Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow...

Hunter, Ted, Jim, Bonnie and Jay
Over the (long) weekend we traveled to Phoenix for the annual meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects. While we have gone to the conference many times in the past, this year was very special as Jim was elevated to Fellow. A black tie event was held on Sunday night with a dinner and procession of the new Fellows, 33 of them this year. It is a huge honor, and in the organization's 113 year history only 1,100 some members have made it into the Council of Fellows.

But let me backtrack a bit. In July I asked our children if they would like to attend the ceremony as a surprise to their dad. They were excited to be included, and so began three months of scheming behind Jim's back. I made their room reservations and then coordinated with Jim's partner Ted to make sure that we had room at our table for Andy, Megan and Katie. Jim was told that the three Principals in the firm were each bringing their spouses to fill the table of ten. Then their spouses had to be let in on the secret in case Jim said something to them about the trip at one of the company gatherings this fall. Conversations with the kids had to take place when Jim was not around or through text messages. Since so many people knew about the surprise, I could not believe that we were able to keep it a secret from him but somehow we pulled it off. Almost. More on that in a bit. Because the dinner was not until Sunday, we decided to all meet in the lobby bar at 7:00 Friday night after checking in. The kids would then come in a few minutes after us so that the other employees could enjoy the surprise.

When Jim and I went to check in, I told the woman behind the counter that we had a reservation under Jim Wolterman. She said, "Jim and Kim?" I replied yes, with the American Society of Landscape Architects. I bet you can see this coming...She then says, "Do you know you have another room reserved with Kathryn Wolterman?" Jim said, "What?!?" Since I had made the reservations and used my AAA card, the rooms had to be in the kids' names as well as mine. So, after 3 months of everyone keeping their mouths shut, the deal was blown by the desk clerk. Ugh!!! So I sent Jim away from the counter and proceeded to express my dismay that she had just ruined the big surprise. It was not her fault, I know, but REALLY? All I needed was another hour and a half to be in the clear.

Then Jim wanted to go down to the bar early and I tried to talk him out of it to no avail. So I finally sent Andy a text message and told them to come on down. They were able to sneak up behind him, so at least something was a surprise. Jim later said that even though he suspected Katie might be coming due to the desk clerk, he had no thought that Andy and Megan would be able to make the trip. So that is gratifying I guess.

Katie, Megan, Andy and me
Saturday and Sunday Jim, Ted and the rest of the staff were in meetings all day. Saturday the kids and I, along with Ted's wife Jill, took the rental car out to the South Mountain Park and Preserve. Since it was around 100 degrees the whole time we were there, we were looking for something to do where we wouldn't die of heat exposure. This was a happy medium because you can drive through the park but also get out and take photos and walk a bit if you want. It was an interesting park, and their terrain is so different from ours. That night following a special reception that Iowa State had for their three new Fellows, ten of us had dinner at the hotel. It was surprisingly good food with great service.

Roosevelt Lake in Tonto National Forest
Sunday Jill decided to do her own thing so the kids and I drove out to Tonto National Forest, which has 3 million acres of land. It took about two hours to get to Roosevelt Lake in the park, which was formed by the damming of a couple of rivers. By the time we did that and stopped at some areas for pictures, it was time to head back to Phoenix so we would all have time to get ready for the big event.

Jim had to go down at 6:00 with his escort, who was Ted, so that they could do their rehearsal. They had to wear tuxes, so the rest of us were dressed in formal wear as well. At 7:00 the reception began, followed by the dinner at 8:00. The ceremony started shortly after dessert. In alphabetical order (yay for the Ws) they had a short slide presentation of the work of the recipient along with some verbiage telling about that person's history in the profession of landscape architecture. The whole event was really well done, and I am so glad that we could all be there for him. I am so proud of Jim and all that he has accomplished so far.

Wolterman table at the ASLA Fellows Ceremony

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

Very awesome! Darn that desk clerk, but she didn't know.....

What a wonderful reason for the family to gather. You all look so happy. Soon, there might be a wee one in the photo......?