Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Never Too Early...

(The Dining Room @ Mayowood, decorated with a hunt theme by Kay Caskey, Ramona Trachsel and Chuck Potter--November 2008)

Having survived the arduous drive (and anyone who has ever done it knows it isn't a picnic...) from Connecticut to Minnesota, I think I'm now fully recovered. The post-drive recalibrating--hour time difference, different bed, more people--was over by the end of Sunday and I stepped right up and got to work this morning.

Being an un and or underemployed editor (freelance sounds better, but it for me basically means underemployed) it's not always easy to feel that pride one would normally take in doing a good days work. Even volunteering sometimes falls short...but I'm lucky in that one particular volunteer job never fails to put a little extra wind in my sails and remind me how good it feels to be part of a big event--decorating for the Christmas Tours at Mayowood. (Okay, I know it's not even Halloween, but the tours are held in the pre-Thanksgiving weeks of November, so now's the time!

A million years or so ago, before I moved to NYC, I was the "Jane of All Trades" at Historic Mayowood Mansion, the country mansion that was home first to Charles H. and his family and later his son,  Charles W. Mayo and family. I took riding lessons at the old Mayo stables as a child and I'd always loved the place. I started out as a summer tour guide during my college years and over the course of time, I ended up as curator/guide supervisor/garden supervisor/event planner and a few other odd titles tossed in for good measure. I can tell you it wasn't a lucrative gig, but even with the challenges posed by oft-absent and often obstinate maintenance people and ineffective board members, it was a great experience.

(The Study, decorated with an equestrian theme--with Dr. & Mrs. Charles W. Mayo pictured in their togs--by Deb Angelotti, November 2008.)

Even after I left the actual job, I'd go back and volunteer (and drag along any friends and or family whom I could talk into a shift or two) and take part in some of the annual fundraisers. And now that my services are not required in other arenas, I'm fortunate to be able to come back and spend time with my family (and yes, the dog, too...) and help out a little up at Mayowood while I'm here. I'll be fluffing garland and artificial trees, untangling twinkle lights, re-shaping bows and ribbons and decorating some of the foyers and staircases...and those are the glamour jobs! It's a big old country pile with large rooms and lots of stairs...and I love every inch of it. I'm more than happy to get to spend time with old friends from days gone by--whether we're lighting wreaths, wrapping packages or carefully and strategically placing accents on a tree. It's a total win-win situation: I get to feel all nice and useful and they get someone who knows the ins and outs of the house in her sleep. Plus, I get to hang around in a beautiful home that has wonderful history and a sophisticated country charm.

(The CH Mayo master bedroom, November 2008)

All this to say, I'll be having fun and helping to raise money for a cause that's near and dear to my heart while I'm here in Minnesota. For full details on tours of Mayowood throughout the year, go to and all the info you need is right there. These tours are a big revenue source for the History Center here in Rochester, and help to keep Mayowood and the grounds surrounding it open to the public. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!!

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