Windchime Walker

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Photos from Camp Casey Detroit, Day 9 

Photo #1 shows Willie, Jessica, Louisa, Abayomi and Kevin sharing a late lunch under pleasantly gray skies.

Photo #2 was taken as the afternoon drizzle began. Nothing heavy, but enough that we tarped the tables and umbrellas were appreciated. It drizzled steadily until I left at 6 PM, but I fear our companions are going to have a long wet night.

Photo #3 is of our ice cream angels, Stephanie and Joslyn, who brought us six cups of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Very appropriate since Ben is such a dedicated peace activist...besides his ice cream is yummy!

Photo #4 shows Charles Brown, our resident "googler", reading aloud what he'd found online about the two mayors whose statues face one another across Woodward Avenue at Grand Circus Park. Although we're camped under John Maybury, it is clear that Charles Pingree was much more our kind of fellow. Beside Charles is Pete, a Vietnam vet who will be joining us on the bus to the huge Sept. 24 anti-war rally in Washington, DC.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Camp Casey Detroit--Day 8 

It was a lovely sunny warm day down at Camp Casey Detroit. Paul Pearson took the opportunity to catch some rays, while Norm Clark covered himself in sunblock. The more time we spend together, the more we see our uniqueness. Each and every one of us wants to bring the troops home now, but beyond that we have our individual ways of looking at things. That makes our conversations--of which we have plenty--all the more interesting.

When I arrived about 2:30 PM, Abayomi Azikiwe, Pat Lent, Charles Brown, Norm Clark, Paul and Willie were there. While we sat and ate the sandwiches I'd brought, we shared stories of how and when we'd become politically aware and active.

For Abayomi, it started back when he was a child in Tennessee. His parents were active in the Civil Rights movement and frequently hosted meetings at their home. Abayomi said that students and activists from the north often stayed at their house. The family moved up to Detroit when Abayomi was ten, the year after Detroit's rebellion in 1967. He said his parents became active in the city's struggles right from the beginning. And although Abayomi's university degrees were in education and political science, soon after graduating he found himself working as a journalist and editor for a number of politically-aware organizations and newspapers. In the 1980s, he gravitated to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and made three trips there during the height of the oppression. He's been connected with Wayne State University for 17 years, teaches in the Urban Studies department there, and has published the Pan-African News Wire for many years, first in hard copy and lately, online. He has spent at least 8 hours a day at Camp Casey Detroit since it opened a week ago. He has also composed and sent out all our news releases.

So that gives you an idea of who sits at our tables in Grand Circus Park! And each person has a story to tell, with surprising twists that most of us have never heard before. How I value this time of being able to hang out together with no deadlines, no distractions, no agendas. After years of demonstrating, marching, organizing and meeting together, never before have we had the time to simply sit and shoot the breeze (photos #1, #2, #3, & #4). Such a gift.

Another gift was the fact that Monday Night Football was being televised from Detroit's Ford Field tonight. Not that I give a darn about football, but it meant that 50,000 fans would be coming down to our neighborhood, some of whom would be walking by Camp Casey Detroit on their way to the stadium. But I decided to take it a step further and scoot the three blocks over to Ford Field myself with a MECAWI sign that said, "Bring the Troops Home Now!" on one side, and "Money For Our Cities, Not War" on the other.

What an interesting experience! There were thousands of people milling around out front, drinking at the outdoor bar at the corner, and lots more waiting in long lines to get into the stadium. So I just scooted up and down the street beside the stadium over and over, holding my sign high in the air. The response was mixed, but I'd say it was at least 6-1 in favor of my signs and against the war. In addition to lots of thumbs up, peace signs, nods and "You're right on!" type of comments, I also heard at least three voices call out, "Get a job!", one say, "You should be ashamed of yourself. Why don't you go to Russia?," and another say, "Go to Texas!" My favorite was a disembodied voice saying, "Is she Cindy Sheehan?"

When I got back to Camp Casey Detroit, it was about 8:30 PM and getting dark. But there were still about ten people hanging around talking. It is definitely THE place to be in Detroit!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A day off! 

This was a day for flowers, trees, skies, water, time with my sweetie, a nice long nap, a quiche dinner thanks to our friend Pat Kolon, a chair massage by Pat to loosen up my knotted-up shoulders and neck, and a little time reading on our screened-in porch. No Camp Casey Detroit, even though I hated missing our Potluck Picnic in the Park, and no participating in a four-hour F.A.M.E. (Finding Alternatives to Military Enlistment) training session for which I'd signed up weeks ago.

After having gone to bed at 2:30 AM for the fourth night in a row, I woke up this morning and dared to ask my body what it needed. Its answer was clear--a day OFF! So, with regret, I cancelled out of the F.A.M.E. training, and let my body have its way.

It's now 11:30 PM and I intend to go to bed soon. And, yes, I feel rested and ready to go back down to Camp Casey Detroit again tomorrow. Life is good.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Camp Casey Detroit--Day 6 

Each day at Camp Casey Detroit is unique. Today--Day 6--was a day of gifts.

The gifts of food, like the yummy 24-piece vegetarian pizza donated by Ann Perrault of Avalon Bakery (Cass & Willis near Wayne State University), the pastries from Arlena of the Brown Bean Cafe, our neighbor on Adams in Grand Circus Park, and Granny Kathy's husband Barry's loaf of homemade sesame and whole grain wheat bread.

The gifts of enthusiastic volunteers like Peggy Bennett and Rosi Luganer from Ann Arbor, Bob Krzewinski from Ypsilanti who brought and planted 64 crosses (photos #1 & #2) made by the Veterans For Peace, Raging Grannies Kathy Russell and Charlotte Kish who led us in song, Bill Hazel and Charles Brown who were already there when I arrived about 3:30 PM and stayed until at least 7:30 PM when I left to scoot down to the India Festival at Hart Plaza, Charles Simmons and his teenaged nephew who took the picture of us singing, our neighbor Paul Pearson who has offered us the use of his bathroom every night, and our regulars, David Sole, Abayomi Azikiwe, Derek and his daughters Cydney and Kaylan, and Willie, our Camp Casey Detroit leafletter extraordinaire.

The gifts of interesting visitors like Terrance, a 22 year-old spiritual seeker and boxer, who said, "If one person can push you [beyond where you are now], that's good. But if you can push yourself more than that one person [did], that's even better." And John, Maria and their young daughter Tatiana, who just happened upon us but felt right at home since they're strongly anti-war and pro-peace. Jay Statzer who asked that we link our blog to Our old CPR (Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit) friend Elena Herrada, her twin daughters and a neighbor from Leverette Street in Corktown. They asked to be identified as the Leverette Collective. And in response to Willie having leafletted a wedding party outside Central United Methodist Church, a high school government teacher came over and engaged us in an interesting--if somewhat heated--dialogue about the efficacy of the war and occupation of Iraq.

Our Camp stayed active throughout the day, and, after heavy morning showers (Willie was the only one among us who had been in the camp then), we had some afternoon sprinkles that tested our tarping abilities and umbrella expertise (photos #1, #2 & #3). And, as always, we had plenty of opportunities to sit and talk (photos #1 & #2). Charles Brown even called into a radio talk show on his cell phone, and we sat around and listened to him live on our camp transistor radio.

If it sounds like we're having fun, that's because we are! Working for peace, when you do it in community, is a wonderful adventure. How grateful I am to be part of it, and how warmly I encourage my peace-loving sisters and brothers in southeastern Michigan and Windsor, Ontario to come on down and join us.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Camp Casey Detroit--Day 5 

These late nights of putting up journal and blog entries and photographs about Camp Casey Detroit caught up with me today. For the first time since I started working with Matt at the gym in March 2004, we had to stop after only twenty minutes. My legs were like rubber and I was a push-over when Matt leaned into me for our ab exercises. He made me promise I'd go home and get some sleep. And so I did.

When I finally made it down to Grand Circus Park, it was 4:30 PM and the Camp was being drenched in rain. I was grateful to see the tables and people covered with a tarp because I'd told them yesterday that I'd be bringing a tarp today. What a Janey-come-lately! But I'm sure we'll have more oportunities to use rain cover as the days and weeks progress.

I also had two pizzas in my car, and I think they were more welcome than the tarp. At least they seemed to disappear pretty fast. But more were on the way. Tonight was our first Camp Casey Detroit pizza party (photos #1 & #2) and it was a rousing success. By 8 PM, I'd guess there were 30-40 people eating, talking and having a great time. It was especially fun to see the children, the youngest of whom was Malcolm, followed by Derek's daughters, Cydney, 9, and Kaylan, 8. Kelly also brought his son Chris, who is almost 12. William Smith was kind enough to take a picture of me with Kaylan and Cydney.

During the party, I got two pictures (photos #1 & #2) I especially like of Camp Casey Detroit, one of them from the other side of Woodward Avenue. I also took a picture of two young women, Erika and Jess, who had driven up from their homes in Baltimore, Ohio (four and a half hours away), and had just happened upon us as they walked down Woodward Avenue after attending the East Indian Festival at Hart Plaza on the river. They felt so at home with us--"We come from a small town where everyone is Republican!"--that they're sleeping down at Camp Casey Detroit tonight with four of our regular volunteers. I wonder if they'll tell their parents about this adventure!

I've given lots of people--including Erika and Jess--instructions on how to post entries and photos on our new Camp Casey Detroit blog. I sure hope they do so. It's meant to be a community forum not a one-or-two-person show.

Camp Casey Detroit--Day 4 

I've just spent a goodly amount of time putting up a Camp Casey Detroit Blog. I'm hoping lots of the folks who are spending time down there will post entries and photos. There's nothing like sharing our stories to promote community.

And community is what Camp Casey Detroit is all about down there in Grand Circus Park. We're doing so much more than simply protesting Bush's war against Iraq and calling for the troops to be brought home now; we're creating the world we've been dreaming of. And everyone is invited. The homeless and those who are fortunate enough to live in homes/apartments/flats. Young people on bikes and us oldsters who travel by car. We're city and suburban, descendants of slaves and descendants of slave-owners, college-educated and educated on the streets, employed/retired/underemployed/unemployed, men and women, temporarily able-bodied and differently-abled, hungry and well-fed. We share conversation, food, water and stories. As I see it, we are the world. And we're all working for peace.

Isn't this what we've dreamed of? Well, come down to Woodward Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Detroit and join us. We're there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And we're making a difference.

Just today, on Day 4 of Camp Casey Detroit's existence, we met Linda, a 51 year-old woman who's temporarily living in a rehab center while she works on her alcohol addiction. On her own initiative, Linda worked for three and a half hours collecting signatures on our petition to support Cindy Sheehan's efforts to bring the troops home now. She single-handedly managed to fill eight sheets with signatures, and she intends to return tomorrow to collect some more.

In the early afternoon, a woman bus driver pulled her bus up to the curb beside Camp Casey Detroit, opened the door and asked us for some anti-war petitions. When Jessica brought them onto the bus, and older woman in the back stood up and said, "I want to sign that right now!" The bus driver said she'd bring the petitions back to us on her run back downtown.

Two affluent-looking Detroit Tigers' fans, who had obviously just attended a Detroit Tigers' afternoon baseball game at Comerica Ballpark a block away, walked by and shoved bills into our donations pail.

And, yes, there was the unpleasant fellow who came up to our tables spoiling for a fight. "If it weren't for war, you'd still be a slave!," he said to Abayomi. But Linda helped us not get engaged with him, but instead, meet his negativity with silence. As she said, "Arguing with him wouldn't do no good. He just wanted a fight."

So Camp Casey Detroit now enters Day 5. Come on down!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I saw and heard at Camp Casey Detroit 

"It's the women and only the women who will stop this war!", said William Smith as we sat together in the bright sun at Camp Casey Detroit this afternoon (Wednesday). After meeting Andrea Hackett a few hours later, the mother of a soldier who returned in January after a year in Iraq and who is likely to be deployed there again since she has four more years to serve in the National Guard, I see what he is talking about. Cindy Sheehan isn't the only military Mom whom Mr. Bush had better watch out for: Andrea Hackett is definitely someone to be reckoned with.

It was Andrea's expressed desire to go down to Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas that set in motion a l-o-n-g van trip--22+ hours each way--by eight Detroiters last weekend.

The idea first came up at the weekly MECAWI (Michigan Committee Against War & Injustice) meeting last Wednesday night. By Thursday afternoon, David Sole, an indefatigable activist/organizer, had rented a van and called the eight folks who had said they'd like to go if it could be arranged. The van cost $600 and he figured gas would cost another $600. David started calling around to activist friends on Thursday and by Friday he'd collected the gas money. He figured, rightly as it's turning out, that the van rental money would come in through donations after they'd returned home.

So off they went--David and his wife Joyce, Andrea and her 16 year-old daughter Syria (sister of Tatjuana, her daughter in the military), Syria's boyfriend Tommy Carter, 2005 Barnard University graduate Isis Sushiela, Violeta Donawa, a current student at Wayne State University, and a young Detroit worker, Kyle McBee. The ones who are now known as the Crawford Eight.

They drove through the night and arrived at Camp Casey--which now has three camps and 1000 people tenting next to Bush's ranch in Crawford--on Saturday morning at 10:30 AM. They attended a big rally that night and David managed to get Andrea on the list of speakers. Her address was carried on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" and David said she spoke with power and heart. Apparently many miltary mothers and fathers came up to Andrea afterwards and thanked her for saying what they wish they could have said. On Sunday afternoon the Crawford Eight got in their van and headed north toward home.

But instead of actually going to their homes when they hit the Detroit city limits at 1 PM on Monday, these by-now-exhausted folks drove down to Grand Circus Park in the middle of downtown and set up Camp Casey Detroit, with the intention of keeping it going 24/7 until the huge anti-war mobilization on September 24 in Washington, DC. I know that Isis, for one, didn't get home until 3 AM Tuesday morning. And she was back a few hours later after having gotten a shower and a little sleep. Other members of MECAWI, notably Jessica and Derek--both of whom have 9-5 jobs--joined the Crawford Eight down at Camp Casey Detroit on Monday and have spent every night there since. They're down there as I write this, sleeping in sleeping bags on lawn chairs. The tents that were set up on Monday only lasted seven hours before the police made them take them down.

So now Camp Casey Detroit is a couple of tables, some folding and lawn chairs, two coolers with signs duct-taped to them and water bottles staying chilled on ice when it doesn't melt (as it did in today's hot sun), assorted bags full of snacks, and anti-war signs for rallies like we had tonight. The church across the street, Central United Methodist, has been Detroit's peace church for decades, so, when the church is open, their bathrooms are avalable for our use. And people have been generous about bringing food for lunches and dinners.

A military Mom who had seen Camp Casey Detroit on Monday night's TV news, brought down ice and water for the camp on Tuesday. And yesterday morning, a man who has a restaurant up the street stopped by and asked how many people are usually there. David said, around six. So at noon, this man returned with lunch and drinks for six.

When I got to Camp Casey Detroit about 2 PM this afternoon, Abayomi Azikiwe, a highly respected independent journalist and longtime activist, was there with William Smith, William's daughter Isis, and Syria Hackett's boyfriend Tommy. By 3:30 PM, Pat Lent and Jim Grimm (Veterans For Peace) had joined us, and David Sole and Kevin Carey (Workers World) showed up about 4 PM. Several men from the neighborhood, among them Will and James, have been helping out too. While I was there, Will even gave out fliers about Camp Casey Detroit to people on the buses that stopped near us. And then we had probably 40-50 people show up at tonight's rally.

One of the cool things about Camp Casey Detroit is the opportunity it gives folks to sit and talk with no sense of being rushed or having to run off someplace else. It feels lke the olden days when people just sat around and shared their stories. Now, that's what I call peace!

I heard many powerful things today while sitting around talking and at the rally, but there is one statement that I will not forget. I was interviewing Andrea Hackett, knowing I'd want to write this day up in my journal and blog. As she was getting ready to leave, I said, "Andrea, there's one more thing. As we know, George Bush has changed his reasons several times for why we went to war against Iraq. His latest is to say that we must 'finish the task' so our fallen soldiers will not have died in vain. How does that strike you?"

With fire in her eyes, Andrea replied, "Because his war was premised on lies, their lives have already been lost in vain. That's why we're trying to bring them home, so no more will die in vain."

Yes, it is the women who will stop this war.

--Patricia Lay-Dorsey

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Camp Casey Detroit 

Now we see how just ONE person can shift the balance of public opinion. Cindy Sheehan's courageous stand against the war that killed her son Casey is the perfect example. Not only are there 1000s of folks gathering at Camp Casey One and Two down in Crawford, Texas, but other cities are now establishing their own Camp Caseys, Detroit being one. What follows is a group email I received this morning from David Sole, an organizer of MECAWI (Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice):


The Detroit delegation to Crawford, Texas returned (exhausted) Monday after camping out at Camp Casey along with hundreds of other military families and others opposed to the war. Andrea from Detroit spoke as the mother of a GI who had spent over a year in the Iraq war. This was broadcast over Democracy Now. It was so inspiring that we decided on the way back not to go home but to set up Camp Casey Detroit at Grand Circus Park (Woodward and Adams St). We drove directly from Crawford and put our tents out at Grand Circus Park at 1:30 PM Monday and have been camped out there since then 24/7. Police made us take down the tents but we have tables, lawn chairs, sleeping bags, food and water. Channel 2 gave us great coverage Monday night.

People have been coming by donating food. A mother of a soldier in Iraq brought water and ice. People are coming for an hour, a few hours or overnight. TO CONTINUE WE NEED MORE BODIES. Cindy Sheehan has started something that has touched the nation. The right wing has gone nuts denouncing her (and us) but the public is solidly opposed to the war (today's poll says 57%). This is one of those historic moments that we need to put every shoulder to the wheel and make a breakthrough. Come to Camp Casey Detroit.

We still need money to pay for the Crawford trip. Donations can be sent to MECAWI, 5922 Second Ave., Detroit 48202.

I plan to spend the afternoon down at Camp Casey Detroit and stay on for the rally at 7 PM tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My web journal is up and running again! 

Mystery solved! My web host, that has recently come under new ownership, cut me off because I am WAY over the megabites of file storage allowed on my payment plan. The problem was that they didn't bother to send me an email informing me of this fact, but simply stopped letting me upload new files to my web site. Very uncool business practice, I'd say.

Anyway, I'm all set now. I've upgraded my payment plan from Basic that allowed 300 MGB storage, to what they call "Commerce." It will allow me 1.5 GB of storage space (I'm now over 600 MGB). They're also giving me three free months as an apology for their failure to let me know they'd be stopping my service.

So now my task is to copy/paste the journal entries and photos I've been posting on my blog over to my *web journal*. That'll work; I can do that.

It sure feels good to be home again.

*To access my web journal, be sure to press your reload/refresh button.

Monday, August 22, 2005

An inkling of what comes next... 

Do you, like I, find you have to give up the old before there's space for the new to come your way?

This morning before putting up my blog, I'd emailed Kathy and Nancy of the Raging Grannies to tell them of my decision to take time out from being a Raging Granny. Actually I'd told Kathy in a phone call maybe a week ago, but today seemed to make it official, especially after I'd posted it on my blog. By the way, it was a decision I'd been sitting with for months and had suspected for a long time before that.

It was simply time to go forward. But to what?

I had no idea except to know it would involve more than simply dissent or resistance to what I see as destructive/damaging/wrong-headed choices by those in power. I knew my new focus must address the realities of WHAT IS while offering ways to move beyond these realities. I need to be part of creating the world I want to leave to those who will come after us. I must be PRO-active not just RE-active. But how?

Three gatherings this summer have brought forward pieces of the puzzle of who I am and how I can best impact the world for good. At the Continent In Song in Saskatchewan in June, I learned that I have a gift for speaking in front of groups in a voice that moves the listeners deeply. At the Writers' Workshop at Leaven Center in July, I saw that I have the capacity to see inside the experiences of others and bring that forward in words. At the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival a week ago, the young women and womyn of color helped me see that I can bridge differences between generations, races and abilities just by being myself. And underlying those three awarenesses is the fact that I have been committed to justice and respect for ALL beings since I was a small child.

So where does that lead me? As of a couple of hours ago, I now have an inkling.

On Thursday morning at festival, I was visiting with Andrea, a DART sister-camper who works as a social worker in Boston. I have always admired her intelligent, truth-telling way of being in the world. As we talked, she was rushing to get dressed for a workshop facilitated by a woman whom she said was excellent. The workshop, which was being held right next door in the DART Workshop tent, was called "Where Do I Have Privilege?" and was being facilitated by Jona Olsson of Cultural Bridges. I decided to go. By the way, it was the ONLY workshop I attended the entire week.

Perhaps 30 women showed up. As we soon discovered, we were a wonderfully diverse group. Jona started by showing us what she called the Cage of Oppression, a drawing that identified things like racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, ageism, lookism (how we physically look to others), and ableism. She spoke briefly about each of these before asking that, in this workshop, we focus more on our places of privilege rather than staying stuck in where we feel oppressed. For many of the women that meant looking at something besides sexism and homophobia.

Her technique for helping us see our places of privilege was first to ask three women who identified as heterosexual to come forward and dialogue among themselves about what it meant day-to-day to be heterosexual in a culture that values that way of being in relationship. The rest of us were to listen and try to take in what was being said. After five minutes or so, those women went back to their places and three different women were asked to come forward. These women, self-identified lesbians, were to dialogue on THEIR day-to-day experiences of being gay in our culture. This same process was repeated for each type of oppression and their respective places of privilege. What an eye-opener!

After the workshop I spoke with Jona about the possibility of bringing her to Detroit and Ann Arbor to facilitate such workshops with groups that were coming to mind, workshops not just on privilege but on other topics regarding cultural diversity and dismantling oppression.

Two days ago I received an email from Laurel, a young activist from Ann Arbor with whom I'd talked at the beginning of the workshop when Jona had invited us to go up to someone we didn't already know. In it she told me that Jona would be coming to Michigan State University this autumn to facilitate a workshop on challenging homophobia, and would I like to join her in trying to set up other workshops in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. Of course, I said YES!

So this morning I called Jona at her home in New Mexico to get more information. As we talked I heard her mention something about training trainers around the country to do this work where they live. I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do. Jona said they're looking at holding a Cultural Bridges training session in 2006, perhaps at a retreat center in New Mexico. I am now on her list of persons who would like to be trained.

It feels SO RIGHT.

Raging Grannies & the Road To Detroit 

Yesterday I sang with the Raging Grannies at an event sponsored here in Detroit by the Road To Detroit bus crew and supporters. A number of these young people have traveled across our country in a biodiesel bus since June 4, in an effort to raise awareness of the need for more fuel efficient vehicles on our streets. Energy Action is their parent organization and you can read on the Road To Detroit web site and blog all that they have been accomplishing on this amazing journey.

Who cannot have hope when young people like this show us what needs to be done!

For me the event was a mix of poignancy and joy. It was the last time, for awhile anyway, that I plan to sing with the Raging Grannies. Over the past few months I've found myself less involved with the gaggle. It's happened naturally and I've allowed myself to follow my instincts. I don't know what's next, but I do know I'm in a time of transition in relation to exactly HOW I work for peace and justice. My commitment is stronger than ever but I can tell its expression is undergoing a shift. Time will tell where that will lead me.

But, after almost two years in existence, the Raging Grannies Without Borders of Detroit are a strong and active voice for peace and the environment. I thank them for allowing me to be part of their number and I wish them well.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

My Michigan Moments 

At the end of each Michigan Womyn's Music Festival it is traditional to ask, "So what were your favorite Michigan moments?" This is my answer for Fest 2005:

--As I stood in the dancing section at Friday's Night stage and sang along with Holly Near as she sang "A Thousand Grandmothers," a womon of age and then another and yet another and another and another came to my side, held my and each other's hands, raised them high, turned toward the thousands of womyn sitting in the audience and sang every word to them with power and commitment. The next morning as I left my tent, a womon, perhaps in her 30s, said to me with tears in her eyes that she would never forget that moment. Neither will I.

--As the One World Inspirational Choir sang on Sunday at the Acoustic Stage, I scooted forward to be blessed by the waters being held in two large bowls at the edge of the stage. A womon named Nancy agreed to sprinkle me with water since I wouldn't be able to reach it myself. When we got up there not only did Nancy sprinkle me with water but Leilani, our beloved Hawaiian dancer who was kneeling beside the bowl, took a fern frond in her hands and showered me with water. I then got in line to be blessed by the elder Hawaiian womon and the younger Maori womon who were kneeling at the edge of the stage. Their blessings and hugs were expressions of pure love.

--After having been blessed by these womyn and waters, a little girl, perhaps 6 years old, blessed me by coming up to me on her own, patting me gently on my pink head, and throwing her arms around me with loving abandon. We then danced together hand to hand and heart to heart. I later met her and her mother at the Tastee Freeze in Hart on Monday afternoon. It turns out that Mariah and her mother, Kelly, were festi-virgins who had driven by themselves to Michigan in their RV from their home in Los Angeles. I was sad to hear that Kelly's experience of festival had not been entirely positive, that she had not always been treated well by the womyn around her. May we learn to be more gentle in our dealings with one another.

--A snippet of a conversation heard as I passed the porta-janes in front of the Gaia Girls camp on Saturday morning: one girl of about 8 years old is saying to another, "And I told her, I'm not a VIRGIN!" [referring to being known as a "festi-virgin" if it's your first time at festival]

--Because I was willing to try something new this year in workshift assignments, I discovered the magical world-within-a-world that has been created over at Sprouts, the space devoted to infants through four year olds. For two mornings I was allowed to spend time with the playful spirit of a four-year-old boy named Cameron who taught me what it means to have imagination. On Friday he was a dinosaur and on Saturday, a dragon. Then there was River, perhaps three years old, who was so sleepy but didn't want to take a nap in the nap tent. But he was happy to nestle contentedly in my lap and ride around and around and around the Sprouts area for a half an hour. Then I wondered later in the afternoon why the battery on my scooter was riding on empty!

--Speaking of scooters, for the past three festivals I've brought two scooters, one for the day and one for the night. This year, because my new scooter, Sassy, has such long-lasting batteries, I was able to share Ona, my secondary scooter, with a sister who needed it. That felt SO right.

--Before attending festival I'd decided that my week-long Intensive Workshop was going to be DANCING, so I put the Day Stage and Night Stage concerts, and Sunday's Acoustic Stage performances of the Drumsong Orchestra and the One World Inspirational Choir at the top of my list of priorities. I didn't even bother to stake out a seat at the Night Stage; I'd just scoot right over to the dancing section at 8 PM, be sure I had enough room to stand with my bare feet planted solidly on the earth, my right hand holding tight to the scooter handle, and I was set for the night. Womyn talked about getting cold at Night Stage, but not me! I stayed warm and loose...and got hours of exercise every day. When I worked out at the gym on Tuesday, the morning after having returned home from festival, my trainer Matt and I were happily surprised to find me stronger than ever. Let's hear it for dancing!

--But of all my Michigan Moments, the most touching were, as always, connections I made with the womyn. This year, it was especially the young womyn who touched my heart. Now maybe it was my pink hair, maybe it was my dancing my booty off with them every chance I got, maybe it was that they'd read my online festi-photo journals, maybe it was that they knew I was a Raging Granny, but whatever it was, these womyn gifted me over and over and over again with smiles, hugs, kisses and words that let me know they saw, heard and valued who I am and how I live my life. Some were well-known performers but most were just plain folks. It didn't matter. Their love and respect gave me all I need to keep on keepin' on in my work for peace. They are my hope...not so much for the future as for the RIGHT NOW. I love these womyn and will do all I can to support, celebrate and inspire them to live into their fullness and never ever to give up or give in to despair. Yes, they do and see things differently from us old folks, but that's the power of it all, the transformative power of our evolving humanity.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A fabulous visit with our nephew John, niece Kirsten & grand-niece Betty 

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Festi-Photos #3 

Picture#1 is of my neighborhood in the DART (Disabled Access Resource Team) Downtown tenting area.

Picture #2 shows my friend, four-year-old Cameron, who let me play with him and his dragon & dinosaur during my two workshifts at Sprouts on Friday and Saturday mornings. One of the reasons this annual womyn's village can exist year after year is that every 6-day festi-goer donates 8 hours of her time to workshifts of her choice.

Picture #3 shows some of us femmes getting ready for Friday afternoon's Femme Parade. The singer/songwriter Jamie Anderson is on the right, looking stunning (as always) in her silver & purple bellydance outfit.

Picture #4 is of the Night Stage field carpeted in womyn as my favorite comic, Elvira Kurt, performs. This view shows only one third of the field. If you know the Land, you'll be impressed to hear that the womyn were sitting as far back as the trees behind the Goddess Grove.

Picture #5 is of me dancing beside two of the three womyn I talked into coming to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival for the first time. DeShaun is on the left and Lisa is in the middle. Allyson had gone off to get some pop.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Festi-Photos #2 (Sunday) 

Sunday is a very special day at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. Picture #1 shows womyn enjoying their Sunday breakfast of yummy hot scrambled eggs with mushrooms, green peppers and onions, slices of fresh cantalope, granola and yoghurt.

After breakfast we go down to the Acoustic Stage where our sisters who have been drumming and singing together all week perform for us. Picture #2 shows us dancing to the beat of the DrumSong Orchestra conducted by one of our resident wisewomyn, Ubaka Hill.

Picture #3 gives you some small idea of how the audience responds to what they hear.

In Picture #4 Leslie, a gifted young singer from Chicago, sings with Aleah Long's One World Inspirational Choir as womyn come forward to be blessed by the sacred waters of our earth. Sitting beside one of the large bowls of water is Leilani, our beloved dancing sister from Hawaii.

Picture #5 was taken soon after Mariah, a six-year old festi-virgin, had come up to me, patted my pink head with her hand, and then hugged me with great tenderness. I later met her and her mother Kelly on Monday at the Tastee Freeze in Hart as we were on our way to our respective homes. Kelly, also a Festi-virgin, was preparing to drive their RV all the way back home to Los Angeles.

In Picture #6 we see another face of Fest--that of celebrating those who have gone on before us. Our dear Precious Hoffman had died suddenly over the winter and her partner, Carol, invited those of us who had known and loved this amazing womon to gather at "Hoffman Estates", where Precious had always camped, and remember her, raise a toast of her beloved Crown Royal whiskey, and share stories of how she had touched our lives. Precious, we will never forget you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Festi-Photos #1 

Picture #1 was taken by Cheryl Pine of me dancing during Wednesday night's opening ceremony at the Main Stage. I am so grateful to her for emailing me this and three other photos she took that night. I'd say I averaged at least four hours a day of on-my-feet dancing during this festival week. Loved every minute!!!

Picture #2 is of the mostly younger womyn slam dancing to Tribe 8 at the Friday Day Stage. By the way, Sassy my scooter and I were down there in the middle of it all, feeling safe and protected thanks to Laurie, Bobbie, Marissa and a Day Stage security worker who surrounded me and kept the slammers at arm's length. This and other photos were taken that afternoon by a willing sister with a good eye.

Picture #3 is of the youngest drummer at Tuesday afternoon's Nu Traditional Afrakan Dance workshop at the Community Center with Queen and Afia Walking Tree.

Picture #4 is of our young girls showing us their stuff at the drum jam facilitated by Lori Fithian before Wednesday night's Main Stage opening ceremony and concert.

As you can see, smiles were in plentiful supply during this glorious weeklong celebration of the 30th annual Michigan Womyn's Music Festival!

WOW! What a festival! 

Can you imagine 6523 womyn and children camping/living/playing/loving together for a week on 650 acres of woods and meadows under bright sunny/gentle rainy/comfortable cloudy/bright starry skies? How I wish every womon and girl on this planet could experience such a wondrous world at least once in her life. This was my twelfth such experience and I feel like the most fortunate person alive.

I have just returned from the 30th annual Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and am full to bursting with life, energy, awe and gratitude. It was the sweetest fest of my life. Now, I realize not everyone's experience was as positive as mine, but most of the womyn I encountered seemed to agree. There was magic on the Land this year and we all helped make it happen. Of course Mother Nature did her bit and gave us perfect weather. That was pure gift.

I'd say for me the most significant theme of this 30th anniversary fest was intergenerational bridge-building. We saw it enacted on stage after stage where our womyn's music foremothers and our cutting edge young womyn rappers/punk rockers/hip-hop artists/spoken word jammers joined their voices, hearts and instruments to create something brand new, but I also experienced it personally while dancing and simply scooting around the land.

Dozens and dozens and dozens of young womyn took the time to stop and talk with me, often saying how much my online festi-journal had meant to them, how much they loved my pink hair, how much they'd enjoyed dancing with me, how they wanted to be like me when they grew up. Wow! These young women took my breath away time after time after time.

And you know something? They see right through it ALL! All Bush's lies, the media's lies, the corporations' lies, religious institution's lies, and the patriarchy's lies. They are SO THERE!!! These young people are my hope...not just for the future, but for the NOW!

I have lots more to share, including some photos, but it's going to have to wait. My computer is still not fixed and now Donte's on vacation until Monday. Sigh. But I can keep up my blog and post some pictures here. And I will. But now I'm off to the gym to work out...

Friday, August 05, 2005

So long until August 16 

As I said last night, the computer gremlins have hit again. Well, I cannot tell a lie, my problems are partly their fault and partly my own. So, in a few minutes, I'm off to take my computer into the shop, this time to stay until I return from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival on Tuesday, August 16.

If you want to read about and see photos--more than you'll EVER want to see!--of my past experiences at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, go check out the links at the bottom of my Music Festivals web page.

By the way, I do not plan to take a lot of photos this year nor will I be putting up a 2005 festi-photo journal afterwards. I want to chill out at fest instead of running around in my usual Brenda Starr-girl-reporter mode. It's time to relax. May you allow yourself to do the same.

web site gremlins 

I sure hope my web site journal readers think to come over here to my blog. Since yesterday, my web journal--on my Windchime Walker web site--has disappeared and I can't seem to get it to appear again. After three hours of trying, I'm giving it up for tonight. Tomorrow I'll call in the techies.

My day was full with a good long swim in the morning and an Arabic language tutoring session with my friend Aly in the afternoon. I also had some reading time, an aborted telephone interview with a sociology professor in Waterloo, Ontario who is conducting a study of the Raging Grannies as a social movement--her electronic equipment wouldn't work either--and my ongoing project of packing for next week's Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.

And now it's past time for a shower and bed...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

another hot day 

Is anyone else getting tired of the heat? I find my tolerance for it is growing less with each passing day. I wonder how many days we've had in the 90s since May. My guess would be somewhere around 30. Maybe I'm exaggerating but not by much.

Today it was so hot and humid that when I tried to put on my swimsuit about 6 PM, I couldn't get it on: it just stuck to my skin. I finally gave up trying and instead of going to water aerobics, I called and made a date with Ed to meet him for dinner at a local restaurant. My plan was to scoot from home while Eddie drove from his office. I hoped the wind in my face would be refreshing. It was, sort of.

Now I'm sitting in a hot muggy bedroom at 11 PM, hoping that when I lie down to sleep the window fan will find some cooler air to draw across my sticky body.

One of the ways I know I'm struggling with the heat is my tendency to let simple things get under my skin.

Today it was a friend who had gone with me and another friend to get our hair cut at Leesa's in Windsor. I'd hoped we'd follow our appointments either by joining the Windsor Women In Black at their vigil like we'd done before, or by taking a sandwich down to a beautiful park I love beside the river. But when I mentioned these options to my friends after we'd finished at Leesa's, the one woman said she needed to be back home between 1 and 2 PM. Since it was noon by then, she asked that we leave straight away. I was irritated that she'd not let me know ahead of time about her time constraints. If I'd known, I would have encouraged her to caravan behind us in her own car.

But, to be honest, this shouldn't have gotten to me as much as it did. That's where I think the heat came in. May it break soon...

Monday, August 01, 2005

some summer images 

As we enter the last real month of summer (Sob!) it's time for me to put up some more pictures. I took these yesterday and today:

A portion of a garden that we pass on our nightly walks by the lake.
A close-up of one of the flowers in that garden.
Canadian geese grazing beside the lake.
Ed trying to time his steps so the sprinkler doesn't drench him.
White lilies I saw on today's scoot down to the store.
Our young friend Holly selling lemonade with her friend Kate.
Pink clouds over the lake at twilight.

This gif is freely copyable. Just right click, save
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