About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Harem Cookout

(Celebrating independence is the theme for this week's Fun Monday. Grace, our host over at Mama Rehema's , asks us to share how we observe our country's Independence Day. That's July 4th in the U.S. This year was a special one, a Cookout for the Harem, prepared by the Sultan himself.)

On the right is the Grilling Sultan, called Laddio in less formal situations. He has just recently upgraded his deck and was most eager to entertain his harem of six middle-aged women with a patriotic cookout. His chief assistant is Hallie the Pit Bull and sister of my own boy Willie. In the photo above Hallie is checking to be sure everyone will have their drinks of choice properly iced down.

Sally, the Number One Wife, is the only married member of this group of long time friends. Therefore, she very generously shares the Sultan with her friends--we call ourselves Laddio's Harem. He takes us out to dinner and on rare occasions is loaned out to "screw" for us--that is, putting up window boxes, curtain rods, etc. Here's the benevolent Sultan relaxing with his harem while the brats and burgers grill. As you can see, he enjoys his role:
How lucky we are in these friendships of over 30 years. All started by working for the same company for all these years. I'm the late-comer to this group and that was over 20 years ago. When we're together, I look at each of them and wonder how we've stayed friends for so long. We are so different. There's Z the social animal, J the witty and smart geek squad, S the hard-working romantic and Sally my heart friend and partner in many adventures. We don't necessarily share the same interests. In fact, sometimes we don't even understand what the other is talking about, but there's a glue that melds us together. It's is the experiences of a lifetime--work, relationships, family joys and troubles, illness, dog love, adventures.

So Friday night we sat out on the deck until almost 10:30 pm. We ate brats and burgers with all the trimmings prepared by our Sultan. And, after some trial and error and much needed direction from Hallie on how to get the ice cream maker cranking, we finished off the evening with homemade strawberry ice cream under the summer's night sky.

After I got home I read the ending to the last work of the Irish journalist and writer, Nuala O'Faolain, before her untimely death in 2008. In Best Love, Rosie Nuala writes of the challenges of late middle-age and how many of our support systems fail us in our later years. One thing we can always count on though is friendship in its many forms. Here's what Rose sees in her motley crew of friends at her own birthday celebration:

"The breeze was blowing the hair on all five heads in the same direction--so that you'd think, to look at them, that they belonged together: that they were all in the same little gang. But I knew how many hesitations there were between them--and between me and them. And it made me like them even more: that I knew how every one of them found it hard to get life right, and still they were willing to make a celebration, still they were generous. . .Yet I was moved by our middle-aged selves much more than if we had been young. It seemed a wonderful thing that we had come out of our separate lives and gathered on the top of a ridge for no reason but that we were friends." p. 368, Best Love, Rosie by Nuala O'Faolain

So, there you have it, Grace. My independence day celebration--good food, friends and a reminder of how precious the role played by each of these people in my middle-aged life. Now be sure to check out other Fun Monday celebrations. I suspect they'll be similar to mine.

15 comments:

Janis said...

Faye, you are so fortunate to have such a great group of friends. There is no better way to enjoy the holiday, then with great friends.
Glad you had a good time.

Janice said...

I am one of the luckiest ladies in the world to be a part of Laddio's Harem--and, to be able to call all of you my friends. What a blessing it has been.

m (the misanthrope) said...

What a wonderful group of friends you have there! They say that "friends are the family you choose" and your story illustrates that perfectly. I hope that one day, I am part of a group like that. Thanks for sharing!

m (the misanthrope) said...

Oops, I should've said "I hope that one day, I will be a part of a group like that." Sorry. The grammarian in me wouldn't let that early-Monday-morning faux pas slip by :-)

Sayre said...

Your literary selection fit perfectly! All of you friends. All of you very different. Perhaps that is why you've lasted so long - if you were all the same you would have been bored and separated a long time ago.

Lil Mouse said...

i wish we had time for friends like that.

Debs said...

Love the photos and the piece about friends. You sound like you had a fabulous time.

I was out to lunch on Saturday (for 4th July celebrations too, though none of us really qualify as we aren't american) with four girlfriends. We had a wonderful lunch, then went on for cocktails. It was great fun.

Faye said...

janis--yes, I'm fortunate in friendship, always have been.

janice--I wonder what Laddio will do with a harem full of retirees? :-). May cut into his golf time.

misanthrope--these same friends are my Ya Ya Burial Society--no limits to what you'll ask of a friend! I hear you on the grammatical faux pas. If it's there and I know it, can't let it pass.

sayre--you're not of the age for writings on life and what you've made of it and missed. But when you do get to that point, highly recommend Nuala O'Faolain. I feel a great kinship with her.

lil mouse--you got the idea. Good friendships do take cultivation and care. Something you may not have time for with a young family and all other responsibilities. In time.

debs--just read about your evening out with the girlz. Sounds like you had as much fun as I. Hope you didn't have to be the designated driver. :-)

Patience-please said...

Delightful! My Bill is often surrounded by a harem - our friends - as well. He enjoys it, and we enjoy him!

gracie said...

thanks for playing, nice post. I enjoyed reading it. I am adding you to the list - grace

The Church Lady said...

I can see why you ladies enjoy being around the "Sultan" - he is one handsome fellow! It is so nice of your friend to "share" him! How wonderful that you have such a close knit group of friends!! It truly warms my heart!

Gattina said...

That was a nice party ! Wonderful that you have this group of friends. I am still in contact with some ex collegues too.

Lane said...

What a truly lovely post. And topped off with such an apt quote from Nuala O'Faolin.

I love the Sultan's shirt. Did you wear red, white and blue too?

Faye said...

patience-please--only downside to our Sultan's position--he always has to stay home with the dog when he'd love to go journeying with the harem. Does Bill pull that duty also?

grace--great topic and easy to come up with material since all of us had something going for the 4th or a story from the past.

church lady--our Sultan has a good life--retired, plays golf, entertains his harem. :-)

gattina--most of this circle of friends will be retiring in the next year, but work kept us connected all these years.

lane--as Laurie at Three Dog Blog mentioned, Nuala's last work was bittersweet--coming to terms with late middle age and watching friends of a lifetime do the same. I'll miss her a lot.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a red, white and blue shirt to wear (it's black and brown for me most of the time)but people do sport patriotic themed clothes for the
4th of July. The Sultan is an old navy man.

Ari_1965 said...

mmm, homemade strawberry ice cream.