Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Year of Taking Tea--Alice's Party

It is always a delight to talk to my friend Alice Watson Houston. When I heard her bright and lively voice on the phone recently, I knew I was in for a something special. Alice and I were part of a group of young editorial types who began our careers at American Heritage Publishing Company. We all had a marvelous mentor in Alvin Josephy. What luck to have had Alvin in our lives; and what luck to have a group of women whose respect for each other has grown over the years. Before Alvin's death, we would meet every May at his lovely home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

As an aside: I have a favorite house in America--Washington Irving's Sunnyside in Irvington, New York. And I have a favorite room in my heart and memory--Alvin's study, looking out on Bruce Park. It was a tumble of books and comfort for the soul of a writer. Alvin wrote many books in his long and productive life, but I think my favorite is his autobiography, A Walk Toward Oregon.

Alice is inviting Mary Jenkins and me to tea at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York today. Because her husband, a well-known artist for Steuben Glass, contributed drawings to the museum, she has special dining room privileges. Alice travels from her 1700's home in Stonington, Connecticut, where this time of year her garden must be heaven. My own terrace is glorious rimmed in mountain laurel. (Our Iowa house has June about to bust out all over, too. After a really cold winter, it seems a miracle to walk on a velvet lawn beneath flowering crab apple trees.)

And so I am looking forward to Alice's tea party...and the talk of what we are all up to. I have two copies of My First Best Friend in my bag for two friends who, while not the very first, are very treasured work friends. Alice says tea will be her treat--Mary and I think it will be ours just all being together again, without pencils behind our ears. Work friends--would you like to honor one here?


  1. What a wonderful post ,Nancy!-- All that you say and do really inspires me! Such a blessed Life you live, & bless so many others with your writing and our beautiful Victoria magazine.

    I have met so many "kindred spirits", and made a couple really close "friends for a lifetime", all because of your magazine! and so much more, I don't want to -LOL "gush" too much on here, but Nancy, someday I will get it all down on paper,- "What victoria magazine means to me".,it will be a long list of good things, that enhance my life immensely!--Love,Valery xo

  2. As always, I enjoy your posts. You gave me pause to think about work friends. I mentored Karen when she graduated from college and started her career. Years later as I moved to the company Karen worked for, she mentored me. It was truly an equal respect that drew us together. For the past 8 years I have prepared Christmas tea for Karen and her family with her daughter as the guest of honor. It has been a great joy for all of us.

  3. A tall, blonde woman, who I wanted to call Martha for some reason, but whose name was Kathryn, stopped me one day in the parking lot after work. She worked on one side of the office and I the other. We started talking about this and than and, well, though we haven't worked together in almost 20 years, we have never stopped talking, meeting, sharing our lives. Kathryn made some dark days light and gave me pause to laugh. She's always there for me and, I hope, I am for her and I never would have known her if she hadn't worked where I did - or stopped me in the parking lot.

  4. When I started my job at a local natural gas corporation, I was working closely with two women a great deal older than I. One of them, Judy, did not appear to quickly warm up to my being brought on board. Things were not warm and fuzzy between us in the beginning, but I determined to just try to get to know her and keep being kind. As the days and years progressed, I would go to her for advice about this or that. I would chat with her about her interests. Somewhere along the road, we realized we had quite a bit in common. She and I share a love for artwork and painting. She would sometimes bring her paintings to work and paint during lunch breaks. And she would talk to me about them as she painted, while recommending this brush or that type of canvas to me. (I am facing one of her beautiful oil paintings hanging in my den as I write this.) One day I noticed a Victoria magazine on her desk and realized we had that in common, too. We shared a love for gardening, as well, and she would often bring a blossom from her yard for my desk. When I was pregnant with my first child I talked to her about how I would decorate my nursery. Not many months after he was born, I found out I'd be moving away. The same Judy who had bristled at my presence in the beginning was crying at the prospect of my leaving. I don't see her anymore, but I think of her often and wonder if she is still painting and if she still has her Victorias as I do. Thank you for sparking these memories for me.


  5. Christi, I love this! I have a wee little friend at my work I now call "my little sister", even tho' she really disliked me at first go. I kept plugging away at a friendship, as I knew it would make life at work so much easier. After I started calling her "my little sister", she softened into a sweetheart and to this day, we love being in each other's company. You never know where you'll find a new friend, do you? I have several work friends who are a shoulder to cry on and a shared laugh over the weirdnesses of daily living. Work friends are truly a treasure! Thanks for starting this thread, Nancy!
    Love, Karen Marline

  6. Hi Nancy- I hope that you are perhaps on a vacation- it seems so long for you not to post- unless there is something wrong with the settings on my pc-.Today is June 8,2010-I havn't seen a post here since this one -May 26th.?Miss your posts--xo-Valery