Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Seems to be a Theme

It's a beautiful day, and I felt like I needed to do something special for myself today, so I took a run down to NMWA to see the new exhibit "Divine and Human: Images of Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru" ( From the article about it in the magazine "Religion permeated every aspect of pre-Hispanic life. It was thought that every natural occurrence was an expression of the will of the gods, and every human undertaking was an attempt to obey that will. Mesoamerican women considered their own lives to be reflections of those of their goddesses, which gave religious significance to every task, from planting crops, cooking, and weaving to giving birth." Some of the pottery was really stunningly beautiful and surprisingly well done; some was more than a little risque; some reminded me of concretions and a couple of my painting of "Original Virgin Mother, Earth." It is a wonderful exhibit.

I stopped in at the Phillips ( on my way home to see the Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit, which I liked in one way a little better - it was paintings, so I could study. I also saw a few of my old favorites before leaving.

The Great Transformation

An article in the W. Post this morning about Karen Armstrong and her new book:

She's a scholar, a religious historian, and ex-nun. I read her first memoir, about her childhood and being in the convent, and found it pretty depressing. I can see why many, if not most, of my
Catholic friends call themselves recovering Catholics.

Seventeen books later, she has decided that she agrees with the "great mystics" that "God" is "within the self." We are on the same page there, because that is how I experience it. She also says that she discovered from her most recent studies that in the four different philosophical (religious) traditions she studied for this most recent book that "what mattered was not what you believed, but how you behaved." It would please me if the followers of those religious traditions could get back to their roots in that regard, if that is true. That notion also coincides with my personal spiritual belief, from which comes the title of this blog and my philosophy of life, i.e., "Life is a prayer."

I also liked and agree with two other things she is quoted as saying by the author of the article. The first is "Being spiritual means allowing your heart to break...Because that's when you can learn compassion." The second is "It's a mistake to define God...'To define'...means to set limits." (I do wish she would start using the word "God/dess" since the word "God" has such a strong male connotation (no matter what people say)).

Perhaps her most important finding was that "All of the Axial Agers practiced what the Chinese called jian ai or concern for everybody. Not just for your own group, but for everybody. And if we don't do that, I don't see how we can save our planet." Me, neither.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New t-shirt Ideas

So many blogs, so little time.

So many online journals, so little time.

Hard to Believe

My friend Stephanie's baby, Florin Cecily (, will be a year old and some 16 or so pounds on Friday. She was 13 ounces at birth.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Ray of Hope

An article, kind of buried on page A6 of the print edition, but with more details on the online edition of the W. Post today:

Opponents of S.D. Abortion Ban Seek Vote

The Associated Press
Friday, March 24, 2006; 1:15 PM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Opponents of South Dakota's new ban on nearly all abortions began a petition drive Friday to let voters decide its fate.
The law, among the strictest in the nation, is scheduled to take effect July 1 but will automatically be placed on hold if opponents collect the 16,728 signatures necessary for a voter referendum.
In announcing the drive at a news conference, State Rep. Elaine Roberts said she doesn't believe lawmakers have represented the will of the people.
"The vast majority of South Dakotans are somewhere in the middle," Roberts said. "They have mixed feelings on this issue."
The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the coalition of groups opposed to the law, has until June 19 to collect the signatures and get the measure on the November ballot. The secretary of state's office received initial paperwork signed by a lead opponent, Dr. Maria Bell.
The new law bans abortion in all cases except when necessary to save a woman's life, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The measure was aimed at sparking a court fight that supporters hope will lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion.
Opponents complain the South Dakota legislation is too extreme.
But Leslee Unruh, an anti-abortion advocate in Sioux Falls, said the petition drive is a slap in the face of the legislative process. Supporters of the ban will turn the petition battle into an educational campaign, she said.
"I think that it's a great chance for South Dakota people to be informed about how abortion hurts women and what abortion does to the child," Unruh said Friday.
An out-of-state group filed a similar petition last week, but South Dakota activists asked the Wisconsin-based Basic-Abortion-Rights Network to bow out so they could start their own drive.
On the Net:
South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families:

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Pray for the Cure (Every Which Way)"

A former student, Jennifer Malkin, asked if I would donate a "ribbon" painting to be auctioned at a breast cancer research fundraising event she and some friends are organizing. I made this 9" by 12" watercolor collage that can be looked at from any direction for her. We are also going to make boxes of cards to sell, with 50% of the profit going to research.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Next Year in Cuba

I thought it would be interesting to read this book, "Next Year in Cuba: A Cubano's Coming-of-Age in America" by Gustavo Perez Firmat, to see how this author's experiences compared with Jesse's. Frankly, I think Jesse's story is more interesting and compelling. Old Gustavo didn't move me, and I'm not sure why not. But maybe Jesse should write a book.

Back to "Normal"

Always the first order of business upon returning from a trip....putting things back in order: unpacking, tidying up, laundry, groceries, sorting mail, answering messages, going through the piled up newspapers!.....catching up generally. Still not entirely done, but getting there.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig

After a Saturday of stomping around the three art museums (Cooper-Hewitt, National Academy, and Neue) in the immediate vicinity of our brownstone lodgings for me, one more concert for Jim, and a night in the cramped quarters of "Guestroom No. 1," Jim and I hightailed it out of the Big Apple about 10 a.m. and arrived back home around 2:30. We left cold weather there and found lovely weather here, as well as trees and forsythia beginning to bloom! I hear it's going to get cold again, but it was lovely to come home to, especially since we were a little sad that our very exciting and funfilled week was over. Checked in with Mom, who had just gotten home, after having stayed the night with Katy and then Carey called early this evening to say she had made it home okay, so....we are all back where we started from and missing each other. But boy, did we have fun.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Over and Out

After breakfast at 3 Guys and an hour or so at the St. Patrick's Day parade yesterday, I walked Mom, Carey and Katy up to Park Avenue to catch a taxi to Penn Station for their trip home. Boo Hoo! We were all very sad to see our NYC fun come to an end. It culminated with an outing on Thursday evening to The Nederlander Theater to see "Rent" and fortunately, Mom was finally feeling well enough to come out with us at night. Earlier, Carey, Kaye and I had gone to the Whitney for the Biennial exhibition and then Carey cabbed home, while Kaye and I decided to walk. We got waylaid by noticing the Hotel Carlyle and Bemelman's Bar, so stopped in to see the Madeleine murals and have a Cosmo, especially important since we had been shut out of the Sex and the City tour earlier that day. The bartender, Joe from Brooklyn, chatted us up extensively - we were the only ones in there at that hour of the day - and then treated us to a free "Flirtini," a concoction of vodka and pineapple juice, topped off with champagne. It wasn't as good as the Cosmos, but was certainly good enough to drink. On the walk back, we stopped and made reservations for the five of us at Pescalou, the lovely little Italian restaurant around the corner from us on Madison. So, after a rest and freshening up, the five of us had dinner there and Jim left for that evening's Allman Brothers concert and Mom, Carey, Katy and I caught a taxi to Times Square and the theater. The play was fantastic and Kaye donated $20 to their AIDS collection to get her photo taken with one of the actors afterwards. She also added to her "Moo" collection with a little stuffed Holstein cow with a "Rent" t-shirt on it. We had a little trouble catching a taxi back after the performance because it was so busy down there with all the theaters getting out, but eventually we flagged one down and got back uneventfully. Sad it was our last outing for this NY trip, but glad we were able to pack so much fun into such a short period of time. Moo called from the train last night in response to a couple of messages I left to say they had gotten to the station okay, though it had taken an hour, due to the parade, and were nearing Albany, she thought. They missed saying good bye to Jim because he was out reparking the car and he had already left for last night's ABB concert, so she said they would call this morning. We will be moving out of the apartment later today into a smaller and cheaper room for our last night here, and then I will visit a couple of the other art museums in the immediate vicinity. Jim will go to ABB again tonight, and we will head back to DC tomorrow morning. It's been quite a trip!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Just In

We're just in from Town Hall concert featuring Pine Top Perkins. Last night was the Allman Brothers at The Beacon. Mom, Katy and I took a bus tour of the City earlier today while Jim went out to reconnoiter on his own and meet his old boss for dinenr and Carey had her doctor appts at Sloan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Luisa Miller

Carey, Katy and I went to see Luisa Miller at the Metropolitan Opera last night. Here's full info:

Mom still wasn't feeling well so stayed home. We were incredibly lucky that they took her ticket back and gave her a refund. Jim went to his first Allman Brothers concert. We are all going tonight, except for Mom, who wasn't intending to in the first place. She is on the mend so hopefully will feel up to doing something tomorrow.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The "Girls" and Mom Arrive

Carey, Kaye and Mom's train was on time and they showed up here about 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon by cab. Mom was/is a little sick, so she went straight to bed and I stayed with her while Jim took the girls out for a walk around the neighborhood, Carnegie Hill, and Central Park. Then we went to dinner again at the little French bistro on the corner.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Big Apple

Well, here we are at 18 E. 93rd St. , NYC. To read more about it and see a picture of the B & B as it looks in summer, click on

The drive up took a couple hours more than it should have, just due to heavy traffic, but we made it safe and sound and had a lovely dinner at a French restaurant on the corner.

After dinner we talked to Kaye and Carey, who were with Mom in the Chicago train station waiting for the train East, which was to leave at 7:55 p.m. They are due in tomorrow about 3:30. Whoo Hoo!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Good News, Bad News

In the print edition of the Washington Post this morning, above the fold and in the middle, prominently displayed, were photos of three International Women's Day events that took place yesterday, one in India, one in Spain and one right here in D.C. This was the whole story:

"Celebrations and protests marked International Women's Day yesterday. Antiwar activities rallied outside the Iraqi Embassy and marched to the White House to attempt to deliver petitions with more than 100,000 signatures. President Bush accused Iran, North Korea and Burma of suppressing women's rights, and said, "America will help women stand up for their freedom, no matter where they live."

There were no pictures and no story whatsoever in the online W. Post this a.m. so no one outside of the city would know that anything had taken place here at all. Bush did not include Saudi Arabia, one of the world's most repressive regimes towards women, in his accusation. How obvious is that? I guess he means we will stand up for women's rights everywhere except where it means we would have to confront our allies, in which case it will take a back seat, as usual, to other political goals. Things change, yet somehow they fundamentally seem to remain the same.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

Another Piece of Good Luck for Me

I got an email from a good friend yesterday who has just gotten her recently hospitalized and illness plagued mother moved into assisted living. It has been and continues to be very hectic for her and very difficult, I am sure, for both of them.

Meanwhile, my mother and two sisters are packing up and getting ready to catch the train this week-end to meet Jim and me in New York City for a new, expanded version of our annual Allman Brothers Concert Pilgrimage, which this year also includes a NY Metropolitan Opera and "Rent" for us four "girls" as well as an ABB concert with Jim for the three sisters and a blues concert featuring one of our favorites, Pine Top Perkins, on Wednesday night at a new venue. Whooo Hoo! Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Jim is a little agitated this morning because it looks like they killed off Edgar on last night's 2 hour "24" segment. Says this means war. He's SUCH a boy. :)

We' re getting ready for and getting excited about our NYC trip. Leaving Saturday and coming back the 19th. Give both my hands and my back time to rest, anyhow. Meantime, I'm having fun working on the giant sea turtle. He's getting to be VERY beautiful. Decided against easing into "Curves" again until after we get back.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Online Creativity Course

My friend Deborah Ager, a wonderful poet and publisher of "32 Poems," is offering an online course. Here is what she says:

"If you love creativity, are inspired by communities of artists, and want to nurture your creativity in an adventurous way, then I invite you to join me!

You're invited to join a free 27-day course called The Creative Mind Adventure (it's not my favorite name so please send any better ideas my way =) ). I'm excited to offer this course as it's something I've been thinking about doing for a year -- and now it's the time!

The course takes place via email or by you visiting the yahoogroups to read the lesson or, soon, via blog. If you miss a day, it's no big deal.You can come and go and you can participate from home. Whenever you start is the right time for you. Whatever you complete is the right amount. This class is about exploring our creativity in a fun and adventurous way.

You can learn more about it and sign up at:

You are welcome to invite friends to join in. I look forward to engaging with a creative community of artists and thinkers."

A Need?

Received from my Aunt Peggy in Alaska this morning: A list of terrible puns. This one is the best/worst....

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Queen of the Underworld

I am really enjoying "Queen of the Underworld" by Gail Godwin. It's the first book of hers I've read, and I'm not sure I'll read any others, but she writes well and this one takes place in Miami during the time Castro was taking over. Having just visited our friends Nancy and Jesse in Florida, and knowing that Jesse's family had had their land confiscated and been booted out of Cuba when he was in his early teens, the story of a young woman just out of college and starting work at a newspaper there had an added attraction. Godwin also references other works which have piqued my interest, including a couple of poetry books and some others on the Cuban experience in the U.S. I've already reserved a few.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It is a little chilly and the wind is a little strong, but the sun is shining and it is clear and dry, so I cleaned up a little in the front and side yards. Now the crocuses in front of and just a little underneath the azalea bushes are free of leaves and little branches in their little faces. More and more of them are blooming everyday. They seem to be spreading pretty well. The irises are starting to come up on the side of the steps and the peony bush is already showing its stems. I planted a few hyacinths that I had dug up from the backyard last fall in front of the azaleas, too. Hopefully they will take root and grow and can now actually be seen and appreciated by more than just me.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

This Is So Cool!

Be sure your sound is on. And thanks to my friend Deborah.

What My Student Told Me

I asked one of my former students if she had seen the 48 Hours show. She said that when she worked for CEDPA, Mormons "owned" their contract. I had no idea what she meant so asked her. This is what she wrote back:

"Most of the federal gov't is contracted out. USAID's labor force are (were - this changed after Natzio's left) contractors. So there was one main contract that hired the PhD technical people - called CEDPA. CEDPA was a woman's leadership non profit that got big money for staffingUSAID and doing staff trainings. Then there are the various fellowships- Michigan Univ, Hopkins, Population Council... They pay for junior level technical people to staff. The few direct hires were either the program staff (money people) and the higher ups such as division chiefs or office directors.

Then there are the support services -- money pushers, paper pushers, receptionists, admin assistants. That contract was owned by Pal-Tech. I worked for Pal-Tech so my client was USAID. I had a USAID badge, USAID email, USAID everything but the contract I worked under (salary,benefits, vacation, daily management, HR) was Pal-Tech. I was hourly. Pal-Tech charged USAID say $30 an hour for me then pal-Tech would pay me$18 an hour and keep the difference for a profit.

The owner of Pal-Tech - Omar Kader is a Palestinian Mormon who got an 8-A contract (minority owned contract - preferential bidding) and made $30 Million in 5 years. He got so big he had to sub under a 8-A when our contract came up for re-bid. Omar would go and speak at BY Univ and bring in these wealthy privileged Mormon kids (he was supposed to be bringing on minorities/underprivileged) to the contract. They hired like one or two Indians. I was brought and I was the only peace corps volunteer for 3 years -- at USAID!! I had 5 friends all interview there with peace corps experience and masters degrees -- they all got passed on for Mormons.

They have their own network. Omar tried to make it look like he was down with ALL the employees -- but he really only liked to work with other Mormons. Some gossip - his son Tariq -- was dating my co worker. Well they get married, she gets pregnant (un planned) on the honeymoon. He cheats on her all through the pregnancy. He doesn't come home at night. Omar bought them a 4 bedroom house in Reston and a Lexus station wagon. Son is working in Omar's company comes in drunk and starts dating interns--- no one can say anything to Omar because a) it's his son b) he's married to our friend c) he is supposed to be all moral because he is Mormon. Well wife leaves him, dad catches wind - cuts son off, wife sells house and takes the baby with no more contact. I hear Omar lost a lot of respect in the church for that one.

So yeah, I know a lot about the Mormons. I did read Under the Banner ofHeaven -- can you say CULT??!!"

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Scary Site

48 Hours on Polygamy in the U.S.

48 Hours ran a story last night about how one woman escaped from a polygamist marriage in Colorado City, won custody of her children, and then, after the Mormon sect who controls the city apparently excommunicated the man she had "married" and took her sister, his first and only legal wife, away from him (!), she went back to him. He agreed not to take another "wife." She said if he did, she would leave him again. Apparently, it's all real honky dory now. I wonder where the first and legal wife and her children are, if they are happy with their "reassignment" to another husband/father.

They showed the harem quarters of another guy, apparently some really rich businessman who refused to be identified because he was afraid he would lose some of his business if he were, and according to Lagatuto (sp?), from other sources, he has and supports about 15 "wives" and about 75 children? And they all live together in one big happy family. I never understood how they got away with it. It's because the guy only legally marries the first woman and all the rest are only "spiritual marriages," i.e., he keeps a bunch of concubines. Since there is no law against keeping your mistresses all together in one house, I guess the State has no legal grounds upon which to prosecute the polygamist.

And coming up soon, on a channel near you, I guess, is a show about a polygamist and his "wives"....or a show about the "wives" of a polygamist and a polygamist. Called "Big Love" or something like that? That's all we need. Makes me wonder if the rich guy supporting the baker's dozen is a t.v. executive. There really should be some way of outing this guy. Where are the Christian fundamentalists when we need them? If they are up in arms about gays and abortion, it seems they should also be up in arms about this... certainly most of them should believe that it is an "abomination unto the Lord" or something equally heinous.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Domino Effect - My Head Continues to Explode.

Or maybe today it's imploding....

From today's W. Post, pg. A13, the almost unnoticeable item:

"Jackson, Miss. - Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said he will probably sign a bill to ban most abortions in Mississippi if it is approved by lawmakers. The bill that passed the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday would allow abortion only to save a pregnant woman's life. South Dakota lawmakers passed a similar bill last week."

Even when I was a teen-ager in Wisconsin, if I recall correctly, a woman could get an abortion if she had been raped. Not that anyone ever told anyone when that happened back then. So, how far backwards are we going to have to go before people take this seriously again? Who and/or how many women are going to have to die or be permanently damaged from botched abortions provided by unqualified predators before this fundamental right, the right to decide what lives your body provides life support systems for, if any, is taken seriously? Seriously enough by the people who think that should be the case that they retake the state legislatures and the national Congress?

Of course, the people who make these rules are not the people who have to live with them, unless of course they CHOOSE to. Most of their daughters, sisters, nieces could, if they wanted, generally afford to fly off to another country or state should they not accept the law and feel the need to rid themselves of some accidental and unwanted intruder in their body. The women who are stuck with the law are the women who cannot afford to leave. So not only are they victimized by the law, but they too often become the "welfare mothers" who are vilified by the same people who made the law in the first place. And only now are legislators starting to understand that, if tradition is to prevail, as they seem to want it to, it is not welfare mothers so much as welfare fathers, aka deadbeat dads - equally unwitting sperm donors - who are the ones not taking responsibility, who have no consequences to pay (taking care of unwanted children being the natural consequences of having unintended children). And, research clearly demonstrates that unwanted children are at increased risk for abuse and neglect....duh...

So, the cycle of abuse goes on.....including mostly men forcing mostly poor women to host and support uninvited, unintended, unwanted lives in their bodies...or risk death, permanent damage, and/or jail, if they rebel against this tyranny.

So what is wrong with these legislators, many, if not most, of whom are also opposed to any effective forms of birth control? It appears to me that many, if not most, are so firmly entrenched in patriarchal religious traditions and invested in the domination and oppression of women, that it's impossible not to hold those inimical religious traditions responsible, and it's impossible not to attribute ill will towards women to the men perpetrating them. It makes me so angry I could spit nails. I guess I've inherited my father's temperament. My father, one of the good men, of whom I know a few. But I digress...

I can't remember the quote exactly, but it's something like - all it takes for the triumph of evil is for enough good people to do nothing. Well, good people, when are you going to stop doing nothing?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Help! My Head's Going to Explode.

In the W. Post today, two articles. One ( reports on states cutting funding for family planning, restricting access to birth control and placing tight controls on sex education, helping to explain why "more than half of the 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended" making our unintended pregnancy rate "twice or three times as high as European countries," thus increasing, rather than decreasing, the numbers of abortions that occur and/or unwanted children who are born. Oh, we're SO smart.

The other article, "Designers Give Women Their Wrapped Attention" ( features photos from some of the latest "fashion" designers' recent shows, on which looks like the model's head is encased in some sort of gas mask........

"Viktor & Rolf exhibited their exquisite tailoring and their penchant for extravagant couture flourishes in an ode to Greta Garbo. They hid each model's face behind a catcher's mask woven from satin or strands of hair.

And at the presentation of the presciently named Undercover collection Monday evening, models stepped into the spotlight with their heads wrapped tightly, unforgivingly and, one must admit, artfully in fabric with all the translucence of a pillowcase.

Could the models in Undercover even see where they were walking? Several of them wandered just a bit off-track, bumping shoulders and even meandering into the audience seating area until redirected by a handler. Each model's entire head was bound in fabric -- black, brown or white -- with only tiny pinholes for air. The fabric was knotted in back -- or at what one assumed to be the back of the head -- in the manner of a tight chignon. Sometimes the fabric was pierced with silver rings and charms, like those worn by a tribal warrior or some disaffected teen aspiring to lead a punk band."