Friday, September 29, 2006

The Dis-Ease to Please!

I have this disease to please. I really do. It's not funny, but I'm into self-healing. I know there's a book by that title, and believe me, my husband told me, "BUY IT". I loaned it out from our local library, and did read some of it, but I do need to read it again.

Yesterday, when a parent-volunteer at the school where I work part-time said to me, "Someone told me you would know what to do with the cookbooks". These are cookbooks left over from the last parent-volunteer who ran the PTA--a not-well-thought-out-so-called-fundraiser! I said to this person we'll call Belinda, "What poor soul told you that?" She replied, "Ruann". I said, "well, where are they now?", (feeling that disease to please come upon me, I started to think: 'if you do something three times, it becomes your job'). With this in mind, I replied, "well, they (the cookbooks) can stay in the office, and if someone wants to buy them, Crianna can accept the money". All the time, walking up the stairs to the teacher's lounge where the cookbooks were, and talking to the back of Crianna's head. Crianna is the always-sick, always-complaining so-called secretary who uses the job to run her life (constantly yakking on the phone to friends, appointments, etc.). As Belinda and I discussed the cookbooks, I announced, "anyway it's against my religion to be in the PTA". One of the bus drivers was in the office as well, and Ruann and her husband were sitting taking a break in the adjoining room, and overheard me. Ruann's husband guffawed and said "what religion?" I replied, "the gloria religion". Knowing full well that I was talking to two fundamentalist Christians (Ruann and her hubby) plus a Seventh-Day adventist (Belinda). But hey, they always use that as an excuse, so why can't I? The bus driver, who is my neighbor, overheard me and laughed out loud! We all had a good chuckle, and so be it. It was a direct hit on the SDA Belinda, who always uses that as an excuse, she can't do anything on the Sabbath, and can't allow her kids do anything on the Sabbath, except when it suits them!!!

I need to take care of myself, my needs, and be a lot more selfish. It's paramount to everything about me. I have enough to do. One way is to do it with humor! Crianna needs to do some work anyway, yesterday, I gave her an order about some art supplies to get a P.O. for, and she refused to do it. Well, I'm not shelling out any more funds from my pocket and then having to wait a month for reimbursement. NO WAY!

I'm in the healing process from the DIS-EASE TO PLEASE!!! YES!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Thrill is Gone

Well, I have a lot to do, and a lot to say, but how to do it all? Is it keeping me up nights wondering? I have a Boy Scout function this weekend, and I have to get ready for that, after hearing last night that the Scoutmaster won't be there, as his business is taking him to Maui.

So, we'll get it together and hopefully be able to swing it somehow. The kids are getting to bed way too late, causing fitful and frightful mornings. Crying, tail-dragging, that sort of thing.

When I asked Hayven whether Calista was her best friend a last week, she replied, "only if she keeps things sanitary." I laughed so hard I thought I would burst!

This is a picture of Colville taken yesterday on a beautiful day from the car.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Violent Struggle Part B

This photo depicts the bloodbath. The skunk was wounded by our dog, and he did try to get away, poor thing! That terrible garlging/barking sound was enough to wake the dead!

Well, the aftermath is that the skunk was thrown over the hill. I felt like a detective searching for the signs of struggle and the blood trail. And believe me, there was a blood trail!

Grateful that Dylan was there and I didn't have to do the deed, I would have shot it, but would have closed my eyes while doing it!!!

Here are the "blood trail" pix! City folk may think we're cruel, my mom, for instance didn't want to see pix of the dead skunk! "EEEWWWWW!" she said!

But we country folk know that skunks will just make trouble for you. Methinks the skunk was on his way to the compost pile, filled high with corn cobs, moldy lettuce, and other goodies skunks love.

Kudos to my super dog, Bandit, who lost sleep and flushed the varmint out! I do wonder why the skunk thinks it needs to spray and why it has the most unusual colors in nature!

The Violent Struggle

Today at 5 a.m. a skunk visited our home; or rather, had a violent struggle with our dog, Bandit. A horrific dog/cat/animal strangling-barking noise awoke me at around 4:50 am, followed by Bandit barking non-stop. When I thought I'd better go down to see what was the matter, I shouted at Bandit to stop barking--this usually does the trick and I go back to bed. He didn't stop barking this time. Then he continued around to the front of the house, as if saying, "follow me" and barked at the meek little black Toyota Corolla parked in front of the house. In my sleep-fog, I realized he had cornered some kind of beast under the Toyota. The motion sensor lights were on. I rushed into the house to get a flashlight. Of course, the batteries were low, so I couldn't see much, and then I saw a tiny black head under the car, a skunk. It was hardly moving. I threw some rocks under the Toyota to scare it off, brushed rocks under the car with the broom, and still it wouldn't budge from under the car.

I got brave enough to jump into the Toyota to move the car, forcing the animal to get out from under the car. Moving the car back, it did--and almost went onto my front steps. I watched it in disbelief for awhile while Bandit continued to bark at it, keeping a safe distance so as not to get "sprayed". Finally, I went into the house and awoke my son to get up and help me. I realized by seeing the limping animal, that Bandit had somehow wounded it--that was the sound I had heard earlier. I told Dylan to shoot it (since it was already wounded) and he vanished into the garage to get the shotgun and ammunition for it--half asleep.

My mother got up, and said "he's half asleep". I said, "well, he better wake up". Dylan had no shoes on and peered out from the front door window slit with the gun in his hand. I was shouting at him from the front where I had a clear view--but he just peered out. I realized he couldn't see the skunk. I shouted at him, "it's right there at the foot of the stairs". He opened the door and shot it, but didn't get a good shot at it.

I rushed in to get my camera. I told him to go out from the kitchen door (on the side of the house) and shoot it from the front. I was in front and could see everything, having moved the Toyota. He complied, and rushed out in front while I was in the house trying to find batteries for the digital camera. When I came out, the skunk somehow managed to crawl under the Jeep, so I had to jump in the Jeep and move it! Then the smelly beast was finally exposed and half-dead. Dylan had got a shot it, but shot its butt.

Finally, Dylan had a clear shot, and the deed was done. Now I have to live with the god-awful smell of scared skunk in the house, the mud room, but worse, the Toyota! The smell was the worst thing I've ever smelled, onions and just infiltrated every fiber of my house. I gagged and tried to vomit, but couldn't. Not only that, but the insane smell of onions, skunk and horrible skunk poop is everywhere on me! Off the the shower for me! Or, is it my imagination?

I had some sweet orange essential oil and dropped a few drops everywhere, to no avail. Found some insense and put several burning sticks everywhere in the house. Dylan threw the dead skunk over the hillside, but with the smell, it's like it's still right in the house.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Swaneagle Harijian Tremblay

This is a story about a woman living here in Rural NE WA state. She's an activist, and I hope you enjoy her story and her art.

It was published in the September issue of the North Columbia Monthly.
Do Artists Have a Social Responsibility?
Swaneagle (Tremblay) Harijan

By Gloria J. Geary

Swaneagle Tremblay is an artist with a mission (pictured left with a crocheted mask she uses in her performance art). One might label her as an activist-artist, but labeling is something that transcends her persona; she’s not easily categorized. The Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard said, “Once you label me you negate me”. Yet, she is, by her own description, “an odd woman”. Swaneagle willingly lends her voice to disenfranchised people. Also, she is very passionate about being a force in the world for indigenous people. When she speaks about the atrocities in our world today, she is extremely articulate and knowledgeable about her subject.

Her art is a response to those atrocities and injustices she sees all around her. Other people and other artists may shy away from the tough issues of our times. They may look the other way when they encounter injustice or racism. Swaneagle does not. She faces the tough issues of our times. And, because of her multi-racial children, she has experienced racism first-hand, with her children teaching her many valuable lessons. Their courage and determination is commendable in the onslaught of unsound race relations that is the “norm” for our country today. Some might argue that racism is non-existent at best or subtle at worst. Swaneagle is cognizant of the dominant majority culture and how the world is shaped by the hand that rocks the cradle. The deeply xenophobic culture that is America today is disturbing to some people, but to this self-described “hippie”, it is especially disconcerting. As a mother, artist, and activist, she feels very deeply about the issues in our country. Our country is defined by how it treats the most marginalized and vulnerable citizens.

With the advent of the first wave of “back to nature” homesteaders from the idealist 60s era, many “hippies” moved to Northeastern Washington state in the 70s. Here they found cheap land, people of like-mindedness, and the freedom to live “alternative lifestyles”. As long as they weren’t bothering their neighbor, all was well. Swaneagle, born in Spokane, rejected her Christian name of “Mary Kay” and through a series of profound events in her life, which included a stint in jail for “civil disobedience.” She announced her new name, and with it, her new goal in life which was/is: “peace and justice for all living beings.”

Her art reflects her deep convictions and beliefs on women, children, Native Americans and racism. Much of the content of her art reflects the image of white mother/multi-racial child, or a woman alone surrounding by tipis. The art is auto-biographical, depicting a white mother/multi-racial child living in the eco-system of this region. Other artworks are directly influenced by her time living in the southwest with traditional elders such as Pauline Whitesinger and Roberta Blackgoat. One piece from this period depicts a lone Diné Woman headed from a tipi towards her hogan (The hogan is a sacred home for the Diné (Navajo) people who practice traditional religion. Every family -- even if they live most of the time in a newer home--must have the traditional hogan for ceremonies, and to keep themselves in balance) in the distance. At first glance it looks like a serene, typical Western Art Scene, until one looks a little closer to see the helicopters hovering in the background—signifying to the viewer an intense conflict. The name of the piece is: “Witness Peace Camp.”

Or, the drawing with white mother/brown child in the forest, surrounded by trees that look like they were recently cut down/harvested, and the viewer realizes the scene is not a happy one. The forest is clearly a pine forest, and reflects clear-cutting practices. This artwork is titled, “What Will We Leave for Our Children?”

Another piece depicts a woman in the desert near a large Saguaro cactus, with a single teardrop falling from her eye, and her bleeding heart in one hand—this piece is titled “Border Agony”. Sugary Valentine hearts also form a type of fence in the background symbolizing the deaths of over 4,000 people attempting to cross the Mexican/U.S. border since the implementation of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) on January 1, 1994.

Drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, Swaneagle’s only formal art training consisted of several art classes she attended at Santa Barbara City College in the late 1960s. Swaneagle began doing political art in 1980 when she created a piece about he attempt of the AAMAX corporation to desecrate Mount Tolman near Keller, WA on the Colville Reservation by mining the mineral molybdenum, used in the formation of alloys.

Swaneagle met a woman named Noguns—a powerful frontline Hippie mother who told her about the Gandhian action against the Seabrook Nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. She explains, “Traveling east, I studied Gandhi for several months and then participated with two other people in the civil disobedience that put myself and the organizer, David Slesinger in jail for 4 months.”

In her own words, Swaneagle describes the processes that have shaped her life and ideals. “In l982, David Slesinger organized the nonviolent response to the Seabrook nuke after the citizens of Seabrook voted four times to stop it from being built. It was constructed anyway. I had just participated in voting to ban out-of-state nuclear waste from being imported to Hanford. It was an overwhelming “NO” vote, but the Supreme Court overturned the wishes of New Hampshire State citizens. I felt the need to participate in direct, nonviolent action. I did not bargain for a 6-month sentence (reduced to 4-months with good behavior). While incarcerated, my art became very political as I was witnessing the suffering of women from Haiti and El Salvador facing execution upon deportation. It was also during my confinement that I learned that 75% to 90% of uranium used for nuclear weapons and power came from Native American lands where the tailings piles were never covered. Then I learned about the struggle at Big Mountain, AZ from Noguns when she came to visit me in jail. The experience irrevocably altered my life. Before doing civil disobedience, I was shy, afraid to express my opinion. But when I was presented with a bouquet of a dozen microphones held by reporters as I prepared to commit my crime of conscience against the Public Service Company of New Hampshire, Seabrook's main share holder, I became uncorked and have had no trouble speaking truth as I know it to this day. Though I am silenced in many ways due to the positions I take, I no longer fear speaking out.”

Swaneagle elaborates, “Shortly after returning home to Onion Creek, I left the area with my two young children to attend Evergreen State College where I did further studies on nonviolence, enrolled in the Native American studies program as well as studied performance art. In l984, I began traveling to Big Mountain, Arizona in response to a call put out by traditional Hopi and Diné Elders for non-Indians to bear witness to their spiritual resistance to forced relocation enacted by the U. S. government and Peabody Coal Company. The human rights abuses were so blatant that I truly believed this would be the civil rights movement of the 80's, but I saw that the press participated in a blackout. When the mainstream media did report on this serious situation, it was called “The Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute”. But the truth was the dispute existed between the Federal Government, the Peabody Coal Company and the U.S.-backed tribal councils against the traditional peoples of both tribes. I have been doing what I can ever since to keep people educated, but the blackout is so successful that few people know that there are traditional people speaking their own language, herding sheep, growing corn, weaving rugs and living as self-sufficiently as possible. In retrospect, it will be seen as the greatest human rights violation of the 20th century within U.S. borders. Of 16,000 people already relocated, over 8,000 have died already. It is shameful. Yet, Pauline Whitesinger is still out there living her ancient way of life against all odds. She is my life’s greatest teacher.”

Swaneagle expounds on her ideas about art, “Artists have an obligation to make human conscience tangible and visible. Artists have always had a deep connection to conscience and are often among the first to be disappeared in dictatorships. Art transcends the barriers of language. It reaches people where words often fail. I call my art “spiritual” as it comes from my own experiences of extreme marginalization--because my family disowned me for never marrying and having mixed-race children. This has kept me in visceral contact with the suffering of other voiceless people as well as exposed me and my children to the cross-cultural plea for solution that is emerging in places of resistance all over the world. Writers such as Alice Walker, Anna Castillo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Barbara Kingsolver and others express these multi-cultural communities essential for survival in these fractious times. Our children need to be part of inclusion that contributes to healing of the planet and their very future. My children are part of this Rainbow reality in the diversity of their friends and the new cultures being shaped out of dire necessity. The damage being done continually by the invader dominant society is being reversed, thrown aside in very healthy and creative ways everywhere the human spirit rises above death and destruction to keep thriving. Hanging on to oppressive, vengeful methods only spells doom for all life. All of us have an obligation to instill compassion, kindness, love and responsibility in ourselves, our children and our communities. All of us, everyone, is hurt by war, culture, and greed. By remaining silent in the face of atrocity, we undermine our children's chances at a decent life. I have a right to define who I am as a human being. Though I have been accused of being a “cultural thief” because of my name, I maintain my efforts to reclaim my pre-Christian ancestry in Ireland that also honored the earth where people were named after the elements, flora and fauna. All names having meaning that dominant society strips away—this is a colonial attempt to demean those who do not conform to narrow structures that perpetrate abuse. In taking my name in a Wiccan ceremony where the old was thrown into a fire and the new taken on, I also made a lifetime commitment to human rights. I have no way of knowing my Irish culture directly, but I can shape what it means to live responsibly with integrity. Just in doing this I am attacked by a variety of people who really are in pain themselves. I must heed my heart in resisting war, genocide, ecocide and enacting a livable future. It is my sacred duty.”

Swaneagle’s politically-charged artwork is available for sale. She also sells the incredible weavings of the Diné women from Big Mountain, Arizona. Please contact her at 732-4875.

Freezing Corn

Corn is fun, corn is fun to freeze. When farmer Bill gives you 75 ears of corn, you've got to something with it. I froze it, like good old country women have been doing for eons. Something I heard in the movie "Runaway Bride" which played last night on NBC. The announcer/character of a radio program in the small upstate NY town, Corey Fleming said, "Thank God you have the sense to live in a small town." This says a lot about America. Small towns, I think are better in oh-so-many-ways. Some people, yes, all you city dwellers out there, don't understand, and that's OK. Maybe you never will. I'm not saying I don't miss the city, because I do. I have lived in the two biggest cities in the world, Los Angeles and Chicago, so I know whereof I speak!

But small towns are less stressful, even though, living out in the sticks, I cannot order in pizza or chinese food! But today, I'm proud to announce that I "put up" 75 ears of corn, sliced off the cob, fresh from Bill's farm, where he says, "I don't spray my corn with anything". So, that would make it organic around these parts!

Fresh, wholesome goodness, how many times have you heard those words?