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A Natural Lunch April 30, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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My office consists of two rooms. I was working in one when I heard what I thought was the sudden crash of something in the other. An odd sound. I walked in, looked around, saw nothing, then looked out the window. In my driveway was a sharp-shinned hawk, who had taken out a mourning dove at my bird feeder.

This had happened once before (to my knowledge), several months ago in a snowstorm, to a chickadee.

I called my neighbor, Paul, who looked out the window immediately. Tim’s got our camera with him, so Paul grabbed his, but the sharp-shinned would have none of it. S/he saw Paul moving inside the house, so lunch, which was almost as big as s/he was, became takeout, hauled high into the trees.

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Flurrious April 30, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Last week we had temperatures in the 80s—a very strange week. Leaves came out. Leaves. I have never seen leaves in April in Vermont.

So this morning, there NTCX990 and I were in the midst of our midmorning ritual, minding our own business, when I chanced to glance to my left, that is to say out the window, and what should I see but snow flurries? Oh wait—there they are again.

Truly, this is much closer to normal.

No need to be upset, really. It’s just a small piece of weather.

Adventures in Portland: Shoot April 30, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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At long last, Wendy and I finally found the time and space to set me up in her backyard to shoot my first gun.

Tim and I headed over one day after work. At first, we thought it would be more of a party, but the others bailed. Just the three of us. And still with a lot of daylight left.

Wendy set up a target in her backyard—an NRA Official 100-Yard Small Bore Rifle Target, a 14-inch-square paper with concentric circles leading to the X in the center. She thumbtacked this to a board. (Two notes: First, I was not using a small-bore rifle. I was using a pellet gun. Second, I was not 100 yards away. More like a dozen or so.)

Wendy explained the safety and showed me how to load the gun. She taught me how to hold the gun and how to line up the sight.

The gun didn’t fit me well. I have a very long neck, and I was never able to position myself perfectly without uncomfortable contortion. So I positioned myself somewhat imperfectly, remaining aware of the fact that were I using a gun with a kick, I wouldn’t get away with it.

On my first shot, I nearly hit the X.

Tim’s jaw dropped.

It was downhill from there, but not too far down. On both the first sheet, which we all used, and the second, which was just me, the farthest shot from the center is still an 8. (Inner circle X, next 10, next 9, next 8, down to 5.)

I also shot up my first beer can: a Coors.

With a bright red marker, Wendy circled my nearly perfect shot and wrote [INDIGO]’s FIRST SHOT. I brought the target sheets and beer can home as souvenirs.

Maybe someday I’ll shoot a real gun. Tim’s always thinking I should try sporting clays, but those are moving targets. Are those handgun ranges BYOG?

Milestone April 29, 2008

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A beloved member of my Route 153 household today celebrates the reaching of a milestone in a decimal society. My NordicTrack CX 990 elliptical cross trainer—age approximately 3 years, 4 months—has provided its 500th workout. Like, just now.

NTCX990, I love you. Chocolates all around! Perhaps even some bubbly…

Adventures in Portland: Port Authorities vs. Rhode Island Riveters April 29, 2008

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How lucky were we? We were in Portland for its roller derby team’s season opener. We bought tickets and assured friends we’d meet them in the beer garden.

The beer garden turned out to be a roped-off section of bleachers where you could drink. You needed an ID to enter, no matter your age. We actually had to wave to some 50-somethings we knew across the way who had not bothered to carry any.

I began to talk with a woman in front of me, a friend of a friend. She’s an artist, but more recently had begun an energy-work practice. Oh, and she’s a medium and works on past-life regressions. She looked at Tim and me and told me we’d been together in twelve lifetimes, and once we owned an 84-acre farm together. I told her that the number 84 actually has a couple of meanings for me, and perhaps this 84-acre farm was part of why I’ve been having trouble letting go of a PO box with that number that has outlived its convenience.

The derby was awesome. There were 1,100 fans there and a lot of noise. Rumor has it that our gals were not expecting to win, but they held their own, kept a slight lead, and won 75–64. I tried to keep up with the scoring, tried to understand it enough to be right when it was tallied after each jam, but it’s clear I have a ways to go.

Still, this the first sport I ever watched while wishing it could be me out there. I guess lots of people have that experience, but having been sports challenged (and mocked) as a kid, it never occurred to me that I could feel that way. There’s a part of me that allows me to think, If I’d started young, maybe I could have gotten good enough to be able to do that. Now, I’d pretty much get crushed.

And this tidbit for Deloney: Afterward, Lois Blow was awarded MVP.

Adventures in Portland: Snip, Snip Snip April 28, 2008

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Female readers: How do you choose a hair salon? Advice from girlfriends? Gay friends? Chance? How about this: From a straight white guy?

Loyal readers may recall that in the last couple of decades, only two people have ever cut my hair: the first, a dear friend who had been a professional stylist years before; the second, the stylist my husband (straight white guy) found when he moved to Vermont ahead of me. My friend yh cut my hair from 1987 to 1995; my now-friend Danielle has been cutting it since.

But Danielle has moved 2.25 hours away to the state’s capital. Even though I get my hair cut only every 10 to 12 weeks, even though I love getting to visit more of a city, there are times when this is inconvenient. Still, I’ve always worked it out. Until this month.

I was supposed to drive to Montpelier on the 4th, but I was leaving for Portland for two weeks on the 6th, and getting everything ready for that was a tad overwhelming. Shaggy as I was, I had to cancel. And I actually began to think about . . . straying.

More than a year ago, Tim and I were in Portland at the same time as his co-worker, Roger, who was also shooting catalog product at the photo studio. One night the three of us went out to dinner. Roger, who has thick hair, was newly shorn. He’s got that kind of stands-up-straight hair, and it looked particularly good that night. I commented, asked who cut his hair. He got a big smile on his face and said, “Jessica.”

Now, Tim needs to have his hair cut way more often than I do, and he’s in Portland practically three months a year. He sees Danielle when he can, but more often than not, he has to get his hair cut locally. I don’t know what it is, but when he gets it cut close to home, it never looks as good as when Danielle cuts it.

So he saw Jessica. Now I beg him to see her when he’s in Portland. What’s different about how she cuts his hair? I don’t know. But it’s yummy.

Dare I—instead of driving hours to get my hair cut—walk, perhaps saunter, two or three blocks one day while I’m stationed in Portland and employ only the third person in twenty-one years to cut my hair? I mean, Tim found Danielle for me. Maybe Jessica would work out for me, too.

I made an appointment.

Over the phone, I told the receptionist that I was in town with my husband, who did business here and often came to the salon. “Are you Roger’s wife?” she asked. Friendly Roger is still the most popular foreign visitor.

Oddly, I was not the least bit concerned about what would happen. I wasn’t going to do anything drastic, and my haircut isn’t that complicated.

When I got to the salon, Jessica wasn’t yet back from an errand involving getting her kids from one place to another. So I chatted with Mary, the receptionist, for awhile. She asked if my hotel room faced the parking garage across the street. This time, it didn’t, but I said sometimes it did. She often parks there and noted that from the garage, one could in fact see into all the windows (so it’s good that I do think to draw the curtains when I get back from my workout). “You can’t believe what’s going on over there,” she said. “I think most of them want you to see them. Mostly guys.”

Jessica soon arrived. She is every bit as good-looking as I’d imagined. Probably every bit as good-looking as you’re imagining now. Brunette. OK?

I was insistent on keeping the short shaved layer underneath, which at first Jessica seemed to think unnecessary for keeping the thickness down, but after working with my hair eventually got why Danielle had gone that route. She did a bit more layering than I’m used to, and overall the effect is rounder. I like it. Of course, it looked best the minute I left the salon. I just don’t spend time on my hair.

One of my Portland friends didn’t even notice I’d had it cut (I assured him it was not drastic), but I’ve gotten quite a few compliments here in Vermont.

Jessica was really nice, worked fast, and did a great job. Tim saw her the next week. It feels good to know that there’s another option for me out there in the world (when it’s three blocks, not five hours, away).

But the most interesting part was how calm I suddenly was, after all these years, about trying someone new. Likely I was calm because I’d already seen some of Jessica’s work. But maybe I’m finally detaching from potential haircut disaster. Maybe I’m finally far enough away from my childhood horrors that I’m getting braver. Or maybe I’m moving closer and closer to the freedom of simply not giving a shit.

What Indigo Bunting Does When Tim’s Not Around April 27, 2008

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Shhhh! When Tim’s away on one of his trips without me, I’ve been known to exhibit behavior not otherwise displayed:

Coffee crimes: This is the big one. Although I think of myself as a morning person, this isn’t actually true until after the waking-up part. So, the first morning sans Tim, I pull the drip coffeemaker from its banished spot in the mudroom. It is banished because we are French-press people. Helen will get that.

Once I have the coffeemaker safely on the counter, I go to the freezer to round up the ground coffee that has been kept for emergencies and dinner parties. (We are whole-bean people. We grind the coffee right before it goes into the French press.) This coffee is rather vieux, because it is so very rare that we use the drip coffeemaker.

Now, this might be the worst part: At the moment, one of these bags of coffee is a Godiva chocolate raspberry. We are not flavored-coffee people. We are dark-roast people. We are Italian- and French-roast people.

Admittedly, this flavored coffee, which I bought after sampling it in a Godiva store, seemed like way too much when I tried-this-at-home. So I use four parts Capitol Grounds Bob’s Senate Blend (a dark roast from our state capital, picked up from what I thought was a pile of all-whole-bean pounds and mistakenly purchased) to one part chocolate raspberry. Then I brew a pot of coffee.

This pot of coffee will last me two to three mornings, which means that the second morning, and maybe the third, all I will have to do is heat it up in the microwave. This is good for the groggy bunting.

We are not day-old coffee people. We are not heated-up coffee people.

I feel so dirty.

Sleep crimes: This is the middle-sized one. I immediately start to sleep diagonally in the queen-size bed, taking up as much room as I can. Don’t get me wrong: I adore my man, and I love sharing my bed with him. But there’s a luxuriousness to not sharing sometimes. There can be pleasure in one’s own sprawl.

Timmy watch: This is the small one, because it’s not even a crime.

It’s not so much that I go on Timmy watch while he’s away, but that the Timmy watch goes on me. I have a watch (how could I not?) that sports the South Park character Timmy and the only word that he ever says: Timmy!

“[Indigo] loves Timmy” is lasered onto the back of it. Sure, I wear this watch when Tim’s home. But sometimes I wear it more when he’s not around. This time I’ve vowed to wear it every day ’til I get him back. Unless, of course, it totally clashes with my outfit. That would be a crime of fashion.

White Cat April 26, 2008

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Last Sunday I scrubbed the worst of winter off the front porch before some friends showed up for dinner. This entailed pulling out the little hose cart and hooking it up to the only outdoor water source. Being lazy, or reasoning that maybe I might water something later in the week, I left it there.

The water source happens to be right by our bird feeders, which happen to be right by our dining room windows.

There is a white cat who lives across the street who (each year) immediately begins to use this hose-cart contraption as his blind. He parks himself there, right at the base of the bird feeder. Sometimes he practically falls asleep. I knock at the window. He looks up lazily. (He has green eyes, for those of you who might have been wondering if he’s one of those blue-eyed deaf ones.)

I just walked to the post office to see if Netflix had delivered on its promise. They hadn’t, but I got my annual threatening letter from my mortgage company asking me to fax them proof of my homeowner’s insurance or all sorts of terrible things were going to Happen to Me. I thought I’d ruin someone else’s day, so I moved the hose cart. Cat dashed away. (I actually had planned to move it before I got the threatening letter.)

I used to think there was just one white cat until I saw two on the porch across the street (the porch, in fact, of the house in which I used to live). Then I was corrected—there were three white cats in the household. This seems statistically odd, but on my last Portland trip I discovered that I have two friends there who each live with two black cats. Maybe that’s statistically odd, too. It’s early. I’m not actually thinking this through.

I just went downstairs to heat up my coffee. The birds are back.

Adventures in Portland: Roller Skating April 24, 2008

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Tuesday night is 18-and-older night at Happy Wheels, the roller-skating rink in Portland. We were going to be in town for two Tuesdays, but the second Tuesday we already had a date with Louise at a wine-tastes dinner. So if I wanted to get my skate on, it had to be the first Tuesday.

I always have trouble gathering my motivation for evening events at the end of a long day. I know I’ll be glad when I get there, but the slightest push in the other direction can send me spiraling toward the couch. We went to that new Indian place for dinner to gain some spice and strength.

We’d gone skating here on our January trip—my first time skating in eight years. It was so crowded that winter night that getting onto the floor itself was a bit of a challenge, especially given my haven’t-skated-in-eight-years handicap. The faster skaters stay to the outside, making the theoretical on-ramp even more theoretical.

This time we got there early. I figured that if I got out there before the crowd, I’d be better off. And I was. But there weren’t quite as many people anyway.

The skating itself is quite meditative for me—just circling the rink, allowing myself to (guiltily) enjoy ’70s and ’80s pop music but loving it when something a bit more down and dirty starts to play. When the lights go down and the disco ball starts spinning, that circling merges with watching the floor pattern, bringing on a druggedlike state. Trippy.

One of the best parts for me is watching people who can really skate—and there are lots of them. I am very good at going forward. Many people there, most 10 to 15 years older than I, are phenomenal skaters, having started as kids in the 1950s and ’60s and never stopped. These people are fast, and these people can dance. There also seems to be a contingent of great skaters about 15 years younger than I, whom I assume are the phenomenal-skater offspring.

Most everyone there still skates on roller skates, with only a few on in-lines. All the good people, of course, have their own beautiful skates. I believe we rental rubes truly stand out and are not to be taken too seriously—perhaps even given wide berth.

Skating invariably makes me nostalgic for people I used to skate with, and that night I was thinking a lot about Cheryl, my dear middle-school buddy who spent lots of rink hours with me.

Tim and I hold hands during couples only. I try to not let him spin me out of control.

We skated for 90 minutes, leaving an hour before the session was over. It was a school night, we’d had an excellent amount of fun, and we were happy to avoid the mass exodus.

We stepped out into the parking lot and the cool night air. Peeeeent! we heard, almost immediately. A woodcock! My first of the season. We ran to the edge of the lot, which opened into a dark swampy field, hoping to hear the crazy sound of his spiraling display (much more impressive than mine toward the couch). He didn’t call again. But showing off and trying to get laid is a respected roller-rink tradition. That woodcock was in good company.

The Vision/The Reality April 23, 2008

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When I headed off to Portland April 6, I envisioned working hard copyediting a Big Book and finding time to catch up on all sorts of things, like this blog.

When I got to Portland, the reality was that I had to work all day in order to meet the deadline, and once Tim got back to the room the energy would shift to food or entertainment or falling into an exhausted heap.

When I got home on April 19, I envisioned quickly catching up with everything—laundry, the mail, bill paying, blogs—within a couple of days. The reality is that I still have not caught up.

When I left, I envisioned a changed landscape upon my return. That has been true, with unseasonable temperatures in the 80s (F) and no more patches of snow. I slept with the windows open on Saturday night to hear the distant peepers and awoke to robins (the loudest) and many other birds. Tim heard a barred owl. I am the usual Owl Hearer, but that one failed to wake me from my back-in-my-own-bed slumber.