Moving My Studio

For years I threatened to take over the living room of our home for my studio. Its a big space and has great light. We did not use it - we use the den. That living room just sat - like a room in a museum where nobody is allowed to sit. Look but don't sit.

Iinstead as our kids vacated to their own places, I spread out into bedrooms. In fact I spread out until I was using my studio in the basement and three bedrooms.

As I oozed into those other rooms I filled them with more -more supplies and stuff. I am a collage artist and we gather and store stuff with a venegeance - and since it all has potential - we keep it forever.

Now we are making a few changes at our house. Consolidating - and I am getting the living room for a studio for real, not just an empty threat. I am moving into the living room so that our daughter can use bedrooms upstairs during a temporary stay with us.

This move is a good thing. Jim has added a wall of cabinets. The room will be a neat and wonderful working space. Great light all day. Large work space. All the things I have said I wanted.

But the move itself is absolute chaos.

I am having to sort and cull. Something has to go - or should I say some things have to go. Its hard.

I am a collage artist because I am a keeper.


Audrey Hepburn on Beauty

You never know what wisdom you will find when you are surfing.
I found this quote when I chanced on Illustration Friday - a fascinating site where artists post responses to assigned topics.

Redheaded stepchild posted this quote and an illustration for the topic: Wisdom

When asked what her beauty secrets were,
Audrey Hepburn had this response:

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others."

Wise words.


Memory and Story - Packed Up

The night of the opening in June the Dadian Gallery was filled with well-wishers.

It felt good to have people asking questions and admiring my work. The work was made to be seen, to be enjoyed by others.

Ellouise, student, and Deborah Sokolove, Director, Dadian Gallery.

I am honored and grateful that Deborah invited me to exhibit the works at Dadian. The gallery space is wonderful and she is an expert exhibit designer. In her curator's statement about the show she wrote about my work better than anyone has. She understands and "gets" it.

Nine Squares - Textile

The show is over. I picked up the work yesterday.
The works are packed up. Waiting for another day.
Except for Nine Squares -
Someone loved it - and bought it.
It moves on - carrying some of me with it.


Cell Phone Dilemma

Today Jim and I went to Verizon to check on our service contract. Actually I hoped we were going to cancel and move to another service.

It ain't that simple.

Why did we want to change phone service? Personal reasons and that seemed good enough for us. The rest of our family is on Cingular. We could talk together and not expend minutes. And, the two phones we have have seemingly burned out. Mine crackles and I cannot make out what the other party is saying. Jim's phone just cuts off.

But - we quickly learned that regardless of what we want to do Verizon has us on the dotted line until November 3. What's more we cannot upgrade our phones until September and if we do it then we commit to another two years with them.

The woman at the Customer Service was nice enough, very calm and patient. She just did not have a solution for us. Were we to keep these phones until November, paying the monthly commitment and yet not being able to talk?

At that point I moved over to a bench against the wall and sat down. " I am out of here," I announced. Jim glared at me and patiently continued to talk with the lady.
A young man near me, standing in a Technical Assistance line, laughed, "It does feel like one of those days." Then his phone rang and he told his story to the caller.

I chatted with another man on the bench, also sitting it out. He showed me his old faithful phone, an analog phone, that was now no good. "They stopped analog service last week." He could not decide which phone to get - or to pay for - because since he was not starting a new plan he would have to pay full price.

About that time Jim called me over, "Let's see your phone. Maybe a new battery will keep you talking until November." I handed over my familiar plain and simple phone.

The lady took one look - "That one is obsolete. We don't keep those batteries here any more. We have to order them from the warehouse."

At this Jim's cool veneer wore thin.

"Obsolete? She has not had that phone for two years yet."

The lady was nonplussed.

"They come out with new models every couple of months."

Verizon will mail me the battery. Jim and I will wait it out until November and then face the Verizon store again.

I love cell phones. I can't imagine not having one.

Isn't that the problem?


Remembering Oklahoma City

In July I went to the National Storyteller Conference in Oklahoma City.
I was excited.This was my first conference. I was looking forward to stories, workshops and meeting other tellers from all across the United States.

To my surprise the most impressive thing for me in OKC was the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

What ever I had read about the memorial had not prepared me for the power of it - the memorial is art at its finest and turns a site of horror into sacred space and a fitting memorial for the 168 lives lost there.

The adjacent museum skillfully puts you right back into the moment of the explosion and then moves you through the next hours and days with the families and people of Oklahoma City. It takes you INTO the story.

The conference planner also arranged for some of the survivors to come to the conference to tell their stories in person. Their stories were moving and powerfully demonstrated the healing power of story. I will never forget the experience.

Maryland storyteller, Ab Logan, told me next day that he had gone back to the memorial in the evening- "don't miss it." I am grateful to him.

I left the hotel in the dark for my "dawn" plane back to Dulles so I asked the taxi driver to take me to the memorial on the way to the airport. He waited while I went in. I felt a catch in my throat as I walked through the 9:03 portal at one end of the dark reflecting pool. The chairs on the grassy rise were lighted individually - must be an up light in the ground below - the
translucent bases were glowing and the names which are etched in the base of each chair were clearly visible - shining.

Story and art - powerful partners.


Discovering Surfing

When I woke up this morning I lay in bed thinking about things I might or could write about on this blog. Then I realized - I am becoming addicted to the computer.

I love working on the computer.
I have loved working on the computer since we bought our first luggable in the 1980s.

I like the sound of my fingers touching the keys - the light click of my fingernails against the hard plastic. Typing makes me feel so productive

I love email. Being connected to people - immediately.

Recently we set up WiFi in our home. WOW!

The freedom of not being tethered to my desk upstairs in my office is exhilarating. I can use my laptop in front of the TV, on the dining room table, in the bedroom, everywhere. Instantly I am completely linked.

I have become fascinated by the internet itself - linking and linking and linking - moving further and further afield from where I start. I have discovered surfing - - surfing widely on the web. I did not understand what they meant - its a wild and free ride - - -

I feel so unfettered, yet so productive as I hear myself clicking and clicking and clicking -

No matter that the dishes are in the sink, the bed unmade, my work behind schedule, my lists growing longer and due dates looming larger and closer.



Focus on Flying

We saved the new Air Space Museum for Jamie's last day here.

A quick summary of space flight - from Gemini to Shuttle Enterprise.

Jamie with the space shuttle, Enterprise,in the background.

Putting us right in touch with current history - in front of the space shutte Enterprise there was a televison screen playing a "live feed" from the astronauts in space on the current shuttle mission. We walked around the emense expanse of the Enterprise - taking a careful look at the exterior heat shielding tiles. A close-up look like and you really understand what happened and what had to be repaired.

We also stopped by the Enola Gay, the WWII plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. It was sixty years ago today -

The coincidence of the anniversary made me aware of how important Museums like this are - they keep history before us. Forgetting would further magnify the tragedy of that day.

After we left the Air and Space Museum we took Jamie to Dulles for his flight back to California.

Driving home Jim and I talked about how much we had enjoyed having Jamie; how we had loved the time with the local family together; and we listed all the things we had taken him to see, museums, monuments, movies, etc.etc. We hope something made a lasting impression - and wondered what it will be. What will he remember? What stories will he tell?



As part of Jamie's sightseeing we included a family day in Baltimore.

Jim and I have a soft spot for Baltimore. We met at Johns Hopkins Hospital when Jim was in medical school and I was a student nurse.

Baltimore was a part of the stories my mother's step-father told. Dad Jack, John R. Baer, was born and grew up in Baltimore. His stories were part of the reason I chose Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

We started with a focus on sports.
Babe Ruth's Museum is a delightful stop in Baltimore - giving you a glimpse of Ruth's personal history as well as his career as a baseball hero.

Our next stop was the Baltimore Aquarium.
Juliana had been a summer intern at the aquarium a few years back so we would not need to take the tour.

The family group: L-R: Monica, Jamie, Alison, Karen and Juliana.

Jim and I had not visited Hopkins Hospital in quite awhile. I doubt either of us ever thought that one day we would bring our grandchildren here. The hard part of a trip like this is staying in the present. Its so easy to be drawn into your memories that you get lost in trying to find the past through all the changes you see - and lose your audience.

The old main lobby is the one place that has not changed. This well-known monumental statue of Jesus the Healer greeted and comforted us in the 1950s as it does today and as it has for thousands of people for more than 100 years. There were fresh red roses at his feet.

A fairly recent movie,Something the Lord Made, tells the story of Vivien Thomas, an unknown African American man, who was the famous Dr.Alfred Blalock's collaborator in developing the revolutionary blue baby heart surgery at Hopkins. It is a story that vividly brings us face to face with the overt and covert insults and injustices of segregation.

We had all seen the film so we stopped in the lobby of the Blalock Surgery building to look at Thomas' portrait.

Jim and I are connected to the time of the film. As a medical student, Jim had seen Thomas at work in dog surgery. As a student nurse working in the surgical recovery room, I had cared for a child just post the surgical procedure by Dr. Blalock.

The film is emotionally wrenching for me because I am ashamed to remember how much I was of that time and lived through those days most often blind to the pain and injustice of segregation.

Jim takes the time to read the names of the others pictured on the walls. He calls me over to see this gentleman: Dr. William S. Baer, the first Chief of Orthopedics. This man is Dad Jack's uncle. I knew about him but I have never seen his picture. Yes, I believe there is a favoring around the eyes.

How funny! Medical history, social history, personal history and family history - that's quite a package.


Corn Field Next Door

We have a week-end house in PA that we love. The rural setting is a great change from city life and more importantly it is a break from the stress of the "new normal" in the Nation's Capital.

We can take time to notice the corn growing high in the farmer's field which borders our property.

Like the city slickers we are - we gape and wonder at the soil which has hardened and cracked without enough rain.

And, at the feet-like runners growing from the base of the corn stalk.
Are they reaching out for water or steadying the tall stalk?

Down the road I notice that a morning glory vine has wound itself tightly around the corn stalk.

It strikes me that even in the garden things count on others to hold them up.