a life well lived

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Social Whirlwind 08/31/00

What a week it was.  

 Last Tuesday, Becky came by and we had a pleasant visit.

Wednesday evening, Erin and Louise made a surprise visit and about 15
minutes after they left, Bob and Margaret arrived for dessert, as scheduled.  (That was an incredible evening, which I would like to write more about sometime down the road.) 

Thursday night is always an UNsocial time for me, since that is the night John & Elsa see their communication coach and it is just me and the dolls & stuffies here at Squirrel Haven. 

Sunday, we had another delightful surprise visit, this time from Cheryl, Dave & Candy. 

Then, last night, Adriene, a delightful young friend of Elsa's (she is 26 and looks like she strolled right out of the '60s, not pretending to look that way, but really that way inside), came for supper. 

The best was saved for last - a card AND e-mail letter from my granddaughter, Karen, filled with her energy.  She wrote about several Hurstville gals, one of whom is in the USA (Colorado)  and the other will be here soon, so they count as guests too.

With all the energy and affection pinging around these walls, it is no wonder that Dave  says he found me in better shape than he has in some time. 

Oh – I reactivated my participation in an online discussion group that helps keep me on my toes.  Life is good.

Love from a night owl ~ Cyber Gram ~

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What a day it was 09/01/00

 another wrong date/right day posting

Another hot and steamy day today.  It is such different weather from what we had 11 years ago.  Of course, even if it had been as uncomfortable as this weather, I might not have noticed. 

The day before John and Elsa's wedding paired a lot of events with a relaxed attitude.  Elsa had a certain mental image in her mind of what she wanted her wedding to be like and Saturday reflected it.

I remember when Elsa got a letter from Peggy soon after she and John had announced their engagement.  I was napping in my room and she sat down to read it to me.  She had hoped they could make it from Missouri to the wedding, but was prepared to understand if they could not. 

"They're coming!" she yelped. 

Continuing to read, she practically leapt out of her chair.  "And Jim and
Renee are coming!!!"  And a few seconds later, "And so is Karen, from Reno."  We did a little dance of joy around the bedroom, we were both so stunned and excited. 

All of the Peddicords came and all of the Ripleys, even David.  The Ripleys had not seen Karen Peddicord Jackson, who lives in Nevada, for many many moons and ended up flying on the same plane all the way from San Francisco without realizing they were in the same cabin with a Reynolds clan cousin. 

Saturday was filled with family and friends and magical moments.  We had a happy breakfast with the Peddicords.  Jim & Renee and their girls and Karen were all staying at the nearby Marriott, but Jack & Peggy were camped out right across the street from our house, at Donnette and Garth Glenn's (they gave us the use of the hall since they were at the shore that weekend). 

Elsa put the finishing touches on the nibblings and sippings she would serve that afternoon at a tea honoring her bridesmaid's and all the women who had done so much work on her wedding.  She was unusually calm.  She  also put the finishing touches on the Groomsmen's Party that would be held at the same time across the street.  She was a busy lady.

I cannot remember a single thing about the rehearsal.  I know I was there but nothing comes to mind.  After the rehearsal came the tea party and I do remember a lot about that.  So many women and, of course, her four bridesmaids, all under 21  - Whitney, who was her maid of honor:  Karen, who was her senior bridesmaid;  Mackenzie Pitcairn, dear to our hearts since she was born;  and Jamie Reeves, one of the children Elsa "baby watched" over the past few years.  Not a one was from Bryn Athyn, PA - Whitney was in her 2nd year at Barnard in NYC, Karen hailed from Australia, Mackenzie lived in Iowa and Jamie was just "down the street" in Jenkintown. 

It was a happy, humming group.  Elsa had ordered a beautiful cake from her favorite bakery - Bredenbeck's in Chestnut Hall.  Peter, who did an incredible job of being everywhere he needed to be plus a few places more, picked up the cake that morning along with a generous assortment of breakfast goodies the bride had ordered from Rolling in Dough at the Farmer's Market.  He was surprised at how many of the vendors asked him to give the happy couple their best wishes. 

It was a beautiful, 2-tiered cake.  My favorite moment was when Elsa had the four girls join her in cutting cut the first piece, which she gave to yours truly. 

Each of the girls were given a book - Ophelia's World for Whitney, A Little Princess for Mackenzie, A Secret Garden for Karen, and whatever it was she got for Jamie - and a special box, each carefully picked out for each girl.  Each of the women received a Christmas ornament that Elsa had spent hours picking out, tailoring each gift to its recipient.

Even all these years later, I still feel gypped that while I took a nap after the party, Peggy, Karen and Elsa hightailed it across the street to the men's party and had a wonderful time. 

Supper was take out - a Chinese banquet.  John went to pick it up from China Bowl in Rockledge and Pam opted to go with him, to get a better idea of this fellow.  While they were gone, the rest of us watched a video made earlier that summer of Peggy & Jack's 40th (I think it was their 40th) surprise anniversary party out in Missouri.

How well I remember that Midwest weekend.  The guests were squirreled away where Peggy & Jack wouldn't spot us.  The night before the party, we all gathered for steamed crabs which friends from Baltimore had flown out.  The video said it all - while everyone around me were talking back and forth, there I was, happily picking my way through a great heap of crab.  It was so much fun to watch the video with the whole family around, the Peddicords and myself giving a running commentary.

One of my all-time favorite photos was taken by Elsa that evening.  It is of Peter, Peggy and I, dishing out the Chinese food and laughing with complete happiness.  It is a marvelous picture and captures the feeling of the evening. 

I almost forgot that Robert and Sue Smith, our neighbors, had us over earlier in the evening for cocktails.  The whole of "Smithville" was in fine fettle. 

I called our cluster of abodes "Smithville" because Julie & Eunice Smith, Willie Smith,  Phil & Mina Smith, and "Po" & Sue all shared our driveway.  Smithville indeed.

Eleven years later, am still smiling at the memory of so much love and easy happiness.  That time felt and feels like it was other worldly, a gift to us all from a heavenly, all-present Guest.  Everyone made it happen and everyone seemed touched by its beauty and spiritual grace.  I was, and am, blessed to have been part of it. 

I remember Lockharts and Peddicords and one Murphy lolling around the living room that night, having a high old time.  John's best man was there, too.   

It was another happy, happy day - and the best was yet to come.

Am off to what I am sure will be happy slumbers - Mrs. Raymond Lewis Lockhart

Friday, August 29, 2014

Open House at Squirrel Haven 09/01/00

Posting this Mindwalker1910 e-mail on the DAY it was written - the Friday before Labor Day - rather than on the date.  elm  08/29/14.

Our open house on Sunday puts me in mind of another open house, one that took place on this very date eleven years ago. 

It did not make much sense for John - who had very little experience with putting on social events - to take on the traditional groom's-family hosted Rehearsal Dinner, especially with his mother recuperating from a broken hip. 

Instead, on the Friday before The Day, Mim, Elsa and I had an open house at 2501 Woodland Road.  Although Elsa's entire focus was on the Australian family, who would be with us such a short time, in my mind it equally honored all of them, especially the bride and groom .

What a happy, happy evening that was.  Peggy & Jack & Karen, Renee & Jim with Eryn & Lauren, Elsa & Gareth, B.A.'s Australian contingent, friends of the bridal couple, friends of Mike & Kerry's, friends of mine - - it was a great evening, crammed to the rafters with lots of rampant loving and great fun. 

That whole time - especially Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when the house and our lives brimmed over with family, friends and love - was magic.  The Ripleys were here for the wedding - all of them, even David.  The Peddicords were here.  It felt like all of my nearest and dearest were here, even the ones who weren't. 

It was a blessing that the weather that entire Labor Day weekend was really nice, not the oppressive, hot and humid stuff that we are slogging through this weekend.   The heaven's smiled on us all!

Love to you all - Mother of the Bride

Saturday, August 23, 2014

23 days to go 08/22/00

A newspaper article in tomorrow’s Sydney Morning Herald (that is correct – the article’s date is 23/08/00), considers the side-show atmosphere of the Torch Relay around Australia.  Its main gripe is the tight control the SOCOG (Sydney Olympic Committee something or other) has clamped down on the epic event.  At each stop along the road, there’s been celebrations, the biggest of the day being held  wherever the torch is tucked in for the night.

I always thought the relay was a simple occasion – at least, I did until I witnessed part of the torch relay for the Atlanta Olympics for myself.  The once-modest number of vehicles that accompanied that torch has swollen to over 50 in the current relay.  

 Looking at all the hoop-de-do that accompanies the flame, snaking its way through Australia, it can be hard to remember that it was lit in at the Olymypic flame in Greece.  Let that soak in and all the stuff and nonsense that tags after it fades into the background.

I am wondering what people out in rural Australia – and there are few places in developed countries as rural as it gets Down Under – are making of it.  Some of these spots are beyond the beyond, and here is the torch coming through THEIR town.  Countless country towns find themselves in the national spotlight, if only for one moment. 

One commentator was comparing this torch relay with the one run before the Melbourne Games.  Whereas the relay back then was run day and night, in 2000 the torch gets tucked in for the night before setting off again in the early morning, with a big part of its journey taking place in a vehicle, which stops at the edge of towns, where it is then run through streets before ending up at ovals and show grounds.

Local celebrations await the torch's arrival. The highlight of these

lunchtime and evening events is the lighting of the "community cauldron."

The Atlanta Olympics took the relay to a higher level, wending around the USA.  The current relay is a paragon of organization, apparently without too many goofs or hitches, which I find remarkable considering the size and some of the desolate areas they’re at least driving through. 

The relay, with its simple images and sense of historical purity, is boosted by now fewer than fourteen (14) sponsors, from an oil company and a car manufacturer to the News Limited, published by the always colorful and good-for-a-story Rupert Murdock (born in Australia, now an American citizen).  It seems that News Limited has special sponsorship privileges, including a not-so-secret contractual arrangement which provides a flow of information about the torch relay denied to its rivals and others. Sweet, as Elsa would say.

Unfortunately, while News Limited has access to the names of the runners and where and when they will be bearing the torch, the rest of Australia, including local councils (governments) responsible for helping to stage the relay left in the dark.  That is not playing well.

How foolish that seems – the relay is supposed to be about fostering community spirit, yet communities aren’t allowed any specifics?  I read that one person managed to put together a list for her area, but it took her a month to get it done.  Even then, by the day of the relay she was missing two names, so the town wasn’t able to contact them about joining post-torch celebrations.  As one local official put it, this is all wrong, because it should all be about people and their communities, she believes, not super secretive.

I can sympathize with the problems being caused by the Olympic Committee’s fanatical protection of its symbols or anything that might even remotely resemble them.   Towns and communities that wanted to gussy themselves up with full-Olympic regalia found they couldn’t use anything that gave even an impression of the Olympics’ 5-ring icon.  Seems some folks out in the far reaches of Australia thought that was taking things way too far.  For people with loved ones running in the relay, it was especially hard to understand the double blows - - lack of information of when friends or family were scheduled to run and the clamp-down on what seemed natural decorations for what would be some of the small towns’ biggest moment of the year, maybe the decade. 

I know how I would feel if Karen or Scott, Carolyn or Leanne were running and we couldn’t get straight answers on when or where.  Actually, now that I think about it, the blokes in charge of that information would have Kerry tracking them down!

It seems unbelievable to me that the local officials were also kept in the dark.  Is the relay about drawing the nation together, giving big and small towns a moment to bask in the spotlight, to give local athletes and others a chance to participate in the Olympics  ~ or ~ is it just an event to showcase sponsors? 

The thing that would really have gotten my knickers in a twist is how the Sydney Olympic Committee seems to be treating locals.  In some places, it is reported that hardly any of the runners are actually from the town.  That seems incredible.  In 1956, the runners that carried the torch through a town came from there, they were well known to the people who lined the streets, whether it was 2:00 p.m. or a.m.;  this year, torchbearers from areas whose slots were already filled were farmed out to other places, places where they might never have stepped foot before, where they were complete strangers.  Shouldn’t this be an event celebrating locals?

Still, as the article points out, the symbolic value of the torch is unquestionable, connecting communities within Australia and even with the wide wide world.  Crass sponsor preferences can’t put a dent in the pride felt in communities large and small across the land I love so well.

Days -  the entire relay will take 100 days nationally, with 31 in my adopted “state” of New South Wales

Distance -  27,000 kilometers will be run from start to finish, with 5,393 kilometers in NSW

Torchbearers -  10,000 men, women and children will carry the torch throughout Australia, with 3,141 in NSW

Cities, towns and villages  -  the torch will pass through 1,000 from coast to coast to coast to coast, with 300 in NSW

Official community celebrations - 180 nationally, 61 in NSW ~ and one here, at Squirrel Haven, where I will be cheering them all on in spirit.