Windchime Walker

Windchime Walker <$BlogRSDUrl$>

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lafayette Gilchrist, jazz pianist/composer extraordinaire 

Well. I am speechless, breathless, still in a state of awe. Last night Pat, her sister BJ, and I saw and heard Lafayette Gilchrist, a young jazz pianist/composer whom I'm convinced is going to become a legend. Actually, he already IS a legend among those who have seen him perform and/or listened to his debut CD ,"The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist," put out by Hyena Records. By the way, his CD was voted one of the top 10 CDs of 2004 by critic Geoffrey Himes of The Washington Post.

This morning I did a Google search of his name and came up with 630 links. Two that I found especially interesting were these articles--the first, an interview in the June 12, 2005 edition of the Baltimore Sun (his home since 1986); and the second, a review of the September 14, 2004 gig of Lafayette Gilchrist's sextet, The Tornadoes, at DC's Bohemian Caverns written by the respected music critic, Franz A. Matzner, for All About Jazz.

But, in my own words, I'd say that what I heard from Lafayette Gilchrist on the piano last night at Detroit's Harlequin Cafe will stay with me as long as I live. Not only is this young man a consummate musician, with the crisp, clear tones that resonate deep in your belly, but everything he played sounded as fresh as if the music had never existed before and you were present at its birth.

I'm sorry if I seem over the top in my praise, but that's how I heard and experienced it. Original, soulful, intelligent, edgy, dynamic, tender, exhuberant, rhythmic/arhythmic, humorous, quirky, elegant. These are just a few of the words that come to mind. But ORIGINAL is the one that says it best.

What Lafayette Gilchrist does with the music of other greats--Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Dave Murray, to name three of his favorites--makes their music his own. He stays true to the intention of the composer while bringing his own unique interpretations to the music. It was as if I were hearing Duke's "Solitude" for the first time. But it is when he plays his own compositions, that he goes into realms that have never before existed.

I know, I know. I really am over the top here, but that's how I--and most everyone else at last night's gig--heard it.

At 32, Lafayette says he is a product of his times. So you hear hints of hip-hop, funk, blues, New Orleans jazz, soul, ragtime, swing, traditional jazz, reggae, even some classical mixed in with the rest. As I said to him afterwords, I felt like I was hearing the entire history of music coming out of that piano. Breathtaking.

I am so glad that my first time hearing Lafayette Gilchrist was in a solo piano performance. I'm now listening to his album where he plays with his sextet. It is stunning, but I find myself missing the sound of his single notes hanging in the air, the purity of his chords. I'm delighted to report that he is currently working on a solo piano CD that he says will be released in the autumn.

If you're lucky enough to live anywhere near Baltimore, I'm sure you'll find him playing at various venues in that city he calls home. He also tours the world with the tenor sax great, Dave Murray. And he told me, when I asked, that he and his sextet will be performing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC on October 7. I'll be counting the days until I hear this young man in person again.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

"Democracy? More Like An Auction"...a bumper sticker seen in Ann Arbor 

Summertime and the livin' is easy
Congress passes bills and they think no one cares
Yer Rep is rich and his donors are happy
So hush, little people, don't you cry

On the final day before their month-long summer vacation, the U.S. Senate passed four significant bills--yes, FOUR bills!--that made a small group of political donors, special interest lobbyists and administration arm-twisters very, VERY happy. The New York Times, our nation's most influential newspaper, buried three of those bills on an inside page of Saturday's edition. All they deemed front-page news was that the Senate had agreed to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. Surprise, surprise. What the NY Times sent to the inside pages was the passage of the Energy Bill that one Senator described as "a pork-laden lobbyist-driven dream bill," a Transportation Bill "stuffed with special projects for virtually every Congressional district in the nation," and the renewal of the U.S. Patriot Act. The particulars of the Senate-version of the U.S. Patriot Act, by the way, were not even mentioned in that NY Times lead article.

One of these mornin's you're gonna wake up a-chokin'
Smog'll be so bad that yer young 'uns can't breathe
The FBI will come knockin' at yer door
Holdin' a list of books you can't read

So if ya think clean air is somethin' worth keepin'
And ya want yer rights not some Big Brother state
If ya wish yer Reps spoke fer you not their donors
Then listen up, people, tell 'em you care

Friday, July 29, 2005

better than counting sheep... 

I wasn't going to put up an entry tonight (Thursday) because I'd gotten home late from Ann Arbor, but I couldn't sleep. So I got up at 1:30 AM, went to my computer, caught up with my web journal archives--archives 64 & 65--and even downloaded a photo of tonight's gathering.

At the writers' workshop, I'd talked four of the participants into agreeing to attend their first-ever Michigan Womyn's Music Festival this August. Well, it wasn't just me; there were three other festi-goers at the workshop who did their bit to encourage these four women to give it a try. And one of them--Lisa--had attended a festival twenty years ago for what she described as a life-changing 12 hours, so she had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But they were all nervous so I suggested we meet in Ann Arbor to talk about fest, what to bring, etc. Tonight was the date we decided upon.

As it turned out, two of the festi-virgins-to-be (Allyson and Jessi) couldn't come at the last minute, but their tentmates (DeShaun and Lisa) promised to share all my info with them. And Rachel, who isn't planning to go to fest, joined us too which made it like a party.

So we enjoyed Amer's wonderful deli-food and talked festi-talk for about three hours. I'd brought two of my old festival programs and two copies of Bab's Tips for First Timers for them to take home and read, and that helped us know what we needed to discuss.

By the way, it's a BIG DEAL to come to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Being around thousands of womyn for a week, tenting and just finding your way around the 650 acres of land can be intimidating, to say the least. Not to mention all the concerts, workshops, films, workshifts and more. It's like going into a world that has its own language, culture and expectations, very few of which are written down anywhere. It takes some getting used to.

But I feel Lisa and DeShaun are now ready and they'll help Jessi and Allyson feel ready too. And none too soon. Festival starts on Monday, August 8!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My Writers' Workshop Photo Album 

It rained all night and we awoke to cool temperatures. This was the first time since early May that I've needed socks on my feet. They felt great.

This morning Ed and I had a visit from Lindsay Morris and her youngest son, Cecil. As I'd mentioned on Sunday, Lindsay was one of the kids who spent a lot of time here at our house when she was growing up. In this photo, you see Lindsay looking at one of our rolls of photos taken during that era. As she traveled back in time, eleven-month-old Cecil stayed right in the present. Watching his extraordinarily high level of energy proved Ed's theory about youth being a time of behavior and old age being a time of non-behavior. I felt like we were a different species!

At 6 PM I went down to the park to meet with my friend Aly for a lesson in conversational Arabic. When I'd told him last week that my Arabic classes were completed and I still felt unprepared to go to Lebanon, he kindly offered to tutor me. To be honest, his way of teaching worked much better for me than the formal classes I'd tried to take at the community college. We simply went over the phrases in a book I'd bought, with Aly repeating the pronounciation until I'd gotten it right. I taped our session so I can practice at home. We plan to meet again next week.

After our lesson, I got a veggie burger and fries at the concession stand for dinner and happened upon our community's symphony rehearsing under the pavilion. After listening to them for awhile, I came home and visited with Ed while he ate.

Except for some time writing and reading, I spent the rest of the day and evening preparing my Writers' Workshop Photo Abum. I'm happy to report it's up and running.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tsunami Love Story 

Tsunami Survivor

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP.

"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together" the ecologist added.

"The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.

"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Elena's blog 

Within our circle at the writers' workshop facilitated by Anya Actenberg and Demetria Martinez, there were 21 superb writers, each speaking in her own unique voice. But, as often happens, there was one voice in particular that has continued to resonate in my mind and heart. And now I see that she has a blog--All Music and Unbearably Weighted Down--on which you can read a number of the poems she wrote during our four days together at the Leaven Center. When you go be sure to read "Dolphin." It is stunning.

Monday, July 25, 2005

the wonder of technology 

Yes, there is much about technology that does not serve the betterment of our human species and the planet we and countless other species call home, but--and it's a big BUT--there are advantages that have never been known before in human history, the principle one being instant communication that crosses national boundaries, ethnic and language barriers.

For instance I can go to Faiza's blog--A Family in Baghdad--and read what life is REALLY like for the people of Iraq as my government continues to bring "democracy" to that beleagured country. And in doing so, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is shown for what it really is: a horrific example of American greed, violence and 21st century empire-building. Riverbend in her blog--Baghdad Burning--also shows me the day-to-day particulars of life in Iraq, not for those elite military and government figures who live in the fortress called the Green Zone, but for the people whose country my government and military have turned into a living hell.

Thanks to technology, no one needs to be at the mercy of the spinmasters who try to control what we hear, read, see and think about world events. Anyone with access to the internet--whether in their own home, their public library or school--can see for themselves how the decisions made by their nation's leaders impact individuals and communities around the world. Even if the mainstream media is controlled by special interests, the truth is available to all. How fortunate we are to be living in such times as this.

Khalid is free! 

I just read in Faiza's blog that her son Khalid has been released from prison in Iraq and is now back in Amman, Jordan. Special thanks to those of you who sent emails on his behalf. This is Faiza's most recent entry:

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Good Morning..
khalid is sleeping now , its 11AM in the morning, he is very tired, he didnt sleep well since 12 days.
I didnt sleep well the last night, after 12 days..
i was thinking about poor iraqis still in jails, suffering from torturing , and abusing, and nobody from their families knew anything about them , where are they, what are their guilts ?
Oh , my God, what a horrible life now in iraq ..
we should stand together to find a way to help those people, to support their human rights
its not Saddam Hussain era now in iraq, its supposed to be freedom and democracy era !
we should start a campaign ....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

taking care of myself 

Whew...88 degrees F. at 11 PM! That, my friends, is hot. And it isn't just the heat that gets to you, it's the high humidity. Yes, this is a summer we will remember.

Ed and I finally gave in and put up the window air conditioner that's been sitting unused in its original box for at least five years. He put it in the window beside the piano so it cools the entire living room area. When we returned from our after-dinner walk/scoot, we couldn't believe the difference. Now we have a room to escape to when the heat gets to us. Like maybe later tonight. Luckily our couch is very comfortable for sleeping. I'll see how my bedroom window fan handles tonight's heat.

I've been a big slug-a-bug today. Last night I took a fall that let me know I've been pushing the envelope. Whenever that happens, I just slow down and give my body what it needs, in this case, rest. After sleeping in, I worked on my photos from the writers' workshop. There's still more to do before I can put them up online, but it's coming along. Then I took a nice long nap before dinner.

Sorry I didn't post a journal/blog entry yesterday, but I needed sleep more than I needed to be a faithful journal-keeper/blogger. I'd had a good swim around noon and then met a wonderful fellow, Richard, who recognized me from the gym. We sat under a tree beside the lake and talked for a good long while. Then I ran into one of our "kids", Lindsay Morris, her husband Steven, their boys Milo and Cecil, and her mother Pam. Lindsay and her sisters and brothers used to hang out at our house back when they were growing up. I always enjoy seeing them.

It really is good to be home again. Seems like I've been away a lot this summer. Good stuff, all of it, but home is good too.

Friday, July 22, 2005

home again, home again...for 17 days anyway 

So much has happened since I last posted here. I'm not the same person I was then. But I'm not even going to try to tell you all about it tonight. It's close to midnight and I had a long drive home from Mary White's in northern Michigan today. Well, not as long as it took me to get there on Tuesday. This time I didn't go an hour and a half out of my way, but five-and-a-half hours of steady driving was enough.

Tonight I'd like to put up the photos I took at Mary's, and wait until another day to show-and-tell about the four-day writers' workshop I attended at Leaven Center prior to going up north.

If you recall, my friends Casey and Jeanne--who joined us for dinner last night--and I had gone up to visit Mary White last September. She lives close to her son Huther and his girlfriend Penny in a magical place surrounded by woods (photos #1, #2 & #3), flowers, vegetables, chickens, dogs, cats, water (next door to Gilbert Lake and a few miles from Lake Michigan), sky, and creatures like the doe we saw Wednesday in the meadow and the hummingbirds who were always getting drunk on the scarlet bee balm flowers outside her kitchen window. This time I went up by myself.

Mary and I discovered the rhythm of our days is similar. We both like a mix of solitude and sharing, naps and writing. At least twice every day we'd use the writing prompts Anya and Demetria had shared at the writers' workshop, and then read aloud what we'd written. We prefer grazing to sitting down to a formal meal, and appreciate seeing the sun set over Lake Michigan, and value time spent with friends like Jackie and Jan (photos #1, #2 & #3), and Casey and Jeanne. Mary wakes early but then goes back to bed for a nap that seems to coincide with my natural getting-up time. We adored Ani DeFranco's concert at Interlochen and spent as much time on our feet as the young folks that surrounded us.

It was all pretty darn idyllic. And now it's going to be equally idyllic to go to sleep in my own bed.

Monday, July 18, 2005

home for a night & on to the next... 

I can't imagine anyone more grateful for life than I. How can it get any richer? But it seems to.

The four-day writers workshop was all I'd hoped for and more. Much much more. Anya Achtenberg and Demetria Martinez were superb teachers/facilitators, our community bonded deeply, and the writing that emerged from these 19 women was knock-you-in-the-gut fabulous. And I haven't even mentioned the setting, food and land, all of which were perfection.

It's now 11:15 PM and I've got to get to bed so I can get up early to drive the five-and-a-half hours up to Mary's tomorrow. I want to get there by 3 PM so I can take a nap before we go to Ani DeFranco's concert at Interlocen tomorrow night. So I'm only going to put up my blog today and hope my journal readers think to visit me here.

URGENT: I want to ask you to send an email to and urge them to do all they can to see that Khalid Jarrar (Faisa's son) is released from jail in Iraq. Khalid and his brother Raed have been open critics on their blogs--Secrets In Baghdad and "Raed In The Middle--of what is happening in Iraq and Juan Cole, who knows about such things, believes that is why Khalid was arrested on July 14. He had just gone from Amman, Jordan to Baghdad to help his family after their home had been broken into. You can read more about it by going to Dancewater's blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Continent In Song photos are up & I'm on my way again 

One month ago tomorrow, I was on my way to the Continent In Song celebration in Saskatchewan. And today I FINALLY finished preparing and putting up my Continent In Song Photos #1 & #2! It has been a joyful, albeit time-consuming, endeavor.

And tomorrow I'm off on yet another adventure--this one being the writing workshop I told you about last Tuesday. The theme--"Place and Exile; Borders and Crossings: Writing and Social Change"--intrigues me, but I have no idea where it will take me. That's the wonder of writing.

I will return home on Monday night (July 18), but will then be on the road again the following morning. I'm going to visit my friends in northern Michigan for a few days. I'll be staying with Mary White--Remember? I visited her last September--and will be getting together with my other friends, Jackie Berz and Jan Stutzman. On Tuesday night we're going to Interlochen Music Camp to hear a concert by Ani DeFranco.

Life is SO rich.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

It's time for some pictures... 

I'll start with two photos taken at the gym: 1) The first is of Matt and me during today's workout. I'm wearing Rima's birthday T-shirt with "meathead" printed on it; 2) and the second was taken back in June when I started using the elliptical trainer. This has become a regular part of my exercise program and, hard as it is, I love it. It feels like I'm running again.

Next are three photos taken at the lake when my computer was in the shop: 1) sunrise over the lake; 2) a duck in sun-sparkled waves ; and 3) a red-winged blackbird taking a rest.

Finally, here are a few of the photos I took in Ann Arbor during an overnight visit in June: 1) Ed's childhood home; 2) a pink peony; 3) a white iris; 4) a red poppy; and 5) white clematis climbing up a trellis.

Monday, July 11, 2005

seeing ourselves as others see us... 

Thanks to Leah, a reader, I checked out Faiza's July 10 entry on her blog, A Family In Baghdadand read an incredibly honest, compassionate appraisal of where my country is now. Through the eyes of a woman engineer from Iraq who had just returned home from a trip to the U.S., I saw America in a way that resonates with all I know, but because she is not a part of our culture, she brings an objectivity that would be hard for us to have. I so recommend your taking the time to read and reflect on her words.

I'm not going to copy her entire entry here, but would like to share her final thoughts:

I saw that with my own eyes when I was in America; everything says the country's economy is threatened, and moving to the worst....the big companies suffer from crises, and recession....they need new markets, and they need fuel to operate the factories, in the time to come...

And this war was also in order to keep the evil factories that manufacture weapons alive.

The idea of capitalism is: Work, production, and then the money shall flow...the market, the economy, the high profits, and the cheap financial sources, to ensure the high profits...

Capitalism is like a snake that sucks the blood of the earth, and the people, without getting enough...

I could almost see its end approaching....I could almost see it expelling its last breaths, and the war on Iraq was nothing but one of the last attempts to rescue the collapsed capitalism in its final days, hoping to retrieve its youth....

I think the first true step towards peace on earth, is to shut down the weapons factories, to replace it with food, medicine, or children's toys factories, perhaps then the nations would live in peace and happiness, forever....

The American people, not the government, is in need of a pause, and a clearing of conscience, to find out what is happening around them, and where are they being taken....

The unjustly treated nations, like the Iraqi people, understand exactly what is happening around them, always thinking, and working, to find a way out....

But a nation like the American people is also in need of a way to salvation, for they are heading towards an abyss, and they should stop, and change the course......

If there were any smart, free minded people, they should work to change....this is their responsibility towards humanity, and the coming generations......

For those shall question them: what have YOU done to stop the flow of injustice, greed, and evil?

by Faiza as published in her blog, A Family In Baghdad

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Doing what needed to be done... 

I swam laps this morning, then stayed down at the park and finished reading "Deafening" by Canadian author, Frances Itani. What a superb writer and storyteller! I highly recommend this award-winning novel.

Except for dinner and an after-dinner walk/scoot beside the lake with Ed, I worked steadily at my computer for the rest of the day. I installed my cable high-speed internet connection, and sent out my change of address emails. This evening I prepared my Windchime Walker journal archive 63 and posted it online.

Enough computing already!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pat's visit 

Someday I'm going to create my long-overdue Journal Archive 63 on my Windchime Walker web site. I also anticipate finishing and posting my Continent In Song online album with all the photos I took in Saskatchewan. My other job is to send out change of email address notices so that I can activate the highspeed internet cable connection that was installed yesterday. But these summer days are too precious to spend glued to a computer screen, especially ones as beautiful as we've had of late.

Yesterday Pat Kolon came for an overnight visit and we had a grand time sharing dinner with Eddie and then going to see the excellent documentary film, "Rize."

This morning we slept in, read, and took a tour of our neighbor the Fedirko's garden where I saw this bee and bug on a flower. We then walk/scooted down to the park for lunch. While there I was delighted to run into our dear former neighbors the Bonahooms, their children and grandchildren. After lunch we came home and Pat read while I napped.

Tonight we went downtown to see "Menopause: A Musical" at Detroit's Gem Theatre, and finished the evening by walking around Harmonie Park and Greektown. The city was vibrant and alive with crowds everywhere, a jazz band at one outdoor restaurant and an Irish band outside another. There was an air of excitement as Detroit prepares to host baseball's All-Star game on Tuesday, and the temperature was a pleasant 80 degrees F.

By the way, I was surprised at my response--or lack thereof--to the Menopause musical. So many friends had told me I'd love it. They'd also said it was hysterical. Well, it was certainly well conceived and well acted, and the audience obviously adored it. So why didn't I? Maybe it's been too long since I went through menopause--20 years now--and maybe I'm just too far outside the mainstream to find humor in what most people find funny. But I enjoyed the music and certainly loved being downtown on this lovely summer evening.

I have one more photo for you: it's of a hollyhock I saw on a scoot down the singing street on Thursday. How I love summer!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

with deep sadness 

I would like to send my love and healing thoughts to the people of London who have suffered such a terrifying, tragic experience today. And to those who have lost loved ones, I send my deepest sympathy. Please know you are surrounded by the love of millions of persons across the globe. You are not alone.

May our world find new ways to mend the differences that divide us. May we learn that when we bring suffering to one, we bring suffering to all...ourselves as well as our so-called "enemies." May we see the ones we call "other" as our sisters and brothers, for that is who they are. May all violence cease.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

a pleasant day 

Even though I took a nap this afternoon, I'm feeling ready for bed. And it's only 10:30 PM. It wasn't a hard day, merely full.

It started by my pushing the snooze button on my alarm clock four times. Obviously I wasn't ready to get up, but I had to: I had a 10:30 AM appointment in Windsor with Lessa for a haircut.

After that I drove through Tim Horton's at Wyandotte and Walker Road and ordered an egg salad on whole wheat and an apple juice. I then took these down to the Odette Sculpture Park on the river and parked Sassy on the grass facing the Detroit skyline.

So far things had followed my usual pattern. Next on my agenda was to go to stand across from the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge with the Windsor Women In Black. But that was when the Universe or whatever you choose to call it, took things in her own hands.

Before I'd even unwrapped my sandwich I heard a familiar voice say, "Hi Patricia!" I looked up to see Elaine Carr, an old friend from WomanSpirit days and more recently from the O Beautiful Gaia CD project. She sat next to me on a bench and before we knew it, an hour and a half had passed. That's how it is with friends: time forgets itself.

I was home by 1:30 PM, made some calls, checked my emails and by 3 PM was stretched out on my bed. I awoke at 4:30 PM and was out the door by 5 PM. Tonight was my Arabic class.

I can't say I'm particularly adept at grasping this language; even trying to pronounce the words is a challenge. There are sounds that we English-speakers have never had to make before. And I don't know enough grammar for anything to make sense. But I'm sure that simply hearing Arabic spoken and trying to repeat what the teacher says will be of benefit when I find myself in an Arabic-speaking country like Lebanon. Of course, if I'd practice between classes, I'm sure that more of it would come in. But I'm not going to force myself. I'm happy letting Arabic simply wash over me; it's such a beautiful language.

And now I'm going to let sleep wash over me. Night night...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

transformative opportunities 

More often than not I start out by saying a loud resounding "No!" to invitations to change. That was my initial response last autumn when I thought about attending A Continent In Song in Saskatchewan in June, and more recently it was how I responded to Melanie and Gloria's encouragement that I consider attending a four-day writers' workshop at Leaven Center in mid-July.

In both cases, something deep in me refused to give up trying. Niggling thoughts kept me awake at night, flashes of intuitive knowing I was meant to be there would come upon me unawares, and inklings that transformation was in store if I said "Yes" combined to move me beyond myself.

The final push came this afternoon when I called Ruth Blaser, one of the most grounded visionaries I met in Saskatchewan, and heard her speak of her plans to take two days in silence and solitude to give herself an opportunity to begin to discover what had moved within her during our week together in the Qu-Appelle Valley.

I knew I had to allow myself the same privilege. But I also knew that writing is my most effective means of discovering what is stirring in me. And that was when the writers' workshop at Leaven came to mind. So I called Leaven to find out if there was still space, and, of course, there was.

By the way, my greatest reluctance to attend this workshop was that it is the same weekend as my favorite free music festival, Detroit's Concert of Colors. I couldn't see myself missing that wonderful, community-building event. But when you read the writers' workshop description, I think you'll see that it has my name on it. This is how it is described on the Leaven Center web site:

Place and Exile ~ Borders and Crossings: A Four Day Workshop on Writing and Social Change

It is often simplistically stated that writers must create from a sense of "place." But what about those of us who were forced to leave our ancestral homes because of war, political oppression, or economic exploitation? What does "place" or "home" mean to those of us who have transgressed social boundaries of gender, race, religion, culture, or sexuality? What are the stories that we are birthing in exile and at the border crossings?

Through the process of our own writing, as well as listening to the words of other writers, we will explore the meanings of place and exile, borders and crossings, in our lives. We will explore what is at the heart of writing that can break social silences, recover people's histories, reveal suppressed connections, and redream a just world.

There will be room for many kinds of writing and many kinds of writers. We will read, write, and share our writing with one another (by choice, never by obligation). We will think about writing as a process--a way to tell stories we already know, but also a way to find stories we have not yet imagined.

Leaders: Demetria Martinez and Anya Achtenberg
Time: Thursday, 7 pm-Monday, 1 pm

Demetria Martinez of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the author of a novel, Mother Tongue, winner of a Western States Book Award for fiction; and three collections of poetry, including Breathing Between the Lines. Mother Tongue is based in part upon her 1987 indictment in connection with the Sanctuary Movement. She is summer writing faculty at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston. She lectures widely and writes a column about social justice issues for the National Catholic Reporter.

Anya Achtenberg lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has taught creative writing in many places, including New York, Boston, St. Paul, and Albuquerque. She is the recipient of numerous literary prizes. Her novella, The Stories of Devil-girl, was released on CD in 2003. Her second book of poetry, The Stone of Language, published by West End Press in 2004, includes poems awarded first prizes from Southern Poetry Review and Another Chicago Magazine. Her novel-in-progress, More Than the Wind, has been excerpted in Harvard Review.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Celebrate the ordinary 

On this day of patriotic fervor, waving flags and fireworks, I recall what my friend Josie said yesterday about the 4th of July celebrations.

"My people," she said thoughtfully, "don't celebrate your holiday. If this country had not won their war against England, slavery would have been abolished years earlier. You know, England outlawed slavery in 1832. Why would I celebrate the independence of a country that kept my people slaves?"

Ed and I are at the pool when it opens at 10 AM this morning. It is the first time we've swum together in years--How ever did I talk him into it?--and I'm reminded of a 4th of July weekend 39 years ago when we swam together at his apartment pool. His lips taste the same today as then.

He gets out before I and takes these pictures--photos #1, #2, #3 & #4--of me swimming my laps.

After the swim I scoot home and carry my book--Canadian author, Frances Itani's superb novel "Deafening," the story of a deaf woman's growing up and marriage to a hearing man who goes to France with the Canadian troops in World War I--out onto the back porch and read for an hour.

My next adventure on this hot sunny day--90 degrees F again--is to scoot down to rent a couple of movies at Blockbuster. On the way, I stop to enjoy the day lilies growing along the fence of our neighbor at the corner, and the climbing roses (photo #1 & #2) that always delight my senses farther down the singing street. I stop in to see Eddie at his office on the way there and back.

A nice long nap on the couch, cooled by the floor fan, follows. And now I'm taking care of computer business before Eddie comes home for dinner. After dinner we'll go for our nightly walk/scoot along the lake and then settle down to watch a movie.

A sweet celebration of the ordinary.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

another day at the Taste Fest 

I spent five hours of this lovely summer day down at the Taste Fest. When I arrived at 1:30 PM, I was surprised to see the parking lot almost full and crowds of people already on the streets.

I stopped to get an order of California rolls for lunch, and scooted over to the main stage to see Karen Clark Sheard, a well known gospel singer. While there, I was delighted to meet up with Josie Huyghe, one of my favorite Raging Grannies. But when I asked after Tony, her husband, she had sad news to report. Apparently he broke his hip on June 21 and is still in the hospital. Tony, a national Masters bicycle racing champion, had been hit by a car while riding his bike in 2004 and had ended up in the hospital then. It doesn't seem fair for him to be facing another long recuperation again this year. May he heal quickly.

Soon Josie and I headed over to the Jazz and Blues Stage to see Gerard Gibbs & his quartet, reORGAN'YZ. We found a seat for Josie and a spot beside her for Sassy to park, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. So did the audience! Except for my scooting off between acts to buy a lemonade, we stayed at this stage all afternoon.

Next up was The Fats Waller Revue featuring Alvin Waddles on piano. Marion Hayden, Detroit's own Master bassist, played with him and told us that Alvin not only plays jazz and gospel, but travels with the Three Tenors as one of their piano accompanists. After listening to him, I can certainly see why. This man can make a piano stand up and walk. WOW! is all I can say.

Josie had to leave after that set so she could go back to visit Tony at the hospital. I'd intended to stay for Marcus Belgave's tribute to Louis Armstrong at 7 PM and 8:30 PM, but after eating a yummy Indian dinner, I just ran out of steam. It was now 6:30 PM and I was ready to go home. So I did.

My dear Eddie, who never complains about my going hither and yon, was happy to have me home again. And I was happy too; he is a sweet man to come home to.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

the Detroit Taste Fest 

Whenever I'm at a large gathering of Detroiters like I was tonight, I often ask myself if I could ever leave this city. It's the people. Diverse races, ethnicities, ages, classes join together at an event like the Taste Fest to enjoy live music, a wide variety of food, dancing, people-watching, and a sense of community that crosses all barriers. Everyone is welcome; everyone is a member of the family. You'll see someone who is probably homeless sitting next to someone else who looks like an auto executive. Folks are friendly and inclined to talk with strangers. Everyone smiles at everyone else. At least that's been my experience of these free festivals.

Tonight I chose to drive downtown to the Taste Fest rather than staying close to home, even though it was the night our community hosts a band at the park and then puts on an impressive fireworks display. I just wanted to be with a more diverse group of people, the kind of people I find in Detroit. And I was glad I made that choice. I enjoyed a great night of dancing, live jazz, delicious pierogis and dill pickle soup from a Polish restaurant, visits with Pat, her sister BJ, a couple of jazz friends, and nice connections with the people around me. Although I'd gone down there by myself, I never felt alone. As I say, Detroit is family.

Friday, July 01, 2005

my web site is up & running again 

Finally, I can send you to my web journal for my latest entry. This blog has been a lifesaver during the four weeks of computer repairs, and I am deeply grateful to for being so easy to maintain, even from library computers. And I'll continue to keep it up and running, just as I did before. But, just for tonight, let's let my web journal take its turn to shine.

This gif is freely copyable. Just right click, save
Powered by
RSSify at WCC

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?