Windchime Walker

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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween 2004 

No matter what thoughts and feelings I had this afternoon (posted below), they were soon swept away by the children and their cries of "Trick or Treat," imaginative costumes, wide-eyed enthusiasm (the little ones), and their obvious enjoyment of our traditional cups of apple cider and bags of salty snacks (one boy downed 4 cups and came back later for 2 more!). There's nothing like Halloween to bring out the child in all of us. Tonight was especially fun because we had higher numbers of goblins, angels, witches and such than we've had in years. I'm sure the perfect weather had a great deal to do with it, and being on a Sunday certainly didn't hurt.

As they've done since birth, our neighbors Claire and Charlotte took time to visit, show us their costumes and get their treats. Speaking of which, it is such a treat to watch these wonderful sisters grow up. Here, you can see what I mean: Claire and Charlotte on Halloween 2001, Claire, Charlotte and their friends on Halloween 2002, and Charlotte on Halloween 2003. A lot changes in three years when you're young!

My feelings 

So many feelings swirling inside me on this Samhain/Halloween day:

--Sadness at having to say goodbye to my jazz sister, Miki, who is returning home to Japan on November 9.

--Gratitude for a lovely evening spent with Miki, Akira and Pat Kolon in Ann Arbor last night, starting with dinner at a wonderful East Indian restaurant on Main Street, and then hearing our favorite jazz performer--Lynne Arriale--at the Firefly Club on Ashley.

--Wonder at the music Lynne and her trio made for us there--her bell-like clarity and soul-full sound on the piano, Steve Baker's creative touch on the drums, and the sensitive bass playing by Terry, a back-up member of the trio.

--Awe at the hard work and countless hours spent canvassing neighborhoods of voters this weekend by my friend Judy Drylie and tens of thousands of volunteers working across the country with, and other activist organizations.

--Underlying feelings of apprehension over what will happen on Tuesday at the polls...especially what the results will be and how long it will be before we know.

--Hope that the voters will cast their ballots based on what is most beneficial to ALL, not what benefits a few at the top. And that their decisions will come out of love not fear.

--A basic distrust of the electoral process that will collect and count these votes that will impact the entire world.

--Anger at the Bush administration, in particular George Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft, for what they have done, continue to do and intend to do in the future to our country, the world's people and the planet.

--Hope that, if elected, John Kerry will find within himself the courage and conviction he manifested as an anti-war Vietnam veteran in the 1970s.

--Gratitude for all the unseen multitudes who are doing everything they can to turn this country around.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Voting in 2004 

I cast my absentee ballot today. As I said to the clerk at our city offices, "I'm not a praying person, but I sure am praying this time."

I just read in the Detroit Free Press that local clerks are expecting up to an 80% voter turnout in the Detroit metropolitan area. That's up from 62% statewide who voted in 2000. The record turnout for Michigan was 72.7% when President John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960. But our Republican Secretary of State predicts a much lower figure--63%. That would be to her party's advantage since, historically, high voter turnouts have favored Democratic candidates.

But everything's up for grabs this time. There's been a huge voter registration drive not just by Democrats in urban areas but also by Republicans in rural areas and small towns nationwide. And the numbers show their success. In Michigan, an all-time high of 7,160,000 people are now registered, compared with 6,859,332 in the 2000 presidential election. And the numbers of absentee ballots requested and already turned in is also high. With four days to go, 40,000 absentee ballots have been received from Detroit voters, and 65,000 are expected before counting begins at 7 AM on Tuesday.

Whether you want him for president or not, you've got to give George W. Bush credit for one thing: voter apathy is almost non-existent in 2004!

Our polling station is next door, so in the 33 years we've lived here, I've always voted in person. Because I'm planning to be a volunteer Detrot poll monitor for Election Protection on Election Day this year, I applied for an absentee ballot. Actually, I liked being able to "google" candidates and issues while I filled it out at home. Time intensive, yes, but I felt better informed about who and what I voted for than ever before.

The extended weather forecast for Tuesday looks OK for Detroit--mostly sunny with a chance of isolated thunderstorms; a high of 51 F. and a low of 40 F. Our main challenge is provisional ballots, or more significantly, the PROHIBITION AGAINST the use of provisional ballots in Michigan.

Published on Friday, October 29, 2004 by is the article, "Republicans Pressed To Halt Voter-Suppression Efforts" by Jim Lobe. In it was the following paragraph:

In Michigan, Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land, who is co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign there has been criticized by a federal judge for restricting access to "provisional ballots" by voters unsure of their precinct and failing to take action against voter intimidation efforts in heavily Democratic areas.

Provisional ballots are used for registered voters who show up at the wrong polling location, but in the right city and/or county. In the past, these voters were allowed to cast a "provisional ballot," and, after having been checked for authenticity, these ballots were counted. But not this year. Even though the Detroit chapter of the NAACP and the Michigan Democratic party filed a lawsuit that maintained disallowing provisional ballots was unconstitutional, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati refused to rule on it in time for the November 2 election.

As you can imagine, this is going to hurt urban voters the most, as they tend to move around more than rural or small town voters. In Detroit especially. My guess is there is major organizing afoot to see to it that there will be drivers at every polling station in Detroit who are willing to give voters rides to their correct precincts. Many share my view that this is just one more attempt to disenfranchise African-American and Latino/Latina voters, the persons who traditionally vote Democratic.

It's amazing to think that, before Election 2000, most of us thought we lived in a representative-style democracy where our votes ALWAYS counted. Within four years, our naivete about the fairness of the election process has been replaced by a rampant cynicism. And people's willingness to get out there and try to protect voters' rights is a sign of the times. Almost all of the American members of my women's community are volunteering as canvassers and/or poll monitors either with or At our Election Protection training session in downtown Detroit on Election Eve, I bet I'll recognize LOTS of faces. Detroiters are known for turning words into action. May our action result in a fair election for the people of our city on November 2, 2004!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

What a difference a day makes! 

Last evening I tried out the magnetic girdle Ed had bought me on the recommendation of Trish who works in the dentist's office next to his office. She said that it had helped her heal more quickly when she'd broken her rib. It seemed to help. I took it off when I prepared for bed, but did manage to go to sleep right away and slept well all night. Then I put it back on when I got up this morning--closer to afternoon!--and wore it for a good three hours.

I decided to try going out to a special event tonight, knowing I could leave if I got uncomfortable. No problem! And I didn't even get back home until 11:30 PM. Isn't the body amazing? Yes, I still get pain if I twist or put weight on my right side, but it is definitely bearable. So I'm feeling, if things keep going the way they are, I'll be able to do my poll monitor training on Monday and work the polls on Tuesday. YIPPEE!!! My heartfelt gratitude to you wonderful readers whom I can tell have been sending me good healing energy. Please continue...

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the event I attended tonight, but now I want to go to bed.


The event was a benefit screening of the documentary "Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines" and a conversation/dialogue that included the filmmaker/producer Patricia Smith Melford, Desmond Tutu's daughter Nontombi Naomi Tutu and two Detroit-area women: Iraqi-American Iman Jasmin and Elena Herrada, a third-generation Mexican-American and union organizer in Detroit. It was organized and introduced by Sharon Rodgers Simone, a well-known author and workshop presenter who lives in Southern California. The evening was a benefit for Marygrove College's groundbreaking Masters program in Social Justice, and Peace X Peace, an international organization "empowering women to build peace across cultural divides using the internet to weave a global web of education, communication and action for peace." Sharon Rodgers Simone is a 1967 graduate of Detroit's Marygrove College where the event was held, and Patricia Smith Melford is Executive Director of Peace X Peace. Sharon, whom I'd met online, kindly gave me two tickets so I invited Pat Kolon to join me. We agreed the evening was truly transformative. If you can see this film anywhere, do! It gives an excellent view into the life and work of courageous women around the world. Yes, we have MUCH more potential to be changemakers than we realize.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Cracked ribs 

If you're a regular reader, you've probably already figured out that my life consists of ebbs and flows. Of course, everyone's does, but it seems as though the contrast between the ebb and the flow is more pronounced in my case than most. And, again if you regularly read my journal, you know that I've been in flow mode for quite awhile now. But no longer. The ebb has come.

Remember how I mentioned hurting my ribs while doing contact improv dance last Sunday? I'm certain now that I cracked at least one of my ribs on the right side. How do I know? The pain. Besides, I actually heard it crack on Sunday, not to mention felt it. I let out a pretty loud yelp and said to my partner, "I'm just going to lie here and rest for awhile." Which I did. But it was too late; the damage was done.

In thinking about it, I realize that contact improv and I are no longer suited to one another. When I did it back in the early '80s, I was a young strong 40 year-old woman. I, like the young people I was dancing with on Sunday, was so resilient I bounced when dropped or was rolled upon. Now, as a 62 year-old elder, I break instead of bounce. My bones are just too brittle to take much stress.

Last night I called Cara, the dear woman who'd first invited me to join their group, and told her of my decision to forego future contact improv dancing. She was disappointed but understood. However, she still wants to explore how we can safely dance together, as persons of different abilites. So we have a lunch date here next Wednesday to brainstorm. She's also going to bring a video of the DanceAbilities workshop she attended last summer. I would so LOVE to dance with creative folks! I trust we'll find a way.

But, for now, the ribs need time to heal. As my wise husband said this morning, "You need to start canceling out of things so you can have time for your pain."

I know he's right, much as I resist the idea. I have SO MANY wonderful things on my calendar in the next week, the most significant, in my mind, being my work as an Election Protection poll monitor in Detroit next Tuesday. But I also know that was going to be a stretch, even if I were physically fit. It wasn't just working the polls for hours on Election Day; it was attending a compulsory 3-hour training session on election eve. Since Pauline, one of the friends I'd planned to work with, lives in Ann Arbor and wanted to get back home at a reasonable time on Tuesday, that meant we'd probably be starting when the polls opened at 7 AM. And that after having returned home about 10 PM the night before. As I say, it was looking quite strenuous at best.

And now? I doubt if I can do it at all. If I sit still, things are fine. But let me twist or put any weight on my right side and YOW! I am not a happy camper. And why is it that as soon as the sun goes down, the pain wakes up? Every night thus far has not been pleasant. Add to that, the challenge of having to sleep on my back when I normally sleep on my tummy. It's been taking me hours to go to sleep, and then my frequent bathroom needs during the night mean twisting my body to get out of bed. OUCH!

OK. Enough already! But you get the idea. Ebb time is here. Now I'll have LOTS of time to paint ;-)


As the lunar eclipse reached its fullness, my friends Casey and Jeanne came over to buy my little red car. I'm so happy to know she's gone to such a good home. Here is my last view of her pulling out of our garage.

And I have to offer the Boston Red Sox my congratulations for winning their first World Series since 1918! Do you think they're celebrating in Boston tonight??!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Still ABB (Anybody But Bush) 

It always helps to see a situation through another lens. This Presidential Election, with its tendency to divide, is a perfect case in point. I don't know about you but I'm having a heck of a time listening to any perspective that differs too significantly from my own. It's like I shut down the minute someone says anything remotely good about George W. Bush. So if you're a reader who supports the current president, I apologize for not seeming to respect your point of view. I'm sure there are lots of other web sites and blogs that see things as you do, but I'm afraid this isn't one of them.

What I do find interesting is the rather surprising bedfellows at my side during this election. For example, Scott McConnell, the executive editor of The American Conservative who endorses John Kerry for president instead of his fellow Republican, George W. Bush. "Kerry's the One" says in part,

George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naive belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies - a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies-temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election-are just as extreme. A re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in millions of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans "won't do." This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support.

My thanks to Kim Antieau who posted a link to this article in her blog, The Furious Spinner. Kim's a treasure trove of information as well as being a fabulous writer. Check her out.

Another perspective on our Presidential Election that I found valuable comes from Riverbend, a young Iraqi woman who lives in Baghdad and has been keeping a blog--Baghdad Burning--since August 1, 2003. Her October 25, 2004 entry--"American Elections 2004--should be required reading for every voter in this country. A portion of it reads:

Many, many people have asked me about the elections and what we think of them. Before, I would have said that I really don't think much about it. Up until four years ago, I always thought the American elections were a pretty straightforward process: two white males up for the same position (face it people- it really is only two- Nader doesn't count), people voting and the person with more votes wins. After the debacle of four years ago, where Bush Jr. was *assigned* president, things are looking more complicated and a little bit more sordid.

I wouldn't normally involve myself in debates or arguments about who should be American president. All I know is that four years ago, we prayed it wouldn't be Bush. It was like people could foresee the calamity we're living now and he embodied it. (Then, there's that little issue of his being completely ridiculous.)

So now there are three different candidates--Bush, Kerry and Nader. We can safely take Nader out of the equation because, let's face it, he won't win. We have a saying in Iraq, "Lo tetla'a nakhla ib rasseh" (if a palm tree grows out of his head) he won't win. The real contest is between Bush and Kerry. Nader is a distraction that is only taking votes away from Kerry.

Who am I hoping will win? Definitely Kerry. There's no question about it. I want Bush out of the White House at all costs. (And yes- who is *in* the White House *is* my business- Americans, you made it my business when you occupied my country last year) I'm too realistic to expect drastic change or anything phenomenal, but I don't want Bush reelected because his reelection (or shall I call it his 'reassignment') will condone the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. It will say that this catastrophe in Iraq was worth its price in American and Iraqi lives. His reassignment to the White House will sanction all the bloodshed and terror we've been living for the last year and a half.

My husband says "It's all about Iraq. Anything else just gets in the way." I see it as all about Bush. Not Bush alone, but what many of us call Bush & Co. Yes, Iraq. Yes, the environment. Yes, the Patriot Act. Yes, a woman's right to choose. Yes, the spiralling national debt. Yes, the loss of jobs. Yes, tax cuts for the wealthy. Yes, secrecy at the highest levels. Yes, lies and more lies. But, as Ed says, Iraq is at the heart of it all. And we all know that he won't stop at Iraq if the American people are foolhardy or ignorant or gullible or just plain stupid enough to give George W. Bush another four years in power. No one is safe as long as this man is president.

On a lighter brighter note, here's a painting I created today. I call it "Jazz Spiral" and dedicate it to Trio X--Joe McPhee on alto sax, Dominic Duval on bass and Jay Rosen on drums--whose CD, "In Black and White," inspired me.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Today marks the two year anniversary of Senator Paul Wellstone's death in a plane crash. His wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia, and three campaign aides--Mary McEvoy, Tom Lapic, and Will McLaughlin--were also killed. How we have missed this man of courage and conscience! How different things might have been if he had been in the Senate when they debated giving George W. Bush carte blanche to do whatever he wanted in Iraq. There is no way he would have stood for that without putting up a hard fight. Instead the Senate rolled over and played dead. Think about it. Who else has acted in conscience? Who else has had the public interest--national and global--at the forefront of their decisions? Who else has been willing to stand alone if need be? Representative Barbara Lee from California is the only one who comes to mind. As I say, Paul Wellstone is sorely missed.

Remember my poem about the local gelato store that has military recruiting brochures prominently displayed beside the cash register? As I said, their location across from the high school makes them all the more dangerous. Well, it appears their advertising is working. While in the bank today I heard one teller say to another, "I've had THREE young men come in today who are joining the armed forces!" That's what I've been afraid of. The brochures appeal to young people's insecurities and desires to be considered heroic. Of course that's why we send youngsters to war; more mature folks would see behind the hype and say, "No way are you going to send me to Iraq!"

Today we saw the sun for the first time in ten days. What a treat! I scooted down to see Eddie and, of course, couldn't resist taking more pictures. I even took pictures of bushes and trees I'd photographed on Saturday because, with the sun shining on them, they were more beautiful than ever. Every minute of autumn is precious now.

--Two brilliant maple trees (photos #1 & #2)
--A yellow tree framed by dark green foliage
--Looking up into Saturday's red maple...lit by sun this time
--Two side streets with towering trees (photos #1 & #2)
--The red bush, more flaming than ever
--Golden trees
--Our house
--Our screened-in porch

And to leave on a political note, Edsel Ford's property has the only Kerry/Edwards lawn sign among the wealthy homes in our community. I guess the others consider Bush their friend. His tax benefits for the top .01% of the country are not forgotten!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Stretching your boundaries 

Learnings come in all shapes and sizes. Because it's freshest in my mind right now, let me share the significant learning that came through another's courage in addressing a hard subject with me today.

I was at a local martial arts studio to join with dancers who meet every Sunday to do contact improvisation (more about that later). In my excitement, I made a bad turn in the hall and banged into a wall. To be honest, this happens a lot. After the collision, I just backed away from the wall and drove Ona, my scooter, a bit more carefully into the dance space.

As we were preparng to leave two and a half hours later, the owner of the studio asked if she could have a word with me privately.

Jay and I have seen one another for years at events like the Detroit Women's Coffeehouse and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, so we're not strangers. In fact, we'd had an interesting conversation earlier in the day about her mother who had also been diagnosed with MS but had been more limited physically by it than I. Her mother had died last May and I could tell that Jay truly understood what it was like to live with a disabling condition.

Once we were alone, Jay said to me that she needed an apology. Here I'd banged into the wall in her studio, marring it in a way that would need repair, and had said nothing to her about it. No "I'm sorry" or anything. I realized as soon as she said this that I've been at fault like this more times than I can count. Of course, I apologized and offered to pay for the repair. I also thanked her for speaking to me about it so I could learn to handle situations like this differently in the future. She was most respectful and said she knew it wasn't my fault that it had happened; she just needed some expression of regret from me, otherwise every time we met, this incident would come to mind. I finally went over to examine the damage I'd done and saw a gash in the wall that will need to be spackled and painted. I felt awful.

But that's good. I deserved to feel awful because I needed to learn from this. In the future, I need to gear down and be more careful when I'm in tight spaces. But if I do hit something, I must stop, see if I've done any damage, and if I have, offer an apology and/or recompense to the person whose space I've damaged.

Thank you, Jay, for giving me this opportunity to learn and, hopefully, change.

Now to what happened on the dance floor...

WOW!!!! First of all, the women and men in this community welcomed me--their first differently abled participant--with such open hearts that any anxiety I'd felt ahead of time was instantly allayed. We sat in a circle to start and shared our names and any information that would be helpful for our partners to know about how our bodies were feeling. I gather the mix of participants shifts from week to week, but today there were seven women and two men, probably aged 20-something to 30-something. Half were from Ann Arbor and half from Detroit. They alternate meeting in each city for two and a half hours every Sunday. And what they do is called contact improvisation.

Contact improvisation is a free-form style of dance that invites individuals to make connections with one another through touching , leaning against one another, bearing each other's weight and creating original movements together that evolve organically, one from another. The key to its success is not ever to lose touch physically with your partner. Contact improv takes one from the floor to sitting, to standing, to holding or being held by your partner, in ways that have no "rules" beyond listening to your own body and respecting any needs or limits your partner shares beforehand or as the dance progresses. This group uses no music and shifts from partner to partner in intuitive ways. Sometimes we worked in pairs and occasionally in groups of three. Ona my scooter was an active member of the community, and you should have seen the amazing ways some folks danced with her! I have photos that I took toward the end of our time together, but most of what happened is encoded in my body...and my heart.

I had done contact improv at the Paradigm Dance Studio in Detroit back in the early 1980s. At that time I was a long-distance runner and biker, had been doing modern dance with a local choreographer (Denise Szykula of Nonce) and was strong and agile. Before we began today, I had little conscious memory of what contact improv entailed, but my body remembered. I found that certain moves--like rolling over one another on the floor--came naturally to me again. Naturally but not necessarily comfortably. I must admit my ribs on my right side were not happy during one such roll, so I told my partner and we did something else. But now those ribs are setting up such a yelp that I'll need to let myself heal before I go back for more. Actually it's refreshing to have an injury that occurred while dancing rather than as the result of a fall. Like everyone else, I just need to learn what works for me and what doesn't.

What worked was feeling like a dancer again. That most certainly worked! What also worked was dancing with these particular individuals. They bring such a spirit of fun, inventiveness and cooperation that it's hard not to break out in giggles as you move. Which some of us did! Even though I couldn't begin to do the incredible things they did, it didn't seem to matter. Each of my partners respected my limits and gave me any help I needed. At the same time, they helped me go beyond what I'd imagined I could do. When I found myself lying across Ona's seat with my arms and legs extended as my partner used me as a platform on which to dance, I was near delirious with joy.

Here are some photos so you can begin to see what contact improvisation looks like. I'm going to group them according to partners. That way you can get a better feel for the evolution of the movements.

Photos #1, #2, #3 & #4
Photos #5, #6, #7 & #8
Photos #9, #10 & #11

Autumn foliage 

Here are the photos I took yesterday on my scoot to and from the gym:

A school soccer field
A stand of colorful trees
A rose still in bloom
The "singing street"
A brilliant red maple tree
Fallen leaves at its base
A red bush
A colorful side street
A tall maple turning color
Ed walking beside a different school
A lovely house with lovely trees
A side street with tall trees

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bringing the outside in 

Jesse and Dave, his dad, came to wash our windows today. In three hours they had our house feeling like the outside had come in. Even on a grey day, everything looked bright. Here, let me show you what I mean:

--Ed sitting in front of the side window in the living room that overlooks the ramp.
--The front window in the living room.
--Looking from the living room into the dining/piano area.
--In the pantry. That's my maternal great-grandmother's butter churn beside the window.
--My art room where I also quiet myself in Ed's great-grandmother's rocker.
--My bedroom that now doubles as a computer room.
--My view when I sit at the computer. There is also an old maple--a favorite resting place of birds and squirrels--and red berry-covered honeysuckle bushes that bring hungry robins right outside my window.

Tomorrow I'll show you the photos I took of autumn foliage on my scoot to and from the gym.

A lovely low key day 

I painted, then took Eddie to pick up his car that was getting new tires. After dropping him off, I continued down to the Cultural Center. My first stop was the art store near Wayne State University where I picked up three new brushes and another watercolor block. I then went to check out a new East Indian restaurant I'd heard about. By then it was time for an Afro-Brazilian dance performance that I'd seen online was happening at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It ended up being delightful, with the performers children aged 6-15 from Southwest Detroit. At 7 PM I went downstairs to the DIA theatre to see "Zelary", a marvelous Czech film that came out in 2003. I met Pat Kolon at the film and afterwards we had a late supper together at the restaurant I'd checked out earlier. When I got home I watched a little "Seinfeld" on TV with Eddie, and then came upstairs to finish my painting. It's now 1 AM and I am ready for bed.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Coming full circle 

In six hours that flew as if powered by hummingbird wings, Susan, the art teacher who lets me help her every Thursday, gave me back a chapter of my life, and in so doing, allowed me to offer it as a gift to dozens of nine and ten year old youngsters.

Today three fourth grade and two fifth grade classes saw and discussed Ms. Patricia's slides of art that I'd made and exhibited twenty years ago. In the over three years that I've sat in on Susan Briggs' art classes, I can't remember seeing the students so engrossed. Nor have I ever heard such insightful questions about art, from adults or children. Just about every class ended before I could answer all of their questions, so many of the kids--instead of lining up for the hall as they were supposed to do--crowded around me, eager to ask what was in their hearts.

I wonder what will come of it. Will some youngsters begin to see making art professionally as an option? Will others now look at art with a more familiar eye? I've known many of these kids since they were first and second graders. We've sat beside one another and worked on the same art projects for years. Will that help them see that being an artist does not mean being famous or having your work in books or on museum walls, that art can be as simple as drawing shapes and as complex as trying to express your feelings?

When one of our most talented students asked why I liked to make art, I responded that it was the best way I'd found to express what's in my heart. And, happily, the series of drawings and paintings that I shared with them today had come about for that very reason. And the fact that the images were child-like in their simplicity and fanciful in their content helped make them accessible to the kids. Nothing I'd drawn or painted would have been beyond their own abilities to produce. But what seemed to intrigue them the most was my explanation about what this series of art symbolized to me personally. For they had come when I was forty years old and at a turning point in my life. The room format and vocabulary of ropes, arrows, windows, caves, bare trees, etc., referred to my core need to break out of the "room" of my former way of being in the world so I could be authentically myself. Nine and ten year youngsters understand this well.

Next week I'll go to school on Friday instead of Thursday, so I can give the same slide presentation to the rest of the fourth and fifth grade classes. How grateful I am to Susan for this amazing opportunity. And how grateful I am to the kids for their openness, respect and curiosity about art. They feed me full to overflowing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Starhawk in Detroit 

STARHAWK EcoActions and Urban Visions: Challenging and Exercising Power

Wed: Oct 20, 2004, 6:00 p.m.

CCNDC Community Center, 3611 Cass Ave, Detroit (enter through Detroit Summer Youth Space) 

$5 to $50 sliding scale--Benefit for Detroit Summer

For more info:
Detroit Summer: 313-832-2904
Boggs Center 313-923-0797

A talk and powerpoint presentation on Greenbloc actions bringing permaculture to global justice summits, and ways to embody ecological vision in protest and the support structures we create. The inspiring work of urban transformation and community nurturing by groups such as City Repair and the RITES project will also be shown.

Starhawk is a veteran of progressive movement and deeply committed to bringing the techniques and creative power of spirituality to political activism. She has traveled internationally teaching magic, the tools of ritual, and the skills of activism.

From New Publication by Starhawk:

"... the Goddess is the name we put on the great processes of birth, growth, death, and regeneration that underlie the living world. The Goddess is the presence of consciousness in all living beings; the Goddess is the great creative force that spun the universe out of coiled strings of probability and set the stars spinning and dancing in spirals that our entwining DNA echoes as it coils, uncoils, and evolves."

-- Starhawk in her new book, The Earth Path

Such a wonderful gathering of Detroit community organizers, Detroit Summer youth leaders, respected elders, urban gardeners, visionaries, environmentalists, artists, anarchists, communists, peace and political workers showed up at the Detroit Summer Space on Cass Avenue to hear Starhawk's talk and powerpoint presentation of some of the Greenbloc actions she's been part of at anti-globalization protests worldwide. Yes, her presentation was inspiring, chilling and sometimes humorous, and the discussion it prompted was uniquely Detroit in focus, but what filled me full to bursting was the energy in the room! So many folks I've known in different settings over the years, as well as folks I'd never met before but could tell were doing their part to enliven, empower and revive our city. When Ilana Weaver and Will Copeland, both leaders in the Detroit Summer program, performed their spoken word for us, I knew why our city is on the upswing. These young people are so savy, courageous and creative that you can't help but be grateful they are here in a city that may look like it's dying but is actually coming to life again.

And it was a networker's heaven! I even connected with a woman named Cara who asked if I'd be interested in joining her and her friends in doing contact improv dance together on a monthly basis. She has a dream of making this dance opportunity open to persons of different abilities. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance. We'll meet this Sunday from 11:45 AM-2:30 PM at a martial arts studio in Ferndale, about a half hour from my house. I actually used to perform with a Detroit contact improv group back in the early'80s. I was able-bodied then, but, as you know, I still consider myself a dancer. I also want to hook up with these fabulous Detroit Summer young people, and maybe help them set up a web site. To be honest, I don't care what job they give me, I just want to be with them. I find them amazing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

They Sell More Than Gelato 

Beside the
cash register,
across from
the high school,
stands a rack of
military recruiting

Be all that
you can be, they
say. Yes, and
get sent to
Iraq, I say.
They don't all
go to Iraq, says
the owner.

Six weeks
later I

Just to see if
the recruiting
brochures are
still here, I
say. Yes, they
are, says the
owner. I've been
an antiwar activist
for decades, I say.
They don't all go
to war, says
the owner.

I don't say
it but let just
one soldier
refuse an
order to go
to Iraq and see
what happens

I don't
say it's bad
business to
put up stuff that
keeps regular

I don't say
you're naive,
uninformed and
dangerous to the
vulnerable high
school students
who come to
your store.

I do say you
and I obviously
see things

I still

Patricia Lay-Dorsey
October 19, 2004

Monday, October 18, 2004

A good day 

This morning I let myself sleep late. After getting in at 2:30 AM for three nights running, it was time to play a little catch-up. Then I put on one of the CDs I'd bought at the Edgefest--"Trio X In Black and White" with Joe McPhee on alto sax, Dominic Duval on bass and Jay Rosen on drums--and started painting. I began with a simple pencil drawing of my ear and listened to a couple of numbers before I put a brush to paper. My intention was to join the musicians' improvisations with some of my own. It was immensely satisfying to bring my creativity to theirs. The painting that emerged is called, "I Paint by Ear." If you read yesterday's blog you know what I mean.

How I love to paint!

By the time I'd finished, it was after 3 PM. I went downstairs and had lunch. Evelyn White's biography of Alice Walker continues to engross me. It is exceptionally well written and Alice's story is so worthy of being told. After lunch, I answered emails until it was time to go swimming. I'd missed two weeks so was anxious to get in some good laps, which I did. Then Ed and I watched the last four innings of the 14-inning play-off game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. I was happy that Boston won so they'll have another chance to extend the American League play-offs. I'm not a baseball fan but can enjoy it in small doses. Actually I was a rabid fan of the Detroit Tigers for ten years, but after they won the World Series in 1984 I was done.

It's fun every so often to revisit the sport I loved so much. Like riding a bicycle, I find I can get right back on and even sound like I know what I'm talking about. But I had an awfully good teacher in Clarence Livingood, the Tigers' team doctor! I've never known anyone who loved baseball as much as that dear man.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Edgefest 2004 

Although I brought my digital camera with me to Ann Arbor, I took not one picture in the four days I was there. This was a time for my ears not my eyes. My ears, heart and soul. Not even my mind. As the highly respected reedsman Joe McPhee said to a group of University of Michigan improvisational jazz students at a master class on Saturday, "When you're making this kind of music, your mind just gets in the way."

He's right. And his words apply to the listener of this kind of music as well as the one who makes it. This kind of music being what is sometimes called new, creative, progressive or experimental music. And that is what Ann Arbor's eighth annual Edgefest was all about: playing outside the box. For the audience as well as the musicians, openness to non-traditional ways and a flexibility of mind was required. As I said to my new jazz friend Mike after a particularly edgy performance, "If Bush's government knew how subversive the Edgefest is, they would close it down in a minute." Subversive, in this case, meaning an environment that promotes a freedom of expression that cannot be controlled by those in authority. Very threatening to a mindset that sees things in black-and-white, and has no tolerance for or understanding of nuance and intuition. Mike responded by reminding me that, in Nazi Germany, Hitler forbade Jewish arts and music for that very reason. Obviously he knew the power of creative expression to inflame the hearts and souls of the people.

Come to think of it, maybe Bush's administration knows more than I think they do. Yesterday afternoon, one of the Edgefest performers--Lotte Anker, a saxophonist from Denmark--was detained for three hours at the border between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. During that time, she and her fellow musicians--New York City-based pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver--were not even allowed to call Dave Lynch, the Edgefest director, to tell him what was happening. Finally, Craig and Gerald were allowed into the U.S. (of which they are native-born citizens), but Lotte was forced to stay behind in Windsor with the task of changing her North American tour schedule because U.S. Customs would not let her into the country. I can't imagine that her papers weren't in order, so what exactly was going on?

It puts me in mind of what has happened to my Japanese friend Miki every time she's traveled outside the U.S. in the last year, and has then tried to return to this country. Miki, who is an M.D. and has been a highly acclaimed micro-biologist researcher at the University of Michigan for the past four years, has been questioned, photographed and fingerprinted as if she were a criminal. And yes, her papers were in perfect order. Now Miki has decided to go back home to Japan for good. So the United States, in its John Ashcroft-directed inhospitable treatment of immigrants, has lost yet another brilliant mind and gentle spirit. September 11, as used by the Bush regime, continues to victimize innocent individuals.

To get back to my experience of Edgefest 2004, all I did for four days and nights was listen to live music, eat, sleep and read. I'm reading Evelyn White's magnificent biography of Alice Walker ("Alice Walker: A Life") that, in its description of a woman who has always thought outside the box, was a perfect companion during my afternoons spent at a coffee house and the meals I took by myself.

By the way, not all my meals were by myself. On Saturday night, Miki, Akira and I shared a delicious East Indian dinner. Miki was foregoing the Edgefest because experimental jazz is not her thing, but Akira and I sat beside each other for eight out of the nine concerts, in addition to Saturday afternoon's master class with Joe McPhee, Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen (Trio X out of New York City). And on Friday night, Susan Briggs, the art teacher I work with on Thursdays, brought her friend Whisper and we sat together for the 10 PM Edgefest performance at the Firefly Club. But, really, everyone who bought an Edgefest pass and attended all the concerts became part of a community that shared stories, critiqued performances and walked together to the different venues (Kerrytown Concert House, the Firefly jazz club, and the Kerrytown shops).

Edgefest 2004 got me thinking about what it means to be a good listener of jazz, especially experimental jazz. Maybe we don't have to practice ten hours a day like the bassist Dominic Duval said he did for years, but we do have to put in concentrated hours (years?) of listening to good jazz, especially live jazz. And to prepare for events like Ann Arbor's Edgefest, one would do well to listen to all kinds of music not just jazz, music that expands your boundaries and educates your ear. Joe McPhee said he listens to music all the time--jazz, classical, hip hop, world, country, fushion, rock, blues, etc.--in his efforts to discover new ways of saying what he wants to say musically. As a listener, I want to be every bit as open to hearing what he wants to say. I don't want to be closed off to any particular techniques or forms that he, or any other fine musician, chooses to employ.

As I sat in the light, beautiful, acoustically-excellent Kerrytown Concert House for hours and hours during these four days and nights in October, I could literally feel my world expanding. When the jazz greats, Sonny Fortune and Rashied Ali, played the alto sax (Sonny) and drums (Rashied) for a 60 minute fast tempo improvisation on Friday night, all I could do was close my eyes and breathe in the wisdom, love and energy they so generously offered through their music. It was like prayer. My kind of prayer. My mind--that has trouble shutting up--kept saying, "Take this in. Fill yourself up for the hard times to come." And so I did.

My musical/heart reserves are now full, thanks to dozens of musicians from around the world, and special thanks to Dave Lynch who has created the Edgefest for eight years now, and to Deanna Relyea, director of the Kerrytown Concert House, whose organizational skills and wonderful performance space helps make it what it is. I'm not going to go weird on you and name all the sponsors, donors and volunteers without whose funds and efforts the eighth annual Edgefest couldn't have happened, but they are in my mind and heart.

As a first-time Edgefest audience member, I can say it has instantly shot to the top my list of must-see music festivals. If you are also a lover of new music/experimental jazz, I invite you to consider coming to Ann Arbor, Michigan in October 2005 for four days of magic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Off to the Edgefest! 

Friends, I'm off again. This time to Ann Arbor for the Eighth Annual Edgefest sponsored by the Kerrytown Concert House.

The Edgefest is described as "Ann Arbor's most acclaimed jazz and creative music event," and brings in cutting-edge musicians from the United States, Canada and Europe. The concerts start tonight, Wednesday, and continue every night through Saturday. Tonight is the only single concert of the series. On Thursday and Friday, there are shows scheduled at 8 PM and 10 PM. On Saturday, at 2 PM, 7 PM, 10 PM and midnight. I hope to attend them all! They have it arranged so one can buy an Edgefest pass that gives you priority seating at each event. All concerts are held within walking distance of one another--at the Kerrytown Concert House, Hollander's (also in Kerrytown), and the Firefly jazz club near Main Street.

As you can imagine, I am VERY excited! It will be my first time attending the Edgefest and, for a jazz and new music freak like me, it feels like dying and going to heaven. Tonight I'll drive back home after the concert, but after school on Thursday I'll be driving directly to the Michigan League where I have a room booked through Saturday night. Of course I'll be getting together with my jazz friends Miki and Akira for a dinner or two, and hopefully, with my goddess daughter Emily too.

So this is my last journal entry until Sunday. But I want to leave you with some photos I took yesterday (Tuesday) while scooting around town. As you can see, autumn has come to Michigan!

A red tree
A colorful street
Maple leaves
A circle of ghosts and a witch who took a wrong turn
A street that, even though I didn't grow up here, somehow brings back childhood memories
Orange tree against a blue sky
Climbing roses still in bloom

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

response to Monday's blog entry 

From my wise friend Genevieve in British Columbia came the following reflections on the questions I posed in yesterday's blog entry:

The reality is that many people are coming from other mindsets because of their life experiences and their life expectations. I have thought about this a lot and I think that a person who supports Bush and his actions may be:

--Someone who has to have a "tough" (on terrorism) person to control them, protect them and their lives, usually because of the way they have been parented. This will sometimes include people who are what I call "right-wing Christians," where their beliefs are set in stone. They cannot imagine being responsible for their own behavior. If there is something wrong, it must be others' faults and someone in authority (the Pres, God, administration, Generals) should deal with it.

-- They are people who do not bother to learn about events or peoples beyond their own comfortable lives. If a person is poor and unfortunate, it is perceived that they deserve it because they didn't work hard enough, believe the right way, live the right way. If they are "foreign", heaven forbid that they should be allowed to have anything that is "rightfully ours."

--If they are comfortable, they do not want to give up anything they have. They might give to charity or good causes in a righteous way, but they also want to keep what they have. If the implication is that they might have less, then they will vote for someone offering them more. The federal deficit is seen as something remote and, if it is in the red, it's the fault of the undeserving not the administration (all powerful, all good).

--People who feel weak will often align themselves with the bully so they can be under his protection and will go along with the bullying because then they themselves will not be bullied. They do not see themselves as the bully.

- -Bush may be incurring the wrath of the rest of the world, but he is giving many Americans an identity of being powerful, big, bold, strong, which is attractive to those who feel weak. There is the perception of Bush (and his "henchmen") as being almost mafia-like in his image. Kerry is more "intellectual" looking, not as aggressive in his appearance. Bush also scores points with conservatives by having a submissive wife whom he definitely controls.

--Many people live shallow lives, with work, TV and immediate family being their only focus. They don't want to have to deal with more complicated matters such as the environment, deficit, human rights, etc. They want to have their heads in the sand because it is easier. Even if they are avid church-goers, they may not care to live spiritual lives or to even think about what is good for the whole. If it is good for them, then they are happy.

Years ago I read several books by Anne Wilson Schaef which gave good explanations of the North American society we live in. Many of the things that are happening now relate to the ideas in her books (When Society Becomes an Addict, Women's Reality, etc.).

We may not be able to get inside another person's head, but you can tell a lot by his actions or inactions.


Monday, October 11, 2004

A country divided 

I've been thinking about a statement I hear repeated over and over these days: "Our country has never been more divided." Is that true, and if so, why?

As I reflect on it, I realize that I must take some personal responsibility for that divisiveness. The truth is that I do feel separated from a large segment of our population, a segment that sees things so differently from me that I can't see how we can reconcile our differences. I'm not particularly proud of my inability to understand where they are coming from, but there it is. I often feel like we're different species trying to exist in peace on the same planet, but without the tools to do so. The primary tool being understanding.

It boils down to this: How can people I know and like look at the same realities I see and perceive them so differently? To be even more specific, how can educated, intelligent women and men want George W. Bush to have another four years in office?

Do they not see his lies? Or if they see them, why don't they seem to care? Are they not disturbed that he took this country into a war that is costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars and untold suffering by innocent people, a war that he has now justified by giving a half dozen reasons, none of which is based on facts?

And what about the economy? Fewer people have jobs now than when Bush took office in 2001, and the jobs they have are part-time, low-paid, with no health benefits or pensions. Then you have to look at the federal deficit. Although Clinton left a budget with a surplus of funds, in four short years Bush has managed to run up the highest national debt in the history of this country. Are people not bothered by that? I thought Republicans liked less government, not more.

Next let's look at the Bill of Rights and due process of law. Under Bush and his Attorney General, John Ashcroft, our country has lost the right to habeus corpus, not to mention any legal protection of our privacy. What about Guantanamo and the network of prisons run by the CIA around the world? These are places where individuals are beyond any protection by law, places where torture and killings and sexual abuse are systematically exercised. Does no one care about this?

But what he has done to the environment has the most far-reaching impact on, not just our country, but the entire planet. We all know that as soon as he got into office, Mr. Bush refused to honor Clinton's having signed the Kyoto Global Warming Agreement. And that was just the beginning. By appointing his political campaign donors to positions of leadership in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Bush has turned the agency that was created to monitor industrial giants like oil, mining, logging, auto and electric companies, into their ally and promoter. That means there is little oversight of their ongoing pollution and destruction of our land, air and waters. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts that have been protecting the environment since the 1970s, are being gutted through policy decisions that are decided behind closed doors and never make it to the Senate or House for a vote. Our government has never been more secretive and there seem to be no checks and balances on the Executive or Judicial branches, checks and balances that I thought were built into our Constitution.

What about our international reputation and relationship with our allies, or I should say, former allies? The United States has never been so hated, criticized, ridiculed and feared. And I'm not even going to go into the embarrassment of having a president who can barely string five words together unless he's been coached extensively by his speechwriters, political and public relations advisors.

Then there's Bush's Christian fundamentalist values and how they have impacted women, not just in this country but worldwide. There is no question that if he gets re-elected, all the rights we thought we'd won in the last 3-4 decades will be at risk of becoming history.

These are just a few of the things that George W. Bush and his people have given our country in the past four years. How could anyone want more of that?

Yes, people are afraid. September 11th showed the American people that we are no longer immune from the kind of violence most countries have lived with for generations. But wouldn't you think this might have been a wake-up call rather than a call to arms? Why don't the majority of Americans see that we are hated not because of what we have but because of what we do? I can't see that it would stretch anyone's intelligence to realize that the best defense against terrorist acts would be to stop being the world's #1 bully. Instead, George W. Bush and his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, do just the opposite. They respond to one act of terrorism by terrorizing the rest of the world with threats of violence, actual violence, blackmail and tactics better suited to a Mafia Don than a President of a supposedly democratic republic.

Why don't my neighbors with their Bush/Cheney lawn signs and bumper stickers see this like I do? That's what I mean about my being part of the problem. I feel like we speak different languages and live on different planets. What seems so clear to me obviously hasn't reached into their consciousness. But how could it not? That is the question I ask myself every day that I have to scoot down streets lined with Bush/Cheney signs. What are they thinking?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Singing in sacred circle 

There's an element of wonder in dreaming something into being. Yes, maybe you made it happen, but then the Universe, the Goddess or whatever you choose to call it, takes over and puts her own spin on it. So the manifesting of your dream surprises even you. That's what happened today.

I don't know if you recall but after attending the National Women's Music Festival at Ohio State University this July I wrote in my blog:

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.

And today the seed bore fruit! Seven of us--Jan T., Jackie, Barb, Jan S., Sooz, Pat K. and I sat in a circle from 3-5 PM on this sunny October day and sang for two solid hours. I'd done as I'd said I would do, and had taped the Singing in Sacred Song workshops that I'd attended at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in August, so had a good group of chants to start us off. I'd also written a new one for this occasion, and others in the circle brought their favorite chants for us to sing. But it was what grew up from that soil that was touched with magic.

Somewhere into the second hour of singing, the energy shifted and deepened. Instead of singing words and tunes, we started to sing our Selves. As Wiccan folks describe it, the "cone of power" rose. My fingers started tingling--always a sign of chi (energy) flowing freely--and everyone in the circle agreed that something special was happening. As we sang and some of our sisters danced, the power rose higher and higher until finally Barb suggested that we "tone" (sound wordlessly). It was then that I felt our healing, peace-filled energy flowing into places that needed it. Iraq came to mind, Jan's son who's recently been diagnosed with cancer came to mind, women and children all over the world came to mind. We were touching places and people we might never see, but what we were doing in this suburban Detroit living room was benefiting not just ourselves but the world. That's the power of singing in sacred circle.

How grateful I am to Kay Gardner who introduced so many of us to this way of singing. Kay who died suddenly ten days after she'd been with us singing and playing her flute at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in 2002. Kay, the Dianic priestess and founder of Women With Wings sacred song circle in Bangor, Maine. Kay, without whom "Women's Music" would not have flourished as it did. Yes, Kay was with us here today. As were her partner CoCo and Linda from Women With Wings who have kept Kay's gift alive in the world since her death.

And today was just the beginning for our circle. Blessed be.

Late Night Jazz 

Another wonderful jazz night! Tonight (Saturday) Pat and I went to a new jazz club--not really new, just new to us. We'd been hearing about Bert's Marketplace in the Eastern Market for months but tonight was the first time we'd gotten over there. What a funky place! It's where local jazz musicians go for late night jams after they've finished their gigs around town. But to hear that you have to be ready to stay up REALLY late. Like until 4 AM! Pat and I had to leave early--12:45 AM--because she has to take house duty tomorrow (today) at 8 AM. But we heard two terrific sets by the George Davidson Trio (drums, Hammond organ & tenor sax) before we had to leave.

Detroit is such a great jazz city!

My day had many parts. It started at the Detroit Zoo. I was there not to see the animals--which actually make me heart-sick to see--but to see a particular ginko tree. I'd taken a photo of this tree in July 2001 and had posted it in my online journal. A week ago I received an email from a professor at Ohio State University who asked if she could use this photo for the cover of a book she's written. The editor also likes it and has sent it to the cover designer to see if it will work. To be honest, I doubt if the resolution is high enough for it to be used. So I thought I'd go back to the zoo and take a photo with higher resolution. But I couldn't find the tree. Where I thought it was, there's a newly-built education building. So much for taking another photo.

After that I went to Ferndale, a city just a couple of miles from the zoo. I had a delicious lunch buffet at the Star of India restaurant on Nine Mile Road, and then went to A Women's Perogative bookstore across the street. While there I bought a We' Moon 2005 calendar and a bumper sticker which I immediately put on Sojourner, my handicap-accessible minivan. I put it next to my only other bumper sticker. Together they read, "There is a peaceful alternative. Redefeat Bush." By the way, this is the first time I have EVER put a political bumper sticker on my car, but these times call for unusual measures.

I stopped at the gym before going home, and worked out. Not surprisingly, when I got home at 5 PM I fell into bed for a good long nap. At 7:30 PM I sat with Ed while he ate dinner and then took off at 8:30 PM to go meet Pat for jazz.

Yes, it was a rather full day!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Our anniversary 

Today is our 38th wedding anniversary. We celebrated it by having lunch together at an upscale local restaurant, then walking home together on this gorgeous autumn day. The maple trees are beginning to show their colors but I'm happy to see that most other trees are still green.

We have such a good marriage. I feel very grateful to have Ed in my life. We are quite different in personality, interests and perspectives but that's what keeps life interesting. How boring it would be if we were too much alike! The most important thing is that we care deeply for and respect one another. All the rest pales in comparison with that.

Ed gave me a sweet anniversary card, the envelope of which had a gold seal with a crown on it. Interestingly, it was just like the crown that a lion in this morning's dream had been wearing. He also gave me a check "for purely irresponsible spending" and I gave him a sinfully rich chocolate mousse cake from a french bakery. This afternoon I spent some of my check on a new 1" flat sable brush and two Arches watercolor paper blocks. Ed just enjoyed his first piece of cake and I'm now on my way back to the front room to finish a painting I started after dinner. How I love to paint!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Election 2004 

I've just finished my 40-minute Election Protection volunteer training by conference call. I will also attend an election eve training onsite here in Detroit. What a well-organized effort to protect voters' rights!

Election Protection is a coalition of perhaps 100 civil rights and humanitarian organizations across the country that is dedicated to ensuring that each registered voter can vote on November 2 with no hassle and that each vote counts. They're totally non-partisan and insist that all volunteers conduct themselves that way in any dealings they have with voters or election officials.

They've chosen 17 states and dozens of cities in each state that are considered "at-risk" either because of having a history of voters having been disenfranchished in past elections, or being involved in close races, or having a large number of African-American or Spanish-speaking voters (historically the voters most at risk of having their rights denied), or being an area where a lot of new voters are expected at the polls. My state of Michigan and the city of Detroit are on the list.

We volunteers will be there as poll monitors to give each voter a copy of their Voter's Bill of Rights before they enter the polling station, and then to check with them as they leave to be sure that they did not have any problems voting. Possible difficulties could include the polls opening late or closing early, machines not working properly, insufficient ballots, lines where voters would have to wait more than a half an hour, intimidation of voters, asking for more ID than is legally required, etc. We will have access to attorneys by cell phone (that Election Protection provides each volunteer) and there will be roaming attorneys who will be checking in with us periodically during the day. Every volunteer will be partnered with another volunteer, often someone of your own choice. As I'd said before, my friend Pauline and I are volunteering together in Detroit on Election Day.

It feels good to know I'll be doing something to help this election be conducted more fairly than 2000.

Speaking of Election 2004, yesterday the Raging Grannies joined with the Sierra Club and dozens of other peace and justice organizations to let George W. Bush and his supporters know what we think of his environmental policies, war on and occupation of Iraq, four years of lies and half-lies, and more as chartered buses, limos and finally Bush's motorcade drove through the heavily-guarded Orchard Lake Road entrance to Oakland Community College for his big GOP rally.

We were lucky it was a beautiful autumn day with temperatures in the high 60s F. I'd guess, at the height, there were 3-4 long blocks lined by protesters with signs. In addition to some of our favorite anti-war and anti-Patriot Act songs, we Grannies sang two new songs I'd adapted for the occasion. It was our first time protesting with an environmental group like the Sierra Club, so I thought we needed songs that related to their--and our--concerns about what the Bush administration has done to gut environmental protections of land, water and air. The song we--and lots of our sister and brother protesters--sang over and over was one I whipped off an hour before I left for the demo yesterday morning. I based it on GranMotoko's wonderful "Are You Sleeping?" lyrics. It goes:

ARE YOU SLEEPING? (for the earth)
(Tune: Frere Jacques)

Are you sleeping?
Are you sleeping?
Uncle Sam?
Uncle Sam?
Rivers are polluted
Old growth trees uprooted

It worked well because it was easy to memorize so we could sing it without looking at our song sheets. We also like to sing this song in rounds which adds interest. Anyway, it was our stand-by whenever TV cameras panned on us, which unfortunately didn't happen very often yesterday. Only one Detroit TV station bothered to come out to where the protests were going on, and one station from Lansing. The Oakland Press, a county newspaper, was the only print media I saw interviewing protesters. I gave two interviews which I hope were helpful.

It was a long day for us Raging Grannies--photos #1, #2 & #3--and longer for some of the other protesters. We got there a little before noon and left at 3:30 PM, soon after Bush's motorcade had passed by on its way into the rally. But it looked like a good number of the Sierra Club folks were going to stick it out until he left. I was mightily impressed with these folks, especially Melissa who had organized the Sierra Club protest and kept us engergized with her chants and ready smile. And who couldn't love the "Smokestacks"! (photos #1 & #2). It was a privilege to stand side by side with them for the earth.

The signs around us spoke of political preferences, anti-war sentiments, anti-corporate globalization issues and environmental concerns. These were just a few:

Bush Adminstration Protects Polluters Not People
Pollution Is Not a Family Value

320,000 babies born in U.S. each year at risk of developmental harm due to mercury exposure in utero
I am not a Republican and neither is my only son...God

Hey, ya gotta have a sense of humor!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A good protest 

After almost four hours protesting outside Oakland Community College where Bush was giving a speech at a big rally today, I'm one pooped Raging Granny. But it was all worth it. The media pretty much ignored us--and there were HUNDREDS of us from a wide range of activist organizations--but the busloads and busloads of Bush supporters being ferried onto the campus DID see us. And the Emperor himself--if he was looking out the window of his heavily guarded limo--saw us too. Actually I care less about Bush seeing us than about his supporters. I know Bush doesn't give much of a damn what we think, but if we made even ONE person who was attending his rally think twice about supporting him, that would be enough.

Tomorrow I'll share pictures. And now to bed.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Studio Sparks 

I'm going to show you one of my watercolor paintings because that's what I was doing tonight instead of writing this journal entry. It's called "Studio Sparks #2" because I started it this afternoon while listening to Eric Friesen's new show out of Ottawa, "Studio Sparks", on CBC Radio Two (Canadian Broadcasting Company). Yesterday was his first show and I painted "Studio Sparks #1" while listening to it. If you live in Canada or in any border city where you can get CBC, I so recommend your tuning in to his show. It airs from 12 noon to 3 PM, Monday through Friday, and is an imaginative mix of classical, jazz and world music, as well as fascinating interviews with persons in the musical world. For years, Eric was host of CBC's popular "In Performance" live concert radio show and honed his skills at interviewing musicians, composers and conductors there. He's a real treasure. It just occurred to me that you can also listen to "Studio Sparks" online!

Besides painting, today I worked out at the gym with Matt. We continue to push the envelope of my abilities and I LOVE the challenge! My other activity of the day was working with Granny Josie as we organized the Raging Grannies to go sing at the Sierra Club protest demo tomorrow. Candidate George W. Bush is coming to town and will be speaking at a large rally on the soccer field at Oakland Community College northwest of Detroit. He's scheduled to speak at 3 PM but the Sierra Club's demo is starting at 12:30 PM. Canny planning, I'd say, since the main access road--Orchard Lake Rd.--is going to be closed to traffic sometime between 1-2 PM. Of course, George will never see us but maybe the media will. In times like these it's important to let the world community and the American public know that LOTS of Americans see that the emperor has no clothes and are doing everything they can to get him out of office.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Protecting voters' rights 

Most of the people I know are deeply concerned about Election 2004, not just the outcome but how fair the election process will be. Not only have we heard horror stories about how easy the new electronic voting machines are to manipulate, but we remember Election 2000 where segments of our population, particularly persons of color, were disenfranchished and denied their right to vote. We can't let that happen again!

There are many organizations working to ensure that voters' rights are protected on November 2. The one I've hooked up with is called Election Protection and is sponsored by Working Assets and a coalition of civil rights organizations across the country. Their web site is

Election Protection offers individuals the opportunity to act as Poll Monitors and/or Voters' Bills of Rights canvassers in at-risk parts of our country. As it happens, the state where I live--Michigan--is considered an at-risk state and Detroit, Inkster and Flint, at-risk cities. One does not need a background in law or the ability to speak a second language to volunteer, although that would certainly be an asset.

Each volunteer will be trained either by going to a training session in person, or via a 1-2 hour conference call prior to the election. And if you choose to do Voters' Bill of Rights canvassing, you'll have the opportunity to sign up to work before November 2, especially the weekend before the election. In addition to the conference call training, each Poll Monitor will be expected to participate in an onsite training the night before the election at the poll to which they've been assigned. You are invited to sign up with a friend or family member if you want.

My friend Pauline Loewenhardt of Ann Arbor introduced me to Election Protection, and she and I have signed up to volunteer together as Poll Monitors in Detroit on November 2. Whatever the outcome of the election, I don't want to look back and wish I'd done more to help create the world I want for us, our children and grandchildren.

I'm encouraging everyone I know to consider volunteering to help protect voter's rights where you live or in at-risk states near you. Yes, some volunteers will be traveling to other states and cities to do this necessary work. Whether you choose to work with Election Protection or another group, please do what you can to help us try to make Election 2004 more fair than Election 2000.

In my 44 years as a registered voter there has never been a more important election. What happens on November 2, 2004 will determine the course of events for persons, plants and animals across the planet. Much as I would like it to be otherwise, the president of United States has unbelievable power worldwide. In the past four years, we've seen how George W. Bush handles that power. May we get the chance to see if John Kerry will do better.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

We celebrate Gaia together 

I write this account of yesterday with gratitude for all that I have been given. Having such a loving, creative, politically and socially aware community of women in my life is a gift to be prized. Add to that our being women of different countries and cultures, and you can imagine the depth and wisdom we share. Our different ways of being in the world--much of it informed by where we were born and live today--offer opportunities for growth and compassion that we wouldn't have otherwise. As a woman born in the United States, I am deeply grateful to my Canadian sisters for their occasional reminders of my inborn tendency toward American imperialistic attitudes and actions. We American women CAN come on awfully strong sometimes!

On Saturday, I awoke to the welcome sound of rain. Although our O Beautiful Gaia Great Lakes community had hoped to spend the afternoon together at Windsor, Ontario's Ojibway Nature Centre, our desperate need for rain overrode any disappointment I might have felt. But, as it turned out, the sun came out after lunch and we moved happily from the library basement where we'd spent our morning over to the Ojibway Nature Centre where we encountered a sparkling fresh world of greens and blues.

We started by meeting--one picnic table of Canadians and another of Americans--to discuss and decide upon which groups/organizations we each wanted to donate the thousands of dollars profit we'd already collected from sales of our O Beautiful Gaia CD. Women on both sides of the river had done extensive research as to who in our bioregion--both Canadian and American--was doing the work of education, protection and sustainance of the earth, air and waters that reflected what our two year project has been and continues to be about. In both countries we were interested not just in preserving wilderness areas but in encouraging environmental work, especially involving children, in our own urban areas of Windsor and Detroit. Thanks to the groundwork done by a good number of our women, the decision-making process was both informative and relatively easy.

And then we walked/scooted to the nearby boardwalk over a lush spring-fed pond dotted with lily pads, pussywillows and reeds. On the way we met a toad, a snake and a frog, perfect companions to remind us of why we do what we do.

Once there, we sang and sang and sang. We even sang "Beginners," a song that we'd loved but had not been able to record because of our struggles getting it right. Then Ellen, who had attended a songfest the night before at the Ark in Ann Arbor, taught us a wonderfully easy way to sing in harmony. You can see by looking--photos #1, #2, #3 & #4--at our faces how much we enjoyed that! . We closed by reading aloud together excerpts from poems gathered by Pauline (photos #1 & #2).

Even though most of our sisters live within an hour of either Windsor or Detroit, a few travel long distances to join with us the first Saturday of every month. Mary Tiner drives in from Toronto, Arlene Buckley--to whom we send get well messages--comes from Georgetown, Ontario (near Toronto), and Mary White--whom Peg, Jeanne and I visited in early September--comes in from northern Michigan near Traverse City. Each is precious to our circle.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Early to bed... 

Today was the monthly gathering of our O Beautiful Gaia community. Even though our CD came out last November, we've decided to continue getting together every month to sing and deepen our commitment to protecting Gaia, the earth. I took photos of our afternoon together in Windsor, Ontario at the Ojibway Nature Center and will post them tomorrow. Even though it isn't quite 10 PM, my body says it's time for bed.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The more things change, the more they remain the same 

What a fun evening! About 5:30 PM, I'd scooted down to visit Ed and to work out at the gym. After my workout, he and I walk/scooted two blocks to Jumps restaurant for dinner. Ed ordered his usual rare hamburger with mushrooms and a side of sauteed red-skin potatoes and onions, and I got my usual cracked wheat/taboulee salad with a bowl of seafood chowder to start.

On the way over, we'd seen crowds of people lined up to get into the high school football field across from Ed's office. We could tell by the high level of excitement, gold-and-blue painted faces and "Beat South" t-shirts that this was the annual match-up between the two high schools in our community, known as "North" and "South."

Coming out of the restaurant after dinner, we could see the field and bleachers lit up like a stage set and could hear the crowds screaming and cheering. On an impulse, we decided to go to the game. Ed buys a senior's pass every year so he can go to high school athletic events, so we didn't have to pay to get in. And even though the bleachers are wheelchair-accessible, there was no use trying to get up there--they were packed with young families with strollers, babies and toddlers running around, middle school kids trying to look like high schoolers, parents, grandparents, interested residents like us, not to mention hordes of high school students. Instead, we parked in front of the wire fence onto the field and had an excellent view of the action.

It was so evocative of my own high school years. My girlfriends and I especially loved the Friday night games because we felt so cool sitting together, cheering for the jocks who somehow became larger-than-life under the lights with their padded shoulders, tiny waists and muscular legs. Boys who seemed rather gorky in the halls became instant heroes that even our parents admired. I always cheered so loudly that I'd lose my voice for a day or two after every game. When I think of those days in the '50s, I think of purposely-scuffed saddle shoes, bobby socks rolled down with an extra layer of sock to make the roll as fat as possible, stiff denim blue jeans rolled up above the socks, circle pins carefully pinned to the right collar of the cotton blouse you wore under your crew neck sweater (if you pinned it to the left collar that meant you went "all the way!").

Except for different clothes requirements, things didn't seem to have changed all that much.

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