Stuff matters not. Friends matter. I had that old truism abundantly reinforced in the past several weeks… when I’ve been blogging only in my head. That’s my excuse for this stale blogspace, and hopefully it merits putting down in black, white and cyberspace. I made the leap into a new – gasp – quarter century on June 8, with the help of something over 100 friends in the Bay area and warm wishes from absentee friends elsewhere, something worth celebrating indeed. All were invited not to bring Stuff, but to bring, if they chose, contributions in amounts of 75 cents, $7.50, or multiples that seemed interesting to my three favorite causes. We raised a bunch of dollars; the hostess had a ball. Shortly thereafter I hopped a $99-one-way flight from San Francisco to Baltimore, because who can refuse a $99 cross country flight, even if it’s not going exactly where you want to go? I had not bothered to fill in the blanks until almost the moment of departure, but it worked out this way: An old college friend arranged for her housekeeper to fetch me from B.W.I. to her home in McLean, VA; then delivered me the next day to the Corcoran museum where another friend is curator of American Paintings. That afternoon a childhood friend fetched me from the Corcoran, sated with beautiful art, and took me to her home in Alexandria. Two days (and more art, see Ann McDowell at the Torpedo Factory Art Center) later she and I drove 90 miles south to our hometown of Ashland, VA for a reunion of the famous Ashland High classes of ’47, ’48, and ’49. (We are a sturdy bunch of Depression-era-raised farm kids and small-townies.) Another childhood friend that night nursed me through the cold and laryngitis all this had produced. The next day my second-grade boyfriend fetched me from Ashland to the Richmond airport, where the Alamo people kindly offered a car for return to B.W.I. without charging an arm and a leg. Two days later, nourished by visits to more old friends, a fetched myself back to B.W.I., onto Southwest’s pleasant airplane and home. Exhausted, but exhilarated, because friends just do that, and thank heavens for them all.