The Villa Lucci Life-Day 28: The inn opens, a gig, and a gold medal

The Villa Lucci Life chronicles the continuing creative adventures of an artist, nomad, and proprietress of an “Italian villa” art studio set in Wisconsin.

Transitioning from a traditional working life.

January 26th was my last day as a full-time federal employee. My colleagues and staff provided the perfect segue to a new life — testaments that my work had made a difference, tokens of appreciation and affection, a few tears and surprises of the best kind.

Some of my people have worried that I might struggle with leaving a highly stimulating and fast-paced job. All evidence to the contrary. Indeed, today, I am grateful that there is nothing on my calendar. In the 28 days since I left traditional work, I have had two band gigs, nine days of overnight guests, five days of lounging in the Florida sun with family, an outing collecting free furniture, and negotiating the purchase of three rugs for my beautiful hickory floors.

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Tending Villa Lucci has been a creative labor of love.  Homemade pasta, biscotti, and crackers–festive entertaining. Then there’s the Olypmics.

Am I bored, lonely, lost, or unhappy. Not remotely. The biggest story opening this new era of blogging, is not about me or Villa Lucci–but the “2018 Miracurl.”

The Olympics. My magnificent obsession.

My children, family and close friends know that there is probably no bigger Olympic devotee than moi. Indeed, every Olympics the television runs 24/7. Yes, I even had cable reinstalled during the RIO Olympics since that was the only way I could feed my addiction.

This magnificent obsession started long ago. I’m not sure exactly when. Somewhere along the way, the watching the Olympics became tied to knitting.

FullSizeRender-10Don’t ask me how. My first vivid recollection was knitting a Norwegian patterned hat for the Kane County 4-H Fair during the 1968 Grenoble, France games when Jean Claude Kiley stole my heart and Peggy Fleming became the skating golden girl. I’ve knitted through every winter Olympic games since and even some of the summer ones. During RIO, I knitted two baby afghans. I digress. Knitting has not yet been added as an Olympic sport, but curling has.

For years, my sons and I have talked about going to the Olympics as a family. This year, Thomas made it. And, it is a great story.

The Olympics and “The Mustache.”

As the parent of adult children, I have logged many hours with the friends of my kids. We lived only blocks from the elementary, middle, and high schools while they were growing up. Our house became a club house of sorts especially for boys. Sure there were birthday parties and the Christmas Caroling Party, but there was often an extra kid at the dinner table and later during the slumber parties and marathon strategy games out in the treehouse. I enjoyed the boys’ friends. They were largely clever, witty, charming, and mostly good-mannered people. As with all mid-sized humans, they came with various characteristics of a wide nature. When scanning the world of children, I thought (whether true or not), that my kids (by and large) attracted and hung out with creative, clever kids like them. Every once in a while, I would wonder where life would take these children. One is an actor working in Cincinnati until May. Another is a comedy scriptwriter for television in Hollywood. Some have found their niche. Others are still searching. I never saw any of them as Olympians. And, yet, that is what Matt Hamilton has become.

What I knew about him as a kid and know now about Matt is that he has a big personality and sweet, happy disposition. He had nice manners and picked out a sweet wife. He and Jenny are good friends of son Thomas and Thomas’ significant other Cassie. Matt and Jenny lived with Thomas and Cassie before they got their own house last year. When staying with Thomas and Cassie, I had a chance to catch up with their lives. Matt’s curling career was often discussed. He was low-key about accomplishments, but Thomas filled me in on milestones that pointed to the Olympics.

Last fall with big excitement, Thomas and Cassie told me that Matt and his sister, Becca (close friend of Cassie’s), would be part of the US Olympic Curling team–and they had decided to go to the PyeongChang to cheer them on.

I admit a bit of concern about having the kids go to South Korea given the tenuous political climate. (Philip was in Tokyo and I was in Singapore during the fall missile flyover.) But told him to keep his head down and hoped he would purchase his souvenirs.

During PyeongChang, I lived the Olympics vicariously through Thomas and Cassie. After their 18 hour flight, I messaged him that I was sad not be be there but glad he was being able to share this unique and amazing experience with his friend. Thomas messaged back that he always thought his first trip to Asia and the Olympics would be with me. Maybe the first summer Olympics, Thomas.

As an Olympics junky, I watch things I would not otherwise–luge, skeleton, long track skating–and curling. Last week, I did something I’ve never done before during the Olympics–I signed up for a free week of HULU and got up at 12:30am to watch a curling match. Not just any match. The gold medal. I saw Thomas and Cassie in the crowd. I saw Becca sitting with Ivanka and the King of Sweden. I saw the US Men’s Team win and I saw Matt and his mustache awarded the gold medal. In full disclosure, tears often come during the medals ceremonies, especially if I know the sacrifices an athlete has made or challenges they have overcome. But there were big tears for the hometown boy and his mustache amidst a bit of disbelief over the 2018 “miracurl.”

How life can change in a day. Thomas says that Matt is acting on Broadway today, will reprise his appearance on Jimmy Fallon, and is being interviewed for an athletic journal. Tomorrow, he rings the stock exchange bell, will appear on the Today show, and drop the puck at the NHL classic. Savor the moment, Matt.

 

Curling postscript.

Perhaps the biggest irony in all this is that 38 years ago I was a curler for a brief period. It was during my career with the Swiss and Austrians at The Swiss Colony in Monroe, Wisconsin. I dated a curler who talked me into couple curling. My friends gave me a hard time about “Swiss bowling” but I enjoyed learning about something I’d never knew existed. I chuckled when they built a curling rink in McFarland. Thomas’ prom was held there and I sang there at the Larson House Chocolate Benefit in 2016. I’d have laughed if you told me my kid’s friend would be an Olypmic Curling gold medalist. Another life lesson. Be careful how you judge and be open to possibilities.

 

 

 

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About vbassoc

Donna Van Bogaert is a researcher and consultant in the field of cognitive styles, health communication, and organizational communication and behavior. Her business, Van Bogaert & Associates, Inc., specializes in cognitive-based coaching, management consulting, and leadership development. When the winds are blowing her way, she travels and talks about workplace potential and creative problem solving. In another life, Donna sings jazz. For a very long time, she fronted two 18-piece big bands —All That Jazz (Madison, WI) and The Gardenia Big Band (Rockford, IL). She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio where, in a third parallel universe, she leads a media branch of a national research institute. Mostly she has returned to painting, poetry, and plotting the next chapter of her life.
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