Tea for the Tillerwoman

I got to have tea with our family’s tillerwoman yesterday in honor of her milestone birthday.

From her position smack in the middle of it, my sister in-law Elaine has guided the good ship Biskupic through both stormy and following seas. She checks in and cheers on each of her 13 nieces and nephews exactly when they need it, and corrals her coast-to-coast siblings and outlaws into Sunday evening virtual visits with cheerful persuasion.

“It is time for another Sunday Family ZOOM call,” she writes us all. “It’s a beautiful sunny day in Wisconsin. Brighten your day by connecting with family tonight.”

She’s a little like a well-dressed Mary Poppins, without the stern and spit-spottedness.

So, I was happy to have the opportunity to spend some time with her and three of my other sisters in-law yesterday, hoisting vintage cups of tea, nibbling dainties and catching up.

She and her sister Nancy chose the Schuster Mansion in Milwaukee for our little party, which turned out to be the perfect setting. Owners Rick and Laura Sue have restored the mansion to its original opulence with cool details like a turn-of-the century stereoscopic viewfinder, a crystal vase filled with ostrich feathers and a cherry wood rolltop desk. Lush tapestries and wall paper make the ladies sitting room look so distinctive I felt like I should be wearing a bustle and carrying smelling salts and a parasol.

We each selected our china tea cups, and then made our way into the dining room, where we dug into scones, tea sandwiches and sweets. I particularly enjoyed the clotted cream and homemade jam.

Mostly, though, I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with some of my favorite people.

The Schuster Mansion offers an air of elegance to its corner of Wells Street in Milwaukee.
When we arrived, we were shown into the ladies parlor…
…though none of us actually sat in the vintage chairs. The room is beautiful and includes all kinds of cool items from the late 1800s.
Three of this Laura’s favorite things, my sisters in-law Donna, Elaine and Nancy. Cary’s a favorite too, but she had not arrived yet when I took this picture.
As instructed, we each selected a cup and saucer for our tea. (I chose the one that looked least likely to break should I drop it.)
Elaine scored a tiara for her big day and that’s the ageless Cary in between Elaine and Donna. (None of my sisters in-law age, though. What’s up with that?)
Another BIskupic sister, Carol, joined us virtually for a little while from Oregon.
No wonder those women wore corsets! High tea involves some tasty treats!
Cheers to Elaine and to a lovely afternoon with the ladies.
Sidenote: This is a great album.

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