Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad.

We give you a lot of credit - raising four daughters! (sister Judi pictured below)
All those hormones . . .
curling iro
ns, maxi-pads, strawberry lip gloss kisses, rebel boyfriends, rides to and from the rollerskating rink, money lending, heartbreaks and tears, marriages, grandchildren, divorces (speaking for myself only!) the list goes on!
You were a
gorgeous young man (still are gorgeous!) with black hair and baby blue eyes . . . strong and athletic - on your way to a possible career in pro baseball. An excellent golfer and bowler. You gave up your dreams (and your brand new Chevy convertible) for us at the tender young age of 20 years old.

You were a strict father (making us strong) and you expected a lot from us.
You showed us how to do everything and because of that we are extremely independent women. We can do everything from laying tile and sod . . . to changing a tire and our oil. We know the difference between a standard and a Phillips . . . and a gear or socket wrench from needle nose pliers.
Now, with mom gone, you have become our official chicken soup maker - the Polish panacea. But you still need us for pierogi.
Happy Birthday Dad. We love you. Thanks for all you have done for us, all you have sacrificed and all you have taught us.

Alexia and Grandpa at Alexia's wedding

Luke and Grandpa caught in the rain after the
graduation ceremony at Freedom Hill

Adam, Lisa, Luke, dad, Alexia, Marcie, Judi, Aunt Pam, me
on March 15 -remembering mom on what was her birthday

Dad and Aunt Pam - my mom's little sister at cousin Jon's wedding

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Anna's Russia

Ann Politkovskaya was known as "Russia's lost moral conscience."

She was born August 30, 1958. Her life was constantly being threatened. Her family pleaded with her to leave the country for her own safety. She refused to give into threats and be shadowed by a bodyguard. She was poisoned and almost died aboard a plane - on her way to Beslan to report and possibly act as negotiator during the school siege. She lived in constant danger. She was courageous. She was fearless but never reckless. She continued reporting on the plight of the Russian people under the rule of Putin. She continued to expose the human rights abuses in Chechnya of which she accused Russian security forces of the abuse. She felt it was her duty to accept the risks involved as a reporter in order to uncover and report the truth (she compared it to a doctor's duty to aid in the healing of ill patients). She authored two books: "A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya," (2001); "Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy" (2004) and had just completed her third; "A Russian Diary." Her last article, an investigation into the torture in Chechnya, was never finished. Ann Politkovskaya was murdered by a gunman while leaving her apartment on October 7, 2006. She died at the age of 48, leaving behind her son, Ilya and her daughter, Vera. She became the thirteenth journalist to be murdered in a contract style killing since Vladimir Putin came into power in 2000. She was the third murdered reporter from Moscow's Noveya Gazeta.

Colleagues at the Novaya Gazeta, published a special issue promising that "her killers will not sleep soundly." The paper also offered a one million dollar reward (£534,000) to solve her murder.

Mr Putin called the crime "horribly cruel" and stated that Russian authorities would strive to find and punish the perpetrators.

But he also played down the significance of Ms Politkovskaya's work.

"This journalist was a severe critic of the incumbent authorities in Russia; she was well known among journalists and human rights campaigners and in the West. However, her influence on the country's political life... was minimal."

At a cemetery near Moscow, hundreds of mourners waited for hours in the rain to pass her coffin and say their last goodbyes.

"I think this was meant to show what happens if you speak out against the authorities. Unfortunately, we have very few journalists like her in Russia now." a women in the crowd said.

So much for Putin's theory that Anna's influence on her country's political life was minimal.

Her last article was released unfinished. It dealt with the horrific abuses of human rights, torture and humiliation in Chechnya
by the Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. Much of the footage of two Chechens being tortured was too bloody and distressing to broadcast.

Ten suspects have just recently been arrested in connection with her murder.

An excerpt from her book, "Putin's Russia:" This massacre of the innocents did not raise a storm in Russia. Not one television station broadcast images of the five little Chechens who had been slaughtered. The Minister of Defense did not resign. He is a personal friend of Putin and is even seen as a possible successor in 2008. The Commander-in-Chief himself made no speech of condolence.

"Living streets full of dead eyes."

In one of her interviews Anna warns us: " Putin is very influenced by the Western opinion . . . So, it means that only the West now could change him, could change him from tyranny to democracy."

I sit here, safely behind my computer screen, writing about this and that and THIS. THIS makes me want to do more. THIS makes me wonder what I have done so far? THIS is more than a story to me. THIS makes me see the importance of the written word. What are my responsibilities as a human being to other human beings, to my country, to all life in general and to this planet? What if all of us took a stance for human rights. What if we would not - not ever and under any circumstances - tolerate human rights abuses . . . indignity, suffering, torture, humiliation . . . untreated illnesses, homelessness, hunger, loneliness, despair, hopelessness, sadness, ignorance, illiteracy . . . any unkindness?

Are my glasses hopelessly rose-colored or will there ever come a day?

Anna Politkovskaya was a brave human being.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Expected Disasters of the Ordinary Kind

(Updated 8-26-07 at the bottom of this post)

Don’t call these “acts of God” because God is not the One who is destroying our Earth mother.

Don’t call these “natural disasters.” Because how can anything of a destructive, catastrophic nature be looked upon as something to be expected and accepted . . . as something that is normal and ordinary?

That is, unless, we as human beings, are fundamentally stupid. That is unless we, as human beings, are merely apathetic cells that are combining in cancerous mass and killing our most vital living organ - the very much alive planet Earth - that generously and abundantly sustains our human lives, allowing us to experience the life God gave us. But, I know in my heart we are better than this. I know we can do better than this.

So, the furies of storms and tornadoes that created a path of destruction in parts of Michigan last night and the forest fires that raged in Southern Greece ending 44 human lives are all something of our doing. We are responsible for the illness of our fading planet.

I wrote about prayers of healing in my previous post . . . and I feel it necessary we come together in a collective effort and pray for the healing of our planet while actively doing what we can to stop and reverse the damage we have already done. We need vigilance, diligence and impeccability at this most critical and final hour . . . these which could be her last breaths.

The AP photo above was taken by Petros Giannakouris of an iconostasis in the Greek village of Kato Samika, about 200 miles south of Athens. An iconostasis is a small church-like building - ‘icon’ means holy image or symbol, and ‘stasis’ means a stop – as place to stop and say a prayer, to reflect, to pause on the busy path of daily life and show gratitude to God. (The walkways throughout Greece have thousands of iconostasis - each is an oasis of hope)

Please hold the healing of our living planet Earth
in your hearts and prayers

Also in the news today it was revealed that Mother Theresa struggled with her faith. Why is that so shocking? How does that come as such a surprise?

Mother Theresa was human like the rest of us. If she never had doubt, if she never felt the pains of despair and hopeless, if she lived a life without personal turmoil and strife . . . she would have not lived an honest life. She would not have been real. The fact that she had doubt - great doubt at times - and yet never gave up or gave in is the true testament to what faith, perseverance, selflessness and love can conquer.

8-26-07 UPDATE ON FIRES IN GREECE: The fires, which are now ravaging half of the country for the past three days, have ended 51 human lives and are quickly spreading - consuming
more than a mile in only three minutes - due, especially, to the strong August winds. The fires are racing toward the village of Ancient Olympia and the 2,500 year old Temple Of Apollo in Epikourios. There are hundreds of fires - all believed to be intentionally set (some people have already been detained regarding their involvement). This is a catastrophe of biblical proportions threatening to destroy most of present day Greece and her people . . . while also threatening to leave the preserved ruins of antiquity in a charred state of ruin beyond recognition.
Among the burned remains of bodies found in cars, along roads and in fields was a mother hugging her four children.
This is a news story. But for me it is also a personal story. Having lived in Greece and having friends and family living in Greece, and having walked the land that is being swallowed up by flames . . . it is a very personal story for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Moment of Healing

This very moment is about healing.

It is not an International Day of Healing, (although that is a beautiful thought) it is about this moment and taking this moment to think about ourselves and the people with whom we have come into contact with: family, friends, acquaintances, passersby, friends of friends . . . fellow bloggers (especially Jon and Maleah) . . . and sending out powerful prayers of healing.

Maybe you or someone you know (or know of) has suffered a loss . . . a death of a loved one, an illness, surgery, unhealed scars from past traumas . . . pray for healing and comfort and peace.

Take a moment
a moment right here, right now
close your eyes
inhale slowly and deeply
exhale slowly and completely
bow your head
in what way do you need to be healed?
who (in your life) needs healing?
ask God, the Universe, a Higher Power
to surround you and those people in a white light
open yourself up to the healing energy
ask for healing in specific areas
and ask to healed in any and all ways
unspecific and unknown

give thanks for your many blessings

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Day Like Today

Days like these . . . when the last roll of toilet paper can put someone over the edge...
when I miss my mom more than usual...

when the road ahead is gravel and I'm walking barefoot.

Days like these . . . when the rain won't let up...
when sushi won't do the trick...
when I know the world is flat because my toes are curled over the edge.

Days like these . . . when the knowledge I've acquired doesn't give me a better understanding...
when I can't find myself in the crowd...
when I fall like a tree and no one hears a sound.

Days like these . . . when what I thought it was is not what it is...
when I rebelliously grind the coffee a few seconds longer...
when the coffee tastes the same anyway.

Days like these . . . when my heart is still...
when my mind is racing...
when my soul is aching.

Days like today . . .
when I realize my stripes were painted on.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Groupie of the "Formerly Ofs"

We pulled into Pine Knob Amphitheater early; about 5:45 pm. (I know it's called DTE now, but only by the corporate suits - it will always be Pine Knob to all of us here in Detroit, Michigan!) Great White was headlining the concert that evening. The first band, L.A Guns, was to go on at 7:00 pm, so the parking lot was still quite empty for the most part. About sixty cars were scattered throughout the lot and coolers of beer (my guess . . . "Bud") were being unloaded and opened as eighties metal rock played from car stereo speakers. The tailgating parties were about to ensue as the mood of a decadent decade was re-created.

Debbie (my crazy rocker chick friend - Janice's incarnation) and I walked up to the "will call" window to get the tickets my friend Mike left for me.

Mike Fasano is a lead drummer from L.A. (Burbank). He played with the eighties band, Warrant. Among his many other current musical projects and band gigs, Mike is now back together and touring with some of the original Warrant band members, including lead singer Jani Lane (pictured in the above photo taken back stage after the concert. I am the 'groupie' in the shot).

Debbie and I passed through the gates, bought a couple of seven dollar beers from the Budweiser welcoming committee and walked around to enjoy the water falls and gardens. The evening was beautifully typical of Michigan summers; partly sunny and very humid with the temperature being in the high eighties - everything was in or from 'the eighties' that night (with 'high' being optional).

People watching was especially entertaining. Big hair everywhere . . . mall bangs, long rock-n-roll hair and the eighties signature look - the mullet (as it had been said: 'business in the front, party in the back!'). I was truly transported back to 1986, that was until some karaoke guy started singing a horribly flat crappioke rendition of Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock-n-Roll."
Can't someone shut him up? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease?

The crowd also consisted of many younger fans - children's arms being rocked and rolled about by their enthusiastic parents and teenage boys who are wise enough beyond their years to know rock and roll will never die.

And the outfits! I guess a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get the attention of the rock stars . . . unless the girl's lucky and has a friend in the band like me! So, that saved me some cash and a trip to Lover's Lane - I wore my worn in and dearly loved jeans and my old Harley boots. Oh, and of course a shirt. But, the rock fashion spectacular was a hoot to watch. A hoot I say!

(Below) Mike doing his thing
The L.A Guns opened the show. They really warmed us all up - but then rock and rollers are always ready for a reason to jump and scream and get all hot and sweaty.

Jani Lane and the "Formerly Ofs," (that's Mike's band) were up next. I took some great shots from the second row. Everyone that close closely eyes everyone else . . . girls sizing each other up competition style to see who will get further and farther back stage; guys looking for potential after show action with the mindset that since they are so close to the stage they themselves are rock stars to the second degree. I was so proud of Mike and so happy to see him perform with his old gang at a big venue again. This is what he does - he is an L.A. rock musician/drummer - and he loves it.

Lane, Shawn and Dario ( the boy wonder at the 'just turned' age of eighteen)

The meet and greet signing after the show

Did I feel guilty not having to stand in a long line for this hug? Hell No!

After some more beer, a few Doritos and a Twinkie backstage, (yes, that's how rock stars party! They eat Twinkies - and that folks is the real answer to how and why Rock and its Rollers will live forever - have you ever seen a molded Twinkie?) Debbie and I went side stage to catch some of Great White's act.

To see that sea of people - the packed crowd - from that angle is amazing! I could feel the energy being poured forth from all of the appreciative fans who were slowly pushing their way toward the stage as the night got later and later.

And that was my groupie experience.
A former groupie of the "Formerly Ofs."
The end
No further comment

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Sounds of the City

A couple of months ago I moved a few miles south - to Detroit. Not into a trendy lush loft or a gated community or even the historical district. I moved to a hundred year old brick home on an average street in the city limits.

The few streets south of me are well maintained and semi-protected by a neighborhood watch. Day lilies grow tall in front of beautiful old brick homes. Cars are off the streets and neatly parked in driveways or garages. Children play on mowed lawns under a parent's watchful eye.

The few streets north of me are the ones that come to mind when one hears the words; the hood, the ghetto, or 'Detroit city' for that matter. Broken appliances and ripped up couches perpetually wait at curb-sides with other garbage to be cleaned up at the next big trash pickup. Abandoned vehicles, some resting on a pile of bricks where the wheel once was, line the streets leaving only enough room for one car to pass one way. Vacant, burned houses are left to rot, adding to the city's decay. They are welcome invitations to un-welcomed disaster in an already fragile community. Stray dogs wander between houses sniffing for food (when they are not left dead in the road for days) and skinny stray cats dart back and forth between cars. Young children walk around looking for something to do as if none of this harsh reality exists in their eyes (probably because it's all they know) while crack heads, prostitutes and drug dealers go about their daily routines. The other day I saw the Detroit Police Gang Squad down that way making an arrest. Things I never really saw before or cared to know about while I lived in my comfy yuppie town just a few miles north.

I have learned to decipher the difference between the sounds of firecrackers and shotguns. Yes, the sounds of shot guns are real, and within my earshot.
"Those were bullets." I can now say, proud that I am correct.

The kids play basketball on my street. They ride their bikes and try to keep busy during the lazy, mundane summer days. There are no beautiful parks or community pools. Occasionally, the neighborhood kids might hop a fence to play in the yard of the empty house for sale across the street. My next door neighbor owned that home but the taxes got too high for him to be able to keep. Pity, uh, the city needs people to buy these homes and maintain them, but the taxes are so high for the little or complete lack of services that the residents receive here. Suburbanites don't want to trade their comfort, safety and taxpaying services for what exists behind door number 313. (Detroit's area code for those of you unfamiliar with the "three-one-three.") Gone are the days of pizza delivery for me, but the ice cream trucks do come by frequently. They add their musical twangs to the woofers and tweeters and the heavy bass of hip hop that beat and vibrate through the rivers of cement - the city's pulse.

The other night my white cat, Thea, got out as I let my Golden Retriever, Emmy, in. My son, Luke and I ran around the street for almost twenty minutes trying to catch her. She is used to being outdoors, but I have not let her out since we moved to Detroit; for safety reasons. Here I am, no shoes running with a can of cat food to try to bribe her or trap her. I was on a mission and I didn't feel like I was in harm's way by frantically running barefoot down my street and between my neighbor's houses. The street lights were on and some of the kids were still out playing ball. Some neighbors were sitting on their stoops - I can finally use the word 'stoop.' Love that word! Needless to say, we finally captured her. But not before I smashed my hand into the brick of a neighbor's home in the process of grabbing her. It took two of us to bring her squirming body and meowing mouth home safely. Those were the sounds of city two nights ago.

Last night, the sounds of the city had a different beat in mind for me. No, not the normal fire truck sirens, helicopters scouring the neighborhood, loud car radios, or even gun shots . . . the sounds of downtown called me out this time.

My friend, Dennis Archer Jr. hosted a party at Coach Insignia on the 71rst floor of Marriott Hotel in the Renaissance Center. I almost did not go. I have become (too) comfortable in my semi-reclusive present state (sitting in pajamas in front my computer, reading, writing or just staring at wordless pages on a blank screen) and I did not want to venture out, especially to a city gala, alone. I changed my mind (due to some external urging and internal dialog).

I showered, did the hair and makeup routine, got dressed up and left my cave. I wanted to support my friend in his efforts to shine a positive light on Detroit by planning and hosting these trendy city events as well as publishing the very glossy and beautiful Ambassador Magazine. I have to say, I am so happy I went.

The 180 degree view of the city's lights, the Detroit River and Windsor (Canada) from the 71rst floor was spectacular. I almost forgot how wonderful it is to be out with the beautiful people at the 'who's who' events. The ambiance of the party was lovely . . . dimly lit with candles . . . giving us, the guests, the illusion of looking like the Ambassador cover models who were moving around as objects of art. And Michael Jackson's "Rock With Me," among other dance tunes, gave more rhythm to the night and inspired the statuesque goddesses to dance upon their thrones.
After a couple of hours, a glass of Chardonnay and a few hors d'oeuvres, I slipped out quietly and unnoticed. I could not remember the exact time my cocktail dress would change back to my writing pajamas - and to my horror. So, those were the sounds of the city last night.

Tonight, I may meander down to the end of my street and join the hippies - as we call them - in their weekly drum circle and bonfire. Dr. Bob's holistic Center for the Healing Arts and
vegetarian 'Innate Cafe' add an eclectic charm and much positive energy to our block. That good energy radiates outward, I'm sure, sending a vibe of peace to the surrounding communities of Detroit. Tonight, the beat of the drums will be among the sounds heard. I love the many sounds of this city.

Now, I must go and water my flowers and feed the birds - the Cardinals are calling me out. As my son, Adam, said to me when I moved here; "So, you're bringing a little positive energy to the city, uh, mom?"

Well, all I can say is that I am taking care of my little corner of the world - and God knows that this corner can use the TLC.

And yes, my flower garden has brought a few more butterflies and birds around here. They don't care what city they live in and they have no prejudices or opinions . . . a flower is a flower and a gardener is a gardener.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sometimes life . . .

"Mom . . . Steve died"

The middle-of-the-night voice on the other end of the phone; my daughter.

I didn't quite understand.

"What? Steve who?"
"My Steve!"

Her Steve, Nathan's daddy, my son-in-law.

Steve died while sleeping in his brother's chair. The irony of it: his brother lives in their childhood home - the same house Steve and his twin brother, Robert were brought home from the hospital as newborns . . . and the very same house that his twin brother died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) . . . in his sleep. Steve never let go of his connection with his twin brother. Their bond was mysteriously strong. I feel in my heart that Steve never felt deserving of life - a life he felt Robert was robbed of as an infant.

I will always remember Steve's kind and generous heart, his infectious smile, his love of music and cooking and animals (especially his dog Zeus who died some years before) and his love of sleep! Like Nathan said, "At least daddy is doing what he loved to do - sleep!" Though he so enjoyed spending time with his friends - and he had many - he also valued his moments of quietness, solitude and contemplation. I will miss his big, warm hugs, the way he said, "I love you, mom," and the loving dinners he cooked for me. I miss Steve.

I have so much I want to say, but the words just won't release themselves from the tight grip of my heart.

Steven Michael Smith died on June 9, 2007 . . . at the age of Christ; thirty-three.
This past Friday, August 10, 2007 would have been his thirty-fourth birthday.

Sometimes life . . . insert sentiments here

The Wall

writer's block

writer 's block

w r i t e r ' s b l o c k

w r i t e r ' s b l o c k

w r i t e r ' s b l o c k

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Family Tree - When the leaves fall and all that's left is a song

One of my oldest proven ancestors on my maternal grandfather's side was a man by the name of Stefan Nicolaides (which means 'sons of the victory people' in Greek). He was born in 1743, possibly in Hungary and moved to Kameral Ellgoth, Austria in 1782. There, he became the first Lutheran pastor and founded a chapel - which was later enlarged to a church - and wrote the church's parish history. He also built a parsonage (in essence, his home), a house for the sexton and a school. After serving as pastor for twenty-six years, he died at the age of sixty-five in 1808.

Stefan's eldest child, a son, Karl Josef (born in 1780) married a (polish?) girl, Sophia Kordiak and they had three children: Rosa (November 10, 1808), Henry (June 13, 1813) and Alexander (October 22, 1815).

Many letters were written by Sophia to (her son) Henry and by Rosa to (her brother) Henry. They were kept by Henry, preserved by his son, William, then translated from Gothic German to English around 1967.

The following is a letter that was written by Rosa (Mrs. Thomas Wodiczkal) to Henry on October 17 in 184? (Due to historical time lines the year was probably sometime between 1852 -1855). Rosa had received word that Henry left the army (due to illness) and emigrated to America with his new wife, Maria Josepha Tacchini (whom he met while stationed in Milan, Italy).

(The original letter)

Dear good brother,

I feared you were dead! I can only expect death, which seems to follow me. I am so lost, with my poor children.

You know we were in Pest (Budapest) during the Revolution (Began early 1848-1849 - Russia joined with Austria to crush the Hungarians). My dear unforgettable husband described the whole Revolution to you. After that we were transferred back to Gross Karuly. My husband became an official then we were happy, knowing life would be better for us. But suddenly my husband got an acute inflammation of the bowels. After a day and a half he passed away despite all the efforts made to save his life. I buried him four years ago, in July.

I wrote you three letters but never received an answer. After that I wrote to Mr. Killia. He wrote that I should write to you and send it to him; he would try to forward it to you. He also wrote that you are well off and also healthy.

I've had a very hard time with my poor children. Winter will soon be here and I don't have suitable clothing for them. I, alone, cannot make enough money for all of us. Everything is very expensive here; a loaf of bread costs four gulden, a basket of fruit - thirty florins, corn - twenty florins, one egg - four xr (coins), one pound of butter - twenty-four grapfin.

You can well imagine my position after the death of my dear husband. No money and no bread. I was very ill and too weak to walk. I wrote to Trempfin, to Wagner and Langa asking for help, and also my husband's mother and brothers. No one answered.

If only I could send my Emerich (Rosa's son Henry) to you. He could help you on the farm, and he would love to come. I want to send him now to learn a trade. Ludwig and Karl (Rosa's other sons) are still in school. They will have a hard time this winter because they have no winter clothing.

Day before yesterday my employer called for me, saying he had very pleasant news for me, and he gave me a letter from Wagner in Pest (Budapest).

Dear brother, if we could walk over the wide ocean to you, we would do so. I feel I could die easier if only I could see you again. We haven't seen each other for such a very long time; it hurts me for us to be so very far apart. I would love to talk with you and also to complain about my problems. are you truly happy in America, dear brother? Wagner writes that you are homesick for your homeland. Farewell, dear brother, and many greetings to you all. We kiss you many times. Truly yours,


I await your answer with great longing.
I send many kisses, write soon.

I don't know what happened to Rosa after that . . . Henry and his wife landed in New York (in 1846). Their first child, a daughter, Sophia Eugenia died in New York in 1847. They moved to New Jersey, then to Pennsylvania where William (1848), then Henry (1849) were born. They left Pittsburgh, traveled down the Ohio River to Mississippi, then down the Arkansas River to Little Rock where they settled in Pulaski County, Arkansas. They remained there during the Civil War - while Arkansas was under martial law. All of Little Rock became a military base camp; with a huge hospital and a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. The territory was swept by raiders, supply scouts, guerrilla forces and troops of both sides. Banks became unsafe, stagecoaches ceased and private transportation did not exist. Ex-guerrillas became bandits and Indians reverted to savagery. The southern people were starving - Living in Little Rock became very expensive. Sometimes supper was a corn pone, carefully divided to give each a share. Life in the America suddenly became very difficult.

The Nicolaides family eventually settled down on farm in Caney Creek, Union County, Illinois where Henry (pitured below) died on December 28, 1879.

And just when I thought my life had become difficult!

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Coffee Scenes Get the Red Ink

Aaaaaaaaaand - ACTION . . . then exhale, then inhale . . . write it all, damn it . . . or simply don't think it and definitely don't live it.

If life is book, and we're penning our stories as we go along, then I need to focus more on my plot. If life is not a book, but a path we have chosen to follow, then I need to take a closer look at my current path's direction. If life is not a path, but a classroom on this planet, then I need to rethink this semester's study agenda.

But, back to the 'life is a book' metaphor. . . since we're writers here. Jon's latest post got me thinking, about story-lines and how they either contribute to the plot or they don't - and in a good story, should everything contribute to the plot. And if so, what choices might I make differently - what scenes would I edit out or omit altogether?

So, I thought about my plot; it's been all over the place for a while now. Then, I thought about the action scenes in my story and how I always thought action scenes where pretty much above editing . . . the more action the better the story . . . and how I seem to treat the little nuances in my story with disregard and red pens.

"Ah, she breathed too long, boring, take it out . . . and that cup of organic, shade-grown, fairly traded coffee, she nurses it far too long . . . no one cares about that . . . she's just sitting there drinking that damn cup of coffee when she isn't out watering her garden or peeling potatoes for dinner or talking to her father on the phone or brushing her Golden Retriever or sweeping up dust bunnies."

just some simple, quiet thoughts. nothing action-packed. nothing edited out or spell-checked or corrected for punctuation and grammar. just a
perfect moment inside my imperfect story. you are now part of that story . . . part of my plot for today.

Thanks for reading these paragraphs.

But, then again . . . what if we don't have to take responsibility for our lives at all? Just blame it on the Fates, the God's, the exes, the person who took your parking spot, your parents, school, the fact that you ran out of ink at the good part.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Follow The Rabbit-Proof Fence - And Another Landmark To Follow

For nine weeks and 1,500 miles, three young Aboriginal Australian girls followed a rabbit-proof fence (originally constructed to prevent rabbit infestation) to route their return home to Jigalong. In 1931, the girls were removed from their parents and taken to the Moore River Native Settlement, as part of the Stolen Generation. (From 1915 to 1969 the Australian Government made Aboriginal children wards of the State, denying all parental rights and sending the children to Internment Camps and orphanages where many were adopted out to white families.)

In 1996, Doris Pilkington Garimara, the daughter one of the three girls, Molly Craig, wrote a book about her mother's ordeal; "Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence." The 2002 film directed by Phillip Noyce, "Rabbit-Proof Fence," is based on that book. The film, visually stunning, presents a story of courage, perseverance and love in a quietly powerful way - without unnecessary dialog, overwhelming despair or tearful manipulations. It is one of my favorite movies.


So, what brought all of this on - talking about a movie that is five years old - the good news that came over the BBC yesterday: Bruce Trevorrow, a fifty-year-old Aboriginal man who was taken from his family as a baby was awarded A$525,000 compensation, a judgment delivered by Justice Thomas Gray in the landmark case. The Supreme Court of South Australia found that Mr. Trevorrow was treated unlawfully when taken from his family in 1958 and put into foster care with a white family. Justice Gray established that the taking of a child from his or her family in these such circumstances was indicative of wrongful imprisonment. This is the first time that a child from the "Stolen Generation" has been recognized as having been unlawfully imprisoned due to the Australian Government assimilation policies from 1915-1969.

"I thought that we would never get there," Bruce Trevorrow said. "But the day's come when I've got the peace of mind to start my life." The judgment alone took eighteen months to be delivered.

Although, outside of the court, Mr Trevorrow also said it was not possible to put a dollar value on the pain he had endured.

For more information on the movie: Rabbit-Proof Fence
For more on Australia's Aboriginal People and The Stolen Generation

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Things We Leave Behind

Last summer,

while walking

along the shore
of Lake Michigan,

I came upon a gifted sight;
a face carved in the sand.
I thought it was rather spectacular.
So simple and so mysteriously complex at the same time.
Kind of artsy.
Kind of philosophical.
The tininess of each grain of its sand.
The vulnerability of its form.
The certainty of its ruin.
And yet, it was lovely and unaffected.
The ideal way to be.
No name attached.
No credit to be taken.
Nothing sought in return . . .
The pleasure of its moment
for both its creator
and its immediate contacts.
It was really a footprint . . . something left behind.
Something beautiful and unselfish.
Something generous.
Something much more significant than the empty bottle of water left behind by someone else just a few yards up.

After reading Jon's beautifully expressed comment, I edited this post to include his words. He is a brilliant thinker and writer. Please visit Jon Zech's blog.
It's a sacrifice of sorts, this sculpture and this post. But there is something more. Your photo and poetic tribute has saved the sandman from destruction; like taking a flower from an alter and pressing it in a book. Is the flower saved or the sacrifice denied?

Both and neither. The sacrifice is completed with its giving. The salvation is completed when the object is raised above its token existence.