Sunday, December 31, 2006

Low Key is the Name of the Game

After a very very busy year, Jim and I have decided to go low key for New Year's. We were going to go out last night, but even decided against that. Charles left me a recipe for bulgogi, so I bought a lovely 2 pound piece of steak, cut it up and am marinating it for dinner. We have our bottle of champagne chilling. This morning, I made blueberry muffins and then we went for a nice long walk in Rock Creek Park. I did some errands. We had lunch. Jim went to the office for a couple of hours. I'm doing some household tasks and then going to watch the Prairie Home Companion movie on dvd and rest. This evening we are going to have a quiet dinner and then MAYBE go to a neighbor's house for a drink before going to bed at a reasonable hour. We're old fogeys, and it works for us.

"The LIbertine"

When Charles, Jim and I took the kids to dinner at the Double T Diner in White Marsh the other night, I happened to mention to Charley Lauren that I had watched the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie the night before on t.v. We both agreed we liked Johnny Depp's foppish performance. She said she thought she had seen everything he had played in and started naming off movies, including "The Libertine," which she was particularly puzzled that I hadn't seen because the person it was about, John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, had been a poet and was, apparently, included in her British Lit text first semester. I was puzzled because, having been an English major, it seems I should have heard of him, but I was sure he was not in MY old college Brit Lit text.

So I checked that out when I remembered the other day and sure enough, he was not in mine(the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 1,1968). However, I did find info about him and some of his poetry on the internet, and then I also got out "TheLibertine" from the local video store and watched it yesterday. Can't say I loved it, as it is a very disturbing story to say the least, but it was interesting. I still think Depp's steamiest performance was in "Chocolat."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Birthday to Jim, Happy New Year to GGRF

Yesterday was Jim's 56th birthday. We traditionally celebrate with dinner at 1789 in Georgetown. On our way out the door last evening to head over there, we discovered an envelope addressed to the Girls Gotta Run Foundation had been slipped through the mail slot. We opened it to discover a $1,500.00 year end donation! We were nearly floored! Whoo Hoo!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Live and Become

Mom and Charles left about 8 yesterday morning. Jim , Charles and I had gone to White Marsh the evening before to visit with the kids and take them to dinner at the Double T Diner. After tidying up the house, doing laundry, I had some errands. It was beautiful out again, after a rainy couple of days, so I decided to walk up the street. Then I remembered that I had wanted to see "Live and Become" while it was at the Avalon, so I stopped for a bowl of French onion soup at Bread and Chocolate and then caught the 2 p.m. matinee. It's a wonderful movie:

"The magnificent, epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Shlomo is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived and wants, somehow, to fulfill his Ethiopian mother’s parting request that he “go, live, and become.” Buoyed by a profound and unfaltering motherly love – both in his memory and in the arms of his adoptive mother – he ultimately finds an identity and a happiness all his own. "

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fun With Mom and Charles

So.....Mom, Charles and the kids arrived around noon on Wednesday. Charles, who had driven all night, was trashed so crashed immediately. Dylan called Ellen to see if she would drive down from White Marsh to pick them up and then Mom, I and the kids walked down to the Coffeehouse for lunch and so I could show them the GGRF exhibit. Although the kids were skeptical about the menu choices....too unusual for their experience...everyone found something they thought they would like and we had a lovely lunch. On the way back, Ellen called to say she was almost at the house so she was walking back up Jocelyn to meet us as we turned the corner to walk down. She took the kids and Mom and I settled in for a restful afternoon while Charles slept. We woke him when Jim got home and he, Jim and I went to 4912 for dinner. Mom was too tired to go out again so settled for a bowl of cereal and was already in bed when we got back around 7:30 or 8:00.

Thursday Mom and I went down to Dupont Circle to tour the Woodow Wilson house ( We were the only two during the entire time our docent was taking us around and spent at least two hours...I think it was more. But the docent was willing to talk about any and everything in every room and we discussed historical and political questions as well....and ended with a long discussion including the woman who operated the gift shop. We then walked the few blocks to Connecticut Avenue and I decided we should have lunch at Bistro Du Coin ( had French onion soup and Mom had a frisee salad with warm goat cheese. She couldn't finish hers so we packed it up and brought it over to Jim and visited him at his office for about half an hour or so and then headed back home for a rest. Charles had raked up the leaves in the back yard and so he finished bagging them and after some conversation among the three of us about recent events, he and I went to have an early dinner at the Green Papaya. I mixed up some tuna salad for Mom and Jim before I left and we brought back some spring rolls for Jim, who was just too tired to go out. Mom wasn't interested.

Friday was a rainy day, but since we hadn't gone to Curves on Thursday, Mom and I went over there first thing and then stopped at Whole Foods on Wisconsin to pick up some soup for lunch and something for dinner. Decided to make salmon with yogurt dill sauce so got that, some delicious rolls, some mashed sweet potatos....When we got home, we ate some lunch and got Charles and went over to the Avalon to see "The Queen" starring Helen Mirren. It was quite interesting! We all thought so. Made and ate dinner a little early and was feeling really poooped, so just took a bath and went to bed.

Yesterday it was beautiful again, so we took advantage of the weather. The house was filthy and cluttered, so I got everyone scurrying around early, cleaning, and Jim decided to rent a carpet cleaner and do the rugs so he and Charles scrubbed not only the big one in the livingroom, but all the little ones that don't go into the machine. They worked on the front porch and it was so beautiful, sunny and a little windy, that even the big one was dry by the time we went over to Strosnider's to return it and had brunch at The Louisisana Express. I picked up a chicken from Magruder's and some potato salad and cole slaw from the Safeway when I shopped for Christmas turkey and fixin's; we ate early; and then Mom and I headed to the Kennedy Center to see "Shear Madness" which I had gotten tickets for as her xmas present. It was really quite fun. Jim took Charles and they went shopping....R.E.I., Home Depot, Ikea, and then Safeway for ice cream. Everyone had a lovely evening.

Beautiful again today, so Jim went out for a bike ride; I started cleaning up the side yard and Jim and Charles worked more on it and cleaned up under the deck after doing the gutters when Jim got home. Mom and I are going to try to get tickets to the 6 p.m. service at the National Cathedral tonight and if we can Jim and Charles are going to take Jim's sleeping bag and a couple of rugs to the laundromat near there and wash them while we are there. Then we're going to meet them at Cactus Cantina around 7 for dinner. Tomorrow I'll cook a turkey and make some stuffing and mashed potatoes, squash, green beans, gravy....Monday we may go up to White Marsh to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with the kids before Charles and Mom pick them up on the 27th to go to Georgia to visit Andrew and Holly and their kids. We'll get back to "normal" around here.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Our Holiday Letter

Happy Holidays! Jim and I hope this finds you happy and in good health.

This past year seems to have sped past. Lucky for us, we’ve had a lot of fun along the way even though Jim still puts in very long hours and days at PRB. Despite that, he finds as much time as possible for mountain biking, camping and kayaking. He also often walks and bikes into work. It’s environmentally friendly and good for his health. Despite some back trouble this year, I still regularly work out at Curves.

For the first time ever, we spent a winter week in Florida. Our friends Nancy and Jesse invited us to visit them at their new home in January. One of our favorite things was the afternoon soak in the swimming pool, drinking Bloody Marys that often also served, the way Nancy made them, as lunch! We also enjoyed the tour of the Gulf in their cabin cruiser. Nancy sent me home with a commission for “The Florida Series,” a set of six paintings for the dining area of their family room. I spent a good part of the rest of January and February having a lovely time working on them. I don’t have photos on my website, but if you want to see them, as well as a picture or two of us at our leisure!, you can check out January through April on here. Also, check out nephew Dylan’s birthday painting, which I made for him for his very important 16th birthday in February.

In March we spent a week in New York City, with Mom and Carey and Kaye, for our annual Allman Brothers Concert Pilgrimage. Jim went to five ABB concerts in 7 nights; Carey, Kaye and I went to one of them with him as well as another concert on one of the off nights at the Town Hall. Mom got sick on the train coming out, but she was finally able to join Carey and Katy and me for a Broadway play, “Rent.” Carey, Kaye and I also saw an opera at the Met. It was great, but had the longest death scene EVER! It was supposed to be tragic, but after awhile we could barely stifle our giggles. It was Katy’s first time in ”The Big Apple.” She shouted, “I heart New York, I heart New York!” several times a day.

Much of April and May I spent, with the help of some stalwart others, including Jim, setting up and incorporating the Girls Gotta Run Foundation ( I was inspired by an article in the December 2005 Washington Post by Emily Wax (on the website). We raise money, in part by selling shoe art, to buy athletic shoes for Ethiopian girls who are training to be professional runners in order to avoid early marriages and all the health and other problems that often result from that. (You can read more on the site.) I also painted two commissioned portraits: one of Kaye’s boys, Thomas and Taylor, and one of Ricky, son of a friend and former neighbor, as well as a watercolor collage for a breast cancer fundraiser which I was happy to hear raised $150.00 for the cause. I also completed and sent off to Northland College a painting of the Northland Bridge to be auctioned at the all class reunion in July.

Early June gave Jim his much anticipated and always greatly enjoyed two weeks at his family’s cabin in Upstate New York, where he got to spend time kayaking his favorite river, the Roe Jan and help his Dad do things to/on the cabin. I am still our Neighborhood Watch Block Co-Captain, so while he was away I visited all the neighbors to get signatures on our petition to close the street for our annual autumn block party.

Mid-June Carey and Sarah came to visit us for a couple of weeks, and we had “Camp Aunty” with her and our neighbor, Sarah’s little friend Charlotte. Carey and I took the girls to revisit Mount Vernon, Sarah’s perennial favorite, via the ferry from Old Town Alexandria and to see “Little Women” at the Kennedy Center, among things. But perhaps the most exciting moment was the day Carey and Sarah arrived on the train, very, very late, and we had to dash Sarah in a taxi over to the Warner Theater to a concert Charlotte’s mother had gotten tickets for them to see on the very evening of their arrival. It was quite the event (Ally and A.J. - whoever they are).

Carey, Sarah and I left D.C. together, by train, for Wisconsin at the end of June and we spent almost the whole next three weeks in Ashland. I stayed with Mom and my brother Tom, while Carey and Sarah bunked with Kaye and her family. Needless to say, Mom and I spent a lot of time at Kaye’s, visiting, while the kids played at Kaye’s House of Toys. We also got to spend some quality time with our brothers and with lots of aunts and uncles over the 4th of July holiday.

Carey and I attended several Northland College reunion events, at one of which they auctioned off the painting. The winner was a member of my very own class of ’71. My cousin Lorraine came down from Hinckley and spent a night with us; my best friend from high school, Goodie, came up for our 40th – egad- high school reunion and stayed with us a couple of nights. I also got to reconnect, however briefly, with several other old friends.

When I got back to D.C. in mid-July I had to focus almost exclusively for the next several weeks on the Inaugural Girls Gotta Run Shoe Art Exhibit and Reception at the Sewall-Belmont House, which was a lot of fun and very successful in launching the fundraising. But having postponed our annual late summer visit to the cabin until after the reception, Jim and I got up there in mid-September for a rainy but quiet and restful week. Our friends Stephanie and Chuck came over from Boston for a day and we finally got to meet Florin, the miracle baby who weighed 13 oz at birth in 2005 and is now almost 20 pounds and starting to walk. We also enjoyed time with Jim’s parents, who came up to visit for a day and with our friends Larry and Chris, who live up there. I came back to painting commissions, two murals and a portrait, and it was nice to do that after so many weeks of working solely on the GGRF exhibit. I also recently was excited to learn that my painting “Equity Rules: Be Fair, Be Fair, Be Fair” will be on the cover of the new “Handbook for Achieving Gender Equity Through Education” which will be published in Spring 2007!

December started out with a GGRF Holiday Shoe Art Exhibit and Sale at the Coffeehouse at our own nationally known local independent bookstore, Politics and Prose. We had a fabulous reception on the 4th, with Emily Wax, the Washington Post journalist who wrote the original article that inspired GGRF. We are going to run up to Connecticut this week end to visit Jim’s family, and Mom and Charles are coming to spend Christmas with us this year! I’m looking forward to taking Mom to see “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center and to the Christmas eve service at the National Cathedral as well as just hanging out with both of them and seeing Charley Lauren and Dylan, too.

Throughout the course of the year Jim and I attended several other concerts as well as spent many other lovely evenings, as well as some weekends here and there, with both old and new friends, including a friend of mine from high school teaching days who calls her home in Fairfax, Va., our “country home,” and our friends John and Brigitte and their son Miles with whom we spent a pleasant weekend at their Chincoteague home this fall. I’m glad we got to share time this year with so many of the wonderful people in our families, as well as friends we have collected over the years, but also a little sad that there are so many we rarely get to see, due to distance and/or circumstance, especially when life does seem to rush by so fast. But if we didn’t get to see you this past year, we will keep a good thought for 2007! The good thing is it seems that no matter how long it’s been or how many miles are between us, when we do get together the time magically disappears and it’s like we’ve never been apart. So, until we meet again in person, this letter brings you our wishes for all the best that life has to offer in 2007.

Peace and love,

P. & J.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lovely Little Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, my birthday....

Jim sang to me in the morning; had some emailed birthday wishes in my inbox when I went online; my mom called before lunch; a friend took me out to lunch; another called before dinner; Jim took me to out to dinner; had phone messages from one brother and a friend on the answering machine when we got in; the other brother called later; more emails today from another friend and Sister Little. The little painting I put in the Girls Gotta Run Holiday Shoe Art Exhibit at the Coffeehouse at Politics and Prose sold today. This is a terrible photo, but it's the only one I have of "Loop Shoe Portrait No. 1."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rosie Lee Tompkins

An obituary in the Post caught my eye this morning: "Rosie Lee Tompkins, 70; Quilter Dazzled, Mystified the Art World." I have a couple of aunties who are prolific quilters and thought it might be of interest to them. But I found this noteworthy:

"For Ms Tompkins, piecing together quilts was an act of communion with God. She said she believed God directed her hand and her art. Each quilt was the result of a prayer prayed on behalf of a loved one."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Today is World AIDS Day

I remember the first time I heard of AIDS. It was around 1982 and I learned of it from a student in one of my classes when I was teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park, finishing my Ph.D. AIDS had hardly gotten a start, but those who knew of it were very alarmed and were trying to head it off at the pass. My student was a campus volunteer health educator. Obviously, their efforts were pretty much in vain, which I kinda felt at the time. Not that it wasn't worth the effort and that I don't think it saved some people, but on the whole, it seemed that it probably wouldn't stop the thing from mushrooming the way it did....and it didn't. And here we are, 25 years later, millions dead and still dying. It's hard to wrap your mind around it.