6.05.2016

Borrowed Tool



I met a guy in Tucson who knew how to weld. He lived alone, hand washed his clothes, and for the university's sculpture contest, for a design to be installed in front of the bursar's office, he made a giant metal dollar sign and put it on the bursar's lawn.  His design was disqualified.

This guy, Brian, welded a frame for blue silks and white lace I was sewing for an aquarium of wire fish.


Brian's wire cutters on my patio table in Appleton

Before my husband and I left for Black Rock City with the aquarium disassembled and loaded into our van, I asked Brian if I could borrow his wire cutters for making the wire fish. 

He said he didn't lend out tools because he found out that people didn't return them.

I assured him that would not be the case with me.

After we got back from our trip, I saw him a few times, neglecting each time to return his wire cutters, and then I never saw him again.  This was over a dozen years ago.  I do not know his last name nor where he went.

If you know him, tell him that every time I use his wire cutters, which is more often than you would think, I hope that someday I will be able to return them.





5.27.2016

Nzapa Bata Mo, Joseph Tambo!



Joseph Tambo at the Madison Maker Faire, Monona Terrace

When people asked Joseph Tambo,
How has your trip been, how do you like Appleton?
Joseph would shrug and say, "Fine."
which, to our American customs, 
conveys he wasn't much liking it at all. 

So I would jump in,
We're having a great time!
because we were,

it's just not
the Central African habit
to constantly evaluate
experiences
as they unfold.




Joseph at the Wriston Gallery, Lawrence University





Dear Andrew and Joanna,

How are you? 

I am fine. I had a nice trip, I arrived last Tuesday, May 24th. 

I resumed work yesterday, but I could not have access to my computer at work office (password issues). Now I have more than 300 administrative e-mails to read.

Joseph with Daniel Powers,
photographer for the Post-Crescent
My visit in Appleton and specially at your house is a blast for me; as it opened my eyes a bit to american culture. Your country is well organized with several 
culture. I learnt too much things in few days. I hope to share them to everyone if the case happened. 

You introduced me to your relatives and everybody you know, I really enjoyed that ! I made good friends there, I will keep everybody and everything we said in my mind and my heart.

I enjoyed the 602 club, the visit at renaissance high school, the visit to the mayor, the visit to the museum, the interview with the journalist, the concert of Rosanne CASH, the concerts and coffee table at Lawrence University, the bike ride and any other places that your friends, relatives you have taken me to visit.

Joseph with Ronald Wahl of Wahl Organbuilders,
at the workshop in Zion Temple
I also enjoyed Madison, the game of baseball at Milwaukee stadium.
I learnt a lot during that visit. Again, thank you for everything!!

I miss all of you !!! I hope we could visit each other one day.
Pass my greetings to everybody I met. 

Thank you.

Joseph





Joseph with the Gannies and Isadore, Madison







On one of his last mornings at our house, Joseph asked Roseanna how she was doing.  Even after 3 weeks with Joseph as our guest, she was so overcome with shyness that she had trouble answering.  
Joseph asked, "Will you play your song today?" and he carefully hummed "This Land is Your Land" a melody Roseanna has been obsessively playing on the piano since even before Joseph arrived, mostly in the early mornings.  We all giggled and Roseanna blushed and Joseph said, "You think no one is listening?  I am listening.  Usually you play here, but yesterday, you played here," and he hummed the tune up high.  




After Joseph returned home, 
he wrote to me,
"Now my dream is realized."

We are so honored
and grateful
for the gift of your visit.

We all wish you the best
on realizing your next dream
of building a school.

And we all hope to see you again
someday.






5.25.2016

Working Our Way Towards Marigold Wings




tad neuhaus, guitar
joanna dane, vocals


the light shining in my window
i see you floating above me flying high and wide
in your marigold wings
oh those long wings
flying marigold wings
flying so high
right to the far stretches of my distant lonely heart
i’ll find you
i swear i’ll find you
no matter where no matter what no matter
i what must i do
a what must i do
a what must i do

smile wide
and fly awhile
straight towards
my heart
22 blocks wide
some like me trying to get close to you
just beat my drum
call my line
take my hand
fly my kite
deep inside i believe
in the long history
of these old stories that keep
coming round
all you have to do is call me
i'll step right up i'll come running

yes i will yes i will to see you
oh it's getting so late,
it's getting late yeah, 
oh it's getting kind of late

it's time to go





5.23.2016

Imagine City Park Thanks You!




Thank you everyone who participated in so many wonderful ways 
to make such a magical Imagine City Park!



Special thanks to:


Loren Dempster for the deep listening sunrise, 
Sarah Gilbert for leading poetry writing, 
Peter Bartman and Jeanine Knapp for compassionate discussions, 
Erin and Brian DeMuynck for chalk drawing, flyer design, and hanging out in the shade, 


Margaret Paek for the beautiful and exhilarating movement circles, 
Tad Neuhaus for coffee and for leading the noontime marching band, 


Anna Krueger for hooping, 
Kyle Lichtenberg for playing music and teaching us to juggle, 




Ami Hyde for crafting, 
John Baruth for siesta lullabies, 
Andrew Dane for donuts, sandwiches and podcasting, 


Gypsy Vered Meltzer and Marianne Levin for tree decorating, 


I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, Sonja Downing, 
and the gamelan ensemble 
for bringing the orchestra to the park, 





Robin Cardell and the Oshkosh Rhythm Institute for filling the sunset with the rhythm of our hearts, 
Len Borruso for filming the whole day, 
and all the friends, neighborhoods, and Lawrence students who shared love with all.


photo by Andrew Dane

Cheers to The 602 Club, 
The Wisdom of Wombats, 
 Lawrence City Park Neighborhood Association,
and City of Appleton Parks and Rec.

Deepest appreciations and joy!





5.18.2016

Where Have You Been So Far?



My husband and I drove into the dark lot of the 13th Street bus station in Milwaukee just over two weeks ago.  It was 10pm and we were feeling a little stressed about what we would do if Joseph Tambo didn't get off the bus.  The next one wasn't until midnight and Andrew had a lot of work to do and couldn't afford a sleepless night.  And what if he wasn't on that bus either?  What were the chances that all those connections went off without a hitch, from Joseph Tambo's apartment in Bangui, Central African Republic to this deserted parking lot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Andrew asked me again how it was that I had neglected to get a flight number.

And what if someone had stolen Joseph Tambo's identity, a complete stranger pretending to be Joseph Tambo, my most attentive student twenty years ago when I was a Peace Corps teacher at the C.E.G, a French middle school in Carnot?

What then?

I convinced myself that was absurd.  We sat in the car in silence.  The bus arrived.  I jumped out and there was Joseph Tambo and though he was twelve when I last saw him, I knew this was the same student who sat in the front row of my class with an intense curiosity and interest.

We hugged and I said hello and introduced him to Andrew and while we drove back to Appleton, I told him about the highway and where we were and where we were going.  I asked him about Bangui and his job at the American Embassy, and about our connections to Scott McBride.  But mostly we sat in silence, a bit dumb struck at how amazing life can be.

Joseph Tambo at The 602 Club with our alderperson Gypsy Vered Meltzer and urban planner Andrew Dane

The second day he was here, he talked to the high school students in my character writing class and two days after that he spoke to all the students at Renaissance.  Joseph told them he always knew I was a simple person, and that at the end of my stay in Carnot, when I wrote my address on the blackboard, he had the vision, that he would one day visit me.

He started to teach himself English, and because he was always studying English while helping his brother at the market, someone told him there was a job for English speakers at the American Embassy and that he should apply.

Out of over 130 applicants, Joseph got the job.  Now, he supervises eight people, has attended trainings in Frankfurt and Johannesburg, and is up for another promotion that would take him to Washington D.C. for a training in September. When Joseph told the students that he didn't know if he would be able to handle the challenge of the promotion, I asked if they thought he would be able to do it, and they yelled, "Yes!"

One student asked what kind of food he eats in his country.  He told them about ngunza and ngozo, the national dish made from cassava leaves and root.  I asked him if he'd ever heard of McDonalds and when he said no, we all gasped.*

Joseph Tambo at the Lawrence University cafeteria

Joseph eats sunflower seeds, cranberries, rhubarb, kiwi, walnuts, maple syrup, pancakes, pretzals, pizza, hotdogs, apple pie all for the very first time.  "Everything," he says about the food, "is new for me." This morning was his first taste of cinnamon.  He learns the new words chill out, toast, so far, storm. He is surprised that instead of "oh my god" people say "oh my gosh."  And he puzzled late one night after he arrived over the strange question people keep asking, "Where have you been so far?"

Joseph is most impressed that people here are simple, that the university professors stand in the street chatting and playing ball with the neighbors.  "In my country, if you are a university professor, you think, 'I am king!'"

He is also impressed with how many activities people do. "It makes you feel alive."

Dr. Fonkem Achankeng from Cameroon, Joseph Tambo, and Dr. Alfred Kisubi from Uganda.
Upon meeting in the Indian Darbar parking lot, Alfred told Joseph, "You and I have something in common,
Bokassa and Idi Amin!" infamous evil dictators from Central African Republic and Uganda.

Joseph Tambo would like to have children someday, but he feels it is wrong to bring children into a world where they have no chance of getting a proper education.  Joseph gets most passionate talking about how education will be the salvation of his country, if only they can have a great leader. A foreign service officer introduced Joseph to a high ranking American official by saying the country would turn around in a week if Joseph Tambo and his two colleagues were in charge.

Joseph calls himself a simple man.  He does not want such an important job.  His goal is to build a house and start a school.

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna and Joseph Tambo

Joseph would not buy a pair of shoes he found at the Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe because they smelled like smoke and he was afraid the dogs at the airport would smell drugs on his shoes and he doesn't want to get thrown in jail.  "My friend told me, that American prison, once you are in, you do not get out."

He saw his first movie with Len Borruso and David Gerard, Tom Hanks in Hologram for a King. Joseph's review, "I laughed a lot at this funny guy."

Civil War reenactor and Joseph Tambo at Horizons Elementary for Civil War reenactment day.
Since Joseph has been here, I've noticed pretty much continual reference to the Civil War.
Has it always been that way and I haven't paid attention?
Or are we turning our cultural eye back to what is again relevant to our own times?

We went to see Rosanne Cash and her band play with the Fox Valley Symphony at the Performing Arts Center.  Joseph whispered "fantastic!" at the start of their second song.  "Very professional," he told me afterwards, and noted that it is because they start so young, like the kids playing piano at the girls' recital that we attended earlier that day.

Joseph went to Luna Cafe with Tad Neuhaus and Ellen Watson to see our neighbor Mark Urness play jazz with Dane Richeson and Jose Encarnacion, and their guest Joe Locke.  We went to Matt Turner's IGLU students' vocal concert.  He saw Ali Sperry and Jamie Dick, our friends from Nashville and their friends, The Danberrys play together at The 602 Club.

But judging by how he filmed until he ran out of recording space on his phone, perhaps Joseph's favorite was the North High Freshman Band and Orchestra concert.

Sitting at Copper Rock coffee shop reading the Post Crescent, Joseph was shocked to learn that a teacher could be thrown in jail for many years for intent to meet with a student for sexual relations. He laughed and thumped the paper at a story of crows pecking away at people's houses.  And he thought Bernie Sanders saying he will "fight for every vote" was hilarious.

Johnnie B. took Joseph to Costco and Home Depot and Manderfield's and Goodwill.  Upon return, Joseph declared Johnny B. a "very wise man".

Patrick Hyde took Joseph to catholic mass.  He introduced Joseph to the priest.  Joseph said the priest pretended to have never heard of The 602 Club.  I said he probably wasn't pretending, most people don't know about The 602 Club.  But Joseph was sure he was.

Joseph on one of many bike rides in Appleton

*Looking at photos on his cell phone, I see a photo of Joseph standing in front of a McDonald's at a mall in Johannesburg.  Joseph says he thought I asked if he had ever eaten there, not if he had ever heard of it.


Joseph at JD's watching N.B.A. basketball and eating his first french fries.
When I asked for two sodas, the server gave us the extra large cups.
When I asked for smaller ones, she advised against it, since the extra large are one dollar and the small $1.30.
I explained this to Joseph.  He said that doesn't make any sense.  



5.03.2016

Interview Suit



When I got home from the Peace Corps, my mom took me shopping for an interview suit.  She had called Sandy Carpenter to find out where her daughter Cindy shops, since she is my age, and very stylish.

I don't much like shopping, regardless, but pack on the fact that I was coming off two years in a world opposite of the shiny mall and was having trouble even going to the grocery store, it was, needless to say, a draining experience.  Here was my mom, gushing about how nice I looked in the fitted jacket and slacks, how she also wanted to buy me a skirt so that I had a few options, and a couple of nice blouses, and some sensible pumps.

I scowled at the mirror, letting her muse about hem lengths.  But I drew a firm line: No pantyhose!

I told her I wasn't ever going to wear any of it.  I had other plans for my future, though I didn't know what they were.

My mom still had hope.  She was working on fixing me up with that nice young man at the bank. And she insisted I would need an interview suit which sat in my closet, tags still on, for fifteen years until one brave day I got rid of it.



4.30.2016

Getting Ready To Go Pick Up Joseph Tambo



While cleaning up the house, getting ready for Joseph Tambo's arrival

I came across my old grade book from the C.E.G. Carnot,

a middle school, though, since there was no high school in the town,

and since there had been three years of teachers' strikes

the students were already teenagers, so it felt more like high school.

And since there were only six classrooms for hundreds of students

we were on a schedule that was more like college.

So, I was teaching only 15 hours a week,

but each of those hours meant dozens more spent in anxious planning, dreading, grading.

How to do this impossible thing?

Here is my grade book from my second year,

when I had a bit better handle on things.

This class had 87 students.

Notice the last one. . .







4.29.2016

The Many Hats of Niki de Saint Phalle







Do you know the many hats of Niki de Saint Phalle?
and how she stood in Paris 
before the fountain of a wild dream
while she envisioned
the tarot garden
and
Jean Tinguely?




4.28.2016

In Anticipation of the Arrival of Our Guest



Joseph Tambo is coming on Saturday for a three week visit.  He was my most focused and attentive student when I was a Peace Corps teacher in Carnot, Central African Republic.  He was 12 in 1996 when I gave all the students my address and told them, if they wrote to me, I would write them back.

And Joseph Tambo sent me a letter and he made sure to never lose contact, over twenty years, emailing and facebooking.  He taught himself English and got a job at the American Embassy in Bangui.  And now he has a visa and a plane ticket, and he will be here in two days.

I feel ashamed of our culture already, thinking of how striking it will be to Joseph Tambo, how wasteful we are.  I am ashamed of our culture because I am already worried about how different it is for a black man here than in Africa.

I am excited to take him to the library, to Imagine City Park, to Madison, to Lake Michigan.  I am excited to take him to the high school to share with the students his story.

I try to explain to the kids.  It's not like us going to Paris.  This was not easy for this guy.  This took some rare powers of visioning and determination.  He has lived through some terrible things, and somehow always finds the strength to keep working towards his goals no matter how many obstacles he encounters.

There are so many questions I have for him.  One thing I know for sure: Joseph Tambo is going to be cold.


Carnot's elementary school

Carnot's market near the school

Carnot's middle school where I taught Joseph Tambo

Neighborhood near the school

On my way to school after grading exams.



4.27.2016

Paris



I didn't take many pictures in Paris
because 
I made it my intention 
not to,

but then we passed this guy after leaving the Pompidou
and I chased him down 
and told him 
I couldn't resist.

"C'est drole?" he asked.

"Oui, oui," I called in the rain. "C'est tres drole!"







4.24.2016

Art School Teacher: Visioning Practice








When encountering art works, 
try envisioning the artists making it, 
where they were and 
how the place smelled and 
the sounds all around and
where the light was coming from and 
the shadows, 
always 
the 
shadows.  




Try 
envisioning 
the 
vision
that led to this
expression 
of 
existence.