PHOTO SARAH WHITING

Joy Osborn’s wine holder and apron were made with her Craft Club Community
PHOTO SARAH WHITING Joy Osborn’s wine holder and apron were made with her Craft Club Community

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For 36 years, I have been having adventures with the same group of 12 women. Most recently, we returned from our annual July weekend in Wisconsin. Our deep connection first started when a small group of us went to the north shore of Lake Superior in the early 1980s. Or was it the time some of us tried to get out of the Twin Cities in an old Toyota but got stuck on the freeway in a torrential downpour with no wiper blades? After we shared a stash of oatmeal bread, new connections were made. 

Or was our formation as a collective community of women set when we had our first summer weekend together at Izatys Resort — including skinny dipping by moonlight?

Some of us knew each other in college. Some connections were formed after college. 

Our original group name was ‘Craft Club,’ as many women in the group enjoyed crafting and it was our purpose for getting together at the beginning. That first year in 1982, Carol cross-stitched each of us a tree ornament. We still celebrate the Christmas holiday every year, as some in the group still share homemade gifts with others. 

After that, every first baby received a quilt consisting of individual squares made by members. 

Over time, it was suggested that we add the name ‘Carafe Club,’ to the group, since many members were no longer involved in craft-making. 

Some have emerged as leaders. Meredith, for example, likes to search out places for us to stay on our annual weekend — we call her our CEO, Chief Entertainment Officer. Everyone takes turns hosting birthday parties and other events. 

Some of my fondest memories include dancing on Friday nights, except that time someone sprained an ankle in the effort. Other favorites include removable tattoos during an annual weekend happy hour, the yearly dice game with goofy gifts, wearing matching club t-shirts, cooking experiments, marshmallow fights, making funny videos, and simple walks. 

We also have serious conversations about current and political events, the changing world, and our place in society. Some of us participate together in women’s events. 

No matter what, for more than 36 years, we have been present in each others’ lives: babies to graduations, pet stories, occupations, celebrations, milestones. 

There has been shared support during difficult life situations: health crises, family concerns, and personal adversity. Three of us have had struggles such as breast cancer. 

After a lifetime of sharing work-life balance stories, many of us are now in retirement. The 12 of us — whether by travel, phone, or Facebook page — offer connection, encouragement, and comic relief. 

Personalities and quirks are periodically front and center. We have learned to ride out those situations and let people be who they need to be. 

It’s a mystery how it works so well, but it does. There’s a heart that beats in this band of women that feels bigger than any individual. The group provides a loving space and steadfast connection for each of us. I feel blessed.