Saturday, September 28, 2019

"We are the survivors of the great flood" (with update on October 1, 2019)

Update on Tuesday, October 1, 2019:

Go directly to Freddie Lane's YouTube channel to see the above video as well as "We're Running Out Of Time" (Billy Frank, Jr., interview) and "Protecting Our Heritage," and other videos Freddie Lane has posted that are worth taking the time to watch.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

James Baldwin and Ocean Vuong / Leah Siegel covering Buckley covering Buckley / Learning Spanish / NAMI class

Ocean Vuong's book On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous was brought to my attention in the last month or so, and I put a hold on a copy at our public library.  I found the book to be extraordinary as well as difficult and worth the difficulty.  Ocean Vuong, like Toni Morrison, took me to places I've never been before (but not as "a tour guide to pre-made worlds" but as a "world maker," to use Ocean Vuong's words from the interview) and changed the way I see the world.  Before finishing the book, I took a 50-minute break to listen to Ocean Vuong and Jacqueline Woodson.  Previously, while reading the book, I had listened to several other interviews with Ocean Vuong in which he reminded me of a young Bob Dylan.  In the above Strand Bookstore interview, Ocean Vuong lights a James Baldwin votive candle before the interview begins, in honor of James Baldwin's illuminating presence.  In that moment, I realized that what I was perceiving as a similarity to Bob Dylan was actually a similarity to James Baldwin.  Bob Dylan's work and way of being in the world were strongly influenced by James Baldwin.  That is what I was seeing in Ocean Vuong.  James Baldwin lives on through his literary descendants.  Ocean Vuong is one of the most recent in that literary family tree.

Some quotes from Ocean Vuong:

"... the merciful light in the midst of all this darkness ..." (from the interview)

"Let no one mistake us for the fruit of violence--but that violence, having passed through the fruit, failed to spoil it." (p. 231, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous)

This morning, I discovered this version of "Once I Was A Soldier" by Leah Siegel and wanted to share it.  I've never heard a woman sing that song before.

Beginning on September 4, I made a commitment to learn to speak Spanish, building on two years of Spanish in high school (escuela secundaria) 52 years ago.  There is a Spanish Conversation group that meets weekly at our local Senior Center around a table in a small meeting room and is facilitated by an engaging woman in her 60s from Mexico.  It is immersion in Spanish rather than a formal class.  I speak like a baby and that's okay!

In addition, I signed up for a evening class offered by our local branch of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).  The class is for families and friends of people who suffer from mental illness and meets two nights a week for six weeks.  My hope is to learn how to take care of myself in the numerous encounters I have regularly with people who suffer from mental illnesses and to learn how I can be supportive of those who suffer from mental illnesses.  Once again, there are no easy answers, and I am open to learning what I can.

The next six weeks will be full, with not much time for posting.  I will be reading your blogs, sending love as always.

Here's a volunteer Mimulus that appeared on my porch:

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Rep. Debra Lekanoff -- 40th Legislative District of Washington State

The above is from a message sent through the U.S. mail to all those who live in the 40th Legislative District.

Listen to Rep. Debra Lekanoff here.

Our Legislative District is fortunate to have Debra Lekanoff representing us.  There is cause for hope.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Never Give Up / Listening to Three Women On Labor Day 2019

When I was in my late teens in 1969, I worked for the telephone company in California as a long distance operator for AT&T before dropping out of college.  In my early 20s, I was a letter carrier in California and belonged to the Postal Workers Union.  I spent one year working in a factory that made pacemakers in Massachusetts and three years here in Bellingham, Washington, as an industrial sewing machine operator, first in a union shop as a member of the International Garment Workers Union, then in a shop where I sewed backpacks together, and finally in a sailmaker's loft where I sewed sails, spinnakers, and boat covers.  Because I am tall, I developed neck and back problems from bending over to work on industrial sewing machines. When I was 30, I returned to college to finish a degree in English Literature and Studio Art and then found myself unemployable in our small college town until I forced myself to learn to type and then became a medical transcriptionist at the local hospital.  Through most of my working life, I was a production worker, working hard for only modest compensation.  I am proud of the work I did.  Watching "Union Maids" is an emotionally powerful and empowering experience.

(1970 -- telephone operators)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Never Give Up: "... to dance close together / In this land of water and knowledge ..."

Speaking Tree

Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken—
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—

Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music—
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—

Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—

I cannot walk through all realms—
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark—

What shall I do with all this heartache?

The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway—
To the edge of the river of life, and drink—

I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:

Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .

To drink deep what is undrinkable.

Joy Harjo

(thanks to beth for bringing Joy Harjo's poem to my attention)

(thanks to S Alexander for posting her videos on YouTube)