Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Once Lived "The Dream" In Aspen... Part Four

Getting the house-sitting job was a blessing. The older couple who built the house as their vacation home, were a most amazing pair. The husband had been a pilot stationed in Japan and while there, had fallen in love with all things Japanese. Hence, when planning their home, they hired a Japanese architect whose job it was to design an authentic Japanese home, right down to the tiered Japanese gardens outside. The result made their second home one of the most unique homes in Aspen or Snowmass. Knowing they were going to have house sitters, they built an extra apartment, fully equipped with kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath on the bottom floor, with its own entrance.

The entire house was decorated in the Japanese style, with all the most modern amenities available then. They even had a real rickshaw sent over from Japan that sat prominently in their entrance hall. Their furniture was magnificent and the entire house was equipped with retracting Shjoji screens. It was their dream home and it was our responsibility to take good care of it when they were gone.

The couple (Art and Pat) were from Kansas City and Art had a hugely successful charter business backed by a fleet of King Air jets. They told us what would be expected of us, as far as taking care of the property and that we'd be responsible for cleaning the place and doing the laundry each time they left. No problem. I had already gotten an extra job cleaning Lucille Ball's condominium in The Village.

I loved working for Lucille Ball, although she was a completly obcessed perfectionist, which worked for me sinced I was also obcessed with perfection. She loved my work because, well, I cleaned her condo as if I were cleaning my own place. I was the best and Lucy loved me for it.

Oooops! I'm getting off-track again. Okay. So, anyway, house-sitting and my job working for Lucy sustained me through the off season and the Summer, so that I didn't need to get a full time job. As fun and glamorous as it was being a ski instructor, pay was based on seniority, so I obviously didn't make very much. I didn't really care what it paid because I loved it. Hell, I would have done it for free.

Just two weeks into the ski season, I was called to the main office, which was never a good thing. I was scared to death that I'd done something wrong and was going to lose my job as an instructor. As luck would have it, I was way off base. That afternoon I was offered a position with The Ski Corp as a Snow Hostess, which turned out to be right up my bowling alley. My new duties would include organizing on-mountain parties for guests, showing them around the mountain on skis, giving directions to tourists, and just being an all around ambassador of good will on the mountain. We all had gorgeous Roffe parkas with the Snowmass logo and matching Roffe stretch ski pants, so that we could always be spotted in a crowd. I started planning Wine and Cheese parties for guests on the mountain, adding little special touches like caviar and toast points, cloth napkins, champagne flutes, flowers and the works. The wine was provided by The Ski Corp. Trust me when I tell you that I was ALWAYS tipped more than generously.

Of course, this cut back my ski time with Michael, but I was making more money, which definitely improved our lifestyle overall. We had finally reached the point that we didn't have to ask for a draw on our paychecks every month in order to make ends meet.

In March of that year the weather had warmed sooner than usual and then, without warning we received an additional five feet of snow. Unfortunately, it was a really wet, heavy snow, which is extremely difficult to ski in. The skiing accidents increased like crazy. The late, heavy snow had another adverse effect as well. I can't remember the actual name for this phenomenon right now, but what happens is that the snow already on the ground gets compacted. Then, when another snow comes along, especially a heavy snow, it can create something like caves in the snow.

On April 11th, just 4 days before we officially closed for the year, Radar Lundh and another patrolman were on *clearing* (sometimes called *sweep*) at the end of the day. Now, the reason they do sweep with two patrolmen is because they watch each other's backs. This particular day, the azzhole Radar was with didn't wait fior him. When everyone finished their final sweep, it was discovered that Radar was missing and had not clocked out.

What ensued next was an all out, full scale search for Radar. They finally found him in one of the snow caves I spoke of. When he fell into it, he had hit his head on the front tips of his skis, then died from suffocation. Everyone was devastated and it was the worst possible note to end the season on.

The next week, we had a real wake for Radar, which made me feel horrible that we'd had the fake wake for him back in the summer. Radar was gone for good and we were all going to miss him intensely. I could not help but wonder if his number had come up the first time with the strike of lightning that had hit him and by some freak stroke of luck, it had not taken him, so death came for him again and this time it had nailed him.

To Be Continued....


Keeper Of All Things said...

OMG how sad...
Really you should have wrote a novel or at least a
Lifetime movie

Philly said...

Wow !! Lucy? Too bad ditigal cameras werne't around then.


elizasmom said...

What keeper said.

Poor Radar.

But Lucy! Cool!

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

How cool to have worked for Lucy. I Love Lucy.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head when reading of Radar. Sure wasn't expecting this!!!

Flea said...

Oh! Oh! Write more!

Treasia said...

How sad to have happened. But I bet if Radar had been given a choice in his own death he would have chosen being on skies.

How cool to have worked for Lucille Ball.

scargosun said...

The beginning was great! House sitting in a gogeous house and Lucy! WOW! Radar...that is just terrible. I felt like I was there reading this.

Mamahut said...

Poor Radar.

Way cool about Lucy! Was she funny in real life?

Janie said...

That's horrible about Radar, God bless him.

sista #2 said...

ooh poor Radar :(

But loving the Lucy thing!!

keep writing!!!


Snooty Primadona said...

Since you weren't totally bored by my Lucille Ball story, I'll tell you a little more in the next post.


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