Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sad Day in Mudville

Tuned into Fox this morning just in time to actually see and hear the end of the roll call vote in which the Senate confirmed Alito for the Supreme Court. The Middle East isn't the only part of the world rapidly heading for theocracies. I am saddened and disgusted. What a horrible way to end an otherwise lovely January.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Voracious Readers Club

I read reviews in today's W. Post Book World of several books that look really good and will see if our library has them. If not, I'll ask them to order them. The reviews can be found by clicking on here:


To read about Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, click on "Little Girl Lost"
"A memoirist remembers the murder of a fifth-grade classmate in a decade of polite silence."
Reviewed by Reeve Lindbergh

To read about A Strong West Wind: A Memoir by Gail Caldwell, click on "Out of Texas"
"How Amarillo, a conservative family and the '60s helped shape a prize-winning book critic."
Reviewed by Sandra Scofield

To read about What Good are the Arts? by John Carey, click on "Michaed Dirda" "A populist critic takes a long, hard look at the culture of creativity." By Michael Dirda

Of course, also feel free to click on whatever other reviews strike your fancy, including "Mysteries" and "Poet's Choice." :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yum Yum and Fun Fun

Cana, my former student and friend who now lives in Baltimore, came down to take me out with her to her fiance's restaurant in Georgetown. He is the Executive Chef at Paolo's (http://www.paolosristorante.com/). She picked me up about 1, and we didn't get home until about 4:30. I'm still stuffed and it's after 6 p.m. But it was delicious! Calamari appetizer, pasta and salmon entree, profiterole for desert. Two glasses of great chardonnay, Canterra, I think, from Argentina. Great food, great conversation, lovely time.

With a workout at Curves and then a tour of Mariana's new home this morning, very little work was done today by me. As the Seinfeld characters famously say, "It's a shame." :)

Paintings and a Poem

Recently finished these two paintings. The top one is for Dylan's 16th birthday, a Happy Birthday mandala for him to put in his newly renovated bedroom. It's only 5" by 5" but it reminds me of Dylan. Cute, playful, quirky, happy.

The man in the red MG is my father-in-law, Eric. This painting is 12" by 24."

I also finished this poem in the last day or so and will submit it to a special issue of Beltway Quarterly featuring DC poems. It's a riff on the article I wrote for the Northwest Current.

Jocelyn Street, Chevy Chase, D.C.

One February, under two feet of snow,
The City’s equipment kaput,
Our cars, giant marshmallows
Trapped in an ashen sea,
Were stuck on the street for days.
Debra, patience pulled thin, decided
She would dig us out herself.

Gradually the news spread.
Virtually everyone drifted out to help.

I made a huge pot of lentil soup.
Others steamed hot chocolate.
We spent the entire day shoveling.

By dark, anyone who wanted
Could drive down our street.

P.E. Ortman

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

She Picked Pussy Willows

I think I finally finished this poem that I've been working on for a long time.

She Picked Pussy Willows

Not so much walking as ambling
Through chilly childhood Falls
And sultry Springs
To the one room country school,
She plucked
Daisies, goldenrod, pussy willows,
For the favored few.

Graceful, tall,
Towheaded willow herself,
She soon steered the others
-Peggy, Glenda, Sue –
Along the way.

One November – she couldn’t resist –
She touched her tongue
To the schoolyard fence. Ouch! It stuck.
That was a project.

Once, she forgot her dress,
Wandered absentmindedly
Out of the clapboard house in her slip.

Otherwise, 1930’s farm life
In Northern Wisconsin
Was uneventful
As she grew.
Her best friend was Molly.
Her teachers liked her.
She was smart,
All they could ask for
In a student.

At home, she tended kids,
Dried dishes,
Milked cows,
Assisted Grandma with the laundry;
Hauled buckets of water
Up from the creek
To fill the tub;
Snagged the dripping garments
Crunching through the wringer,
Draped them on the line to dry.

At times she paused, dreaming,
Long legs dangling,
Swaying on the swing
Slung between the oaks
Behind the house.

Til teen summers.
Steered the John Deere for Grandpa,
Threshing neighbors’ wheat.

War. Spring. 15.
Handsome neighbor Tommy
Home on leave.
Oh, he was something!!

Fall. Grandma
Brought her to old Doc Bargholtz.
Baggy shirts, loose clothing
Hid me from the sisters.

December. I am early.
We are critical.
Upset reigns.

January. The Army lets Dad
Come home.

Auntie tells me their anniversary
Is in January, not April.
Mom says
It just never came up.

(Oh, how I love that willow pickin’ woman!!)

P.E. Ortman

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Visiting Nancy and Jesse

Jim and I just got back from a week in Cape Coral, Florida, where we visited our friends Nancy and Jesse. They have a winter home there, which is located on a canal and they recently bought a boat, which we got to take a ride on out into the Gulf of Mexico. They also have a heated pool which we enjoyed immensely, especially after a challenging round of golf, and especially because Nancy made us Bloody Marys for an afternoon pick me up. They have two dogs, Garth a small black poodle and Toby, a big white one. We took them on the boat with us.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's 2006: Helping Girls Run for their Lives

I read an article in the W. Post the other day about Ethiopian girls training for running competitions to avoid being married, basically sold into marriage, often as young as 12, and their need for shoes in order to continue to do so.

I decided I wanted to help the Ethiopian girls get shoes, so sent a message to our listserv and some other people about a plan I have started to develop that I am calling “Helping
Girls Run for their Lives.”

Here is the outline of my incipient plan:

We would send out a call for local artists to create works of art featuring shoes.

We would find a local gallery to sponsor an exhibit in which a significant certain portion of the sales of the artwork would be donated for the purchase of running shoes for the girls.

We would send out a call for other artists and galleries around the city and country to do a similar thing.

We would contact the running shoe companies to try to get them to donate a certain number of pairs of shoes as well as sell us other pairs at cost.

We would contact the private shipping companies to ask them to ship the shoes at cost.

I asked Ms. Wax, the author of the article, to ask Ms Meseret Defar, the Ethiopian Olympic gold medallist and activist featured in her article, and Ms Zainab Salbi, the founder and director of Women for Women International, a nonprofit that knows how to get aid to individual women
who need it, to consider taking on the role of setting up the distribution of the shoes in Ethiopia.

I asked Ms Oprah Winfrey, whom I know supports many causes already and has a special interest in the girls of Africa, for her assistance in this project in whatever manner she sees fit.

I have several other people to contact yet. So....we'll see what happens.