“Stars Come Out for 2011 Holiday Festivities” – by Elisa Southard

Clouds in the sky. Chill in the air. Gust in the wind. As you walked through the black door at 116 Clement St. in San Francisco on Sunday, Dec. 11th, these elements evaporated like steam from a kettle. The gold lettering above the door read The Plough and the Stars in a vintage font, the tale on the G and the cross on the T pointing like dancers’ legs, a hint of the events ahead.
This was the scene of the BATW 2011 Christmas party. Along with that Guinness, two accomplished Irish dancers from Program Chair Erin Caslavka’s dance group treated us to several jigs, customarily performed at a feis, (festival). As Erin’s fiancé John spun the CD selections, we stood starry-eyed as the duet lifted, kicked and cut to the beat (bring one foot up with a sharp point to the opposite hip), back and forth and side to side. Erin herself took a deep breath and slid her heels into the graceful slip jig, with athletic lifts (high straight one-leg kicks). The program ended with the trio stepping high and our hands clapping loud.
Between the numbers, members gathered at tables and gazed at playing cards in their hands, listening for Co-President Kris Carber to call their card. Laurie McAndish King heard “red joker” and soon held Lee Foster’s books Travels In An American Imagination: The Spiritual Geography Of Our Time and The Photographer’s Guide To San Francisco. “I’ve wanted these,” shares Laurie.
My guest, Will Southard, heard “six of clubs” (no setup here!), and after the meeting he packed a travel wallet and stringed backpack into his motorcycle bag for a safe ride home.
Emma Krasov won a bottle of wine. “When I went up to get it, I looked for the familiar shape!”
As the festivities evolved, several members shared with me their feelings about BATW and their New Year resolutions.
Past President Diane LeBow considered her four-year stint and summed up, “I am happy with the superb leadership we have and how people stepped up this past year.” Looking ahead to 2012, Diane smiles. “I want to get my book done, about personal transition and travel.”
Bob Cooper resolves to “find two to three new places to write on a regular basis.” Whew! We share that with you, Bob. If Bob needs an incentive to pitch, he need only look at the sketches on the dessert plates he won with the nine of spades he held.
Morton Beebe, whose mother carried him as a one-year-old across the Golden Gate Bridge on opening day in 1937, looks forward to the upcoming celebration. “2012 is the bridge’s 75th anniversary, and I want my book finished and published.”
Suzie Rodriquez, aka Suzie Rod, her eyes echoing the sparkle in the room, says, “BATW is a place important for making friends in life. I always feel I’m with family when I walk into a meeting.”
Lakshman Ratnapala calls BATW, “one of the finest forums for networking,” as he flashes on the future with, “May there be peace on earth.”
Bob Ecker wrote about Clement Street 20 years ago: “I called it the new Chinatown.” He has been a member for 10 years and raised his glass to BATW, “a soft spot in my heart.”
Co-president Kris Carber looks ahead in the New Year to “putting out my first e-guidebook.” The smile on her husband’s face testified that she could not ask for a more ardent supporter and accomplice.
Tom Wilmer, who plays Santa all year with his inspiration and insouciance, looks forward “being nicer!”
A few quiet stars sat on a table against the wall, juicy portobello and turkey sandwiches along with a delicious salad, topped by a holiday-frosted cake with Happy Holidays from BATW inscribed.
One missing star was Co-President Ginny Prior, who offered her wishes via e-mail: “Have a wonderful holiday season, and I’ll be thinking of you all at the holiday party – as I’m shoveling snow in my mom’s Minnesota driveway.”
After lunch, Program Chair Erin Caslavka took a moment to recap the year’s programs, which included first-ever evening meetings. Program locations ranged from cosmopolitan San Francisco to rural Petaluma. She thanked the volunteers who stepped up to make them remarkable and instructive.
Kris Carber reflected on the year and commented on the collaborative spirit. She assured us she “looks forward to working with the Board of Directors in the New Year, a special group of people committed to help.” Kris applauded Erin for her work, noting that “she has really stepped up to the plate.”
Kris continued the surprises — well after we quenched our thirsts and received our hugs. A bucket of red roses stood by the side of the front door, and each member selected one as a party favor, and what a party it was.
As we pulled our coats around us, exited and looked up, our eyes caught the sign. They captured the moon shining on the farmer with the plough, stars on its handle, his deft hands planting the seeds of tomorrow, erasing any cloudiness of commitment to our craft, and inviting a new year to put a gust into our collective creativity.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Ed. Note: Thanks to Elisa for this lively recap of BATW’s holiday event.][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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