Windchime Walker

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

And so it continues... 

Donte's had to go back to the drawing board because, although the synchronization of my computer's files with the web host's files went according to plan, the links still didn't work on my journal. Now he's starting from scratch. Luckily I'd backed up my web site on CDs and that's what he's using to create a brand new web site. It will look like the old one but will have the proper URLs for each file. This may sound like gobble-de-gook to my less computer-literate readers but it just means that everything will again work as it should.

Donte's a treasure. He's patient, persistent and creative. I remember his telling me that he went into this field because he liked to fix things. Well, he's getting LOTS of opportunities for that with my job!

All going well I'll pick up my computer tomorrow (Friday) and will be able to put up new journal entries, photos and all that I like to do. Hold the thought.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

computer update 

Patience, patience, patience. I'm speaking to myself, not to you, my faithful readers.

Donte spent 2 1/2 hours this morning on synchronizing my computer web files with those that are already online, only to discover that it didn't take and he'd have to start from scratch. Apparently my web site is the largest he's ever seen...under his breath I heard him say, "Whew! This is HUGE!" But he's confident he can set it up properly for me by tomorrow. So I left my computer with him and, all going well, will pick it up Thursday morning.

Once things are synchronized, it's going to make my life WAY easier. Thanks, Donte!

more computer changes...YIKES! 

So in the midst of my trying to learn a new comper operating system and all new software, my web host decides to change its platform. That means I have to change all my settings in order to upload files to my windchime walker web site. Of course, they didn't make clear in their email the extent of changes this entailed, so I kept putting up journal entries thinking they were showing up online. Now I find out they weren't. Fortunately I'm meeting with Donte, my computer techie, at 10 AM today. I'll just add that to the list of problems with which I need his help.

Computers are so great when everything's going smoothly, and such a frustration when they're not. Especially during a heat spell like we're having here in Detroit. Nine straight days of temperatures in the 90s addles one's brain!

Here's some I what I tried to post on my web journal this morning...

On Sunday, Stephanie, a friend from the gym, and I went to an excellent concert at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. It was the 21st--and final--concert of the 2005 Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and featured some extraordinarily talented young artists. At least they all seemed young to me, but the older I get, the younger everyone seems!

On Monday my dear friends from California, Phil Ouelette and Scott Weldon, came for an overnight visit. It was so hot we did a lot of talking while standing in the pleasantly cool waters of Lake St. Clair.

Last night Sooz, Judy Drylie and I went over to Windsor to attend a potluck dinner and presentation at the Social Justice Center of the Archdiocese of Windsor. It featured Yolanda Diaz Calligros and Zoila Burga Custodio who are trained educators from Peru and active locally and nationally with human rights, peace building and education for women and children. Zoila had joined us at the Continent In Song in Saskatchewan, so it was a joy to see her again and to hear her story.

I continue my exercise, having swum laps on Sunday and worked out with Matt at the gym yesterday. Tonight is my Arabic class. I'm finding it interesting and tough. Languages don't come easily to me.

Now let me add a few more pictures from my journey to Saskatchewan.

Monday, June 27, 2005

More photos from Saskatchewan 

Here are three photos taken in the singing tent during the A Continent In Song gathering in Saskatchewan. The first is of the community singing, with Norma Luccock in the foreground; the second of Janet Hood on piano, Betsy Doriss on accordian and Jan Devine setting up the microphone; and the third is of Carolyn McDade and me;.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Let's try adding photos 

I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to add images on my Windchime Walker Journal using my newly-installed Adobe GoLive web design software, but it looks like dear old Blogspot has just made it easier than ever for me to add images here. So, here, my friends, are two photos of our Continent In Song village on the shores of the Standing Buffalo Lake in the Qu'Appelle Valley in southeastern Saskatchewan, and Penny Hackett-Evans' photo of Sassy and me climbing Grandmothers' Hills.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Continent In Song, Part One 

1:50 AM

I'm on such a strange clock, sleep-wise. Yesterday (Friday) I napped for a couple of hours in the afternoon before participating in water aerobics at the lakefront park pool. It had been three years since I'd signed up for this class and I'd forgotten how strenuous it is...especially on top of a 45 minute workout with Matt at the gym on the same day. After supper, a walk/scoot with Eddie, and a brief time watching the end of "Pride and Prejudice" on video, I fell into bed at 9:30 PM. And then I woke up just a few minutes ago, feeling quite rested. We'll see how long it takes before I'm ready to go back to bed.

I'm sure my body is in a recovery mode after the week away. Saskatchewan is on Mountain Time, so that meant everything was two hours earlier than I'm used to, and I must admit to having stayed up late talking to my new friend Georgina at least two nights. Going to bed after 1 AM and then getting up at 7 AM just doesn't quite do it, for me anyway. Especially when the days and nights are packed chock-full of activities, learnings and feelings.

I feel uneasy trying to describe what it was like at A Continent In Song; the words that come to mind seem too small. But until I can figure out how to put up my pictures, words are all I have.

Transformative is at the top of my list. Simply being in the presence of 140 women who have spent their lives working for change changes you. During our mornings together we'd not only sing but hear women tell their stories, offer poems and reflections. Wednesday, the theme was "Hold Loose the Spinning Thread: Grounding in Gratitude;" Thursday, it was "Lament Refusing Despair: Grieving for the Pain of the World;" and Friday, we moved into "Love As An Act of Resistance: Seeing With New Eyes."

Each woman brought her unique gift to the circle, some as part of the planned program, and others spontaneously.

Chris Loughlin, longtime director of the Women's Center at Plainville, Massachusetts and sister of Carolyn McDade's in the struggle for justice, brought her gift of preaching three times during the week. It feels strange to use that word in the context of a non-religious gathering, but it's the only word that begins to describe the power she brought to the community when she offered her reflections. It was Chris whom I quoted in the poem that I posted on my blog. It was her assertion that we are living into the "not-yet" and her call that what is needed now is "comprehensive compassion."

Theresa Hucul, a nun from Edmonton, Alberta, brought her gift of dance whenever the spirit moved her. How beautifully she embodied what we were singing! I also appreciate her being there for Lise Morin, a wonderful woman from Prince Edwards Island, when powerful currents of energy coursed through her body and she needed grounding.

Georgina Chambers, Norma Luccock and Nancy Nordlie brought their gifts of songwriting to the circle, teaching us new songs and leading us in older songs that are among our favorites. I was fortunate to partake in the vocal ensemble with these women during the studio times from 4-6 PM on Thursday and Friday. We then brought the songs we learned to the community on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Beth Vincent from Waterloo, Ontario added so much to our circle. This young woman who was born twenty-five years ago with Down's Syndrome, was also born with a capacity for joy unmatched by any of us. A highlight of the week was when she sang and danced with Carolyn McDade at her birthday celebration on Saturday night.

And how could I not bring forward Two Women From Burr who, although not caterers by profession, offered us the most creative, delicious, meat-and-vegetarian-friendly meals imaginable...including bison! And where is Burr, you might ask? The town is two houses nestled between Regina and the Qu'Appelle Valley that has a few outlying farms, on two of which Lauren and Marie live with their husbands and children.

Mary Casey also touched me deeply. I'd first heard her sing on "The Best of Struggles" tape that was made at the Women's Center in Plainville in 1988 by an amazing group of women from diverse cultures and ethnicities; her Irish solo was something I've never forgotten. And here she brought not only her voice but her truthful, direct, playful and strong way of being in the world. When she invited us on Friday morning to offer verses to her song, "Not in my name; Not on my land!", I was able to express in a power-filled, healing way the anger that has often overwhelmed me since George W. Bush started his disastrous war on Iraq.

I've mentioned Georgina Chambers earlier as a songwriter and friend with whom I stayed up late talking, but this dear woman offered me perhaps the greatest gift of the entire week: it was Georgina who insisted they would make it possible for me to swim in the Standing Buffalo Lake.

So on Thursday afternoon--my 63rd birthday--she and Nathalie Lefrancois carried me from my scooter into the chilly waters of that gorgeous lake and watched me set off swimming straight like an arrow, an ecstatic arrow. The other women got nervous when I swam so far from shore, but not Georgina; she could tell I was in my element. And I was. It was the first time I'd been able to swim in natural (non-pool) waters in decades and no words can describe how that made me feel. Then Georgina and Michelle Jay helped me swim again on Saturday. This time the water was no longer chilly, but frigid. But after about five minutes my limbs thawed out and I could swim with confidence.

I must bring Ruth Blaser to this page. Ruth and her partner Brenda MacLauchlan made it possible for me to get from the Regina Airport to our village--a 45 minute drive--in comfort and style. Their niece Rebecca, whom they co-parent, uses a wheelchair, so Ruth and Brenda have a wheelchair-accessible van. And that was how I travelled not only to and from the airport, but to and from Grandmothers' Hills on Sunday.

And these women did more than that to make things accessible. They built two brand new gates on their land at the Grandmothers' Hills so those of us who needed to drive the quarter mile from the paved road to the land, could do so. By the way, this land has been in Ruth's family since 1901! Talk about hardy forbearers.

Actually I need to bring the whole planning committee to mind and heart: Ruth and Brenda, Barbara Mader, Jan Devine, Carolyn McDade, Chris Ouimet, Marion, Nancy and Dawn. Who have I forgotten? This band of women thought of everything that we would need to feel at home, supported and inspired. It was a huge undertaking but they handled it with such grace and competence that I can't think of anything I would have changed.

Well, my friends, it's now 4 AM and I'm ready to go back to bed. To be continued..

Friday, June 24, 2005


I am obviously not ready yet to post photos using this new-to-me Adobe GoLive web design software. Apparently the photo I thought I'd posted on yesterday's journal entry didn't make the journey from home to web, even though it showed up on my browser. Chris Loughlin's "not-yet" and Carolyn McDade's "long conversation between persistence and impatience" come to mind. But it is a steamy hot day here in Detroit, I just worked out at the gym and plan to take a water aerobics class tonight. To be honest, I need a nap more than I need to work at the computer. All in good time...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sassy on Grandmothers' Hills 

I'm still learning how to create and put up photos on their own web pages as I've done in the past, but I'm getting there. I'm finding the learning curve to be quite steep but not impossible. The odd thing is how tiring it is to use my brain again. I now realize the three weeks away from my iBook allowed me to rest that part of myself. After spending at least six hours trying to figure things out on my refurbished computer today, I was totally wiped out.

Pat Kolon brought us over a delicious dinner and after we'd finished eating I had to go right to bed. It was 8:15 PM! I slept soundly for three hours, then got up, took a shower, and here I am feeling fresh and ready to journal some more.

I figured out how to insert a photo onto my Windchime Walker journal page, but can't seem to do so here on my blog. If you'd like to see how Sassy (short for Saskatchewan, my new scooter's new name) handled Grandmothers' Hills on Sunday, go to today's entry on my journal page and you'll see a picture Penny Hackett-Evans just sent me by email. It is of a moment I came home wishing I'd asked someone to capture...and here my dear friend Penny had done so!

Up and running again... 

1:52 PM

Here I am back in front of the window in my upstairs back bedroom working at my iBook computer, as I have so many days/weeks/months before. I feel ready to continue on, as one of Carolyn McDade's songs says. But, oh my, that three and a half week vacation was good. I so needed to allow myself to go back to simply living life for awhile. Even a core communicator like me needs time off every so often.

Donte was great. This morning he spent a full hour walking me through some of the new features on this Tiger--that's it's name--Mac operating system (OS X.4). Then he set up my internet connection, showed me how to use Tiger's email program, set up my FTP (file transfer protocol) in such a way that simplified the process of uploading and downloading my web site files so you can access them, and showed me how to use this new (to me) Adobe GoLive web design software. And he didn't charge a penny extra.

Granted, my bill approached the national debt with all that I'd asked him to add. If you've recently priced Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Word and Mac's Tiger OS X.4, you know what I'm talking about. But it had to be done and and I'm glad I did it.

And now I'm going to see if I can figure out how to bring you some photos...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A poem I wrote during A Continent In Song 

Mosquitoes the size of
dragonflies. Their whine keeps
time with the beat of my heart,
a heart enlarged with love and
gratitude for this time, this place,
these women.

These women.

Each an unforgettable story told
in her own voice. A song soaring on
pelicans' wings. A tree whose roots
embrace the land they love.

We gather on the shores of a lake
carved by glaciers' fingers, held
in the undulating arms of hills
painted green by spring rains.

We sing in ways new yet old,
ways that generations of women
have sung their lives.

We sing on the land where
First Nations women sang and
danced, worked and loved.

It is their voices we hear in the
wind-whispers of the grass, their
wisdom that grounds us in all
that has come before, their hope
that allows us to envision a future
free of arrogance, of greed, of war.

Here to celebrate our sister Carolyn's
70th birthday, we find ourselves
celebrating the wonder of all.

It is OUR birthdays we celebrate...
the birthing of the not-yet,
of defiance and hope,
of the long conversation between
persistence and impatience,
of comprehensive compassion,
of anger in the service of change.

For, as Joan says, "Once one knows,
there's no unknowing."

So, dear sister in the struggle,
faithful woman of the long voice,
beloved friend Carolyn,
thank you for the years past
and the years to come.

We say YES!

Patricia Lay-Dorsey
Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan
June 14-20, 2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Home again 

I'm back here at our public library's computer feeling oh so grateful for this past week spent singing, sharing, creating and playing with 140 powerful women on the shores of the Standing Buffalo Lake in the Qu'Appelle Valley of Southeastern Saskatchewan. To say this event--A Continent In Song--was transformative would be an understatement.

Yet how could it be otherwise? And not just for those of us fortunate enough to be there in person, but for the hundreds (thousands?) of women across our lands who were there with us in heart and spirit. For no one was left out of our circle; all were included.

And not only the women who have sung with Carolyn McDade over the three decades of her work as songwriter/singing circler/global activist were there at our sides, but ALL those with whom we stand in solidarity...including the earth, air, waters, all species of creatures and plants to whom we dedicate our lives.

I invite you to go to to get a glimpse into what we lived together for six days (and longer for those WoYaYa's who assembled and then disassembled our village).

Tomorrow I plan to pick up my computer from the service shop. As soon as I am able, I will bring you into the circle with my own photos and words. Until then, I send love and blessings on this the longest day. Happy Summer Solstice!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

a wonderfully HOT weekend 

TheDetroit Festival of the Arts was HOT in more ways than one. How I wish I could show you my photos but this library computer doesn't have that capacity, not that I know of anyway.

For me the highlights were hearing the 80 year-old, still dapper and soulful, legendary jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott on Friday night, the fireworks that exploded when the young great James Carter added his presence and sax to Jimmy's excellent back-up band, the Jazz Expessions, then James' set with an amazing jazz organist and drummer that finished off the evening. And that was only Friday night.

Saturday I was introduced to an Ann Arbor-based quintet call Millish whose celtic/world music original composition won them a 2005 Acoustic World Music Award...and rightfully so. Maggie Doyle, a New Mexico weaver who was new to the festival, captured my heart and my pocketbook with her exquisite clothing. I bought a boatneck handwoven silk chenille top and scarf with Eddie's birthday money. I'm sure you'll see pictures of me wearing them next autumn. Another highlight was an artistic duo from Spain who transformed the hair and faces of any willing volunteer into indescribable works of exotic and often hilarious works of art. Not for the fainthearted to be sure!

The library's closing now so I don't have much time left, but hearing Linda Tillery and the Heritage Choir from Oakland, California--a favorite of mine--was another treat, as was dancing the night away with my friend Pat, my goddess daughter Emily and hundreds of Detroiters to Yerba Buena, a rockin' Afro-Cuban band.

This may be my final entry until after Saskatchewan, but maybe not. We'll see how tomorrow unfolds. By the way, it's still hot with high chances of thunderstorms, so I don't know if the roofers will start tomorrow or not. Now I hope they wait until after I leave for my trip on Tuesday. Hold the thought...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hot, hot, HOT! 

I don't know what it's like where you live but we here in the Detroit area have been enjoying serious summer weather although the calendar says it's still spring. A week of temperatures in the 90s with daily predictions of thunderstorms that never seem to materialize, has caused our trees and bushes to look a bit droopy and the creatures--including humans--to slow down and kick back. As an old Washingtonian, I am in my element.

Actually EVERYTHING seems slowed down. The roofers have postponed their starting date until Monday in hopes of better weather, ie., not as hot and no storms. My computer is still in the shop while Donte waits for the Mac OS X software to arrive. It might be ready before I leave for Saskatchewan on Tuesday, but maybe not. It doesn't much matter; I won't be able to get it up and running for awhile anyway.

Arabic class on Wednesday evening was intense and interesting. It was the first time Arabic had been offered and even the Continuing Ed Director was surprised to see 26 people sign up for it.

The class is being held in an old middle school in Fraser, which is the smallest branch of Macomb Community College. I arrived late because the rush hour traffic was much worse than I'd expected.

When I got there I was unhappy to find the class was on the second floor and there was no elevator. But Fran, the Continuing Education Director, immediately said, "No problem! We'll move one of the first floor classes upstairs and put the Arabic class in there." So everyone in the Arabic class moved downstairs just so I could attend. They were not displeased because the first floor classroom was air conditioned and the second floor one had not been. Several of them thanked me afterwards.

Our instructor is a woman of Turkish heritage whose masters is in linguistics and her undergraduate degree in Arabic. Not only has she taught in the Middle East, but she speaks five languages. It was obvious that she intends to teach us not only conversational Arabic but the elements of grammar as well. She started with the 28 characters of the alphabet and focused on their proper pronounciation. Not easy! There are sounds in the Arabic language that my mouth has never before made.

It was interesting to look around the room and see such diversity of students. A few mentioned that they're married to Arabic-speaking spouses. Some, like Karen and her two daughters, Brittany and Kelly, want to learn the language of their Lebanese parents and grandparents. Karen kindly agreed to tape record the second class for me, the one I'll have to miss because of my trip to Saskatchewan. An older man said he's contemplating a trip to Palestine and others expressed interest in learning about the Arab culture since it is becoming more and more of a presence in our lives.

Part of the reason I was late to class was that I'd driven there directly from Ann Arbor. It took two long, stop-and-go hours.

I'd spent Tuesday afternoon, night and most of Wednesday in Ann Arbor because the roofers had said they'd be starting on Wednesday at 8 AM. But it didn't matter to me that they didn't; I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. By the way, I saw"Ladies In Lavender", a film with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. It was utterly delightful, especially the music. I recommend it highly.

As I've said before, I'm off to Saskatchewan early Tuesday morning. I am very much anticipating spending time singing and getting to know 140 of the Canadian and American women who have worked and sung with Carolyn McDade in her three or more decades of songwriting and cultural transformation. We're going to be at a camp on Lake L'Appelle, 75 miles north of Regina. I'm sure it is going to be a week of magic.

For me the magic starts today. At 4 PM I pick up my friend Pat Kolon for the first of three days of the Detroit Festival of the Arts that is held every year in the Cultural Center by Wayne State University and the Detroit Institute of Arts. If you're a regular reader you know how much I adore this free festival of music, arts, drama and food. I never miss it.

One last thing. On Tuesday Matt graduated me to an AWESOME exercise machine at the gym. I forget what it's called, but you stand up, plant your feet on the metal brackets, hold onto the side railings, and pump your legs. Once you get going, it's like running in place. As a former marathon runner, this is a beloved feeling that I never imagined I'd feel again. YIPPEE!!!!

This may be my last entry before Saskatchewan. If so, enjoy these last days of spring and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.

Monday, June 06, 2005

checking in 

I'm at the library using their computer to check my emails. I think my time is almost up so I'll be brief.

All is well. We've been having glorious summer weather, hot and sunny. I've been outside practically all the time, often down at the park. The pool was as busy on Saturday and Sunday as it gets in the middle of summer which made lap-swimming a bit challenging, but it was fun to be around all the kids.

I'm still enjoying my vacation from computers. It's amazing how much time being computerless has freed up!

On Tuesday, June 14, I'm off to Saskatchewan for a week. I'm anticipating it greatly. The only other news is that our roof is being replaced this week. Since it's a tear-off, I'm planning to spend my days at Pt. Pelee, Ann Arbor or wherever the summer breezes take me.

Oh, and my Arabic class starts Wednesday night. The kids at school are preparing me by teaching me the song I'd told you about before. This Thursday is my last day at school until the fall. How I will miss my kids!

Enjoy yourself!

Friday, June 03, 2005

computer repair update 

Hi friends! It feels like ages since we talked, but I guess it's only been a few days. During those days there have been some significant changes for me. First, about my computer...

Yes, my hard drive was on its last legs so it needs to be replaced. I've ordered an upgrade from 20 MGB RAM to 100. According to Donte, my Apple service tech, that will not only give me five times as much memory but will improve the speed and performance of my iBook.

I am also taking this opportunity to move from (Operating System) OS 9.2 to OS 10.4. As my Apple guru nephew John would say, it's about time. What that means, though, is buying and installing all new software. Since that includes a number of Adobe products, it's not costing the national debt, but close.

The long and short of it is that Donte expects to have my iBook, all fitted out with its new bells and whistles, ready for pick-up next Wednesday, June 8. But that's when the fun begins.

I'm going to need to learn how to use not only a new operating system but all new software...and have a life too. Since that life includes my attending the Detroit Festival of the Arts the weekend of June 10-12, followed by a week-long trip to Saskatchewan, Canada for Carolyn McDade's "Continent In Song" 70th birthday celebration starting on Tuesday, June 14, my guess is that it might be quite awhile before I'm up and running again.

I have to admit, I'm enjoying the break.

My other new news is that, on Tuesday, I went up to the Amigo factory/service center in Bridgeport to get my Ona scooter repaired, and came home with not one but two scooters. Another upgrade! This one to a more powerful scooter called the Amigo RD. It's somewhat larger than my RT Express--3" longer, 4" wider and 20 pounds heavier--but the real pluses have to do with speed, endurance, comfort, visibility and ease of charging.

With the RD, I will get 20 miles on a charge instead of 10. I also go 6 MPH instead of 4 MPH. The tires are foam-filled which makes riding on sidewalks no longer a teeth-chattering experience. It has a bright headlight and tail lights, and instead of needing a separate charger, there is a built-in retractible plug that fits into any outlet. The basket is capacious enough to carry raingear, a jacket, book, camera, water bottle and my purse. All this and it's pretty! It has a wine-colored red body with a cushy black seat.

We've been having beautiful weather for a week now and I've got a sunburn to prove it. I just can't stay instead. I've also had my first outdoor swim. Glorious!

So, my friends, I can't promise when I'll be a regular blogger again. Today I'm working at Ed's office computer, but I don't want to impose on him unless I have to. And, as I said, I'm enjoying my vacation from computerland.

I'll be back...

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