Off to round two of Laser Eye Surgery today, round one didn't quite make it. Another chapter in Life's Little Dance, as I call it, things never move in a straight line for all. I love my eyesight and hope to keep it sharp. More later. Maria is driving me, and with any luck, i'll get another patch to war. Great thing for a pirate.
A year ago, Maria and I attended a Belly Dancing benefit for Meals On Wheels in Bennington, Vt., we were quite amazed. I fell in love with Belly Dancing right away, it was, to me, one of the most powerful affirmations of the Feminine Devine I had ever seen.
And it changed Maria's life.
She joined the group, the Sisters Of The Shawl and has been exposing her belly once a week for more than a year. Belly Dancing is not just a group you can join, it is an attitude, a state of mind, a statement about a woman's spirit, body and pride.
"This is what we look like," said one of the dancers to a wary audience member once.
Last Saturday the Sisters Of The Shawl performed in the Bennington Masonic Lodge again, along with dancing groups from all over New England.
Watching these women perform seems like much more than a dance to me., it is dance of the spirit, it awakens the dreamer and spark within. We both fell in love with this idea, me as an observer, Maria as a member of the group.
Dance is the poetry of the human body, I think.
It is the narration of a magical story, what they see and feel, what you see and feel, that recites on lips, on hips, with all of one's body.
It takes years to learn how to do it, Maria is not yet ready to perform, she is working hard to get there, and loving it. She will get there.
Every week, she comes home and shows me her new ability to "bump," or shake her shoulders, or twitch, I wouldn't even begin to describe it. It is very hard to do.
Belly Dancing, wrote Shah Asad Rizvi, "illuminates imaginations and embraces the most sacred depths of souls."
This is so. The Sisters of The Shawl came to our Open House last October, and they have been invited to return this October, the Open House is set for Columbus Day weekend, both days. Mary Kellogg will read from her fourth book, soon to be published, Ed Gulley will be here to show some art, and we expect a new puppy to be on hand to liven things up.
A few years ago, neither Maria nor I could have imagined loving belly dancing, life is curious and wonderful if you can keep your eyes and ears open and learn to watch and listen.
Perhaps the Shah had us mind when he wrote Belly Dancers, "show me a person who found love in his life and did not celebrate it with a dance."
We now have enough money to help Hawah. I am grateful.
I am glad I finally persuaded Hawah, a Libyan refugee, to be photographed last week. People who send money should see the faces of the people they are helping.
She is fine with it now, and she loved posing with Ali.It made her feel safer.
Over the weekend, the church homeless shelter where she had to live last week threatened to have her children taken away because one of them was late for curfew.
He was late because he was too embarrassed for his new public school friends to see that he was living in a homeless shelter, so he walked around for hours until he was sure he wouldn't be seen. She was terrified.
The family was evicted from their apartment after their father, Hassan, was diagnosed with spinal cancer.
He is now in a coma in a rehab facility, the doctors say they do not expect him to recover. City social service workers reduced her rent subsidy by $150 so they could give the rehab center some monthly payments.
She was getting up at 4 a.m. every morning to collect bottles and cans in the street. She made $5 or $6 a day.
She didn't have the extra money after the subsidy cut, so they locked her out of her apartment with all of her belongings inside. She had no choice but to go to a shelter, which she described as the "filthiest place on the earth."
Hawah could not understand the filth, she had a beautiful and spotless house in Libya, she said, her husband Hassan had a good job as a large crane operator for 14 years, until they had to flee the country during the civil war of 2011. Every trace of their former life is gone.
Ali managed to get her out of the shelter and into a friend's apartment until we can find her her own place.
This morning, I received checks for $1,000 to help Hawah.
We now have enough money to do what we hoped to do, to give her enough money so she can make up the rent difference for one year. I admit I was a little concerned about this effort because it was so important to get her out of there, she was unraveling at the idea that her children could be taken away. She has lost enough.
If any additional money comes in, I will make sure it goes to other refugee projects, and will write about its use on the blog, as I always do. I'm going to see Hawah tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll bring her some money and talk about her new apartment search. And meet a Syrian refugee who lost her son on her flight to America and her entire family in the Syrian civil war.
She needs help also, I'll explain after I meet her. Thank you Army Of Good, you never fail. And you are..well…good.
We have enough money now to help Hawah, once she is established, she will be on her own, there are others who need help urgently. If you wish to support this program, you can send a contribution to The Gus Fund, Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816, or via Paypal, [email protected] Please mention "refugees" with your payment, so I can make sure the money goes where you wish it to go.
This will have a happy ending.
We buried Gus out in the Dahlia garden, and the hofstra we planted over his grave is exploding. Gus gives and gives, and some dogs are like that. They just give and give.
This is one of the many reasons I love dogs so much, they give me so much, and this is also why I can't turn their deaths into a lament and a misery. Every dog is a gift to me in his or her own way. I can't feel sad about that.
I asked Red to keep the sheep out of the barn while we were cleaning out the manure. Enough said.