Poets and Artists Toast International Women’s Day

Lake County Artists and Writers gathered at Redbud Library in Clearlake to celbrate International Women’s Day.

Lake County Poet Laureate, who hosted our event, invited us to share creative work that honored women we admire. I read a series of poems from my 2006 book Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary honoring three generations of women in our family: my mother (Ruth Evelyn Johnston Thompson), my sister (Julia Ann Thompson)–lost to us in 2004–and my great-niece, who has Grace as her middle name.

On the display table I shared the little booklet from mother’s memorial service, and the article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (“Catching Rays,” by Carolyn Bower, July 22, 2004) that tells about Julia’s work as a high-energy physicist with highschool teachers to build and operate cosmic ray scintillation detectors.

My sister worked tirelessly to bring women and minorities into math and science as part of her social outreach initiative augmenting her experimental work. Yet, throughout, she integrated her family life. The photo accompanying the article shows her playing skin-the-cat with her grand-daughters. I recall the period she worked on her PhD in physics at Yale when her daughter had just been born. Julia tucked her into the bottom drawer of her steel desk and kept her close while analyzing stacks of computer data.

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