Ltr. from Mary re. amnesty, vacation plans

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Since we don’t see each other a lot, I salute Mary’s accomplishments in emails and columns. I am so glad she’s my daughter. Although our time together was much less than I’d expected, we tried to spend as much of it with each other as we could.

She is having a wonderful life. Just wish a little more of it happened on the same continent as mine.

I was surprised when she wrote recently that she had joined Amnesty International. All of our daughters were fluent in fairness at some point in their lives. I couldn’t tell you which of them said it most frequently, but we heard “That’s not fair” at least daily as they grew up. Mary’s version was likely the most authentic. She really thought about whether or not a decision was fair before she said so, and sometimes actually listened to and took to heart her parents’ explanation of the issue.

So when she writes about an Amnesty meeting I see my little girl with the serious face now thinking about human rights abuses. Most of us know what is fair and what is not, but not so many of us do much about it.

She wrote recently about a number of things, including a movie review. She got Rainer to drive to another town to see “The King’s Speech” in English, and recommends it. “Go and see it; you’ll love it,” she writes.

She said she was “hiding in Gelsenkirchen and Rainer is out hunting trains, since it’s sunny (but pretty cold).”

Rainer’s birthday was coming up. She had taken three posters to be framed for him. One was a Van Gogh poster from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, another was a Chartres Cathedral window, and the third was an enlarged shot of tulips that Rainer took himself in Düsseldorf. You don’t need to be a trained artist to picture those posters together. The van Gogh is probably sunflower gold, and the Chartres, of course, must be cobalt blue.
That leaves shades of rose or lavender for the tulips.

“I volunteered Rainer for a photo for Amnesty. We want to do a postcard action, with a letter to the [president] of Myanmar, telling him to release our two prisoners. [Not sure if “our” means American journalists or German].

“Someone found a card from some other action, with a key, on which was written ‘cell of so-and-so,’ and they thought that was a nice motif, but couldn’t find an appropriate photo. I borrowed two bigger keys from a friend, and Rainer, after grumbling about the background, the keys, the logic of the whole thing, etc. made a photo everyone thought was brilliant.

“Now, however, the man who was to, via Photoshop, write in the prisoners’ names, has become a father, and no time. So I bought two tags, and will either hand-write the names, or get them engraved, and Rainer will have to donate another 15 minutes of his time.…Another guy, new in the group, wanted to do a picture of handcuffs, with the statement: ‘Open your hearts: Free our people’ or something similar.

“Fortunately, most everyone found that to be a pretty stupid request to a military dictator who puts away students distributing flyers for 50 years of prison, and he wasn’t at the last meeting, so we could reject it without getting too personal....We are also getting together to watch TV shows that have been nominated for an Amnesty TV prize and will nominate our favorite.”

Cologne Opera, where she worked several years ago is right now in Kurdistan/Iraq, putting on Mozart’s “Abduction of the Seraglio.” She said this is the first opera ever played there, and, from the point of view of a Muslim, controversial, since Mozart and especially this director, makes fun of the Muslim abductors and their views of women.

The trip was planned, she said, before everything broke loose in the Arab world, and nobody was required to go: A violinist decided against going the day before they left.

“It will be interesting to hear how the audience reacts. My pianist friend Michael Avery didn’t get to go (he was in China for at least 3 weeks with the ‘Ring,’ and ‘Don Giovanni,’ and in NY in the summer as a guest for a modern opera), but I’m sure I’ll get a report.”

Now to the work at hand:

“Guess I have to go put clothes back in the Schrank [an armoire or wardrobe]. I had some sweaters eaten into last year; I washed, sewed, and hung up poison leaves, and thought everything was under control, but not. So here we go again.…

“I also should look at the kitchen cabinets; had to throw out bags of old pasta, flour last year. Finally identified the tiny beetle that bored its way through almost anything, but now I’ve forgotten, something like apothecary beetle. Like I have nothing else to do in life.”

This is her year to come to the States for vacation, something different. Germans forget how hot it is here in August.

“I’m thinking now of going from Las Vegas (I want to see Death Valley) to Albuquerque, including Mesa Verde and the Durango railway. I don’t imagine you’ll want to be out in the desert in August, but you’re invited, naturally.”

Sure, honey. Sure.