Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Warning: this is going to be a long post. In the midst of my Mother's broken hip and transition to a rehab. nursing home, as well as challenges with JB's mother, this weekend marked the reality of JB's dream to have an art fair in our yard. It was also my birthday, so we combined the two into something that began at 11 am on Saturday and ended at noon on Sunday.

In between, we had a total blast. Here's the story:

This is how we started. The truth is JB and I (and Stella) live in a modest ranch house in a college area surrounded by farms, with a yard transformed by a fence we had installed, and then stained and painted ourselves for most of a summer--two panels at a time--and by my slow motion approach to gardening. I've been planting for the two years we've lived here but in relaxation mode.

We held the art fair in the side yard in front of JB's Magic Cottage. When we transitioned from art fair to back yard party at 4 pm, we put up a volleyball net and set up little tables in the back yard with table cloths and salt shaker vases and fresh flowers. I am using the word "we" generously here, because without being asked our friend Cheryl got the net up and our friend Amy arranged each table so it looked like a little cafe.

I had to do-lists and had delegated small tasks to certain people with the hope that JB and I could enjoy the day without running around attending to every detail. Hannah husked the corn, Janna cooked it, Cindy sliced the melons and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, Ces made her famous Pansit and 250 (!) eggrolls, Lily and Tracy handled the grill and burgers, etc etc etc etc.

What I did not expect was how easily and lovingly all kinds of people just chipped in and created a seamless "event". My 12 year old friend Chris and my friend Heather's son Cameron, also 12, without being asked, passed appetizers around for an hour--with great professional dignity. Nichole and Kris put the lobster rolls together and got them served. Cathy moved tables. Clara rolled eggrolls. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Community happened so seamlessly it makes me wonder if I am blessed with the best people on the planet or if some magic takes over when good people come together.

The Art Fair was fantastic. Here you see where Ces and I set up. We hung a few of her paintings on the fence and she sold her art and illustration calendars. You should have seen her face when the first person asked her to autograph the calendar! I will never forget watching her sign her autograph repeatedly throughout the day.

I (Madame Gina for the day) was nearby reading tarot cards for $ 5 a shot. I started slowly but by the time it was over I had read about 8 people and was exhausted. I turned 4-5 people away and still feel guilty. I spent all my earnings shopping at the art fair. I think most of us did that.

JB sold 14 watering cans she had designed and decoupaged, Tracy sold almost all of the one-of-a-kind wood birdhouses she made, Amy sold all her handmade cards. Cindy sold soap and fruit preserves. Lily set a beanie baby toss where everybody won. Jessica's signature humor was all over the place.

Before Ces arrived, I told her Stella was looking forward to giving and getting kisses from her dog bed. At the time Ces replied, "I'm not lying in bed with any dog!". But it didn't turn out that way. Multiple times over several days I would find Ces lying on Stella's bed, kissing and patting her. Here they are in a corner of the yard affirming their friendship.

Our friend Amy sold vintage salt shakers adorned with flowers from her yard. These are the same flowers she put on each table for our cookout.

About 20 people participated in the Art Fair and about 50 people partied with us for a cookout and birthday bash. Country bumpkins that we pretend we are, we cleverly put ice and drinks in two wheelbarrels, which worked out quite nicely.
A couple of hours into the day, a special person stepped out of blogland and stepped into the yard. If you haven't visited Carla's blog, let me tell you she is a wonderful artist. A treasure of my day was seeing Ces and Carla meet in person for the first time. Don't be telling me blog relationships can't and don't blossom into true friendships.

My writing group introduced me to Nichole and Kris, also bloggers and always wonderful company. Here we four bloggers chat away.
Without a doubt: the highlight of the day: MR. RYAN. Now 7 months old, he is a double super DOLL. His easy going charm is surpassed only by his parents, who roll with the punches and kiss him non-stop. (Note: I love him....)

At 4 pm we transitioned to a backyard cookout. I'm not including photos of the 50 or so partygoers, but I will just say they were fun, festive and fabulous, one and all. JB and I planned a menu of appetizers (deviled eggs, Ces' eggrolls (250 gone in 30 minutes), peanut chicken, and honey dew melon with piscuitto (Chris walked around saying, "Want some melon with raw meat?").

At 5:30 we fired up the grill and served hot dogs and burgers, farm FRESH corn-on-the cob, just picked tomatoes and cucumbers, Ces' pansit, and little fresh lobster rolls brought by our friends Maureen and Cheryl straight from Maine. (This was JB's special treat, the cost be damned).

By dusk, my son-in-law Mike was making whatever moves this photo implies and the night was young.

By 1o pm or so, four tents had been staked in our back yard, including one for JB and me, and we became rugged campers for the night.


By 9 am Sunday morning, JB was making scrambled eggs and bacon, I was brewing coffee and readying scones, toast and bagels, and JB's sister Cindy had cut up the fruit. About 25 of us dallied over brunch, in no rush to do anything but.

Such is the story of JB's Yard and Art Fest. But what I have told you by words and pictures does not begin to address the overwhelming massive love around and inside me. I cannot give justice to my feelings, but here are a few highlights:

--JB estatically walked around all day. Her dream had come true. What could be better than knowing that about someone you love?

--Ces is my best friend in the world and distance refuses to let us steal a cup of coffee together or stop by for a quick visit. So it is no understatement what-so-ever to say that four days of non-stop, stay-up-late, anything goes fun with my best friend was my dream come true.

--PLUS: My niece Hannah is special person # 1 and distance subbornly interfers with our get-togethers too. So to have Hannah, and Ces, for four days of non-stop, stay-up-late, anything goes fun, was more than any one person deserves. The three of us laughed so long and so hard we barely came up for air.

--Jess, Mike, Mr. Ryan, and Janna stayed the night: four fantastic people I deeply love. Jess and Ryan appeared in the backyard tent at 6 am Sunday morning, rolling on the air matress and reminding me what family is all about.

--Then there's the matter of my birthday. I tried to underplay it but I was surrounded by an outpouring of gifts and wishes and love love love. Dozens of people I deeply care about were here this weekend, enjoying themselves and eachother. Sometimes I don't know how I'm capable of loving this much. But I do. It hasn't always been that way, so that makes the bonds and friendships I have unbelievably precious and special. I am so lucky in a thousand ways.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: LOVE DEEPLY. It's worth it.

We'll be doing JB' Second Annual YART next year. Maybe Andrea will come?

In the meantime, I'm here opening my birthday presents, counting my blessings, loving my family and friends, cleaning up a house gone amok, and wondering what's next.


  1. You did a super great job of chronicling the event kj. It was like I was there. I could see everybody having a great time. I only wish I was there to purchase some of Ces' calendars or JB's watering cans which are sooooo gorgeous!

    I'm glad you had such a happy birthday.

  2. YAY! It was such fun. Next year, we stay the night!!

  3. Thanks for making it feel like we were all there ... it was a fantastic weekend!

  4. Happy Birthday, KJ! What a fun post. Your art fair sounded great!

  5. It is long, but I read every happy word of it, superb!
    What an event.
    What a birthday.
    I love the photo's too.
    I mean if it went down so well and you enjoyed: you simply have to do this again next year.
    I needed this, I got home at 2:30 AM and got back up at 6:30 AM.
    So this guy is not feeling too fresh :-)

  6. What a wonderful and inspired time! Happy Birthday kj, it seems as though your wishes have come true!!!

  7. Oh, what a wonderful successful YART (good word btw) feast it was. Thanks for the photos, thanks for the story. I am going to Ces now to read what she has to say about this gettogether. Was there any applepie? :-)

  8. What great wonderful pictures! Even though Jol and I were there for a small portion of the festivities (and it was so very festive), the good vibage made the air electric! Yes, you are surrounded by love, but that's because you get what you give! Thank you for inviting us... I'm still smiling! (and yes... next year we need to find a way to get Andrea out here!)

  9. It was fantastic. You are surrounded by lovely and loving family and friends indeed. Stella and Sadie are perhaps the world's best behaved and gentlest dogs. I will never forget Sadie jumping into my bed and Stella figuring out the matress as I was setting it up in your office. What memories. Thanks to Janna for the photographs - she is a very good photographer!

  10. mench, "wish you were here" !

    kris, you and nichole added so much. and i LOVE my cd's.

    anon, you've been away too?

    elsa, next year you're not that far!

    pieterbie, you are such a boost to me in so many ways. thank you so much. home at 2:30 and up at 6:30? i hope you've caught up on some sleep by now.

    val, the next "special event" i dream about is....can you guess??

    wieneke, i wish you would walk into my yard with the apple pie in your hands.

    carla, thank you so much! seeing you and ces recognize eachother was one of those snapshots i'll never forget.

    ces, i can't imagine this without you. you were/are/will always be my best friend, and also the most fun, hardest working, and totally delightful. (ooooh, compliments)

  11. What a wonderful event, I wish I could have beamed by. ;) Love the HAT! lol HUGS

  12. Wow... HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HAPPY YART PARTY! What a wonderful event, and what a marvelous community of friends! Thanks for sharing it all so vividly!



  13. No, it was Ces and you who were away! I am a ghost in a hospital KJ, but you know that now (if your Bubonic Plague eases a little) :)

  14. Happy Birthday!
    What a fantastic day !

  15. awww, I was one pic and ten words into this when I fell into it totally. What a wonderful world you live in! Priceless moments to savor forever. Happy birthday girl! Happy world! right in your own back yard!

  16. There must have been some juicy stories that you failed to mention, were there any? Hmn? Tell Menchie she will have her calendars.

  17. I saw Stella eat some bright colorful flowers. Stella the "human" dog, kindler, gentler and better company than some people.

  18. I think ya'll would have had more fun if you sold moonshine and chewing tobacco at the yArty Fair.

  19. tammy, if you had beamed by, i would have looked upward and said, "tammy!"

    j, probably the equivalent of your summer event, which i heard was just wonderful.

    anon, i'm so glad i know where you are, even though it's scary.....

    sidney, thank you. it is so nice that you are back. i hope your visits home was wonderful.

    singleton, you would of course understand all this clink-tink festivity.

    ces, juicy stories? why yes!, but there are currently wrapped and stored for good keeping.

    menchie, ces will soon have her calendars on etsy (i hope)

    ces, yes, stella is the sweetest dog ever.

    bobo, i think moonshine and chewing tobacco was available at the art fair. at least it surely looked like that was the case on about midnight...

    isabella, you were here and you were terrific!

  20. so much fun! and what a great post, kj. next year we are SO tenting! the day went by too quickly...xoxo

  21. Wow! What a fantastic gathering!
    Yes, it is nice when you meet a fellow blogger and get on. Same thing happened when I met Cherrypie.

    This is definitely going to be an annual thing, eh, KJ?

  22. annie, it was FANTASTIC to have you and julie and janna here for the fair. and yes, please stay over next year. the tents were pretty fun! (ps i am so glad to see your name on my blog)

    cream, yes, it will probably be an annual thing. now i'm imagining you and cherrypie showing up. i can't help myself... :)

  23. I am crashing the yArty Party next year and I am selling moonshine and chewing tobacco. Ya think that lady with the perty watering cans will let me?

  24. What a fantastic post! I just can't miss it next year! Thank you for all the details and photos -- what a beautiful weekend ... congrats on a dream come true, JB and KJ! xoxo

  25. What a success !! This post is beaming of happiness :-)

  26. Who are them lovely people? They sure look perty.

  27. Is there another party or are you pooped out?

  28. Wow! After this post I feel like I was there. What a fantastic Birthday weekend - and I'm glad.

  29. I told you that after I read about your yArt fair I'd cry, didn't I? No fair (in more ways than one :).

    I love that photo of you, Ces and Carla so much that I kept a copy for myself.

    Now I'm off to feel sorry for myself.

    PS Happy happy birthday, dear kj, and many more!

  30. andrea, next year.....?

  31. Wow, you all live in my backyard? Incredible!! Looks like fun.

    Hey Stella!! Gorgeous dog.

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