Nine years ago I sat in Rosslyn’s front parlor on Thanksgiving morning and started drafting a blog post.
I’m sitting in the front parlor (aka the “green room”), drinking coffee, scratching Griffin behind the ears, and allowing my mind drift to back to that first Thanksgiving we celebrated at Rosslyn. It was actually one day before the official Thanksgiving holiday, but we had decided to celebrate together as a crew. The team had been working on our Rosslyn rehabilitation project for over a year. And many had been working for us on a previous project as well, but we’d never celebrated a holiday together. But that year everyone wanted to add on a special pre-Thanksgiving celebration, and we loved the idea. After all, we were unbelievably grateful to everyone who was working long hours, often in challenging conditions, to help transform our ever-evolving vision into reality. The potluck was a fun mix of dishes contributed by everyone. The centerpiece was Mike “Dutchy” Ahrent’s turkey. He’s a keen hunter, and the wild turkey was a trophy from a hunting expedition. He spent all afternoon deep fat frying it, a technique that many of us hadn’t tasted before. We ate in the parlor, the only semi-finished space in the house, using lawn chairs and compound buckets as makeshift stools. The meal was delicious, and the various toasts and roasts filled the room with laughter. Lots of shared experiences and memories, and a delicious meal. As everyone was getting ready for desert, Dutchy asked Susan if she would try his turkey. He knew she was/is a vegetarian. So did everyone else. Susan looked startled. The room grew quiet. Dutchy explained that the turkey was as natural as you could get, and he just wanted to see if she would be willing to give it a small taste. She smiled and accepted a piece of Dutch’s turkey. She ate it, smiled, and complemented it. Dutchy was thrilled and everyone smiled. It was the first time Susan had tasted meat in about twenty years!
That was November 28, 2013. I never finished the post. I vaguely recollect digging through the old photographs, some of which are included in this post and in the Instagram video accompanying it. Looking through the photos — then and again this morning — I experienced a mix of nostalgia (mostly for how young we all looked then!) and profound gratitude. Most of the people in these photographs played enormous roles in Rosslyn’s rehabilitation and in our personal lives. The project began in the summer of 2006 and it wasn’t until the end of 2008, the beginning of 2009, really, that the majority of the rehab was complete. And to a real estate the project continued off-and-on right up through the present! We all got to know each other really well. Sometimes we quibbled and sometimes we struggled, but in 2013 as I sat looking through those photographs, it was the successes, the incredible accomplishments, the camaraderie, the laughter, the parade of positives that flooded my memory.
Today, I returned to the “orphaned” post from 2013. Once again, I returned to the photographs from November 21, 2007. Once again I was swept up in poignant recollections. I’m struck by the connections we’ve made over the years with the contractors, carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, tradespeople of all sorts with whom we’ve been fortunate to work. To be sure, not every project works out perfectly, but in hindsight it’s truly miraculous that most do. Susan and I have overseen about a dozen renovation projects together, and unlike most of our family and friends, we are 100% hands on every time. I’m sure some of the the people who’ve worked with us wished otherwise, but we run our own projects. And while that can create some challenges for contractors and subs unaccustomed to having the homeowner be the G.C., almost everyone we’ve ever worked with has adapted and exceeded our (or their own) expectations. So many enduring relationships, indeed so many close friendships, for Susan and for me germinated from construction projects.
As we celebrate another Thanksgiving, November 24, 2022, we find ourselves once again midstream several simultaneous construction projects. I’ve updated Rosslyn Redux often in recent months celebrating the many remarkable accomplishments of the skilled craftsman once again transforming our dreams into reality. That said, the teams working diligently at Rosslyn (as well as our vacation rentals, ADK Oasis Highlawn and ADK Oasis Lakeside), prove day after day that our gratitude is only one small part of the puzzle. They earn our respect again and again. They amplify our knowledge and ensure our confidence. Their collegiality and respect and creativity augment and expand the vision with which we initially launched each project. They collaborate, and they co-create. And this, perhaps more than anything else, is the secret sauce that makes the projects succeed and the memories so poignant, even many years later.
And so today, when there are so many things for which to be grateful, I’m moved to finally complete the post I initiated so long ago. An orphaned blog post, a flashback “film” composed of those 2007 photographs from our team Thanksgiving dinner, and a fresh round of thanks for everyone in these photos: Doug, Jamie, Larry, “Dutchy”, Dick, Randy, Travis, “Chico”, Mike, and “Boulder”.
Here’s a quick mashup of some more photos from that long-ago Thanksgiving. Cheers!
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