THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES A. BONDOUX

KATHRYN'S BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY

the cake

The Birthday Girl Takes the Cake!

table setting

Lotsa grins: Leslie Bell, Peter Solle, and Catherine Epstein. Note balloons and centerpiece.

Scott Harris

Scott Harris responds to a challenge to his credibility.

Dinner at home

Nothing like a pre-party party!

Bob's Face

Counselor Epstein is known for his gravitas.

sample table

Left to right: Laura Beck, Bob Beck, Janet O'Donnell, David Manovich, Kathleen Buyers, Michael Holland.

transport home

Exuberant Ed & Linda Musselwhite, David Kavalew and Michael Holland aboard shuttle.

Logo

Thunderbird's Logo.

Kathryn is that "rarest of all jewels, a congenial, seagoing wife", and also my high-energy, always startling, soulmate. She loves to organize things and they might have coined the word "multi-tasking" just for her …

For her big Six-Oh milestone, Kathryn opted for a great celebration, in preference to a conventional bauble from the jewelers. She threw herself into a frenzy of preparation and left me bemused at the attention she lavished on the details. Of course, the intended result of a grand dinner-dance party came about, and in spades. About fifty guests showed up in July, 2003 at the spectacular Thunderbird Lodge overlooking Lake Tahoe. They were treated to a cultural experience, a superb meal, stimulating dance music in an unusual and picturesque setting. Everyone seems to have had a roaring good time, and those who came still bring it up in conversation several years later.

The Hyatt Resort was tasked with catering the affair, and their banquet staff pulled off an elegant and polished performance in a location which offers the logistical challenges of being down the road from town and with limited facilities. Kathryn's earlier run to Costco yielded a couple of cases of her favorite wine: the Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay, while a cake worthy of the occasion was supplied by Designer Cakes of Reno, Kthryn had also rehearsed the DJ, having spent days assembling a playlist of favorite dance tunes for him. Since parking at the Lodge is very limited, she arranged for almost everyone to come to the house in Incline Village and to ride a shuttle bus for the 10-mile roundtrip.

The docents of the Lodge gave a grand tour of the chateau, pointing out the remarkable details of eccentric millionaire George Whittell’s 1930’s-vintage mansion, and dwelling on the colorful stories of his life. The staff was nonplussed, and delighted, when Bob Epstein jumped in with his own anecdotes from the trial over the disputed Whittell legacy: Captain Whittell had left his large fortune to the ASPCA – without specifying a branch or chapter, thus sparking a nationwide tug-of-war over the allocation of the bequest.

We really enjoy entertaining friends in small, intimate affairs, and so Kathryn has been able to organize just a few large parties over the years - our wedding, a New Year's party in San Francisco, a housewarming at The Hacienda in San Rafael, my so-called graduation party upon retirement at the St. Francis Yacht Club, and then this one, perhaps the best of all.