Visiting Santa Rosa: Friendship and Memories

In what feels like a lifetime ago, I spent three consecutive summers in Santa Rosa, about 100 miles north of San Jose. I graduated from San Jose State in 1982 with a degree in Theatre Arts. Summer Repertory Theatre known as SRT hired professional designers and directors, but the actors and technical positions went to current or recently graduated students like me.
SRT bio alys 1983-002

We received a stipend of $900 for the entire summer, with $300 of that going to shared-housing. In the first four weeks, before all six shows opened, we worked ten and half hour days, six days a week with an hour off for lunch, and a two-hour break for dinner. The hours were long and grueling and emotions ran high as they usually do when artists surround you.

In short: I loved it!

I worked with talented costume designers all three summers, learning techniques in pattern making, costume building and diplomacy. I look back on those summers with a profound fondness. I met incredible people along the way. Those years were among the most memorable of my youth.

Several of us came from around the state each summer, but the rest lived in Santa Rosa. In my second year doing summer stock, I met Marcia Ford. She’s a talented pattern maker and kindred spirit. We kindled our friendship in 1983, and have stayed in touch through marriages and children. Her son is 31, an accomplished artist and linguist, living in Spain. He married a poet and scholar when they met in Egypt, and they’re now raising Marcia’s grandson in Madrid. I have a beloved snapshot of her son holding my son we he was three-months old. My boys are now 16 and 19.

I spent a couple of days with Marcia in Santa Rosa this week, helping her organize her sewing room and catching up on life. Marcia is recovering from a year spent abroad helping with her grandson, her father’s recent death and breast cancer.

Alys and Marcia

With Marcia this week

costume shope SRT 1984

In the SRT Costume, 1984 Marcia, back left, Alys, back right

She recently celebrated a milestone birthday, so I wanted to mark the occasion with a unique and special gift.

I made a set of greeting cards and a small folio using vintage seam binding and scrap-booking paper with a vintage sewing theme. Isn’t the paper fun?

I also purchased the most gorgeous sewing box from Lynn at Tialys. She sells ready-made sewing boxes in her Etsy shop or you can buy her pattern and make one yourself. I opted for the former and I’m so glad I did. Isn’t it stunning?

Tialys sewing box

Marcia poses with her new sewing box

The third part of the gift had us both in stitches (seamstress pun). About a year ago I shared a picture of a yarn bowl on Facebook and she commented that she would love one. I ordered it online via Darn Good Yarn. As it turns out, she ordered the same bowl herself.

I had such a good time. I miss Santa Rosa and all it represents. It’s a beautiful place. They average three times the rain that we do so things are lush and green. It’s less crowded with a slighter slower pace, and open spaces still prevail. I fell in love with it all over again.

Marcia’s sister Alice invited us to dinner at her home along with several of her life-long friends. We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal, laughter and an evening’s walk to a field of irises. Alice has a lush garden and, be still my heart, she keeps bees! What a treat it was to spend time in her garden. What a shame, too, that I was too busy enjoying myself to take a single photo while we were there.

Picture instead curving paths, verdant green plants, a majestic tree and a quiet corner with happy, humming bees.

Gardens and friendships remain my “drug” of choice.

On the subject of friendships, I’m just days away from reconnecting with Kelly from Kelly’s Korner and Boombeeadda, Laurie from Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things and Julia of Defeat Despair. We’ll also reconnect with Lisa of ArlingWords and Stacy, a street photographer and sometime blogger, who can be found on Instagram.  We’ll be missing Pauline of The Contented Crafter, but plans are under way to connect with her in New Zealand in 2018. We’re gathering in Virginia and Washington, DC for a few days, than Kelly and I head to New York. There we’ll meet two more bloggers for the first time, Joe at The Visual Chronicle and Patti at Nylon Daze.

I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl. Meanwhile my flight to Atlanta has been delayed three times due to weather. It’s not all fun and games. 😉



39 thoughts on “Visiting Santa Rosa: Friendship and Memories

  1. Except for the last paragraph I loved reading this post Alys. I hope you can get to Atlanta soon! Durn weather!! Your time with Marcia must have been so precious – long time friends of our youth are so very special aren’t they! People who know all there is to know about us, have watched us grow and change and weather the storms and mature and cheer us on through good times and bad – these friends have our backs and are there when needed. Love, love, love our long-time friends!! What a difference a few miles makes, I can picture you so easily in a green and verdant setting – but, there we are, life is seldom completely perfect 🙂 I can’t wait to hear all about the reunion in DC and NYC what a huge amount of fun that will be!! Sending big love to all of you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline, I am so lucky to have made it. Many folks arrived the following day and a few not at all. The airports were clogged with sleeping passengers making do on the floor and wondering if they would ever get to their destination. I would have been so sad to have missed this extraordinary opportunity. I could go on for hours on the experience.

      As for long-term friendships, you’ve hit on it exactly. Friends that hang in with us for the long haul, through thick and thin, friends that are easy to be with and where you can pick up where you left off, no matter how many months or years apart. It’s wonderful.

      I considered moving to Santa Rosa for a time in my thirties when life here seemed dull and not moving forward. But things moved along, and I’m very happy with my life. Sending big love back your way. xo


  2. What a heartwarming visit with Marcia! I loved hearing about your SRT days in Santa Rosa. Your photos are true treasures… just like your long friendship with Marcia! It’s so exciting that you are heading off on another adventure. Can’t wait to hear about your gatherings of blogging friends next. Wishing you all safe travels, sunny days, and great fun together, Alys! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Dawn, Thanks for all your kind words and well wishes. It’s been an amazing two weeks. I’m so lucky to have those photos. We think nothing of taking snapshots now in this digital world, but at the time, few of us had cameras and the cost of developing film was an added expense. Each one of these pics is a treasure. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know that you are going to get in and out of Atlanta anytime soon. The weather there looks atrocious. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and many good thoughts for you. How lovely that you got to reconnect with a longtime friend. I Love the cards you made for her. I have a yarn bowl a friends made for me. Use it everyday. It’s better that you had a good time than took so many photos of almost having a good time. 🙂 I liked the phrase “Gardens and friendships remain my “drug” of choice.” I’ll second that. I hope you make your connections to DC and give hugs to all for me. Looking forward to photos but I know Laurie will take lots. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Travel in safety, arrive in health. It sounds as if you’re getting a serving of bad weather too! What a wonderful reunion that must have been – I wish I was still closer to old friends, but my best and longest friendships have to stretch from the Caribbean and from the UK. You gotta love Skype and FaceTime 🙂 Now, this southern hemisphere get together in 2018… Any chance of an Australian stopover? I know at least two Sketchbook Sisters who’d be thrilled at a chance to meet you in person!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your well wishes, Kate. I made it to Atlanta, and enjoyed every moment of the experience. More to follow.

      Kate, your extraordinary gift arrived just before I left. I’ve sent a proper thank you via the post, and hope to blog about it soon as well. It’s stunning! Thank you so very much. I too am thankful for Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp. I have a dear friend in India as well, and that’s how we stay in touch. Remember when international phone calls cost and arm and a leg? Ah, how times have improved.

      I will give strong consideration to a visit to Australia. I will have come so far already. I would love to meet you and some of our sketchbook sisters.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your friendship with Marcia is one to treasure, as you have. Your gifts sound wonderful, and how funny that you both bought the yarn bowls! I loved looking at the older photos of you. I can see the same bright, happy smile in all of them, loving every minute of your life. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Anne, for your kind words of support. It’s interesting looking back on times in your life via photos. I often wonder how much we would remember of these special times without them. There was a time when letter writing solidified our thoughts and experiences. I think photos have in some ways taken their place. Now we have blogs and can capture not only our words and pictures, but the wonderful comments of friends like you. It’s really quite extraordinary.


  6. Alys, I just love reading about your stories and seeing the photos from the 80’s and now. Your visit with your longtime friend looked so sweet. Your gift was very thoughtful. Safe travels and also looking forward to hearing about your next adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maria, thank you so much for your kind words. I think you and I met for the first time in the late 80’s. It’s been nearly thirty years! Time is an amazing thing. I’m home and playing catch-up now. It’s nice finding your comment here.


  7. What great memories and so good that you’ve managed to stay in touch. I’m honoured that you chose one of my sewing boxes to give to Marcia together with your lovely folio of cards and the duplicate yarn bowl 😉 I hope you manage to get to Atlanta soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful time of your life that was. What great memories. You are such a talented lady. That is a beautiful card and you are right the box is lovely. I can picture the beautiful Santa Barbara area. My grandparents took us there a few times when we were young. I think my mother would like to have settled in that area. I am sorry we will not meet up on this trip but I know you will have a wonderful time and it means the world to Julia that you are all coming to see her. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do through to keep in touch with her. It means more than you know. Have a wonderful trip, safe travels everywhere and we will meet somewhere one day. Do try to take SOME photos along the way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Amy. You are so kind. I’m sorry we didn’t meet on this trip, but I’m happy knowing you are (or were) enjoying your daughter’s company in beautiful Hawaii. I enjoyed seeing Julia over a couple of days, and meeting Matt for the first time as well. What a charming young man. We also visited Arlington and saw Jeff’s place of rest. It was an emotional day. Julia’s amazingly resilient, but her burdens are many. She’s so lucky to have your steadfast friendship and support.


  9. I enjoyed your walk down memory lane – and even sported a very similar hair-do back in the day 🙂 Can’t wait to hear about the new memories you create during your get together with the blog gang!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Karen. I cherish these long-held friendships, and the new ones, too. I’m so fortunate to have the friends that I do. I made it to Atlanta with delays and a bumpy ride through a rainstorm. I’m so glad I made it as the time there was extraordinary.


  10. You are a patron of the arts (or crafts!), Alys. So many of us who make things are honored by your purchases! Your gifts were perfectly chosen for such a long-time friend. One of my best friends was a costume designer and head of a college theater department so I’ve heard many stories about the creativity and camaraderie like you describe from your youthful summers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kerry. What a lovely thing to say. I’ve discovered so many talented artists and crafts people since blogging, you among them. It’s wonderful to select a special gift with a story to go with it.

      So you have a costume designer friend! Oh what fun. I loved my theater days and never tire hearing the stories, seeing the work, etc.


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