Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Marilyn's Trip to the White House, Washington D.C.,

North Entrance of the White House, Taken Nov. 29th as we stood in awe knowing that the day before, we had been inside, as GUESTS!

Tuesday October 2, 2007, I noticed a call on my answering machine. I returned the call immediately.

It was from the Park Superintendent of the City of Rocks, Wallace Keck. He asked if I would be interested in doing a Christmas Ornament for the White House.

I was thrilled to be asked!

Though I was pretty sure it would be a tough competition, I told him yes, I would be VERY interested.

It was not a competition. Each Park Superintendent could select the artist of his choice. I was contacted because his wife had one of my magnets of the City of Rocks and she suggested he call me. I had done the magnets under protest because June Tilley thought they were a great idea and that they would sell like crazy. They have not sold well but that one got to the right place!

He told me that there were two problems: the guidelines were stiff and the due date, Oct. 1, was past, but he felt that the late entry might be overcome if he talked to his superior. He was willing to bring the ornament and the instructions to me Tuesday. He did so and I got started.

I had butterfly-tummy all week while working on it and finished it at about 3:00pm Saturday and sent it on October 9th. I did not know whether it would be accepted, but felt that it might!

Another stipulation was that it not be publicized in any way until after Mrs. Bush announced the plans for the White House Christmas sometime in the first week of December.

I feel God’s hand has been shown through this whole project. I feel this is the reason I did the magnets. It is the reason I have spent so much time in City of Rocks over the last two years. I feel that this is the reason for not accepting a Twin Falls commission. My ornament was accepted and I received an invitation from Mrs. Laura Bush to a Reception at the White House!

One of the first people I told about the ornament was Linda Petersen. Immediately and most generously when she heard about it she offered to furnish hotel accommodations for me and my guest!

I chose to take my Aunt Glenna Whitaker as my guest because of her generous encouragement over many years. She has taken me to the mountains to draw while my car was unable to make the trip, she has purchased paintings, she has cleaned house, painted rooms, weeded the garden, picked raspberries, and given loving verbal and spiritual encouragement.

Also, she had never flown and never been to the eastern United States. Now she has flown and loved it! Now she has been to Washington DC and loved it! Our trip was spectacular in every way. Everyone we met was gracious, friendly, and helpful.

Every place we visited was beautiful and inspirational. The view from our corner room windows at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue was breathtaking. To our left was Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol and the entire Federal Triangle. Directly in front of us, the National Aquarium and White House Visitors Center with the Washington Memorial watching over us day and night. We could watch flights landing and taking off from Reagan.

Below us, a memorial park to General Pershing from World War I and Freedom Plaza. It was a few days before I realized the colored concrete rectangles and triangles of Freedom Plaza are a map of the city from the Capital to the White House.

The Pershing Memorial was special to us because Rupert, Idaho’s Pershing School was next door to my grandparents home where Glenna grew up. We loved our view and happily spent time watching people and air and street traffic.

Once as were watching, we saw that traffic had been stopped on 15th Street by policemen. A few minutes later we witnessed a Presidential motorcade zip by.

We could have spent more time watching but we were there for a White House Reception.

Trees from our window in the Marriott looking west toward the East Entrance of the White House. The street with the white cross walk is 15th Street. The building with the columns is the National Treasury. The White House is just beyond

As we walked to the White House on Wednesday, Nov. 28th, the sun was shining on green grass and trees still wearing their gold, orange, and red leaves. It was a glorious day! It was easy to find our way following all the fancy dressed people.

Security checked our names against a list, looked at Drivers licenses, then we went through a metal detector and we were in the White House!

First we entered the Vermeil room, which has lovely portraits of former First Ladies including Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy. They were all very beautiful paintings and sweetly touching.

Then we, with about three hundred other artists and their guests proceeded up the stairs to the Entry Hall with the Grand Staircase. Mrs. Bush came down those stairs to the landing, sat down, welcomed and thanked us for the creative ornaments, and told us about a proposal the President is making to help fund improvements to the National Parks for the coming 2016 Centennial for National Parks. She also told us a bit about the White House decorations and holiday menu.

Mrs. Laura Bush speaking to the artists from the Grand Stairway in the Entrance Hall at the Artist’s Reception Dec. 28, 2007.

Next, the buffet. It was spectacular and beautiful. Everything was there. Colorful fruit platters, exotic vegetables, cheeses from all over the States, breads, crackers, every meat including lamb, pulled pork, chicken fried steak, Virginia ham, shrimp, crab cakes, salmon, tamales from Texas, and more.

Ah-h-h-h-h! Then the desserts. I think the cookies got the most attention. They were sugar cookies iced in muted colors in the shapes of animals found in the National Parks. I ate a road runner.

There were at least two kinds of cakes. One was a lemon white cake about 2 1/2 feet tall in the shape of a Christmas tree iced overall with meringue peaks about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Another was a chocolate log cabin cake. Official pictures of each artist were taken to be mailed to us.

I decided to spend all the time I could looking at other ornaments. They were wonderful. One had been cut open and the scene painted inside. One had an exquisitely rendered portrait painted of Edgar Allen Poe on it. One artist had gotten permission to use a different material. She was a lovely Hopi woman and had made a ceramic ornament. I think she must have cast porcelain inside the sent ornament, and decorated it in a traditional Hopi design. I saw two ornaments which had beads on them.

I noticed one with a Bluebird on it... Then I saw that it was mine! My City of Rocks Ornament hanging on the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House It was hanging about six feet from the floor on the southwest side of the tree. It was quite exciting to find it. Far more exciting than I anticipated.

Glenna in Monroe Chair in Blue Room, White House! I was sitting in one too!!!!

Then at one point two of the blue silk occasional chairs by the windows in the Blue Room were available. Glenna and I sat in chairs that James Monroe had purchased for the White House and which Jacqueline Kennedy had brought back. Glenna in a Monroe Chair in the Blue Room of the White House.

As we left The White House, we were presented with a booklet that gave the titles and location on the tree of each ornament and a White House Christmas booklet.

The dream of a lifetime had come true! And it was better than the dream!

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