Barbara Bush got off the president's Marine One helicopter yesterday under her own steam -- by foot rather than canvas chair -- when she and President Bush returned to the White House from a weekend in Camp David. There was no sign of a limp resulting from the minor fracture of her left leg sustained in a sledding accident on Jan. 13.
The First Lady, whose broken left fibula bone did not warrant a cast, stayed close to home and off her feet throughout the week, preferring to get around the family quarters by wheelchair rather than crutches. "She figured out you can't carry anything if you're on crutches," according to one report.
Tomorrow Mrs. Bush resumes her public schedule. In the afternoon she'll host a reception for participants in the Second Women's Leadership Summit on breast cancer. After that, at the Library of Congress, she'll receive the 20th Anniversary Recognition Award for her support of literacy. Their names may not ring a bell, but Ingahild Grathmer, the artist, and H.M. Vejerbjerg, the literary translator, will be the toast of the White House next month. Though President and Mrs. Bush would tell you it's the queen of Denmark who's coming, the Danes figured out some years ago that Grathmer, Vejerbjerg and Margrethe II are one and the same person.
In the arts crowd, Grathmer has established herself as an up-and-coming designer of theatrical sets and costumes, illustrator of books and a sculptor whose works have been reproduced by Royal Copenhagen.
Among the literary set, whenever the Danish edition of Simone de Beauvoir's "Tous les hommes sont mortels" comes up, it's common knowledge that Margrethe is the "H.M." (Her Majesty) in the pseudonym Vejerbjerg, which she shares with her French-born husband, Prince Henrik.
The queen's Feb. 19-22 visit won't be her first in Washington. She and Henrik were here during the 1976 Bicentennial and were entertained by President and Mrs. Ford at a White House luncheon where guests included Rosalind Russell, her husband, Frederick Brisson, Victor Borge and then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"She has to be one of the tallest women in the world," Betty Ford later wrote of Margrethe in her autobiography, "and I remember her arriving for a luncheon dressed in a big hat with flowers all around, accompanied by Henry Kissinger, who's short. It looked as though the flowers on the Queen's hat would engulf and devour Henry."
This time around, Margrethe is making a state visit -- her first -- and President Bush will accord her full honors, including a red carpet dinner on the 20th. On the night before, she'll attend the Kennedy Center opening of the new one-woman play "Lucifer's Child," starring Julie Harris in the role of Karen Blixen (Danish author Isak Dinesen).
"Karen Blixen has always meant something to me, her whole philosophy of life as well -- it is not one I share, but I can accept parts of it. It is certainly distinctive," says Margrethe in a remarkably candid series of monologues about her public and private lives that were recorded by Danish writer Anne Wolden-Raethinge and published in book form in 1989.
Impressed by what she called Blixen's "visual" gifts -- "this is what really pleases me in a book, when it creates pictures for me" -- Margrethe says she always imagined she would be an artist someday (female succession in the monarchy did not take effect until she was 13). Her most valued critic was her grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. "His criticism always gave me grounds for thought, and his praise was sweet music," she recalls.
Not until she was 30, however, did she discover "there was some talent after all, and it has gradually proved lasting. ... My drawings have become more coherent. I draw more now than I have ever done, and I have to be careful that I do not spend so much time drawing that what I am really here for comes second.
"I believe that people are beginning to accept not just that I do both," she continues in the book, "Queen in Denmark," "but that both are important aspects of me."
Both "aspects" will be felt by the arts community here throughout her stay. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is planning an exhibition of porcelain, silver and textiles by Danish women artists that will include examples of Ingahild Grathmer's book illustrations, sketches for ballet productions and figurines for Royal Copenhagen. And in the museum's auditorium, in anticipation of the Royal Danish Ballet's 1992 U.S. tour, the company's Frank Andersen, with several of his top dancers, will present the Bournonville tradition of ballet style and technique, so named for the 19th-century ballet master and choreographer revered today as the father of the world-famous troupe.
He's not exactly singing for his supper, but former White House executive chef Henry Haller is signing for it these days in a unique twist on book parties that's guaranteed to have everybody eating it up.
What they'll be eating up next weekend at the Williamsburg Inn in Colonial Williamsburg will be state dinner-style meals prepared by Haller with the same meticulous attention to detail ("Perfection is no accident," he likes to say of his culinary successes) he gave to five presidents and their families between 1966 and 1987.
And some of the same dishes.
For instance, one menu features President Johnson's Shrimp on Celery Remoulade and Melba Toast, President Nixon's Clear Chicken Broth with Fines Herbes Dumplings, President Ford's Stuffed Roast Veal Tenderloin, Lady Bird Johnson's Spinach and Bacon Salad and Rosalynn Carter's Orange Mousse with Raspberry Kirsch Sauce.
Another menu starts with President Reagan's Maine Lobster Mousse, Rosalynn Carter's Southern Corn Chowder, President Carter's Supreme of Duckling with Orange and Ginger Sauce and Minnesota Wild Rice, Pat Nixon's Endive and Red Beet Salad and Nancy Reagan's Puff Pastry Hearts Chantilly with Fresh Fruit and Cointreau Sauce.
On the side, Haller is serving personal anecdotes from his years in the White House kitchen, where he arrived 25 years ago. For the first six months he lived "over the store" in a third-floor bedroom and was awakened each morning by the American flag being hoisted up the pole.
President Johnson, who liked spicy Texas-style food, wanted Haller to cook more than basic French cuisine. When Johnson put together his "Tuesday Lunch Group" during the Vietnam War in order to set policy with his military and civilian advisers, Haller turned frequently to native Swiss recipes.
Haller & Staff's war effort for Johnson, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and others in the "somber group" that gathered weekly in the President's Dining Room was focused on trying "to sustain their energy levels with hearty luncheon dishes."