Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saturday June 4 in Michigan

Fun weekend in Michigan this Saturday, June 4. The South Lyon Kite Festival is on from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stories About Turtle Island in Lansing at Everybody Reads Bookstore starts at 1 p.m. Lapeer Celebrates the Arts is going on starting Friday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 5th. Enjoy Completely Oblivious at 2:00 p.m. in Lapeer. Motor City Pride Festival rocks at Hart Plaza in Detroit Saturday and Sunday. Get out of the house and have some music, storytelling, company and good food this weekend in Michigan!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hysteria, Presence, Early Morning and a Heron

Awake at 4:42 is never a good plan. Unless you're packing for a vacation to the Italian Riveria, Lanzarote or, heck, anywhere. But I'm not. I'm just awake before light. Awake before light is not good for reading the news either. Today there's a book review on npr of Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth Century Paris. I bookmarked it for some other day, in folder Women because I don't have a WTF folder. J-M Charcot (what is it with French weirdness this month?) took photographs of, and drew, his patients in Saltpetriere Hospital in the 1870s. The excerpt heightens the macabre combination of mentally ill (or warehoused) women patients as art subjects and public sideshow exhibits; and a PhD in French literature wanting to write about this to put her work in context, and then lumping fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a bundle of other maladies in modern day hysteria equivalency status. I'm too tired to sort that stuff out, so here it is and I unbookmarked the review. I also made a WTF folder. Then an article about Presence Approach to caregiving dementia. Ah, geez. After I've done three loads of laundry, scrubbed upholstery, grocery shopped, prepared and served meals, cleaned, chauffeured, problem solved, searched for missing items, created the art due, all on 4 hours of sleep, I can form and train a Mindfulness Support Group to help me cope. Okay. Right after I....zzzzzzzz. The trick to living in the now is to actually have some now you're present in to live. This walking diary drawing is the now moment from this week. I was pretending I can identify birds at a distance by flight pattern. That's a goose. No, seagull. It squawked at me. Crow. That's a crow. No, seagull. It swung in a wide arc and flew directly overhead. Profile glimpse of the S'ed neck. A heron. A beautiful heron. I watched it until it flew out of sight, wings flapping like an Olympic rower. That heron is now the facilitator of my mindfulness support group.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Three Story Life: VA Visit

Up at 0 dark thirty for the six month VA appointment. I haven't met Dad's new doctor, and once a year it's helpful to find out what the doctor is being told and not. Fact checking is a brilliant caregiver strategy I forget regularly. Every year it gets harder to tell the WWII veterans from the Vietnam veterans. The hats help. I got Dad a hat with his ship name, and Bikini Atoll on it, and it gets attention when he wears it, which is often. He was in the Marshall Islands for the A-bomb drop, his LST moved people and animals off Bikini to Majuro. He's one of few atomic veterans still alive. His doctor is very nice, she's a good listener, and I got to ask questions that Dad might not ask. There was a man in one of the waiting areas who had blood drawn and was probably on blood thinners as he dripped on his jacket, and had to get a new wad of gauze. Not as many younger veterans there today as the last time. After the hats for war identification - I noticed footwear. The WWII vets had on dress shoes or sneakers: the Vietnam era veterans had either cowboy boots, work boots or bigger work boots. God bless them every one! Brother Scott and I got to talk together, hold hands and decide we wanted kielbasa for dinner. Note: the glowy uniform - so maybe my childhood memory of a heroic aura is not so imaginary.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Turtle Island Stories

Everybody Reads Bookstore will be the setting on Saturday, June 4, for an open mic afternoon of sharing stories, music and good company to celebrate the land and ancestors of North America. Melissa Dey Hasbrook will share poetry from her soon-to-be book "Circle...Home." Barb Barton, songmaker will perform and storytell about how hummingbird came to appear on the logo of the Central Michigan Wild Rice Camp. I will tell of my meeting with painted turtle and the power and magic of nature. Please join us and share your stories and self.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Three Story Life: The Golf Ball

Doing dishes (which I don't like) at 10 p.m. (which I don't like even more) and so I'm daydreaming with the stuff on the windowsill in the background, and I spy the golf ball. It's a Slazenger with a date on it and it's parked in an egg cup on the sill. October 27, 1996, Dad got a hole in one. That same day I got diagnosed with cancer. He likes the ball there, it's a good memory. When he notices it, he flips the date to the front. I have different feelings about that day, so when I'm dawdling doing dishes, and freak out when I see the date, I roll it back. And I smile. I hope he does, too when he turns it around again.

End Colonial Imperial Behavior

Rebecca Solnit posted a brilliant analogy comparing the DS-Kahn assault to the assault of colonial Europe on the globe. Her name was Africa, his was France. Her name was Asia, his name was Europe. His name is IMF: her name is every underdeveloped country in the world. We are living to see this change - slowly, painfully - and to reverse the evolution of colonial and imperial behaviors in the world, by countries and individuals. We've seen the results of the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, and we'll see the aftereffects of the repeat in April, 2011. Bretton Woods gave power to American financial corporations; look at the speakers at April's conference and estimate the new thinking that appeared. The conference even went back to the same hotel. Power over must go. Dominance is not domination. Thank you, Rebecca Solnit for showing us succinctly.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sex Positive Feminism

Confuse me once and it's my deal. Confuse me twice, and it's gobbledygook. Just short of balderdash. I don't know if sex positive labeling is bad for feminism (the idiotic nomenclature aside) but the comments on this article are interesting. With DS Kahn in the news, exercising his egotistical right to wield his penis, and some French media dismissing the whole horrible scene with "nobody died, did they?" I revisited the discussion in light of this ghastly behavior. I like sex as much as any humanoid, if I remember accurately how it goes. That's no one's business but mine. I do not define myself by my preferences, predilections or specific body parts. I insist that everyone stay the hell away from those body parts unless and until I invite sharing. That's it. No means no. Violence is violence. Forced sex is not sex; it's rape. Fondling without permission is assault. Class distinction has not one damn thing to do with whether a woman can be violated. French women bloggers have gone ziggity boom on the troussage de domestique Jean-Francois Kahn comment. Wearing a boa, high heels, make-up and a gravity-defying brassiere is not an invitation to attack. Neither is working as a maid in a hotel. But calling myself slut, bitch or any other demeaning label does not elevate my equality. I'm equal already. And I say when, I say how, I select wardrobe. Sexual cojoining is not a right bestowed on men, against the will of any other sentient being who happens to be in the vicinity of a predator. Voila. I am no longer confused. Whew.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Noir and Not Noir

Film noir is dark cinema. Name it retro noir, neo noir, if it's a black-mooded motion picture, it's film noir. The story is menacing, cinematography threatening, score spooky and dense, the plot edgy, the men vulnerable and the women tough. Everyone is suspect, and fate hangs around with its scythe gleaming under the streetlamps. Crime lurks in doorways. If the law shows, they're day players. It will rain. At night. Smoking cigarettes may be involved. The someone killed might be the leading man or woman and it could be ugly. The phrase itself gets film critics, buffs and everybody slightly interested pretty huffy. What film noir is and isn't has not cleared up for me by reading a fistful of books and articles about it. Misogynistic gets slapped around, and that's confusing because I don't like misogynistic and I like film noir. I read an article waiting in a doctor's office years ago. It was about women in 40s movies. In the 30s, women could be successful, interesting, beautiful and smart. In the 40s they could be all of that, but they also had to be dead. Poor Laura spends most of her movie dead. But dead isn't misogynistic all by its onesies. Brigid O'Shaughnessy takes the rap in The Maltese Falcon, but she killed the guy, didn't she? The article I cannot find used the phrase malefic grandeur. I enjoy high contrast dark cinematography (Batman Begins), barely lit cinematography (The Third Man, Se7en), sharp story, twisty plot devices and juicy roles for women. I think dark comedies like In Bruges and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang fit the noir flick realm, too. And I would like to see more film noir, more neo, retro, [your choice here]. Brilliant story, creative art direction, shimmering performances; light on the gore, please. Get Bob Belden to compose the score.

Stories About Turtle Island

Saturday, June 4 at Everybody Reads Bookstore in Lansing beginning at 1:00 p.m., Stories About Turtle Island is a free storytelling and music event celebrating homegrown stories of North America - also called Turtle Island. Melissa Dey Hasbrook will tribute her ancestors and the land: the inspirations for her new book Circle...Home. Wildcrafter/musician/biologist Barb Barton will tell how hummingbird came to be in the logo of the Central Michigan Wild Rice Camp. She'll songify, too. Prelisten to her music at Reverbnation. I'll tell the story of my recent encounter with painted turtle while illustrating Circle...Home. Please come share your stories, laughter and spirit. An open mic will be inviting you to storytell, sing or just be a part of the lore and the magic.

I'm Like Whatever

Feet immersed in the next spa over, a woman who works at a university law school as job liaison talked of recent graduates who cannot successfully interview. With great credentials, good references, the new lawyers don't know how to talk with future employers. They cannot handle face to face business conversation. What to do? Who is supposed to teach these skills? Academics don't have it in the syllabi. If a curriculum is offered, in what school does it belong? Is it required or elective? There's no money to hire interpersonal tutors. Whose job is it anyway? I listen to the young people in my world, and regularly don't understand what's said. I love them, so occasionally I demand clarity. And speed control. I'm like whatever doesn't cut it. How did you feel about that? Did you make your position known? Namecalling on facebook is not the same as communicating. Texting is the new language. Their peers get it, but others in their orbit might not. A mentor will help them at many crossroads on the journey, and I hope it's not a long walk to realization. It's intriquing also that people older than 21 are adopting the distancing use of language and image. Photos are becoming obsolete - avatars are supposed to be representational. Have you noticed photographs cropped oddly? Eyes only, maybe with sunglasses. I drew myself as avatar, because I'm a drawer. I've drawn avatars for friends, too: we are all new to the age of having your stuff all out there. I wonder what else this depersonalizing might mean though? How are we defining ourselves? Am I my cat, my favorite sports team, my grandchildren, my car? Who are we?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Michigan Finnish Sauna Memories

My matriarchal ancestors are Finnish. Great-grandmother Mariah Matilda came from Finland with her four children. The women lived on Drummond Island in a house we still enjoy. The Kemppainens across the road had a sauna, and on Friday nights, baths were enjoyed in order of who could stand what heat level. Older women first, small children with their mothers, couples next, bachelors last. Mariah liked her sauna hot. She sat on the top bench with my grandmother and slapped herself with birch branches while my mother washed us. I can still hear the hiss of water poured on the stones again and again as my great-grandmother raised the temperature. I remember scrunching as close to the floor as possible with a cold washcloth over my face, wondering if I'd live long enough to run outside and watch the steam fly off my body, struggling to endure the heat longer than my brothers. All the women had baskets or wooden carryalls with their sauna supplies. I loved the smell of the sauna; the hot rocks with wood fired underneath, handmade soap, the steaming cedar walls and benches. The easy laughter. My mom opened the sauna door when I was an adult, and snapped a picture of me that looks like this Painometalli plaque from the 50s that hangs in our bathroom. Aunt Suoma got her mother and sister Saima an addition on the Drummond house that includes a sauna almost as big as the living room so the ladies wouldn't have to walk across the road to bathe. At South Lyon Farmers Market, I bought an exfoliating soap sack and a bar of sumptuous soap made by Cellar Door Soap Company, and today when I picked up the mitt, I smelled the childhood sauna of long ago, heard the women's laughter and felt the exuberant joy of carefree community with my family.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

E. M. Spairow Screenplay Wins Waterfront Film Festival

Congratulations to E. M. Spairow, screenwriter, for selection as the 2011 Waterfront Film Festival XIII screenplay contest winner for Manifest. Spairow, a Michigan native, graduate of American Film Institute, former Eastern Michigan University teacher, and MI journalist, will be back to Michigan from California for the indie film festival June 9-12 in Saugatuck, Michigan. Named by the Chicago Sun Times as one of the top 10 really cool things to do, this year promises to have even more homegrown excitement! Passes are on sale NOW. You'll want to find accommodations right now, too. Celebrate Michigan, celebrate film and celebrate fantastic writers!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another Me Ago

I drew these pictures about 5 years ago. At the time, I thought I’d lost a whole swath of ground in the life I was wading through. I missed my briefcase, big paycheck, expensive haircut, snazzy shoes (all 96 pair), long eyelashes and my manicured nails. I hated that I was now a frump of a primary caregiver for my aging father, my brother with Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease; with no prospects beyond laundry, dishes, cooking and chauffeuring, living in the basement like the crazy aunt I was about to become.

Just now I feel differently. The sleek woman in the Bicci suit, Evan Picone silk blouse and three-toned snakeskin heels was a construct; an automaton who was wound daily by external ciphers. Bosses, significant or unworthy others, ersatz friends, acquaintances, all turned the crank that caused me to speak, act, dress, perform. I could be bought for a company car and an expense account. I drank too much because that’s what the boys did and I wanted to fit. I gave my personal power away with every move I made.

Look at that after me! I am fully engaged in the moment. I am cavorting (er, standing) in harmony with nature in a blizzard, swearing my ass off, with my father’s unlaced boots on, my pajama bottoms, no makeup, and a surly yapping dog who may or may not be French. Now I see me truly. My eyes are open. I’ve got laundry in the dryer, my soup stock cooling on the back porch. I am writing, which I love. Scott is latching his hook rug I started for him, which he loves. Dad has golf that he loves on TV and a chai latte in his hand, and excuse me a moment, my buzzer just went off. I have to go take the cake out of the oven.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Living in the Now

Aware of my reptile brain staging a coup d'etat, I remembered to relax. I was hungry and found a pear. I love pears - the shape, color, the subtle fragrance, the singular texture. Draped from the ceiling tiles in my bathroom sanctuary is a holiday garland from years ago; the paint is peeling off the pears hanging from the vine. The walls are painted with my favorite riverbank plants. Jewelweed, Chicory, Queen Anne's Lace, Crown Vetch, wild Bergamot, Trillium, Bird's-foot Trefoil, tall waving grasses. The floor is a painted river. I shut off my computer and ate my pear. I drew the pear. And I write about the experience here. Joy is living in the now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hydrofrac Michigan

Not enough to float nuclear materials in the Great Lakes, dig a deep geological radioactive repository on Lake Huron, cut EPA funding and jurisdiction, let's hydraulic fracture in our backyard some more. We've all seen the video of a homeowner setting his tap water on fire. Wouldn't that be fun to do, too? The mild-mannered folks have their websites. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council maybe hasn't seen the video. Cheryl Davisson Gracie, CPA and lawyer, has LLC'ed herself into the conversation with Hydrofracking Michigan LLC. I cannot tell if she's for or against. Dow gets a pass for developing better toxins. Here are facts you need to know, and a pdf map of current and future sites. The frac sites operating in Michigan have used 5 million gallons of water so far, and buried the polluted results in Michigan ground. So what! We've got plenty. Meanwhile, if you've already made up your mind, don't want to bathe in toxified tapwater and watch our Great Lakes watershed go up in a poof of combustible materials, the Ban Hydrofracking folks are out there. Friends of the Jordan River is an excellent spot to start.

Symbology and Iconography

Could it be this simple? We've been talking about consciousness, awareness, changing the energy, serving the highest good and balancing ourselves in harmony with earth. We're quoting Einstein: "You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew." Change the language, change the outcome. If I don't understand you, I will not find meaning if you use the same words louder. Show me in a different way. Seek to make the connection between me and you and all. Humans learn with symbols. Symbols instill beliefs and shape social dynamics. We can change a few things with renewed iconography of community, of oneness. Think + rather than -. So we begin. (;>)

How Do We Learn?

I was interested in how I don't learn, why I am having difficulty absorbing new information, and am forgetting knowledge I had. Or used to know I had. And I have radiating pain. I am learning what this may mean, but I do not understand it yet. Is the pain in my brain? Blockage, dis-ease, stress. So I'm awake, confused and in pain. How do I understand what to do? What's my plan? Go back to bed is a choice. Read is a choice. Find out what I can take control of is a plan. Take a walk is a plan, but it's raining. I chose the Great Gadgety Google. "How do we learn." And I took a test (I love tests) and found that I am scattered in how I learn. Metacognition (learning to learn) showed up. Make a plan. Step 1 - how did I used to learn? Copy/paste. I memorized everything. Except music. Whatever worked then still works today as it tested as my likeliest method to gain knowledge. Close to it is Linguistic, and Body/Kinesthetic. I'll ask my teaching/learning friends what these mean. Does Linguistic mean I learn by talking, or learn by listening? Or both? How do I train my aging brain? Step 4 is to abandon paths that do not lead to success. I will never be a brain expert; don't want to, so I can move along! Feel free to pursue this knowledge further. I'm going to take a walk in the rain. Maybe I'll learn something new.

Consciousness and Conscious Awareness

Everything everywhere vibrates. Different amplitudes, frequencies make the universe go 'round. What causes pain and confusion for me is fighting the vibrations. If I resist - life, change, awareness, growth, joy, now - I will have trouble on all experience planes in all dimensions. My brain will get cloudy and tight. My body will hurt. Rookie believers like me are fortunate to have wonderful people sources to help us, and the Great Gadgety Google to find them. My beautiful friends help, and share other connections to learn more. We ask each other questions, and I'm finding I absorb much more by sharing. I found this article by Bill Harris about brainwaves and evolution. Meditation is a new experience and I'm learning from my wonderful neighbor Marilyn, how to relax into the now. And learning to live in the now with gratitude.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What Else I Like About Being Older

I'm a slow learner, so it's an advantage to be headed for elderdom. Each decade had its own idiocy, like any other life, also 10 year spans of richness I can reflect on at leisure now. Reverend Lorna Brown told us that each experience, tragic or less than, is a lesson we'll need. We don't always feel the lesson. We wail, fret, holler why me, quote Dorothy Parker what fresh hell is this?, but reflecting on how you just pulled another rabbit out of your hat at a given moment now, you can see the script on the movie screen of your mind. 10 years was behind me when I grasped that change is to be desired, not hated. 20 years went by before I realized that not freaking out was now a lifestyle. 30 years on I knew that living based on what everyone and everything else wanted of me was not a good way to live. 40 years of struggling on my own sent me to find professional help in turning my life around. 50 years experience figured out my dad is sad and cannot know how to be happy, so being happy myself is a nice example. 60 years went whizzing by before I understood that not everything in the universe happens just to me. And even if I don't look at all like this silhouette, I can still draw that lovely figure, with her pearls and cigarette holder and I didn't have to buy the pearls, the dress or the cigarette. Life is gooder being older.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Drug Shortages

I can't get my prescription filled. This is a small headache in my world, but drug shortages could be critical in the world overall. The pharmacist said there is none of my medication available, manufacturing back-ordered, and if the past carries into the present, when the medication is available again it will be more money - as much as 10X higher. Generics that have been on the market for a while aren't cost-effective. But some of the medications shown here are cancer drugs that are critical. Consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry is cited as one of the issues by Health & Hospitals Network. Pharmaceutical companies blaming "unexpected demand" is subterfuge, especially in the case of chemotherapy drugs. What's the FDA doing? Asking people to report shortages. Nice. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation to help the FDA by requiring drug companies to report manufacturing closures, shortages in ingredient acquisition. There are ancillary issues with shortages, including money and time wasted finding alternatives, and medical errors made in substituting. Meanwhile, I could take my dad's medication, except that it hasn't been adequately tested on women.

Media Ad Buys: What Audience Has the Money?

"Put Millennials First," a PR piece, is NDN's push to get young people to engage politically. That's a good thing. Doing this by hammering supposedly anti-young media outlets about broadcast ad buys is not. Hais and Winograd lead with the statistic that Millennials have 11% more buying power than Boomers did in the 1960s and 70s. So what? my millennial familials would ask. The writers cite research/consulting firms; one whose initiative brought Millennials to the attention of broadcast media, estimates people born between 1982 and 2003 make up 27% of the population. Table 7 U.S. Census shows 307,007 (in thousands) total population. 88,880 are between 8 and 29, so it's actually 28.95%. The authors save their damning comments for a CNN survey that had a questionable 10% of respondents under 34. I need to see CNN's viewer statistics, but I'm betting 8-29 year olds aren't watching CNN period, and would it matter if they were? OurTime president swings another balloon hammer at CNN. A little book "How to Lie with Statistics" by Darrell Huff, written in 1954 still applies now. More than is a great advertising gimmick. More than/less than is meaningless. Americans 18-34 years are not Americans born between 1982-2003, and therefore not Millennials as defined by the reporters. Americans 18-34 representing more than 30% of people over 18 is statistically insignificant in their argument, and a lie. The number is 21%. The other naked emperor in the room is that chances are outstanding that Millennials are not spending their own money. They are spending mom and dad and grandpa and grandma's money. Statistically, and with real buying power, this is the group to write ads for, to attract, to jump up and down on statistics about.