Saturday, December 4

Working at the State Capitol.....

was interesting. One might think it would be a quiet place, seeing as how the only official whose office remains there is our Governor.  But it was a hot-bed of activity and the acoustics (or lack thereof) with all that  granite and high ceilings made for a noisy workplace. 

We started decorating there on Friday morning, and the place was over-run by NC State Troopers. Their new commander was being sworn in that afternoon. Most troopers look terrific in their uniforms on a daily basis, but if you have never seen a bevy of them in dress uniforms - you are in for a treat when it happens. They were a handsome bunch; even the ones who might never be called good-looking were cutting fine figures yesterday, plus I was surprised at how many were women. I ought to have taken a photo!

I gave three tutorials on how to tie bows, and began to wish that they had gathered at the same time so I didn't have to repeat myself. They all said I made it look so easy and I replied...."All it takes is practice and years of experience." We had only been working a short time when we began to receive compliments from staff and visitors alike - and it is certainly gratifying to know that your efforts are appreciated.

Quite a few tourists come into the capitol. In the rotunda there is a statue of George Washington, done by Antonio Canova, in the Roman style. I'll not be the first to admit that seeing George in a toga is  somewhat disconcerting. (I'll post the photo soon.) But I had to laugh when a woman walked up and said..."I wonder if George 'sat' for that one." A nearby plaque explains it all...but it was funny at the time.

We had assumed that working there on Saturday would be less hectic and certainly less noisy - but were we ever wrong?!  As we approached the building, we saw a bunch of men in some sort of uniform awaiting entrance. They had on Scottish hats; plaid with feathers on the side, and the plaid scarf or banner that is worn over one shoulder, but no kilts. Eventually we ascertained that they were in the Masonic Order - a branch of Scottish Rite - called The Knights of St. Andrew. All of them cut a fine figure in their uniforms as well. They were there for a ceremony involving installation of new officers (I think), and about 300 people showed up. The din was ear-splitting. (I should have turned off my hearing aids....LOL.)  The presence of a lot of people in the areas where we are working, and in rooms where we need to place arrangements, wreaths, etc. can slow us down quite a bit. I made two arrangements for a mantel that never got placed due to all the commotion both days.It would be preferable to work there when no public events are scheduled - but I suppose that would be difficult - since there seems to be something held there daily.

In addition to all those people, some group was giving a large fund-raising ball on the Capitol grounds Saturday night, in giant tents that had been set up in advance. The tent people, tables and chairs, food staff and items for silent auction were arriving minute by minute and it seems that most of them had to parade by my chair. They didn't bother me, but the constant opening of doors made for a cold place to work - and when my hands are cold - trying to make bows is hard!

I forgot my cold hands when a group of people came in speaking a language with which I was not familiar, but I knew it  had to be of Slavic or Eastern European origin.  There were about a dozen of them and they snapped photos of the statuary and of each other and finally, one of the gentlemen came to stand before me and watch the bow-making process. I asked him where he was from, and he said, in very halting English...."Eye yam doc-tor, from far a-way; living in town called Kiev." I said only "welcome to North Carolina" since I couldn't be certain I heard him right. But then I asked him how long he would be here and he couldn't answer; either because he didn't understand me or he didn't know how to say it. Another man approached and told me they were a delegation of medical personnel and social workers who were in NC to learn about drug addiction and our methods of working with it/preventing it. It was fascinating to hear their language spoken (other than on TV) and when they asked me if I knew any Russian, I answered "NYET!", which made them laugh. I don't know if they realized it or not, but many of us learned that word when Kruschev said it over and over, many years ago.

And so we (Mel Day's Dogwood Tree Floral Design crew)  ended our season of holiday decorating, which began on November 23rd. We are all exhausted but very pleased to know that we have brought holiday cheer to many locations and people already, and knowing that will continue at least through December 26th.

I will post more photos in the next few days. I thank all of you who have already commented on previous photos and for those will do so again. I am incredibly lucky to have the small talent that makes it possible for me to do this work, which is such a joy in my life and without which I would be bereft. I am incredibly lucky to have an employer (Mel)  who is so talented,  so kind, so funny, so good-natured and wonder of all wonders - he tolerates me! We have a wonderful crew of people who work with us on special events and holiday decor (some of whom are Mel's relatives) and once the season is completely finished (when we take down all the decor) I will not see most of them again for months, and I will miss them terribly. I sound like such a sop, but I am tearing up as I write. Over the past nine years, they have become my family too. I do know how very lucky I am; I thank God for it every day and I am grateful.


srp said...

I don't think he "tolerates" you, I think he is thrilled to have you on his decorating team... so exciting and so beautiful, these arrangements.

Jay Simser said...

I am a Knight of St. Andrew (Emeritus) but we never had a knighting like that. Of course our Scottish Rite Temple is grand enough.

I have really enjoyed the great pictures of the decorations at the Mansion. I know it is hard work but so rewarding.

Gilly said...

Thank you for your wonderful account of decorating at the State Capitol - you obviously did a fantastic job!

If I pop over to NC could you teach me how to make a bow???

(Can't type much, still struggling with new eyes and old glasses!)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I know it has to be so very gratifying on so very many levels, Judy...The actual "creating" and seeing the pleasure it gives people. And working there these couple of days---So Much Activity! Meeting so very many people from many walks of life and different country's too. The people you work with--particularly Mel---sound just WONDERFUL! And I can understand why you would miss them after these extended intensive work related periods---the fun involved to; the comraderie. It sounds just PERFECT to me, my dear---just absolutely perfect! And the pleasure that you know you are fiving people---such a gift! And your talent--Such A Gift, Too!

Tracy said...

goodness, who would have known all that entertainment was right under my nose? For working, you are having way too much fun, don't you suppose?

..glad you are enjoying your time and I think we will go for a visit when off for the holidays!
Have a blessed day!

Kay Dennison said...

What a great post -- wonderfully interesting!!!! I think Mel is blessed to have you on his team! You are soooooooo gifted!!!!

Pat said...

Men in Scottish hats, feathers, scarves and no kilts!
Aren't you the lucky one!
Photos please.

Grannymar said...

All those Toyboys and you never sent for me! :( I hope you will find time for a rest before the Holiday starts.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Such beautiful stuff...I just love it. The arrangement on top of the bookcase is just stunning...and so much more Judy. You and the others on the staff really do beautiful work...I think they are so lucky to have you. And nothing is better than loving what you do. Cheers to you for completing another wonderful Holiday Season. ~Joy

Sparkling Red said...

I've just caught up on your last few posts, and the wreaths and trees are all beautiful. I work with some Russian people so here are a few more Russian words for you:
STRAStvotyuh = Hello
DasveDANya = Goodbye
SpaCEba = Thank you
HOrasho =Good

The 'a' sound in Russian is always pronounced like the 'a's in baa (as in baa baa black sheep).

Arkansas Patti said...

What a facinating time you had. You entertained and were entertained.
I know the same amount of Russian you do. I think it is facinating meeting peoples from other countries, even though the conversations were limited.
You told of meeting them here and they will tell their families of the nice lady they met at the State Capitol in NC.