Each year I have looked back at a story I wrote so many years ago, in 1994, for the January 6 issue of my local mountain newspaper which is still being published but is very different today than when I owned and operated it.
. Fortunately I have a copy of this particular “essay” and it is a reminder of times and people (good or bad) who have played an integral part of my life.
I wrote this story, which I entitled “The Mantle,” and I was still married to my late husband, Peter, who would eventually die from horrific injuries he sustained when he was hit by a woman going 60mph on Pacific Coast Highway and he was in a bicycle lane.
“I spent a quiet but very enjoyable New Year’s Day. It was a time for friendship and love, frustration and quiet reflection. My day began with breakfast at Lloyd’s with my wonderful, supportive friend, Dayna Perkins. We sat a back booth and talked and talked and talked for almost three hours. What a joy it was the day I met her at the Green Valley Lake Triathlon about four or five years ago. We have remained best friends since that time.
I went home and caught much of the Rose Parade while my son John and his girlfriend Tasha went down to her house. My daughter ‘Amanda and her boyfriend left for Disneyland at about 7:30 a.m. and they weren’t expecting to be home until about midnight so once John and Tasha were gone I had the house to myself. I always enjoy New Year’s because the phone doesn’t ring and it is a quiet, reflecting day. After attending a fun New Year’s Eve party the night before at “The Springs,” (formerly Chateau Pines) and bopping around taking some photos and popping in at another party after that, I was in the mood for some quiet time and I got it.
After watching UCLA try to hold onto the football (and turning it over to Wisconsin about three million times) which ended in their loss, I thoroughly enjoyed watching “New Year’s Eve 1994 from Vienna.” I always try to catch this thoroughly delightful concert that, not surprisingly, is filled with the music of Johann Strauss and it includes dancing by the Vienna State Ballet. I can’t help but watch this program, narrated by Walter Cronkite, with fondness for a city that I adore. It brings back such wonderful memories of being there in 1965 (how can it be that long ago?) and the fun that I had with my sisters and mother while we traveled through Europe for eight months in a tiny volkswagen square back car. Someday I want to write a book about that trip that changed my life in many ways!
There sits the wooden duck, carved by my son in woodshop so many years ago while at MPH Intermediate School. I loved it when he gave it to me and I love it even more today. At the moment, an authentic Civil War cap (from the Union side of that awful conflict) sits on the duck’s head. My mother, who died on January 3, 1989, gave it to Peter, my former husband. We have taken good care of it for all these years but it’s getting to the point of needing some repair. I probably should have the cap framed so that is it protected because, after all, it’s very old. I will make it a point to do that soon.
Among the treasured items on my mantle is a piece of the Berlin Wall that was given to me by one of my subscribers, German-born Hans Nenn, who has a home on Nob Hill. He brought it to me after he “went home” after East and West Germany were reunited and the hated “wall” was torn down. I was so surprised, and thrilled, because when we visited Berlin in 1965 we saw that huge edifice, built to keep people and politics separated from one another.
A large chunk of white coral and a large cork float represents the beach I love so much. A new item on my mantle is a large sugar pine cone that I picked up and took to the beach for Christmas. It was displayed in the center of the huge antique oak dining room table along with colorful glass balls and a crèche.
I have a variety of photographs on the mantle. There’s the photo of my daughter Amanda on her way to her first Rim High prom. Then there is a photo of John and Tasha, taken in Las Vegas three years ago and a terribly funny photo of Amanda taken at the art festival at Sunset Beach.
There’s a wonderful photo of Amanda and e when she was about three-years-old that was taken at Easter outside St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hollywood; and a hilarious photo of John with his face in a “Conan” photo that was taken via computer at Ports O’Call this last October. Rounding out the photos that sit on the mantle are some from John’s high school graduation; one where he’s walking through the entry portal and the other is with our good friend Pete Shaw. John had the joy of being taught by Pete when he was in the 5th grade at Running Springs Elementary School-now Hoffman Elementary School.
Above the mantle is the beautiful poster I got at the National Gallery in London in 1979 when I revisited my most favorite city with my mother. We attended an exhibition of paintings by John Singer Sergeant at the facility and eventually I ended up with a poster because one of the guards had an extra one and she gave it to me because there were no more available in the gift shop. I brought it home and it was framed by Nelson Ragland at Woodland Gallery and I have loved it ever since.
If you have time before the New Year really begins to set in , take a look around your house at all the things you cherish and take some time to get in touch with their memories. It will do you good. I know that taking a good look at things I see everyday brought back some wonderful memories, allowed me to glance back in time yet be in the present with newly-found awareness.
Happy New Year everyone!