Jim - Day 2

2:00 PM  Around 12:30 the doctor removed the breathing tube. What a relief! Jim sounds like Froggy Who Came A-courting. Says maybe he will start to sinG Bass. Just good go have him kidding again

Have you  ever noticed the sounds in a hospital ward on and ICU unit? The place throbs with the sounds from machines, and signals, and beeps, running feet, rolling carts. All this busyness.
Life sustaining busyness.

11:40 am  Jim is till in ICU - all is on track - so they say. They hope to remove the breathing tube this afternoon. They are waking him up not - he is responsive, recognizes us and communicates. I can see by his eyes and motions that he is thinking through his situation and checking things out
Quite like him - being the clinician. Yes, out-puts are good etc, etc.

Karen and Robin and I stayed at a hotel across the street last night and when I finally felt secure enough to leave I collapsed on the bed - went right to sleep until 5 am this morning.

Can't tell you all how much your emails and messages mean - they are a hug, a warm touch, a connection to the normal we are eager to get back to.


Re: Jim's Progress

We arrived at George Washington University Hospital at 5:30 am - it's now 2:45 pm. Long day. 

The surgeon predicted a 6 hour procedure - he just sent another message that everything was ok but that it would be another hour. Makes it harder - you get primed for the landing and then start circling.

Very grateful that Don, Jim's long time office mate came over this morning. It was lovely to have him here - for me and for our children - who have known him since they were elementary school age. We first met Don when we came to Andrews Air Force Base and he and Jim were Psychiatrists there. As Don says, "One of the good things about being our age is that you have old friends."

A new friend from our prayer group also came and sat with us for a couple of hours. Lovely diversions. I am deeply touched by the caring.

I spent some time completing the "book" for Jim. Nothing I like better than an excuse to cut and paste. I cannot focus to read so its good to have something productive to do.

I took two Bach Rescue Remedies and they are very calming - b ut if they don't finish soon I am moving on to tougher stuff.

I have learned a lot through these past weeks and will write about it later. For the moment. "hanging on" is the goal. So grateful Jim, Karen , Robin and Monica are here.


Talk About a Puzzling Story and Three Beautiful Things

Buffaloed, collage, e.schoettler
I never have quite figured this out but I have always liked it - so it must have a story at some level.
Three Beautiful Things
1. Lovely sunny sky. Grateful for it.
2. Seeing how well Jim is doing in his second day without food - clear liquids only. No complaints although I did notice he was not as enthusiastic about apple juice this evening as he was yesterday.
3. Appreciating our family - and the love they are showing both of us. And friends - we feel so grateful to be surrounded by the warmth of love.
I won't kid you, tomorrow is going to be very difficult. For both Jim in the surgery and for me and the kids - who have to sit and wait and pray. I am armed with lots of toys to distract me. The kind homeopathic doctor told me to go to the Apothecary and get a Bach Rescue Remedy - which I did.
I will "twitter" tomorrow as to how things are going. You can see it on the left hand side of this blog.
Hugs to all.



Trying to post to the blog through Ping.

Scream, Unexpected Sighting, Irked

This pretty much says it for me.

Jim's surgery is Friday morning. We have to be at the hospital at 5:30 am and the surgery begins at 7:30 am. Today Jim went to GW for blood work, paper work and a couple of other check troughs. Tomorrow he has other things to do to prepare himself for the surgery.

It's all becoming very real.

I am pasting the messages and prayers yal have sent into an album for Jim. They are a wonderful antidote to this other stuff.

An Unexpected Sighting: An elderly woman wearing a heavy jacket and woolen cap standing close to the traffic on the curb on Connecticut Avenue. Hunched over in the cold she holds a black and white lettered up for the for commuters to see - PET SHOP IS OPEN. My guess is she already has a bead on the sinking economy.

Irked - Is anybody else irked over the way Press Secretary Robert Gibbs uses the almighty I when giving briefings. I wish someone would remindl him that the people elected Barack Obama and want to hear what the President thinks about things. Today at tne mid-day press conference a reporter asked three times what President Obama thought about something after the speech last night and instead of an answering that question Gibbs talked about his own reactions. Who cares? And, that wasn't the question. Is this ego or inexperience?


A Book of Hours

A Book of Hours, collage book, e.schoettler
Time hangs heavy on you when you are waiting for something - like surgery.
This has been a long three weeks. Jim's surgery is Friday morning at 7:30 a.m.and time has picked up the pace. Funny, isn't it?
We have kept very busy - working on our lists, catching up with things that have piled up and having some diverting fun too.
Robin flew in from CA today - and that's good. A new face, new stories. There is lots of laughter as she and her sister cook dinner together and later our son and his family arrive for supper. The joshing between siblings is familiar and feels good. They start a 500 piece jig saw puzzle - complicated but not so big that it can't be finished by Thursday night. Jig saw puzzles are a tradition with us. They are an expected part of our family "doings" at holidays and gatherings. Like now.
It comes from Jim. Jim loves jogsaw puzzles. He is known to set up a 1000 piece complicated puzzle and relax over it for days like he did with an incredibly challenging 1000 piece puzzle a few months ago. He handed it off to Robin now to take home to work with her youngest son who have both inherited his yen for for puzzling.s.


Unexpected Sightings

Keep your face to the Sunshine

and you cannot see the shadows. Helen Keller

Unexpected sightings:

I collect unexpected sightings. That's what I call those unusual people or happenings I stumble across accidentally. They add spice to your day and can flavor a story

I remember hearing author and film-maker John Waters on NPR some years ago, He was talking about the role that over-heard dialogue plays for him. For example a few words heard as strangers pass by on the street or over-hearing an argument at the next table in a restaurant.

Like collage artists gather scraps of paper and detritus when they see them or artists sketch quickly, writers and storytellers collect impressions for their work. If they don't they are missing a valuable resource.

John Waters made an impression on me. Since hearing him I listen and watch life around me much more carefully. As a storyteller I store Unexpected sightings as images that can enrich a story or sometimes even prompt new stories.

For instance I saw these last week-end:

1. At the beauty shop on Saturday: The woman sat up right in the leather chair in front of the mirror, watching the hair stylist brushing her Rapunzel-like blond hair. I watched as Elvira trimmed the ends and sprinkled the thick locks with water as she ironed them straight. She was not young - probably too old for her Princess hair.

2. Driving up Connecticut Avenue on Sunday: A man standing outside the Scientology mansion off Connecticut Avenue was wearing a chartreuse hard formed plastic mask and he was holding a protest sign. I could not read the sign as we drove past him but I saw business men frown at him as they walked down the steps and walked away.

3. At the Phillips Collection on Sunday: Jim and I had just entered the The Giorgio Morandi painting exhibition at the Phillips Gallery when I was overcome by a noxious odor. Startled I looked for it. A man and his wife stood near-by. The attractive well-dressed woman was seated in a wheel-chair. They chatted in Italian as he slowly pushed her from from painting to painting. I realized it was her - she reeked of a perfume that turned sour when I breathed it in. I walked ahead. They moved behind me. I doubled back in the next room and so did they. We played this cat and mouse game for several rooms until finally I went back to the beginning and started over - without her perfume.

Whether I use these images or not - they make the days more memorable.

Wonderful exhibition of beautiful paintings - a feast for those who enjoy real painting well done.



BREAD - Our Story

Maybe you remember my writing in January about storyteller Donald Davis telling me how easy it was to make bread, delicious bread. He inspired me to want to have home-made bread - made in our kitchen. I convinced Jim to try it.

You notice I said Jim should try it. I threw in the towel with my making bread in the 1970s when I was cooking natural foods and trying to be a whole- earth person.

We gathered all the stuff we needed from the Williams Sonoma baking stone to King Arthur Flour. At the ready we turned on our old oven and - it died. Pronounced gone by the electrician.

There was the search for a new oven to nearly fit the hole in our wall which was made to fit ovens fifty years ago. Then we found the right carpenter to make the adjustments and install it.

While all this was happening in Maryland, my sister in Georgia decided to watch the internet videos I told her about and try the new quick-making bread method on her own. She followed the example of the Easy Bread guy. That man doesn't use a baking stone, relies on a relic of a stove and whatever else he has at hand. Probably doesn't even bring in King Arthur flour.

She called me. "Have you tried that bread making yet?" Well we hadn't because we got side-tracked by the plans for Jim's surgery. "Why." She explained that she had - I felt a twinge of jealousy - she was making her bread first.

"Is it delicious?"

" Ellouise my bread turned out hard as a rock. I made two batches of it to give it a fair test - but with the second batch I made three smallish loaves and they were rocks - nothing but rocks. I threw out two and kept one as a weapon."

I still have hope for ours - we have the bread stone - maybe its the secret.

But in the meanime I have learned something about Bread - even if we have not made any.

Man does not live by Bread alone.
I wrote on this blog and elsewhere asking for prayers and good wishes so that Jim would go to the hospital on this Friday with a network of "his people" cheering him on for healing and recovery.

Your replies with warm, loving and touching support have been over-whelming. "His people" have gathered.

This week-end I began asembling the album of love and encouraging good wishes and prayers for Jim - and me.

You are an amazing group.

You are nourishing BREAD!

We thank and love each of you.


Shifting Focus

Color Composition, digitally altered photo, e.schoettler
If you get too close things blur, like this rose. Same as with life - if you are too close to a problem you can't see it or come up with a solution until you step back, Granny used to say - " a watched pot never boils." Same thing, right?
When I begin to ponder - it means I don't know what to say. I am casting my line, like the fisherman by the stream, hoping something will catch hold.
Its early, very early. Maybe I will come back later today - after an idea emerges.
Surely an idea will emerge -
Won't it?


Coloring = Distraction

Rose, digitally altered photo, e. schoettler

Another path to distraction - playing with recent photographs.


Blue Iris and Three Beautiful Things

Sunday Trip and Tina brought these lovely Blue Iris to us. I photographed them -now they are a forever bouquet.

More color studies.

Three Beautiful Things:
1. The surprise of over-hearing a young man in Einstein's Bagels tell his friend about a ghost in his house - a soundless piano that sometimes plays show tunes during the night. They are scared - but they keep the piano.

2. Very early this morning Jim and I sit across the desk from a new doctor. Claudia urged Jim to see him for "remedies" to strengthen him for his surgery and for healing. We can see into the trees outside through an uncurtained large pane window behind him. When three or four vivid red cardinals flit from branch to branch I sense it as a good omen.

3. A new client found me on the Internet and called to hire me to tell a program of folk tales for an audience of adult professionals, doctors and scientists. A happy challenge for April.


A City Field Trip

The sky is early-morning gray and snow is falling outside my window. Yesterday Jim and I were coat less and enjoying a spring-like day. Glad we had a field trip while the weather was so lovely and balmy.

Jim had an early long-break in his patient schedule - nice. He also had a doctor's appointment downtown. Ever the opportunist I suggested we make a quick stop at the Philips Gallery on the way home. Looking at art is always a welcome and soothing diversion for me. It was not a surprise that Jim agreed because the Phillips is a favorite stop for both of us.

The new Giorgio Morandi show, which we had hoped to see, was in private preview for press only. So we visited with the long-time staples of the Duncan Phillips Collection.

Sometimes its hard to really see these pictures by Bonnard, Cezanne, and Renoir because they are so familiar. You have to remind yourself that when they were painted and first seen they were revolutionary and raised a ruckus with the French Academy.

Jim was drawn to a Cezanne painting - a view of Mont St. Victoire - partly because of the painting itself and partly for the memory of the day we were there. After a visit to Cezanne's studio we drove out toward that mountain, stopped and took pictures - our personal postcards of the pilgrimage. "Let me take your picture - I will pair it with one I took when we were there - for a story."

This small painting and collage by Juan Gris was my "find" for the day . The blue brick-work pattern in the background drew me to the composition. I found myself thinking about how I could accomplish this kind of composition with random patterns from magazines. Just what I needed - absorbing distraction.

And, I liked that the composition is powerful even though it is a small work. I have been itching for some magazines and glue and to do some cutting and pasting - collage is my favorite medium.

Collage is so accommodating - you can make them anywhere .

In fact I first focused on making collage when I worked for the League of Women Voters on the ERA and traveled frequently. Before I was hired by the league I was painting six foot square abstractions in my studio so I had to fit art-making into what I was doing. When I was on the road I could cut and paste away in a hotel room after the day's work was done. Since I have made collages in hotels, other people's kitchens, airplanes and hospitals.

I will take glue, scissors, paper and magazines to George Washington Hospital next week when Jim goes for his surgery.

We drove home up Connecticut Avenue - our usual route - enjoying the familiarity of our drive home and talking about the art works - savoring the field trip.


Jokes and Family History

With all that has been going on with my new ERA story I kept these two nuggets in my pocket for now.

Jim was working at the computer when I walked into his office holding a box that had just arrived in the mail.

"What's this?" Jim asked as I handed him a package addressed to him. "Open it."

It was so well taped that it took a few minutes before he pulled out - THE JOKE JAR - a gift of yuks from storyteller Kate Dudding, who always has a joke on the tip of her tongue.

The jar was jammed with small pieces of colored paper. Each folded had a joke typed on it.

Jim picked one and read it aloud - "What did the fish say when he hit the brick wall ?" He started to laugh. "DAM." He folded it and dropped it back in - " you can shuffle them - Giving jokes. What a great idea."

Laughter is the best medicine!

Thanks, Kate.

Second Surprise - New Cousins
A few weeks ago I wrote this post:


Some years ago my dear Aunt Catherine put this old picture of Elizabeth Pyburn Grose into my hands for safe-keeping. Elizabeth Grose came to the US in the 1850s from London, England. On my father's side she is my great, great grandmother.

My Dad's younger sister Betty was named for her, Elizabeth Grose - their great grand-mother.

The new Elizabeth Grose, Aunt Betty's great-grand-daughter sits next to the original Elizabeth Grose. I guess that makes Eliza her four great granddaughter.Yesterday my cousin Jim brought Eliza, his grand-daughter, over for a visit and I passed the picture on to the young namesake..

I am sure that's what Koki and Aunt Betty would want me to do - and it feels good. Passing along the history.

A few weeks later Lindsay put this comment on the blog.
Lindsay wrote:
I'm working on a family tree and did a google search for Elizabeth Pyburn Grose and came across your blog. She would have been my husbands Great Great grandmother. Funny thing is I have that exact picture but in a 5X7. I was hoping you might have some information on her parents or her husband Samuel's parents. I'm at a dead end. I'd appreciate any help. Thanks

Ellouise sent back:
Lindsey - I can't wait to talk with you. Please email me with an address I can respond to - this is a non-reply system and you don't have an email address on your blog ID.Where are you? Who is the parent that connects your husband to Elizabeth Pyburn Grose? So glad to find someone that is interested in working on their line.Ellouise

Lindsay responded:
We live in Texas, but all of our family is in North Carolina around the Charlotte area. Elizabeth's son Ralph P. Grose was Granny's father. Her name is Katherine and I believe she was named after the Catherine you refer to in your blog.Can't wait to hear back.Lindsey

Definitely the same family.t family. I checked my records on the Grose family. Ralph Pyburn Grose was the next to the youngest son of Elizabeth and Samuel Grose.

I told Lindsay her "Granny" was named after Aunt Kate not Aunt Catherine - a generation later- who was also named after Aunt Kate - Ralph's older sister.

Lindsay sent me these pictures - the first is of Elizabeth Pyburn Grose - the picture she recognized on my post.

The second is
L - r: Annie, Mary and
Kate Grose.
That middle woman - named Mary - is the oldest daughter who married John Walter Cobb. She is my father's grandmother - her oldest daughter, Marie Louise is my grandmother - this is the first "youngish" picture I have seen of her.

No question. I love the WEB.


Three Beautiful Things

1. Talking on the phone with my friend Betsy - sharing life and its twists and turns just like we have done often since Junior High School. Some days I call her from the car after I park in my driveway. I love my Toyota phone booth - its warm and quiet. The neighbors sometimes look at me a bit askance and several times when Jim's patients have passed by going in and nodded to me an hour later coming out - the puzzled looks on ther faces tell me they have noted that I am still on the phone.

2. My prince and I picnic before a good fire in the wood-stove in our rec room and hold hands while we watch a net flix movie. It's fine time.

3. My youngest sister heard from Mama in a dream -" she is happy, she is at peace".
Sweet gift.

Louise Diggle - Mama, fabric collage, e. schoettler


Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time a prim and proper housewife stepped out into the wide world to find herself. She went back to college and morphed into a political activist, changed, grew-up, but did not find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

That's my story - Pushing Boundaries. I am introducing it this afternoon.

How did it happen? Well, for starters it was all Jim's fault. When he and his colleagues in the residency at the University of North Carolina read The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan he brought the book home - and I read it. I GOT it. And - - it started my story.

REPORT ON THE STORY (added February 16)
Today I am grateful to all who came and it was a crowd - family, friends, storytellers, fellow travelers on the road with the women artists' movement and people who enjoy my storytelling. And they came from out-of-town too, Frederick, Baltimore and Fredericksburg, VA. That truly touched me. Thank you, thank you, thank you - because there are no stories without people to listen it out of you! They were there.

Early in the day I was still mentally hashing over how to do this turn in the story or that and I need a little dash of something - about Jim - he is certainly a key player. Then, I got Mary's comment below - PERFECT - a Prince - the missing ingredient for the folktale references. I achieved the woman's goal of the 1950s in 1955 - I got my own Prince. He loved it - and so did everyone else. Thanks, Mary.

I invited three women as special guests to say a few words at the beginning - Fran Abrams, Director of Grants for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD who awarded the grant which made the story possible by providing incentive and the backing which made it possible for me to work with storyteller Elizabeth Ellis as I developed the story.

State Senator Jennie Forehand(MD)- we go back a long ways - to the second grade at Elizabeth School in Charlotte, NC and I have been proud to watch her career in the MD Legislature which began in 1978. She surprised us all with a bit of connecting history - a staff a relative carried as a marching suffragette.

Josephine Withers, PhD . Josephine, an art historian who fought for and won her tenure at the Univ. of MD in a time when women in academia were "last hired - first fired" connected us to the early days of organizing for women artists and to the Washington Women's Arts Center - where many women in art in the DC area found a like-minded community of women and supported each other as they learned how to survive and succeed in a male-favoring art world.

Josephine and I have crossed paths many times since the 1970s and we team together these days - a Life Coach and A Storyteller - to lead workshops on living your stories.

Then I told Pushing Boundaries - a story which touches on my journey from 1954 to 1982 - the period when women in the United State were actively engaged in political battles to gain equal rights under the law. You know, pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

We lost the campaign by a narrow margin and many still hope to win it one day. Did you know that the ERA has been introduced in Congress - House and Senate every session since 1982? Read about it HERE.

In Pushing Boundaries there are teachers and villains, wins and losses, companions on the journey and Sisters, and of course there is a Prince. Laughter and tears, too. My friend, storyteller Cricket Parmelee wrote - "every time you went for a laugh, you got it."

Laughter helps grieving - and I found out in telling this story that I still grieve the loss of the Equal Rights Amendment. Other women have told me they feel the same.

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Simple isn't it? What was all the fuss about?

I want it for my daughters and grand-daughters - how about you?


For You

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is a scan of a 1992 reproduction of an old-time Valentine that I saved.

Do you remember decorating shoe boxes in elementary school and waiting anxiously to see if you'd find a card or two in your "mail box".

I have a box of Valentines Jim has given me over the past 54 years - along with a single red rose.
The single red rose started when we were dating. He was in medical school and had little to no money. So, a single rose. Now its a tradition. Yesterday he asked me "what do you want for Valentine's." "Just one." Smiling, he nodded. One says it all.

Where does all this come from?

"Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap"." From History.com - History of Valentine's Day

Now that fits my old Valentine to a T.

Read about the History of Valentine's Day HERE - very interesting, saints, martyrs and romance.


Urban Bambi

This is not "the wild" - this is my neighborhood - a block from my house.
They crossed slowly right in front of our car yesterday as Jim and I drove home. We stopped and watched as they lazily wandered into a neighbor's yard - searching for snacks.
Its not a novelty - we have lots of deer around - but I still stop for a close encounter.


Color Rich

A new exhibit of digital photographs - COLOR STUDIES -

About Jim

Sometimes Blogger has a mind of its own and just does things.

Today the post about Jim - with all the wonderful prayers and good wishes yal are sending was archived - can't have that. If you stop by and want to find out what this is about you can read the original one HERE

and leave a message there or leave a message here.

All I can tell you is that your words and prayers and good wishes mean so much. We thank you.

Burano, Italy
I look at the picture of Jim and I can see the colorful houses on the island of Burano near Venice. It was so hot in Venice that summer that we spent a lot of time on the islands or preferably on the large vaporetto boats. Being on the water was cooler, especially near the railing where the water spray could wet your face and arms.

Art Show in the News, Place Holding

Breaking News:

Nice write up about the More Than Words Exhibition in the Montgomery County Gazette today. Here

I am putting up this stack of blocks to say hello for me. Jim and I went out for coffee after Mass this morning and agreed that we will try to get the
stuff done by the end of the week-end. So that we can relax and maybe even play next week. Knowing us I doubt that will happen - but its a great goal.

Sooooooooo - I have to stay focused. Finish my story prep for Sunday and get MY taxes done. I have a list and whittling on it makes me feel that I am accomplishing something.

So far I have arranged for the kennel to board the dog and booked a hotel room across the street from George Washington Hospital. I think its about 2 blocks max and most of that is crossing the traffic circle.

I believe a patient has to have their own "watcher-advocate" so I won't leave once Jim is admitted - except for the time he is in the ICU - they make you follow the rules. That will be very hard for me. I am sure I will be blathering on about that later.

The Bridge of Sighs


French Still Life

French Windsills near Nice
Digital watercolors - e.schoettler

I love still life paintings. For that's what they are - life at a a still point - where the chaos and dramas are on hold - but wait - that means the joy, laughter and delight are on hold too.

Ok, I get it -

I'll take life as a whole package.


Special Thanks

Smiles and hugs for all you wonderful folks for your notes, prayers, and encouragement for Jim and me.

jet Blue, Keeping Busy, Thanks

Jim is seeing patients this morning - that's a good thing for him. Later he will be working on taxes and paper work. All this stuff that has to be done.

Jet Blue is on my list and our minds. We had planned a trip to California leaving February 21 - for a visit and for me to tell stories at the Rogue Festival. Instead I am cancelling those tickets - and Robin has bought some - she emailed her Jet Blue itinerary. She will be arriving February 24.

When LIFE steps in you sure do have to reshuffle your calendars. I can only imagine the shuffle Robin's doing - with arranging her boys' schedules and substitute drivers from here to there and back.

Work goes on for Jim and for me. I am teaching with Adjoa this afternoon.
We are starting an "altered" book project using an altered structure I made as a model. I played around with several demo models over the week-end and it is fun and absorbing when you get into re-making the magazine. let's hope the students agree about that.

And I am tweaking my new hour performance. I perform it for a college class tomorrow night and then it opens on Sunday. I am very grateful for storytelling - even though its hard to focus. At least when I am working on stories I am not creating scary stories of my own.
Stay in the NOW. Focus on today. All those sayings that help you to stay where you are and not get ahead of yourself into the unknown -
Our deepest thanks to all you loving, generous folks in my blog world and the storytelling family on Storytell who are sending your warm good wishes and prayers to Jim and to me. You are helping us stay focused on love and the positive energy around us - you are wrapping us in hope. We also have you in our prayers.


Heads Up

Sometimes the fun of sorting through old photos is finding something like this. One afternoon Jim agreed to be part of a Still life for my assignment for a Photography Class.

If you are wondering: l - r, sculpture by a local artist, clay head by Ellouise, carved fossilized whale bone, Eskimo, clay head by Jim, Ashanti carved wood figure, human head - Jim.

Maybe the idea came from this "clowning around" at the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum a couple of years before.



This is one of my favorite pictures of Jim. I took it about a year ago when we were out "watching" for birds.
We have a situation going here. We were blindsided when Jim's bladder cancer returned in October. Thought that was done - remember he had surgery to clean up that little problem last March - and it was supposed to be a closed issue. His surgeon was as surprised as we were. I have not said anything on the blog about it - hopiing it would go away.
So, the first plan - a six week round of Chemo - took us through Christmas. Then there was a waiting period to see if the chemo had "fixed" things. Wednesday the surgeon looked to see - with Jim watching on the computer screen - and it was not what we hoped. The chemo had not stopped the growth of the cancer.
Now we are talking surgery. Big time surgery.
Let me just tell you - this is scary. Ever the doctor, Jim is calm and accepting. My outsides are not showing my insides - I am biting a bullet
With one difference. Instead of saying, the way I usually do, that everything is fine. - I am telling you the truth and asking for your prayers and good wishes. I learned from my friend Joan a few years ago when her husband was terribly ill that its OK to let people into your loop. To ask for their support. In their case it brought health and healing. I am praying for the same.
So, I am asking for your prayers and support. Today I imagined a crowd of well-wishers standing beside Jim - you know "his people" - cheering him on, wishing him good luck and good health. I am hoping to collect greetings for Jim to take with him to the hospital February 27. Prayers, hugs , laughs- - to lift his spirits and keep him focused on healing.
Please leave a comment on the blog - - - I will paste them on postcards and put them in a small album.
Your greetings will fill his room and his heart with warmth and encouragement and healing.
Many thanks.

Storytelling , Knitting and Art

I started off yesterday at the Washington Folklore Society Winter Mini-Fest. The theme was All Things Irish. Margaret Chatham organized the line-up of storytellers. She opened the program with stories from Donegal and I followed with Irish Tales that immigrated from Ireland to the southern United States.

You guessed it - " Jack
Tales." I love Jack. He is "every man and his stories are fun.

You could hear Irish fiddle music down the hall during the stories which was a nice touch. Quick stepping down the hall so as not to be late I had to stop just a minute at a table of tempting instruments. How I wish I could make music to go with my stories. Its finally sinking in that its not going to happen but I still look and wish.

I stopped more than a minute when I rounded the corner of the school corridor and almost bumped into this table of really beautiful, simple scarves. "I am a passionate knitter." Lynn told me. " I knit all the time and everywhere." Looking at this table I knew she was telling the truth. We talked about the joy of holding gorgeous colors and soft textures in your hands - of seeing them just flow into your lap. And don't you love those little suitcases. Nice touch. No - I did not buy one - but I will have one soon enough. I know which drawer the right yarn is in - just waiting.

Unfortunately I could not stay to hear all the storytellers because I was expected at Pyramid Atlantic for the exhibition of works from More Than Words, the class Adjoa Burrowes and I completed a month ago.

This work is by Middle School students - 12 to 14 years old. We are really proud of what they accomplished.


Place Holder

This is a place holder while I watch a movie and knit. Its been a busy day - storytelling and an opening for the students in the More Than Words project Adjoa Burrowes and I taught for Pyramid Atlantic last semester. The show looked great and the kids were very proud of themselves for their work. I am happy and I am tired.



Pushing Boundaries.

This afternooon I told my new hour-long story Pushing Boundaries for a Women's Studies class at American University and asked their feed-back as I prep it for the first public performance February 15.

The students were a wonderful audience - attentive, and interested during the story and then direct and inquiring during the Q and A session at the end. Their questions about the content were probing and opened the door for me to understand what I need to do to tell the story more completely.

Remembering - telling my stories about the old days of the ERA campaign and the Women's Artists Movement was fun. Talking about my lobbying on Capitol Hill and testifying before an NEA Budget Committee as though it happened just yesterday. I loved recapturing the excitment, the challenges and the terror of it all. That's where I did my first storytelling - telling the story of the unequal treatment for women artists in a male favoring career environment. I heard my self saying the familiar phrases I thought I had forgotten - women were the first fired - last hired in academia not to mention lowest paid. I wonder if it is still true?

Later this evening as I read the survey questions the students answered in writing I was surprised how few had ever heard of the women's aritsts movement or realized the need for an organized effort to over-come a male favoring art world in order to be a professional, to have a real career in the arts - not just a hobby?

Goes to show - if you don't keep telling the story - there is no story.

The young women in the class were impressive - posing thoughtful and insightful questions. Some of their questions surprised me - did my family object to my activism? Was it hard to balance going back to college with children - how did I do it? They pushed me deeper into the story - asking for the personal as well as the historical. Tell us more about you - how hard was it for you to do these tihngs?

Are they telling me that I have reached an age where I have something to tell them from my experience that they need to know - so they can do what they need to?


This was on an invitation card I picked up somewhere in the 1980s. I have hung onto it since then. Don't know who made it - but whoever did - nailed it!


Squaring Up

I love working with fabric. Playjng with colors and textures. The log cabin is my favorite format because I can just relax and enjoy the piece as I make it. I don't have to worry about a complicated pattern or construction.

The centers of these log cabin squares are applique and batik pieces I bought in Kenya when I went to the 1985 UN Conference on Women. I prize this piece as a very special momento of an incredible adventure-trip. 10,000 Miles to Home, is the story I tell about those three weeks in which I saw a new world, had a deeply moving spiritual experience on safari, saved a friend's life and made it home safely - - a much wiser woman. I sewed my memories, my feelings, good and bad, all the experiences - the laughter, fears and tears of those 21 days into that fabric collage. I just touch the piece and it all comes flooding back. That trip deserves my remembering it.

When I am sewing I walk a high-wire of unplanned compositions - thats sort of like saying one false move and you fall. But when I work like that I feel quiet and quite calm. Maybe that's why I yearn to sew right now.

I am not calm at the moment. We had some upsetting news yesterday. Jim had an "off" report from the doctor and has to have surgery - sooner rather than later.

We will be going back to George Washington Hospital Center in a few weeks. We were there last March for another surgery adventure for Jim. I am not looking forward to this return.

Maybe I could take my Bernina sewing machine and a basket of scraps with me? I doubt it. I have never considered lap-quilting - maybe now is the time.


Bookstore Encounter

Maybe you have guessed - bookstores are comfort places for me. When I am upset, sad, depressed or feeling lonely I head for a bookstore. Having all those books around makes me feel warm and comforted - all those possibilities laid out before me.

Today Jim and I both needed diversion. I suggested book comfort so we stopped off at Politics and Prose - one of our favorite places.

The feature this month is Abraham Lincoln. Just look at this one display at the front of the store. The table is near collapse under the weight of all the books about Lincoln.

I snapped a couple of shots and thats when I noticed the attractive young couple standing near by, sort of noticing me. They were clean-cut, shiningly spruced and both wearing tailored black cloth over-coats. The woman's black coat was brightened up by the royal blue collar of her shirt. Later I saw them again on the other side of the store where I was fingering the selection of moleskin journals. This time I saw the twisted clear cords coming from their ears and snaking down under their collars. Ah. Ha. Secret Service. I turned around, scanning the store for their charge.

There she was - Dr. Jill Biden at the cash register checking out a stack of books.

Laughing I turned to the young woman, "yal are very good. I hardly realized why you were here."

"We try to blend in." And they do.

She had an open friendly face. I went on. "It reminds me of the first time I was really aware of Secret Service presence. years ago Mrs. Joan Mondale, the Vice President's wife was coming to the Washington Women's Arts Center. I went in early to help with he set-up. When I walked into the gallery I saw several very nice looking young me standing around. One in particular was very good-looking. Then, when I noticed the large hearing aid he was wearing I thought to myself - it was unfortunate he had a hearing problem . Right at that moment he lifted his hand to his mouth and spoke into his wrist. Duh! I got it. The advance Secret Service checking things out before Mrs. Mondale's arrival." The young woman and I had a nice laugh and moved on - she to do her watching and me to continue my looking - - at books.

Its tacky I know but I could not resist - I guess this makes me one of the paparazzi - even with my palm size blue Olympus. Recording my brush with the 2nd Lady of the land.

I admire Dr. Biden - for being her own person and continuing her teaching career and for choosing to teach at a local two-year college. By doing that she draws attention to two-year colleges and those who don't already understand it may come to realize how vital and important the two year colleges are to the education system.