Saturday: After Montana I drove down to LA with Olga Loya for a women storytellers retreat. Olga has a good-looking website, worth a visit. Stayed with my Cousin Mike and his gracious wife, Mo, and got to go to his birthday party. He was given a birthday card that said, “SAVE THE EARTH! It’s our only source of chocolate!” I’d like that on a bumper strip. Bunch of good singers there (Mike and Mo met in a chorus, as did Claudia and I) and they got to singing rounds. The round I liked best, though, was “Le Coq Est Mort” (the rooster’s dead) which I heard from two of the women storytellers. It came from a Michael Parent CD Chantons/Let’s Sing (he’s a storyteller from Maine). We all learned it.
Now I’m at the writers and artists retreat at Saint Dorothy’s again, trying to write lyrics for the CD with Judy, but mostly escaping into walks and blogging. Might as well walk now, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. The food here is too good, vegetable frittata for breakfast and enchiladas for lunch, and in between, banana bread with dried apricots and chocolate chips. SAVE THE EARTH!
While I was watching the inauguration in Big Timber, one of the writers retreat participants was watching in a sports bar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I found this out at dinner last night, and this morning suggested that anybody who wanted to, might write an account of where they watched and what that was like. One woman said she was in an Oakland school watching with a thousand kids. When they rose for the pledge of allegiance, she remembered the last time that felt good—over eight years ago.
Donald was in Addis Ababa partly because his wife, Ellen, works for an NGO whose purpose is to improve health care in Malawi. I told them about a story I read years ago, maybe in Sing Out or Pass It On, about health care workers in some South American country who wanted to give the illiterate villagers a way to remember the recipe for the liquid you give babies who have become dehydrated. Simple ingredients: water, salt, something else—I forget—and you have to get the proportions right. So they wrote a song with the recipe in rhythm and rhyme and taught it to the children. A mother later reported to them that her baby had diarrhea and she couldn’t remember the recipe. She ran out where kids were playing and asked them to sing the song. They did. She made the liquid and that may have saved her baby’s life. Ellen was delighted. She said that would work perfectly in Malawi, where everybody sings. So now I know why I came this weekend.
Sunday: Today is the last day of the writers’ retreat, alas. This morning a woman read the piece she wrote about the inauguration, and we all went to look at the potter’s ceramic picture frames. I realized that I had used the recipe-in-a-song idea myself, to write a song after I’d been to a neighborhood earthquake preparedness meeting. I showed it to Donald and Ellen and they asked me to sing it at lunch.
Calypso beat
Gentle people please hear this rhyme,
An earthquake could come at any time.
You’ll do better if you’ve planned
To have canned food and some water on hand.
Refrain: Oh, yes, now you know, Mm-hmm, make it so. (2x)
When you’re thirsty you will say,
Where’s that water I put away?
Store it in bottles of plastic make,
Don’t use glass, for glass can break.
Any clean bottle is fine to use
If it held water or pop or juice.
The one exception to this rule:
An empty bleach bottle is also cool.
For people and pets three gallons each,
Keep it safe with that chlorine bleach
One two three four drops to a quart,
Storing water is so smart.
Use plain bleach, not with detergent
And start today, ’cause it’s that urgent.
To have your water clean and clear
Dump and refill in half a year.
©1999 by Nancy Schimmel
Now I’m home and packing for the Music EdVentures conference in Portland, Oregon, where it can’t be more rainy than it’s been here. We need it, of course. Besides the conference, Judy Fjell will be doing a house concert in Portland this Friday night and I’ll sing a few songs too.
©2009 by Nancy Schimmel
Home of the twice-yearly Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat. C’m on down!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009