Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I see labels... and am glad to see some of the women stigmatized by the norms of patriarchal attitudes turned the negative to positive.
I know I tend to sound like a broken record with this observation but it is tragic that so many things are still dictated by an ignorant notion that women are property.
This of course is obvious in the double standard that men can be studs yet women should be chaste. I think that the example shown by those of same gender preference is the best way to deal with the word slut. Just as they claimed, the words queer, fag as their own, and devalued them as insults, women should claim the word slut. Many women have already including Janet Hardy who authored “The Ethical Slut”
Before the word slut became prominent, the word males used to describe any women who was deemed promiscuous (or even enjoyed sex) was nymphomaniac.
Kinsey had the right idea when commenting on the erroneous concept stated humorously
“A nymphomaniac is "Someone who has more sex than you do."
A slut was a person who in their peers eyes were indiscriminate about with whom who they had sex. This was based more upon appearance and often personality clashes then upon actual knowledge of person’s sexual habits.
In high school, I hung out with an older crowd many of whom had already graduated or dropped out. I remember the term slut being used in a friendlier manner to describe casual sex; I think the term was “slut puppy” as in “your such a slut puppy” or I was such a slut puppy last night” I also recall the word “whore” being a more derogatory term and associated with a person using sexuality for unscrupulous purpose. However, it was also used erroneously because of personality clash or jealousy. I had a relationship in my late teens with a girl who had grown up in a suburb of Cleveland. She was estranged from her family because of an incident that happened to her in her SR year of high school.
She was a ministers daughter who was pretty much mainstream in her teens.
However, she attended a party, got drunk, and went to bed with the town Romeo. Several of the girls from her father’s church had also attended the party and became jealous. These girls engaged in an active campaign against her and she became the “slut”. She related to me that until that experience she had been a virgin. While traumatized at the time by the whole experience she related, “It had a positive effect in her growth as it lead to rejecting the values she was raised she felt if it had not been for that incident and her families lack of support she would have wound up like her mother.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Spirituality and food.

All through the human history, there has been a correlation between food and spirituality. We find the earliest unearthed fragments of ancient artifacts attest to this. Food is vital to survival and therefore involved the participation of the whole family and often the whole community. The gathering and preparation provided an active ground for socialization between family members. The meal served as a model of the family’s group efforts, and gathering to share the meal provided bonding and communication. The shared companionship is the nourishment that the spiritual needs to flourish and develop. Modern families can benefit from this concept as a family and as individuals. Meals involving the whole family in preparation and sharing of the meal, will eventually lead to the family members making their own connections; between the earth’s offerings to the family and the family’s connection to each other and their community as a whole, which is the true concept of shared spirituality.
Gathering food often took whole communities and families, this involved interaction between the people and groups. If we look to the past, we find many sacred practices associated with the hunting or gathering of food by families or communities. The ease, quantity, and quality of food are often seen as at the control of a higher power or deity. People offered Prayers of one form or another asking for success in the endeavor; these prayers passed on and became traditions or cultural based spiritual practices. Each person seems to develop a certain skill, which others appreciate or admire. This admiration while usually silent lends toward our appreciation of others. Skills involved in the hunting or gathering were taught or passed on. This was also true of the preparation of gathered food. The entire group held a sense of achievement and unity when the harvesting was done.
If we look back at history, many different groups have had spiritual rituals around meals or feast. Different cultures have seen that the sharing of food seems naturally to evoke conversation and promote fellowship or bonding. Examples of this are the ancient Mayas, the Hebrews and the Native Americans.
People sharing meals and each other’s company brings about the sharing of spirituality, as it comes from each other not an outside source.
Our interaction with others tends to invoke gratitude, which is an important aspect of spiritual unity. Just as the body needs substance to survive so to does the human heart crave the company of others. We see this in the popularity of potlucks, which are a feast where everyone has contributed too. Wakes are another form of feast that many cultures hold to mark a loved ones passing
How do we add this to our modern day lives? It is best when trying anything-new to start with simple concepts, like setting aside time during the week for at least one leisurely meal. Families can involve all in some of the gathering or preparation. Let the conversation lean toward each individual at the table. In addition, try to avoid talking about events not involving the family or group Dinning together, but do not make ridged rules. If you already have a prescribed blessing for meals, this is wonderful. In addition to or instead of formal prayer people may take turns saying one thing they are grateful for that day. People are always seeking meaning or spiritual understanding and usually they look outside for it. However, as indicated before it proves to be in interaction with others and meals provide a fertile ground for spiritual discovery and growth.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fall Poem

Another fall is giving way to winter.
Many of the leaves quit their jobs
Dropping to the ground to remain unemployed
Then that is not entirely true
They just switched jobs
Done with their work in the photosynthesis and cellular respiration department.
Done with the second career of entertaining us
With their spectacular array of colors

When the trees informed them, their services would no longer be needed
Leafs embarked on a third labor.
While still slightly entertaining and colorful on the forest floor
They take on the job of being mulch compost
Somewhat of a on the job training program for soil.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Myth: It is easy for a victim to leave their abuser and/or if they would just leave, they would be fine.
A batterer will not just one-day start violating the victim unexpectedly. Batterers have in most cases built up a network of fear and control long before first striking the victim. In many cases, the emotional abuse has left the victim feeling unable to cope with out the batterer. The batterer also has usually made it difficult for the victim to leave by limiting access to finances and in many cases transportation. Often children are used as a tool by an abuser to control the victim. They may threaten to take custody or even harm the children if the victim leaves. In many cases, the victims are conditioned into compliancy by the abuser. The control skills used by abusers closely resemble those used by Nazi German prison camps to brainwash prisoners of war Even if the victim leaves this will, most often not be the end of the abuse and it often takes several attempts for the victim to leave before they are free of the abuser. “Most Battered women do not stay. Up to 75% of those reporting abuse have left and are being stalked harassed and assaulted by former boyfriends and husbands. Furthermore, statistics show that 90% of the women murdered by their husbands are first stalked. Besides finances, there are real barriers, which make it difficult for the abused. the victim will have to find shelter. Besides limited space at shelters, cultural, race and religious differences often make this difficult. This myth is often used as an excuse for people to not get involved in a situation where they know domestic violence is taking place. Myths like this are harmful as they undermine the need for more resources for domestic violence victims. Until the last 30 years, there were no women’s shelters and therefore women had nowhere they could go. Even now, the numbers of women being turned away due to the lack of refuge space equals or exceeds the places provided.

Myth: Domestic violence is a modern day phenomena
Domestic violence has been prevalent in societies through out history. The more sexist a society is the more prevalent the occurrence of DV. Western society only in the last 30 years has taken serious measures to give woman deserved equality. Sexist attitudes create a fertile breeding ground or domestic violence as they encourage the idea of women as property. When researched one finds that American and religious dogma has always held the woman are male properties. One of the saddest marks on the time line is that in 1866 people thought to harm an animal was morally repugnant enough to form a society to prevent. Yet one hundred years later, in 1966 a female plaintiff would have to suffer a sufficient number of beatings for abuse to be grounds for divorce. (Martin, Del (1976). Battered wives.New York: Pocket Books).It was not until 1993 the marital rape became a crime in all 50 states. DV is not a new or modern day occurrence, however The view that women deserve every right afforded to men; including legal protection from abuse apparently is.

Myth: Abusive partners are mostly chemically dependent causing them to batter.
Where there is incidence of batterers who abuse alcohol and chemicals, many abusers are other wise functioning members of society. Alcohol and other mood altering chemicals does not and cannot make a man abuse a woman, but it is frequently used as an excuse. It is also a fallacy a man will use to in the honeymoon phase of the DV cycle. The root cause of violence against women has nothing to do with alcohol, class, race, or the behavior of the woman. It is a widespread and serious social problem, which has to do with social and cultural attitudes to women and women's place in society. DV is about the abuser wanting to control and own the victim. Batterers are emotionally immature and expect the victims to meet their emotional needs. Mood altering chemicals alone will not cause violence; the predisposition for violence must be there. Chemical dependency in abusers should be treated as a separate problem.. Perpetrators of domestic violence will only end their abuse when they are willing to hold themselves accountable for there own actions.

: Educated white-collar women cannot be victims to abusive men.
Any individual from any culture or socioeconomic background can become a victim. The public perception of battered women having low self esteem and poor self-image is true in some cases. However highly educated women and women with successful careers can become DV victims as well. There is no typical profile of a battered woman; even women aware of the cycle of abuse may become battered women. Part of the reason again must be blamed on the western culture. Many victims have been raised to follow gender stereotype models of the “family caretaker this same gender stereotype also promotes women must have a husband to be a whole person. Abused women fall into the cycle of violence, and allow the honeymoon phase too lull them into a false sense of hope. While the batter is loving and gentle they can be in denial of the
situation. Fear is the biggest reason however, woman stay. Women from white-collar backgrounds may indeed have a more difficult time escaping an abusive relationship. White-collar woman will have fewer connections for outreach such as social services and carry more false shame. Many battered professional women’s abusers are better at hiding their abusive side outside the marriage. This factor also deters the victim from seeking outside help, as she fears no one will believe her.

Myth: Only physical abuse is detrimental to the victim.
While the effects of physical violence on the victim can be obvious, the psychological effects of mental abuse may not be. The cycle of violence also depicts abuse that while not physical, is
damaging in its nature to the victim. Emotional and mental abuse has long-term devastating effects on the abused. Since the true nature of abuse is about control, abusers may use other abusive methods to try to achieve it. Methods that include degrading the partner with insults or lectures on the partner’s failings. The abusers emotional immaturity usually has them blaming the victim or their own shortcomings and faults. The abuser may force isolation and cut the partner off from friends and family. The abusive male is always jealous and that may extend to
verbal rage about the females work or even the children. Often times the victim is cut off from money or transportation. Sexual abuse is frequently used forcing the partner through threats to submit to the abusers demands. While tearing down the victim abusive people tend to build them self’s up. the psychological damage can have long term and devastating effects. Emotional abuse is obviously incredible stressful and creates abnormal coping skills and distorted perceptions within the victims. While in an abusive situation, a victim may live in a constant state of fear. They grow to believe their actions are not effective; this includes even the action of leaving their abuser. The trauma of abuse often affects an abused person even after the trauma has ended. The victim of abuse often experience loss of self- worth and who they are as individuals. This loss often leads the victim to be full of doubts and they impose false limits on their own abilities to function. The victim may also feel their situations are hopeless, which leads them even deeper into the darkness of humiliation and fear.

The Domestic Violence Sourcebook, Dawn Bradley Berry,J.D. Lowell House 1995)
When Violence Begins at Home, Dr. K.J. Wilson, Hunter House, Alameda, California, 1997
Koop US Surgeon General, 1989
No Safe Place: Violence against Women Dumke Foundation. of public television station KUED in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

a letter to Tom Batiuk creator of Funky Winkerbean
Dear Sir
My late wife and I used too read Arlo and Janis and comment how the artist must
be looking in our window to write his comic strip.
After my wife died of cancer I moved to different city and rediscovered your strip in
the local paper.I had not read it since I myself was young.
I missed of course years of development in the characters and of course the first part of Lisa's story
I have been reading the second segment and once again had the feeling a comic strip artist had spied on us.
Parts of the story made me feel this way of course.
My wife after her second round of chemo was able to make contact with the son she gave up at sixteen through Lutheran social services.
they developed a wonderful relationship,and I saw so much of her in him.
but more then that just the little things the couple and their friends shared.
She was a special women and we refused too let her cancer slow us down.She had returned to college to
get her degree in social work and continued classes till 3 weeks before she died.
We continued up until that time all of our community commitments as well.
much like Lisa during her third round of chemo treatments,she decided that the treatments were interfering with the quality of her remaining time.
We both always felt that life was not limited but went on somewhere even if on another plain
While sometimes your story made me a little tearful,it was more the good memories of our life.
you see I never would wish to forget even the worst of it because it was part of our story together.
Thank you

BTW:below is a link to the webpage she and a fellow student designed after her first round of chemo


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our 1st fall color journey of the season
if you click on the view images button you’ll see better pictures then the slide show presents,for some reason the slide show makes them look almost animated.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fall is creeping in as the weather turns colder
While not the best year for gardening we still are enjoying
many natural organic goodies besides the mexican yellow tomato salad above
we are busy with the production of salsa.
Many moons ago while deep into my first career I hired a Sous-chef who had done a five year stretch in the Oklahoma Federal prison. Apparently, he had help run things around the kitchen there and I figured if he could get along there he could get along anywhere.
Now besides giving me this recipe he passed along a story.
A great many of the helpers in the kitchen had never cooked a thing in there life besides maybe some meth. When a newbie came in, they usually started by cutting up things or prepping food that was to be prepared. One of the almost daily jobs was the making of this salsa. Now special delight was taken assigning this job too the new help, special instruction was always given upon washing ones hands before cutting up the salsa ingredients. However, instruction to wash hands after the chopping of the ingredients purposely omitted. Wagers between individuals on which would take place first were placed in advance, on which would come first for the newbie, Rubbing his eyes or a trip to the urinal.

Oklahoma federal prison salsa

Six medium tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
10 jalapeƱo peppers
10 dried red chili peppers
1 11oz can chipotle peppers
1 cup of cilantro
2 medium red onions
1 green bell pepper

5 tbs cumin
3 tbs chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
4 Tbs Lime juice

chop all until it is desired texture using an old-fashioned knife and cutting board.
Mix all everything well and then stir in dry seasonings and lime juice.
Adapted from recipe used in Oklahoma federal prison (original recipe was for 3 gallons)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Medical Issues Concerning Polyamory

Autonomy to me is the right of an individual to make his or her own choices. Being polyamorous, being able to make my own choice of lifestyle was difficult. The term “polyamory” was first coined in 1991 by Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. To be able to give a societal definition on polyamory, I consulted Wikipedia from the internet. They define it as “the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamorous perspectives differ from monogamous perspectives, in that they respect a partner's wish to have second or further meaningful relationships and to accommodate these alongside their existing relationships.

The term polyamory is sometimes abbreviated to poly, especially as a form of self-description, and is sometimes described as consensual and/or responsible non-monogamy. Polyamory is usually taken as a description of a lifestyle or relational choice and philosophy, rather than of individuals' actual relationship status at a given moment. There is certain fluidity in its definition, to accommodate the different shades of meaning which might be covered.
Polyamorous relationships are themselves varied, reflecting the choices and philosophies of the individuals concerned. Polyamory is distinct from polygamy, being closer to a personal outlook than a predefined bonding system. It is grounded in such concepts as choice, trust, equality of freewill, and the more novel idea of compersion, rather than in cultural or religious tradition.” (Wikipedia Foundation, electronic version). To a practicing polyamorist like me, it means having more than one loving, but not necessarily sexual, relationship at a time that includes total honesty with open communication from all concerned, that does not in any way involve swinging.
A important concern with being polyamorous is sexual safety. Although
the only foolproof way to be safe is to abstain from sex,; in the poly community, there are ways to try to be safe. Most polyamorous families will have ‘Condom Contracts’ or ‘Bodily Fluid Exchange’ contracts. But as with any other type of relationship, there may not be full disclosure of activities. Humans are not infallible. That is why there are advocates for safe sex. Also, “a closed circle, whether of two or six or twenty, healthy trusted partners can make polyamory just as ‘safe’ as monogamy, perhaps more so since the couple who have sworn to be monogamous may be more likely to lie about outside affairs and less likely to frankly discuss their sexual histories with porspective lovers than those who are oply polyamorous.” (Anapol, 1997, 28). To get tested for any sexually transmitted diseases is the only reliable way to keep yourself safe. “Some polyamorous folk swear by them and get regular tests every six months or every year as a courtesy to their lovers, or they get them immediately upon getting a new regular lover and expect the same treatment in return.” (Kaldera, 2005,114).
The more important issue at hand for a polyamorist is finding a doctor who is, at least, nonjudgmental on our way of life. They do not have to believe that our relationships with others are good. They just need to practice their field of study. When looking for a doctor, one of the first things to be discussed would be my relationship dynamic. To be less than truthful, would be detrimental to my health, let alone to my personal sense of wellbeing. There is a perception within the polyamorous community, however, that doctors are not well-informed about our lifestyles and needs. This limits the extent to which polyamorous individuals feel that they have access to quality health services. Some polyamorous individuals report a reluctance to seek health care due to fear of bias. Others find it necessary to use expensive doctor visits to educate their doctors about what polyamory is, and to convince them that a polyamorous lifestyle in itself is no more unreasonable than a gay lifestyle. Textbooks about ‘normal family functioning’ do not include references to polyamorous lifestyles, and this contributes further to ignorance about polyamory on the part of mainstream therapists.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I recently read a short story suggested by a friend who is fond of early examples female literature. Later that week I read an article on the same sex marriage debate. It occurred to me later how the problems in both works are similar. Has America become less tolerant since 911? I heard a liberal journalist ask on public radio. I could not help but notice he used the word tolerant instead of equal. Tolerant or tolerance means to allow, while equal means to be of the same quality. The question should be why are we speaking of tolerance instead of equality? Why when every document attributed to the founding of our nation speaks of equality and justice, does the same nation struggle to accept these concepts?

In the Barbara Kantrowitz article “The New Face of Marriage” she explores the debate of same sex marriages. We read different view from different sides from various individuals with different agendas. Each interested group seems to have a base belief which justifies or negates same sex marriage. Issues are plentiful from those who oppose, they hold traditional and institutional ideologies will be destroyed. One camp opposes on the grounds of religious belief that is somehow ingrained into our countries very structure. Those who support same sex marriage do so based on just as many justifications with some pointing to states rights and constitutional grounds. While others point out that the oppositions traditional and institutional ideologies are already foundered.

While this is a prominent political issue it is just another segment of the overall issue of prejudice against homosexuals. This in itself is just another segment of overall prejudice in America, which has existed since the first European trespassed upon the continent of North America.

Kantrowitz speaks of those who would oppose two humans to marry because they are a minority.

In Kate Chopin's "Desiree's Baby" a fictional story we face the same issue prejudice against a minority. People motivated by their fears that another culture who they think inferior will by use of institution present themselves as equal. The parallels between the two literary works are obvious as we have in both the majority dictating to the minority. The strong denying the weak basic rights the strong take for granted.

In Chopin’s fictional story we face the same issue the nation debated in the not too distant past. She examines the social and personal fabric covering the marriage of different races.

While prejudice is still very much alive against this particular issue, common ethical legal pressure

prevailed. Just as architecture can not deny physics legal systems can not denies the basis of ethics they were built upon. While it would be look upon by some that our morals had finally prevailed the sad truth is it was basic legalities. The same sex marriage issue will most likely in the future be decided in the same way. Sadly however the prejudice pointed out in both of the author’s works will still remain strong.

"We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality. The orientation is a given, not a matter of choice. It would be crazy for someone to choose to be gay, given the homophobia that is present." Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Sunday, August 05, 2007

So far this summer we have been able too get away together a few times for hiking/camping trips.We both enjoy each others company as well as those friends and our sweeties on our excursions.

Monday, July 09, 2007

In your last minute of life
We held you and tried to match the comfort
That you had given.
You were, what you so loved to hear spoken to you.
A good dog.
Parker: June 18 1997-July 9 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Experiences of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwa from 1763 to 1803.

I want to start out with a note about names and history, Chippewa and Ojibwa are the same people, and the word is even the same with different pronunciation this is difficult to grasp until you put the O in front of Chippewa (Ochippewa). The Ojibwa also call themselves Anishinaabe or “the original men" it can be shortened to Shinob when used as a nickname among them. Ottawa and Potawatomi also call themselves Anishinaabe, and at some time in the past, the three tribes were a single tribe. Ojibwa is the Algonquin word meaning to pucker and came the unique puckered seam of Ojibwa moccasins.

The Ojibwa after by late 1680 progressed to the east, south, and west. During the conflicts with the Iroquois, the Ojibwa moved down both sides of Lake Huron and by the early1700s dominated almost all of Lower Michigan and Southern Ontario. Ojibwa clans Followed the French fur trade west during the should be noted at the same time, other Ojibwa bands pushed south to settle in northern Illinois. By the early1800s Ojibwa were living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Euro-American occupation and genocide would take most of their land and forced them onto reservations, but most Ojibwa bands have remained in their homeland, including the band at Grand Portage.

Though out this project, I have often referred to Ojibwa as if all belonged to the Grand Portage bands for simplicity. The Ojibwa Bands who traded in furs with the fur companies were numerous spreading outland and inland of Lake Superior and the political center was at Rainy Lake.

The Ojibwa were not the original inhabitants of Grand Portage, nor were the British the original fur companies but by 1763 through war and constantly changing political alliances between Europeans the indigenous people of the Great Lakes region these two groups were to control the fur trade. While there is an enormous amount of conflict between the overall effects of the fur trade, for the purposes of this project. I would like to focus on the relationship between the Europeans and the Ojibwa during the boom years of Grand Portage.

Starting in the 1760s the British attempted to establish trade with the Ojibwa however, this was not a simple matter for the Ojibwa viewed trade not just an exchange of merchandise but as a bonding between people. The Ojibwa and other tribes had been trading with the French in the region since as early as the 1650s. The British had won the war with the French to control the territory, but had not negotiated peace with the Ojibwa whom still saw the French as family. The British traders soon came to realize that not only would they need to rely on the French-Canadians to act as traders (North man) and laborers but would need to treat the Ojibwa as an independent nation.

The Ojibwa would soon come to accept the British as trading partners due to both the British learning to bond with the Ojibwa and through the intervention of the French-Canadians or North man of whom many had Native American wives. In these early years, there were no company monopolies, the British were largely financers, and the North man were still profiting greatly from these expeditions. The truth is that without the indigenous people’s desire for the European goods there would have been no fur trade.
Another reason for a positive relationship with both French and British Europeans was that neither had a desire to change the Ojibwa lifestyle. While they might have found many aspects of the culture objectionable, they treated the Ojibwa decently. The Europeans of course brought priest but made no demands the Ojibwa convert. Just as important the Europeans never assumed that permission to trade gave them land rights and recognized for the most part the sovernty of Native American Nation.

The way that the indigenous people did business was at first more baffling to them then the language. The culture of the Native American was not based upon material wealth and in fact, possessions hindered their lifestyle. A clan might move to as many as six areas through out the year depending on the season and families needed to be as unencumbered as possible. The attractiveness of the European goods was for the convenience they offered.
The Native American people did not need to base their self-esteem on tangible possessions, as the family structure was deep and rich. Parents through the oral tradition nurtured self worth in their offspring as their stories fostered each person’s individuality as well as their interdependence. The family structure placed immense value on grandparents as well as aunts and uncles.

Europeans had products that were very desirable to the Ojibwa obviously the first were the European weapons and the supplies to make them effective. The Ojibwa themselves had found themselves advanced to their current geography by possession of firearms. The Ojibwa were originally only guest of the Dakota and served as intermediaries in exchange for occupancy and hunting rights. This agreement, which started in late 1680s, worked well for both nations. The Dakota preferred to farm, this left little time for hunting, and traveling to trade, the Ojibwa received a place to thrive and were able to collect some trade goods. Eventually the weapons would shift the balance of power from the Dakota to the Ojibwa.

Guns were not the only trade good that had value, as items such as clothing, steel knifes and kettles, flint and thread all offered the indigenous people freedom from some of the tediousness of manufacturing comparable items. The time saved proved to better feed and interact with family members. Relationships were in higher regard then wealth as it was common for those considered rich by native standards to hold ceremonies and give away all they had to other clan members.

One item that would be a deterrent to the Ojibwa was of course alcohol. The North American natives had never produced alcohol, which makes the culture unique in world history. While at first the French and later the British realized the advantage this gave them, most early traders and companies could see that it might also spell disaster to the fur trade as a whole. This does not mean that all traders were as scrupulous or had the foresight too limit alcohol as trade goods. However most Europeans saw it as bad for the fur trade overall, and life at that time was satisfactory for the Ojibwa; this did not make alcohol as attractive.
Alcohol held no great attraction to most Ojibwa in these early years of European interaction because of the importance of the indigenous people’s spirituality. The Ojibwa had deep-rooted spiritual beliefs and traditions that integrated seamlessly in their everyday life. Every child was instructed in mino-bimaadiziwin or the good life by not only parents but by grandparents and the parent’s siblings, who were viewed as equally important in child nurturing. These spiritual values based on love of life and respect for all life shielded the Ojibwa from emotional problems readily found in European cultures. This was a major reason that the gender psychology was without black and white roles as found in the European culture. Women in the indigenous cultures held great value as the bearers of life and in fact, the drum used in most ceremonies was a constant reminder of that fact. The Drum is much like the heartbeat heard within the womb where all life springs.

Trading as earlier mentioned not simply an exchange of goods to the Ojibwa or a quick affair. The Ojibwa as with most indigenous people saw trading as a pact of loyalty and friendship. Agreeing to be trading partners meant that both parties had obligations to each other, which could even include aiding each other in conflict. A good example of this is during the Euro American war with the British, while the colonies never approached the Grand Portage the British army did. They enjoyed the full support of the Ojibwa whom they lavished with British flags and medallions. These symbols of allegiance were of such importance to the Ojibwa we could view items donated by Ojibwa families to the Minnesota Historical Society as late as the late 1970s.The Ojibwa provided canoes and food to the redcoats as well as acted as guides along with the voyageurs. The Euro-American revolution would also increase trade in the area as the war pushed trading north.

The Ojibwa took this obligation very seriously; the winterers were dependent on the indigenous peoples for food, canoes guidance, and shelter. If it were not for the willingness of the clans to accommodate them the winterers never could have even survived let alone allowed the fur companies to profit. The indigenous peoples never thought twice and considered it a responsibility to support all aspects of the traders care and welfare. The Ojibwa guided them interpreted for them if need be. They picked sites for their post and even provided snowshoes and moccasins. This of course was in addition to hunting trapping and curing the skins for which they would trade to the North man. This obligation also had a positive side for the Ojibwa as the Northman was isolated and the all news came from the clans. The Ojibwa dispensed news of fur prices fluctuations at the clan’s pleasure. This interdependence kept the scales balanced for several decades.

Besides Furs, canoes proved a constant need and brought the natives close to one hundred dollars hard currency. Cash allowed the indigenous people more buying power then furs. While the Rainy Lake bands supplied most of the twenty-five foot birch bark canoes the grand portage bands supplied quite a few. Food could also be sold to the fur companies while the Grand Portage Ojibwa supplied wild rice; the Ojibwa on Lake Michigan sold the company ships enormous quantities of corn, maple sugar and beans.

The early 1780s brought a tip in the scales to this delicate balance to the Europeans favor as the worst small pox epidemic moved across North America. An estimated two thirds of the indigenous people died because of this tragedy. The disease in Minnesota spread the Red River to Rainey Lake then on too Grand Portage. The impact was devastating as the political structure collapsed with the death of the elders. Families were left with out providers and the women were left out numbering the men. Tribal histories and spiritual leaders were also lost, creating a whole society that suffered from what we would now term Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The Ojibwa would never recover, as it was a society that depended on the grandfathers. the next generations would find themselves faced with social problems that until that time were rare including domestic violence. Alcoholism grew much more common and would continue to grow as Europeans and Euro Americans encouraged it.
The second change came from the Europeans as the North West Company reorganized to resemble our modern day corporations. This with the decreasing number of quality furs shifted the balance again toward the Europeans. The new concept of business even alienated the winterers and they were replaced with clerks. Interrupters and canoemen accompanied the clerks, this not only replace Ojibwa as the trade language but also ended the bond between the fur traders and Ojibwa. Other changes also darkened the relationship, such as the increased use of liquor for trade. The early 1800s would see the fur companies ship over forty thousand gallons of liquor into Grand portage.
The real death of the Grand Portage as a fur trading post of course was the Euro-Americans asserting their boarder rights. By the time, the last rendezvous was held at the Grand Portage in 1802 it was also clear that number of quality fur the region could produce had dwindled. While the North West Company moved across the Canadian, border and would continue trading for a few more years. The Ojibwa were already starting to resume their previous way of life.

Waasa inaabidaa by Thomas Peacock, published by the Afton historical press, 2002
Author : Peacock, Thomas D.

The Grand Portage Story by Carolyn Gilman, Published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, c1992 Author : Gilman, Carolyn,

Grand Portage Chippewa: Oral histories of the Grand Portage Band, published by the
Grand Portage tribal council and the Sugarloaf Interpretive Center Association , 2000

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bridget Riversmith is a Duluth-based artist who is one of the most original artist, whose works I have had the pleasure to view in the last several years.Her images are both dark yet strangly innocent.
The website she has set up is as wonderful as her art work and i advise you to set aside enough time to enjoy its richness.

Friday, March 02, 2007

One of my first addictions was caffeine and is the only one I have retained. As a very young teen, the Last Exit to Brooklyn known as "The Exit" to everybody proved to be my training ground in the world of espresso. This funky throw back from 60s provided a hang out for a amazingly eclectic clientele. I was fortunate enough to get too experience The Exit in both my early teens and my twenties. But this wonderful piece of Seattle history is a different story then I want to tell right now.

Local coffee shops have been a destination for entertainment and socializing. Starbucks and its imitators has always been too mainstream and commercial for my taste. I very much prefer the look and feel of the independently owned coffeehouses. While I have been to many of them over the past twenty-three years, two special ones hold a cupful of warm thoughts. Two of my favorite coffee shops contain rich atmosphere, diverse patrons and a variety of entertainment.
Both of my favored establishments cultivate a certain ambiance. Only the second coffee shop I ever patronized was Tony’s Italian Cafe in Cleveland Ohio; Tony’s Italian Cafe was a mix of old world charm and late seventies punk culture. I felt comfortable from the moment I walked in to the place and gazed at the wallpaper imported from Italy upon which hung the works of local artist. The tables filled the small cafe were made of rod iron as were the chairs. Pastel over stuffed pillows and chair backs made the seats comfortable. Besides the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the smells of hearty Mediterranean cuisine permeated the air. My current den of caffeine delight is right here in Duluth and called Beaner’s Central. The differences between Tony’s and the layout of Beaner’s are obvious; Beaner’s is all modern and very lively. The music plays continually as Cd's provide subtle background during the day and musicians perform from the stage at night. There is a warm comfortable feeling created by the light purple walls and soft lighting. In the front, a mixture of overstuffed couches and comfortable booths invite groups to visit and hang out. In the center of the coffee house, small tables accommodate the business people and couples. The smell of fresh baked pastries and cookies over the lush smell of roasted coffee beans fill the air.
I really like to watch and listen to a diverse group of people. Tony’s Cafe had an interesting mix of clientele, which included people from the neighborhood, younger people who were involved in the local punk culture and a handful of fledgling artist and musicians. I spent many an afternoon sipping a quad cappuccino and listening to the musical Italian accents of the retired men who lived in that neighborhood. Their hand gestures seemed to be as important as their words when they were making a point or telling a story. One interesting senior citizen sat every afternoon with a newspaper and a demitasse cup of black espresso in front of him. After reading a section of the paper, he would down the pungent coffee then motion for a refill. He then continued on to the next section of the paper, his routine never seemed to alter or did I ever tire of witnessing it. Beaner’s customers are a mix of business people, college students, musicians and artist, tourist and of course, espresso fanatics like me. The first time I visited Beaner’s was several years ago, while on a holiday excursion with my late wife. We ended up meeting and becoming good friends with a musician .Our second visit was a on a trip to hear our new friend and her group perform at the coffee shop.
Often I go to a coffee shop to be stimulated by entertainment as well as caffeine. Beaner’s is a haven for local talented musicians who meet to network and share artistic insights. Performers also gather to catch the shows of musicians like themselves, who come from all over the United States. The owner of Beaner’s plays with two different local bands and has furnished the coffee house with a first rate sound system as well as several experienced sound technicians to run the sound board for shows. The stage is professional with a great lighting scheme. Visual art is also incorporated, starting with a colorful and large mural directly behind the stage. Every month a different regional artist displays their work on the walls and sculpture or pottery artists often have offerings placed on small tables around the cafe. Whereas Tony’s stage was really just a corner where they had cleared a few tables away from, it prompted many to perform. The art that graced the walls was always changing as new works were exchanged and occasionally sold .Thinking back to those days I think the real entertainment was watching the interaction of the Italian culture with the rising Punk culture. While there were many clashes I think each group respected the others desire to as the Sinatra song states “Do my way”.
The two coffee shops could be viewed by some as different as night and day; I see many similarities. This is actually based upon the human experience, as what I think I enjoy are the many memories of events, gatherings and personal discoveries. In the end, cherished the most; are the memories of individuals who were friends, confidants and lovers. They come to mind with every whoosh of steam from an espresso machine, many who have vanished just like the steam. Coffee shops are commonplace these days but the establishments that last have the quality to create memorable events.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

She came home after her first date with this new lady in her life and she was giddy.
I sat and listened to her tell me about the whole evening in detail and everything about her new girlfriend. She was planning on taking my son to the aquarium the next day and had suggested her new flame go with them. This did not bother me in the least as I knew Ann had a great deal of tact when the situation required it.
The next day talking with my son it was quite clear Ann. was not the only one quite taken with this new lady, he sang her praises all through dinner.
Some might think at this point I was a tad jealous but in truth I was not -I was working long hours with a renewed enjoyment, as I was now sober I mended a lot of relationships and my creativeness was a new high. We also had other people staying with us and a lot of people stopping by for a meal or chat. I was renewing and making amends with my son and developing my own spiritual understanding my life was full.
So it went through most of the summer when Ann. was not with her girlfriend -we still talked went to meetings and she still liked to keep a good sexual tension banked between us.
One night on the rare occasion my son was visiting his mother and I was watching a movie and in walked Ann. with the girl I had heard about all these weeks.
They sat down on the couch and Ann. introduced me to Cindy,
She was cute with a devilish smile and a really crisp short hair style.
In fact everything about her said style from the shade of her red hair to her limited but tasteful jewelry We all exchanged some small talk and Cindy and I found we had several mutual friends in common. After a while I could tell I was getting the look from Ann.(the I want to be with my friend alone kind of look)so I said my goodnights. As I was walking out I could not help but notice that there seemed to be a bit of tension between Ann and Cindy that was not of a sexual variety few days later Ann shared w/ me that is was Cindy’s Sobriety anniversary and she wanted to take her somewhere special for dinner then to a place in federal way which rented hot tubs by the hour .I suggested she bring her by the restaurant and even thought it was my night off I would come in a supervise their meal to make sure the chefs made it spectacular.
She thought this was a great idea .I did even one better and had the dinning room manager pick up some flowers and balloons for their booth .I went into the kitchen and added some special touches to their meal then slipped out as my son and I had a movie to go too The next day Ann was really very pleased with all the attention i had given the two. And also mentioned again how Cindy and Joshua got along so well. She also shared how Cindy seemed a trifle cool to her as of late. It was later it dawned on me that the reason for this was Ann was head over heels lets pack up the U-Haul in love and Cindy seemed more interested in the nice pleasant fling mode.
To be continued

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Washington State 1991
I was enjoying for the first time the reality of being a single parent with a sense of responsibility. Besides being clean and sober I was not drifting with my child from one mercenary relationship to another.
We lived in the house I had been brought to the night of my 12 step meeting.
It was a large house with my friend bob owning it. Bob had a year on me in his sobriety and I paid rent helped with the bills and of course did a lot cooking.
My Son was finishing up the first grade and would soon be reveling in summer vacation. I looked at some of the day care that was being offered in the area and knew I would have to make a choice soon. One day Gwen the friend who had brought me in to my new way of life brought a friend of hers to the house. She was a striking women very punk looking in her blond crew cut and leather jacket. I knew who she was through conversations I had had with Gwen. She was Ann a very educated lady who at one point in her life had been on the mayors staff in a large city. She had 14 years sober having been a street kid in L.A. She was beaten into surrender at an early age by those streets. She had just come back from six months in Texas where she attempted to reconcile with her family of origin.
She was looking for a place to stay. She had moved back to Tacoma and moved in with a male friend. Apparently he was sure she wanted more of him then to just share an apartment She did not..... He was in fact very far off the mark.
Ann wanted to go back to school in the fall and finish up a degree.
After a lot of hinting by G I talked with Ann and hired her as my son’s nanny.
She would watch him while I was at work for room and board a weekly stipend and the use of a car. My son loved her, she had an interesting way with children she could communicate with them in a way which held them in awe of her. She that summer took my son on a whirl wind tour of art galleries museums street exhibits and events
At night Ann and I would often go to meetings together and got to be good friends, people started to assume we were a couple. At that time the last thing I really needed was a relationship of any sort, as I was trying to work this new way of life to the best of my ability. We also had many conversations on the program and a spiritual way of living. We had just as many conversations on out dated paradigms on gender.
Ann who I first thought was lesbian soon proved to me she was more bisexual with a lesbian leaning. By that I mean her idea love relationship was with another female but recreational sex was Accord to her whim.
When it became apparent to her I was not going to make a pass at her (for reasons I stated before) She let her guard down a lot and really started to share with me her life and ambitions, dreams desires. She also I think viewed it as a bit of a personal challenge to seduce me. She soon started to make it a habit to prance around me late at night in the nude or in sexy underwear. She also had nights she had trouble sleeping and would have me gently rub the soles of her feet (I know I have a minor foot fetish to this day)
As I knew would happen eventual Ann came home one night and said she had met a lady and developed a huge crush on her. While she had not asked her out or was even entirely sure the woman was lesbian/bisexual she was obviously smitten by this new person. It also became clear to me that this intelligent cool semi punk chic lady was a hopeless romantic at heart. I really had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing as it was such a surprise.
To be continued

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Six words that that I think characterize U.S. culture.
A. Independent B. Militaristic, C. Commercialized, D. Mobile, E. Outspoken. F. Pioneering.
A. Americans are independent in lifestyle and in principle as is obvious simply by viewing the number of personal items on the market place today such as personal music devices. On the negative side America has no built in sense of community and family is used in a very limited meaning. This independence also leads to ignoring community environmental responsibilities. On the positive aspect Americas independent thinking has been responsible for many amazing advances and inventions that have benefited the world. Another positive has been that independent thinkers have not listened to those who warned against risk stating” No one has ever done that.
B. Americans are a militaristic people who fought from the beginning for their independence with military solutions. America has never hesitated to take what it feels it needs or is entitled too by use of military force. The USA was created by invasive force and genocide.
C. Commercialization explains America with more detail then capitalism only as many countries engage in capitalism. American commercialism however not only promotes a product or service but has used campaigns to alter people’s perceptions of themselves and others. Commercialization created the “keep up with the Jones’s” mentality, and dictated how we should look, feel, and smell. The concept not only sold popular culture but created popular culture as well.
D. America is mobile and when examining the geography of America one could say it came about honestly. Americas desire to spread and inhabit has lead to expedient technological advances. The mass production of the automobile and the rapid development of flight display this.
E. Americans express opinions as this was an important founding principle. Individuals in America not only value this right provided by the Constitution but many have felt it is a duty. While unfortunately far too many, do not question popular opinion, a few have advanced the craft finding new ways to meet an open minded audience. For creative individuals the internet has been an explosive force with blogs, video blogs, and pod cast as examples.
F. America was founded and moved forward with a pioneer spirit, individuals who had desire for first freedom then land. This is the America that was built by both immigrant dreams and tragically by exploitation. However, the concept in its idea form still thrives in new areas both geographic and intellectual.
Most of the characteristics I have identified have deep structure in America; however they in some forms represent surface structure. Characteristics go to the depth a people allow them too. In many ways these characteristics have historically worked together to further America. However to say that they are all noble would be to say the ends justify the means, which I do not believe.
If militaristic attitudes and commercialization were to be stifled it would have a positive effect on the other four characteristics. Commercialization while generating commerce also has a large influence on the population’s attitudes, as mentioned before commercialization is intent on creating markets by creating artificial needs. If focus were shifted toward the positive aspects of independence then commercialization would wane. Militaristic attitudes will most likely remain until there is a change of consciousness in America. No country can project what its population does not hold in its consciousness.