That Beautiful ANC Spirit

First things first:  great big happy congratulations to aNewsCafe on the success of the first online auction to benefit students affected by the Carr Fire (and the Camp Fire)!  I watched the bidding with interest over the week-long auction and you, dear readers and bidders, are absolute superstars.  From what I understand, the total amount raised exceeded the goal by quite some margin, and that is all because of you!

You won’t be surprised that I had a special interest in the Carr Fire Phoenix. Imagine my excitement when the bidding began, and then my delight at the astounding and generous bid entered by Eleanor Townsend which won the day.  I wrote to Paul Jones, the artist who created the Phoenix, to tell him about it.  This was his reply:  “Well, that just reduced me to tears! The knowledge that something so small could become so symbolic, treasured, and important is beyond belief. I am so touched by this! What a wonderful thing this has become, way beyond money. Thank you so much for sharing this with me, it’s warmed my heart, truly.”

Paul and I are already in cahoots for next year’s auction.  Even though he is busy with Christmas orders, I have a feeling he is already turning the idea into a design, in his creative imagination.

Doni had mentioned something intriguing to me about Eleanor’s reasons for bidding, so I asked her if she would contact Eleanor for my own clarification.  The response was even lovelier than I could have imagined, and I share it here, with you.

Eleanor wrote: “I was so pleased to have the winning bid for The Phoenix, and honored, too.  It is such a beautiful, perfect, tiny creature, but also strong, with an air of defiance.  How well Deb must have translated our collective thinking to the glassmaker!!  In the same moment, though, I knew The Phoenix was not ‘mine’, nor does it truly belong to any individual.  Rather, it is a symbol for all of us at A News Cafe.  So I suggested to Doni that she might ask Matt Grigsby if he would be willing to be the custodian of our Phoenix, at his home in the heart of Redding.  I have never met Matt, but thought him qualified for this high duty due to his early connection with Deb, and the very moving video he posted as the Carr Fire started.  Thanks, Deb, for your tremendous thoughtfulness, and thanks, Matt, for agreeing to take care of ANC’s Phoenix!”

I’ve seen the video that Matt posted.  It brought me to tears, three thousand miles and a few time zones away.  Not only that, but Matt is one of my favorite people in the world.  Funny how so many ANC folks are among my favorites!  But that’s just because of how special you all are.  I know that Matt is thrilled to be the custodian of the Carr Fire Phoenix, and I know he will keep it safe, as it means a lot to him not just in terms of guardianship, but on a personal level, too.

Eleanor, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, not just for your winning bid, but for the spirit in which you entered it.  I also suspect that you did not do any of this for the sake of recognition, and so I hope you will not mind that I am sending you my deep gratitude so publicly.

I have had the privilege of writing for aNewsCafe for a little over four years now, if you can believe that.  In that time it has been my great good fortune to get to know quite a few of you through our conversations in the comments to my columns.  I’ll be honest: sometimes I feel a bit friendless, way up here in the Scottish Highlands, especially since our move even farther north at the beginning of 2016.  But I know that I am not friendless at all, not in the way it matters most.  To have connected with so many of you, whether you have ever written a word in response to my writing or not, is something truly wonderful.  It surprises me when Doni tells me I have fans at aNewsCafe, or that my name comes up in conversation sometimes among you.  Unless you have ever lived a somewhat isolated life, you might not know how much that means; at least it does, to me.  Thank you, to all of you, for letting this far-flung ex-pat be a part of your community, and for letting me come and visit you once a month or so.  I like it here at ANC, among so many good people, both contributors and readers. We may not know each other in the conventional sense, but the friendship is no less true!


Deb Segelitz
Deb Segelitz was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and is astounded to find herself living in the Scottish Highlands, sharing life with her husband, a Highlander she stumbled across purely by chance on a blog site. They own a small business restoring and selling vintage fountain pens, which allows Deb to set her own schedule and have time for photography, writing and spontaneous car rides in the countryside. She is grateful to the readers of ANC for accepting her into the North State fold.
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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Well, Darling Deb, you have again written a heart-touching piece. As I said in a previous comment about the auction, “Look what you started!” And now you know how it finished – but only for this year because the cause is ongoing. Doni has seed money for the next scholarship. Your ANC family will be with you and Sem through the holidays – and you with us, I’m certain.

    • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

      It’s so great that there is seed money for the next scholarship! In a time when many of us have probably felt helpless, it’s been good to be able to have something practical to participate in which will do some much-needed good. These connections are really wonderful; I cherish them.

  2. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    I’m so sorry I didn’t get to meet Eleanor in person and thank her for this wonderful honor (my work duties made me late), but I truly am touched. Thank you Eleanor, and rest assured the Carr Phoenix is kept safe and secure in my home. Every time I look at it I am reminded again of this amazing community of people, near and far, who have survived something terrible only to grow stronger than before.

    And thank you Deb for bringing your heart to this town you’ve never even seen, and becoming one of us. You are one of my favorite people in the world as well, and you know you’re always an honorary member of my family!

  3. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    Well, it’s good to meet you in photograph, Matt, and we surely will meet in person somewhere along the road! I forwarded your Carr Fire video to family in Europe, because it really gave a sense of how apocalyptic it truly felt (was) when the fire started. See how ANC travels? Thanks to you for being the custodian, to Deb for the beautiful Phoenix, and to Doni – and Joe – for all the extra ‘moving parts’ involved in the auction. What fun for such a great cause!

  4. Avatar Cathy Allen says:

    I love everything about this!

  5. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    Deb, you have written a beautiful and moving column (again!). What a powerful way you have shared the story of the wonderful Phoenix you had made for us. And Congratulations and Thank you to Eleanor, and to Matt.

    I am so glad that we know someone with such a beautiful heart as part of the online family here. Thank goodness for ANC!

  6. I’ve been offline for a while, so my my apologies for being late to the love fest, but allow me to chime in with a ME, TOO to everything already said and the positive sentiments expressed Who could have predicted any of what has happened since before July 23, and how our awesome ANC family would join forces to raise money for its first online scholarship fund for graduating seniors who lost homes in the Carr and Camp Fires?

    I could not be happier, nor more proud.

    And, by the way, the final tally of money raised by ANC subscribers is $5.310, which means we will have enough for five, $1,000 scholarships, and $310 for the 2019 seed money for next year’s auction for 2020 graduates.

    p.s. Matt, I fixed your photo so your head’s intact.

    Thank you ALL for making this first ANC online auction a success for such a worthy cause. I appreciate and love you!

    • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

      Oh wow, Doni, that’s so great – I love that five students will receive scholarships this year! What a great result, and all thanks to the fine ANC folks.

      (Did I somehow cut Matt’s head off in the photo I sent? It looked ok on my screen… oops!)

      • No worries on the photo. Not your fault. Our lead photo box is a square so our system does a default crop. I wanted to show as much as Matt as possible, what with his successful gym workouts, so I sacrificed a bit of the top of his head to show more of his body. 🙂

  7. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I still say we need to get up an excursion of ANC members and contributors and go visit Deb and Sem. Of course, it might be a bit difficult to find lodging for all the folks that would want to go . . . but I’m sure we’d figure it out in true ANC fashion!!

    And Deb, the picture of the stream under the bridge is absolutely stunning and frame-worthy!!

    • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

      Are you kidding? With the recent popularity of the ‘North Coast 500’, every Highland home with a spare room or ‘granny flat’ now offers airBnB. There is lodging galore. Come on over :-).

      That is a railway bridge on the ‘Big Burn Walk’ south of our old village. It’s such a lovely spot!