From 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., the American Red Cross president worries about mass disasters. Then she leaves her office and calls her husband.
"He worries about dinner," said Marsha "Marty" Evans.
By the time Marty, 58, drives up to their townhouse in Old Town Alexandria, Jerry, 64, has cooked the fish and chopped the salad. After they eat, Jerry washes up.
"I don't do dishes," Marty said one recent Sunday evening. "He doesn't want me to wreck my hands."
Marty's hands swept across her dining room table, over bags of loose beads -- turquoise, lapis and quartz. Marty picked up a Swarovski crystal, held it between two red nails and pierced it with a wire.
"She's feeling pretty puny today," Jerry said, standing behind her. "It's been stress and constant travel to ravaged areas."
Marty clicked through a pile of crystals, her eyes tight: "Some people would come home and have a martini. I do beading."
In this year of hurricanes and floods, of tornadoes, flu panic and creeping global measles, in a year that Marty described as "just one big disaster," the Red Cross president -- imploring television viewers to give blood and money -- has been the public face of care. But when Marty comes home, she opens the door to a private space, where she is the one cared for.
"I'm the power behind the throne," said Jerry, a retired Navy pilot and lieutenant commander, who golfs and has called himself a "house spouse" for more than 20 years.
Jerry met Marty in the Navy when they were assigned to tandem desks. She was nearly 6 feet tall. He was 5-8 and said he liked "dumb, short women." When he introduced Marty to his mother, she told Marty, "It will never last." Marty went on to serve as chief of staff at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and to command the Treasure Island naval station in California, rising to rear admiral.
"She may outrank me quite a bit," Jerry said, smiling, "but I'm the commander in chief at home."
Marty looked at him.
"Sometimes," he said.
When Marty wakes up, Jerry brings her orange juice. While Marty showers, "I run down and make her latte." He also shops, cleans and does the laundry. "That's my ironing pile," Jerry said, touring the bedroom. "Don't look."
"He's very happy to take care of the house," Marty said. Jerry slid into a green leather recliner to watch golf. Marty leaned over her beads, under an arched, gold ceiling. He was wearing a red golf shirt; she wore a captain's Ralph Lauren blazer with gold buttons and an anchor patch. A wrenched back had set her salute-straight posture on edge.
"It's mindless," Marty said, crimping a droplet to a latch. "It's therapy. It's the one time I'm not wound up in who's saying what on Capitol Hill about the Red Cross, what million-dollar donor you have to repair a relationship with." Reading doesn't do that: "When I read, I can't turn off the high-intensity thought process of disaster response."
This hurricane season, she beaded her way through the storms.
"This is a Katrina necklace," Marty said, unraveling a braid of silver, pearl and blue. "These teeny seed beads were a devil to string." After she'd opened more than 1,000 Red Cross shelters, after she'd assessed blood supply and demand, after she'd appeared on "Larry King Live," she came home, the adrenaline pooling in her fingers, to string three inches of sea-foam luster beads. She spilled the whole strand on the floor.
"This is the Rita necklace," she said, uncoiling fat jasper and gold beads. "I was ready for something really easy."
She made a tsunami necklace with an aquamarine she bought in Sri Lanka. It will be a Christmas present, as will others. "This is my favorite," Marty said, suspending a triple-strand of shells, Bali filigree and a carved Thai butterfly. "This I made as Hurricane Dennis was approaching. We were getting half-hour updates from the operations center."
Beading is step one of the "decompressing" routine. Step two: a soak with Jerry in the Jacuzzi. The bathroom overlooks the Potomac. "It's not very sexy to prepare for disasters," Marty said.
"We have a disaster plan -- we run to Balducci's down the street," quipped Jerry, drinking red zinfandel.
Marty looks for ways to ease the tension. On her five trips to survey the damage from Katrina, she walked through the operations center in butterfly-patterned Stuart Weitzman lace-ups drizzled with sparkles and studs. "When I get so serious about the disaster, I look at my shoes," Marty said. "I wear them with my boring disaster outfit" -- a Red Cross T-shirt and khakis.
On this evening, she wore Weitzman mules: "These are my winter disaster shoes." They are leopard print. "I can't wear them in a flood."
"Why don't you put on an apron," Jerry suggested when a photographer arrived. "And get a picture of you cooking. That'd be something new."
"Jerry, you're not cooperating. We need one with the adoring husband gazing."
Marty was at the table, counting pearls on a necklace. "I can't stand it any longer," she said, pulling it apart. "I noticed there were four pearls, instead of three."
Jerry went to watch the news in the kitchen. "Tornado in Indiana," he called.
Marty lined up three crystals.
"Twenty-two people dead in a trailer park," Jerry said. "Why do tornadoes go right for trailers?"
" 'Mobile home communities' -- you can't say that, Jerry," she said, struggling to thread a crystal.
"Red Cross is on the scene," he said.
The Red Cross was offering shelters and counseling. Marty had been on the phone about it earlier.
Jerry fetched another bottle of wine and started dinner. He was making salade nicoise, to get in the mood for their Thanksgiving vacation on the French Riviera. After France, Marty will travel to Africa, on a Red Cross mission to fight measles.
Marty exhaled. "I am living the dream. I am living in paradise with a great husband, and a neat view of the Potomac. Life is good."
They would eat salade nicoise, and later, go to bed. He tosses all night. She sleeps so soundly, she has no dreams.
Off Camera is a monthly column featuring Washington's top decision makers in their off hours -- outside the office and inside their lives.
Evans made the necklace at left during Hurricane Dennis, the one of the right during Hurricane Katrina.