Chiefs of staff, prime ministers, ministers and generals are not the only ones responsible. Anyone who theoretically objects to oppression, discrimination and expulsion, but does not actively take part in the struggle and in creating a constant popular resistance to topple the apartheid regime we have created here, is responsible.
—Amira Hass (Israeli journalist)
From my journal while on the road, 6 weeks in October and November 2008, Alaska to California and back to Portland Oregon, then home to Cambridge Massachusetts—with 3 new slide shows about Palestine/Israel, “My Trip to Gaza,”, “Bethlehem the Holy,” and “The Hydropolitics of Israel-Palestine.” In early December and again in February 2009 I’ll be touring with these and other shows in the southeast section of the US. You can find more information here.
Juneau Alaska, part 9 (Irish music comes to Juneau):
Linda noted that 90% of the days in the last period (how long?) were cloudy, compared with 70%. Further, last winter and summer were among the coldest and wettest in recent memory. I intend to look this up today. Elaine commented that this does not dispute global warming but is an aspect of it: greater oscillation. Elaine also reminded me that she’d wanted to sell their boat because of the plethora of gale warnings.
Earlier Bob had justified keeping the heat low by announcing that fuel last year had cost them $6,000. That’s nearly 2/3’s my yearly income.
A neighbor and friend, Larry Spenser, has brain cancer. We talked about this at the political party a few evenings ago, bemoaning his tragedy. Several had noticed a change in his behavior, holding back when walking with his wife, not quite right in the head. He’d also suffered headaches and then vomiting. A diagnosis and he was off to Seattle for major treatment. Now I’m to carry some of his personal things when I travel to Seattle this weekend.
We lunched with JM, so I could absorb more of her story, and root around her home outside and in. Outside: the children’s playhouse, 2 stories, whimsical, built by her husband, F, beginning with a fish-processing table. I was drawn to the house instantly, imagined myself sleeping in it if not living in it. Something so alluring about trees, living in close intimacy with them. Then the cabin that her daughter, A, working half time in Juneau, half at Gustavos where she lives and raises children. This is one room, with bunks, drawers and shelves stuffed with clothing, no kitchen. This had been F’s office.
And the house itself, 2 stories, beginning with a cabin, gradually added to—the upstairs bedrooms, the newly carved out single room apartment in what had been the under house space, where J might live when too infirm to use stairs, and all the windows venting views to and from outside.
J herself is a marvel of energy: 73 yrs old, curly white hair attractively tied back, a gravely voice, thin, robust, she lost F in 1998 or so, a shocking accident (which I might have written about on another trip). He was pulling or placing crab pots, heavy ones, when a rope ensnared his foot and carried him into the deep. Drowned. Maybe just outside the house, I’m not sure. She had been a teacher, then retired and joined Peace Corps for 2 years, I think in South or Central America. She is politically active—much of the pre lunch conversation with Elaine was about this weekend’s Obama rally which Elaine will MC and J help organize. In early November she leaves for something like 2 months in Mexico.
At Elaine’s behest, J took us for a walk to Lena Pt, around the cove the house sits on. Before setting out J told us a scary tale about one of her nieces rowing alone, caught by wind and currents and forced out into the wider waters. J admitted to not reading the wind properly—she began this story as we noticed the wind swirling patterns on the waters—and feeling horrified that this young girl might drown. (I suspect the incident awakened F’s story.) Thanks to 2 neighbors who spotted the enfolding debacle, the niece survived, rescued, and learned a lesson about the power of wind and water.
We walked in the wind and drizzle, the cold, along the main road, thru a picnic area, then a side road and onto a trail. We skittered along a boardwalk until Elaine decided she had the wrong shoes and no walking stick. She turned back. J and I labored on, me reluctantly. The payback was glorious: a stunning view of the cove from a high rock ledge. J pointed out a buoy that marked the sinking of a ferry in the 1950s. (This also might have reminded her of the power of water.)
Earlier we’d lunched on bean soup. J passed on a tip from a friend, to maximize results while minimizing cooking. Cook a big batch of something, like soup, pour it into baking pans, freeze the contents, dump each load into freezer bags, store until ready to heat.
Now K, an endless source of stories. Her old boy friend, R, 8 yrs her junior, now married and with kids, dropped by yesterday to visit. He brought venison that he’d killed. We feasted on in last night. They’d met some 25 years ago, he’d been attracted to her, she was 38, I assume divorced, he 30. He swam to her underwater in a pool, surfaced in front of her and said, “When are you going to go out with me?” They dated, he moved in while she was still raising her 2 kids and teaching. She admits she has a short fuse, prone to anger, the relationship was endangered and so they decided to see a therapist—Elaine.
R had heard of a good therapist in Juneau, they visited Elaine, who suggested K keep an anger journal, noting precipitating incidents, the anger itself, and its consequences. Elaine doesn’t remember this, K does. “And I’ve been in therapy ever since,” said K.
In another story K’s son, J (married to L), an intelligence specialist in the army, has moved his family frequently, K feels, at the demand of L, who, K states, is never is satisfied. When discussing an upcoming move, possibly to Germany, J told K, “Mom, in our marriage L is 70%, me the rest. But in your marriage it was reversed.”
This stung K, now she admits to the truth.
I’m afraid I have the same ratio: 70% me, 30 the other. Not a good combo for an enduring relationship.
—October 16, 2008, Thursday, Juneau
A concert last night by Tommy Sands and his extremely beautiful and multi talented daughter (on vocals, violin, drum, whistle, and dancing), and his comparatively subdued son (on mandolin and banjo). For me Tommy’s songs about conflict in Northern Ireland—a land I must understand better, especially in the context of Palestine/Israel—were most powerful, plus the one written with his help by a young woman in prison.
The crowd was large, boisterous, sang along with many of the choruses (at times not needing prompting or teaching, suggesting some knew his music), and gave the family trio a standing ovation. In the crowd also were many I know thru Elaine and Bob, such as John and Amy, and many were absent, some I particularly looked for, such as Judy M and Judy S. Life in a small town. E asserts the population is a mere 30,000.
I’ve confirmed: Juneau has some 30,000 people, 75% white, 1% black, 11% native, 5% Asian (mostly Philippino), and 3% Hispanic.
More editing of my show, Hydropolitics, getting the major revised sections, Nablus and Salfit mainly, right. And adding the drought section. Perhaps I should speculate on topics that might force agreements, such as the shared and growingly polluted coastal reservoir, plus generally the arid region, now hit hard by drought. How might I anticipate going there next summer during the driest hottest most water deprived time of year? What can I show now that anticipates that trip?
Elaine is very happy to host me, told me so warmly yesterday, adding a huge hug. She is truly an exceptional being: cuddly, loving, devoted, intelligent, beautiful in her own way, appreciative, wise, dear, and above all else, energetic. I’m so pleased many love her for the same reasons—and do not shy away from her exuberance as some might in my family.
A rare note from daughter Joey, worth quoting, because of its rarity and its pith. Joey is indeed pithy.
wow. and here i am…..warm days and the leaves are changing here. it smells of autumn, but feels like summer. ml and her family just came over for a visit. busy busy me right now and i don’t get any breaks at work these days. i used to have some time, but i am the sole shooter for Domino magazine, and the work load is heavy right now. maybe next year at this time we could do a little mountain trip. have to plan early. i’d like to hike with cid.
rexie is great, cid is really liking school, leandro is enjoying his record collecting and selling, and i am, um, hmm. Busy
lots of love to you.
I’d sent her links to my recent photos, crabbing, shore, and forest, so I think that’s what she’s wowing about.
Skip’s big job in Juneau: taking out the trash. This is important. It has to be done early enough on Friday—by 7 AM—to catch the collectors, and not too early—say, overnight—as to attract animals. I’d inadvertently left it on the side porch, open to the wilderness denizens all evening. Elaine and I worried that when we returned from the concert we’d find another job for me: scraping up shards of trash.
I’m reading an article in the Journal of Palestine Studies that Nadia left us, about archeology in Gaza. The plan is to open a museum near the site of an ancient seaport, Blakhiya, near the Shati’ or Beach) refugee camp, in conjunction with curators and archaeologists in Geneva Switzerland. France and Switzerland have already hosted 2 shows of artifacts lent by a private Gazan business collector and the Palestinian Department of Antiquities. I learned the PA in Gaza has some 11 archeologists, one with a master’s, one with a PhD. This could be another strand in my Gaza show, plus a lead for my return there next summer.
As they point out, Gaza was not a cultural center, like Baghdad, but it was a crossroads—both north and south, the main route between Egypt and the northern Levant, and, little known to me and many, east and west, the end of the incense trade route on land. Can you imagine: Gaza a major port, the ships, the people, the khans.
I fantasize F becoming passionate about archeology, shifting her attention, finding a new career, and like me, engrossed with Gaza. Then of course we’d buddy up and explore together. If not water, ancient history. If not romance, a shared career.
Elaine and I attended the weekly peace and justice demo downtown put on by Vets for Peace. I had a chance to sidle up to JD when his wife was occupied with someone else. I wished not to engage her on my topic: Juneau Friends last Sunday, plus the run-up to that with the meeting rejecting my offers of shows.
I’m afraid I must report no progress in understanding the dynamic. A finished her conversation, joined ours. I conclude that Juneau meeting is weak, virtually rudderless except for D, and heavily influenced about Israel-Palestine by M and D. J feels the move to the Unitarian Universalist building might energize the meeting. He bemoaned Jonathan dropping out, Elaine feels he is one of the more dynamic members. No one now is charismatic, dedicated, and with high energy. As Elaine related later, D is not, A is not, J is not, M is sort of but not very active, and who else is there, L? P?
J informed me that they’d floated the idea of combining worship with the Uu’s but this had not gone anywhere. No surprise: Quakers meet one hour before UU’s, in silence, then join the UU’s for another our of program? Hardly.
A added that few appreciate the solemn Quaker silence. You, dear A, can count me among that number. For now, for Juneau.
I think I heard J say J is looking into joining the UU congregation. Maybe I’ll find him there. Compare this with what I presume is the state of Judy S’s Aldersgate church. No comparison.
The day is dawning as I write, at 7:09 am, another breezy drizzly day, like this for at least 4 days. Rarely a sunrise one can pick out, rarely a break in the gloom. Yet, despite the weather, no matter that I’m missing the quintessential New England autumn that others write me about, I’m happy with this weather. I can observe it from this safe spot in the house, front room, gazing out huge windows. I occasionally mosey outside, prodded by my effervescent sister, walk somewhere, shop somewhere. And mostly I can reside inside, warm and dry, delightedly banging away on computer keys making something. Another slide show perhaps?
~The garbage guys just showed up, into their big bin go our discards, then where, join the earth?~
—October 17, 2008, Friday, Juneau