Saturday, July 25, 2009

PIMM'S & ASCOT revisited

Before dinner tonight with my good friend Adam Kozlowski on the third anniversary of our friendship, I had a Pimm's at Cortez one of our favorite restaurants. Tasting the Pimm's reminded me of horse races. Below is a reposting of one of my first from last September.


Early last May 2008, I flew to Philadelphia for my second Point to Point steeplechase in Wilmington, Delaware at Winterthur, one of the DuPont estates with  a wonderful American furniture collection. This was only my fifth horse race. All have been specialty races.

The first two were at Ascot in 1987 and ’88. They weren’t Royal Ascot, but instead the Diamond Stakes sponsored by DeBeers in honor of King George VI. Because of that, Dennis figured the Royal Family would attend—and he was right. We paid extra to be in the Reserved section next to the Royal Enclosure. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Charles and Diana and the Queen Mum were sitting only a few hundred feet from our seats. Anne, the Princess Royal, rode and won one of the races. I shouldn’t have been surprised—but as the English drive cars in the opposite direction— they run horse races clockwise, rather than counter clockwise as we do. When Anne won, we followed the crowd to the paddock to watch the Queen award the prize to her daughter. Elizabeth II was wearing a handsome yellow silk outfit with matching hat. Dennis remarked how the Queen was perfectly at ease and adjusted her belt just like anybody else. Why not? We had the mandatory Pimm’s cup and spent a glorious afternoon at Ascot.

The next summer we returned for the same race. We walked by the Queen Mum’s stately Daimler with its sterling silver Lion hood ornament. Because of our experience the previous summer, I knew to go to the paddock to watch the Queen award the prize after a race. In my attempt to stride ahead to get to the paddock to watch the Queen I nearly had a very close encounter with her Britannic Majesty. All of a sudden two-well dressed men grabbed me & pulled me aside. They must have seen that I was looking several hundred feet ahead to the paddock, and that I didn’t notice that the Queen and her Lady-in-Waiting were roughly four feet in front of me. Elizabeth II is rather short and I was stretching my neck to look over her head. This was before 9/11 and I wasn’t even interrogated. No doubt today I’d be taken away.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Today is my dear friend Mary Ellen's birthday. I guess I met her when she used to go Scottish Country Dancing with Dennis at the Noe Valley Ministry off 24th Street. She had been a professional modern dancer in New York in the seventies. Mary Ellen was part of the "Gang of Four" (along with Debbie Cornue and Joan Marsh) when Dennis was chair of the every member canvas committee at Grace Cathedral many years ago. Originally from West Virginia, she is a special friend to now retired Episcopal Bishop William Swing, also from West Virginia.

Mary Ellen has lived again in New York for several years. She was a volunteer chaplain/counselor to survivors and families of victims from 9/11 at ground zero. Despite the distance, we talk regularly and see each other several times a year.

Mary Ellen went with me to New Haven for the Spizzwinks(?) 95th Reunion last April, and came out to San Francisco to help me prepare for my 60th birthday party. She made two lamb cakes with our good friend Deb Cornue (cakes in the shape of sheep, because that's what my Mother made for me as a child since her family was in the woolen business, and I was born the day before Easter -- one was white with coconut for wool, the smaller was chocolate to represent a black sheep-- no comment!) In addition she polished most of my silver hollowware-- at least all that I displayed.

Last year Mary Ellen came out to visit from the 4th of July through her birthday. She was concerned about me. She wanted me to set up an appointment with my cardiologist, get on the schedule for an internal defibrillator implant, take anti-depressants and see a therapist again. I guess she batted a thousand!

Mary Ellen Blizzard is a talented writer, and has been a wonderful support to me. I wish Mary Ellen well on HER day and always!

Titian in the Frari (Venezia)