Meet Jennie Blue, my dear sistah-friend I’ve nicknamed: “Madame Wonderful.”
A moniker should suit a person, and this complimentary salutation absolutely personifies Jennie.
She’s a class act, an absolute “standard” when it comes to representing the most positive of interactions amongst human beings and skirts “mess” at all costs. Yes, you want to both know Jennie, be a part of her circle, receive her encouragement, and without question, you want to be on the invite list to her Boss Literary Luncheon she hosts bi-annually at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Resort in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
It is aptly titled, “Mama Francina’s Fancy Hat Luncheon,” and yes, you must wear a hat…preferably an impressive one, you must RSVP [ Jennie is all things Emily Post and etiquette], you are required to read the selected book prior to attending and expected to participate in engaging discussions.
Yesterday, while having lunch with my girlfriend Sherila at Long Horn (I wanted a baked yam; had an impacted tooth root), she asked me, “Why haven’t you blogged on your website lately?”
The short answer is that I’ve been inundated with writing features, proposals for this and that endeavor, updates for my own literary campaign and writing, writing, writing. It keeps my chops strong and my mind in the mix of my craft, but to be honest, my blog life has simply taken a back seat. This morning I had oral surgery [ yes, on a Sunday] and as I sit here channeling my “Don Corleone-Gauze-Packed-Cheeks,” I thought: “I should finish that blog I started weeks ago for Jennie. The impetus was I wanted to do something uplifting and kind for Jennie since the recent death of her mother.
Nothing can comfort one’s soul for such a loss and likewise, it’s hard to keep up with Jennie’s overwhelming support and kindness.
She contributed $300 towards my efforts to garner funding for a writing retreat I will be attending and has further remained a DAILY encourager of its progress whether by phone call, tweet, text message: Jennie is there. Encouraging me and being an avid cheerleader who teaches me to balance my life’s stress, be the bigger person, and keep my eye on my prize. And she does so while being selfless to her own plight. What an amazing representation of humanity. I am blessed to both know her, be called her friend, and BE ON THE INVITE LIST TO HER BOSS LUNCHEON! http://fancyhat2013.wix.com/2015literaryluncheon
So, let me tell you why this luncheon is so doggone FABULOUS!
If you are one of close to 60 (or so women) she invites via an RSVP, you are afforded all the amenities of attending an event with Ritz Carlton flair [don’t even think about being late. Just don’t.] My first luncheon was in 2010, and I must say: I LOVE getting my personalized glass and gift bag. The selected literature that year was a riveting tale of a woman who is one of the remaining 70 living descendants on Sapelo Island – a community of people who derived from the coastal Gullah Geechie heritage of which, I too, am a South Carolina descendant. The book’s author is Cornelia Walker Bailey (with Christina Bledsoe).
It is a captivating narrative that beautifully illustrates the island life and customs along with the many rituals & myths Bailey grew up believing.
Some of those symbolic heritage-jewels still stand today as residents living on the island strive to preserve their culture. Incidentally, the island is only accessible by boat or ferry, so it’s pretty cool that by choice, people choose to still call it home.
Being that it was my first year attending and I am more of a winter season “hip and fly” hat wearer, I had a bit of conservative approach towards the word “fancy.”
And other than the book discussion and meeting the author, I most enjoyed the historically themed entertainment Jennie provided via the coastal “Ring Shout” group who traveled to offer their presentation live. I was most impressed by this addition.
We also take a group picture together on the resort’s lawn, but this particular shot is of the “women-chaos” that ensues before a perfect image is captured.
Enter 2011 and a much anticipated event.
I’m still not “big hat” friendly and anybody who knows me well would agree: I embrace the idea of being different at all costs, so this year, I went for a “vintage” look that complimented my persona and my near bald head.
The 2011 luncheon was incredible in both literary selection, author, and attendance of guests.
From the buffet lunch featuring lobster bisque and a dessert spread that made everyone take a break from calorie-counting to the intellectual exchange regarding Author Tayari Jones’ book: “Silver Sparrow,” the 2011 luncheon was absolutely BOSS (yes, all caps).
This year, I had the foresight to capture images before the event started and was simply “taken” by the edible of “Silver Sparrow” which has been re-released with a new cover that boasts the critical acclaim the novel has received.
You can learn more about Tayari Jones at www.tayarijones.com
I am also prompted to remember that when I do blog, one of the most challenging aspects is uploading and positioning the photographs. Generally, this is all a part of the cathartic, creative process I enjoy, but right now my mouth is screaming for pain relief.
Clearly, I’ve proven that procrastination is a strong suit of “Penny-Fly” but ya know what? Some things in life, like this blog, find their moment for “…such a time as this.”
Besides, this began as a tribute of sorts for Jennie, a sistah-girl homage to emphasize how much she does to support the literary community and the gathering of friends.
I am appreciative to know her and ever thankful to her own mother for giving us such a wonderful friend, who is incidentally, immensely humble.
That’s what makes this such a fun effort: she would never expect it, totally deserves it, and will be gracious and thankful when I forward the url link.
The 2013 luncheon happened without my presence, as I was hospitalized, but my friend Jocelyn Copeland (seated to the right at the baby Grand) STILL brought me a gift bag including my glass and an umbrella [God I love gift bags…I just do.]
On May 30th, we will convene for the 2015 “Mama Francina’s Literary Luncheon” and I am stoked. Maybe I’ll embrace the chapeau community and do something outlandish and conforming. Nahhhh. That would not be a “Penny-Fly” move.
Love you Jennie, and as you would say: “Smooches!”
Penny Dickerson 2015
Absolutely loved this. Tell me how I can get on that invite list. The annual event sounds exciting and Jennie sounds like a joy yo know.
I am rendered speechless (which is a feat in itself) with the coverage of my “baby”, The Fancy Hat Literary Luncheon.
It is an event I enjoy hosting, while simultaneously keeping the legacy of those women in my family who have gone on before alive.
With the recent transitioning of my dear sweet mama on January 17th, I will dearly miss looking out into the audience and seeing her facial expressions of admiration, but I know she will be there in spirit, enjoying every minute.
Can’t wait to see all my invited guests in their fanciest hats!!
With gratitude for YOU being YOU