Windchime Walker

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Saturday, July 31, 2004


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?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Matrix Theatre photo album is complete 

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. 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.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Marsh Magic 

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.

No contract yet! 

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!

My take on Kerry, et. al. 

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.

Bush Plan Excludes Public From Environmental Review  

So much of the damage done by the Bush administration never comes before Congress, but instead is instituted through official directives and changes in policy. Even when there is time allowed for "public comments," the public rarely hears about it. PLEASE respond to this request for public comments! I don't know if it makes any difference what we say--I'm getting very disillusioned with our form of "democracy"--but we still need to make the effort.

In these final months of Bush's four years in office, he and his gang of thugs are pushing through every possible policy change that would benefit their high-spending industrial (mining, oil, logging, electric, etc.) campaign contributors. Keep an eye on their ongoing attacks on the enivronment by going to my blog, Bush and the Environment regularly. It contains information I receive five days a week from BushGreenwatch, an excellent environmental watchdog group.

A new directive proposed by the Bush administration would grant broad environmental exemptions to numerous government agencies under the guise of national security. It would also exclude the American public from decisions that can have long-term health and environmental consequences.

Under directives for carrying out the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), agencies such as the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and many others would be given "categorical exemptions" from following federal environmental regulations if they invoke reasons of national security. Such exclusions would enable agencies to conduct activities in secret that could have serious implications for public safety - such as using or storing hazardous chemicals in close proximity to residential areas and schools without letting citizens know about their risk of exposure.

The directive would also allow the degradation of public resources -- such as the building of new roads through national forests for use by the Border Patrol -- with no input from the public whatsoever. While these agencies would still have to conduct environmental reviews before taking action, those reviews would not be subject to public scrutiny or public comment. [1]

"This rule is just one example of how the Bush administration uses 9/11 and the threat of terrorism generally to instill fear and basically prevent the public from learning what it has a right to know," Brian Segee, associate counsel for Defenders of Wildlife, told BushGreenwatch.

"There are legitimate reasons to keep some information secret," he said. "But these should be narrowly defined. Does the fact that Border Patrol is blazing a road through a national forest need to be kept secret? We don't think so."

Segee submitted a nine-page letter to the Department of Homeland Security criticizing the proposed directive on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, the Ocean Conservancy and the National Audubon Society. The Natural Resources Defense Council also submitted detailed comments, asking that certain exclusions -- such as those related to the disposal of hazardous wastes -- be deleted from the document. [2]

The period for submitting comments to the Department of Homeland Security has been extended until August 16.

Comments may be faxed to 202-772-9749 or sent via email to ADMIN-S&

[1] Department of Homeland Security website.
[2] NRDC letter, Jul. 14, 2004, Defenders of Wildlife letter, Jul. 14, 2004.

from BushGreenwatch, July 28, 2004

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

A tired puppy 

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 River-Keepers' 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 blog tomorrow.

NWMF 2004 photo-journal 

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Thinking outside the box 

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!

Monday, July 26, 2004

National Women's Music Festival 

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. It was near the dorm but a good hike from the Ohio Union and Wiegel Auditorium where everything else was happening. 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.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal 

I'm done!!! My Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal is up and running. Hope you enjoy it.

And now on to the next festival, the National Women's Music Festival. My friends and I plan to leave Detroit tomorrow (Thursday) between 10-10:30 AM and hope to arrive at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio by 3-4 PM. Mapquest says it takes 4 hours but we'll be stopping for lunch on the way. I'm looking forward to the drive down as much as the festival itself. We four were part of recording the "O Beautiful Gaia" CD, and we're fortunate to have one low voice, two middles and one upper in the car, so we can sing in full harmony the whole way if we want!

If you're interested in reading about and seeing pictures of my past experiences at the NWMF, go to my Music Festivals page and scroll down until you find the links to the National Women's Music Festivals 2001 & 2002.

We will probably get home late Sunday night so I'd better not promise I'll write anything then. But I hope to see you on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Library pickets in the news 

Ann Mullen of the Detroit Metro Times wrote a good article about the Grosse Pointe library situation that appeared in today's edition of the paper. Click on "Book Poor: the Grosse Pointe library staff is making noise in labor spat" to read the article online.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Muscles, photo-journals & festivals 

Another hot humid summer day. I value every one, especially now that we're in the final weeks of July. It's going too fast. On tonight's after-dinner walk/scoot, we noticed it was already getting dark by 9 PM. A month ago it didn't get dark until almost 10 PM. For a summer-lover like me, these "dog-days of summer" (July 15-August 15) are precious.

Today was my weekly work-out session at the gym with Matt. Wow, that man really works me hard! But we both see such improvement in my strength, endurance, balance and abilities that I can only feel grateful, even when I'm straining and grunting. I must admit I get a kick out of having and showing off my new-found muscles. I now do pose-downs with the best of them. Poor Ed is always being instructed to "Feel these muscles!"

Believe it or not, I'm off to another music festival on Thursday morning. As I told a friend, summer is my festival season. That's why I'm working so hard to finish my Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal. After this coming weekend I'll have another photo-journal to put from the National Women's Music Festival. I'm looking forward to this festival, which I think is my 6th or 7th NWMF since I started going in 1995. This year three friends--Sooz, Penny and Judy--and I are driving Sojourner my new handicap-accessible mini-van down to Columbus, Ohio together. Our friends Judith and Nancy plan to caravan behind us with their car. The festival is being held at Ohio State University. We'll be home late Sunday night.

Today I received an email from Steve Heath, the Events Coordinator of ACCESS, who is anticipating my photo-journal getting up online. He also mentioned recommending my name to Mohannad Haimour who is producing a new Arab newspaper and is looking for someone to write an account of the Concert of Colors. Steve's take on it was that I'd probably seen more of the festival than anyone, besides he said I'm an "excellent writer." What affirmation! Wish I could say yes, but I'm barely going to have time to do my own online account before leaving town early Thursday morning. Unfortunately Mohannad's deadline is Friday.

A weekend to remember 

It's almost 1:30 AM and I'm totally immersed in all that I saw, heard and experienced at the Concert of Colors this past weekend. Even though it is going to take many more hours to complete my Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal, I am relishing the opportunity it gives me to relive and begin to integrate all that happened. What a remarkable weekend!

But my work with photos and journal entries didn't stop me from doing laps at the pool this afternoon, spending time with my sweetie at dinner, on an after-dinner walk/scoot, and watching a video ("Seabisquit") together tonight.

Yes, life is to be shared via the internet, but more importantly, it is to be lived. And I certainly do feel that I've been living life to the full of late. I am so grateful.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Friday night at Detroit's Concert of Colors 

I surprised myself by getting up early this morning and having the time and inclination to put up my photos and write a journal entry about last night at the Concert of Colors. I can't promise what will happen tomorrow morning--actually, I expect to go for a swim--but you can get the first installment of this weekend's activities by going to my Concert of Colors 2004 photo-journal. The festival is FABULOUS so far!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Detroit's Concert Of Colors 

I am putting up today's blog entry early because tonight is the start of another Detroit free music festival weekend, the Concert Of Colors at Chene Park. I've been told this is the largest free festival of World Music held annually in North America. It is co-sponsored by two community organizations--New Detroit and ACCESS (the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services)--and Daimler Chrysler. This year's line-up includes both Ani DeFranco and Little Richard. Now there's an example of the diversity this festival celebrates! But they aren't all. We'll be seeing and hearing musicians from many countries, each of which is represented by residents of the greater Detroit metropolitan area.

How grateful I am to live in such a multi-racial, culturally-diverse community!

If you're a regular reader, you already know that this is one of my favorite festivals of the year. If so inclined, you can see pictures of previous Concerts by going to my Music Festivals web page and clicking on the Concert Of Colors links.

I don't expect to be putting up another journal entry until Monday, so I'm sending you good wishes for a great weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Raging Grannies join the pickets 

Another union contract negotiating session inside the library; another picket out on the streets. This time the Raging Grannies--Charlotte, Judy and myself--joined the picket and sang songs I'd adapted from our solidarity rages with the Ann Arbor Borders' workers last winter. I'd made 60 copies hoping to have folks sing along with us, but couldn't drum up any interest at first. Much later, while we were waiting for the Metro Times photographer to show up, Kathleen (the children's librarian at the Central Branch) and Nancy (a member of the support staff at the Grosse Pointe Park branch) stood with us and sang their hearts out.

Speaking of the Metro Times, today I finally met Ann Mullen, the reporter who had traveled to Lebanon to interview my brother Rabih Haddad last winter, and who'd returned home to write an excellent article about him . I felt like I was meeting a sister.

Next on our library solidarity calendar is the Library Board meeting next Monday, July 19, at 7 PM at the Neighborhood Club (17150 Waterloo, Grosse Pointe, MI 48230). Interestingly enough, they've changed their published meeting date twice in the past two weeks. Scared, are we? But, believe me, there is no place they can hide in this community; it's too small. And you can be sure that John Bruce and the Library Board watched last Monday's School Board meeting on cable TV. They know what's coming and I doubt if they're looking forward to it. With all the recent newspaper articles, editorial, letters to the editor, front-page photos and TV news report about the outpouring of community support for our library staff, there has not been a peep out of the Library Board president, John Bruce. He has been "unavailable for comment."

Well, next Monday--or whenever they actually end up having the July Library Board meeting--there are going to be LOTS of library patrons "available for comment," myself included! I would really like to know the Board's rationale for refusing to accept the Michigan Employment Relations Committee (MERC) Fact Finder's report and recommendations. They've got a LOT of explaining to do.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The "unsettled dead" 

I can't remember the last time a book has consumed me as totally as Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" did. I read all day long--except for maybe an hour or two--and finished it tonight. My goodness. What a story. And, to tell you the truth, if someone had outlined the plot for me ahead of time, I doubt if I would have bothered. I mean, do you see me reading a book about someone who's died and gone to "heaven"? Not too likely. But fortunately, when my friend Diana, the librarian, saw me looking in the Fiction stacks, she brought this book over with the words, "It got rave reviews and has won numerous awards. I think you'll like it." That kind of recommendation means a lot to me. She then said, "It's kind of dark: it's about a rape." But if it's well written, I can manage "dark." After all, I love Margaret Atwood.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you a book report, but instead want to share what this book triggered in me.

It made me think of persons I call the "unsettled dead." These are women, men and/or children who have either died violently, or before they were ready. They are the ones who make you feel uneasy when they come to mind. Occasionally you can hear their cries in your sleep, or feel their sadness in your waking. Sometimes they carry you into the killing fields where they died. The extent to which you experience them depends on your willingness to "suffer with," which is the definition of compassion.

It might be someone you knew, but often not. I can recall experiencing the unsettled dead of El Salvador, particularly the housekeeper and her daughter who were killed with the six Jesuit priests at the University in November 1989, the Tutsis as they were being massacred in Ruwanda, the people of Iraq during the first Gulf War/the 12 years of sanctions that killed millions of children/and Bush's war that started on March 19, 2003 and seems like it will never end.

I have also known a number of "unsettled dead" personally. The one who comes most readily to mind is my "heart friend and train buddy," Joel Payne. He died of complications from AIDS on November 30, 1994. Joels was only 35 years old and not ready to die. The night of the day I learned of his death--December 1, 1994--I attended a World AIDS Day Remembrance Service at a church in Windsor, Ontario. I did not find Joels there, but instead he came to me after I left early and started driving with my windows wide open through the cold, dark fields surrounding the city. He howled and wept through me on that drive, loudly and messily, with no restraint. I knew then that it would be a long time before Joels would find even a measure of peace.

During my six winters in San Francisco, I often felt Joels at my side. Sometimes he was happy, other times, sad. I could tell he missed his city dreadfully, but it seemed to comfort him that I was there. I know it was Joels who found me the perfect sublet apartment in the Mission. Joels who got me singing in his beloved chorus, the Lesbian-Gay Chorus of SF. Joels who shared his friends with me, especially Jeff, Scott and Phil who became like family. Joels who showed me his favorite hang-outs in the Castro. Joels who sat with me in my darkened apartment, with incense burning and a cup of hot herbal tea at my side. Joels whom I saw in every bubble I blew off my balcony with my soap bubble wand.

But as time passed, Joel's presence grew dimmer, until finally he was gone. I know that was when he had finally made his peace with death. It took 8 years.

Please don't mistake my words for those of someone who believes in "heaven" or "hell." I don't. But what I do believe in is the willingness of the dead to give up their hold on life and the living...or not. I believe it can take a long time for the "unsettled dead" to come to peace. I also believe that some persons--like my mother--release their hold so thoroughly while they are still alive, that when they stop breathing they disappear as gently as morning mist lifts off a lake. And their legacy is a feeling of deep peace whenever they come to mind.

So read "The Lovely Bones" and see where it takes you.

Correction re: today's Senate vote 

My thanks to Nat for clarifying the nature of today's vote in the Senate. From her "comment" to my previous entry:

While I agree and was startled to see the numbers, the fact is that the vote was *technically* about whether to begin the debate about the amendment on the Senate floor. Had the Republinazi's actually gotten their 60, that would not have been the end of it, by far. Though I'm sure I'm not the one to be lecturing you about Constitutional law. I just learned this today, so I thought I'd share. Yeah, it's scary, but it was just a vote to decide if they're going bring discussion of the amendment to the floor, not the end-all be-all. *shrug* Just thought I'd add that. Peace.
Nat | Homepage | 07.14.04 - 6:38 pm

Neo-Right loses battle in the Senate 

Why am I not ecstatic that Bush's attempt to amend our US Constitution so it reflected his personal homophobia, failed?

Why am I not celebrating with my dear friends Shauna and Kathy, Bobbi and Beverly, Jamie and Demetry--to name a few--on the day that their marriages were NOT outlawed by a federal amendment to ban gay and lesbian marriages?

Why, instead, do I feel sick to my stomach.

Because I can't believe that 48 of our country's Senators--the highest legislative body in the USA--voted to amend our Constitution--no small thing--so that an already persecuted minority of our population would be legally barred from choosing to live their lives in the "holy estate of matrimony." As if their doing so would hurt ANYONE!

All I can say is, thank goddess there were 50 Senators who refused to go along with this federally-mandated, legalized homophobia. Thank goddess, these 50 women and men did not allow Bush and his Neo-Right Machine to mow down yet another of our rights as US citizens.

This is scary. What I see in the narrow margin of votes is that we've got to do A LOT MORE than simply get Bush out of the White House. We've got a HUGE amount of cleaning out to do in the Senate...and, I'm certain, in the House too.

But for today at least, we can say the Neo-Rights DIDN'T win. In 2004, that is a victory in and of itself.


-----Original Message-----
From: Human Rights Campaign
Sent: Jul 14, 2004 11:22 AM
To: Patricia Lay-Dorsey
Subject: Victory on Federal Marriage Amendment in Senate!

Human Rights Campaign
Senate victory on the Federal Marriage Amendment!

Dear Patricia,

We did it! Just moments ago, the Federal Marriage Amendment lost in the Senate by a stunning, bipartisan vote of 50-48. We won this historic victory for two reasons: First, because the politics of division don't work, and second: the votes were on our side.

But the real reason we won is this: You. You and every fair-minded American, gay or straight, who called, e-mailed, faxed, visited, tracked down, and otherwise urged your Senators not to write discrimination into the Constitution. Thank you. This amazing moment belongs to all of us. Please, share this victory with all the friends and family you talked into fighting with us. We join in celebration with each of you. The campaign to defeat this amendment has been a top priority for HRC and with your amazing efforts over the course of many months, today we won this round of the fight. Thank you - again.

What's next:
I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't remind you that it's not over. Our ultra-conservative opponents are determined to spread
their discriminatory agenda across the country. Fasten your seatbelts, my friends, because the months ahead are going to be challenging indeed:

--Next week, the House will take up the issue of marriage equality as well. Expect a fight. Expect vicious words and fierce debate. And expect to speak up, loud and clear, once more.

--During the next three months, no fewer than 11 states - and possibly 13 - are facing ballot initiatives to write discrimination into their state constitutions. HRC will fight these initiatives shoulder to shoulder with state and local GLBT leaders. We'll let you know how you can help.

--And of course - like you, we will be actively working to stop discrimination at the source by electing fair-minded legislators around the country. We're glad to know you will be with us in that battle, too.

All of this work starts tomorrow. For today, I will take a moment to appreciate this hard-won victory. I hope you'll join me.

Many, many thanks for all you have done.

Cheryl A. Jacques
Human Rights Campaign President

P.S. For all the details about this important vote, please visit

To see how your Senators voted, please visit

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

A hot, humid day 

This is one of those summer days when you do your best not to be crabby. For me that means avoiding close encounters with people. It is not only hot but oppressively humid. A day when you keep saying to yourself, "When is it going to rain!?!" It was also the day I worked out at the gym with Matt. Yep, I'm pretty much good for nothing right now.

It's 6 PM and I'm sitting at the computer with my fan set on "medium," pointed directly at me. This is no time for oscillation. Before I came upstairs, I sat in the living room with another fan--our large floor fan--pointed right at me while I devoured a book I just got from the library, Alice Sebold's "Lovely Bones." It's hard to put down.

I realize my need for solitude comes not just from the weather, but from a string of peopled days and nights that started last Wednesday. As gregarious as I seem, I have to weigh people-time with alone-time. And alone-time has gotten short shrift of late. I am so fortunate to live with a fellow who needs even more solitude than I. He always understands when I go into my cave.

May it rain!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Building community 

There's nothing like a struggle to build a sense of community. I've lived here for 33 years and never before have I felt so much a part of this community. Until now I've always identified primarily with Detroit, but there's something about this injustice to our library staff and the public pickets that have risen up around it that is changing my definition of community. And if that hadn't happened before, it most certainly would have happened tonight.

Tonight was the School Board meeting, and not only did we picket out in front of the high school where it was to be held, but at least 15 residents got up during the "public comments" part of the meeting and told the school board members what the librarians and library staff mean to them and their families. They also said in no uncertain terms what they think of the Library Board (that is appointed by the School Board) and the shabby way they've been treating our excellent librarians and support staff. Many openly expressed their outrage and shame at the fact that these people, who are irreplaceable assets to our community, have been forced to go out on the streets and picket in order to bring attention to the fact that they are now in their third year without a contract. Former librarians spoke. Mothers spoke, one with her children at her side. Long-time residents spoke.

It was a real example of a community finding its voice and saying to its elected officials, "Do something! Don't just sit there!" There was a repeated call for the Library Board to be elected, to be held accountable to the tax-payers whose money they so liberally spend on buildings but not on people. But even before that can happen, the community is saying--is insisting--that the School Board step in and do whatever it takes to cut through this impasse.

I was sitting beside the librarians and library staff who filled the first three rows. They were dressed in black and wore their pink "3rd Year--No Contract" pins. And many of them wept as they heard--FINALLY--what they mean our community, how we value them. And theirs weren't the only wet eyes in that high school library. I saw a brand new School Board member, Ahmed Ishmael, wipe his eyes at one point. That's a good sign.

But we're not going to stop there. A number of folks read letters they've written to our local newspaper about this issue. We're supporting our local Michigan State Representative's bill that would give our community the option of electing its Library Board. We'll be out in full force at the next Library Board meeting on July 26--watch out!!!--and we're going to continue picketing in front of the Central Branch every Thursday from 5-6:30 PM. I'll be there with the Raging Grannies this coming Thursday, singing songs I'm adapting from our solidarity pickets with the Border's workers in Ann Arbor last winter.

If you want to join us at any of these events and need more information, feel free to contact me, or email Kathleen, the Youth Services librarian at the Central Branch. We can use all the support we can get.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

A lovely summer weekend 

Yesterday morning Ed and I drove to Ann Arbor and went to the Farmer's Market in Kerrytown. While there, we ran into our dear friend Frank Blumenthal, whom Ed has known since they were boys together in Ann Arbor's Angell School in the 1930s. We walk/scooted around town a bit, and got home in time for my Raging Grannies meeting at 2 PM.

This morning I swam laps down at the park pool. On the way home I ran into our neighbor Al Mackey who said that her son, Bill, and his partner, Andrea, were in town for the weekend and wanted to see Ed and me. Since I'd planned to go visit Casey and Jeanne out at their home in the country, I scooted over to Al and Bill's in hopes of seeing Bill and Andrea before I left. We had a wonderful visit out back.

By 3:30 PM, I was at Casey and Jeanne's which is at its loveliest. I'm sorry I neglected to bring my camera because the lilies alone--at least 20 different varieties--were breathtaking. Not to mention the other flowers and vegetables, many of which towered over me in my scooter. I had iced tea that Casey had made from flowers in their garden, and our dinner consisted of lettuces, radishes and all manner of tasty green plants and herbs as well as freshly picked red and black raspberries over ice cream for dessert. Perfect on this hot summer day! Just being with these wonderful women was the greatest treat of all.

I got back home by 9 PM and had a good visit with Eddie before coming upstairs to write this entry, and, hopefully, get to bed early.

I dearly LOVE summer.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Raging Grannies & Election 2004 

This presidential election campaign has more complexities than most...even among people who plan to vote for the same candidate. Everyone in my circle of friends wants Bush out. That's a given. But when you dig deeper, it's not unusual to find differences of opinion as to how to make that happen.

At today's meeting of the Raging Grannies, this topic came up and a passionate discussion ensued. We'd been invited to sing at two Democratic fundraisers for Kerry, but since we'd always identified ourselves as "non-partisan"--as a gaggle, not as individuals--we needed to decide whether or not we were going to hold to that.

Wow. That's when the floodgates opened.

I said emphatically that I will be voting AGAINST Bush but not FOR Kerry. Yes, I'll cast my ballot for Kerry, but I do not support most of his policies, especially his pro-Israel anti-Palestinian policies. Another Granny said that she insists on her right to choose the best candidate, so might even vote for Nader. The Granny beside her said that amounted to a vote for Bush. The first Granny disagreed. Another Granny said she has always supported the Democratic Party and will be doing so this time, even if she disagrees with their candidate's policies. Whether or not the Raging Grannies decide to sing at the Detroit-area Democratic fundraiser, she plans to attend as a supporter. Sitting in the chair beside her was a Granny who wants to sing not at the fundraisers themselves, but on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to give voice to our desire that Kerry espouse peace and justice instead of more war and oppression. Her suggestion was countered by yet another Granny who said that might be seen as anti-Kerry and we shouldn't do anything that might give that impression: it is too important to get Bush out. That opinion was echoed by another Granny who expressed concern that progressives were doing damage to Kerry's chances of beating Bush by criticizing him so strongly. She maintained that we'll have plenty of time to protest Kerry's policies AFTER we get him elected. Two other Grannies stressed that helping to get the vote out was the most important thing we could do, and that we should be working on voter registrations.

As I said, this campaign has more complexities than most.

After a healthy expression of our individual views, we reached a group consensus: we will remain non-partisan as a gaggle, and will not accept invitations to sing at political fundraisers. Nor will we sing as Raging Grannies in any place that might do damage to Kerry's chances of being elected. To us, being against the re-election of George W. Bush is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of saving the planet. We are not opposing him because he's a Republican, but because he is the worst--and most dangerous--president in American history. We MUST get him out!

Friday, July 09, 2004

Planning for the Unconvention 

It's been a productive day. Four of us Raging Grannies--Kathy, Charlotte, Judy and I--went to the University of Windsor across the river in Ontario to see about arrangements for the Unconvention that our gaggle is hosting in the spring of 2006. This is the biennial gathering of Raging Grannies from around the world. It's hard to imagine, but we need to get things set as soon as possible in terms of dates, types of accommodations, meeting rooms, food and a general idea of the costs. The University of Windsor, where we plan to hold the Unconvention, already has several conferences planned for 2006.

We were fortunate to have a wonderful fellow working with us. Phil has recently come to the University specifically to increase their conference business. Since he's worked in a seniors-oriented travel business for years, he was most sensitive to our needs. But I think he was surprised and delighted when we started telling him about the Raging Grannies and what we do. When we sang him a couple of our songs, he was obviously tickled.

It appears that the University of Windsor has a couple of good options for us. Now to see what kind of package they can work out for us, money-wise. Phil doesn't make those decisions but our guess is that he will be advocating on our behalf.

After our two-hour tour of dorms and meeting facilities on the campus, we went to a Chinese restaurant Judy and I know for lunch. As part of the Unconvention, we Raging Grannies--probably 80 or more of us--will put on a Granny rage in Windsor. Of course we can't know what issue will be prominent then, but we're already writing down ideas. The chances are we'll bus the Grannies into the middle of Windsor for the rage, and go to a restaurant for dinner afterwards. This restaurant--the Jade--came to mind as a possibility because of its central location, large airy room with lots of tables, and excellent food. Our waitress seemed confident that they could handle it.

It was pretty obvious that they could handle large numbers of patrons because today the room was filled with families enjoying dim sum. We ordered dim sum ourselves--which I adore but haven't had since I was last in San Francisco--and found it to be delicious. By the way, dim sum makes me think of my friend Jeff. I can see us enjoying a lunch together at a superb Chinese restaurant in the Sunset district of San Francisco, and delighting in all the tastes and textures of the dim sum they'd pass around on trays. If I remember correctly, we stuffed ourselves!

Today the Grannies and I were home by 3 PM. After last night's strange pattern of sleep, I was ready for a nap. I didn't wake up until 5:45 PM. Knowing Ed and I are going to Ann Arbor early in the morning, I'm going to try to go to bed at a reasonable time tonight, but getting to sleep might be a challenge. Just lying there relaxing will help. I never mind doing that.

5 AM catch-up 

I was too exhausted last night to write and tell you I was too exhausted to put up my journal, but after a good 6-7 hours sleep, I'm feeling fine.

After a good hard workout at the gym, I joined Thursday's solidarity picketing in front of the library (photos #1, #2 & #3). The librarians' and the library support staff negotiating teams were again meeting inside to try to work out a fair and equitable contract with the Library Board lawyer.

I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why the Library Board refuses to pay our librarians and library support staff a decent wage, with acceptable benefits and pension. It isn't as if they don't have the money: they do. What in the world are they thinking? But at least now the community knows how obstinate the Library Board is being, and they're having none of it. Each time we take to the streets, there are more of us and we're getting quite feisty too. Our chants are louder--thanks to activist David Sole's megaphone yesterday--and we're receiving good publicity. We were front page news in both the Grosse Pointe Times and the Grosse Pointe News, and yesterday Channel 4 was there filming our picket line and interviewing participants. May John Bruce and the Library Board be ashamed of themselves!

We had wonderful signs, some old and some new:

Honk If You Care
Nice Place To Visit, Bad Place To Work
Thank You, Patrons, for Supporting Your Library Staff
G.P. Librarians--Lowest Paid In Southeastern MI
We Want To Stay, But Need Better Pay
3rd Year, No Contract
Tell the Library Board It's Time For A Change
G.P Library: Best Patrons, Best Staff, Worst Pay
Can't Keep Quiet Any Longer
"Woefully Underpaid"
C'mon Board, Soften Your Hearts!
It's Time To Increase Wages, Benefits & Pensions

The librarians and support staff had new leaflets to hand out, water and chairs to assist the picketers, and lots of support from family, friends, colleagues and library patrons. And after a cold, grey day, we had sun and mild temperatures. We concluded at 6:30 PM by holding a brief rally under the balcony where the Librarians' Negotiating Team stood, applauding us. We applauded them right back.

Our next solidarity event is Monday, July 12. We're to meet in the Grosse Pointe South High School parking lot (corner of Grosse Pointe Blvd. and Fisher Rd, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236) at 6:30 PM to picket for a half hour before we go inside at 7 PM to attend the G.P. School Board meeting. They are the group that appoints the Library Board and they need to hear how we feel about the Board's conduct.

I feel SO encouraged that we will win this struggle. With community support and publicity, there's no way we can lose. Solidarity Forever!

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Here are some pictures I took on last night's after-dinner scoot. If you only have time to look at one, be sure you click on the "white rose against the sky":

Our neighbor's daylilies across the street.
A close-up of one of the daylilies.
A pink rose I saw on my "singing street"
A white rose against the sky.
A sailboat on the lake.
Clouds in a sunset sky.

MS & meds 

Last night I checked out a blog I read clicked on a link posted there. The link was to a blog called Erik's Multiple Sclerosis (MS) blog. It is written by a fellow who was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS in May 2003. After reading a few entries I was struck by how the combination of meds he takes for the MS affects his quality of life.

As one of a minority of persons diagnosed with MS who has chosen to live medicine-free, I felt it was important to write and tell him a bit of my story. In the US, one doesn't hear very much about this option. It then occurred to me that maybe other folks would find my perspective helpful, so this is what I said:

Dear Erik

I found your blog last night through a link on Good for you to be willing to put it all out there so honestly! Blogs are great tools for expressing our own truth and helping others to understand what we live day-to-day. I've kept a daily online journal since February 2000 and a blog since December 2003, so I know how helpful it can be.

By the way, I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 1988, so we have some things in common. I know that your diagnosis is more recent and of the relapsing/remitting type, but just dealing with the mysteries of this chronic condition gives us a bit of a connection.

Your entries give me the impression that the meds are giving you more grief than the MS itself. From what I understand, that is common. I'm also inclined to question whether some of the symptoms you mention--specifically loss of short-term memory--might well be meds-related rather than a manifestation of the MS. Friends of mine who use meds like Zoloft often complain of problems with their memory.

I bring this up to say that there are other options. Not other medicines, but the option of living medicine-free. Most neurologists will not tell their patients this. Seems their only concern is which meds to prescribe, how they interact when used together, and what dosage the patient can tolerate. Please don't think I'm going to tell you about some nutritional supplement or other "miracle" treatment for MS; I'm not. I just want you to know that not everyone who is diagnosed with MS buys into the use of medicines.

So what do I do instead of takng meds? Basically, I live as healthy a life as I can. No alcohol, no caffeine (not even chocolate), no meat/chicken/seafood, lots of sleep, good exercise (for me that means swimming a half mile of laps a couple times a week plus working out at the gym with a personal trainer), getting out among people LOTS, enjoying the jazz concerts I love, music festivals (one of which is a weeklong camp-out with 1000s of women in Western Michigan), singing in women's groups, anti-war activist demonstrations where I sing with a group I co-founded here in Detroit called the Raging Grannies, etc. I use whatever assistive devices I need to stay active and independent (first a cane, then a walker, and now a combination of scooter and walker, plus my newly-purchased handicap-accessible minivan). And most importantly, I don't spend too much time focusing on the MS. My life is too full for that.

In relation to medical care, again I've traveled a different path from most people. My neurologist retired 4-5 years ago and I just haven't bothered to get another one. Except for going to a dermatologist to check out my moles, an opthamologist to prescribe my glasses, and orthopedic surgeons for my occasional broken bones due to falls, I haven't seen any doctors in years. I used to go to a wonderful acupuncturist, but when I started doing regular exercise I found I didn't even need that. The only meds I take are multi-vitamins, calcium and the very occasional aspirin for a minor headache. I've never taken any meds for the MS. My blood pressure is 90/64 and I consider myself to be extremely healthy. By the way, I recently turned 62.

I don't know if this helps, but at least it lets you see that there are different options available to you.

May you find your best path to a full and healthy life.

in peace

Patricia Lay-Dorsey

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Bush Team Pushes Huge Timber Sale Under Guise of Fire Protection  

I just posted the following on my blog, Bush and the Environment, but I think it is important enough to post here too. The Bush team will obviously stop at nothing to pay back their big donors and sweeten the pot for swing states in the November election. Please contact your Senators and urge them to oppose this rape of our planet!

Under the guise of preventing forest fires, the Bush administration is planning the biggest timber sale on public lands in modern history. The Biscuit Project would allow logging of 372 million board feet of timber across 30 square miles of southwest Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest--enough timber to fill 70,000 logging trucks. The logging would be done on wildlands of uncommon beauty and ecological diversity, far from any community that could be damaged in a fire.

"It's the biggest logging sale since World War II," says Steve Holmer, communications director with the Unified Forest Defense Campaign, a coalition of national and regional conservation organizations. "Timber companies have made huge contributions to the Bush campaign. This project is political payback."

Holmer tells BushGreenwatch that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) initially proposed a much smaller project. "When the Forest Service first started looking at the area, they planned maybe a 100 million board feet sale." That changed once Mark Rey, formerly a top lobbyist for the timber industry who is now the administration's undersecretary for natural resources and environment in the Department of Agriculture, began to work on the sale.

Conservationists will "fight tooth and nail" against sales in roadless areas and old-growth reserves, but may support some careful logging in the areas in between, called "matrix lands," says Holmer.

The Biscuit Logging Project may violate federal forest protection rules. Some areas are protected under the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule, while the huge size of the project may violate the Northwest Forest Plan, also adopted during the Clinton administration. [1] Moreover, logging will disqualify 48,000 acres of the Siskiyou from consideration as federal wilderness area.

In an unusual step, the USFS has granted "emergency exemptions" to 11 sales included in the project. These exemptions enable the USFS to allow logging to begin immediately after issuing its final plan for each sale, even though there is usually a waiting period required for public appeal.

Holmer sees politics in this rush to cut. "This is an election year. Oregon was a close state in the last election. The Bush administration is using the Biscuit Project to show they've come up with a solution to the fire issue." There is also an economic factor. "If the trees aren't cut soon, they'll rot to the point of losing economic value. If they're not logged this summer, [the timber companies] will pretty much lose their chance."

The areas encompassed by the Biscuit Project were burned in the 2002 "Biscuit Fire," the largest forest fire in Oregon's history. Fire is an intrinsic part of the ecology of western forests, and the Siskiyou has already begun to regenerate. [2] The burned trees are ecologically essential to the area's recovery, and sit on some of the Siskiyou's wildest and most fragile acres--including old-growth reserves, steep streambanks and riverbanks, and salmon spawning grounds.

In addition to being one of the largest public lands logging sales in history, the Biscuit Logging Project may be one of the most expensive to taxpayers, ultimately costing the public over $34 million.

"There are costs to preparing a sale," says Holmer. "The Forest Service has to build roads. Or if it's logging with helicopters, you've got to create landing pads, 2-acre clearcuts. Also, salvage timber sells at 25-percent of green timber. It's the same wood, same volume, at fire sale prices. The timber industry gets a huge windfall because it's a salvage project."

Holmer emphasizes the survival of the forest--a shelter for wildlife and wild rivers--is at stake.

"Under the Clinton administration, the Siskiyou was almost made a national monument. It's an area of unparalleled biological diversity, home to rare species that exist only in this region, clean water for salmon, and very important to the local tourism and recreation industry. If there was going to be a new national park on the west coast, the Siskiyou would be a prime candidate."

You can call your US Senators at 202-224-3121 and let them know what you think of this timber sale. To find out who your Senators' are you can go to:

[1] "Biscuit Salvage: Biggest Timber Sale in History," The Wilderness Society.
[2] Ibid.

from BushGreenwatch, July 7, 2004

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Library Protest Update & Info 

From Kathleen, the "Story Lady:"

Thank you to everyone who has supported us. The union negotiating team will be meeting with the mediator and Library Board lawyer this Thursday, July 8 at 5 pm. While they meet, we plan to picket outside the Central Branch, 10 Kercheval (the corner of Kercheval and Fisher Rd.), Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236 from 5-6:30 pm. We welcome all.

I hope to have a website up and running soon. In the meantime, thanks to Patricia for letting me post comments and update everyone. If anyone needs directions or more information, please feel free to email me.

The Grosse Pointe School Board (that approves the "appointments" of Library Board members) will be meeting next Monday, July 12, 7 pm, at Grosse Pointe South High School (the corner of Fisher Rd. and Grosse Pointe Blvd.), Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236. We are trying to get as many people as possible to attend the meeting. Come at 6:30 pm and join our picket in the parking lot before we go in to the meeting.

Also, the Library Board will meet on Monday, July 26, at 7pm, at the Grosse Pointe Neighborhood Club. We want as many people as possible to attend that meeting. I am hoping we can really turn the heat up and increase the pressure.

Kathleen E. Gallagher
Librarian, Youth Services
Grosse Pointe Public Library

When we talked today, Kathleen told me she plans to picket/leaflet outside the Central Branch every Thursday at 5 PM until they get a contract. She would LOVE to have supporters join her. I also learned that last Thursday's contract negotiations were totally unsuccessful. But the library patrons are getting behind the librarians and library staff as they begin to hear about the situation. It helps that each member of the library staff is now wearing a shocking pink button that says "3rd Year--No Contract" on the job. They've also taken out an ad in the Grosse Pointe News that should run this week.

The more public attention we can get, the better. So if you want to show solidarity to our woefully underpaid librarians and library staff, we would appreciate your help.


1. Grosse Pointe Public Librarians and Support Staff are entering their third year with no contract.

2. Grosse Pointe Library employees hired after 1994: lowest paid/worst benefits in Southeast Michigan of all comparable libraries.

3. Library Board admits, and the impartial Fact Finding Report confirms, the ability to pay fair and equitable wages, benefits and pensions without raising taxes!

2003-2004 Grosse Pointe Library's:
Annual Income..........................$4,000,000
Annual Expenditure..................$2,900,000
Fund Equity................................$5,000.000

4. MERC Fact Finder's Report:
"Woefully underpaid" states Fact Finder.
The Library Staff accepts the Report.
The Library Board rejects the Report.


Accountability: The Library Board members are appointed by the Grosse Pointe School Board, and have no term limits and under the District Library Establishment Act of 1989 are permitted to issue bonds without voter approval, unlike all school districts and municipalities in Michigan.

Bond Issues:
$9,900,000 for a new G.P. Park Branch
$10,300,000 for a new G.P. Woods Branch

Michigan Representative Edward Gaffney is sponsoring legislation in Lansing to amend the District Library Establishment Act to give Grosse Pointe the option of an elected Library Board with full accountability to the Grosse Pointe taxpayers.

Voice Your Support:
Call 1-888-254-LAW1 or

Monday, July 05, 2004

A surprisingly wonderful 4th of July 

If you're a regular reader of my journal or blog, you've probably already figured out that this holiday is not among my favorites. It hasn't been since George W's dad unleashed his war against Iraq in 1991. That year a peace friend and I mounted a two-person anti-war demo in front of our community's War Memorial community center, the end point of a parade in which young children waving American flags rode through our streets in an army tank. I remember my sign said, "Salute the USA at peace not at war."

But 13 years later, I was no longer standing with just one person but in the company of dozens and dozens of folks (photos #1, #2 & #3) who do not see war as the answer to anything. And more significantly, at my side were eight feisty Raging Grannies who take risks for peace every day, yesterday being no exception.

Let me tell you, simply getting ourselves up onto that peace float/flatbed truck--even with the able assistance of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace organizers and workers--was no small feat! There was Granny Marilyn with her bum knee and her cane climbing up on a chair and then scrambling onto the truck with not a word of complaint. Grannies Emilie and Magi, who are in their mid-80s, did the same. And I experienced my own sense of risk as the sound man, who assured me he worked out with weights, picked me up in his arms and deposited me onto the truck, then climbed up and lifted me in his arms to wait for Ona, my precious scooter that was undergoing her own risky adventure.

But once settled in our chairs and my scooter seat, we Grannies were ready to go! They had three microphones onboard--a new level of professionalism for us--so we didn't even have to strain our voices to be heard. At Phillis's invitation, we warmed up the crowd with our own version of July 4th songs, most of which give a new slant to the word "patriotic." Since we were in an area surrounded by peace people, we let it out a bit and sang some of our more satirical songs. I guess the sound system was pretty good because Phillis, the director of the AAACP, received a complaint from one of the parade marshals that someone had expressed the view that our songs were "inappropriate to the occasion!" Once we got on the road (photos #1, #2, #3) we were more circumspect and kept to the repertoire we'd decided made our feelings about war very clear but focused more on peace and freedom.

The streets were lined with flag-waving families and stars-and-stripes clothed older couples, but among them were plenty of folks who expressed their agreement with our lyrics by cheering and holding up their fingers in the universal peace sign. Actually we got cheers and waves from all kinds of folks. I think just seeing these older women dressed in outrageous hats, colorful aprons, old-fashioned dresses and granny shawls, singing--often off key but always enthusiastically--surprised and tickled them. Of course we also saw our share of tight-lipped frowns, but that comes with the territory. We sang without a break along the entire parade route, perhaps a mile and a half.

The moment I'll most remember came on Main Street when the Blue Angels fighter jets roared overhead, drowning out our voices. We immediated started singing GranMotoko's song that goes (to the tune of "Frere Jacques"):

Are you sleeping?
Are you sleeping?
Uncle Sam? Uncle Sam?
Anti-war bells ringing
Hear the people singing
NO to war!

After the parade, we met at Amer's restaurant on State Street for a bite to eat and to talk with anyone who might be interested in starting an Ann Arbor gaggle of the Raging Grannies. We were delighted to have Emily and Joy join us. With our own Granny Marilyn's help, it looks like an Ann Arbor gaggle might indeed come into being. Let's hear it for Ann Arbor!

Granny Judy and I got back to the east side of Detroit around 3 PM. I called my friend Pat Kolon to arrange our evening activity, and lay down for a much-needed nap. By 6 PM Pat and I were on our way to the Taste Fest, another of Detroit's free summer festivals. This one is a true street fest located in the New Center area beside the Fisher Building where my Eddie had his office for at least twenty years. It gets its name from the blocks of booths serving food from Detroit area restaurants. There are also playscapes for kids (and adults), a block of booths run by local artists, and four sound stages with continuous music of all different kinds.

Pat and I first explored our food options. We finally settled on Polish dill pickle soup for her, gazpacho soup as well, and an East Indian veggie combo plate for each of us. We also enjoyed watching children and adults climb the "mountain" on Second Avenue (photos #1 & #2).

It was good to see that the shooting tragedy at the Detroit Fireworks display a couple weeks ago had not seemed to scare anyone off. The streets were PACKED with people!

After dinner we walk/scooted over to the Fisher Building parking lot where Pat recalled having seen a long line of porta-potties. As always, they had two handicap-accessible potties that I could ride into on my scooter. There was even toilet paper still available at 8 PM! And they also had handwashing machines in that area. Nice.

We looked to our right and saw TONS of people sitting and standing in front of what was billed as the Main Stage. We went over to see what was going on, and ran in to a friend of Pat's, Sean, who is a singer/guitarist himself. He told us that Buddy Guy, one of the best blues guitarists in the country, was scheduled to perform in a few minutes. We decided to stay.

WELL...Sean sure knew what he was talking about! Buddy Guy and his band put on a FABULOUS show. A happy surprise was seeing Granny Josie and her husband Tony sitting beside us. And then Tom, a fellow we often see at Detroit's festivals, came up and gave us each a cookie.

Did that audience ever get into Buddy Guy's music! Not just his music, either, but his ability to galvanize the crowd. When he left the stage and started walking through the audience, I thought people were going to go off their rockers. And when he came up to me (!), stopped with a smile on his face, leaned down to kiss me and say, "Hey, I love ya!", and then put my hand on the strings of his guitar and told me to strum it...I knew I was going off MY rocker!!!! His assistant gave me a guitar pick with Buddy's name and "Let it tear" printed on it. After that I was famous in our section!

But that wasn't all. Soon after Buddy had made his tour through the audience, it started to sprinkle. No one left; folks just donned rain ponchos and opened their umbrellas. Soon I saw people looking over their shoulders and grinning like children. Behind us was the most beautiful rainbow hanging across the sky! Pure magic.

We stayed at the festival until the last musical group sang and played their final note. That was the Urban Folk Collective, a wonderful band of young Detroiters who had me up on my feet dancing the whole time!

Pat stayed here overnight and we've been enjoying a quiet morning and afternoon before we head back down to the Taste Fest. What a surprisingly wonderful weekend.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Raging Grannies to be in Ann Arbor today! 

I'm too excited to sleep. Although my alarm wasn't set to go off until 7:45 AM, I've been up since shortly after 6 AM. Certainly not my norm!

Today the Raging Grannies Without Borders are not only going to be part of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace contingent in the annual July 4th parade, but we are the FEATURED artists. Artists? Well, activists. The indefatigable members of AAACP, under Phillis Engelbert's able leadership, have decorated a peace float on which the Grannies will ride. We'll even have our own sound system. BIG TIME!

A year ago we Raging Grannies marched and sang in this same parade at the side of over 70 AAACP peace activists and friends. The parade route through the center of town was lined with women, children and men dressed in red-white-and-blue and waving American flags. We were surprised at their reactions to us counter-cultural older women and our anti-war songs. They cheered and cheered! So often we preach to the converted, but on this day we were really "out among them," so to speak. It was great.

After today's parade we're meeting at Amer's restaurant on State Street to get some nourishment and talk with anyone who might be interested in starting a Raging Grannies gaggle in Ann Arbor. Since we're based in Detroit, it's a trip--about an hour each way--for women from Ann Arbor at attend our meetings. Besides, most of our gigs are in Detroit. Peace folks in Ann Arbor have been so receptive whenever we've sung at their rallies and marched in their parades, that we suspect there's enough interest for them to have their own gaggle. It'd be wonderful to have sisters close by.

By the way, if you found the poem I posted yesterday to be rather dark, it had come out of my discouragement at having seeing a ton of red-white-and-blue star-spangled-bannered tableclothes, flag-decorated shirts/shorts/hats/swimsuits/beach chairs, and waving flags at our community park yesterday. I know these are traditional symbols of the 4th of July, but after what this country has done and continues to do in Iraq and elsewhere, it made me sick to see such patriotic fervor. Talk about being a stranger in a strange land.

Thank goddess, today I'll be with sisters and brothers who are also swimming against the tide. How that helps!!!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

The 4th of July 2004 

Stars and stripes forever
Rivers of blood run down the white of forgetfulness
Stars shine on the uncounted dead in Iraq
A midnight blue sky anchors each star in grief

Rivers of blood run down the white of forgetfulness
Picnickers clothe themselves in this symbol of American hubris
A midnight blue sky anchors each star in grief
Why do our people not weep?

Picnickers clothe themselves in this symbol of American hubris
They wave flags that the world now hates
Why do our people not weep?
I weep, and use their flag to wipe my eyes

They wave flags that the world now hates
Stars shine on the uncounted dead in Iraq
I weep, and use their flag to wipe my eyes
Stars and stripes forever

by Patricia Lay-Dorsey

Belated blog entry for Friday 

Lunch in Royal Oak with Jackie and Jan took more time than I'd expected because I had to go to the police station and file an accident report. My precious Sojourner was hit by a shard of mortar off a building under construction, and sustained her first dent. Not serious, but irritating and time-consuming. I was home by 4 PM and went straight to bed for a short, but sorely needed, nap. By 6:45 PM, Pat and I were off to Ann Arbor to see the all-women's jazz group, Straight Ahead, perform at the Firefly jazz club. Eileen Orr, their pianist, had called yesterday morning to ask me to attend. She said the trio would be performing a composition she was dedicating to me. She said she couldn't have finished writing it without my encouraging words to her on Monday night. Called "Full Moon Wise Women," Eileen on piano, Marion Hayden on bass, and Gaylynne McKinney on drums created *magic* with it last night! Pat and I stayed for two sets, and I didn't get home until 1:30 AM. Knowing I had to get up early to attend our friend Bob's funeral on Saturday morning, I went right to bed.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Library Staff Solidarity 

Hey, George W. ain't the only "Stupid White Man" (see Michael Moore's book) in town. I'd guess every community has its share. Here in mine, they seem to like sitting on the Library Board. They operate much like our Commander-In-Chief: secrecy is a given, control a big issue, accountability doesn't exist, appearance wins over substance, basic human needs are ignored, Big Money interests determine policy, and anyone with brains and education is considered a threat. The main difference between our current Prez and the Library Board is that the former can be voted out of office--May it happen!--while the latter are appointed, it seems, for life.

With that kind of "leadership" it should come as no surprise that our community's librarians and support staff are entering their third year without a contract.

But, dammit, that is soon going to change. These beleagured folks--each one an exceptional asset to our community--have finally said, "Enough already!" and this week started going public with their complaints.

On Monday, they picketed and leafleted the official Groundbreaking for a new library building, and today (Thursday) they mounted a demonstration in front of our Central Branch library while contract negotiations were going on upstairs. On Monday I'd guess there were 20 of us picketing, but today we must have had 35-40 folks of all ages marching up and down the sidewalk, carrying signs (photos #1, #2, #3 & #4) and chanting

"2-4-6-8 Library staff deserves a break"


"What do we want?" "A contract!"
"When do we want it?" "Now!"

As you might have guessed, I was a lead chanter, but, hey, many of these folks had never picketed anything in their lives. I must admit I did have my work cut out to get these "Please-be quiet-in-the-library" folks to open up and give proper voice to their chants. But after a little coaching, they caught on. Actually they did so well that the librarians' negotiating team heard us from inside the building and came out on the balcony to applaud!

Our numbers kept swelling as library patrons joined us. One patron even gave us flowers and chocolates to show her support. I was most touched by the youngsters who love their library enough to take to the streets to see that the storylady gets the pay and benefits she deserves (photo #1 & #2). And spouses and children of several of the library staff joined in as well (photo #1, #2 & #3).

I sensed that many of my sister and brother demonstrators were surprised at their ability to put themselves and their concerns forward in such a public way. For over two years they have continued to go to work every day, giving us library patrons the best they have to give, while not being paid a living wage and having to worry about inadequate benefits.

As for myself, I will never forget the special help I received from one of the librarians soon after September 11. I'd gone to our Central Branch--my library for 33 years--in hopes of finding information on Islam and the Arab culture. After 9/11 I'd decided to volunteer at a Dearborn K-5 school where at least 85% of the student body was Muslim of Arab descent. Within a week I had 16 books and 4 videos to use as resources! That's what I mean about an excellent group of librarians and support staff.

So today we all found our voices. And Kathleen, the Children's Librarian, may have found a new calling as leafleter. She was awesome!

We will continue our protests until a new contract is signed. As I told my sister and brother picketers, going public is the only way. In a small community like ours especially. There's no place for the Library Board to hide here. Secret no longer.

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