Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween..! my gawd i miss home tonight..they don't celebrate it here...musing, bout years of Halloween pasts in my life, the fun of dressing up with family, friends..last year in Brooklyn wiht Casey and Merit and years before, autumn leaves falling gracefully on cozy peaceful Creemore...of beleagured ghosts and ganders treading fearfully up the porch steps in pursuit of loot...being away - so far away, and for so long, makes you acutely aware of what's back there..time for reflection, remembering,nostalgic, sad sometimes...specially at night..days full of workshop planning..material getting, yes i found a great access to latex house paint for my workshop thurs and friday. Costs are crazy,a litre of paint going for $16., double what we pay here -tomorrow i will be mixing colours from 9 pots into 30 pouring into plastic containers: still hot in pursuit of our common kitchen sponge, and water spray bottles, they don't exist here it seem...but other than that set to go..great help from my project coordinator Mary Mesa who lives out in what is called the 'high density area' of Harare..a thirty minute busride from the city centre, ghetto she calls it...about a million people out here, sometimes 20 to a house..life is lived outdoors in the blasting sweltering heat of summer here, much like JUne or July back home on a really hot day, hot - arid, scruffy, not alot of shade..little plots of garden hopefully growing lettuce, cucs, carrots here and there, mainly red sand scruffy, worn with years of tread, well behaved children playing here and there sneaking a peak at me,odd looking, white, the only one here, and maybe the first one they have seen..babies glued to the back of their mom, tied with blankets, towels, wrapped tight around her chest, clusters of people attempting to eak out a living selling something anything, to someone, anyone on the side of the road. Here is where the highest density of Aids is..I'm told someone in every home suffers..with the rest of the family desperately trying to help..ICA is making wonderful inroads into this community - this one and five others surrounding Harares...
Mastered sort of, the public bus system this afternoon...crazy, hundreds of vans, busses, people squeezed in, on top of each other..music blasting - windows wide open, about 40 cents a ride..cheap to us, but a fortune to people here..
I'm glad to finally get the bus system. transportation is limited here..Yesterday, we ran out of fuel on the family car, had to take out its battery and hook it onto another vehicle to get the kids to school..sense of freedom to hit the road on my own..it's okay for me to take these buses, safe, I feel safe..
Happy Halloween...and for me, tonight, missing home..one of the other sides of being on the other side...have a good one!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday morning...a great night last night..went with Gerald and his brother to the BEST traditional African music...12 guys hot..dressed in original warrior clothing...using ancient and contemporary instruments, loud, wild...dancing like mad, crazy...a welcome relief after cofacilitating a two day workshop...lucky i had some experience with facilitation,consensus decision making,group action...but learned it with the Quakers back in the 80s...ICA has worked out a great methodology and way of teaching of which i knew not..!! Challenging as they say in the business...20 people...located out in the high density area of harare...hundreds of one floored houses packed together,mothers carrying babies with sheets andtowls..wrapped around their chests..the babies hanging out the back, fromthe front you see a shrouded bosom with two feet protruding from each side...market, lots of action, food on the roadside...music, noise, activity, colour, sound...life teaming with life...great warm people...i´m staying with the director, his wife who works with UNESCO..who has been in paris all week...their two kids..gated, secure.
next week i´m giving my big two day art workshop...doing it much like the way i do it at the art retreat...monday andtuesday..we are estimating and buying paint..paper..sponges...water spray bottles i hope...
i have two people helping me...mary mesa and MARANGA...HE IS the logistics person... am conquering my problem with remembering names which are unfamiliar to me..like maranga...i am sure this lovely and very helpful man´s name is not totally pronounced like that but reminding me of that tango dance in Dirty Dancing THE MARANGO or A...and it works...samewith Geralds dad..whose name is MISSANGJO...thinking of MISS ANGEL..anditworks..therest, likegoodmorning or how are you in Shoni escapes me so far...my brain is splitting after a long day facilitating ICA methodology i am just learning...with people who speak very softly and gently, hence with all the drumming and noise outside, i can´t hear...partially in english and in shoni..so yes.it is challenging.but so very interesting.they ended the workshop with three local actors portraying a hilarious but nastily true vinette on family violence against women...

moved deeply by stories from the workshop...a woman with three sisters who have died now, leaving each one, three kids...to be looked after by the remaining ones...all of whom deny the cause of illness....except her, she who is making it her business to understand and learn, and then go out into the community to teach..the AIDS percentage here is coming down...from 30 % to now about 18 i am told....lovely people, an artist who tells me of how artists are seen in his community, different, strange..to be avoided...not trusted..i missed a meeting today of his frieds, other artists..back out at the location...no transportation, but am learning how to take the bus system myself....not unsafe...as our western papers portray...

sothat´s it for today...don´t know when i´ll get back..but you all, be well and safe, and have a good weekend...haveloved your emails too..thanks...xLps...haven´t gotten the picture connection down here yet...onething at atime..but i cansay thatwhen i flew in this place ws covered in purple flowers....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

i just wrote a great welcome to Zimbabwe thing..and for some unholy reason, itwohn'tpost! Ted where are you when i need you...will write tomorrow..things are absolutely great, gorgeous..very safe...wonderful people...have to turn this off..will get back tomorrow...xxL
Arrived yesterday!HARARE, ZIMBABWE...
Hot..sunny...gorgeous spring, bursting with purple blossoms cascading off canopes dripping heavily, wonderful.
Arrived yesterday!HARARE, ZIMBABWE...
Hot..sunny...gorgeous spring, bursting with purple blossoms cascading off canopes dripping heavily, wonderful.
Arrived yesterday!HARARE, ZIMBABWE...
Hot..sunny...gorgeous spring, bursting with purple blossoms cascading off canopes dripping heavily, wonderful.
Arrived yesterday!HARARE, ZIMBABWE...
Hot..sunny...gorgeous spring, bursting with purple blossoms cascading off canopes dripping heavily, wonderful.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

okay,..here we are..with an hour to leave for the airport..trying this out for the first time...pics...of Seanna, TEd, Sierra...Johnny and Lindsey and I cheeseburgering it at Toronto airport...then...lots of Merit and Hans' house, caravan by Casey, glassworks on the front door, Hans' wood sculptures that I told you about..and the great wall of glass panels..enjoy! see you in Africa...tomorrow, Harare Zim..87 degree F. Hot.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Where was I?
Oh my gawd. Toronto airport..2 big bags bursting - too much stuff, too heavy. 28 packages of felt markers, Sharpies, 50 guache paddies of paint, overweight, paper..too much bug spray, shampoo, cremes, stuff..had to buy another bag, pay extra -LIndsey John and I all over the floor, repacking. Stressed.And I haven't left Canada!

Flying fast flight across..Amsterdam, 7am yesterday, Merit Dutch sister big welcome -Dominiques for eggs and creme cheese and lox and great glass studio and an orange round couch - European design, nothing better, I want to take it home..deep orange walls with turquoise trim and on to Merit and Hans full-of-art house,Ophmert. I haven't been here in 10 years since Bali and Douglas Walton and learning how first to draw, - no longer the cow house, once painted like a Holstein with black splotches on white stuccco, now deep yellow with...

Going back to bed, pics later - wish you were here to see this Merit and Hans magnificence covered in Casey McGlynn - full walls of Casey, a caravan of Casey - Casey everywhere..on the table Hans wooden sculptures, big smooth voluptuous, sensuous, you want to hold them, put them on your lap, touch them.He's created a wall of glass windows, some old, some new, some stained, rippled, clear, floor to ceiling, pics later in the light, brilliant.
Merit's studio bursting with work, on every surface, inside Hans made cupboards, so changed since we did Casey in Brooklyn 05..layers and layer of ink, paint, coffee, splashed, she's great with pattern, repeats colour, humour, sister Merit, since 1979 and Findhorn, so..lucky to be here with them, a haven of old friends,Dutch rum with coke, talking, politics, Iraq, Afghanistan,George Bush,friends, art and Zimbabwe and gorgeous Harare filled with flowers..I go tonight!

Friday, October 20, 2006

5 oclock in the morning Dutch time..up all night since sometime last night with Water for Elephant by Sara Gruen,upside down with time. Memories of leaving, great dinner with Seanna, Ted, Sierra..curled up sleeping last time I saw her, the babies, Johnny, Shauna..and David Buwalda from ICA assuring mine that all would be wonderful these next four months, at the airport, LIndsey and I and almost Johnny crying like fools, all of us looking so hard at each other like the Von Trapp Family I said to the South of England guy behind me looking forward to going home..me, almost missed my flight - the hour lineup at security, racing down the running ramp,the KLM hostess running alongside, hurry, hurry, 15 minutes to go and they close the gate in 5, of course we make it, like the flat on my back tire blows they day before, first time, gets fixed, the gas stove at the River House leaks causing my tenant hospital overnight on oxygen, hot water spewing through Art Retreat pantry wall, sticking my finger through the gypsum, easy, and Gary there in a minute, plumber, Jean, and I take off, a last dinner with Geoff, are you leaving Canada or are you going to Africa, both I say. Both.
I'm on a PC in Dutch. Just hit something, and alas thought I'd lost this, enough to send me back to bed tossing..
Where was I? Gawd I hope I am not boring you to death.
Don't have my email addresses here, otherwise might try to write you individually.
Where was I?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Three days to go! Full speed ahead...a hundred things to do - like tieing everything up, leaving your life, everything tries to be finished, done, in place..no time much less energy to digest the magnitude of immense life change, culture change, environmental change, emotional change - numb. Moments of sheer exuberance and excitement, wonderment, coagulating with strickened terror of plunging deeply into the unknown:

I land in Harare, Zimbabwe Monday morning...a hugely proud country once deemed the 'bread basket of Africa', now a place, of fuel, food and water shortages, 90% unemployment, rampant HIV positive and AIDS...a place the US have advised tourists not to vist, and yet, a place peopled by the most gentle, hugely expressive, beautiful spirits in all of Africa...I am told.

Oh, I hopeI have something to offer. People ask: what propels me to embark on such a journey: why would I choose to leave this life in Canada - a world of love, family, friends, comfort - the known. It's everthing, drawn at first to offering energy, light, artistic enthusiasm where creativity might help, just a little...imagining workshops as I do at my Art Retreat...spirit cards...gradated colouring, quirky upside down drawings... the Artist Way (by Julia Cameron),or Drawing on the Right side of the Brain..lots of possibilites?
Realizing the impossiblity of this: no materials as we know it, no art stores, no Rotblotts down the street, no Currys, no Gwartzman, no paint, no paper,no oil pastel, no pens, even paper... what to do? what to possibly use? Found objects. Powdered tempora mixed with ashes from cooking fire, mixed with plant, minerals, sand, dirt. Metal? Wood? Wire. Can't use coffee stain..can't use anything you could eat..drink...juice stain. No. Then what?

I HAVE NO IDEA...none..I will run around today and pack a bag of Sharpies, oil and soft pastels, a bit of paper, spiral notebooks in such abundance here is in dire demand there. Sponge brushes. Landing in Amsterdam Saturday morning..a day with Merit and Dominique...to buy more art supplies from Holland...but what to take?

The ICA (ZIM Institute of Cultural Affairs) give workshops to 'clubs' of people applying for micro loans: in leadership, business,HIV/AIDS education and care...I will learn, watch, witness..hoping to plug into what they are doing..hoping to add a visual element - But what effect any of us can have? How to participate? How to add to? All I do know, is that the more I know, the more I DON'T KNOW...I really don't...I can't possibly plan..I have no idea what to expect, I can only pray that what I have to bring will be of some use -

Son John is fully armed this morning with both babies, gurgling, hickcupping, gooing....Shauna upstairs exhausted after a night of feedings...the meanderings of a Wednesday morning in Toronto....got to run!

Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm back, still practicing...this week, done, so far:
-medical: picked up all my antibiotics, malaria pills, bug sting lotions, sunscreen, baby wipes.
-ticket, medical and cancellation insurance...
-photocopied 4 copies of passport, said insurance papers, credit card, health insurance.
-camera: bought two memory cards worth 1600 pics, thanks to Sonia., batteries, rechargeable, charger, adapter for Africa using British prongs...
-bank: US money...
-clothing: a skirt, two t shirts long sleeves, I think I have the rest...
-art supplies, picking up a few, lots more to do!

have to run, more later...

hey...one week ONLY to go!!
I'm at Ted's school learning how to use my camera with my blog on a PC...having only ever used a MAC and proud of it! Practicing - here's a great picture of Shauna with Pyper....have a great day!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Finn's day
hi...ten days to go...!
I have just received a wonderful email from Gerald, my ZIMICA (Institute of Cultural Affairs, Zimbabwe) contact, who promises to meet me at the Harares, Zimbabwe airport, on Monday, October 22nd, 2006...at 9am....(time in Zimbabwe is 6 hours ahead of ours in Toronto)....