rise to the top of the pond last winter. I've been particularly interested in direct quotes from interviews and speeches he has given during these past months. I have also brought my own powers of critical analysis to what I read and hear. The following is an entry I wrote and posted yesterday on my blog:

Yes, I will do what I can to get George W. Bush and his gang of thugs out of Washington, DC come November, but work to elect John Kerry? I cannot do it. Every time I even consider raising money for Kerry, making phone calls for Kerry, writing a check to Kerry, my stomach turns over and I gag.

My apologies to the Democratic Party, but except for a very few courageous women and men, the rest are bought and paid for by the same multi-national corporations, environmentally-destructive industrial giants, arms manufacturing contractors, sleazy foreign dictators and Washington lobbyists as the Republicans. The main difference is the degree of danger they present to the world and the planet. GWB gets a 10 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most dangerous. But I'd give the Democratic candidate John Kerry at least a 7 and maybe an 8. Both men are comfortable with the US making premptive war on other nations, they are supporters of Ariel Sharon and his Wall of Destruction, and in bed with folks you wouldn't want to know about. Neither one appears to have qualities I look for in leaders, things like truth, integrity, respect for differences, ability to listen, compassion, a broad perspective, commitment to community, non-violent ideology, concern for the weakest, and fiscal responsibility.

Yes, I expect to hold my nose on November 2 and vote for Kerry, but that doesn't mean I'm going out of my way to support him before then. I disagree with the man on just about every issue, but he's still better than what we've got. As just one example of what you can expect with Kerry in the White House, you need look no further than the ghetto holding cell the Democrats have constructed for protestors on the streets of Boston. This is democracy?

Sorry folks, I'd like to be able to get on the Kerry bandwagon, but it isn't likely to happen unless Kerry makes a serious lefthand turn and begins to show some respect for the progressive, anti-war point of view. What a shame that we have such a poor choice. And don't even mention Ralph Nader to me. Now there's a man who has fallen so far down in my estimation that it's hard to imagine I considered him the best candidate in 2000 (not that I necessarily voted for him). His insisting on running this time, even though he and every one else knows he will split the Democratic vote and put us at risk of another four years of Bush & Co. is indefensible. And his accepting campaign contributions and 43,000 signatures to get on the ballot here in Michigan--money and signatures collected by and from Republicans--puts Nader at the bottom of my list of admired public servants. I can only hope that he will have a change of heart and remove himself from the race.



Isn't it strange how seldom we consider changing our perspective until we have to?

Last night I was forced to change the location of my iBook because of a problem with the connection to my computer phone line. That meant dear Ed--whom I'd called from bed--had to move my computer from its normal spot at the table in the front room upstairs to the desk in the back room where I sleep. Now I'm hooked up to our main phone line which is a bit of a pain but at least it works.

Last night it was dark when I made the move so I didn't notice any big change. But when I sat at the desk this afternoon it was as if I'd walked into a strange and wonderful garden. Instead of seeing my accumulated memorabilia when I looked up from my computer, I now saw trees lushly painted in varying shades of summer green, and pink-tinged clouds lazily floating in a silky blue sky. Not only that, I saw birds pecking at mites in the bark of the tree right outside the window. It opened my eyes and my heart.

It makes me wonder what other changes I can make to broaden my perspective?



In my four and a half years of keeping an online journal I don't think I've ever asked my readers to donate $$ to any cause. So I guess it's time!

If you're a regular reader you already know my friend Jack. Jack and his Mom, Amy, and I met at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in 2000. At that time Jack was two and Amy was doing all she could to adopt this wonderful kid whom she'd been fostering since he was a baby. We met through the didgeridoo.

Jack was crying--an unusual state of affairs for this upbeat youngster--and I stopped on the path and tried playing my didg to see if it might soothe him. Within minutes a huge grin had replaced his tears, and we'd become fast friends. A highlight for me every year at Festival was spending time with Jack, Amy and Jack's soon-to-be-other-Mom, Jennifer. That is until Jack turned five. Unfortunately, this is the age that little boys are no longer allowed in the womyn's part of Festival--a place that is clothing optional--and are invited to attend Brother Sun camp instead. Brother Sun is on the Land and Moms can camp there with their boys, but it is separate from the main areas. With Jack's special needs, Brother Sun is not an option for him.

So you can imagine my delight when I ran into Jack, Amy and Jennifer last weekend at the National Women's Music Festival. They live in Columbus, Ohio, where the festival was being held, so it was easy for them to come shop in the crafts area and attend some of the concerts. Although we hadn't been together in two years, Jack seemed to remember me and gave me LOTS of grins! Grins that were reciprocated, I might add.

And now I get to the donation part of the story. There is an intensive physical therapy program called Euro-Peds that Jack's health care professionals believe could be of great benefit to him. The challenge is the cost. This 2-week program is $6000 plus Jack and Amy's living expenses. The good part--for me--is that it is offered in Pontiac, Michigan, less than an hour from my house. So Jack and Amy and I are already planning lots of get-togethers when they're in town.

Amy has put up a web page to aid in the process of collecting $$ so Jack can partake in the Euro-Peds program that starts on August 30. She's made it easy for folks to donate online, and I invite you to consider doing so. Jack deserves all the help he can get! Believe me, he does more than his fair share; let's do ours. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. Let's be that village for Jack!



Summertime and the livin' is easy...

Actually, more like hot, heavy and humid. Not that I'm complaining, mind. These August days are precious. All too soon, summer will be a sweet memory. I want to savor every minute.

So today I savored summer by riding in my air-conditioned minivan to take mending to Nini and then on to an army-navy store in Royal Oak to replace my camp porta-potty. The store was long gone but the ride was nice.

I returned home about 1 PM and sat in front of a fan in our living room reading "Krick?Krack!," a 1995 collection of short stories by the young Haitian writer, Edwidge Danticot. I'm finding her stories powerful and poignant.

After a short time at the computer, I took a nap with the window fan keeping me comfortable. I awoke at 5:15 PM, just in time to dress and drive over to the latest Library Staff picket, this one down by the construction site for the new library building on E. Jefferson.

While picketing, I had an interesting talk with the husband of one of our support staff at the Central Branch. I was commenting that I had a lot of experience demonstrating on street corners since I was an anti-war activist. He said, "You know I work for the military." He then went on to say that we had no business being in Iraq. He also said, "It's ruining the military." When I asked what he meant, he explained that everyone who comes back from Iraq wants out. "It's suicide over there!"

When the military sees it like that, isn't it time to get out?

By the way, Kathleen has put up a web site for the Grosse Pointe Public Librarians Association on which she posts upcoming pickets and meetings of the School Board and Library Board.

I was home by 7 PM and a half hour later Ed brought us a pizza for dinner. After eating, we walk/scooted along the lake, and returned home to watch a delightful DVD, "Calendar Girls." It's now midnight and I'm again being cooled by the window fan.

A perfect summer day.



As I prepare to attend my tenth Michigan Womyn's Music Festival next week, my mind goes back to last year at this time.

On July 29, 2003, I'd fallen while trying to climb our front steps and had badly injured my right ankle. I didn't go to the doctor because 1) I didn't think it was broken, and 2) if it were, I didn't want to risk being put in a cast. I feared that might make it impossible for me to go to Fest, and I didn't want to miss it. So I brought my powers of creative thinking to the task and came up with ways to make it happen.

I went online and ordered a new tent, one large enough and with a front opening low enough to the ground that I could drive my scooter into it. I also ordered a folding Swedish camp bed, knowing I would not be able to get up off the ground like I'd done before. I figured I'd bring both of my scooters to Fest, using one during the day and the other during the night. My dear Raging Granny and O Beautiful Gaia singing friend, Judy Drylie, graciously invited me to ride the four-and-a half hours across the state to Festival with her in her motor home. The fact that she is an RN didn't hurt. Eddie sealed my new tent with waterproofing goop when it arrived, and Judy came over to help me pack.

During the entire 11 days between the time I injured my ankle and the time Judy and I left for Fest, I stayed upstairs with my foot elevated and one of my scooters in constant use. I could not put any weight on my right foot, so could not walk at all. Eddie brought up my food and we'd have picnics in my computer room. I was very grateful that we'd already gotten a portable refrigerator for the upstairs. This was before we'd installed a stairlift and even in the best of times, it was a real effort for me to make my way safely up and down the stairs.

That was last year.

And this year? I feel stronger and more healthy than I have in years. My exercising regularly at the gym with Matt, my personal trainer--like I did today--has made a huge difference in my muscle tone and strength. I even have biceps again! And I continue to swim laps, like I did on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of last week. I've also lost 15 pounds, making it easier for my legs to carry the weight of my body when I walk. In relation to adaptations for my disability, this year we had Tom the carpenter build a switchback wooden ramp into the house from the garage. No longer do I have to climb those--for me--dangerous front steps. We also had a stairlift installed between the first and second floor, and, last but certainly not least, I bought Sojourner, my new (used) handicap-accessible minivan with a fold-out ramp.

I'm still happy for my scooter accessible tent because I'll be again taking a night and a day scooter. And thank goddess for the camp bed, which not only made it easier for me to get out of bed, but proved to be very comfortable. I slept better last year than ever before.

So I'll be leaving Detroit around noon on Sunday, and hope to arrive in Hart, Michigan by 5 PM. We aren't allowed to get in line on that 3.2 mile dirt-covered county road outside the Festival front gate until daybreak on Monday, so many festi-goers spend Sunday night in local motels and campgrounds. The motel where I'm staying is a favorite. For the past two years, we've had a festi-goers pizza party by the pool on Sunday night with conversation and drumming. I won't return home until early evening on Monday, August 16.

If you're a new reader, you might want to check out my Music Festivals page and click on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival links. My true story, Mosh Pit Mama, also gives you an eye into this annual global womyn's village. There's nothing quite like it on the planet; a true example of what the world would be like if womyn were in positions of leadership. May it be so.



Today I received several emails from my dear friend, Jeff Golden. He was responding to my rather disparaging July 29th entry regarding John Kerry. I respect Jeff and his reasoned, deliberate way of sizing things up, so I'd like to quote one of his emails here.

Subject: your thoughts about John Kerry

Hi Patricia,

As you know, I'm doing a lot of thinking of things political these days.

I saw your recent blog about Kerry. As we've discussed, he wasn't my first choice, nor my second, nor my third or fourth or even fifth...

But I have been supporting him, and he doesn't strike me as quite so bad as he strikes you. Especially on questions of the environment, Supreme Court appointments, universal health care, and starting wars to loot the planet, if Bush is a 10 then to me Kerry (and even the worst Democrats) would have to be no more than a 3. Bush is just sooooo horrible, and the damage he's doing is so long-lasting, that there really is no close comparison at all.

I agree with you that their positions on Israel are similar, and if that's the only issue we vote on, well then they're TweedleDum and TweedleDee. But I don't see similarities on other key issues. I read Common Dreams but maybe I missed an article you saw on this? From everything I've read and heard (particularly from Kerry's own mouth, since I watch his speeches and interviews) he currently is quite explicitly and adamantly AGAINST making preemptive war, and I believe him on that point. As for possessing truth, integrity, respect for differences, ability to listen, compassion, a broad perspective, commitment to community, non-violent ideology (look at Kerry's work agains the Vietnam War), concern for the weakest, and fiscal responsibility, I'd rank Kerry quite well, according to what he himself has been consistently saying in the past year. He's no Dennis Kucinich, but he's pretty good considering that he's actually got a chance of winning the job.

Yes, he's had to be mum on gay rights stuff, but even his good friend Barney Frank is advising him to do that right now. Kerry was one of very very few senators who had the guts to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which totally reassures me on that issue. If he ran as an open supporter of gay rights this season, he'd lose for sure, and to me gay rights is nowhere near as important as getting rid of Bush. Once Kerry gets in, he will try to lead the public toward openness on that and other issues.

I urge you to listen to Kerry's convention speech. You can see and hear it on He's a lousy public speaker but you can tell a lot about his character and values by watching it. I think he addresses most of your listed concerns, at least indirectly.

Many of us so desperately want our political leaders to be our saviors, but I'm not sure that's a fair expectation. We're not electing a god or a prophet or a spiritual leader or a guru. There are other places in our lives to find deep wisdom and perfect expression of our most fervent dreams. We're not electing Martin Luther King; we're not electing somebody to be Jesus Christ; those positions have been taken. Even Abe Lincoln took some conservative positions and argued some points that I find quite appalling, and of course he gave war orders that killed tens of thousands of people. Yet he was the right person for the time, and in fact the only person at the time who actually had a chance to become president and do the right thing where it really counted.

Are we expecting too much of Kerry (or any one person whom we want to be bursting with goodness at the same time as being electable given the reality of our world)? Without lots of help, he's not going to win. He's still clearly behind in electoral votes, and he's even behind in the popular vote, according to the latest polls of likely voters. Unless he wins, he won't get Bush out, he's not going to get the chance to stop at least 2 right-wing Supreme Court appointments, and he's not going to get to show a more compassionate side of America abroad.

I think he's worth helping. If we're lucky enough to get him in, we can try to pull him to the left later. There's just no better alternative right now.

Anyway, just my thoughts.

Love from

Jeff & Noah (Jeff's son)


In addition to being one of the most intelligent persons I have the privilege of knowing, Jeff Golden has many years experience as an environmental advocate and organizer. When I asked him about John Kerry and the environment, he sent me the following press release from the Sierra Club:

Sierra Club Endorses Kerry For President
Says Kerry Will Protect America's Health and Heritage

For Immediate Release (May 11, 2004)

San Francisco, CA - The Sierra Club - the nation's oldest, largest and most influential environmental group today endorsed Senator John Kerry for President of the United States, citing his outstanding leadership in safe-guarding America's air, water and public lands.

"John Kerry will provide the environmental leadership that has been sorely missing in the Bush White House," said Sierra Club President Larry Fahn. "His commitment to environmental progress stands in stark contrast to the Bush administration's all-out assault on the environment and its record of putting polluting corporations before the American public's health and safety."

"John Kerry has spent his entire career promoting real solutions aimed at ensuring that America?s air, water, and natural resources are protected for future generations."

Kerry has demonstrated environmental leadership throughout his career in public service, from helping organize Massachusetts' first Earth Day in 1970 to opposing the Bush administration?s efforts to dismantle environmental gains made over the last century. Highlights of Kerry's environmental record include:

--Advocated strict enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, and opposed Bush administration efforts to weaken the laws in order to let polluters put more dangerous toxics into our air and water;

--Advocated restoration of Superfund's "polluter pays" trust fund to ensure that polluters, not ordinary taxpayers, pay to clean up abandoned toxic waste sites;

--Led the charge against the Bush administration's attempts to allow oil drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;

--Championed an energy plan that increases fuel economy to reduce the nation's dependence on oil and supports the development of clean, energy-saving technologies and renewable energy to reduce our dependence on other polluting sources of energy;

--And, advocated for the United States to take the lead in international efforts to cut global warming pollution, reverse ozone depletion, protect tropical rain forests, preserve biological diversity and press for sustainable development.

"John Kerry's record on the environment is impressive by any measure and reveals a sincere personal passion for the issue," Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said. "He understands that there is a better way than the Bush administration's alliance with corporate polluters. With Kerry as President, we could be sure that America's health and heritage are protected."

The endorsement was decided by volunteer members who serve on the Club's political committee and Board of Directors. Following the announcement, the Sierra Club will mobilize more than 700,000 members to talk to their friends and neighbors about supporting Kerry in November.

"One of our biggest challenges is to educate the American public about the Bush administration's dismal environmental record," Fahn said. "Now, thousands of Sierra Club members in every state will be volunteering their efforts to tell voters about the clear choice in this election. They will be encouraging all Americans who care about the environment to vote for John Kerry in November."

To learn more about why the Sierra Club endorsed John Kerry, please visit our website at:


Jeff also offered his understanding of John Kerry's environmental platform based on what he has read on Kerry's web site and heard in his speeches. From his email with the subject, "Kerry's Environmental Platform:"

Besides being endorsed by the Sierra Club, Kerry also has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. There's nothing wishy-washy about those organizations, and in fact they often don't endorse anybody unless they see a very clear difference in what will happen to the environment.

To read Kerry's complete paper on his environmental positions, see His position on logging is especially dear to my heart and is absolutely contrary to that of Bush.

Below is a shorter version of Kerry's environmental stands, taken verbatim from Kerry's campaign website:

"As Americans, we have the right to breathe unpolluted air, drink safe water, eat uncontaminated food, live in clean communities and enjoy our natural treasures. Over the last three years, we have seen these rights eroded. We have seen hard-won environmental gains rolled back, our air polluted and our water contaminated.

"In the 21st Century, we can have progress without pollution - we can grow our economy while protecting our natural resources. But we need a leader who looks to the future and invests in innovation.

"Throughout his career, John Kerry has fought to clean up toxic waste sites, to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other pristine wilderness areas. Recently, the League of Conservation Voters called Senator Kerry an "environmental champion."

"John Kerry and John Edwards will set a new standard of environmental excellence for America. They will honor our national treasures and pay tribute to our natural wonders, while renewing our nation's promise of clean air, clean water and a bountiful landscape for all. They recognize that we owe it to our families, our communities, and our planet to defend our environmental values and protect our environmental rights.

"John Kerry and John Edwards will:

"Create Cleaner, Greener Communities
Together, we can improve the environment in backyards and communities across America. John Kerry and John Edwards will revitalize contaminated industrial sites, get toxics out of communities, guarantee our children access to clean, safe parks and baseball fields, and take on traffic congestion and sprawl.

"Enact A Conservation Covenant With America
John Kerry and John Edwards believe that Americans are united in our respect for the land. They will enact a Conservation Covenant with America to ensure balanced protection for our public lands and adequate resources to enhance our national parks.

"Protect Our Health By Reducing Dangerous Air Emissions
As president, John Kerry will reverse the Bush-Cheney rollbacks to our Clean Air Act, plug loopholes in the law, take aggressive action to stop acid rain, and use innovative, job-creating programs to reduce mercury emissions and other emissions that contribute to global warming.

"Restore America's Waters
Today, approximately 45 percent of our nation's waterways do not meet the "drinkable, swimable and fishable" standard set out by the Clean Water Act 30 years ago. As president, John Kerry will implement a "Restore America's Waters" campaign, an integrated approach to protecting our precious, limited water resources. He will work with states on the toughest water quality challenges, restore damaged watersheds, protect wetlands, invest in our waterfronts and coastal communities, and protect our oceans."



I was wondering what I would write about tonight. I mean how interesting is it to hear about someone getting their hair cut, going to the bank, picking up alterations, even picketing YET AGAIN in front of their local library? And then I went to one of my favorite blogs--Kim Antieau's "The Furious Spinner"--and read one of the links she'd posted yesterday. After reading that link, I knew what I needed to say.

The link is to a message by Charley Underwood, the delegate who cast a vote for Kucinich from the Minnesota delegation. He originally posted it on an email list-serv for the MN for Kucinich campaign, but it was reprinted on the Democratic Underground web site.

In a nutshell, it is the story of what happened to anti-war delegates on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Boston last week. How they were pressured to "toe the line" and demonstrate unbridled support of Kerry. How they were not allowed to bring signs onto the floor and when Charley dared to make a sign onsite--a daring sign that said "Peace"--it was confiscated. How some delegates had chosen to wear pink scarves on which was printed "Give Bush The Pink Slip; Delegate for Peace." How those scarves were confiscated. How Kucinich delegates were "released" by Dennis but so strongly "encouraged" to cast their ballots for Kerry that they felt forced to deny their beliefs and vote for a man "whose idea of progress is to put a velvet glove on the iron fist of colonialism," as Charley Underwood so succinctly puts it. The strong-arm tactics that were used all week to show "unity" in the party, tactics that attempted to obliterate any dissent, dialogue or input by the delegates. What Underwood called "a high-end infomercial." How everything was orchestrated and if you held up the right sign--say a blue-colored Edwards sign--at the wrong time (like when you were supposed to hold up a red-colored Edwards sign), you were reprimanded.

Why am I not surprised? Nor do I lay blame at the feet of John Kerry. He is merely representative of a political system gone wrong. This, my friends, is NOT what Democracy should look like.

My criticism is not about whether the Democrats or the Republicans should win in November. It is not about whether we need a two or three-party system. It is not about whether or not the best candidates are running. It is about lack of representation by the people. It is about control by corporations and campaign donors. It is about "special interests." It is about pretending to be a democratic process when it's not. It's about not allowing dissent or even differing perspectives. It's about "unity" meaning marching in lock step. It's about taking away individuals' rights to think their own thoughts and express their own opinions. It's about that slippery slope to fascism.



Hiroshima Remembrance Day and it never came to mind until just now when I typed in the date. That goes to show how self-absorbed I am as I prepare to leave for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival on Sunday.

Normally I am so conscious of this reminder of America's darkest moment. Even now, 59 years later, it is hard to imagine anyone making such a cruel and deadly choice, knowing full well what it would mean to the residents, and their descendents, of that unfortunate city. And we call 9-11 the worst act of terrorism in history. No. It was not the worst. Nor was Pearl Harbor. Dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki--neither of them strategic military targets--was the most destructive action ever carried out in human history. Yet my parents--along with many persons of their generation--admired President Harry Truman without reservation. They thought dropping those atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was awful but necessary. After all, they were told that it was the only way to end the war against Japan and save the lives of thousands of U.S. troops. As if the lives of "our boys" were more valuable than the lives of Japanese children, women and men. And their children and their children's children and all the generations to come.

And people wonder why I am a pacifist, opposed to all wars. August 6 and August 9, 1945 are all the reason I would ever need. If that is what war brings then I say, NO to war!



Well, Sojourner my minivan is all packed and ready to go...and so am I. Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, here I come! I'll see you when I return home on Monday, August 16.

But before I go, let me leave you with a few photos I took today after swimming laps at our lakefront community park:

Clouds meet water.
Fishing poles at the ready.
Morning glories in bloom.
Yet another view of the lake.



I don't know if you recall my saying that I never return home from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival the same person I was when I left. This time that reality took on a whole new meaning. And do you know Eddie's response when he first saw the "new" me this afternoon? He laughed out loud! Of course, my pink hair--that is a semi-permanent dye, by the way--had been enhanced by the purple naked dancing womon that Jayne-the-bodypainter had painted on my left cheek at the Acoustic Stage yesterday morning. When I pursed my lips to give Eddie a kiss, he grinned and said, "Where's the mouth?" At dinner he said he likes my pink mohawk. "It's quite conservative," says he.

This man I married 38 years ago never ceases to amaze me.

Speaking of amazing, I have just experienced a week that defies description. But since I'm a word person, I can't just leave it at that. These are the words that come to mind: magical, uncomfortable, affirming, surprising, nourishing, challenging, loving, transformative, hopeful and just plain fun. We had two of the coldest, wettest days and nights I've ever lived through in my 11 years on the Land, as well as two warm sunny days followed by frigid starry nights. Last night I kept waking up with my poor feet feeling like they were encased in ice. I was not surprised to hear this morning that the temperature had dropped to 36 degrees Farenheidt at 3 AM. That, my sisters and brothers, is COLD when you're sleeping in a non-arctic sleeping bag and using a tent that has mesh doors!

But now all I want to do is take this weary body to bed. A real bed in a room where I can close the window and snuggle down under covers that keep me warm. And, yes, fear not...there are LOTS AND LOTS of photos to come.



I just discovered that I changed in more ways than one at Fest last week. Ed's scale says I put on 4 pounds. Yikes! But at the same time I was stronger than ever at the gym today. Matt's mouth literally hung open as he had to add more weights to the monster quad machine. He also started me on new biceps exercises that I did with gusto. If I keep going like this maybe I can join in the Butch Strut at Fest next year!

It was fun joining Ed for lunch at the Subway today. He'd warned the owners ahead of time about my pink hair, but the response from the high school kids who came in to eat was great! Just like at Fest, young folks light up when they see me now. They greet me with huge grins and enthusiastic hello's. Very different from the invisibility that usually cloaks older folks in the eyes of teens. The more I think about it, the more I believe having a punk 62 year-old in this conservative community is just what the doctor ordered. As I said to a few folks today, "If the kids aren't going to be wild, I will!" It'll be fun to see if the number of rainbow-haired students increases at the high school this year. I sure did see more pink hair around Fest after Cat dyed mine on Tuesday morning. When I saw Cat later in the week, she told me she'd "pinked" lots of womyn who had seen and loved my hair. Fun!

This afternoon I put up my photos for Sunday and Monday on a brand new Michigan Womyn's Music Festival 2004 photo album #1. I hope to add at least one day's worth of photos every day this week. After that, I'll start writing my journal memories.

I must say it was gratifying to have between 100-150 womyn come up during the week to tell me how much my festi-journals and daily journal and blog mean to them. A number of them said they've read my daily journal for years. You can't imagine what that means to me. If you're a regular reader you know how committed I am to putting up a new entry every day, even if it means not getting to bed before 2 AM. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just doing it for myself. Yes, I hear from some readers by email but not many. I'm not complaining, simply explaining why it touches me so deeply to know I have far more readers than I'd imagined. And the best part is that they range in age from their late teens to early 70s. Just as I'd always hoped.



Most of the day I continued to work on my Michigan Womyn's Music Festival 2004 photo-journal #1. I added journal entries for Sunday and Monday and put up Tuesday's photos. Time-consuming as it is, I thoroughly enjoy this project. It offers me a wonderful opportunity to relive my Festival week and begin to assimilate all that happened there.

At 6:30 PM I scooted down to meet Ed at his office and we walk/scooted over to Jump's Restaurant, a funny little hole-in-the-wall with absolutely no atmosphere and gourmet food. I had their soup du jour--chilled cucumber, almond and green grape--and cracked wheat salad with pita bread. Ed got his usual: the Jump's hamburger with grilled mushrooms and red-skinned potatoes and onions.

On the way home I ran into Pat Zavel, a sister alumnae of the Smith College School for Social Work. I'd guess it's been 20 years since we've talked even though we live only a mile apart. What different paths we've trod! Pat identifies herself as politically conservative and computer illiterate. I, on the other hand, identify as so far to the left politically that I'm practically falling off the edge. And you all know about me and the computer. Hardly illiterate. Isn't it interesting how two individuals can start from similar places and grow in such different directions?

And now, even though it's only 10:30 PM, I'm finding myself ready to hit the I will. Night night.



I've just experienced a pretty intense re-entry into the "real world."

Since returning from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival on Monday, I'd avoided reading the alternative web sites where I usually get my news. I just wasn't ready to fill my head and heart with all the suffering and violence again, not to mention the feelings of frustration that assail me every time I read about what our government is doing here and around the world. It seemed a good idea to prolong my vacation-from-the-news a few more days, at least until I'd finished putting up my festival photo-journal. But when I read an email yesterday with the subject, "Urgent need for your presence," I took it seriously.

All day today a 30' replica of what they call the Israeli Apartheid Wall was in Detroit at our peace church downtown. There was to be a press conference at 11 AM, a symbolic dismantling of the wall at 5 PM, and a forum and power point presentation at 7 PM. Apparently the organizers had received word that pro-Zionist demonstrators were planning to try to disrupt some of the events, so they'd sent out a call for Detroit area peace activists to be present to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers.

When I got there at 5 PM, there were only five protesters carrying signs with "Stop the Terrorism" and "The Security Fence Saves Lives" standing on the street near the replica of the Wall. Nearby was an ambulance with writing on the side that identified it as an Israeli ambulance. It was a peaceful protest.

As you can imagine, there were lots of people I knew at this event. But something wasn't sitting right with me. I mean, if I call myself a peacemaker, how could I separate myself from the folks who were protesting what we were doing? I decided to go over and speak to them.

A wonderful woman I know, Janet Ray, was already over there talking to the folks. She introduced me to the four men and one woman, and I had the opportunity to ask one of the men--who prefered to be anonymous--what had brought him out today, what was his perspective about the Wall? I just listened and tried to find some common ground where we could agree. It wasn't hard. Neither of us wants the killing to continue. We both want peace. I didn't try to give my "side" but rather told him how much I admired him for coming out and taking a stand of conscience. After all, this man had come by himself in the name of his family members who had perished in the Holocaust; you had to admire him for that. The other four had come together and were part of a Detroit area group that had purchased this ambulance that, in a year, would be going to Israel. Again, it wasn't hard to find a sense of commonality: we all want this ambulance to help save lives.

The events went on until 9:30 PM, with a little bit of everything. We had poetry readings, jazz improv, song, talks by peace activists who have spent time in Israel and Palestine, as well as an excellent presentation by Erica and Russell, the folks responsible for taking this Wall around the country. You can read about their tour by going to But for me the highlight of the day was beginning the long, slow process of reaching out to people who see things differently from me. I have a long way to go, but at least I've taken the first step.



Today we Raging Grannies Without Borders of Detroit lost one of our most faithful Grannies. At 4:30 AM this morning, Granny Emily Grombala died. She'd been in Intensive Care since July 4th, the evening of the day she rode and sang with us through the streets of Ann Arbor on the AAACP (Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace) peace float in the annual 4th of July parade.

That is JUST the way Granny Emily would have wanted to go out, working for peace & justice as she'd done all her life.

Emily was a charter member of our gaggle that started in November 2002. She was also a member of Detroit's original Raging Grannies back in the early '90s. At 84, Emily was quiet but oh so determined. She would brook no nonsense, especially from those in positions of power. She thought for herself and acted on those beliefs. She and her best buddy, Granny Charlotte Kish, could be found standing for the rights of the Immigrant Workers when they came through Detroit on their nationwide Freedom March last September, and demonstrating against John Ashcroft when he came to town (she was on TV and quoted in the newspapers that day). At lunch on July 4th, just hours before she ended up in the hospital, there was Emily taking care of ME, carrying my food, getting me settled at the table, seeing that I had a straw and napkins. That was who she was too--a caring woman who thought of others more than herself. In this photo that was taken that day, Granny Emily is the second on the right.

It's hard to imagine our gaggle without her.

But we plan to give her a good send off. We Raging Grannies will be at her funeral mass on Sunday, August 29, sitting together wearing our Granny hats, aprons and shawls, and prepared to sing a song written especially for her. I know she'd approve.



I've been so immersed in putting up my festi photo-journals that I've been neglecting my exercises. Not just my exercises either. I've been spending way too much time sitting inside in front of my computer rather than outside savoring these last days of August. But today I made different choices. I swam laps at the community pool and then scooted down to visit Ed and get a gelato (combination raspberry and peppermint). I also spent hours at the computer putting up the photos for Thursday at the Fest. Yesterday I completed both the journal entry and photos for Wednesday. I'm now on Michigan Womyn's Music Festival photo-journal #2. What a job!



I know my daily journal is getting short shrift as I work on my MWMF 2004 photo-journals, but I trust you understand. Today I wrote the journal entries for Thursday and Friday and put up the pictures for Friday. I must admit I was grateful there were so few of them because my camera had gone bad that day. Happily some of my festi-sisters emailed me some photos of the Femme Parade. I wouldn't have wanted you to miss that! I'm now on Michigan Womyn's Music Festival 2004 photo-journal #3. This will be the final one.

I also had lunch with Eddie at Subway and worked out at the gym. Of course, I had to reward myself afterwards with a little gelato ;-)



Whew! What a day. I left the house at 9:30 AM and didn't return home until 9:30 PM. First I drove into the middle of Detroit to pick up four Raging Grannies. Then I drove us over the Ambassador Bridge to the CAW Student Center at the University of Windsor where we were interviewed live and sang some Raging Grannies songs for "The Feminist Hour" on student-run CJAM radio. And, yes, it WAS a full hour. Thanks, Lisa and Holly. You wimmin are great!

After that, we Grannies walk/scooted over to Varnier Hall to meet with the campus staff person who is helping us set up our international Raging Grannies Unconvention at the University of Windsor in 2006. We had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and were back at our Detroit pick-up point by 4 PM. After a visit and a gelato with Ed, I drove down to the Neighborhood Club for the Library Board meeting at 6 PM. We librarians, library support staff and patrons picketed in front of the building for a half hour and then went inside to observe the meeting and make public comments when they were allowed.

It was this part of the day that did me in. Not the meeting itself which was predictably full of bricks-and-mortar financial reports, but the public comments. And not those made by members of the community who expressed frustration with the labor dispute and/or the Library Board's untransparent way of conducting their business. No, all that was fine. Good honest expressions of concern and important questions. What did me in was one man who insisted on using this opportunity to vent his spleen in inappropriate and downright threatening ways. The fact that he is a policeman doesn't comfort me in the least. To experience an individual who is wound up tighter than a rubber band and obviously cannot control his anger and hostility is bad enough; to know that that individual carries a gun in his line of work--and off-duty too?--is frightening.

I'd had an encounter with this fellow a few weeks ago where I'd seen him go off into his rant mode--times when he insisted on calling me "ma'am" no matter how many times I said, "My name is Patricia"--so his behavior tonight didn't surprise me. But once he got going, there was no stopping him. The president of the Library Board kept trying to tell him his tone was unacceptable and it just made him angrier. I didn't know how they were ever going to get him to stop. By the way, he was speaking--he thought--in support of the library staff. After this had gone on for at least five solid minutes--which felt like a VERY long time--I decided someone had better step in and try to defuse the situation. So I scooted up to the podium where he was standing and said, "Can I have my turn now?" I parked beside him and stayed there. He went on a while longer but seemed a bit more in control. And then he walked away. More like stomped.

Whew. My voice was shaking as I began to speak, even though I'd written out my comments. But I could tell by the expressions on the faces of the members of the Library Board that I had their total and complete attention. I think they were relieved that someone had stepped in. In my comments I followed my friend Jeff Golden's excellent advice and started with an affirmation of their commitment to the community. Then I offered a non-judgemental suggestion that they institute term limits and share leadership. By the way, they've had the same president for the 10 years this Library Board has been in existence. I could tell my comments had not made them feel defensive when, later in the meeting, the board president kept making eye contact with me as he made his responses to the public comments. I know these folks feel isolated and alone now, and, as Jeff so wisely pointed out, the more defensive we make them, the less likely they'll be to listen to our concerns. I could see their defensiveness in their body language--lots of arm-crossing and blank stares. We've got to find some way to bridge the gap between us before there can be a successful resolution to this stand-off. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

So now I am wiped out. At the same time I'm glad I was there and did what I did. But I'm still concerned that such an out-of-control individual carries a gun...legally. Definitely not a comforting thought.



Matt (my personal trainer at the gym) took my exercise program to a new level today. He said endurance is what he's after. Well, I endured but by the skin of my chinny-chin-chin. Don't get me wrong: I like pushing the envelope. It makes me feel macho as all heck. And I get a big kick out of having muscles that bulge a bit. Sure does fight those feelin' disabled blues!

Still working on my Michigan Womyn's Music Festival 2004 photo-journal. I took over 100 photos on Saturday at festival, so that day is taking more time than the others. But I'll have it up by tomorrow.



© 2004 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

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