Windchime Walker's Journal 75 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, Journal 76 archive 5/25-6/24/06
To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal
*Now that I have a
digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos.
To access the photos, simply click on the text printed in color.The
easiest way to navigate going back and forth between photos is
to click on your "back" button at the left of your toolbar.
THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2006
The writers retreat was everything I'd hoped for and much, much more. Imagine having four days to write and write and write, with time to explore 40 acres of land with meadows, woods and water (a large river, small creek and good-sized pond) as spring was bursting forth, among nine women writers who respected one another's silence during the days, and called forth and shared the fruits of each other's writing every night, laughed lots, ate terrific homecooked food and even made s'mores around a campfire on a night when stars were so bright they looked ready to fall into your lap.
And now I must sleep. Tomorrow I will arise early to go to school and spend time with my favorite kids.
FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2006
Today was the first day this week that I didn't write. It felt kind of strange.
At the self-directed writers retreat I started working on something I'm tentatively calling "The Making of an Activist." It is my story, from childhood on, but is being written for a very special audience: young people aged 12-15. In the publishing world this group is called older Young Adults (YAs).
It's exciting for me to write for young people. They're the ones I'd most like to mentor if I could. They're our hope for the future, yet I wonder how many even know they have the option of answering the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", by saying, "An activist." I want to give them that option.
I'm trying to write the book I would have wanted to read when I was a young teen. What I do remember was my never-ending search at the library for books that told the true stories of women's lives. There were very few on the shelves, and I read them all.
During the retreat I read the first two chapters aloud to my sister writers, and their response was uniformly positive. They encouraged me to keep going, and that's exactly what I intend to do. Can't wait for tomorrow morning so I can get back to my writing!
SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2006
This afternoon and evening Casey and Jeanne invited our women's community out to their house and land (photos #1, #2 & #3) to celebrate Beltane, the pagan festival of fertility. Another name for it is May Day. We created crowns, enjoyed a potluck dinner, and joined in a ritual and Maypole dance out by the firepit. I took only a few photos (#1, #2, #3 & #4), but they give you the general idea. It was grand!
Last night Pat Kolon and I went to Ann Arbor to see the Jeff Hamilton Trio at the Kerrytown Concert house. I know I've said this before, but honestly, this was one of the very best nights of jazz I've ever heard. For one thing, Jeff Hamilton does things with drums that you literally cannot believe. I mean have you ever heard a drum keep a melody? It was like his drums could sing. And the trio with Tamir Hendelman on piano and Christoph Luty on bass was SO tight and were enjoying themselves and one another SO much that I couldn't stop smiling the entire evening. The audience at this often rather subdued venue was screaming from the minute they came out on the stage. And you could tell who was a drummer in the house--and there were LOTS of them--for these folks kept shaking their heads like they couldn't believe what they were seeing and hearing this master drummer do. I met two student drummers from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music who had come up to Ann Arbor just to see Jeff Hamilton play. They were driving back after the concert ended at 10:30 PM. And, in my humble opinion, their trip was well worth it! This was an exceptional night of jazz; one I won't forget. Buy their new CD, "From Studio 4, Cologne, Germany," and see what you think. If you're a jazz lover, I think you will be amazed and delighted.
MONDAY, MAY 1, 2006
Dear friends, it is now 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning and I'm one tired activist. Not only did I spend six hours at the "A Day Without Immigrants" rally and march here in Detroit, but shortly after I returned home at 5:30 p.m., I went off to swim 30 lengths of the pool.
I invite you to go to my blog to read about today and see my pictures. I've got to put this weary body to bed.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2006
It's not even 10:30 PM but I'm on my way to bed. I was so tired during my laps tonight I had to stop after only sixteen! I've been on a fast track since I got home from the writers' retreat, and tomorrow is more of the same. Up at 7:15 a.m. to go help out with the kids at school. There are so few weeks of school remaining that I don't want to miss a minute.
And now to bed.
FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2006
This was one of those days that was touched with magic from beginning to end. I want to give it the attention it deserves but right now I am sleepy, sleepy, sleepy. Let me just share one magical moment before I take myself off to bed.
This evening my friends Judith Thompson, Abayomi and I attended an unbelievable symposium at Wayne State University featuring three women Nobel Laureates: Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, and Jody Williams of the United States. During the break, a young woman came up to me and introduced herself as a long-time reader of my blog/web journal. Apparently she found it through a Google search when she was 12 and has read it ever since. She is now 17 and a junior in high school. I asked her if reading it had changed anything for her.
Her response was to tell me that, although her parents do not follow this path, she has demonstrated for peace and even went before the school board in her community to stand up for her right to wear an anti-war button to school following Bush's attack on Iraq in March 2003! Her name is Molly Shannon and I am proud to know her. Here is a picture of us sitting together.
Molly's timing in sharing her story with me was part of why I say this day was touched with magic. She came up to me right after Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Laureate for her global work on the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines, had completed her presentation with the call for each of us to take action to help create the world we want to live in, to stop whining about how bad things are and to take responsibility for doing our part to change it. Molly helped me see that through my blog/web journal I've been doing just that. As I told her, she is the exactly the reader for whom I write. It is this younger generation who can lead us towards peace if we give them the tools they need. It sounds like Molly is already there.
Tomorrow I'll tell you in more detail about this amazing day.
SATURDAY, MAY 6, 2006
Being an activist is never a solitary journey. You are always being inspired, supported, challenged and educated by those who have gone before, are at your side, or are coming after. If you live in a large community-conscious city like I do, these people are everywhere you look. You need only to hop on the activist train to find them.
Yesterday was a day when that train took me on an amazingly rich journey.
At 1 PM I met Judith Thompson for lunch at the Cass Cafe, a favorite restaurant down by Wayne State University. We'd met for the first time at Monday's May Day Immigrants' Rights rally and march. Judith was marching with Abayomi, an old friend of mine from CPR (Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit), Camp Casey Detroit and MECAWI (Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice). Abayomi and I meet up at practically every demonstration and significant event for peace in Detroit. The minute I saw Judith, I knew I also wanted her as my friend.
It turns out that she and I have much in common. As I said to her yesterday, I think we are two sides of the same coin. We were both born in Washington, DC in 1942.We grew up in the DC area--Judith in Washington, DC proper, and I in Falls Church, Virginia. Our fathers got their graduate degrees from Harvard: for Judith's Dad, it was a law degree and for my Dad, an MBA. Both of our fathers worked with powerful individuals and were involved in historic events.
Judith's Dad was in the middle of the struggle for equal rights. He was an attorney in the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education case that desegregated U.S. schools in 1954. For years, he worked closely with Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American Supreme Court Justice in 1967. She remembers seeing TV news broadcasts in which her father's bald head glistened in the sun as he walked down those famous marble steps leading out of the U.S. Supreme Court building. Judith was the eldest of four children and her Daddy's little girl.
My Dad was a lifelong civil servant who worked directly with Presidents Truman and Eisenhower as Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (NSC). When President Kennedy came in and basically dissolved the NSC in 1960--he brought in his own advisors--my Dad moved over to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he was Executive Secretary of the United States Intelligence Board (the body that coordinated all the intelligence branches of the government) until his retirement in 1971. I was the middle of three girls and was known as my Daddy's "Tip Top."
Although of different races, Judith and I both grew up feeling pretty special.
At 63-going-on-64, Judith and I now find ourselves in Detroit working for peace. She recently joined MECAWI and, as a retired teacher, has offered to help develop programs for children. The programs she envisions will help them find peaceful alternatives to violence on an individual, community and global scale. She is also committed to their inner healing and development as holistic individuals. When Judith mentioned this work in our conversation last Monday, I said I'd love to get together and brainstorm ideas about it. That's when we made plans to meet for lunch on Friday.
Well, Judith and I brainstormed ideas yesterday, but we also shared our stories and bonded...deeply. We ended up spending over three and a half hours sitting and talking at that round table next to the window looking out onto Detroit's Cass Avenue. Abayomi joined us for the last hour and a half of our time together.
At 4:40 p.m. Abayomi looked at his watch, and I realized we needed to get going if we wanted to attend the 5 p.m. peace symposium at WSU that I'd told them about earlier. This extraordinary event was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Wayne State University's Honors Program. Organized by Dr. Ali Moiin of The Shirin Ebadi Foundation and titled "The Role of Governments in Achieving or Obstructing Worldwide Peace," it featured four women Nobel Laureates, three of whom would be there in person and the fourth would be speaking to us via video.
So I scooted the five blocks to WSU's General Lectures Auditorium in my fastest mode, and Abayomi drove Judith over in his car. We got there in plenty of time. I pulled my "disabled card" and even got us seats in the front row that was being reserved for dignitaries. Judith and I were there for the entire presentation, and Abayomi, who had to take care of some business, joined us at the break.
The program was introduced by Dr. Ali Moiin of The Shirin Ebadi Foundation, followed by a musical prelude entitled "Invocation for World Peace" played poignantly by cellist Michael Fitzpatrick. After greetings by Professor Jerry Herron, Director of the Honors Program, and by WSU President Irvin Reid, Justice Maura Corrigan of Michigan's Supreme Court introduced the Nobel Laureates. She wove excerpts from W.H. Auden's poem, "September 1, 1939," into each introduction and his words offered a powerful context to the evening. One stanza that moved me greatly was:
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Each of the four speakers was given about fifteen minutes for her presentation. After a break, there was to be a question and answer period--questions submitted by audience members in writing--at which time U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D, Michigan) would join the panel.
We first heard from Betty Williams, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner with Mairead Corrigan for founding the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (renamed Community of Peace People) and for their work to bring peace in their native Ireland. Ms. Williams was unable to attend in person but spoke via video.
I didn't take notes as I did with the other speakers, but vividly recall her putting forward statistics and stories of children across the globe who suffer dislocation, death and wounds because of wars, and malnutrition, starvation and illnesses that could be prevented and/or treated if governments cared enough to do so. Since 1992, her primary focus has been these children. Her Global Children's Studies Center evolved into the World Centers of Compassion for Children International that she founded in 1997 in honour of the Dalai Lama.
Betty Williams was completedly honest in her assessment of how governments provide or obstruct worldwide peace. She described the United States government as obstructing peace in almost every way possible, and said that U.S. President George W. Bush, who is waging an endless war on terrorism, is a terrorist himself, and probably the most dangerous one in our world today. The audience responded to this statement with cheers and sustained applause.
Shirin Ebadi of Iran spoke next. This lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts for democracy and human rights, especially the rights of women and children. A conscientious Muslim herself, Ms. Ebadi sees no conflict between the tenets of Islam and democracy. But, for us to understand where she was coming from, it was essential that we hear her description of what she calls "advanced democracy" and how it differs from what most governments call "democracy."
Ms. Ebadi frequently referred to the separation between people and their government as an indication that a true democracy does not exist. In countries like Iran, she pointed out the difficulties that occur when the government becomes overly identified with its dominant religion. She said there is no such thing as an Islamic or Christian democracy, that when religion takes over the government then dissent is not allowed because it is seen as criticism of the religion, not just the government. In a democracy, dissent must be allowed. But, contrary to many Western interpretations, Ms. Ebadi asserts that Islam and democracy are compatible since Islam "is a religion of equality."
As a lifelong human rights advocate and activist, Shirin Ebadi is well aware of the temptation in what she calls "superficial democracies," for governmental leaders who have taken the majority of the votes to take care of that majority while ignoring or even oppressing the minorities in their country. She stressed that the leaders of any real democracy must respect the human rights of ALL, not just their electoral base. Democracy and human rights can never be separated.
Ms. Ebadi spoke of the role of oil in many of today's Middle Eastern conflicts. "The bloodstream of the world's technology exists in this region," is how she put it. And it all boils down to greed. "Colonization and exploitation exist everywhere," Ms. Ebadi went on to say. And the colonizers prefer to have puppets in power in the countries they want to loot. She brought up the 1953 CIA-engineered overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, after he had threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaced him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, who had America's oil interests at heart. She repeatedly warned that when a people feel separated from their government, they have no will to resist, which is most dangerous.
But Ms. Ebadi's passion really flared when she brought up the issue of women's rights. So often in countries that call themselves democratic, women are the last to benefit. They get whatever is left over after the men have had their fill. "The victory of feminist movements will open the door for democracy in the Middle East. Women who fight for equality of rights are the pioneers of peace."
Ms. Ebadi closed by saying, "Instead of bringing democracy through cluster bombs, let women bring democracy through working for women's rights!"
Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala was the next speaker. This woman has long been a shero of mine. When Ms. Menchu Tum received her Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her courageous work in promoting social justice and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, I was working with refugees at a shelter here in downtown Detroit. Many of the adults and children who spent time with us were fleeing the bloody civil war in Guatemala. This was less of a war, actually, and more of a revolution in which the indigenous peoples who had long suffered oppression, poverty and death at the hands of their rightwing government and its militia, were standing up and fighting for their human, social and economic rights. As in many such struggles in Central America during those years, the United States was supporting, funding, training and selling weapons to the Guatemalan government militias that were killing the people.
So, as you can imagine, the opportunity to see and hear Rigoberta Mench Tum in person filled me with awe.
When she began to speak--first in English, and then in Spanish with an interpreter--it was immediately apparent that we were in the presence of a woman of humility, humor, honesty and courage. With her feet planted firmly in the earth, her heart blazing like a furnace, and her clear eyes seeing and remembering realities that we could barely imagine, Ms. Menchu Tum took us on a journey of discovery.
I jotted down her statements just as quickly as my hand could write. These are the few I captured:
"Being humble brings you back to humanity."
"We need leaders who learn how to listen."
"We need all the races to speak."
"What we need is a bomb that will alert the conscience of all the people."
"State terrorism leads to political intimidation which results in ever more violent retaliation."
"Visualize a different world."
"The corporate mafiosa deals in human trafficking."
"You can never be happy if anyone is a slave. We need action to eliminate slavery."
"It is beautiful to do something concrete instead of just making speeches."
"Congress is not going to construct peace, only the people can do that."
Our final speaker before the break was Jody Williams of the United States who shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which she coordinates.
Where it was Shirin Ebadi's intellect that dazzled me, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum's heart, Jody Williams got my vote for pure guts. This woman said it like she saw it with no attempts to sugarcoat anything or make the truth more palitable. I was delighted when U.S. Senator Carl Levin said later that, although he'd had to arrive late, he had gotten there in time to hear Jody Williams. I just hope he was listening...closely.
Ms. Williams began by telling us a bit about her work to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines. This weapon sees no distinction between combatant and civilian, adult and child. It remains planted in the earth long after the war is over and the troops have left, just waiting for someone who had nothing to do with the conflict to unintentionally trigger it. All too often the victims are children.
The ICBL is a network of 141 non-governmmental organizations (NGOs) in 90 countries working for a global ban on landmines. The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (1997 Mine Ban Treaty) now has 151 states around the world who have signed onto it. The United States is NOT among them.
When Ms. Williams said of her native United States, "I have never seen a country of such educated people who are so willfully ignorant," the audience cheered and applauded LOUDLY. She went on to discuss the psychic trauma suffered by Americans after 9/11, and how the Bush adminstration, instead of asking WHY it happened, simply upped the defense budget by billions of dollars, and then created a "global enemy" to justify the billions being spent on "defense." Ms. Williams says this country is on a political mission to pedal a political message.
She spoke of our "bought elections" and urged us to become active citizens instead of the "Stepford citizens" the Bush administration wants.
"Seize your power and use it!" Act from "enlightened self interest." Pick your issue and volunteer with existing groups who are working on that issue.
"Stop whining. Get up and DO something about it!"
"Take action for the world you want to live in. Don't just talk about your human rights, take responsibility for making them happen."
During the break that followed Jody William's presentation, we had a chance to stretch our legs and discuss all that we'd heard. I've already written about my delightful encounter with 17 year-old Molly Shannon who came up to introduce herself and tell me that she'd been a faithful reader of my web journal since she was 12. But after Molly and I had talked, Rigoberta Menchu Tum came up unexpectedly and gave me a hug. WOW!!!
I told her about my connection with Guatemalan refugees and how pleased I'd been when she'd been chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. When a woman came up and asked Rigoberta to sign a book, I saw that it was a new children's book she'd written called "The Honey Jar." I was able to buy a copy right then and there, and asked her to sign it for me. This is what she wrote:
Gracias por se mi amiga.
Con mi amor
I know just enough Spanish to understand what she wrote. I will treasure it always.
After the break we were treated to another musical interlude, this one featuring James Patterson singing and Michael Fitzpatrick playing "Danny Boy."
I took few notes during the question and answer period that followed. But when Shirin Ebadi was asked "What is the frame of democracy?", I noted that she answered, "A government doesn't get its legitimacy from votes but also from human rights. Democracy and human rights are twins; they must be enforced together."
And when Senator Levin was asked how the U.S. can pull out of Iraq and not leave it to a bloodbath, his answer was, in my opinion, predictable. Even though he said he had never thought the war against Iraq was justified--Excuse me, but where was his Nay vote when the Senate gave GWB unbridled power to do whatever he thought was needed to stop terrorism?--now that we've made such a mess, we can't just pull out until there is a viable Iraqi political structure in place. He said it's now up to the elected Iraqi leaders to get together and work out their differences. Sound familiar? Isn't that what our fearful President and his feared Vice-President have been saying? Politicians!
But that bit of political posturing aside, truth, courage and wisdom dominated the evening. Don't we all know that if women like Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Jody Williams had the power they deserve, our world would be a much safer, more humane and sustainable place for all living beings? When peace does come--and it must--it will be the women who make it happen.
Here is just one example of the truth of that assertion. What follows is a statement read by Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams to end this symposium on peace:
Nobel Peace Laureates demand a peaceful solution to Iran-U.S. conflict
We two women, Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi, are Nobel Peace Prize Laureates from the United States and Iran. At this dangerous moment of heightening tension, with the probability of military conflict between our countries, we demand:
Violence is a choice. We demand nonviolent solutions to our common problems. Negotiated solutions to the current crises must also include our parliaments and NGOs--the voices of civil society.
We demand a nonviolent world where human security is the basis of our common global security. People have a right to live in a world where the basic needs of all peoples are addressed.
No more military attacks. No more war.
MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006
This morning I discovered another page of notes from Friday's symposium with the four women Nobel Laureates: it was from Betty Williams' interview on video. Tonight as I read of President Bush's stepped-up push towards preemptive air strikes against Iran, I was reminded of Ms. Williams' words:
"There has been a military junta in the United States. We are seeing the destruction of democracy."
But she does not give in to despair. She also said:
"Peace only begins when you put the guns down."
and "When we look not at each other but in the same direction, then peace is possible."
TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2006
How do you handle it when someone you have very poor regard for dies? Do you:
a) fake it and say the usual stuff about how she/he will be missed and how sad it is that he/she died;
b) express your true feelings openly;
c) merely say, "Oh" when told of this person's death.
I opted for c) when I received a phone call with such news today.
Sometimes the choices an individual has made throughout his/her life are so unhealthy for those around her/him that it's hard to grieve their passing. And, in my opinion, the most dangerous of all is the one who never seems to see that their choices are impacting others in harmful ways, who continues doing/saying the same ill-considered things year after year after year, who tells her/himself that these choices benefit others rather than damaging them.
I know if I were Thich Nhat Hanh, I would be able to view every person, living and dead, through eyes of compassion. But I'm obviously not there yet. Not even close when it comes to this particular individual. Right now I'm just relieved that her/his death means I'll never run the risk of encountering him/her again.
A peaceful, loving person? As I say, I'm not there yet. Not even close.
THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2006
A dear woman friend whom I met through Sulaima has just emailed me a link to a short video based on the song, "No Bravery" by James Blunt. I want to encourage you to watch/listen to it. But first let me say that it is almost unbearably painful to watch. But we must, that is if we want to see what this war on Iraq is really doing to everyone involved. Everyone is a victim, Iraqi families as well as American soldiers. We are all victims, victims of the most egregious effort in our country's history to dupe the people.
The URL is http://nobravery.cf.huffingtonpost.com/
Thanks to my sister activist Pat Noonan, today I was in the company of powerful women of all ages. Pat, Marianne Angus, Claire McAllister and I were presenters of a workshop on feminist activism. It was part of a conference sponsored by the Feminist Research Group at the University of Windsor (Ontario) called "Inter-Actions: Celebrating Feminist Theory and Practice." Participants have come from across Canada, as well as Michigan. The primary academic presentations are being held at the University on Friday and Saturday, but today there were two experientially-oriented workshops, ours being one of them.
Our workshop consisted of 10-15 minute presentations by Marianne, Claire, Pat and myself, followed by questions and comments. We each chose to talk about our own journey into activism. After a short break, we asked the 20 participants to form small groups to discuss the issues that touch them with the intention of exploring ways to take action. My group was made up of six awesome young women, a number of whom are already feminist activists. Their group is called Actiongirls. I was blown away to hear of the actions they have already taken.
I tell you, this younger generation is so far ahead of us when we were their age. It's almost as if every step our generation has made towards justice and peace is already encoded in their DNA. Talk about giving me hope!
FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2006
OK, I know I keep saying this over and over and over, but...
I just heard the MOST EXTRAORDINARY live music tonight!!! Performing at the Detroit Institute of Arts was a duo from Germany called the CelloProject. Chilean pianist Jacques Ammon has been playing with German cellist Eckart Runge for over ten years, and it shows. They play with such a sense of kindredness, often smiling at one another and so obviously enjoying the music they're making together. And what music that is! They literally had me in tears, and, as much as I've loved other musicians, I can't remember when that last happened.
And you know, I can't even say what kind of music they play. Their repertoire is so original that it defies pidgeonholing into one category or another. There was a little fugue, lots of tango and jazz, mixed with moments that were purely classical. They performed works by Astor Piazzola, Angel Villoldo, and Nino Rota (Federico Fellini's favorite composer for his films). But the piece that blew me--and the rest of the audience--away was the Sonata No. 2 in three movements by an unknown Russian composer, Nikolai Kapustin (b. 1937). After hearing his music, they searched high and low to find Kapustin, and when they did, they traveled to Moscow to meet him. I guess he liked how they played his compositions because they've just completed recording a CD of Kapustin's work that is soon to be released.
By the way I'll be meeting up with them tomorrow so I can buy some of their CDs. They had not brought them to the museum tonight, but said they had some back at the hotel. Apparently their CDs are really hard to find in the States because they have yet to find someone to distribute them here. I plan to give one CD to Deanna, the director of the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. I SO see them there! It would be a perfect venue for these acoustic geniuses.
I feel like the luckiest music lover in the world. The fact that I keep discovering extraordinary musicians makes me know that our world is filled with beautiful music. And how we need them in times like these.
By the way, I'll be seeing and hearing the jazz legend Dave Brubeck tomorrow night in Ann Arbor. As I say, I am the luckiest music lover in the world!
P.S. I apologize for the blurry picture but I didn't want to distract them with my flash.
SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2006
Well, today I discovered that the duo who make up the amazing CelloProject that I told you about yesterday are just as wonderful human beings as they are musicians. And I even have a non-blurry picture that gives you a better idea of who I'm talking about: Jacques Ammon (piano) is on the left and Eckart Runge (cello) on the right.
Since the bed & breakfast (The Inn on Ferry Street) where they were staying wasn't wheelchair-accessible, we met out front so I could buy their CDs. They only had two of the four CDs they've made--Contrapunctango and CelloTango--but I've been listening to them ever since, and I'm mesmerized. These men are exceptional musicians and their CDs show it. How I hope we can bring them back for a longer U.S. tour next time. Now I want EVERYONE to hear and experience them! They truly deserve to be global superstars. But I guess I don't really want that, because then you'd only be able to see them in big expensive venues not the intimate ones where their musicianship really shines.
We had rich and interesting conversations, some of it about music and some about politics and world affairs. Guess who introduced the latter topic!?! OK, it was me but it led us into a most interesting discussion of what it means to be a German and an American in today's world.
Eckart shared how hard it is to travel as a German because of people's feelings about Germany's place in WWII and especially the holocaust. I shared how hard it is to travel as an American because of what my country is doing in the present not the past. Eckart admitted feeling proud of being a German for the first time in his life when his country refused to go along with Bush's war on Iraq. But he also said they are paying the price economically. Of course, trade is where Bush either rewards or punishes other countries. I told them about the strength of the U.S. peace movement and how I've found that other countries, be they Lebanon or Canada, don't even know we exist. I also shared that the most recent polls show President Bush with only 29% of the American people supporting him.
Jacques said this was his first visit to the United States and the highlight for him was playing at the legendary Birdland jazz club in New York City. Apparently he is a jazz lover and was moved by being on the same stage that folks like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and other jazz greats have played. From what I heard last night and on their CDs today, Jacques is right up there with the greatest of the great.
We talked about the close bond he and Eckart share and how it makes playing together such fun. He said they met in University years ago and have been playing together ever since.
Then Eckart and I talked about the Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin whose sonata they played last night. He said they first heard a CD of Kapustin's piano pieces and then spent six months tracking him down. They flew to Moscow and spent two days with him. Apparently this unknown genius lives in a simple apartment outside of the city and spends all his time composing. He isn't really interested in marketing his work and I'm sure that's why he's not known. Because if his Sonata No. 2 that Jacques and Eckart played last night is any indication, Kapustin has a unique voice that I'm sure music lovers all over the world would flock to hear. Well, now that the CelloProject is playing Kapustin's work maybe the world will sit up and take notice. I sure have.
SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2006
Oh my friends, we have cause to celebrate in this country...FINALLY!
Yes, Virginia there IS a Santa Claus.
Yes, Dorothy, if you click your red-shoed heels together three times, you will be home again.
Yes, laughing children, you ARE right: the Emperor has no clothes.
And, boys and girls of all ages, if you get caught with your hands in the fire, you WILL be burned. Even if your name is Karl Rove.
Check out Jason Leopold's report on truthout.org and see it for yourself.
Oh my, but I am going to sleep with a smile on my face tonight. Rove out of the White House! Now THERE is a headline to savour...
[Sad to say, this was an erroneous report. As it turned out, Rove was not indicted.]
Oh my gosh, are we going to see even MORE wonderful things happen in the months to come? Is Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald going to save our country? Is the Bush & Co. House of Cards FINALLY falling down around their NSA plugged-in ears? Will America be released from the wicked witch that has had it under an evil spell since September 11th, 2001? Could it be possible that Dick Cheney would be indicted and have to pack up his quail-shooting gun and leave the White House???
Be still my beating heart...
Well, Verizon just lost one customer, and I bet I'm not the only one. If they want to play footsie with the NSA, let them, but it will no longer be MY phone records they share.
Today I moved my cell phone account to T-Mobile USA after investigating their policies on such illegal schemes. The supervisor read me a directive he'd just received from the T-Mobile headquarters (it's a German-owned company). In it they said to assure T-Mobile customers that their company will not open their records to any government agency without a legal warrant or court order. That's good enough for me.
Now I need to find a trustworthy phone company to handle my local calls. MCI, whom we've been using, is owned by Verizon, so they're out too.
By the way, if you want a TRULY trustworthy long distance provider with a social conscience, check out Working Assets. I changed to Working Assets a few months ago after learning that our long distance provider, MCI, was in bed with the Defense Department. Not only had MCI gotten the sole multi-million dollar wireless telecommunications contract for Iraq's Green Zone, but the news was already coming out that MCI had allowed the NSA access to their customers' international phone calls.
In today's world where companies are being bought up/merged at the drop of a hat, it's hard to keep our values in accord with our spending, but that doesn't mean we can't try. I'd still like to find another DSL internet service, but have not had any luck thus far. I know the cable company I'm with--Comcast--is part of the problem, but so far they seem to be my only option.
But I'm here to say there still ARE companies that can be trusted. Let me close with this email I received last week from the president of Working Assets:
From: "Working Assets"
Date: May 12, 2006 5:22:14 PM GMT-04:00
Subject: Working Assets is Defending You Against NSA and its Big Telecom Accomplices
WORKING ASSETS ISSUES UPDATE: May 12, 2006
You are receiving this newsletter because you are a Working Assets customer.
Take Action -- Demand Answers on Illegal Domestic Spying
Tell your Representative in Congress you want some answers -- under oath -- about the telecom companies' cooperation with the NSA's illegal domestic wiretapping program.
Take action now
A Message From Working Assets' President
In light of new revelations about the big telecommunications carriers' handing over domestic calling records to the National Security Agency, I am writing to let you know where Working Assets stands on the NSA's increasingly alarming activities.
Working Assets believes that the warrantless monitoring of phone conversations ordered by the Bush administration is illegal and unacceptable. As reported yesterday in USA Today, AT&T, Bell South and Verizon sold customer call records to the NSA. We also unequivocally oppose the disclosure of domestic calling records to the NSA by our nation's telecommunications providers. Working Assets would never, under any circumstances, give (let alone sell) records to the Bush administration without a warrant or court order.
In fact, as Working Assets' President, I recently signed on to an amicus brief supporting the ACLU's law suit against the National Security Agency. We are the only telephone company participating in this lawsuit.
Working Assets has never been approached by any government agency seeking our help in illegally accessing the content of conversations by our customers, and we would refuse any such request. We are actively engaged in opposing warrantless monitoring, in pushing for full disclosure by the government regarding the scope of the monitoring, and in protecting citizens from intrusive and illegal exercises of governmental power. Additionally, we are fighting Bush's nomination of General Michael V. Hayden, the architect of the NSA's illegal wiretapping program, to head the CIA.
You may be interested in a new book we are publishing, entitled How Would A Patriot Act?, a compelling analysis of how the NSA's wiretapping fits into a larger scheme by the Bush Administration to violate Constitutional restrictions on executive authority in an unprecedented manner. Click here to find out more about the book.
As a telecommunications company, it is our special privilege to facilitate communications among our fellow citizens, to enable conversations on matters personal, commercial, social and political. It is therefore our special obligation to oppose warrantless interference into those communications, whatever the government's justification may be. We will keep you posted on new developments as they arise. If you know other Working Assets members, please let them know that we are fighting to keep the Bush administration from illegally spying on their private communications, and to protect the privacy of all Americans from unwarranted government surveillance.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Michael Kieschnick, President
MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006
Now I know what my young friends go through when they decide to get a tattoo. Ye gods! But I am doing my best to be understanding about the anxieties of others and have even agreed to talk about my plans with my dermatologist.
All that aside, I am extremely excited to FINALLY be manifesting a dream I've had for twelve years. I've seen so many extraordinary tattoos here in Detroit, in San Francisco and at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Seeing them always makes me want to have one of my own, but until now I didn't know exactly what I wanted, where I wanted to put it, or who I could trust to do it. But now all three of those questions have been answered.
The WHO to do it was answered a few weeks ago when I met Kathleen, a Methodist pastor and poet, at the self-directed women writers retreat at Leaven Center. Actually, the first thing I noticed about her was the beautiful tattoo of a rose on her neck right under her ear. When I heard that it had been done by a woman tattoo artist four years ago and saw that the colors were still so vibrant and the edges so clear, my tattoo-craving started up again.
During the four-day retreat Kathleen and I spent a lot of time together. We really are kindred souls. So when I asked her if she'd go with me to get a tattoo, she said yes. Now, her tattoo artist is near Cleveland, Ohio--about three hours from my house according to MapQuest--but that would give us time for a nice leisurely visit. I'm of the opinion that getting a tattoo is such a lasting decision that I don't mind driving a distance to get it from someone I trust.
The WHAT and WHERE were just answered last night.
I've always been attracted to what are called armband tattoos, the ones that encircle--or partially encircle--your biceps. Since I work out at the gym and swim the crawl several times a week, the skin on my biceps is still nice and firm with no old lady "wings" hanging down. I even have a bit of a muscle that I'll flex if you ask! So the armband has always been at the top of my list for a good tattoo location. But after I saw Kathleen's neck tattoo, I was tempted to do that myself. That is until I looked closely at my rather crepey neck and realized it was not exactly a body part I'd like to draw attention to. Besides, I just couldn't seem to find a tattoo design--there are tons of tattoo web sites to explore--that would fit there and be something I'd want to live with the rest of my life.
But last night I was making yet another exploratory tour of tattoofinder.com. I went to the armbands web page and almost immediately found the perfect design. Well, perfect after I'd worked on it into the wee hours of the morning--would you believe 5 AM? At the center was a circle and that was what I wanted, because in the back of my mind I've longed to have the planet earth at the heart of my tattoo...just as it is at the heart of my life's work. With the help of google image search and my Adobe Photoshop software, I was able to create exactly what I wanted. That is what you see above.
As Kathleen said when she saw it (by email), "It is soooooo you!" Our niece Carolyn, a computer graphics whiz, said the same when I sent it to her for some finishing touches. I have a hard copy of the design here beside my computer and it makes me smile every time I see it. It is SO right!
If it works for the tattoo artist and for Kathleen, I'd like to get my tattoo on June 14, two days before my 64th birthday. Don't you think every woman should get a tattoo when she turns 64? I can't wait!
TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2006
What do you call a country that:
1) Protects its border with armed military troops as it builds more detention centers in case of an "immigrant emergency";
2) Creates (illegally & unchallenged) the world's largest top secret database of its citizens' phone and email records;
3) Keeps records of all phone calls made by journalists to and from their news sources;
4) Is governed by a president who signs Congressional bills into law knowing that he will break those laws any time he chooses;
5) Gives billions of dollars of tax breaks to the wealthiest 1% while the middle classes get poorer and the national debt mounts into the trillions;
6) Says it is in a perpetual state of war, giving its president (commander-in-chief) unrestricted powers;
7) Keeps foreign prisoners in secret prisons acoss the globe where they have no access to lawyers, no legal rights or protections, and are subject to torture, sexual and religious humiliation, and even death;
8) Attacks and occupies a sovereign country that was no threat but had resources over which they wanted control;
9) Threatens another country with nuclear attacks to keep them from developing nuclear weapons;
10) Restores economic and diplomatic ties with a murderous military dictatorship because it has resources this country wants;
11) Has a so-called representative Congress that accedes to every imperialistic presidential attack on this country's Constitution and Bill of Rights;
12) Whose president uses a national tragedy to keep its citizens fearful of and prejudiced against persons of a certain race, national origin and religion;
13) Has "free" elections that routinely display irregular results and use machines that can be easily hacked and/or manipulated.
Like the official reluctance to identify what is happening in Iraq as a "civil war," what is happening in our country is as close to totalitarianism as one can get without (yet) being under martial law. Why do we continue to call ourselves a democracy? This is NOT what democracy looks like!
THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2006
With the help and encouragement of Diana, our wonderful head librarian who orders the videos and DVDs for the public library, during the past week I've rented and watched:
2) Brokeback Mountain;
4 Walk the Line;
5) Good Night and Good Luck.
In my humble opinion, "Good Night and Good Luck," the story of CBS television commentator Edward R. Murrow's courageous stand against Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy's witch hunt of communists in public life, was the Best Film of 2005. It took me back to the 1950s when we used to spend hours every day watching Sen. McCarthy destroy the lives of innocent people--some of whom we knew personally--through innuendo and intimidation on live TV.
How like what we are experiencing today! Just replace the word "communist" with "terrorist," and you'll see what I mean. The encouraging thing is that McCarthy was finally brought down to size by his colleagues in the Senate: he was officially censured.
That gives me hope that such a time of reckoning is fast approaching for the McCarthy's of this century: folks like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Hayden, and dozens of behind-the-scenes neocons and hawks in our federal and state governments.
As with McCarthy, these paranoid fearmongers can seem invincible, at least for awhile. But not forever. When courageous members of the media finally call them on their lies and abuses, the public wakes up as from an evil spell. I sense that is happening now. Not any too soon for the health and well-being of our civil liberties, our sisters and brothers at home and across the globe, our children and the planet on which we live.
My compliments to George Clooney for bringing "Good Night and Good luck" into our consciousness when we need it most.
SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2006
I continue to spend lots of time--obsess?--over my proposed entry into the world of tattoos. Last night I showed my friend Pat Kolon my latest design idea while we waited to hear an exceptional experimental jazz trio with Susie Ibarra on drums/percussion, Okkyung Lee on cello, and Min Xiao-fen on Chinese Pipa and vocals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She had some suggestions that sounded good to me so I asked her to sketch them. What you see above is a color version of Pat's design.
This afternoon I took that design to a tattoo artist I'd read about in the Detroit Free Press, thanks to a tip from Susan Briggs, the art teacher I help on Thursdays. I could tell from the article and a short conversation we had on the phone that this woman sounded like the perfect tattoo artist for me. We'd even attended the same art college here in Detroit.
My instincts proved to be correct!
When I got to Eternal Tattoos out in Taylor, a suburb west of Detroit, Caryl was still busy tattooing a man named Steve. But Steve was comfortable with my scooting into Caryl's tattooing area and watching. He and his SO, Carol, even answered a lot of my questions. Caryl was also willing to talk with me while she worked--this tattoo had been going on for five hours by the time I arrived!--and I found her to be open, honest, informative and friendly. For this tattoo-virgin, seeing the process for the first time was a priceless opportunity. I am no longer spooked because I now know what to expect. And, although Steve never flinched, he was perfectly clear that it HURT, so I'd better expect that.
Not only was I able to look through Caryl's portfolio (photo album) of tattoos she's drawn, but I saw two "live" ones--Steve's skeleton and a fellow tattoo artist's Al Capone. Both were superbly drawn and vividly tattooed. I was VERY impressed. After Caryl had completed Steve's tattoo, I showed her my sketch of what I'd like. She offered to play with the design and email me a copy so I could offer any suggestions I might have. That's just what I'd hoped she'd do.
So I have an appointment at noon on Wednesday, June 14th, to receive my very first tattoo. This is SO exciting!!!
SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2006
I'm off again, but this time I'll only be gone for two nights--Monday and Tuesday--and will return home late Wednesday afternoon. I'm attending another retreat at the Leaven Center, this one facilitated by Holly Near, a founder of the Women's Music movement. You can read all about what we'll be doing by clicking here.
If you're a reader of my Photographic Peace Quotes Calendar, you'll see that I've already put up entries for the days I'll be away. You'll want to scroll down to Monday, May 22 to see the entries in their proper order.
And now I must go pack. Have a lovely couple of days.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2006
What an amazing group of women! We only spent two days together but already feel like forever-sisters. And Holly Near proved not only to be the superb performer I've experienced for years at women's music festivals, but an honest, creative, compassionate facilitator. Each of us was changed and the magic was a group effort. It could not have happened without the help of every woman present. I'd guess our wonderful diversity was part of that magic. We ranged in age from 16-71, were of European and African heritage, four of the 25 were differently-abled, and we came from different parts of the country, including Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, California, Texas, Ohio and Michigan.
How grateful I am to have been part of this Leaven Center retreat on writing and presentation skills. And as excellent as the material and experiential learnings were, it's the women I will never forget.
© 2006 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.