Jim’s Going-Away Party October 31, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
Jim’s memorial service was Sunday, a sunny October day in a lovely church filled with afternoon light. It was a moving and celebratory tribute, and I was happy to run into some friends, which I wasn’t sure would happen, as Jim lived just far enough away from me that our social circles didn’t overlap a lot.
At the reception, I was quietly handed a most wonderful photo of Jim and Wendy: A nearly identical, mischievous twinkle shone in their eyes. On the back, it said: “Jim and Wendy would like to invite you to Jim’s going-away party.” The private interment was Monday afternoon at their home. I was surprised and honored to be invited.
I can’t describe what an incredible experience this was, and I don’t think I really want to try. Instead, I will employ that ever-so-useful tool of pulling together possibly random things into a category of sorts: the bulleted list.
Scenes from the interment:*
- The burning of sage, the smudging of the grave site
- A violinist playing
- A woman singing
- Their dogs howling
- People weeping
- A grave dug by friends
- Jim’s body, wrapped in white cloth, brought to and lowered into the grave by friends
- The covering of his body in evergreen branches
- The tossing of many flowers on top of this
- Words shared
- The burying of Jim by his friends
This was followed by the going-away party Jim insisted we have.
As I’ve noted, Jim was proud of his Spanish heritage and made some mean Spanish dishes. Some of his friends followed suit in their catering, with Spanish tortillas, garlic shrimp, scrumptious chorizo, plump olives, Manchego and dulce de membrillo (quince paste). There didn’t seem to be alcohol, and about the time I was thinkin’ I sure could use a drink, Tim noticed some shot glasses that seemed to be subtly moving their way through the crowd.
And now it appears I have a new interest: top-shelf tequila. Thanks, Jim. May any taste I dare take be a toast to you.
And when I die, may it be with at least an ounce of the grace and beauty that you showed me as to how it works.
*Note the lack of any sign of the funeral industry.
May 1, 1961–October 24, 2008 October 25, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
From 44 Words for 365 People (November 30, 2006):
303/365 A Third Jim
When I think of him, I think of Spanish fare and rioja and siestas, of live music and lively dogs, of a big-screen TV after a big meal: warm things, celebratory things. He and his ex-wife just remarried. They are warm and celebratory too.
His is a life to be celebrated. But I’m very sad to lose him.
It’s Sewa Yoleme Day! October 24, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
was always Mom to Craig’s good friends. Fifty-one years ago today, she changed my life forever, and I wouldn’t even be born for six-and-a-half years. That must be among a mother’s Secret Powers: unleashing an energy onto the world that will Utterly Change Everything.
I suppose I should attempt to write something new and incredibly touching about Craig, but I really haven’t time at the moment, and he is getting a prezzie in the mail, so let’s just pick up his 44 words from before, eh?
When on phone duty at work, he announced my calls to Tim with “It’s that slut you call a wife.” The ensuing years have been filled with further abuse, cattiness, sarcasm, and depravity. Obviously he’s one of the best friends I have ever had.
Finally, for those of you interested in an episode in which Indigo Bunting says to Sewa Yoleme “You are so gay,” I refer you to a previous post in Songs from the Field.
HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY, dear Craig, and many happy returns of the day.
The Kindness of Strangers October 22, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
One of you sent me a bootleg copy of Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.
One of you will soon be sending me a book written by the lover of another one of you (a book I can’t easily get in the states).
One of you, upon discovering our mutual respect for turtles, sent me a jadeite one that sits by my keyboard and attempts to be my muse. It likes to be held.
One of you, on a trip, happily took on an assignment to photograph a house I lived in more than twenty years ago.
One of you sent me a short story you’d written and asked my opinion.
Because of one of you, I have read Uncle and Uncle Cleans Up. Because of another, I have read Tom’s Midnight Garden.
Several of you have influenced my Netflix decisions.
Many of you have opened my ears to music I needed to hear.
One of you, as a result of a recent post, may be sending me a copy of Eudora Welty’s Why I Live at the P.O.
All of you invite me into worlds I love to visit, again and again. Thanks for leaving the key under the mat.
Snowflakes October 22, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
It’s 7:30 a.m., still darkish, but I can see them.
84 October 20, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
Fourteen Octobers ago, Tim moved to Vermont. Without me. He’d landed a job just after I’d taken a new one in DC, so I stayed put for a little while, trying to get a year in, while he tested the waters up here. His first day of work was Halloween. Can you imagine? It was costume enough for him to suit up.
For a couple of months he had temporary housing in the town where his job was. So he got a PO box there. Then he moved to Parts West, 22ish miles away, but because there was no mail delivery (too close to the post office), he kept the original PO box and picked up mail when he was in town for work.
When I moved up, my first big client was based in the same town as Tim’s job. In fact, the building was right next to the post office. I was there often enough that getting our mail was no problem. Meanwhile, I opened a PO box at the Parts West post office, but just for my editorial business.
Eventually, Tim’s employer built corporate offices in another town, and he could no longer be counted on to get the mail. My offices moved too, but not out of town. Still, my trips to town were becoming less frequent. But I never got rid of that PO box.
For one thing, I like my number: 84. It’s the year I graduated from college. It has a nice Orwellian ring to it.
For another thing, I like the post office. I like walking to my spot, turning the key, grabbing the mail. I like seeing the people who work there.
For yet another thing, I knew that when I got rid of that box, I would have to do a change-of-address overhaul. I would have to contact everybody, businesswise and personal, to give them a new address. I would have to have new checks printed. I would have to deal with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Seriously, I have enough to do without all that. I was perfectly content to get mail only a couple of times a week.
Then the rates went up.
For years, I think I spent $20 per box (one of which I could write off as a business expense). Then, for a long time, it was $26. Now, suddenly, it’s $42. Twice that is $84. I can’t put out $84 per annum just to keep Box 84. I have to let it go.
I’ve been preparing myself for this all year. Little by little, I’ve made the changes. Every renewal got the new address. A couple of months ago I got serious and switched all the bills over, got new checks.
I still haven’t called the DMV.
On October 31, I’ll have to turn in my keys. I know it’s just a PO box. But it’s been my little leased space for fourteen years. It feels like mine. There’s something that doesn’t feel right about walking away from it.
Back in April, I mentioned a conversation I’d had with a woman at the roller derby:
. . . 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.
It’s odd that she came with 84 acres. Just imagine how much trouble I probably had letting go of that. If I remember any details, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Rose-Colored Glasses October 18, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
This fall in Vermont has been spectacular. I don’t know if it’s that rainy summer we had or what, but the foliage has been astounding.
Make that exponentially astounding. I wear rose-colored glasses.
About a year and a half ago, for my birthday, I decided I wanted a good pair of sunglasses. With Tim’s employee discount, you-must-be-joking expensive was reduced to merely ridiculously expensive. I went and tried on a few pair of polarized sunglasses. The lenses came in amber, brown, and red. Reddish. Rosy.
I have a pair of amber polarizers in my fishing vest that work pretty well on the water. The different-colored lenses presented to me in the store would allegedly work best in different-types-of-water situations. But really, I just wanted a decent pair of everyday sunglasses because I have blue eyes (squinter!) and need sunglasses even when it’s cloudy.
So, with water out of the equation, I wavered between brown and rose. Sales Guy tried to get me to buy both, especially because I was about to get half price. But seriously, one pair was going to be a total splurge.
Sales Guy happened to mention that he liked the red.
The practical side of me was leaning toward the brown. The fun side of me said what the hell and chose my first rose-colored glasses.
I have never looked back.
I love these shades. And never have I been more aware of it than this foliage season. First, as I’m sure you know, polarized lenses heighten contrast. Blue sky is bluer. Edges are sharper. The rose polarizer makes the yellows more orange, the oranges fiery, the reds aggressive and steroidy. Burning bushes push fuchsia in these things.
Those pileated woodpeckers I saw a couple of weeks ago? You should have seen their red crests through these lenses. I almost cried.
Tim and I will be out amongst the colors, and suddenly I’ll take off my glasses, hand them to him, say, “Dude. You have to put these on. Just for a minute.”
He does, laughs out loud. These are giddy-making lenses, some sort of intensifying drug.
Maybe I have a problem, but I love seeing the world this way.
Winnie-the-Pooh Is on Vacation October 15, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
When Sue and I were in New York a few weeks ago to see Equus, we started the day by taking in the Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. After I’d stared long enough at Landscape at Twilight, after we’d lunched and checked out a couple more exhibits, we took in the sights through one of the massive glass walls. We realized we were looking down at 53rd Street and the Donnell Library Center, the branch of the New York Public Library where the original Winnie-the-Pooh animals live.
We’d both been to see the old Milne gang in the last year or so, but not together. The animals live in this rather-unspectacular-looking-but-extremely-serviceable library in a bulletproof-glass case in the children’s reading room, which boasts the requisite fluorescent lights, dropped ceiling, and—oh yeah—some original N. C. Wyeth paintings on the wall.
We left MOMA and walked over, but the place was closed up tight and clearly emptied. It’s going to be razed, and a luxury hotel will rise up in its place.
A sign on the door said that Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends were now living at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library at 42nd and 5th. We had time, so we walked over. That turned out to be the main branch, which doesn’t say “Humanities and Social Sciences Library” anywhere outside of it that we could see.
So we got in the security line, our open bags at the ready. We said to the guard, “Is this where Winnie-the-Pooh is?”
“Winnie-the-Pooh is on vacation,” he told us.
“But the sign on 53rd Street said he was here.”
“Ladies, Winnie-the-Pooh is on vacation.”
That’s all we could get from him. Not where he’d gone. Not when he’d be back.
We made the return trip through the people-lined velvet-roped corridor. We squeezed and we squoze, and then with one last sqooze we were out.
Pathetic. That’s what it is. Pathetic.
One Weekend October 14, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
The Weekend I Should Have Had
Friday: Mom and Dad arrive from Maryland. Aunt and Cousin arrive from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, respectively. Husband makes one of his impressive dinners, and Sister joins us. We assign people beds amongst three houses (as the third house was to be rented for the occasion).
Saturday: I deliver muffins or scones to everyone for breakfast. Cousin’s Husband, Son, and Daughter arrive from Massachusetts and join the rest of us. We spend the day doing some fun thing, maybe breaking up the group to fit various activity levels. Hiking, orcharding, leaf peeping, croquet, bike riding . . . anything is possible. That night we head to the Red Brick Grill to celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary, which actually happened a couple of months ago.
Sunday: Aunt and Cousin and Cousin’s Family head home after Tim’s World-Famous, Egg-Separated Buttermilk Pancakes. Parents probably stay another night.
It would have been perfect.
The Weekend I Had
Friday: My schedule now open, I am free to accept an invitation to a Planned Parenthood event being held in a private home. I am unclear whether I have been invited because of my small monthly contributions to that organization or because the host, a board member, is a former coworker, friend, and one of the most generous people on the planet. When I arrive, it is clear that it is the latter.
The “lively music” promised is in full swing and turns out to be a viola/violin duet by oh-so-professional musicians. This means that Tim, fellow introvert, is already thrilled to be here. He will stay as close to them as possible all evening, enthralled.
The guest of honor is Vermont’s secretary of state, who gives a short address about the political health of women. I find her words inspiring. Can you imagine? In this day and age? A politician says some stuff, and I find it inspiring.
The state’s senate president pro tempore is there too, as is (briefly) the speaker of the house, who is running for governor, has been endorsed by PP, and is en route to a debate. All three of these people introduce themselves to me. It is a most unusual and interesting evening for a gal from Parts West.
Saturday: I write a check to a political action fund and mail it. Small potatoes, no doubt, but every potato helps.
We rush through our chores.
It is our twenty-second wedding anniversary. The weather is perfect. It is a clear, crisp, sunny October Saturday, just like the day we got married. We hike to the top of Mount Antone, a small mountain with great views of the valley. We time it just right and have the peak to ourselves for our picnic. We’ve packed sandwiches we picked up at Will and Eric’s: turkey/cheddar/lettuce/mayo on Rupert Rising bread. We’re too lazy to cut up the apples to add to the sandwiches proper, so we employ them as chasers instead.
We stop at the orchard and buy more Macouns and Honeycrisps.
We go home and take a nap.
That evening, we head to Red Brick Grill anyway, with Lynda and Paul, whose anniversary is just four days before ours. We eat, drink, are merry.
Sunday: Chores, chores, chores. But ones that feel good to have accomplished.
It was perfect.
One Week October 9, 2008Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
Last week, my father was hospitalized with unexplained internal bleeding. Because he had double pneumonia, the endoscopy that would identify the problem had to be put off five days while everyone waited.
My friend Judi, the nurse, said it was a good sign that they thought they could wait.
And he seemed to feel a little better every day, despite the deterioration that comes with being bedridden.
I live a good 8- or 9-hour drive away from my parents. Without getting into the intricacies of a visit home, which is complicated enough when everyone is healthy, I realize that this, no doubt, is the beginning of what will be many times of trying to judge whether I need to get in the car and drive south. I’m not ready to be at this stage of life. I’ll never be ready.
During the wait, my in-laws came to visit, and we entertained them as well as we could. The best part for me was a long walk with my husband and my stepfather-in-law, during which we managed to get up close and personal with a pair of pileated woodpeckers feeding on midautumn berries.
After the in-laws left, I made a trip—at last!—to Hicks Orchard with my husband and my sister. I visited with Dan and Susan, proprietors. I bought half a dozen cider donuts, a gallon of cider, some Honeycrisps, some Macouns. We visited the tasting room and picked up a couple of bottles of stunningly good ice cider for some special occasion. The sky was blue, the sun was hot, the bees buzzed all around us and our sweet purchases.
Our friends Dan and Deb made us a gourmet dinner featuring lamb and a bottle of Brancaia. We watched Young @ Heart together. I tried to not think about how the ages of those who died during the filming compared with my father’s.
I canceled the fiftieth-anniversary dinner party we’d planned for my parents this weekend. I canceled the house rental that would have made hosting seven out-of-towners more reasonable.
I blogged about the cold.
I delivered some DVDs (Little Britain, Walk Hard, all five seasons of Get Smart) to my friend Jim, who just finished a round of radiation and whose previous chemotherapy treatment has stopped working. I hung out, and we bemoaned the state of the political world. Wendy, his wife, was making dinner. “Jim’s teaching me to make Spanish tortillas,” she said, happily.
When I got home, I got word that Dad’s endoscopy had happened at last, and the source of the bleeding was an esophageal ulcer. Although this is not a good thing to happen to a person, at this moment, it’s a relief.
He was released from the hospital yesterday, will dutifully take his medication, and go back for a followup hospital look-see in a month.
Let the new week begin.