The News Tribune logo

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Golfers Are Coming! The Golfers Are Coming! The USGA Invades My 'Hood

Disclaimer #1: I am a golf person. I like the sport. We have a golf family. 

Disclaimer #2: I love events that promote the South Sound and put it on the national/international stage in a positive light. Even if you don't like golf, South Sounders, you have to agree that having the South Sound in the limelight is more than just a little cool.

So, guess what's happening in the neighborhood....

University Place is in a golf and event frenzy as the U.S. Amateur Championship golf tournament kicked off this weekend. The USGA (United States Golf Association) signage is happily posted in every nook and cranny of the city and Chambers Bay golf course (home of this year's Amateur tournament) is crazy-busy with activity and good buzz. So, of course, my husband and I had to pop down  (we just up the hill from the course luckily) and check out the excitement on Sunday afternoon to watch some practice rounds.
Weather-wise it was a perfect day for golf---just the right temperature and wind speed/conditions gave the players some Chambers Bay flavor to their practice. The greens were FAST and mean. The golfers will have their work cut out for them this week. Other tidbits: parking was fine and well marked. But again, this isn't the real deal when we went; I suspect parking will get more intense as the week progresses. Event volunteers were extremely cordial and informative. Shuttles to take you down the hill and onto the course were readily available and fast. The concessions, well, as you can expect were overpriced (see pic at the bottom for my visual opinion).

Enough words! Here's a mini- pictorial of our visit. View and read on!

Teeing off!

Approaching the green with our beautiful bay in the backdrop

When they say Chambers Bay is a sustainable course, they ain't kidding. Don't get your ball stuck in this stuff! 

Practice time! 

And the final shot of this post. Me....

The author of this post. This is EXACTLY how I felt when I was charged $5.00 for a mini cheapo plastic to-go cup of BUD LIGHT!!!!
Enjoy the golf and the media coverage folks! It's going to be an interesting week.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Slow And Steady

Here comes Bellarmine Prep's new gymnasium. Chilly grey days or too hot to stand it sunny days and the workers are out there, and they are getting that building up!
I find myself thinking of various moments in our lives... learning mathematics, a second language, how to pass and shoot and defend, playing a musical instrument well, growing closer to other folks, taking over responsibility for our own lives,
loving ourselves...
Hard, hard work, and when we get it together, beautiful, just beautiful.

Me... I am doing ok with this growing up stuff... and I am happy to say that I know that without my mother and grandmother, my teachers, my friends, and my God... I would not be ready to put these words together.
I remember back in the seventies a friend summing up the Black male experience in America in this fashion... "most of the black men I know are in jail, the military, or dead..." And we have got a lot to do to help a whole lot of work to do to support our young Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow sisters and brothers get pass the recession/energy consuming days ahead...

Words are not going to do it... it's that thinking and trusting and working together that is going to make of "our old world a new world." (Dr. Martin Luther King)

I am glad I have a chance with my brothers and sisters to build strong and high and beautiful that new world.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Time

Thank you, wonderful Source of sunshine and rain for my medical doctor. I went to see her for my summer checkup today. I had been deeply affirmed the last few days, at St. Therese over the weekend, in conversations with various friends the last two weeks...

So I knew I was ready to face the music and I walked quietly into Building B, Allenmore Hospital.

Quiet day in Building B... the elevator arrived quickly and the next thing I knew I had reached
my doctor's office.

Lots of warm smiles strengthened me when I walked through the doors. Check-in was quick... same address, same insurance, everything is in order... so I sat down to wait to be called in so that I could get my weight, blood pressure, and heart rate measured.

While I was waiting, I looked over at the television and lo and behold,on RTV was one of my old time favorites, Telly Savalas playing Kojak...

I checked the brother out and then returned to the wonderful thriller, The Long Fall by Walter Mosley. A few minutes later, the nurse came and got me. Got the numbers of weight, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Then the doctor came in, gently and clearly told me it was time to start exercising again... (I had been a no doing anything for, at least, two months).
And congratulated me on the rest of the numbers. My take, basically healthy but I needed to GET TO WORK.

I left the office so very grateful that I was open and honest enough to listen, not make any excuses, accept what I was told and to start making plans to get on with getting healthier.

My final take: time to start loving myself, accepting the support of other people, and taking life's challenges seriously, humbly, and with great good humor.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beyond The Borders...and Into Our Hearts

Saturday morning I woke to gentle but steady rain. This is the first time it has rained on our "Beyond The Borders" festival, but it didn't seem worrisome. We have the beautiful, historic Longbranch Improvement Club hall right there and, at worst, the bands could be moved inside with the artwork display, put on by Two Waters Arts Alliance. Still I felt a slight disappointment for my friend and bandmate, Mark Runions, who creates this wonderful show every year, finding musicians from all over the world who live and work in the Puget Sound area.

Then my daughter Anna woke up, in the middle of a rough "Herxheimer" reaction. As the bacteria do their monthly "die-off" they spit out neuro-toxins which make all of her symptoms turn up the volume. It was not a great day for me to leave her side, but her brother has become so good at helping her. Still, I didn't want to leave her. About this time I noticed I had a message on my phone and listened, my heart dropping further into my shoes as I heard my friend Jan tell me that there had been another break-in at the LIC, Friday night, and the hall was totally unusable. Fire extinguishers had been set off all over the place and would require a professional clean-up crew with breathing equipment. Jan sounded near tears, telling of the damage.

By the time my husband got down there, the community was pitching-in to set up everything with the determination of a populace full of good heart and strong bones. I did my best to keep taking deep breaths and put on my Les Izmore, gonzo journalist outfit, thinking I might make my friends laugh again. Finally, an hour late, I drove the six miles down to Longbranch, unable to help myself lift, anymore than I could banish the low cloud-cover. I thought of the daily Native American Elder quote I had been sent that morning, "Everything I know, I learned from listening and watching."

As I walked towards the crowd, I heard a man and woman locked in haunting, beautiful vocal harmony. It pulled at my heart and my breath came a little easier. A world of musicians had come and, finding our community hurting, set up to play in the rain and stand with us. The first band, Correo Aereo, billed as "Pan-Hispanic" was already half-way through their set and it was Madeleine who drew me in. She is a stunningly beautiful woman, in that aura to the core way. She was in her Bliss as she swayed and sang, playing wonderful rhythms with different percussive instruments. Each player was astounding in their own right, but I could not keep my eyes from the priestess Madeleine who poured soothing balm into sound and performance, blessing us all. Her dance was like one performed alone under the moon, her connection was something I could hold onto. The harmonies between Madeleine and Abel made me rock from side-to-side, with tears in my eyes. Evan's incredible stand-up bass playing gave the trio their solid, dancing foundation.

When they finished I walked, with my friend Trish, over to the hall to check out the damage. No one was allowed in, except for the forensic crew who were getting both finger and shoe prints left behind. It was then I found out that the Longbranch Church had also been hit...hard. Neighbours gathered together in small groups to talk and comfort one another, off to the side, and yet the spirit of this hardy bunch held it together. Our local drum circle began to play as the second band got their equipment set up on the stage.

I walked through the Art Show tent and voted for my favourite. So many good folk asked me how Anna was doing, knowing she would be with me if the day was a good one. All of us were so very tactile...we needed each others touch, as if it kept us safe in an unsafe world. Then the world began to give through music again, this time a family band originally from Egypt, The MB Orchestra. The band was made up of men from George Sadak's family.

This time mid to far-eastern rhythms and melodies reached for our hearts, hands and hips, music that has soothed me since I was a baby in Southeast Asia. Here too, the vocals were like prayers for us all. The ancient stringed Uhd was played by an older man who seemed as if he naturally and protectively curled around his instrument and its long history. Meanwhile, Bev Pederson and a few more of us let the rhythms bring us out from cover and into the rain to dance. I'd pay for that later...but it was good medicine in the moment!

By now, I had started to feel the pull to go home and be with Anna, though there were still two more bands to go. But first I drove down the street to the church and to the few people standing in the parking lot, while the police were doing their work inside. Thankfully, the Sanctuary and stained glass window were spared. With my silly "PRESS" hat, at least I gave them a wee chuckle and they asked me to please take pictures of the damage to show you. It broke my heart to see a happy children's room in wrecked chaos. After hugging everyone I could, it was time to go home.

My family stayed close last night. Thankfully Anna was doing a little better by evening, which is often the way with her Lyme disease. We all gathered in her room to watch a movie, insular once again. I had watched and listened to my daughter's struggle, learning from her strength. I had watched and listened to music from opposite sides of the world and knew to accept, with gratitude, the music's soothing. I watched and listened to my community's struggle, and learned we have strength together. Beyond The Borders succeeded far past anyone's expectations this year, just by carrying on. Kudos to Mark Runions, The Longbranch Improvement Club, Two Waters Arts Alliance, and the strong spirit of our community.

Words & Music Aug. 6th: Danny O'Keefe

Being at Danny O'Keefe's debut, reading his own prose and poetry, was like finding a really good-size agate on your beach walk...a treasure for us mossbacks! He is already a beloved singer-songwriter but, on Friday night, he too walked the tightrope without a net and let his quiet writer's voice out in public. He admitted it was very different to singing, and quite nerve-wracking. I nodded my head, remembering how my own heart had thumped just two weeks before. Danny was just as grateful for the warm and welcoming audience at Pam and Jerry Libstaff's concert series.

His speaking voice has the same sort of soft honey tone and soothing cadence of Garrison Keillor, the same intimacy with the microphone, but his first short story was one that made a Pacific Northwestern, nature-loving crowd lean in. He told us a tale that wove our local wildness, a tale of graceful herons and hunting eagles, the alarm of crows and the inevitability that, for something to live, something must die. Mr. O'Keefe seemed a deeply spiritual man who looks constantly for teachings within nature, our connections, and the day.

One of his poems was still too difficult, though he wrote it beautifully. I know it was hard for him to read it and I must applaud his bravery. I hid in my husband's arms as he read his poem about the image of a woman who dove from one of the towers on 9/11. All I could do was weep and hide from the words, still too near and too painful, seeing the faces of so many firemen we loved and lost, seeing my husband's hometown under siege and trying to find my son. I heard Danny's voice waver and pause before he could finish for he too, like everyone, lost someone that awful day.

Danny's second short story was about sweet friendship, the hellos and goodbyes that bookend those intimate visits, with a song performed within the story, "...will I see you again..." Everyone's eyes began to glisten, and it wasn't because the sun had turned to gold behind him. Danny O'Keefe is the kind of writer who skillfully leaves room in his stories for us, the reader/listener to comfortably enter and bring our own. By story's end, everyone remembered a friend and brought them into the room.

During the break we could admire Tweed's first of two paintings done that evening, Danny O'Keefe as public reader, before it was time for him to reappear as his more familiar self. Tweed (who had been traveling since early morning to get back for the show) did her magic, being drawn in by Danny's. She would begin to dance with his music, curling herself into the paper and easel, colours flying.

Feet were tapping and shoulders moving from Danny's opening song, "...livin' in the Modern Age..." as his guitar pumped us up with this raucous, old-fashioned, wordy Blues. His range was immediately evident when he turned his voice into a sweet harmonica solo. The man could throw his voice, sweetly or sassily, up into head-range with ease and he lightened considerably with a guitar in his hands. His songs were quick and complete stories, full of fleshed-out characters, like Carol the steel guitar player, or (ooh-la) that Lorraine!

He sang of sitting by a window and watching the sunset, as the sun set in true splendor behind him and the Olympic Mountains. He took us to the "...well...well...well..." through Blues and Country and all the other Americana mixes that spawned this hemisphere's Folk Music. What could be more perfect than ending the night with one of my sentimental favourites of all time, sung by the writer himself, "Good-Time Charlie's Got The Blues." I leaned into my husband's shoulder, this time with a smile. The evening was a Puget Sound treasure, our very own Danny O'Keefe.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

And The Hero of Jamaica Inn Is....

The director of the 1939 black and white classic... who kept me sitting on the edge of my very comfortable lounge chair as I watched this film. This director kept me shivering and quivering through a number of films (for example... here are two other Hitchcock movements that got me trembling when I first saw them--what would happen to Grace Kelly in Rear Window because the villain was about to open the door of his apartment where she had been nobly searching for a clue that would identify the woman whom he had killed there... Psycho... Janet Leigh killed before the movie was half way over... OH NO!)?

Charles Laughton, about whose wonderful acting career I know so little. If I had been watching this film in a theatre, each time he began speaking I would have started hissing... if my teenage friend, Peggy, had been with me, she would have had to hold me down, because I would have probably wanted to leave the theatre and go out front because I just wanted to start yelling and cursing at the wonderfully portrayed arrogant self-centered, hypocritical, very dangerous character Laughton was creating...

How about Robert Newton. He played Long John Silver in the film, Treasure Island, and wonderful recaptured the role in a television series. To do serious damage to a long ago song: "He's the one who'll save the day. Robert Newton (cut and banged up) is on his way."?a
a. theme music for Mighty Mouse cartoons

Maureen O'Hara?
As she did in so many other many films I saw back in my oh so callow youth, got my heart rate going so fast, it's a wonder I survived my childhood/teenage years!!!
The character she created in this film definitely had my concern and deep allegiance... I applauded every step she took....

My choice...
Not Important
Your choice priceless
You can get the use of this film for a week at the Main Library, Tacoma, Washington.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Justice Served in Eatonville Animal Cruelty Case

Back in late June, I shared my thoughts about the horrendous, local animal cruelty/neglect case that occurred on an Eatonville property. Over 70 animals in terrible condition were removed from the property. South Sounders rallied around local agencies caring for the injured and sick animals, supported local government agencies handling the case, and praised Pierce County animal investigators for their hard work to help animals.

Three women in the case were charged. Read about the story that broke on the TNT right HERE. Of course judging from early morning comments to the article (and more to come), I suspect many of us would like to see stiffer penalties for this injustice to animals for the twisty moral and ethical road these women traversed. However, the laws are what they are for now and this matter was addressed to the letter of the law. This is good.

I would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank all of the agencies and individuals involved in taking action, helping animals, and making a bold statement to the public that Pierce County will not tolerate animal cruelty and neglect. A special shout out to Tim Anderson and his animal investigators for doing the difficult work in this heartbreaking case.

Finally, I am proud of the compassion towards animals in our community; however, really my thanks and praise is very small compared to the love and appreciation seen in a desperate animal's eyes. They thank you too.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Sumptious Summer Repast

I just could not resist this one, folks. Another chance to consider how much so much of life depends upon warm sun, good food, and a chance to just safely take time to enjoy a meal...

The First Longbranch Improvement Club Annual Croquet Tournament: Benefitting The Mustard Seed Project

Creativity is in full bloom out here on the Key this much so, it's been hard to keep up, and I want to tell you about it all! This particular event was so spectacular it took the help of my distant cousin, infamous gonzo journalist Les Izmore, to cover the three-ring circus that turned an entire community into smiling children. Les of course, was after the dirty underbelly of a story. He quoted an anonymous source who said, "There's not only bribery in the judging, but downright ineptness. While bribery could be accepted, ineptness goes beyond the pale!"

The July 18th. First Annual Longbranch Improvement Club Croquet Tournament was held down at the Longbranch Improvement Club, to benefit "The Mustard Seed Project" headed by Edie Morgan. The MSP is about "Building an Elder-Friendly Key Peninsula," which certainly means a lot to those of us who are aging (as gracefully as we can!) out here and want to remain on this beautiful rural peninsula, in our homes and independent as long as possible. Edie, who was so pleasantly amazed at the turnout and creativity of everyone, said it best when she described the day, " if we lived in the television show, Northern Exposure!"

There were over thirty teams who showed up to do their very unlevel best, in as many costumes as could be thought up by such an imaginative community. There were trophies and prizes, worthy of quirky folk doing good deeds. Best Team name went to "Team Kick Arse" and "Most Enthusiastic" went to Claudia Loy. Computer Lady won "Best Footwear" and Norm Brones won "Best Facial Decoration." Judges were, as said, open to bribery (to reflect the times) and all monies managed to make it into our Mustard Seed Project. Les will give me the final tally just as soon as he finds out.

Everywhere you looked was a surreal and beautiful picture, from protons dancing to "Hip Peas for Whirled Peas" wearing flowers in their hats and hair, rainbow socks and shoes. Tweed Meyer set herself up in the shade of a tree and began to document her community, as she has always done. Irene Torres and I wondered how on earth she would manage to put all of this in...and of course she managed! She also has, very kindly, allowed me to share them with you here.

The tournament was graciously sponsored by The Angel Guild, St. Anthony Hospital, Peninsula Light and many local businesses. My local favourite diner, The Homeport, sold box sandwich lunches. Our thanks to the Longbranch Improvement Club, and everyone who put so much time and effort into making this the day that it was. Oh yes, and the winning team of the day was (drumroll please) The Rhythm 'n' Shoes Cloggers...alright! Stories are still being shared in the Ladies Locker Room of the pool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and I'm still laughing.

We are a funky, eclectic group of folk down here...and we allow ourselves and each other to be. We can have differing opinions about many things but stand strongly together for everyone's rights, for respect and kindness between neighbours. Like a certain fictitious Alaska town (that really was in Washington anyway!) we embrace our character and build our collective culture. Back in New York, I dreamed of living in a community like Cicely and now, here we are.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mr. Smith Comes To Washington

Last month, a long tall Texan blew into town, kind of a scarecrow look to him with his dangly limbs that folded-in or folded-out. But this scarecrow came with a brain...and he came with a heart. Thanks to Jerry Libstaff and Watermark Writers, Darden Smith breezed into our area for both "Be An Artist" program (his baby) and "Words & Music" down in Vaughn.

Tweed and I managed to catch one of the "Be An Artist" workshops at the Gig Harbor YMCA, Friday July 23rd. Darden ran three workshops that day, for different age groups. First, from all artists everywhere, a big thank you and shout-out to the Gig Harbor Y for being willing to host this type of program for kids. Not only do we need the next generation of artists but, and I will keep hammering this point, it is proven that the Arts help children hook-up vital connections between left and right brain in their growth. These connections help grow healthy brains. We watched kids' eyes light up and their bodies loosen as Darden led them through his program.

He gathered them close and spoke, punctuating here and there with some finger-picking on his guitar. Here is the Mission Statement about this program: "The goal of the Be An Artist Program is to show that we are all artists, that every action of our day has the potential to be art, and that each of us possess the raw tools to make this a reality, using our own natural creative abilities."

He talked to them about "The Big Three"--attention, intention, and the love of doing something. Then he led them through writing a song by asking them simple questions and using their answers as lines for the song. With computer technology, he was able to record the song, kids singing with him, and had a finished CD of the song ready to mail to each of them by the following day. As Jerry said, "They all came in shy, quiet and still...and left laughing, singing, and dancing into the day."

The following evening we were all back at Jerry and Pam's for the "Words & Music" concert. I was excited to be reading...and relieved when my part of the performance was over, happy to hand it over to Darden and relax with my friends on a perfect Summer evening. The water and mountains sparkled, handing-off from silver to gold, to darkness and warm glow within the Libstaff's living room. What artist wouldn't love this venue? Darden joined the list of performers who had to keep stopping, just to appreciate their backdrop. The sun even co-operated to the point of disappearing its last speck of gold to the timing of his guitar's closing notes on a song.

Darden Smith started writing songs when he was a shy young boy and grew, over the years, to be a confident singer-songwriter, with national and international recognition. Now seems to me, Texan folksingers are a breed of their own as story-tellers. Between songs Darden filled us up with many a weird and funny tale, making caricatures of everyday people, juxtaposing those stories with sweet and sad heartbreak songs during his performance.

My personal favourite of the night was his "Angel Flight," a beautiful song about the flights that bring home the vessels of fallen airmen home to families and final rest from the sky. It truly touched me...and a line stays in my mind, "...Love is the one true skin...." Darden Smith now has his lucky thirteenth CD out and is, like the good scarecrow, gone. Ease on down the road brother, and thanks for coming!