Monday, March 24, 2008

My 24 hours with the Legendary Disney Imagineers! The Finale.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. I just got over a yucky tummy bug to find baskets full of chocolate eggs tempting me to overindulge. Ugh.

So here we are that the end of my story. At the close of the event, Sam and I drove home in a glorious haze. We couldn't believe how fantastic the evening had been. It was over all too quickly. We had no idea the treasures in store for us the following day when we took the fab four home!

Thankfully, Mr. and Mrs. X 's home was en route to our final destination, which meant Sam and I could travel together and we would not have to split up! Arranging for the transportation before hand was rather tricky and we didn't have a vehicle that would accommodate all of us comfortably. Plus, we knew that it would be a long trip as Harriet and Blaine live a little over 2 hours away. Once we found out that we were taking everyone home, we decided to rent a fancy schmancy mini van and stocked it full of goodies and bottled water for our journey. The other snafu was the fact that Sam and I were unable to pick them up first thing in the morning. Because of this, Mrs. X had to rearrange an appointment, but she said she was happy to do it. We felt so bad.

We picked up the gang at the Grand California just after 1pm and hit the freeway. Our guests were obviously tired, but they all had positive things to say about the event! They were touched by the fans that came to see them and wanted to know more about Since none of them owned a computer, they were unaware that was an internet community of fans of the Haunted Mansion. They were all fascinated to know how we communicated, but mostly impressed that fans had come from all around the country and even across the Atlantic to attend this event.

While driving along, I remembered the generous offer Mrs. X had made the last time she was in my car..the one about letting us see the famous X tombstone. As we approached the house, I feared that maybe the offer had been forgotten. It was if she was reading my mind, because as we pulled into the driveway, she said, "you must see X's tombstone. I didn't forget!" and offered to let us all have a respite at their house, since it was halfway to Harriet and Blaine's. We went inside and visited for some time. We saw X's bar, where I hear he makes a mean martini. We saw the many awards and accolades that adorned his walls. X was very proud of his picture of him and Johnny Depp, from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride rehab. X said that picture made him the coolest grandpa ever!

We were then invited outdoors to see the tombstone. The yard overlooks the most beautiful view of the foothills and that particular day was breathtaking. We took a moment to soak in the sun and the beauty of it all!

We pulled out our cameras for a few pics.. but, in all honesty, we felt kinda weird about it, so we took 3 or 4 pictures and put the cameras away for the rest of the trip. The tombstone was larger than we expected, standing around 3 feet tall.

Harriet, Blaine and X are great friends who spend time together, so hanging out with them at the Atencio house felt easy and comfortable. In fact, Blaine had just celebrated his 90th birthday and they all celebrated at Blaine's the weekend before. The Atencio's were gracious and kind hosts, making us feel right at home and as we left, X offered me hugs and a kiss on the cheek.


I was also very pleased that they were grateful for our service of transporting them, giving me kudos for my driving! All those years transporting foster children in my early 20's paid off! Even Sam conceded the driver's seat to me, which he never does! Thank, honey!

On the road again, just can't, nevermind. Lost my head for a second.
Harriet and Blaine's trip was a lovely drive. Harriet was tired and I was pleased that she felt comfortable enough to rest during most of our trip home. Blaine, on the other hand, has the stamina of bull! He rocks 90 and is the poster child of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and good genes. He entertained us with stories of his sculptures, including The Partners statue in Disneyland. He spoke in a lot of technical, artistic jargon and for once I was thankful for my mother's insistent trips to the museums of modern art. I think I understood most of what he was saying! ;p

Harriet and Blaine live steps away from each other in the most beautiful setting I've ever seen about a mile from the beach. Retirement never looked so good. Our first stop was Harriet's pad, which had just been remodeled. Harriet proudly showed us around her new home, pointing out the vacant areas in the room where her furniture will go once it is delivered. She even showed us her closet! Her excitement over her new place was infectious and we found her to be so charming! We just loved her. We are keeping Harriet in our prayers as she dealing with some medical issues. We pray for her quick recovery.

Since Blaine and Harriet had dinner reservations in an hour, Harriet went to rest and Blaine gave us a tour of his home and surroundings. Blaine's home is filled with the most amazing art pieces from sculptures to paintings. I was in awe. He spent so much time telling us stories about his pieces, my favorite being a series of bronze sculptures of him and his brother and their life on the farm as boys. He shared that he wanted to show to his children and grandchildren his adventures as a child. There were 6 or 7 different scenes from his childhood, which included rolling around in a spare tire, feeding the pigs, and my favorite, Blaine and his dog out hunting, being surprised by a skunk coming out his den. I felt as though I had fallen through some time warp and was actually in the scene with Blaine. I got lost in the details and expressions and emotion he put into each piece. What a wonderful legacy to leave for his family.

There was one other piece that moved me, or rather, stopped me in my tracks! I couldn't tear myself away from it. I wanted to examine every section of this painting by Blaine. The image captured a tender moment of a mother bathing her young child in a wash tub on the kitchen table. I loved everything about this piece - the vibrant colors, the mother's patient and loving expression, her confident hands as she was about to lather up the child's head in a good scrubbing and most of all, the expression of total defeat and disgust on the child's face! I laughed aloud because the child is crying before the mom has even started washing his hair! This picture touched me because I've had that moment many times with my own son.

I asked Blaine if he has ever had an exhibit of his art, outside of Disney. He said that his son is actually working on that prospect right now! How I hope that happens, because I could spend all day enjoying his many pieces. Blaine is a prolific artist, still creating, still teaching and mentoring. Every inch of his walls had paintings and the table surfaces had sculptures and busts of presidents and celebrities. There was so much to look at and take in. It was hard to leave, but when Blaine extended an invitation to show us the property, how could we say no?

Blaine was beaming with pride as he showed his favorite locations on the property. Blaine has an eye for details, and while it could have been very easy to overlook hand-carved doors and 100 year old wrought iron gates in a location filled with many beautiful things, Blaine made sure to point out the details that were meaningful to him. Blaine's benevolent nature was paired perfectly in this artistic and stunning environment and I found myself so grateful to be, albeit momentarily, a part of it.

The time had come to say goodbye. Blaine apologized that we couldn't join them for dinner, but the reservations called for a coat and tie. He made us promise to let him take us to dinner the next time we are in the neighborhood. No problem, Blaine. You have our word! :)

So, there you have it! My whirlwind 24 hours with the 4 nicest people on the planet! Thanks for letting me share this moment! I'm looking forward to getting back to collectibles and will do so with a fan-made that you just have to see! You won't be disappointed!


Biblioadonis aka George said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience with us.

Truly mesmerizing just to think about it.

Chef Mayhem said...

What a great story. I'm so pleased this worked out so well for everyone. And thanks again for your willingness to help - I'm glad it paid off!

Haunted Mansion Collectibles said...

Chef, thank you! And thanks for encouraging me to share the story! I appreciate everything you've done for us! It was so nice to spend time with you and your wife that afternoon. :)