Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Betti’s Boot Camp!


I sat drinking a glass of Jimmy’s beautiful wines, and I watched him grill our dinner on the open fire. BZ was busy preparing a beautiful salad and as she prepared she talked about creating simplicity with food.


Kathi and Elizabeth were seated at the old barn table
and they too were enjoying Jimmy’s wines.

I could hear the talk, I could hear the laughter and I was indeed a part of the conversation, but I was also in a reflective mood.


Having just returned from Australia and spending time with my family, I could feel myself unravel and revel in the warmth of the fire
and in the joy of my friends around me.

Life’s dictation had caused the absence in body of the Goddess and Mrs Pom but their spirits were there and we most definitely drank their share in wines.


This was a weekend to celebrate a friendship that began five years ago, when the Goddess and I decided to run the first Art Is…You.

(October 2007)

We had a formula that we wanted to follow.
Offer workshops, create communal art time, enable communal down time, but never did we anticipate the bond of friendships that we now enjoy.

(Christmas 2010)

I can honestly say that the friendships born out of that one creative decision, are the friendships that have kept me whole, kept me sane, kept me laughing,
and kept me secure in the life that I had to create for me
and my family here in the US.

Kathi collected me and then we headed up to Elizabeth. It was the day the earthquake hit Japan. It felt a little surreal chatting excitedly about what BZ might have in store for us and that excitement being tempered by the wave of tragedy that we were witnessing on the television and hearing on the radio.

Perhaps it made our weekend even more special, as we gave thanks for the safety and security of our families. Yet even then the three of us let rip the biggest sigh of contentment, at the thought of a weekend away from those families that we so love!!

Instructions were clear, concise and right down to the finer details of how to navigate the tree that was bending over the drive (laden with freshly fallen snow)….”just drive through and imagine it is a car wash”.


On arrival we were greeted by two other loves of BZ’s life…her little dogs. One who has been with her for many years and the other was her mother’s companion. The beautiful Gracie had died a week prior to our coming together but in true BZ style, she knew her mother would not want her to cancel life just because she was no longer there, so we kept our plans and I am so thankful that we did.


We knew there was to be no rest for the wicked but we didn’t realize how soon the wicked would have to get moving…No sooner had we enjoyed a fabulous lunch of soup and salad but we were encouraged to get our coats….we were off to snow shoe. The Australian was so happy to find that both Kathi and Elizabeth were also expecting BZ to produce tennis racquets and I think we hid our collective surprise very well when she produced these wonderful modern snow shoes that had no resemblance to a tennis racquet….but I can say we had an absolute ball!!! (sorry had to put that in)….


I am hooked. It was incredible … well after I fell into the hole and got myself out… it was incredible! No sound except for our feet and our voices.

The feeling of togetherness but also sense of isolation was invigorating.

We breathed. It was good.

Back at the “ranch” Jimmy was preparing our dinner. He was in fine form and entertained us with his lively stories and jokes. I watched my BZ sparkle as she saw her Jimmy connect with us all, ply us with wine from his personal stash and cook for us steaks that rivaled the best this Aussie has ever had. It was special. I knew I was a lucky girl to be sitting right where I was with these wonderful people.


Of course there was much more to do. We had a surprise visit from our friend Pamela who then joined us down in the town where we literally shopped till we dropped at the wonderful Manyu’s Boutique. Manyu, a longtime friend of BZ and Jimmy’s, and an absolute delight to get to know.

Returning to the house, BZ got us going on creating pastry…the easy way. We had fun working with our hands and listening to BZ share stories and advice….stay tuned for her cookbook!!

Then it was Kathi’s turn to share with us all the art of gelatin printing. I wonder what Mrs Knox would think today of us using her product that helped so many get through the war time rationing, as the basis of an art project?


Magnificent Salmon, salads, bread and more wine left us full and content and instead of a late night we all departed for bed, comfortable knowing that in our friendship with each other, there would be no judgment for hopping into our luxurious beds well before our usual bed times.


Sunday morning I woke early.

I sat in this room with coffee and watched as snowflakes fell outside. The weary fog had lifted and I felt fresh and renewed. Cell phones are intermittent and yet I wasn’t troubled about not being in touch with home. If Max was going to eat a whole packet of oreo’s while I was gone, I wouldn’t know, but I could celebrate the fact that I didn’t have to change the nappy!

We enjoyed again our daily journaling session. Elizabeth had generously created a little journal book from the cardboard starbucks holder and every day she gave us a task or a thought to think on and consider. We would glitter and draw; Paint and stick; Write and create; our little hearts away. Bliss.



Reality started to creep back in and it was time to bid our hosts farewell. With promises that we would do this again, we piled into the car with our bags, new treasures (love my scarves), treats for the family and headed for home.

And yes, there were dishes in the sink and yes there was an empty oreo packet in the trash but the greetings received by the Engineer, Princess and Prince were enough….well almost….the prince saved his diaper up just for me!

Thank you beautiful Betti Zucker for being my friend and for being the generous, gorgeous, gregarious, girl that you are. Gracie raised you just right.

Sal xx

Postscript: You can never have too much coffee


Oh and Jo…..don’t think it has gone unnoticed…for while Art Is…You has brought us great joy and many friendships….it was you that brought us Betti…



Dawn said...

Wow, what a wonderful post, loved sharing your adventure and the lucky you all are to have formed such a wonderful live, laugh, love together a precious gift...x

elizabeth said...

oh sal, absolutely beauitul in every way dear friend!
wonderful memories! tess reminds me we said something about mother n daughter!

Kathryn said...

Love your photos and love your words! Thanks for sharing these memories from Betti's Boot Camp...
what fun we had!

Di Russell-Horn said...

What a joy to read. I felt that I was right there with you all. Sal & Ellen, you have created so many incredible friendships through your dream of Art Is, and BZ is one of the jewels. I feel so blessed to be a part of Art Is. What a fabulous weekend for all of you! Thanks for sharing. xoxo Di

ellen said...

between the journey home and this...all i can do is heave a heavy sigh...

Fred Peck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loretta a/k/a Mrs. Pom said...

What a fabbo weekend - though with you gals, anywhere we go is always fabbo! I truly am sorry I missed it and I for one am ready for the next one - date? place? !!

mIzZ(hONeY)bEe that's ME aka mArLEnE said...

awesome post sal...your friendships radiate through the cyber space to us...thank for sharing... true an awesome post ;O) xox