Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Something about New Orleans

About a year ago, I flew to New Orleans for a few days for work. I had some time to explore the French Quarter, and I noticed that many houses and even restaurants have little gardens in their backyards.

As you can see from the photo, it's cool and easy back here. Easy to sit down, easy to watch the bricks stay in place with no effort at all.

And it's easy to appreciate time standing still for a little while.

There's a graciousness here . . . even after the Katrina devastation. I'm sure many more people are heading back to NOLA this year.

The city was still a ghost town back then. Not far from where I took this photo, I had my palm read. She said things would be getting better for me real soon. I must have looked a little tired or maybe that beignet and coffee left me feeling a little impatient as she shuffled the cards over and over again and watched me settle into her miniature lawn chair.

When it was my turn to ask a question, I couldn't think of one thing I wanted to know in advance. So I asked, "Does it ever cool down around here?"

She nodded. "Stick around for a couple of months. You'll see . . ."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

On the Road . . .

Well, this coming week, it's on the road up to Provincetown and the Fine Arts Work Center for a week of poetry with poet Cleopatra Mathis and many other writers and artists.

Don't tell anybody that I picked the workshop because her name was "Cleopatra." I figure when I'm 90 I can freak out my great-grandchildren by telling them I studied poetry with Cleopatra. Think glittering barges on the Nile.

I got a little nervous when I found out we were supposed to bring a copy of the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry but my friend Cynthia assured me that this won't really be a "class."

I sure hope so.

Cynthia is my best friend from high school. We reconnected when we both decided to skip Classical High School's multi-decade reunion, and we found out that we're both writing poetry.

And yes, of course we have day jobs (for now).

She and her hubby actually have a summer house right in P'town. And this will be our first class together in years and years and years since we were both working on the senior play, "What a Life!". I'm lucky I have friends who love poetry.

Last year at FAWC, my workshop was with Gail Mazur, a poet recommended by my dear friend and brother in spirit Richard McCann. I wrote a long poem one morning about my dad's passing that April.

That class included 8 or 9 other women who wrote wonderful poems that week, including my long-time pal, Riggin.

I love being in New England, and I'm looking forward to driving up there with Riggin, an amazing writer and long-time pardner in literary crimes. She published three of my stories in an anthology she edited in 2003. Actually she's working on getting her Web site up sometime very soon.

Riggin thinks my family tried to poison her on one trip up there for my dad's 80th birthday bash in June 2000.

We arrived late, and she ate some steamers from a bowl on the big picnic table in my sister Vanessa's backyard. Unfortunately those clams had been out there in the sun for a while.

We won't talk about what happened in the next 4 hours. Ick.

That year we were heading for a week of writing on Block Island with a bunch of writer friends. One of those dear ones has since passed on -- Joan Dickenson, a brilliant writer and columnist from upstate New York.

Now there's a woman who should be famous . . . and she will some day.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lemur Appreciation Society of America

Dear Ones,

I wanted to let you know about LASOA, the Lemur Appreciation Society of America.

A fledgling group of concerned lovers of these leaping tree creatures, LASOA started up a couple of years ago when a couple of local writers had been working way too hard.

And right now, we still have the same number of members as we did in the beginning -- three. The President, me (Meredith), the Vice President, Rebecca, and of course you, Pondling, in absentia.

When I think of lemurs I think of you, although your tail is not quite so curly, is it?

These LASOA leaders are not to be confused with the actual presidents or vice presidents of any first world or third world countries.

Sadly, no one I know is sure there really is a second world. But I expect wherever it might be, you'll find it stuck between two shifting continental plates about a mile underground.

A Conundrum: What's in a Name?

Dear Pondling,

I know and you know that a title can't be "owned" by anyone, but I was dismayed to find "Thoughts from the Pond" is the title of an inspirational Web site that belongs to a Mr. Williams, from Jacksonville, Florida.

So, dear Pondling, we have to change the name of our blog. You'll probably find it annoying in that way you do, but we must.

Sure, I've been Christian -- Baptist, Methodist (see previous blog), Catholic (stories to come) -- but I don't see us affiliated with Mr. Williams. Nope, that will never happen.

And, since our blog is only a few weeks old, it's really not a problem to try something new. Especially this, Dear Pondling.

It's easier to talk directly to you this way . . . in the way that clairvoyants channel universal white light . . .

In the way that animals sense a coming storm.

In the way that a partner knows what her lover is thinking before she even thinks it.

You'll type and I'll tell the story. And our friends will be amused.

That's one way it might be.

For you see, dear Pondling, this is the place for stories that stretch the truth like taffy and conjure magic as wild and wonderful as Harry Potter and his friends.

Why not! It's Friday!

It's too bad you've never worked a day in your life, Pondling. Really, in a way it's kind of fun.

Talk to you tomorrow. Have a great evening. May the spirits dance in your dreams.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Al and the Indians

On Saturday, July 7, I made my way downtown through the labyrinth of fences and cement blockades around the Capitol to hear Al Gore speak about global warming at DC's version of "Live Earth."
The "Mother Earth" event was planned as a 12-hour marathon event at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Professor Henrietta Mann (on stage at left) started the opening ceremony with a prayer to save and respect the planet.

Professor Mann is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapho Tribes of Oklahoma.

Katsi Cook (photo above, on stage at right), a member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation, spoke next of our responsibilities to the earth.

A traditional midwife, Katsi Cook is recognized for her pioneer study of the impact of PCBs and heavy-metal pollutants on breast milk of Native women in Great Lakes Indian communities.

After the grandmothers spoke, Al Gore made his way to the podium as fast as he could without stopping to shake hands or wasting any time.
Al made a joke about how this time, with the world in such an environmental crisis, we were looking for help from the Indians, not the cowboys or the calvary.
That comment raised wild applause from the crowd, now numbering several hundred sweaty families, students, grandmothers, and media stalwarts.

As for me, I was stuck behind the "pinkies," several women from out of town dressed all in pink with sponge-foam Statue of Liberty hats.

I was also stuck behind metal cowcatcher barricades linked one to the other so no one could get out. Of course, being a child of the 60s, I figured out how to disconnect the link between two of them, and I slipped out and away from behind the crowd.
And once I made my way to the street, I walked back to the Capitol and up to Louisiana Avenue to find my car and make my way home.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Indian Elders Open for Al

Change is good . . . I can be more vigilant about recycling. I can turn out lights when I leave a room.

But Al Gore is doing a whole lot more than that. He's mobilizing young and old across cultures and time zones to ramp up the volume on global warming.

Saturday, July 7, I drove down to the Museum of the American Indian at about 10 am to see if I could take a picture or two at the last-minute "Mother Earth" event here in DC.

Opening the event, an American Indian grandmother and a midwife offered prayers to remind us to cherish the ground we stand on.

Besides Al, his wife Tipper was there. But not the bad boy Al III. I'll bet he was grounded for driving 100 miles per hour, etc.

Trish Yearwood and Garth Brooks were there too. And some Indian rockers and blues artists.

I parked up on Louisiana Avenue near the Capitol and walked five blocks to the museum.

Crossing in front of the Capitol, I walked around all the fencing and cement blockades. Did you know there's even a little fence around the statue on top of the dome?

At the museum, I joined a short line inching forward towards a temporary gate. Students, families, some tourists, all mixed ages and colors, moved with little sound.

But as it ended up, I was wrong about the line. It was a whole lot longer than I thought.

But I didn't find out until I was already inside with a pack of 20-year-olds who were grumbling that I had cut in line.

I apologized, but I didn't give up my spot. "I'm just taking a couple of photos and leaving," I explained.

I later found out they had been there since 11 pm the night before. Why I have no idea.

In short order, we were all behind a metal cattle guard to keep us from moving up towards the stage. Then it got noisy. "This isn't fair!" People yelled. "We've been here since last night, and we can't even see the stage!"

As it turned out, people who arrived last got perfect, unobstructed spots right in front of the stage!

As a child of the 60s, I'm happy to remind young people that playing by the rules and joining a line that started yesterday, isn't a great idea . . . but nobody listens to me.

Not even me.

How goofy am I to cut in a line that ended up with no good spot to take a photo! Plus those cattle guards are interlocking, so you can't get out when you want to!

And meanwhile, the latecomers could move around without any barricades at all! Plus they had big buckets of ice filled with water bottles for free.

Life isn't fair . . . but then we were there to think about the planet not ourselves, right?

And who better, than Al Gore to send the wake up call . . .

Friday, July 6, 2007

Going Green with Al in DC on July 7

In summer, Washington, DC, is a sultry swamp of heat and humidity. Those of us who live here are used to it.

Well, sort of.

After all these years, I still run in to air-conditioned buildings to cool off. And I have bandanas in the freezer to tie around my neck if I'm heading out for a walk that's farther than the mailbox.

As a rule, we turn out in droves with coolers of ice and lemonade to enjoy 4th of July fireworks on the National Mall, local parades, and family picnics in Rock Creek Park.

But what we as a community do best is attend marches, especially for a good cause. And let's face it, the ground we're standing on and the air we're breathing are as good as you can find these days when it comes to causes.

So the news that Al Gore and his "Live Earth" friends plan to kick off Saturday's global green celebration near the Capitol is excellent!

That's this Saturday, 07/07/07, at 10 am. Al Gore, Trish Yearwood, Garth Brooks, and many many bands including Blues Nation. All on the grounds of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian at 4th and Independence, S.W.

See you there! I'll be the old lady in the beenie copter looking for the bathroom.

* * * *

My first march in DC was back in 1967. I was an 18-year-old undergraduate at George Washington University studying journalism, anthropology, and English Lit.

And spending most of my free time at Montrose Park or behind Dumbarton Oaks looking at the clouds and collecting flowers.

Ah, the 60s. Those were the days when a march was a march was a march. Trash cans on fire (some of us), guns with bayonets (not us), nightsticks (not us), and tear gas, don't forget the tear gas (definitely not us).

At the end of one march, my housemates and I were back home at 20th & O near Dupont Circle with wet washcloths over our faces to help block the tear gas from our eyes.

But our cat, Lewis Cheese, poor thing, passed out in the hall closet from the fumes.

If we're lucky none of that will happen tomorrow.

Especially if all 2 billion people planning to celebrate stay at their own events in Rio, Shanghai, Sydney, London, and Tokyo, and don't try to travel here.

What's different on the planet now is the sheer number of people -- three times as many human beings on the earth now as there were back then -- all needing food, water, shelter, and gasoline . . .

But if we're going green, maybe not so much gasoline. I wonder, though, how many of us will take the Metro or walk down to the concert in the 95-degree heat.

Probably not me . . .