During Penland's 26th Annual Benefit Auction, I had this quote from Ecclesiastes written out on taped-together manila envelopes and posted on the wall of the Pines Dining Hall:
"All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
This was my tenth auction, and the ninth time I volunteered to manage the dining hall during this elaborate event.
"Manage the dining hall" can be translated into "Try to keep things running as smoothly and Penlandy as possible as auction preparations throw everything into chaos."
"through enthusiasm, silliness, sarcasm, and music, somehow persuade 10+ people to join me (in enthusiasm, silliness, sarcasm, and music) in volunteering to wash dishes 'TIL IT HURTS."
And this was a good year. and man, did it hurt.
Washing "dishes" may be translated into "classy-looking-but-annoyingly-large-and-heavy square dinner plates, dessert plates, also dessert bowls (because the auction is all about excessive desserts), wine glasses, water glasses, highball glasses, silverware, coffee cups, saucers, creamers, laughter-inducing plates full of butter, kitchen-prep stuff (for both auction-events and volunteer meals), trays, carafes, serving pieces, catering pieces, and, and, and......."
We finished Friday night around 11:30, a lot later than previous years, (because of more patrons, bigger dishes, and an under-the-tent dessert) but it ended well that night because of the splendidly-timed surprise appearance of veterans Kathy Steinsberger and Wes Stitt.
Then Saturday we washed it all again, and it was glorious.
Please follow the link at top and read about what a record-breaking event this was. More funds funded, more attendees...yeah! I can also report that this bigger-than-ever event was put on with fewer volunteers than previous years. And here most of them are...
I had a great team this year, almost half of whom were stout-hearted veterans of "Team Awesome," "the Dream Team" and the "All-star Dishwashers of 2006". I also had three hard-core 5th session students who volunteered not only to work at the auction, but to keep doing close to what they had been doing for the 2 1/2 weeks prior to the event. Of course, on several occasions I had to clarify that "this isn't quite work study"....meaning we work a hell of a lot harder than a typical work-study shift, but I also say things like, "you guys take a break when you need to...."
It is confusing. I'm confusing.
One of my favorite times during auction weekend is when my crew is done washing all the rental stuff on Saturday. Other crews are counting and sorting things and packing art, but the Pines crew is almost done, and there is this golden time before the volunteers eat dinner, (because yes, we clean up after that too!) My camera having failed me, here are a couple of Heather Miller's pictures from this in-between time....out on the grass in front of the auction tent, which is one of my favorite places on campus...
...And a final picture borrowed from Devin McKim...This was thursday night volunteer-down-time under the tent. The tent is weird and wonderful. We love it and hate it. That's how I feel about the auction too.
"Next Year" are bad words during and immediately after the Auction.
Lastly, please check out the lovely little slide show by Robin Dreyer!