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Friday, August 1, 2014

Meanwhile...Back at the Ranch...

Dear Mom,

It's 5 a.m., and yikes! So much is swirling in my head right now, I am getting seriously sleep-deprived. Life has moved so fast since I got back from Africa, I've felt a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with it all. (How do my mom friends do it?!)

Might as well make the insomnia productive...

Yesterday, I finally sorted through my pile of mail dating back to early June, paid an eye-popping Con Ed bill (I keep that a/c running full blast, as I let in two of the world's fastest, heartiest flies the last time I opened the windows...they drove me nuts for a solid week), and realized I'd actually missed a payment on a Macy's bill and incurred a late fee. No wonder you always told us to put everything on ONE credit card!

Anyway, since I got back, I've been wanting to follow up on the ripple effect of my summer adventures. Once I worked out my travel dates, I put out a few ticklers to see if anyone in the Q wanted to enjoy an NYC crash pad! I have a little queue already for future vacancies (and some really fun "house swap" ideas, including Aunt Sandy's friend from this spring), but the lucky winners this round were...

#1 Grayson and Hanna

I did actually spend almost a full day washing all of my bedding for my guests, but I didn't manage to do as much of a deep-clean of the studio as I wanted. Packing to be gone for a month was a bit overwhelming, and what savvy traveler wouldn't spend her time planning cute outfits instead of dusting? (#chipofftheoldblock #comebyithonestly) 

So, poor Grayson got a hastily written message from me en route to JFK with an assurance that the sheets, while not exactly freshly changed, were not so stale as to be unsuitable for frelatives. (I'd typed out a literal laundry list -- as in, "how do we wash the towels?" -- of household tips and recommendations, and the doormen were all really sweet and helpful.) 

They had a fantastic time...I think the highlight was seeing Wicked, which Hanna said literally gave her chills during "Defying Gravity." Grayson noted these special mother-daughter times seem particularly precious as Hanna gets older, so she was really grateful for the opportunity. 
I wish Miss Bunny had been able to come with them, as I have such sweet memories of what an interest she took in me at my most awkward middle school age, and how encouraged and affirmed she made me feel. (I remember asking her what "shows initiative" meant on my report card! Little did I know...we call that "being proactive" in the corporate world, and it will serve you well.)

Hanna's age reminds me that when Miss Bunny taught us "the facts of life" in fifth grade, I honed my future investigate reporting skills, grilling her about the merits of using tampons vs. pads ("But which ones do you personally prefer?"). When she revealed that Grayson -- who just oozed cool in her cheerleading uniform -- wouldn't be caught dead wearing a pad, I decided I wouldn't either! 

Somehow that lesson segwayed into the best way to pop a zit, a lesson that has remained useful far, far longer than it should have. I still think of Miss Bunny when I go fishing for a sharp object! (And hear your voice, "UGH! Don't you want to pop that thing? Doesn't it hurt? How are you standing that?!") 

Whew! What a tangent! The things you write when you have time to kill before dawn. Anyway, given Grayson's own teaching experience, the mother-daughter angle, and my gratitude toward Miss Bunny, their stay seemed meant to be. 

Next up... Miss Suzie and Sarah Franklin! 
They saw Motown, which is the #1 show I wish you'd seen, and they absolutely loved it. I have such good memories of the Quincy Music Theatre shows Miss Suzie directed when I was in 9th and 10th grade, those two falls when I really needed an extra-special outlet in the early days of your separation and divorce from Dad. 

As Miss Suzie and I emailed before their trip about the wonderful ways she was there for me as a teacher, advisor, director and friend, she said it made her happy to think you and "Say Ray" have the same special bond. 

In fact...I'm now trying to recall if I ever remembered to post this? 
Sarah got the big Annalee Easter bunnies from your collection, and she said they were a HIT at Sugar Birmingham! People kept coming into the candy store and asking how much they were. She said she wished she'd had a dollar for every time she had to say, "I'm sorry, those are not for sale." 

At Motown, they sat beside some lady who was on her own, and of course they struck up a conversation with her (just like you would have), and by the end, they were all buddies. You did such a good job of showing me (and many others) not to be afraid of doing things on my own, as you'll often meet people who are also looking for a partner...or just warm, inclusive people like SJ and SF.
Here they are on the High Line, where, Miss Suzie assured me, they remembered to Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around.

The third guests were Frances and Ellen, who enjoyed a few days of sisterly bonding. Frances actually came up first by herself and had a grand time. I can't even remember how many shows she told me she least nine, and two of them she saw twice! She loved Motown and All the Way (the play about LBJ) so much on her own, she went back again with Ellen. She also braved the subway on her own to the 92nd Y at night, with a good bit of coaching from the doormen (they gave her high fives when she made it back home safely!). And they went to the sunrise solstice celebration at St. John the Divine, which reminds me of our tour of Chartres and the labyrinth, and which sounds exactly like something you would have loved to do. 

They left me a notebook "for my guests" and wrote the sweetest messages, which I will treasure. Here are a few nuggets: 

It has been action-packed -- walk 'til your feet swell up, laugh 'til your side aches, sing and hum 'til you annoy those around you, snap photos 'til your card is full, eat 'til your pants won't close -- sort of days and nights. (Ellen) 

I opened the door and entered the wonderland of Lynsley -- so perfect and inviting and I adore it. I could see you here, and I felt touches of Cheryl. You have made this place into a home. And, what an ideal spot for folks to set out on NYC adventures. Every day and night was one of those adventures for me. Love this city. Love you. Love LA. Love your mom. There were moments of intense joy and moments of intense loss. It really hit when I walked through your door. (Frances) 

Frances is probably the only person who knew your art collection as well as you did, and she said she had a "real, breathless, oh-boy moment" when she saw the Tootsie Roll Girl painting I carried back with me in January: I'll find my way back to you. 

It made me very sad that you never got to see my place in person, so having Frances here and knowing what an interest she took in all of my little "treasures" meant a lot. 

And...on that note...last up were Debbie and Kerry! 

They hit my neighborhood French bistro Marseille as soon as they arrived.
They went places I haven't even been! This is from Wave Hill, which you would have loved...

They took advantage of the roof for sunset snacks...

Ate dinner at the Boathouse in Central Park...

Debbie took a bunch of great pics, which you would have loved clicking through. Chelsea Market, the Empire State Building, MoMA, Beautiful on Broadway, Shopping on Fifth Avenue, Central Park, the High Line, the Met, lunch and pastries at Balthazar, the market at Grand Central, pizza at Keste in the Village, NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, the Cloisters, Staten Island Ferry, the Brooklyn Bridge, New York Public Library, Museum of Natural History... they did it all!

Here are two snaps she took of my apartment, for those who haven't seen my little digs...

Everyone always loves my collection of "feet around the world" in the bathroom, and I'm pretty sure I got the idea of handwriting dates and locations on framed travel photos from Debbie! 

Anyway, it's been a whirlwind since I got back; July is flying by. I felt sad as the 17th approached, as the idea you didn't even get to turn 65 just broke my heart. The 16th was the hardest day. I cried a lot that morning and ended up posting on Facebook a picture from our Nantucket trip for your 60th birthday. People posted a number of supportive comments, and then "our Gretch" made it her own, as only she can do: 

Miss Betty got a kick out of it and noted she too has tried and failed at being "in charge of the girls," given the difficulty of determining what continent we were on for the month of June! I think we've settled back down and will be easy to manage for now.

Then again...maybe not! Stay tuned. 

Anyway, Luce also chimed in with an "A answer" for your birthday: 
Thinking today of an amazing woman and her two very special daughters. Here we are at Britain's National Gallery of Art in June 1994. "When you travel, don’t take pictures of buildings. You can buy a professional postcard of any of that. Take pictures of people." Extra credit for the first person to spot the red bandanna!
And...the best part...I had three adorable birth-dates for your birthday supper! Jason's birthday was the 16th, so William/Bill came up to visit him. He arrived at my apartment from LaGuardia, and we caught up while we waited for Jason and Adam to get there. He had made my morning by texting me with, "Hey! It's Wiggy. I land at 5, where should I go for us to meet up before dinner?" But then he lost all of those valuable points by answering "Yes, Ma'am!" when I asked if he wanted a beer. Whaaaattt?!!? Ma'am?! Seriously? Granted, I probably am almost exactly the age Miss Juliane was when I was babysitting for the Hackney boys, but still. 

I put this on Facebook for "Throwback Thursday" as punishment: 
We had rooftop bevvies as the sun started to set, then headed around the corner for...wait for it... 
Ethiopian food!!!!

I can practically hear you making a gagging noise! I know it would NOT have been on your birthday meal list, but Jason loved it when I suggested we go for something totally offbeat. And, as "Bill" noted, "This meal would have been CSS-approved because it was 1. local, not a chain and 2. NOT something you can get in Quincy!"

I loved seeing them. I don't know when William and Ivie started dating again, but I think you would have been excited about that. He said they trade weekends between Birmingham and Quincy.

Once again, Jason reminded me I am to be called a PUMA, not a COUGAR, as pumas are younger and sleeker! I told him you'd informed your gang if y'all were too old to be pumas or cougars, did that mean there was nothing left but "Old Yeller"?!

It sounds like they had a fantastic weekend, and two other Quincy guys (I would have had to ask you who these kids of the White boys?) came up and met them.

In other "visitor news," my friend DeAnna from Charlotte was up here for work. We had a great time catching up on monday night...and a delicious meal at Morandi in my old 'hood. 
We had burrata with roasted tomatoes, then proscuitto with melon, and a pea and asparagus risotto. 
All rightie, it's time to hop in the shower, as I have to head downtown for a meeting this morning, and it appears to be pouring outside, so there may be some creative footwear. Rainy days can be such a drag when you have to walk everywhere.

Before I wrap up, a little "teaser" about what has my head churning this morning:

To be continued!




Elyse Cann said...

What a sweet parade of guests! Thanks for sharing.

Now, I am simply dying to know what this surprise is! Can't wait to hear!

Dee Stephens said...

So..soo..sooo MUCH fun!! Put me on your list of potential house guests for the future. Just let me know!
Loved our time together. So very special and fun. You're an amazing person!

Emily said...

Love the painting over the bed! We still love our wedding gift from the Smith girls!

Em and Wade