Thankful for childhood friends.

Thinking and thinking. So many things swirling through my mind as I once again live through the last days of Jim's life, working my way to the day he died four years ago.

With all that hanging around in my memories I have been grateful for a few unexpected phone calls from childhood friends. They called to connect not because of this impending anniversary. 

Early this week my friend Jennie called out of the blue from the Mid-west where she and her husband moved a few months ago. Jennie and I met each other in the Second Grade at the Elizabeth Elementary School in Charlotte. We went to school together through our high school graduation. The we reconnected in 1964 when we discovered each other here in Maryland where I have been proud of her for 37 successful years in the Maryland State House and Senate.  The other night we talked of her new dailies, of what she and Bill are doing to build a new community for themselves - which includes new shopping areas, meeting with groups of people and finding interesting places in their new home-place. I admire them and the way they are just jumping in and finding a new place for themselves. We did not talk about it but we remember her being here during those last days for which I am forever grateful.

Then several days ago I called my cousin Jim in North Carolina to ask him for a phone number I have  lost. Hearing his voice, the accent and the familiar way he paces his words, takes me right back into the bosom of my Dad's family. He gives me the phone number and then we launch free wheeling through some things on our minds - other than politics. I don't risk any of my family relationships by talking about politics. Jimmy and I enjoy laughing together and if we argue its over who has the correct memory of where something was then. I love it - because I love him. I can feel that he knows this is a prickly time for me - we don't have to talk about it. 

Then last night after supper the phone rang. Karen read off the ID numbers and says, "Mom, its from North Carolina." "Well answer it." I heard her saying something like, "No, I am not. She's here. Just a minute." "Mom its your friend Bill." In just a minute I heard a very familiar voice that yanked me right back to Piedmont Junior High School in Charlotte." I hear him ask a question and I start laughing, "No, that was not my care-giver - - its my daughter Karen, you know her."
He then says,  "I was looking for somebody else's number to call and then I saw yours - so I called you."
"Gee, thanks - that's not the most flattering thing you could have said." We laughed and laughed - you know the kind of laughing that makes you feel good because it wraps you in warm memories. "I am OK." I told him. "good days and not so good days." 

He and I will both turn 80 this year - we have history. I don't care how he decided to make the call. I am just glad he did. 

Glad to talk this week with Bill, with Jennie and with my cousin Jim. So glad that I called my forever best friend Betsy who lives in PA this morning to tell her about the calls.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.

I love technology - that makes these connections possible. And, I agree with Norman Cousins - laughter is good medicine.

This is a story from the Ninth Grade - and Bill plays a part.

Friends are the real treasures, aren't they?


Stepping Back in Time

March 8 I will be telling Pushing Boundaries at the American University Museum at the Katzen Center (6 PM Free) in conjunction with an exhibition - IMPACT: The Legacy of the Women's Caucus for Art. I went over today to see the show - to "get into" my story - which contains a big bit about the 1970s and the women's artists movement. 

The AU Museum's fine space is a good place for this show which is smallish considering that it spans a large group of women artists over a 35 year period. I can imagine the WCA budget was stretched to bring these works together; even so I was sorry Mimi Shapiro is represented by a small paper work instead of one of her glorious fabric works - however the luscious piece by Joyce Kozloff gives a rich taste of the decorative work of some in those days. 

I laughed out loud at the full frontal male nude by Sylvia Sleigh - wondering who would remember the statement she was making in those works. 

After enjoying the wall works I sat for an hour watching the digital images of the "life achievement " awardees on a large monitor. It was like sitting down with a blown up version of your high school year book and memories assaulted me. I knew many of these women, remembered their art work as well as the times when we were speaking up and acting out to have a better place for women in the art world. 

When the images for my good friend Joyce Aiken popped up before me - I admired the work but wished she had sent them a picture of her red wood coffin embellished with cupids instead. It is a great statement on making a personal statement in your art work. I came to know Joyce when we worked together leading the new political organization The Coalition of Women's Art Organizations which established  women artists as an activist group in the large women's movement. We did good and we had a wonderful time doing it. Not to mention the serendipity that when we were elected together - she in California and me in Maryland - it turned out that Joyce and Jim had grown up in the same Fresno neighborhood and gone to college together. 

As I looked at the words about these women, particularly those missing - it hit me. I am an eyewitness to a special time and as such I have things to tell that I have not told before. In sight of this show is probably the best place to bring it up. Hmmm!!! Feeling grateful to have a chance to add a tad to the record.


In my opinion -

When I woke up this morning I looked out the window to see that the world had gone white again - covered with a thick blanket of shimmering snow.

When I was a youngster I would have jumped up and down but not this morning.

After the 26 inches we had here a few weeks ago - some of which is still mounded on the right corner of my front yard - I am not thrilled. All right, so it is pretty.  And it is fairly harmless compared to what I am thinking about - Ice. Please don't freeze. Ice is a whole different can of worms isn't it?

Everybody is dealing with weather somehow. That's how it is. Today it is snow here in the Washington, DC area - my daughter says the wonderful and beautiful warm days in northern California are different this year because they are a daily surprise. Sun and warm breezes sound good to me but I get what she means. Things are changing.

The world around us is changing. And, its not just the weather.

I don't usually talk about politics on my blog having decided it might be better to keep my thoughts to myself these days. But I think about what's happening in our world. How could I not be thinking about what is blared out through radio and television 24/7.

I don't like having my opinions formed by entertainers and arguments between quasi commentators who report and talk about most anything in order to fill their time. So I watch Hallmark Movies.

I stopped the newspaper shortly after Jim died four years ago because I was not reading them. One  morning I decided I did not want to pay for the pile-ups of unread newspapers collecting near my back door or carry them to the trash.  When I need  to catch up on obits I stop by the near-by library.

But I pay attention. Follow the news, read a bit and talk with people whose opinions I value.

 Now the words are piling up behind my teeth pushing because they are ready to burst out.

I hate what has and is happening to politics and the election going on in our country. I was raised to respect the office of the President of the United States and to expect decent leadership from Congress. I cannot relate to the ideas being strewn around and to the loss of decorum and intelligence in the debates and comments from one candidate or commentator to another.  In my opinion the individuals who are candidates are not showing themselves as anyone I would be proud to have representing our country.

Are you as boggled by and ashamed of them as I am?

But maybe its hard to notice now after the past 7 years when many of the legislators elected to Capitol Hill seem to have lost their sense of what governing means to the point that they don't or can't provide any leadership for the country. .. other than how to bully each other like in the good old days in junior high school.

Today feels like a sad and barren time here.  I keep hoping someone will offer something better.

It feels cold - and its not just the snow or ice, is it?

PS: Someone took the time to write a comment which I appreciated - and it gives me a heads-up that I may not have said what I mean clearly enough.

I am not afraid - for myself. Although as an aging widow who is watching my husband's pension  dwindle before me daily  thanks to financial games - and who feels vulnerable in today's health care system - I guess I should be.  I am angry - that a group of like-minded folks who seem to me to have little interest in anything except their own agenda have landed in Washington and stalled governing and government because they are too partisan to mediate compromises on important issues = and they don't appear to care who they hurt as they play their games.

This is what I fear most - each citizen has one vote - it is precious and it is powerful.  Will the voters use their vote to really solve problems - in a way that takes care of the needs of all of the people in the United States.  This is not reality TV - this is real life - and the United States needs the best person for the job -


Short cut to Memoir.

Today I received a notice from Face Book that I joined FB seven years ago. WOW. I know its a long time but I had never but a concrete count of the days and hours into years. That's a lot of time.
Time I have taken away from so many other things.

Face Book attracted me because I love to write. Used to be that I wrote letters but we know that's over. So I have used FB to record and remember. Lately FB takes time away from writing on my blog where I said I was doing the same thing. Both of those take the time I could use to finally write my "memoir." 

Sometimes I feel I was born with a "memoir urge." Maybe the idea stems from the boxes of journals stacked in my studio. Now there is a daunting chore - reviewing thirty plus years of journals which I am afraid say mostly the same things. The important question is - do I want anyone to read them? 

Seven years. Wow. Seven years.

Can I re-capture some of that time by picking up bits of memory from FB posts to create blog posts which will become a memoir for me. Make those pieces of spontaneous writing more permanent and savable. 

So with this blog post I am trying something new - copying in the FB posts I wrote the other day in response to marketing Pushing Boundaries which I will tell March 8 at American University.

It could be a short cut to my memoir - or maybe it IS my memoir.