Friday, February 24, 2017

Derroll Adams

Widows do have a task, that is to keep the memory of the one they lost alive. In this case Danny Adams visited me today and brought a new CD that is just out : Feelin' fine. For those who forgot: Derroll Adams was born in Portland Town, as the song states in Oregon, in 1925, and passed away in Antwerp in 2000. Derroll's instrument is the banjo and he is special in how he handled the banjo. Like many artists and musicians they kept going back and forth between Europe and the USA. Tony was a good guitar player (he also played flamenco, Paco di Lucia style). Yet for Tony his main way of expression was painting. Derroll also painted but for him the music came first. Danny now has the CD out and will find other ways of seeing to it that Derroll will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Amberes

I live in a big building with 76 apartments. We have people with different languages, with different colors. With english or french we usually manage. The population is aging. My neighbor is getting "forgetful". Sometimes she rings my doorbell more than 12 times a day. Yet if she could help me she would do so. She is physically really fit, with less aches and pains than I have. He has a really set schedule: having a coffee across the street. Just to have seen other people and so she doesn't feel alone. She is kind and helpful. Still dies her hair blond. She likes to be entertained and to be surrounded by people. Both her children however live a continent away. One in South Africa and the other one in the USA. She still is adventurous taking the tram to go to a nice lively square where she can have a, or more than a drink and where is surrounded my people. It is sad that her mind her memory is going. I am training myself to be patient, to try give her some time over a coffee or tea. There are other kind folks in the building like Sofia, younger than Lucy. She is very religious, takes communion regularly. So she must be one certain to go to heaven. There is also a University professor Mia, well read and thus interesting to me. She is a voracious reader and she likes a drink like Elixir d'Anvers. She has a cleaning lady, Julia, who is there most days: she cleans,  helps with the care for Mia's son and ranges, makes the bed and does shopping, cleans the bathtub. She rides a light motorbike. Only in winter when there is ice on the streets and snow then she doesn't like it. There are Jewish people and people I can't classify on the basis of their name. Of course there are two architects members of the council of the building. There is also a variety of dogs, Tootsie the Yorkshire terrier, a big one, a small barking a lot white one and of course my very own DoggyDog. I like this variety and the view from my 12th floor over the old city. I also enjoy the morning sun.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Multi cultural aspects of life.

I live in Antwerp in an old high rise. This implies there are a lot of different nationalities, that several languages are spoken in the building, yet from high blond to black we greet each other as neighbors and some times take the time for a chat, or to admire a new baby or pet a dog. A friend of mine asked me a while ago whether I could talk for an hour explaining about multiculturalism to a a handful of girls. I am also bringing some books by Native American authors I really like.

My favorites: Sherman Alexie, Scott Momaday, MariJo Moore, Luci Tapahonso, Ramson Lomatewama, Simon J. Ortiz, James Kale McNelly.

I also need to buy some multicultural cookies. I have "baldheads" (Kletskopjes) and "mini bagels" and Rochers "rocks" made of coconut....

Now when the kids finally arrived we were two hours late and the task description was totally different. When I had finally figured out that they wanted some very different I could do it: they wanted a person's life story, that is to say mine, because they happened on my doorstep (actually my daughter's doorstep). Then I concentrated on a light introduction, encouraged them to ask questions and they seemed to enjoy themselves. So one person will be writing a portrait of the person they think I am. They were happy when they left.

Then I ran out to find a stack of books that I thought I would need and couldn't find: all my Native American  Poetry... Those books are hard to replace when you are a continent away... I retraced my steps where I had been and with a sigh of relief found them huddled together. I read a lot of poetry, find it intriguing, refreshing and beautiful.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Politics in Trump times

Having worked at the European Parliament has given me a bit of insight of how 27 states can work together... Yet what CNN, BCC and other TV-channels show me these days is beyond my comprehension. The turmoil, the confusion and the arrogance is mind boggling. It all seems haphazard, not thought through. There seems to be no trust, just in some people the blatant arrogance of power. If T. doesn't know anymore what to do he starts an other press conference. The meeting with his Israeli colleague Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu was to say the least weird. Trump suddenly didn't care whether a one state or two state solution. He only suggested to cool it a bit with the settlements. Palestinians have once again gotten the short stick.
Living in Antwerp, near a larger Jewish section makes me wonder how the people there feel. I see the different 'factions' in how they dress. I see how the young Jewish girls are little happy princesses and then when they grow up they seem not happy anymore. They have a bunch of children in tow, seem often sullen and down. Maybe they long to go back to Israel where the weather is better.
Yet what I really don't understand is how suddenly a person becomes Trumps best friend and how they get fired, or they make the decision to leave the ongoing madness and try and salvage their dignity...
Elizabeth Warren is my favorite together with Claire McCaskill
I root for them.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Domestic trouble in the morning leading to empowerment

In the evening I always let down the blind in the kitchen to keep the cold out. Yet when I tried to make it go up again, there seemed to be a bit of confusion in the workings. Then I noticed a tiny message on the device that the batteries were empty. I thought I just knew the shop where to get the small batteries I needed. I was pointed in the right direction by the kind old lady of the shop, because they didn't carry that. At the shop, basically DoggyDog couldn't come in. But soon enough the shopkeeper gave me the correct size batteries and for 4.99€ I was on my way home again in the very brisk frosty morning. I put the batteries in, reconnected the device to its support and for 20 seconds, or half a minute the blind was confused, made a few weird movements, but then success: the blind went up and seems to be functioning well. I could have asked for help, but didn't and in not doing that and figuring it out by myself I felt strangely empowered. Yesterday, I managed to fix my printer and was also proud and now feel empowered... May it last a long time ;-)



Thursday, February 9, 2017

Courage against Racism

Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband.” The letter, previously unavailable publicly, was obtained on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
(Read the full letter below)
The letter was read by courageous Elizabeth Warren. She was silenced and brought outside the Congress, where in the hall she went on reading the full letter which follows here:
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Thirty years later, Sessions, now a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and he is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.
In the letter, King writes that Sessions ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”
“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

Monday, February 6, 2017

From Pucini's opera La Boheme

Mimi: It is deadly to be alone in winter, in spring the sun keeps us company...
Mimi wasted away from turberculosis and her Bohemian friends brought her to the hospital where she dies.

My mother had tuberculosis and was brought to the Stuyvenberg Hospital in Antwerp. Yet she had already infected me. thus in Februari, while being in first grade I ended up in Merksplas for ten long months. Around Christmass my parents took me home and after the New year I just went on in the seccond class... My handwriting was never trained, so it is not pretty!