Thursday, April 25, 2013
She trained Barleycorn to be her service dog and one would never have
known the dog's history from the way she blossomed and took care of
When Barleycorn died, Inga, a strong, proud and stubborn woman, stopped coming to the dog park and, last I heard, broke off contact with most of her dog park friends.
Today, I stopped by the park late morning, and recognized Inga's car,
thanks to the "Well-behaved women seldom make history" bumper
sticker. (Did I mention I like and respect this woman?)
She was just coming up the walk, reaching for every breath and accompanied by Daniel, a black and tan, 5 month old GSD pup. He gave me a shy kiss, but made it clear that Inga is his charge and his person.
Daniel has big feet to fill, following after Barleycorn, but he is doing
his very best. The cycle of woman and dog being very good for each
other begins again.
*names changed for privacy
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Sun lit the bits of fog floating above the steamy lake. The light was pink, and a sailboat etched in the haze was a solitary figure floating on reflective liquid silver. I wished for my camera, but will have to make the words paint the pictures this morning.
The Cascades were sharp silhouettes against the blue. Although they are white with snow this time of year, they were dark shadows this morning, jagged and distant.
The pink light of sunrise played off the mist and the cold. A single paddle-boarder (dressed Seattle-style in hat, coat, shorts and flip-flops) appeared out of the cloud, a distant figure prompting me to comment that only a guy would be dumb enough to be out there in this freeze.
But Seattle is Seattle, and January 1 is January 1. The recent addition of a line of Porta-potties herald the event of the day, the noon-time Polar Bear swim, with a new “Polar Bear Club” right beforehand, “a special time just before the "Polar Bears" for younger folks or people needing a little more room.”
A young man and a rosy-cheeked woman threw a stick for their Aussie, the remnants of an early breakfast on a nearby picnic table. The Mallards gathered near the shore, the water shiny and reflective, a tinge of fuchsia above the silver. A fat squirrel, probably triple his summer weight, streaks across the frosty grass towards the line of trees still showing green, Camellias, a tall Madrona, and the red-barked cedars.
Finding it within his awkward silhouette to soar, a merganser lazed through the mist, and 2013 dawned clear and cold. Obama won major concessions last night – he seems tougher and more resolute, if that is possible – in this second term. The future seems more rosy than a year ago, a tinge of hope above the gray.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
I first heard Holly's music in Greeley, Colorado, known for Monfort's stock yards and the smelly sugar beet plant. We Colorado folks had never heard of Women's Music, but I was lucky enough to have a housemate from the Bay Area. She brought albums from Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Margie Adam, Kate Wolf and others, and we played them 24/7.
My housemates and I were members of a theatre troupe that put on improvisational shows for Deaf and hearing children, and I remember signing Cris Williamson's Song of the Soul in one of our shows. We sang and lip-synced and signed and danced and loved and became politicized through this wonderful new music.
So did the kittens. Our upstairs housemates had a litter of little ones. One afternoon, we were playing Meg Christian's "Leaping Lesbians" and looked up to see the kittens sneaking down the stairs with huge eyes and poofy tails, to find out just WHAT this woman was singing about!
I went from driving my dorm roommate crazy with Kris Kristofferson to playing Women's Music on my little record player. It wasn't even a stereo!
When I moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1978, I found a community of women who regularly attended concerts by women from Olivia Records, as well as Claudia Schmidt, Kate Wolf, Alive!, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Teresa Trull, Kay Gardner and many others, as well as local women like Liz Olds and Ann Reed. I've seen Holly perform in venues as small as our church basement women's coffeehouse and as large as the Michigan Women's Music Festival, which drew 10,000 women for a long weekend in August.
I remember the sign language interpreter giggling her way through Meg's song about menstrual cramps. "oooowwwaaahhhoooowww!"
I had never heard of Ukiah, California, but it will always be on the map for me because of a song (Water Come Down) about riding the irrigation water down the ditches, and how Holly has "never felt anything quite like that since!"
I remember sitting next to my housemate in our church basement coffeehouse, each of us breathing an awed sigh of recognition when Holly signed "family" in the song about looking up to her sister, "You Got Me Flying." I remember Timothy Near and Susan Freundlich signing a song together, weaving the signs and their bodies together in a way that was part Sign and part dance.
I remember women filling several sections of a huge divided classroom at the University of Minnesota, and Holly dividing us into sections to sing "Nicolia". The winter night was dark and cold, but the harmonies were beautiful and I always came away from concerts high, empowered and unable to sleep for needing to sing.
I remember carefully going through every album looking for a song that was sufficiently lesbian to satisfy my discomfort with the Top 40, yet subtle enough to teach to a high school choir. Somehow, Something About the Women, which seemed safe enough to my naive eyes (after all, I was comparing it to "Leapin' Lesbians", "Golden Thread" and the Lesbian Concentrate album!) didn't fool that advisor one bit! She insisted on hearing all my songs privately from then on, before letting me play them for the students! In the early 1990's, when I worked in another high school, I was out to the entire school population, students and staff. And there were out gay kids who were much braver than I had to be! Schools are still not safe for GLBTQ students, but it they do have visible and proud role models now.
I remember not really being clear about the ramifications of the shootings at Kent State until I heard It Could Have Been Me Every song taught me something new about this politically aware new world I was entering. Holly's songs made me think about issues, history and how everyone has their own story to tell, whether their "skin is golden, like mine will never be", whether they are a teacher in some Third World country or a poet continuing to sing even after the junta shot his hands so he could no longer play his guitar.
I found my heart in lyrics that promised that Someday One Will Do and gave me hope that someday, someone would "Sit With Me" through the night. I knew one woman who called that the "co-dependency" song, but I always thought that label was pretty cold. Everyone needs to be able to fall apart sometimes outside of therapy, even in therapy-happy Minneapolis!
Tonight, remembering songs from thirty years ago, and going through the discography to find their titles, I still hear each song in my head, bringing back a time of vibrant community, hope and despair, personal, political, ethical and spiritual growth. Looking back, alone or with other women, I realize that we really did make a difference in this world. Holly and Cris and Meg and the others were leaders, but each of us was changed irrevocably by the music and the times, and we all made a difference.
Women's music, most particularly Holly's consistency, wisdom and humor, showed me the way. I will never forget the music or the experience of sitting in that auditorium, singing about a young woman who learned to organize!
Thank you, Holly. We're still here.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Orcas Island theme on Gmail usually represents a foggy, gray island world. This reminds me of a trip to the BWCA years ago. Early morning, thick fog on the water. So quiet. I took a canoe out, and one of the women with me snapped a picture of my silhouette in the gray.
We have forgotten that sort of quiet in this noisy, city world. I have forgotten it, but wake occasionally at 3 a.m. to stick my head out the window. I enjoy the moments when the city is closest to that peace.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I have been to wilderness lakes, where there are no buildings among the trees, and the touch of humans, while still present, is lighter. Still, it is difficult for me to imagine these hills as they must have been before the Europeans came. I picture dense forests, cut by paths, but no paved roads or freeways. I picture abundant wildlife, probably including species now extinct. I think there must have been a few canoes on the lake, especially in the early morning quiet, but certainly no sea planes taking off and landing, over and over again.
I have a hard time imagining this land with no cities, no clear cuts, no freeways. If Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series did nothing else for me, it provided hints of a landscape that was in balance, where humans existed, even thrived, but were still small potatoes in terms of their destructive effect on the Earth. In spite of this inability of mine, I still find myself trying to picture such a verdant wilderness every time I sit on the lake shore. That world is lost to us forever, and as I do not expect to live long enough to see us populate some other planet -- as yet unruined -- I feel that loss deeply.
The Mountain sometimes used to appear on the horizon with a clarity that I have not seen in many years. There is too much city and smog between the beach in northeast Seattle and the volcanic mountain that rises one hundred miles to the southeast.
Smog fills the valleys once filled by trees. A sunny day does not remove all of my sorrow.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The beach at the dog park is never a dull place. Dogs love the beach, and there is always a lot of action. With the coming of warmer weather, the beach has become even livelier.
A tiny Pomeranian urges his person to throw the ball so he can swim after it, even though the wind is kicking up significant waves.
A lanky Great Dane wades out far beyond where the labs start to swim. Flip, the little Jack Russell Terrier, swims after his orange ball, nothing above water but his head, his tiny stump of a tail ruddering behind him.
Joe, the dog walker. wades out with his pack, looking forward to the warmth that will make human swimming possible. Two puppies play tag over and under the benches and driftwood logs, king of the mountain as much a part of the game as chase-me.
A beautiful Golden Retriever puppy, half grown and chubby with baby fat, scampers her way into every group of people and dogs, too young to worry about manners, human or canine. In my book, even a wet, sandy puppy is worth a cuddle. Doggie smiles are joyful by definition.