While preparing to receive a bunch of friends and look at the fireworks at midnight, I listen to the radio and the horrendous situation in the Gaza strip is on my mind.
I wish all of you a good and healthy year and for the Palestinians a peace now and livable state. Stop the blockade and the bombing... 60 years of conflict is too long. The UN Security council should act now and protect innocent children and civilians. Lets work for non violent cooperative futures for all.
Friends who had visited my desert hideaway and had enthusiastic stories to tell about the strange fauna in the bar, invited me to diner to share their experiences. Father and son are both journalists. They are loud and boisterous and the lady of the house holds her own in the spitfire discussions. These exchanges are fun. And the dog got fed well too. Is Obama right wing? Will he close Guantanamo? Sorrow and sadness about the horrendous situation in Gaza, the good plan of David Scheiner and Professor Kader, conflict resolution, the beauty of Antelope Canyon and Glen Dam, all was discussed...
Looking out of my window I see the hoarfrost on the roofs of the town, white reflecting the light of this brisk, beautiful day. A quiet day with the promise of friends near. It is the first time I post a picture of myself. A friend took this picture right after the last concert. What did she do to capture the feeling I had: glowing from the inside out, at home in the intimacy of the music and the atmosphere, at home in the words. Explore the music link, the only one I could find to two of the musicians where you actually listen to their magic, that brings love and light. You may have to click on welcome and the on the cd's....
Last weekend I tread on uncharted territory. A bunch of topnotch musicians: Jakke on Sitar, Michel on guitar, Sadig on the lute, Jean with alt clarinet and North African drums, Theo with drums and Peruvian flutes, Katelijn with her jaguar cello, and Joachim who was my first taste of overtones in voices going deep into body and mind, joined by Pieter and Kaja each in different tones and style. Not knowing anything about music I was privileged to be with them on stage in a series of living room concerts reading North American Indian contemporary poetry. Jean was my teacher and found the images and words on what to listen for as to when to start reading. Being there with them was a deep experience, in the music, in the time, in the now, but out of this world. The last picture shows Katelijn talking to the audience just before the start. After the performance she fed us with warm soup, homemade pies by her friends and warmth and friendship.
We gathered at my parents place for the marathon evening of the year. We get treated to a nice dinner, and have to wait till midnight for the presents. It is then my mothers prerogative to put the baby Jesus is the manger. They put up a nice tree. We sing, what I do can't be called singing in all honesty. We talk, eat and drink. This years innovation was a night walk through the woods. The lanterns I brought were too weak to avoid the potholes and puddles; the returning light not yet strong enough to help us out. It was an old fashioned night. The parents were happy although my mother doesn't know where she is. She said at a certain point 'I may have to leave'. That gave me a chill. But she has a good time when we are all gathered around the table. I wonder where she thinks she is... I hope she feels it is a warm and comfortable place. And yes the dark chocolate covered, orange marmalade filled hearts and the gingerbread got eaten.
One of my grandmothers was German. She was might gentle safe heaven in dark times. Christmas as a consequences carries her sounds and smells. Lebkuchen, the Braedele, the dark chocolate coated gingerbread hearts filled with orange marmalade, that one specific flavor of marzipan... Of course also the songs, the mulled wine. Not with the opulence of these days, but just enough to remember, to look forward and backward. In these dark times of conflicts and crisis, we should remember that the light has returned and that if we work for it peace, love and light, food for all, respect for all that is, is possible. With all my warmth I send love and light.
Antwerp=America was the commercial slogan of the Antwerp based Red Star Line which transported more than 2.000.000 European immigrants to Ellis Island. They attracted the East European migrants and refugees by offering an all inclusive trip: train ride plus boat fare. That was in the times the American dream was written all in capitals, whereas now, people still want to go to the States but the dream is jaded. Maybe Obama can turn that around. The human interest stories are nice, Irving Berlin was 5 when he made the trip... Coming out of the museum Het Steen the life city will steal your heart with the smells of mulled wine, Christmas cookies and such. The visit was concluded by a visit to a Chinese supermarket and a delicious, somewhat overabundant meal ordered in Mandarin by my buddy AJ. What you see is the tfu dish and the no longer flying pigeon.
Now I didn't know my American guest could translate Santa Claus seamlessly into St Niklaas, surprising me with all the right ingredients. Then in the afternoon, the parents had homemade 'speculoos' and more tangerines and chocolate figurines. I must have been a good girl this year because obviously Sint doesn't bring presents to naughty kids. I like to keep traditions up, it is a way of marking the passing of time. It brings anticipation and a bit of reflection upon the why and whats. Sint Niklaas came from Spain, and the black young Piet was a servant watching out on top of the roof for the bad guys while inside alchemy was studied and conducted. If unwanted guest came, the kid would trow a bit of gunpowder in the chimney thus allerting the Sint inside. He got black from sliding down the chimney. Of course the Sint saved a bunch of kids by putting them in his big bag and carrying them out of harms way. So Spain causes the sweets to oranges, marzipan, tangerines, chocolate figurines and gingerbread for wich you need the spices from elsewhere. The kids are supposed to sing the special songs wich we did wholeheartedly.
Birthed from Scorched Hearts Women respond to War was compiled and edited by MariJo Moore. She produced an important, powerful book. 54 women from all over he world have sent in their words, their feelings, their insights, their stories. Some give courage, some are heart wrenching, some are wise. Reading the book I learned about old, historic violence beginning with Medusa and the daughters of Celtic Boudica. We learn about massacres and forgotten people, the plight of indigenous peoples in the USA and in the rest of the world. The chronology then brings WW I and WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, followed by the protesters and peace workers. I am moved, humbled by the creativity and life lessons of these women. I like the historic fiction by MariJo Moore writing about Creek War and the Indian boy Andrew Jackson took home. MariJo imagines the mother’s tale about her lost boy’s life. Great. Then another important piece is by Rebecca Bevins Faery about Vietnam and the repackaging now of Nam as a tourist destination. She was married to a soldier in that war and was a peace activist. It deeply resounded in me as it was my first confrontation with war and as a consequence peace work. I should mention Laura Tohe’s testimony about her brother. Molly Mc Glennen writes about Native American women’s poetry and the reinterpretation of war: insightful and moving. We need to understand creative expression as sacred and to acknowledge the continuum among the speaker, writer, reader, listener, creative spirit and the word. Doing so, your writing will have political implications. Your love flowing out can change the world.