UD and Sportaldislexicartaphobia : Part One.

UD does not suffer from generalized fear of paintings, only fear of several paintings that, until last week, hung in her own wee ‘thesdan house. She acquired them in 2005, on the death of her father-in-law, Jerzy Soltan, who had himself acquired them in the form of gifts from his old friend Wojciech Fangor.

By virtue of being Poles who lived through most of the twentieth century, Soltan and Fangor got served up absurd, atrocious, obscene, ridiculous sorts of early lives – picaresque farces where they were always leaping about trying to survive the latest global disaster. It’s a bit of luck that either man survived to mid-century, and even more amazing that both eventually returned to the very privileged lives into which they were born.

The early ‘seventies saw Soltan a Harvard professor and Fangor the subject of a one-man show at the Guggenheim.


Yet not much happened for Fangor after that show; he remained obscure, and during the subsequent years I knew him in upstate New York, was simply one more struggling artist, working hard in his studio, getting occasional teaching/lecturing gigs, trying to sell canvases.


So when Les UDs sat on the floor of Jerzy’s Cambridge studio sifting through his art collection and dividing things up with Mr UD’s sister, they treated the Fangors the way they treated all of the other mildly significant artworks Jerzy, who knew many Polish artists, had gathered. Mr UD put one of Fangor’s circles on his office wall at the University of Maryland, and the other circles went in La Kid’s room.


When did UD start idly checking the prices of Fangor’s circles online? Aucune idée. But it gradually occurred to me that the numbers were going up and up and up, and that articles about his hotness were proliferating. “Take that Fangor off your office wall and bring it home!” UD screeched at Mr UD one day. “And while we’re on the subject, we need to put all of these behind glass and insure them or something…”

Les UDs both became more and more uneasy as they realized they were holding onto, and not taking particularly good care of, paintings that had suddenly become insanely valuable. It was time to sell.

UD sent exploratory emails to Sothebys, Christies, and Bonhams. The first two sent polite form letters asking to see some pictures of her Fangors. A Fangor specialist from Bonhams almost immediately got on a train from New York City to DC and visited our pictures. She spent hours in the house, scrutinizing, taking notes, taking pictures, chatting to me about Fangor and the paintings, and of course offering us a contract.


More to come.


Photos Tamara Trocki.

‘Ineffable Space’ – The book accompanying the Jerzy Soltan exhibit in Warsaw.

Photographed outside, in front
of one of UD‘s dragonfly pillows.

UD/DC Exurbs

On her way to her Uber, UD spied
a turtle in her pachysandra.

At Potomac Park, she bought tea
and coffee at this new Italian cafe,
stuffed her backpack with grapes,
Cheerios, toothpaste and dog treats
from Harris Teeter, walked briskly
around residential Potomac Park,
and then Ubered home.


UPDATE: UD‘s rather – uh –
informal garden turns out to be
a perfect spot for turtles.

Les UDs finally did some spring cleaning in a messy little closet they almost never open…

… and they found this,

with two long dusty cords
dangling out of it.

I’m thinking Margaret and Munro Leaf
had it installed around 1965.

An inexpressibly perfect spring evening …

… calls for dinner on the lawn.

Tea and Cuttings

UD did some gardening work for
a neighbor this afternoon, and went
home with these cuttings.

Garrett Park Ranked #2: Best Places to Live in Maryland

UD‘s home – not just the place she lives now; the place she was raised – is practically the best place to live in the whole state. Maryland is the nation’s wealthiest state, so competition for best place to live must be pretty fierce…

Of course UD has always been proud of her town (as those of you who have been reading this blog a long time know). She ended up here at the age of nine because her mother, just returned from a year in Mill Hill, a charming British village near London, found in Garrett Park an approximation of what she’d grown to love in England. It didn’t hurt that all of GP’s streets are named after locations in the novels of Walter Scott.

UD’s Neighbor’s Backyard This Morning

The third day of massive multiple trucks
breaking and shredding and hauling
“a large healthy pine that snapped in
the wind,” says my neighbor.
“It didn’t uproot.”

After the wind…

… the tree guys deal with the fir that fell
on my across the street neighbor’s house.

Awash in wind…

UD shares the best wind poem she knows. It’s by Ted Hughes.



This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up –
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house

Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,

Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.

Mr UD will Give a Seminar at the OECD in Paris on March 23…

…(that’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) on “Measuring Development in the 21st Century.”

La Kid will also be in Paris, on business, so they will meet up there.

UD is the only non-jet-setting member of the family.

Snapshots from Home: My Very Own Parkland Massacre!

Montgomery County police said that [Alwin] Chen’s home was searched and officials found multiple guns, including an AR-15-style rifle, ammunition, multiple grenades, a tactical vest, and a C4 landmine detonator

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from UD, the next 19-year-old mass killer, complete with a list of grievances against fellow students, steps up for his photo!

… Uh, I mean… make that 18-year-old. Highly educated counties like UD‘s feature precocious and far better equipped slaughterers. Does your local tyke-killer have grenades and landmines? Color me proud!

We’ll all go together when we go;
What a comforting fact that is to know.


The defense team attempted to appeal to the judge by pointing to Chen’s status as an honor roll student with offers of scholarships at two universities…

A genius killer of children! Let him go! Free the guy! Two lucky universities (I wonder which? He’s local… GWU?) are competing for him… Alwin! Over here! Choose me! Choose me!

Speaking only for herself, and as a fellow resident of Montgomery County, UD would be honored to be mowed down by someone with amazing SAT scores.


[Chen’s attorney called him] a ‘good student’ who has come to school every day, doing the things that we tell kids to do – ‘Join the athletics team, join the clubs, get involved with school, bring a loaded Glock.’

I added the last thing. His attorney forgot to list it.

Dumbarton Oaks Yesterday…

after a snowfall.

Taken by UD‘s friend Ari.

Very nice moment today in the elevator at GW:

A chatty student, with a hearing guide dog, stood next to me. As we both left the elevator and went outside, I got a good look at her.

Sara Soltani! Her video for the Hillary Clinton campaign was spectacular – I watched it a bunch of times.

“You’re famous!” I said. “I really liked what you did for the campaign.”

She thanked me.

Pre-Amazonian Rain Forest

This is the overcast expanse Amazon
has chosen as one of the finalists
for the site of its second headquarters.

It’s in Montgomery County, Maryland,
just down the street from UD‘s Garrett Park.

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