Mississippi Moments

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fireflies, limpet shells, and rowan trees...
These are all real. These show where I have been and where I am. Now it's time to add some other things to the list.
Can't get poetic because I don't have the brain cells yet. Maybe it's time for reality check--like babies go through upwards of 15 diapers A DAY!!! And all this junk around the house and garden is just that-JUNK...must get rid of junk.
I'm also making the conscientious choice not to drive or to drive very little--not quiteback in my body yet and not quite back to the right side of the road. I hit the ticketbooth at the Edmonds ferry with the RV. The ticket guy was understanding. He said that I should remember that we are on the right side here. He said it happens from time to time when people have been on vacation in the UK.
The Rowanfae show in Port Gamble was creative and well-received.
It was fun to meet and be around everyone. Loved spending time with Julie and Mike and wee Connor in his kilt. Abbie is growing so tall and Emme-she is just as much on fire with life her way as always!:)
Camping sucked. We came home. And camped in the backyard. We still are.
Long walks are the order of our days and evenings.
Mom and dad came and took me to brunch yesterday.That was nice.
COli taught me how to IM. We actually had a conversation on the computer as if we were talking on the phone.
I did a bunch of financial aid paperwork for this next phase of grad school. I hope it will go through seamlessly.
I greatly enjoyed spending some time with Jean and Laura and Mike last night. This is a good life.
ANd I checked this silly blog for what was going on last summer at this time---the same exact malaise and readjustment with an awful lot more grief. Now the grief is different. The power is different. The hope is different. The life is different. And Harry Potter ...well, you'll just have to read for yourself. Go out and enjoy this full moon day!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gae bring my guid auld harp aince mair;
Gae bring it free and fast,
For I maun te sing anither sang
Ere a' my glee be past:
And trow ye as I sing, my friends,
The burthen a't shall be-
Auld Scotland 's howes and Scotland's knowes,
And Scotland's hills for me.---Charles Maclean

Some more sleep. Some yardwork. Some walks with ma wee dog. Some talks with folks and friends.
Driving-still a challenge. Eating-still a challenge. Reading-still a challenge. Ma brains aire not werkin' lak thay shewd...yet.
Here's a photo of Cedar at Camp Alice. One of some of the tour group. We were on the second ferry home from Iona-that is Mull behind us, the lands of the Macleans. The dolphins were escorting the ferry from Iona to Mull and dancing, leaping, playing right under us in the green jeweled waters there. More later.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am come home...again...this time in Ballard.
Nice cup of tea. Nice bath.
Can't wait to get back to this LIfe here.
It has been a grand trip. Now, it's "hame, hame, hame"....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ah'm not nutters....reeaalllly.
Yesterday was just a wee bit of an intense non ordinary kind of day. And justifiably so. Apparently I had a bit of a sacred contract about coming back in a time of peace and prayer to stand on that holy isle and do just that...pray with a peaceful heart. The Universe has accepted my fulfillment of the promise and now I can drink heavily...which I won't.
We are back in Edinburgh. We visited Loch Lomond today, the historic and ugly village of Stirling, and the battlefield of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce and 6,ooo Scots kicked the medieval kabooties of Edward the 2 and 20,000 English. Saw a living history demo of the weapons of war of the time---UGLY< AWFUL< HORRIFIC< UNBELIEVABLY gross and accurate! Then we got to see some actual pictures of skulls dug up that showed what those weapons could do....my goodness.
I take off tomorrow and it takes a day and night and part of a day to return. I am ready. Everything fits in the bags and we are off for one last dinner as a tour group. There have been some very nice folks on this trip but I have enjoyed having time to just be with myself. Love to all, E-

Monday, July 23, 2007

I am come home.

Iona at last. What a day. It was quite an endeavor to get there and we just returned. Took the ferry from OBan to Mull. caught a bus for a long trip on the one atrack road across Mull to Fionnpuirt and from there caught another ferry to Iona. As soon as I put my feet on Mull, I got this amazing jolt of a sensation like I KNOW this place and its smells, plants, food, people, homes, water, animals--it was home. I also had more than a few "flashbacks" or whoosh-scenes- of running around those glens as a boy-man with someone we all know- Scott McLean...and guess what, this is the territory of none other than the MACLEANS. More later on that-maybe--I'm not drunk, crazy, or inbetween realities. But I know what I know.
Iona,as soon as I saw that Holy Isle- there I was HOME AGAIN. IN a different way and from a different time. Got off that ferry and headed to thebeach to get barefoot and build a labyrinth -which I did. After that it was time tohead to the 12th century nunnery with the rocks that vibrate..interesting that I was able to identify all the rooms even before I checked out a guide or looked at any signage. The ancient abbey was unbelievable. I took a tour and then attended a prayer service in the ancient abbey for peace and justice facilitated by the Iona community who live and work there now. The stone crosses (7th centry a.d.) from the St. MAtthew and St. Martin crosses vibrated with life and story. I have some writing to do. The walls were thick and restored. This was a place of much sacred work (The Book of Kells to name one)and much violence--those Norsemen, Dalriadic warrior types, those Irish types, and those Vikings again. I lit a candle for our prayers and for peace in the old chapel. I left cedar from Fair Isle in the labyrinth, at the abbey, and in one of the old stone walls. I walked all over that place with a sense of connetion, completion, remembrance, and hope. The loads of dogs and kids around didn't hurt any either. The trip on the ferries and the bus across Mull was long but gave me time to think. Last night was the first night I have had trouble with sleepwalking and I awoke last night in a panic because I was in a stone cell, at first I had thought it was an oubliette- a nasty thing they have here in Scottish castles from that basically is a cell with a trap door where the prisoner was putand forgotten about...it wasn't that. As I was in a lucid sleep state-seeing, touching, feeling the stone walls, I realized it was like a nun's cell....I couldn't get out, literally, so I laid back down to rest with a pounding heart. I found the spot today and the room today. It was actually the watcher's cell looking out from the abbey for anything threatening from the south island side. IT was a WHAM! kind of knowing. Thank goodness, none of this surprises me anymore because I have seen this place and the people who were here before so many times. I love and know them this time around. I also know how we died then. It wasn't pretty either time. If this makes anyone uncomfortable, then skip this item on the blog. It is real for me. and for those who know about this. Coming to Iona this life, this time, in this way, praying there, breathing there, and being escorted by dolphins dancing alongside the ferry back to Mull---it was perfect. I also had another Dream last night about catching a child from a high spot she had climbed. As soon as she hit the catching arms, she turned into a white swan......it was my brother, Mark, who caught her for me. Hmmmm....I can now check off Iona. I am so ready for what is next in my life. I wonder what White Swan is in Vietnamese?
I love this part of Scotland. And I am now ready to come home. We are off to Glasgow tomorrow and Bannockburn-the battlefield of Robert the Bruce or Wallace -I forget. Then to Edinburgh and a bit of detective work for Dad--I have a name now-John Andrew Banks. I doubt I can do much in a day and a half but we shall see. I think he should make the trip with our mother. There are an awful lot of Scottish women who look like her...but she makes the best egg salad. Love to all and see you soon, Erin in this lifetime

Sunday, July 22, 2007

And I thought that Iona would be the only Heaven that I would truly encounter..and I haven't even been there yet. That's tomorrow. Can you believe it? I can now. The other bits of pure heaven was going to hear Karen Matheson and her band at the INverness Festival. To be there. in Scotland. Listening to one of the most amazing Scots Gaelic singers of her time and knowing that voice from having listened for hours back home. It was two hours plus of mesmerizing bliss. And the wee girls next to me with their families are mouthing the words in Gaelic as she is singing. They are studying the traditional arts and were already competing and singing in public. Then it was a long walk along the river Ness. The other bliss was the Isle of Skye and looking out onto the Isle of Lewis from the windswept hill grave of Flora Macdonald. GAve me chills. The graveyards and battlefields here are very active if you know what I mean. castles and such...some very famous sites---Urquhart castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Dunvegan on the coast...the Caledonian locks and several lochs, too-Loch Shiel begin one of the most beautiful. We were at Glencoe today-the site of the royally sanctioned and Campbell driven massacre of the MacDonald clans-really murder under trust. I now understand more of what my friend Scott McLean means. We enjoyed time in a fishing village called Portree and also went to Glenfinnan where Bonnie Prince Charlie (I have other names for that retrobate) lifted his standard. I am going in search of fish and chips tonight to eat by the beach. Dad, one cagain, just emailed me that we have family in Edinburgh. Luckily I have time on Tues. to check up on the BAnks side of things. Interesting to note, I have been watching the women in the lowlands and an awful lot of them reminded me of Mammo. I'm not surprised. Off to Iona tomorrow and more Dreams come true...love from the lochs and glens, to all!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Clava Cairns, Culloden, and Cawdor...and then Karen Matheson...
It has been a full day and I'm sitting back here at the laudromat/internet cafe in Inverness trying to process it all. The Neotlithic standing stones and barrows were incredible...the depth of energy, the Mother-Hearbeat thng there, the Holding energy...there really are no words for the backbone breathing space that happens in a place like that. The stones themselves vibrate. And it's not all that wierd. It felt like "Home" to me...it was a group of three barrows and passage tombs and literally hundreds of standing stones that we had open to us. While we were there, a group of nature-loving, connected folk showed up and began chanting and communing with the stones and trees there. I felt, again, right at home. It made some of the Texans on our Rick Steves tour somewhat uncomfortable. Not me. There was a split stone and if anyone of you have read the Highlander series (pure kilted, violent heart and mind candy for the lassies, I slipped in between in hopes that I might make the jump back in time, and then I remembered that I would miss the bus and the ferries to Iona and said to meself,"meybe later."
Culloden made me nauseous. The McKAssons' music captures from the heart the tragedy, waste and violence. The lost dreams. The lost lives. The lost everything. And it wasn't over anything I can relate to from my contemporary NW USA self. The ground still screams with the violence. I have no words for this kind of stuff. This kind of ground screaming happened all over Ireland, too, particularly, in the abbeys and places where there had been massacres. And that was just what Culloden was. I found the spot where the MacLean clann was obliterated. Being sensitive to this kind of stuff isn't a bad thing. You just have to stay grounded. I make it a point to be open to the Healing and Balancing of a place as well. Some cedar from the dancing trees in front of my cottage from home helps as an offering with prayers for peace. Our guide wasn't too interested when I asked him about the ley lines running through that part of Scotland. He's an archeologist by trade and not the intuitive kind. I'll have to do my own research on that. It will bring no surprises I'm sure.
We spent a delightful afternoon at Cawdor Castle, the 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century layered castle and grounds. It is the castle in Shakespeare's Macbeth althought that actual castle was motte and bailey and a ways away from the present one. The Dowager Duchess only lives in the castle during the winter months. The gardens, walled and wild, were impressive. There is really a secret dungeon and trapdoor that was used throughout the centuries. They actually only uncovered the real thing 20 years ago. They have a display of some of the things they found down there. Fascinating.....I had to calm my spirit some so I found a quiet corner and sketched for a good while after that.
I bought a ticket for the concert tonight. I am somewhat bummed I won't be here on Sunday. Cunningham will offer a workshop and a concert in the afternoon and Dougie MacLean is slated for the evening. Can you imagine what a glut of the best music in the world would do to you? i will be satisfied with this evening's events. I couldn't convince any of the other Ameeerricans to come and get a taste of the REAL MUSIC and ENERGY of Scotland tonight. They are holding out from some unknown musician that will play for us in Oban later this week.
I am really missing home and my family and beloveds. Traveling by myself is fun but it is not my favorite sometimes when I get into certain moods. Scotland is an amazing place. Tomorrow we are off to the most famous highland castles in Scotland and to try and get a glimpse of Nessie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Found this on the wall at a place called "Ossian's Folly" overloooking the river falls and the leaping salmon of the River Brann:
Sit in this tranquil recess
with your friend, your lover, your spouse,
hear the harp of the deep,
entice the verses from memory,
see all around you the story,
behind the telling's veil,
hear the antlered river's words,
narrating its roar of a tale,---author unknown

stuff like this with Silly Wizard in my ear as well and the Highland countryside....oh yes....
Greetings from Inverness!Having just finished another great egg-mayo sandwich (the Scots are better than the Irish at these specialty sandwiches)and a lovely walk about town, I found the local laundrette and internet cafe.We are in the Highlands now. While Edinburgh had an awful lot to tantalize and delight in the historical sense, the Highlands have my heart. We have had more than a few hikes in the woodlands already and it smells like home...or rather Pine Lake. In the past couple of days, we have been to St. Andrew'sand yes, we crossed the 18th and 9th holes on the oldest and most well-known course. I prayed to the spirits of the place on Bruce's behalf. We toured the ancient medieval abbey ruins there. The devastating effects of the Reformation and English "involvement" are everywhere and mentioned often by our guides. We visited Scone Palace and Moot Hill which is the ancient ecclesiastical and political seat of the Scots(think Tara to the Irish). It is where the Stone of Scone (or Destiny) was placed and all Scots kings crowned there. The real Stone is at Edinburgh castle which I saw two days ago on touring that castle. Fascinating. Went hiking in Perthshire and saw Atlantic salmon trying to leap waterfalls. The rivers run a clean, clear brown here--so different from the Mississippi- because of the peat. The foam and environs smell so earthy and good. We spent time walking in the Glencoe Mountains this morning at a special spot called Queen's View. It was a favorite spot of Queen Victoria but was actually named for the wife of Robert the Bruce. We took a tour of the smallest distillery of single malt in Scotland-Edradour near the town of Pitlochery. Of course, it involved some dram work.We visited a Jacobite battle site called SOldier's Leap today near the battlefield of Killiecrankie. Killiecrankie translates from the Gallic to mean "Woodpecker woods". Tomorrow we head to Culloden and Castle Cawdor (Macbeth) and more hiking. The group I am with is full of very nice, inquisitive people. i have a nice roommate from Canada named Veronica. I am eating myself silly with the good Scottish food--they have a wide variety of vegetarian choices at each place. They also understand good coffee.The highlight of today was meeting two Scottish deerhounds on the trail named Bonny and Jock. They were beautiful. I am missing Dougie MAcLean in concert here by two days and I am bummed. The other highlight has been traveling through the Scottish countryside listening to the McKassons. Life doesn't get any better than this. I forgot Brigie's email, so if you read this and talk to her, please tell her that I am so thankful she is taking care of LIttle Man. He would love the walks and all teh sheep to chase here. I am so looking into Ewe-topia for him when we get back. Iona happens in a couple of days. That is the other amazing thing to come. Much love to you, E-

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thistle do nicely....ah, the "Auld Reekie" ---another name for \edinburgh. \\\\\\arrived safely and not too tired. \today \i am. \the highlight has been coming face to face with the Lewis chess set from \"Marching \mystery". *I've been all over thisincredibly historic place. \yesterday \i went to \mass at an old church called \st. \patrick's, then headed off to tour the \royal \mile. \\\ended up on a tour of a medieval torture chamber and some 16th century underground vaults with questionnable occurances. \last night was excellent vegetarian cuisin and \i have already indulged in the best egg salad anywhere aside from my mother's. \i have toured \edinburgh castle, \\holyrood \\palace and ruined abbey, a private 17th centry close garden, the \royal museum of scotland, the museum of edinburgh and a walking tour of the royal mile with emphasis on the political and social historical influences and such. \i visited \greyfriar's \abbey and churchyard where the famous little dog, \bobby, went to his former master's grave for 14 years--it's all true and \i visited the kirk of \st. giles--medieval, once Catholic now belongs to the \Church of Scotland. \i danced in a pub last night to some traditional musicians at their invitation. \the place roared. \\it was fun. \i have met some new friends for the moment. \a great group. tomorrow we leave this busy place and head to st. andreww's and the country. \i will be checking email daily if you need me. \scotland rocks but it's hard learning how to use their computer keybaords. off for a nap!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Feels so near, the howling of the wind....
Feels so near, the crashing of the waves.....
And I'll be in Scotland a-fore ye......

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today I buried a Great Blue Heron in my front garden, near the Dancing Cedars.
HimSelf was there and added His Life to the scene. (Mostly he just wanted to dig. Didn't really want to stop him either.)
We said a prayer for the Earth, for Gloria and all the Children,
for Peace, for Hope. It seemed appropriate.

"Earth, ourselves,
breathe and awaken,
leaves are stirring,
all things moving,
new day coming,
Life renewing.---Pawnee prayer

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Now this is more like it. Starting to feel and act back in the groove. With a purpose.
With intentions of staying cool, paring down, cleaning up, and staying centered.
Love to see folks that mean so much to me.
S'all right....
You gotta go see the mountains today. Amazing---and low tide. The beach was just starting to fill up as we were leaving.
The turtles were out sunning themselves.
Dogs and people were playing on the beach. Kids (big and little) were down exploring tidepools.
The breeze, the boats bobbing in the waves, the clear blue sky...and of course, good coffee, add up to a little piece of heaven. Pure heaven.
And turning the sprinkler on for Cedar. He loves it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gloria....read the front page of the Seattle Times today.
Pray. Weep. Howl. Whatever....thank you, Lord, for putting it in perspective.
Oooooo, I found a good'un this morning:
"When we search for our spiritual path, we need to reassess, consolidate, and recommit our spiritual focus--and check contractual details. It's all right to change course as we seek the best way to Spirit; it is equally all right to stay where we are --as long as we realize that compromising our truth is dangerous."---Caitlin Matthews

It was GOOD to sweat it out with the Sistahs last night. (I may have eaten more fried foods and truly southern "delites" this trip than should be legal, but the legs, heart, spirit, focus are strong and I am in the process of detoxing...sort of.) The water part is good but I am still craving salt and batter.:P I'll start with my thinking and work from there.
It was GOOD to rest more and watch "DreamGirls".
It was good to have several walks with Squishy.
It was good to go to work and file writing assessments from this spring that I took down to MS with me and finally finished all the scoring guide comments that went with each one. I feel much more confident about how to do that sort of assessing and writing.
It was good to do errands.
It was good to look around this little home and realize that the clutter will only go away if I do something about it that is DIFFERENT than what I have done in the past.
It was good to have Captn Picard in my head saying, "Make it so, Number One."...and then to realize that it wasn't Picard talking, it was Cap'n Ern.
(I need a pirate hat.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tryin' to wake up!
The naps just keep beckoning and I am, once again, entranced by the need to rest. Rest. Rest.
Been enjoying working around the yard and the garden-mostly hacking at the bamboo and rubus. The raspberries are delicious and plentiful.
Did some light but delicious cooking of good tortellini and pesto...mmmmm.
Cedar and I have already had two walks today. I worked out, went to the car wash and am getting ready to run errands.
Yay for dancing tonight with the sistahs.
Trying to touch base with dear ones by phone--not doing so great on that one.
Coffee, reeeaaalllyyyy enjoying the coffee!
Having fun planning for the coming school year as well with ideas I brought back from Jonestown and which are simmering....perk, perk, perk.
Would love some ideas of a good book on CD to take with me on the flight. Any takers?
I also need to borrow a small foldable stroller to get this wacky puppy used to it. He is definitely going through a phase and I now wear a leash accessory most of the time around here except when I am using power tools.
Made an appointment for the RV to get checked out. Then we'll get the inside taken care of and then we will be OFF on some adventures! Yay for adventures! I am thinking British Columbia or area around Ellensburg, and Silver Lake in Whatcom County.
This summer is going to go on by real fast. Gonna make good use of it.
I loved the picture of PJ that Kathleen sent out..what an adorable cutey with a smile that melts buttah!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Home at last! And I forgot to wish Matt a Happy B-Day yesterday!! You 6's can change the world if you want to!!:)
So glad to be here with this LIttle Man, in this LIttle House, with my overgrown Little Garden. Thank you to the Mowing Elves.
And to the Mail Elves. And to the Caretakers of the Little Sh-who is going through a defiance stage. His leash is my new best friend. And it is NOT hot here. It is pleasant and delightful and all the right colors and smells. And oh my Gawd, coffee proper!!E-gawwds! And people I can understand. And folks who call me Erin, not Mih-Ern.Not that this is a bad thing, it's just more right....Once again, I have fallen in love with every member of book group for who they are...and their amazing choices, impressions, ideas, and inclinations where books are concerned. Diva will love this--the Book Group has decided to complete the Golden Compass trilogy in the next few months. I would dearly love to know what she thinks about the books. I will find my copy today and read it this week and take Subtle Knife with me to Scotland. I am almost finished with the last of my "Delta" books for this year-May the Circle Be Unbroken. It is just more about the history and the cultural realities that make up the fabric of life around Jonestown. It also bums me out because mostly white is still white and black is still black and there is very little melanging..and I was called a "damn white woman" for this first time this year within my hearing. To damn someone down there is a powerful epithet and not in the positive sense. Considering who it was, I was only nonplussed for a bit...think about how much more the folks down there have had to put up with in terms of name-calling, lack of respect or dignity from the white culture as a rule.The thing is---my reading this stuff helps me to understand why things are the way they are but they don't give me insight into how to make things better or different. My gut (and also a really neat quote Sr. T has embroidered in her living room which says basically when you get to a new place community, or culture, you better take your shoes off because it is holy ground with holy people and God has already been there before you...and still is.) tells me that this only happens when the folks there want to make the changes, individually or as a community, and then the "tools" (education, training, nutrition and exercise facilities, etc.) have to be accessible with others around who can show them how to choose the right tools for them in what combinations. What I am really thinking about here is that it is clear to me that Jonestown is not "THE WORK" I contracted to do here on this plane in this life. These experiences there are part of "The WORK" and I am getting closer to finding it. OLF is not "The WORK" either but it has definitely given me more tools, experiences, access to people, places and things that will contribute to "The WORK". Being a parent is a big chunk of THE WORK, if not THE WORK... and I know that this doc program will show me what the other part of it is. More later. And that is what"THE WORK" of the SNJMs has done. Some of the specific positive changes in just one year there are:
1. The Fitness and Health Club has a new manager and is so full of donated equipment that the Treasure Spot (which was a repository of items and clothes for families in need is no longer in the space).
2. All of the churches except one have signed up their congregations for memberships.
3. Many men in town are using the facilities on a regular basis. More women are coming in even just to "have a look-see" and watch others working out. There is a new manager who is great at encouraging folks and letting them try things on their own terms.
4. The kids are aware that they are one of the three fattest counties in the entire country and they are not happy about that. They think the peoples who did the counting should come and count again.
5. They are offering healthy cooking classes to the Girls to Women.
6. The community was up in arms about the bad showing that foxmemphis.com did on Jonestown and has banded together and written a letter and given an invitation to the foxmemphis.com to come back and see the good in Jonestown.
7. The classes for the older kids are full at Sister Kay's.
8. The perspective from the SNJMs in town is that this year's collection of HNA volunteers from both coasts was one of the BEST EVER. Last year's group came down again teh week before I even got to J-town.
9. The town park has a new play structure-bought and paid for, shipped, assembled by the hardworking youth of Assumption/St. Brigid's in Seattle.
10. The Community Resource spot has running water and bathrooms now. And I got a tour this year. It is across the street. I wish I had taken pictures. I will paint a picture with words sometime.
11. The children are loved there. Really loved.
12. They are creating a standards-based two-year old and toddler curriculum and program for the coming year at the JLC. And the staff is excited and they know how to do it now.
13. And I came home again knowing that simpler is better. That hard work gives you life and doesn't take it. That I have this amazing life. That I love my choices and those I don't, I can alter. That my body is strong. My heart, too. My prospects-wahoo. It is sweet. I love my families. I love my friends. I love it ALL.
I look forward to working in the garden, going swimming, walking at Shilshole, sipping lattes, working out, getting caught up on the tutorials for the doctoral program and reading. I need to find a skirt for Ecosse.
...and I found a TV show in MS called "What Not to Weat"...oh my heavens, the three episodes I watched--all the women were wearing stuff that I normally wear and when the fashion-nazi-hosts-things were done with them, they actually looked put together, not skanky, and kind of normal and not in a Memphis mall kind of way...not that I have ever been to a Memphis mall but the airport and the zoo give you a little hint as to what that would be like (wish I had a Mr. Yuck icon here)...I also can't wait to take the entry to amazing tech class at HNA this August. I have TONS to learn about how to use this mac. I am going to call Turi at an almost obscene hour this a.m. and see if she wants to go walking.....

Friday, July 06, 2007

We's Done!
The program is finished. It was just what a program in Jonestown should be like. IT was a full house Jonestown-style. I'm just waiting for the staff to finish with their stuff and then I will lock up and go back to SNJM house to pack. Next time I write, it will be from HOME. So very ready........................................
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRIS PAUL! I hope your day is a beautiful one!!
Your Blues Ain't Like Mine... a good book I just finished by Bebe Moore Campbell. Ms. Joyce sent it down from Atlanta for me to read. It basically is a retelling of the Emmet Till tragedy from several perspectives, all which capture the caricatures and probably, many actual perspectives and sentiments. THe historical accuracy of the injustices is right on and there are too many to list here. A difficult read but juicy in its own way.
The migraine is at bay, at least enough to where I can feel my energy coming back and I feel like laughing. Which I did yesterday when two of the cutest little two year old darlings followed me around in the kid pool section at the Tunica Aquatic Center. The "big pool" wasn't open yesterday when we took the children "swimming", so I gave mini lessons in floating, face in water, water will not hurt you if you do it like this, and let me hold you while you lay on your back like this or hold the side like this. I did notice that all of the white kids in the pool could float, really swim, etc. Things we kind of take for granted at Pop's Lake. Only one, maybe two of our Jonestown children can sort of float without sinking to the bottom after 3 seconds...but that is A LOT better than when we started. I have some questions for my sisters and sisters-in-law--how did you start your kids out with swimming lessons? I know each one is different, but I was thinking lovingly of Joey all day yesterday. He would love Jonestown. His energy would be infectious with the children here and he has such a big heart for sharing what he can do. He would make it fun. I think one Joey here for swimming would do more than 4 weeks of Mih Ern. It was cool yesterday also to see the white kids and our kids mixing it up in the pool and playing together for awhile. I like the swimming lessons best. We also had a program rehearsal yesterday. The program is today with all of the children and the Girls to Women. I have managed to open the Learning Center up for two days now without setting off the alarm. We had our last set of tennis lessons yesterday. I have not had the energy to want to move, sweat, or care about it for the last three days. Yesterday, I started to feel like myself and played a little tennis and also ran some. We are finished with soccer. The girls couldn't handle more soccer after the dance rehearsals they have been having. It is interesting to note the contrast between dancers who are trained and expected to rehearse for hour-plus times to kids who are not trained and who have not had to have that expectation. We had a talk yesterday about what it means to polish a dance piece. I do not like nor do I speak to the children here like some other grown-ups. I think it is brusk, unprofessional, rude, and in some respects, illegal. Here, it is the norm. I do not call children names in front of them except when I forget ( like calling that kid "goofball" at school). I also do not like to single out children for making mistakes. I have the little ones doing my wee chant "Mistakes are how you learn". Some of these children have very sensitive sides and when they are singled out for harsh correction, they shut down. What am I really fussing about? The contrast between the great Village Love Thing that goes on here with the children and the Harshness that comes from some of the instructors who don't know better... and I know I am judging this with my Seattle eyes and heart. They do know better. They live here. By choice.
I did okay with my first night alone at the house last night. Stayed up too late watching "Return from Snowy River". Sister's Kitty is fine. If you think Cedar is spoiled, look again. Speaking of Cedar, Lydia has done an amazing job of keeping him happy, healthy, and DOG! I can't wait to spend time with him, walking, talking, playing, goofing around.
Today is Pizza and Program day. I have some things to mail and then I get to pack. IT is supposed to storm later. Soon to be home...more to blog but the kids and staff are coming in and I have to get the Juggling Station ready. It's really math but don't tell them!:)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fighting off a migraine since yesterday...it seems to be working.
Dark rooms, drugs, no/low noise, cool bed...I just found out about the terrorist stuff in Scotland and England and I am a little scared about staying by myself in Sr. Teresa's house fo rtwo nights by myself. I'll get over it.
Happy July 4th to all.
I'm missing my dog, my families, my friends, my home, my Life.
Looking forward to swimming in a lake where I don't have to be on the lookout for snakes. I don't swim in the lakes here. Give me the Tunica pool anyday.
We are having a quiet work day at the JLC. Fine with me. Maybe if I feel better I will take a walk around town before the local fireworks get started.
Love to everyone.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mmmmmm, Kool-aid. Now, that's the taste of summer.
So, I have a few minutes to put down some impressions and such of Natchez this weekend. I am antebellum'd out, so to speak. It almost didn't happen. The car rental place in Clarkesdale didn't have a car for me on Friday afternoon after teaching and coaching all day. I was pretty bummed. There were none available for the weekend either. Finally, Sr. T solved it by having me drive her to the 15th year anniversary celebrations in Tutwiler and then letting me off on my merry way. I felt very Mary J. going off on my own to have an adventure...it was either feel like that or a hobbit, and I'd druther not have run into any dragons or ringwraiths. Big skeeters, yes. So, I was pretty tired but had an uneventful drive down-reached Vicksburg by the time the sun went down. There truly is nothing like a Delta sunset.
The first night in the antebellum home was something else. Old homses smell a particular way and I won't go into much detail here, but suffice it to say the great-great grandson of the family that bought it from the original plantation owners wasn't the only "family" member still in the home. It was a hoppin' place. The original plantation/town home that it originally belonged to, The Elms, was across the street and this home is huge and palatial. Privately owned and only open during the spring and fall pilgrimages. Natchez is not a large place, about 20,000 people. There are actual plantations all around it and the huge, historic homes I was interested in (and most of the folks who visit) are really townhomes for the planters and their families during the cooler months. Most of these families owned multiple plantations. So, Joe Stone, the host of the B and B was actually a classical pianist and clarinetist who went up to New York for most of his adult life to work and play as a musician. He is quite the "just so" person. Everything was attended to with particular attention and perfection. As I was falling asleep, this heavenly music was coming from the music room. He was giving a private concert for the 6 medical students from Jackson that were also stayng in the home. Breakfast was typical Southern but his own family recipes. Grtis with green peppers were new to me. The coffee was good. No espresso available in this town either. I almost drove 3 hours to Jackson to find a Starbucks.
I started the day with a carriage tour of downtown. It was lovely. Natchez was spared in the Civil War because it took about 5 minutes for them to surrender to the Union forces. Thus, all these amazing homes and the wealth that went with them were still in tact. The Visitors' Center was helpful in helping me to arrange several tours of plantation homes. I started with the home of a free person of color, William Johnson. He was a successful barber. He had been born a slave and then was manumitted when he was 11 years old. His wife was also a free woman of color. He kept a diary for over 25 years of life in Natchez between the 1830's and the 1850's. He was also a slave owner. His diary was discovered during some renovations of his actual home in the 1950's. He was murdered by a neighbor over some boundary issues. His journal reflects a time and a man of great contrasts.
I visited Rosalie near the River. I visited Melrose. I visited Longwood which is one of the most famous homes near Natchez. MAny of these are featured in Civil War movies. The interesting thing to note is that most of the these homes have the actual furnishings, china, clothing, books, etc. from the original families. My favorite tours were those that included details about the family life there or life from the African-American perspective. At the home run by the U.S. National PArk Service, one tourist asked if there were any ghosts in the place (I could've told her-yes) and the answer was, "The U.S. Government doesn't believe in ghosts." and then under her breath she said that her friend was giving tours last week and near dusk, she saw an older woman rocking in one of the drawing room chairs and approached to tell her to get up and as she came closer, the woman smiled and disappeared. She also blew most of the Scarlett O'Hara myths that the rest of the Garden Club tour guides were giving at the other homes about the ladies of the time.
Did I fail to mention that this tour guide was a teacher in training from Alcorn University and she was African American. She gave us details about ALL the people who occupied or worked in the house. She also said most of the fainting happened, not because of delicacy, but because of obvious reason #1; The girls couldn't breathe (corsets) and #2 Everything smelled so bad-b.o. beer, and bodily function smells. There was a home with an indoor shower and toilet--well ahead of its time in 1849. Some of the homes were unfinished due to the unfortunate interruption of the War. I walked all over town and found the basilica that was funded and built primarily by the rich French folks who had moved up the river from N'awlins. A tiny cafe and a quiet lunch. More exploring. Dinner -fruit, cheese, wine, a good book and my journal on the wrap around porch watching the world not go by. Was able to see a mockingbird up close and personal. My host joined me for a set and I listened to his stories about growing up in NAtchez. These women who run the show now and show began the touring of the big homes were Steel Magnolias in every sense of the word. I read up on the history of the Pilgrimages and it was another veritable war. Southern Women-harruumph. You do't mess wid 'em.
Sunday saw me at the early Mass at St. Mary's Basilica. More quiet exploring downtown before things got too hot. Out to anther plantation before I headed out of town and back to Jonestown. Things were fine until one of those sheet rain storms with lightning and thunder hit. I forget what to do, so I just slogged along and added two more hours to the trip home. There were alot of real plantations beckoning for exploring but I resisted. I also drove through historic Port Gibson which Grant said was too pretty to burn. That will be for future exploring. I met some nice people from MIssouri and Louisiana.
When I arrived back at SNJM house, Sister met me in the back with her bad news. I was shocked. Her SNJM friends, Sr. Maureen, Sr. Rosemary, Sr. Joan were there comforting her, bringing the whiskey and the dinner and companionship. It was an evening of support and care for her. She will be leaving early this week, on Thursday to head up for the funeral and family memorials. My schedule remains the same and we are going to finish up the summer session with a special program about the MS river. I have more to write but this weekend was a huge blessing just to get away. I surely wouldn't have wanted to have been a person in one of these plantation homes--and I hope I wasn't.
It's been a very fulfilling and busy weekend, but today I want you to tell all your beloveds that they are loved by you. Sr. Teresa's brother-in-law was killed this weekend in a tractor rollover accident. He was not old. He was BELOVED. He was an incredible human being. He was a friend to Virgil and Sandra, I understand. IT was an accident and just that quick.