“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”
~ George Washington
Nifty, nifty, look who’s fifty! It’s Annie Bassoni, come to join the 50-is-the-new-30 club. There was a gathering of friends to celebrate Annie’s half-century on this planet. People I love from the bottom of my heart, and people I’d never met: my favorite kind of gathering. Happy Birthday, Annie. I’m sure glad you were born. You make the world a better place.
“I am not who I was nine years ago. I will never be that person again. I am stronger, yes, but the most significant aspect of the me I am now is that, through the loss, I have learned–know–truly, completely, without doubt or question, the limitless, eternal, and unstoppable power of Love.”
~ Mary Carroll-Hackett
Greg Davis was dressed as a Southern Gentleman for the Derby. His wife Vanessa Oliver wore her traditional Derby Day pants. The pants are very 70’s, and so much more entertaining than the traditional Derby hat. Though I didn’t take a lot of photos during the Derby garage party, the ones I got are either good, funny, or both. I’m only sorry I didn’t pop off a close-up of Annie Bassoni. I love all the expressions. I am just so blessed to have each of these people in my life.
“In the end only three things matter, how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” ~ Unknown
I’ve been so busy that I almost didn’t have the annual Derby gathering. At the last minute, I dragged the TV to the garage and fired up the grill. Most everyone had plans, but fortunately, I wasn’t alone in my last minute throw-together-cookout-idea. I couldn’t ask for better company. The food was delicious. The horses ran without incident, and Nyquist remains undefeated. The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and a lot of laughs were had. I’m glad we were able to be together. We sure did miss Sandy Davis, though: love and miss our Miss Kentucky Derby. Otherwise, a good time was had by all.
“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
~ James Allen
I had a guest register available at the reception. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I went to bed Friday night. I attended All Saints Day service this morning and picked it up afterward. Sixty people attended Friday’s reception. Sixty people took time out of their lives to come see my work. Some I’d never met before Friday. Some sneaked in and out without my seeing them though they were kind enough to leave their signature. Some drove nearly two hours to be there. Some took off work. Some were recovering from major surgery. Some couldn’t stay long, and others stayed the whole time. Someone pointed out how many segments of my life were assembled in that room: family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers, writers, actors, artists, musicians, librarians, bankers, software developers, railroad men, professors, social workers, therapists, pathologists, nutritionists, the list goes on. They’re not all represented in this collage, but I couldn’t think of a better way to have a group hug in the outhouse. Sixty people. I may be speechless for a week I’m so overcome with gratitude.
“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction… I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
One of my favorite things about the traditional Derby Day cookout is seeing John Lumagui. I never get to see him enough, so any opportunity, however long or short, is a joy. He doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s usually something that makes me howl with laughter. John met Wally for the first time today. In fact, Wally was the official greeter, and he loudly announced each new guest. This, of course, was not what John was expecting. He was one of Sadie’s best friends who, like John, was very quiet. Wally is anything but quiet, but he and John bonded by the time the party had ended and that was a good start for me.
As is often the case, the crowd changed throughout the day. Early arrivals, Deb Chenault and Marcella Christensen (below), had obligations that took them away before the race. Meanwhile, The Brereton-Stewarts and The Davis-Olivers (both relative newlyweds) arrived later in the day to help ring in the race. Watching his bride from across the yard, Greg Davis remarked, “You know, it was two years ago at this party when I first saw her in her Derby Pants.” That was the first any of us had seen of Vanessa’s Derby pants. She wore them again this year. Some things are tradition.
I almost cancelled this year’s party because I’ve been sick with what I can only assume is a horrible case of allergies. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I especially couldn’t do it because Sandy Davis is moving back to Boston in a few weeks. She has been a mainstay in my Derby Day tradition, and I’m hoping she’ll make this a reason for her annual return to Kentucky so that her smile will always grace our cookout. I’m so glad I didn’t cancel. Even though I couldn’t say much – literally – I enjoyed seeing everyone’s happy faces; hearing their jovial banter and gentle, steady laughter; and feeling the kindness they each possess for one another, even the people who were just meeting for the first time. That’s what the cookout is all about for me: being with people who are kind and happy. I’d have to be on my deathbed not to have it. Luckily I’m not.
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”
~ Victor Hugo
I’ve been to a lot of weddings over the years and the ones I enjoy most are those that are extremely personal. Greg and Vanessa’s ceremony was just such an event. From the welcome sign to the table settings, they poured themselves into every tiny detail. The dishes were bought at Habitat ReStore. Annie Bassoni made their guestbook. Some of their flowers were bought fresh at the farmers market; the table arrangements centered around cabbages and brussels sprouts. The burlap napkins, no doubt made from recycled fabrics, were adorned with tiny woodland creatures. Even the silverware was made of wood; biodegradable and healthy for human and environment alike. Vanessa made some of the food – absolutely delicious, of course. She made jams, jellies, and mustard for guests to take home in small, perfect jars. I had the blueberry basil for breakfast. Exquisite. Everything about this exchange of love was deliberate. Ideal. As it should be.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The chances of getting home from Madison in time for the wedding ceremony of Greg Davis and Vanessa Oliver were slim to none. My flight out of Madison this morning was delayed, but my layover was long enough to not miss the connection. The only thing standing between me and the wedding was the last flight. Luck was with me. The flight was on time. Stacy was waiting when I landed, and off we sped to McConnell Springs. We arrived with maybe three minutes to spare. We got front row seats. I don’t cry. As a rule, I just don’t. But Greg and Vanessa’s vows to one another just made me tear up something awful. I think we were all teary eyed (I heard a lot of sniffing). I was truly, truly honored to be there for their exchange. They are two of the sweetest people I’ve ever known, and I just know this marriage is one for the ages.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~ Nelson Mandela
It was one of the most beautiful Derby days Kentucky has ever had. The temperature was perfect, the sky spectacular, and the people the very best. I had my third Derby party. Thanks to Stacy Yelton, Annie Bassoni, Sandy Davis, Deb Chenault, Crystal Heis, John Lumagui, Greg Davis, Vanessa Oliver, and Riley, Eric, and Heidi Morrow, it may have well been the best yet.
We played cornhole in a yard as green as it was bug-free (always a plus).
The sidewalk chalk was the best $2 I’ve ever spent. Riley reduced grown women to a gaggle of squawking grannies. We had a blast playing with him. I think he might have had fun, too.
Bianca, AKA Little Dog, was the hit of the party. Good thing she exited stage left before Riley arrived. I’m not sure we could have stood that much excitement. It was a perfect day capped off by my taking the pool with California Chrome’s win. Life is so very, very sweet to me, and how lucky am I to have such smart, sweet friends as these? Pretty darn lucky!