Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Fridays 2012: Coming Home to Caramoor

Sometimes Summer Fridays fall on Friday the 13th. Sometimes that can be a frightening thing. Full of nightmares and scary things.

Sometimes, though, it's a reason to party - to celebrate that you have survived some of the nightmares and scary things, and have gotten to a place where you are more able to deal with tyrants, terrors, catastrophes, cacophonies, and all the ghosts that can appear from the past.

One such Summer Friday the 13th came recently, wherein Caramoor employees, past, present (and in a few cases, probably future) gathered to honor our colleague Paul on his 20th year at the institution. I shared 12 of those years as a full-time employee, and part of the last six as a freelancer, volunteer, donor, and on-call institutional memory/venting release valve. I couldn't wait to head up north to join in an evening of honoring all that Paul has survived, I mean, brought to the place.

I actually made a bus-man's holiday out of it, heading up on the train early in the morning, to assist my friend Christine with one of her mailing projects. I also managed to drag her out of the office for lunch - unusual for both of us when we "roomed" together, and even now in our respective jobs. (I have mentioned how much I love my friend Christine, right? My travel buddy and all around good gal? I LOVE YOU CHRISTINE!).

I also managed to amuse myself when she stepped out of the office for meetings, but you'll see those pictures later!

My view from the office stairs. Trudging up and down those stairs for 12 years really framed my perspective on things.

Quick sneak peeks around the grounds. The Venetian Theater tent on the left, and gates leading to the Reception Tent on the right.


After all the concrete grey in the City, the verdant countryside is so lovely. But not as as lovely as all the festive folks in the Italian Pavilion. Here's party planner extraordinaire Christine with the Man of Honor Paul and his lovely patient forbearing wife Eileen.

Some people, like Eileen, are serious during speeches, but as usual, Meg (l), Melissa (r), and I were in the background fooling around. It's our privilege as alumnae. Between the three of us, we have about 45 years of Caramoor experiences. It was just nice to attend something and not have to worry about 15 million little details, and to sit for a concert, for once.
To make it clear that this wasn't a thinly disguised retirement party, the staff gifts to Paul were a full-sized, full-weight ball and chain, as well as superhero-wrapped cuff links of the same. They want to make sure he doesn't go anywhere for at least another 5 years or so.
While this is a fake magazine cover, that's really Paul - singing in one of the opera choruses during the Festival.

I call this, Caramoor Still Life - flowers, a glass of a beverage put down in a hurry while "we" rush off to do something else, and a forgotten walkie-talkie next to an uneaten plate of food. Pretty typical for any Devo Girl on a Festival night. There should also be a ring of keys and a clipboard ...

The Italian Pavilion, where I spent a lot of time pacing back and forth, acting as a bouncer cum concierge, and party decor and yummies.

After the reception, it was off to the Spanish Courtyard for a chamber music concert featuring the Linden String Quartet and Gabriel Kahane. Here's Paul and family (daughter Leona with back to me, and his mom coming down the aisle) basking in the tributes. The evening's concert was dedicated to Paul and the program had a lovely write-up about his career, educational background, and achievements.

After the concert, lovely as ever, with additional accompaniment by Mother Nature, it was time for another reception in the Summer Dining Room. Just a couple of shots: The Zodiac Clock on the House Museum exterior walls and the spread in the Dining Room.

Exterior: House Museum at Night
Scene: Suitably Moody and Festive
Cameo by Christine

Reflecting on a wonderful day. Lionizing the Light in the Darkness, Himself

After a long day, I know the staff's favorite sound after a "regular" 9-5 day, followed by a pre-concert dinner, the concert, and then the post-concert reception and/or post-concert concert, was the sound of these formidable gates slamming shut and being locked. I know at least it was one of mine. It meant that the 12-20 hour day was over and it was time to find enough energy to do the clean-up, get the catering crew out of the House, alert the facilities crews that you were packing it in, grab your stuff, and then attempt to drive home and avoid wildlife and the troopers.

It was a great day in honor of a great guy. Even though we weren't supposed to give gifts, I had to be crafty and cobble a little something together. The card might have said something like this:

Dear Paul,

A bag of goodies can’t sum up all the thanks for 20 years of craziness at Caramoor.

At times, I know the job (and the staff) must have driven you nuts*, to the point where you wanted to wash your hands* of it and us.

There have been sour patches*, and then times of good and plenty*. To be honest, things weren’t always so sweet, or quite so black and white*. Hopefully the sweet times helped you forget the instances when we reduced you to feeling like a goober* or put you through loads of crap.

But please know, you are the best – and that’s no bull*.

You’ve created a large family here for those of us that left, drawing us back like a magnet*, even as you helped us “write” our own scores.

But you should know, we’re on to you. Don’t let me yank your chain -- we’ve got your measure*.

Under the bluster and bust, you’re full of sugar and spice* and everything nice – as wholesome as the oft mentioned, but never materialized, apple pie that you are supposedly known for.

Since I’m still waiting for that pie – may this assortment of puns suffice as a little thank you.

xo Auntie Nettie

THANK YOU PAUL! For 20 years and for so much more!

*bags of assorted nuts
*containers of hand sanitizer
*Sour Patch candies
*Good & Plenty candies
*box of NYC renowned black and white cookies
*Goober candies
*eraser shaped like a big bull
*set of magnets using vintage music scores
*set of nesting measuring spoons on a chain
*Penzey's Baking spice set

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