Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Is it Time to Build Another Ark?

Rain, rain, rain....we got drenched on our way into the concert Sunday night but home safely afterwards...looking at the news on Monday morning made me realize even more how lucky we were not to have run into any major trouble on the way back from Nissan in Manassas...

Stayed close to home yesterday. We were thinking of a trip to the National Gallery of Art after my dental appointment but decided against it when we heard it was closed!

Tonight we have tickets to see Little Women at the Kennedy Center and are hoping we are not flooded out with more rain that is expected this afternoon. Stay posted!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Three More Jam Packed Days

Yesterday afternoon the Royal Ballet at the Kennedy Center, dancing Sleeping Beauty; a party; dinner out....the day before, working in the morning at A.U. on this summer's T.I.P. project and then John's sister and brother-in-law arrived for a visit....another unexpected trip to the emergency room for Carey at night, who again, is all right, but it was nervewracking to say the least...EVERYONE is zonked today and, except for me, sleeping late. Mom went to Carol Lynn's funeral yesterday, so I will call her to see how she is and how it went while everyone else slumbers......

John leaves later today and tonight is the Allman Brother's Concert at Nissan.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mount Vernon, Seen from the Ferry

Recent Adventures, Executive Summary

So....Carey and Sarah arrived on Wednesday, June 14, five and a half hours late, but safe and sound and in time for Sarah to make the Aly and A.J. concert with Charlotte and her crew. Carey and I took her over to the Warner Theater by cab, after we grabbed a bite at the Circle Cafe in Union Station, to meet them and then brought the luggage home by subway and subwayed back down to help Anja escort the five little girls home on the subway after the concert.

Thursday Sarah and Carey slept late and got settled in a bit, and Sarah and Charlotte played for most of the day. Charlotte stayed overnight night and Friday Carey and I took her and Sarah to Mount Vernon via the ferry from Old Town Alexandria. It was a beautiful day for an outing! And we had a fabulous time. Charlotte stayed overnight again.

Saturday the four of us went to see the Kirov Ballet at the Kennedy Center, dancing Giselle. Exquisite. Uncle Jimmy came home from the cabin late on Saturday night, surprising Sarah and Charlotte on Sunday morning and setting off a great round of the banana sticker game. In his absence, the little girls had been putting Dole stickers on things of his all around the house and as he found them they would squeal and run away and he would chase them and try to put the offending stickers on either them or something of theirs. After a big breakfast things settled down and the girls played quietly and then Bill took them to see the new kids movie, someting about cars, and later they all walked up the street to get ice cream and Uncle Jimmy and I went to dinner at The Green Papaya in Bethesda.

Monday a.m. I went to see my dentist to check out tooth pain I had been having since, of course, the day after the girls got here....turned out to be an abscess and so a large part of Monday was wasted trying to find a dentist on our insurance plan who could squeeze me in either Tuesday or Wednesday; finally got it all squared away but by then didn't have much of the day left which wasn't taken up with getting groceries and doing other errands. In the afternoon we also found out that our Aunt Carol Lynn, who had been in the hospital, had unexpectedly passed away. They are not sure yet why her blood pressure suddenly dropped and she just expired. Mother was devastated as is our uncle and cousin and much of the rest of the family. I called my uncle yesterday morning before my next dental appointment.

Tuesday we were all set for an outing to the Sewall-Belmont House, but Carey's phlebitis started acting up so instead we spent most of it in the Sibley emergency room. She's fine, no deep vein thrombosis, but has to take some more aggressive measures to prevent any worsening of the problem.

So, yesterday the new dentist, the endodontist, got started on my root canal, which I thought was going to be the end of it until I got back from Wisconsin but was surprised to learn was only the beginning so I had to make three more dental appointments for next week before we leave for Wisconsin. One darn thing...

Good news was that Charlotte got to stay home from camp so Sarah was happy to have her to hang around with, too, while all of this was happening, and John showed up safe and sound last night from his flight from Montana.

This morning we "girls" are off to see "Barbie Live in Fairytopia" at the Warner while he goes to the National Gallery of Art. We will meet him for lunch and then we will all, finally, get to the Sewall-Belmont House this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

His Mother's Son

I finished a small portrait of a young man who is just graduating from college. His name is Ricky. I tried to capture the drama he has always been for his mother, as well as the essence of the adult he is becoming.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Too Intense

So, I'm almost done with "Scribbling the Cat" already. It's pretty compelling, a page-turner, and not very long, so if it weren't so intense, I'ld probably be done with it already. But it is, so I'm not.

Fortunately, yesterday afternoon I felt energetic enough to take a trip down to the Mall to meet up with an old high school friend, who was in town with her "baby" sister and her family to celebrate "baby" sister's youngest son's 12th birthday. I believe it had been about 12 years since we had seen each other, that being at MY "baby" sister's wedding in Wisconsin. She, Sandy, my friend, now lives in Raphine (pronounced, by me, to kid her, RAY feen), Virginia, about 2 hours or so south. I understand about 3 people live there. Actually, about 150 or so, I guess, but again, I like to kid her. It seems funny to me that she lives there when she had come from Madison, Wisconsin, which is probably about as opposite of RAYphine as you could get, culturally speaking. But she says it's beautiful and quiet, and they like it. And I can believe that. Rural Virginia's nothing if not beautiful and quiet....well, conservative...but also beautiful....and quiet.

Anyhow, it was really lovely to see her and Karen, her "baby" sister, whom I probably hadn't seen since SHE was 12, and meet the extended family, especially since Sandy and I had lost touch with each other for a few years, during which time she had moved and I had been recuperating from the lawsuit and the closing of Mount Vernon and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, since I obviously was done with academe. But after a few years I realized I hadn't heard from her in awhile and it seemed no one in our family had, which was strange since she was close to both my mother and my younger sister Carey and was fond of Charles and Katy....having lived down the road from us for several years while I was in college and then some. Carey used to babysit for her daughter Laurie when Laurie was a baby. So, I had managed by hook and by crook, since she had left Madison, to track her down (they didn't call me Columbo on the Grand Jury for nothing) and was just astonished to discover she was here on the East Coast, hardly a hop, skip and a jump away, a couple of years ago....but we hadn't really had an opportunity to get together yet. SO, yesterday we met at the new museum, the Museum of the American Indian, for lunch and visit.

Talk about intense..she "caught me up" on the whole family. Her older brother, whom I had dated in high school, who managed to stumble into a job with Microsoft in its infancy and is now, how shall we say it, extremely well off. Her younger brother, who went off several deep ends during his adolescence and thus spent a large part of it in reform schools of various ilks, but managed eventually to pull himself together, get a degree, and spend more than a decade working in Japan before returning to the U.S., where he now lives, in NYC. And her baby sister, on whose land she now lives and with whom she works part-time, selling chestnuts and day lillies from their tree and flower farm. Of course, I was already intimately acquainted with her own history, including pregnancy and marriage at 16; her son's congenital deafness; she and her husband's separation and her unhappy sojourn in Florida; their reconciliation and move to the farm near us; the birth of Laurie; her husband's death in a car accident not long after; her move to Madison and sheer gutsiness to get through college and law school, and then the traffic accident which left her in chronic pain and her unsuccessful lawsuit to recover damages. So it's not surprising that when her son spent a large part of his 20's ragging on her and feeling sorry for himself, that she would get a little depressed and want to run away to the peace and quiet of rural Virginia with her sister. So that's what she did, and how I lost track.

She's feeling better, now, though. Her son got himself together, got educated, got a job, got a wife, has a baby....has turned himself into a responsible and good guy. In fact, he turned out to be one of the links in how I managed to find her. And her daughter Laurie, well, Laurie's just always been the best. Probably the light of Sandy's life...although I think that little girl of Karen's son Brett's may be becoming a close second. And these days Sandy is very, very proud of her son, who has also given her a grandson. Unfortunately, she doesn't get to see either of them very often as they are still in Madison.

Anyhow, "Scribbling the Cat" is about the after effects of war in Africa and it's harsh and sad, and sometimes under some circumstances some people do unspeakable things, which I hope isn't the most part. But at this point in my life, I think everyone has a story and they all have their painful and poignant parts. I don't know who said it, but I am reminded of the saying that goes something like, "No one gets out alive." And no one gets out entirely unscathed. So we find our joy where and when we can and make the best of what we get. And sometimes if we're lucky, one of the great things we get is friends, and it is another astonishing thing to me how long we have been friends.

We met sitting next to each other in 8th grade algebra class. She hated her Dad. I adored mine. She adopted him, and he let her. It wasn't enough, but it was something. It didn't stop her from trying to escape her own father's house, but it helped her survive afterwards. And now it is 44 years later. 44 YEARS later. And we are still friends.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More of the Same, plus Reading

Finally finished Jane Fonda's book yesterday. I have to say it was pretty good. I'm adding her to my list of people to contact to see if she will support the Girls Gotta Run Foundation's efforts. She seems to want to try to leave the world a better place than she found it before she dies and is devoted to several other efforts to help girls. In the end it was like she had taken one of my courses in psychology of women and gender, as her consciousness was raised and she discussed many if not most of the issues we dealt with. A troubling thing for me was that, although she talks at times of not having much money, it seems she always had enough to pay people to help her do much if not most of the grunt work most women usually have to do, so in spite of her feminist epiphanies, she still maintained some aura of being above the real fray which I can't quite put my finger on. I guess it doesn't really matter. She seems like a good person. And one thing I became painfully aware of while teaching at a women's college is that neither class nor money prevent women from being abused.

I also started reading "Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier" by Alexander Fuller. My friend Deborah Gussman is right; the author writes beautifully, poetically and what she writes about is very intense, brutal, primitive, including the landscape. For awhile I kept wondering why, when she has moved to the United States, she would choose to live in Wyoming, of all places. She may as well stay in Africa. It seems that is the point. She LIKED the landscape there. So she and her husband, who is from the United States, compromised on Wyoming. She mentions it is a tourist place, though, so I'm guessing Jackson Hole, which isn't all that......
Anyhow, the book is great. She also wrote "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" which got a lot of attention, but which I haven't read yet. I believe I'll put it on my list.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Resting, Recuperating, Reconnoitering

After pushing it yesterday, including going to Curves with Marianna in the morning, I woke up this morning knowing I needed to try to take it a little easier today. As it was a beautiful morning, I first replanted a few marigolds and then walked over to Marie's to give her a check for her expenses for the breast cancer notecards we did for Jennifer's Komen benefit and to say good-bye. She leaves on Sunday with her boys to England and won't be back until the day before Carey, Sarah and I leave for Wisconsin. When I left, I took some packages she needed to get mailed to do that for her later in the day. Went home, had a bite to eat, did some GGR and web work, and then went up to the post office.

Marianna really liked the painting of Ricky, which she came in to see for the first time after we got back from Curves yesterday, but she noted a slight problem with his mouth, so I contemplated the changes I need to make for that; and Anja delivered some photos of the girls' shoes we had taken last night that Bill had printed out on his color printer today, but nothing seems quite right. I keep thinking of those little flip flops in front of the tent in their back yard. I think I need to get a copy of that photo. It might be the one I need to paint. We'll see. But I was too fatigued to actually pick up a brush today anyhow. I actually did manage to take a short nap this afternoon, only waking up, I think, because it thunderstormed for awhile again.

This week-end an old friend of mine from high school will be in town with some of her family to celebrate a nephew's birthday, so I will meet up with her/them either tomorrow afternoon and/or Sunday. But tonight, it will be early to bed and, I hope, to sleep.

June Afternoon, Backyard

The clematis on the back fence is crawling all over the holly bushes in front of it. The hydrangea is really getting out of control, sprawling, wants to take over the whole yard. I love the effects of the light in the afternoon.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels

Stephanie left an almost full bag for me because she thought they would melt in the heat out to the airport......I had never tasted them before.....I am now addicted.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

All Around Washington, D.C.

Sing to the Tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel."

All around Washington, D.C.
Stephanie chased the Conductor
Sarah and I thought it all in fun
Missing! Went the conductor.

So, Stephanie (who had driven down from Boston on Sunday with Florin's physical therapist) and her friend Sarah blew into town on Monday morning from Bel Air, Maryland ("Blaire, Murrlnd" if you're from there), where Sarah lives and where Stephanie had spent the night, about 11 a.m. They offloaded their gear, I drove them to Van Ness so they could run down to see the new Museum and the Botanic Gardens, and then Marianna and I got over to Curves in time to work out before they closed at 1 for their two hour afternoon break. I worked on the painting of Ricky all afternoon when I got home, until they called from Van Ness to have me come and get them again. We drove straight to Parthenon for a dinner of shared mostly vegetarian appetizers.

That night we figured out how we would get to Oxon Hill on Tuesday morning to see a class in conductive education by one of the few people in the country who does it, basically because Stephanie needs to know how different it is from the regular therapy Florin already gets for her little legs, which have some cerebral palsy, the stiff kind. We figured out it was the way I used to take back and forth between my apartment in Oxon Hill and here when Jim and I were dating, lo those many, many years ago. Although I remembered generally how to do it, it's a good thing Stephanie was navigating Tuesday morning because I would have gone wrong more than once on the 395 to 295 Expressway around the capitol and Blue Plains. And we ended up getting lost for a bit when we finally, or almost, got to Maryland, anyhow. And when we finally reached our destination, a church off the beaten path, oh, 45 minutes late or so, the woman, the Conductor, had in fact never even shown up or called and it didn't look like she would be coming after all. It was a good thing it was a beautiful day for a drive.

Stephanie then convinced us to go over the Woodrow Wilson bridge and have lunch in Old Town, which was cool, because we went to Bilbo Baggins, which she had never heard of, and she bought a loaf of their chocolate bread to bring home to Chuck, apparently a hobbit fan. Who knew?! After a quick tour of the harbor and the Torpedo Factory, we headed for Georgetown and Dumbarton Oaks Gardens and then cruised Mount Vernon College and made cutting remarks about G.W. before heading home for a much needed rest and a shower before dinner. Charlotte joined us for dinner at Yosaku, Stephanie's favorite Japanese restaurant, and then Sarah headed home.

Wednesday a.m. flew by and before we knew it we were back on the road again, this time to Dulles airport via Route 123 and the Dulles Tollroad in Virginia. We had time for a quick stop for lunch at Wegman's in Sterling before I dropped Stephanie off to get checked in and wait for her 2:00 flight to Boston, which became a 9:30 flight to Providence when that was cancelled due to storms in Massachusetts. I was half expecting her to have to come back that evening, but when I didn't hear from her, I figured it had gotten out and she was on her way home at last. She called yesterday a.m. to confirm she had gotten in and home safely. What a lot of traveling she did in a short time!

And I bet I put more miles on my car in those two days than I generally do in a month. About the only route around or through the City we didn't take was 270 north to Frederick. But we managed to avoid the Beltway for the most part, we all had a great time, and I'm sure it was good for the carburetor.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Little Bit of Sixes and Sevenses

Saturday morning Charlotte called to ask if she could come over. Apparently her parents had had a bit of a spat earlier, her mother had left to go to her stretching class without saying good bye and when Charlotte had come downstairs, her dad was grumbling about her mother and, as Charlotte said, "I just don't want to listen to it." So, she rolled over about 10 to spend most of the day with me....we did nothing much. Reviewed and discussed our plans for when Sarah and Carey get here, ate some breakfast, got some groceries, went to the library, read a story ("Sleeping Beauty" - we're seeing the ballet), ate some lunch, I had a bath while she drew and illustrated elaborate handholding charts for the night Anja is taking her, Sarah and three other little girls to see Ali and A.J. at the Warner Theater. Then we rested, read some more ("Linnea in Monet's Garden"), had a snack....she went home about 3:30.

Sunday morning I tried to call Jim at the cabin, but the phone wasn't working right. I tried to call Larry, no answer. I called Steckler's - George's 88 year old mother answered. George wasn't there so I couldn't get him to go check on the goofy one and the phone. I was going to call Mike Sullivan but gave the cabin phone one more try and though it only rang once, the goofy one finally answered and we were able to hear each other, even though it was crackling and otherwise noisy. I was supposed to look some river info up on the computer and call him back. When I did, the phone was busy......busy.....busy....busy......Finally, later that afternoon, he called from Kingston, but the cabin phone still wasn't working last night or early this morning. He called from Larry's this morning and has to stay and wait for the phone guys until they get there today. He was feeling a little cranky about it all, but hoping and looking forward to maybe running Catskill Creek tomorrow.

In the meantime, I still hadn't heard from Mariana, who had mysteriously disappeared a week and a half ago and about whom I had finally concluded she had taken a vacation she thought she had mentioned, and maybe had, but I either didn't remember or she didn't tell me. So I called this morning, thinking that if she still didn't answer, I would have to go over to the house to see if she were dead or something. But she finally answered! And she wanted to go to Curves at the usual time. Only I have to wait for Stephanie, who, with a friend from Baltimore where she stayed last night, is on her way down here for a couple of days and had left an email message last night, but wasn't answering her cell phone this morning. She did call back, though, and so they are on their way and I will call Marianna for Curves after they get here and I take them down to the subway...or they walk...or take the bus. And we will go out to Parthenon for dinner tonight.

On top of the phone trouble and missing and uncommunicative friends, there was computer file trouble yesterday with Girls Gotta Run. Marie sent me a new "Call for Artists" which looked good except that it was now too high up on the page and for some reason she doesn't seem able to fix it...wanted me to adjust my printer, which I have no idea how to do; the stationery file was good, but the return address file was about 50,000 times too big and me with no idea how to downsize it. Fortunately, Cindy thinks she may be able to do that. And she will print stuff out for me, but can't do it until later in the week.

The all good news channel is the website and the weather. Kay has figured out the site and adjusted the word and images on it, so we are both happy with it for now. She also thinks that it will probably be very workable in both the short and long terms.

And the weather this week-end was the BEST. G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!!


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Back on Track and It Finally Rains

Thursday I felt better again, not entirely, but enough to do some things. Kay and I worked on the GGR website a little, and I continued to deal with the follow up for Jocelyn Street of the speeding incident of the past week-end. We are checking into getting some "traffic calming" measures, including signs and a speed bump.

Yesterday talked to Stephanie for a long time on the phone about what she and Chuck should do for Florin, who obviously has some c.p. in her legs...we investigated, via the internet, "conductive education," and may go to visit a class in Fort Washington on Tuesday morning. Found what looked like credible and solid courses at Aquinas College in Michigan which she may take in the Fall. They want to do everything they can to optimize her long term functioning.

After days of working up to rain and a cool down, some finally came thorough on Thursday night and it was less hot but still humid yesterday; more rain last night and this morning, right now, and cooler. Whew.