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Tim’s List February 27, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Earlier this week, Tim offered to take the day off next Monday to celebrate my birthday. This took me by surprise. I hadn’t considered taking the day off. He told me to start thinking about what I wanted to do.

What I really want to do is go cross-country skiing at Wild Wings, a touring center about an hour from here. That’s what I wanted to do last year, too, but it didn’t happen. Somehow I haven’t gotten to ski there in a few years.

But now it’s suddenly 50-something degrees F, and a rainstorm is blowing in. It hasn’t started yet, but the only full-fledged traffic lights I ever see (you locals know the ones—at the intersection of Routes 22 and 149) were swaying as I made my way home from the gym. This does not bode well for good x-country skiing conditions. So, what do I want to do for my birthday?

What, indeed? I have been so focused on this one thing that it’s hard for me to think about something else I might want to do. In the middle of nowhere. On a Monday. The day that most places-about-the-fun close up if they are going to close at all.

I wasn’t coming up with anything. Granted, I was busy with work and not putting a lot of thought into it. But it disturbed me how unimaginative I seemed to be. A line from a They Might Be Giants song raced menacingly through my mind: “Now it’s over I’m dead and I haven’t done anything that I want, or I’m still alive and there’s nothing I want to do.”

We already have a Saturday-night plan. Our friend Paul has been trying for more than a year to find a date to cook dinner for us and our next-door neighbors. Finding a date that works for everyone (and on which a sitter can be found) is not easy. Weeks ago, we finally came up with this Saturday. Paul’s coming over and cooking us all curry shrimp. Mmmmmm.

But that left possible time on a lot of Saturday, all day Sunday, and Monday.

Of course, as soon as Tim began thinking that he might take Monday off, several important meetings were scheduled. Idea abandoned. We’re back to the weekend.

So last night I met Tim for sushi and beer before we headed to a Tony Hoagland reading. Tim was already at the bar, and when I finally decided on which beer, he presented me with a steno pad on which he’d made a list of things we could do this weekend.

Ideas for Saturday a.m. or Sunday

  1. Ski/snowshoe Merck Forest
  2. Empire Wine/Chez Sophie [an impressive discount wine store and a Saratoga restaurant]
  3. Horned lark expedition—check sightings on Web and go
  4. Rutland: movie and Table 24 [another fine dining establishment]
  5. Cook dinner; Twister party? [he did not recall that we don’t actually own Twister]
  6. Wine-tasting party, vertical or horizontal, potluck apps and a big pot of soup
  7. Ice-skating party with friends, dinner out
  8. Snowshoe at Sterling Farms [snowshoeing still on the table because one doesn’t need the same great conditions]
  9. Saratoga spa?
  10. Mass MoCA or Clark [art museums, and I’m embarrassed to say I still have never been to Mass MoCA]
  11. Visit to hat shop to fine-tune final design [we’re working with a milliner]
  12. Make list of art to be framed [I always want rogue art framed as a gift]
  13. Treasure hunt
  14. Get tattoos and dye Indigo’s hair jet black [this after a discussion with certain friends in a certain bar last week]
  15. 100th visit to the gym! [this is within reach]

I love this list, and I love that Tim made this list. I still don’t exactly what I’m going to do for my birthday. But I have options. A good time will be had.

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100 There, 100 Here February 23, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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And still the obsession. Can I make it to 100 gym workouts before my birthday? Here is a bit of a progress report.

When I got back from Portland, I began my quest in earnest. My first day back, I swiped my card, listened for the electronic beep, and asked what my count was.

“Eighty,” she said.

Eighty? But this was my eighty-third visit! Sometimes I forget to swipe my card going in. How could I make it up?

I thought about Helen’s suggestion. That I cheat. Only now I’d be cheating in order to get our counts to match.

And is that really cheating? I wasn’t going to fake my count, try to make it higher than it was. I’m too obsessive for that. I know what the reality is.

But try as I might to cheat my way to reality, I still haven’t gotten their count to match mine.

I’ve tried to be subtle. Sometimes, when it seems no one is paying attention, I swipe twice. If this actually worked, I should have caught up by now. I think their computer must sense that this is a mistake and not count the second swipe.

It’s riskier to wait and try again. The swipe displays your photo on their computer screen. If staff saw me come in, and if other people have since signed in, the reappearance of my mug is going to be a bit suspicious.

One day (in a scenario also inspired by the wily Helen) I went so far as to go back to the gym a second time when I was passing by anyway (a rarity), sign in, hang out in the locker room for a few minutes, and leave. Yes. I actually did this. I’m not proud of it.

I asked for my count on Saturday and theirs is still one behind mine. I think, though, that I’ve given up on trying to make it match. Because, as noted above, I know what the reality is, so who cares what they think it is? My goal was already in place before I saw all those we’ve-already-been-here-100-times certificates on the wall. What does it matter to me if the gym computer is off by one silly workout?

Really, I’m going to try to let it go.

Meanwhile, though, the gods still seem to be conspiring against me. I am one week and five workouts away from making my goal of 100 gym workouts by my birthday. And I am sick.

I was getting sick last week. Tim was sick, and I was doing all that I could to fend it off: slamming various immune boosters, sleeping a lot, killing germs with wine, etc. Every morning I would wake up feeling that a cold was beginning. I would think about whether working out was a good idea. And for those of you who might wonder, research suggests that it’s OK to keep exercising if your symptoms are from the neck up. So I kept plugging away at my goal, and I felt at my very best for the day immediately after every workout.

Saturday afternoon, though, the cough started. And Sunday morning, it became clear: I’m sick. Then there was a major snowstorm. No trip to the gym on Sunday.

Maybe this cold won’t be so bad. Maybe I can still get my five workouts in this week.

Last year, I was so sick with the flu on my birthday I was unable to leave the bed. My main goal now is to not repeat that.

So I’m trying to look at this post as a small consolation prize: It’s the 100th on Route 153.

My Bloggy Valentine February 17, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I’m not really into Valentine’s Day. I’m not necessarily against it; I just don’t care. There are people who send me a Valentine almost every year: Gordon, Sarah, Sue. I admit that I am touched by this. (Of course, I cherish Gordon’s Valentine the most, because I have a big fat crush on him. We are destined never to meet, however.)

Tim and I spent this past Valentine’s Day, Saturday, at a memorial service. I won’t go into detail other than to say that the three-hour gathering/party/memorial was the perfect tribute to our friend’s life. He was a serious sportsman, and near the end of the gathering, some of his ashes, now filling shotgun shells, were fired in gun salute.

Afterward, Tim and I headed home. We were both physically ailing a bit: me recovering from my neck going out, him with a bad head cold. We spent the rest of the day laying low, catching up on some video/DVD stuff.

But that evening I noticed on Tim’s dresser—where it lives—a Valentine I had sent him three years ago.

Like I said, I’m not a Valentine’s person. But in late January 2006, my friend Christine hosted a mail-art party. A bunch of women got together, got out the scissors and glue, and made some mail art. Christine suggested that it be posted from the upcoming Woodchuck Festival, as the post office would be there with a festival-themed cancellation stamp. I don’t remember if Valentine’s Day was an intentional focus of the mail-art party or if that evolved naturally given the time of year. But I made Tim a Valentine and left it with Christine, who took everyone’s mail art and delivered it to the festival’s postmistress.

Here is my Valentine to Tim, front and back (with the address Photoshopped out). Note the cancellation.

valentine-front-low-res

valentine-back-low-res

What happened to me as a result of that Valentine was this: I became a blogger.

In the course of the obvious constant chattering at such a gathering, Christine mentioned her latest creative endeavor: A fellow mail-art friend, for his 40th birthday, was beginning a blog project called 365. Every day for a year, he would write a 40-word portrait of someone. He was looking for others to join in. Christine was on board.

This caught my attention. At that moment in time, it sounded like something I wanted to try. Christine encouraged me and taught me how to set up a blog. On February 1, taking the age/word-count cue and being on the cusp of a birthday, I posted my first 44-word portrait.

And here we are. A lot of folks on my blogroll are 365 alums. My cybercommunity.

When I look at this Valentine, I think of Tim. But I also think of Christine, and that party, and you. A belated Happy Valentine’s Day to all my cybersweeties.

Goats in the ’Hood February 16, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday morning, after I had gone to the grocery store, after I had made my ninetieth visit to the gym and cleaned myself up, I headed home via Lali and Ed’s place. I could tell you that I was stopping there to catch the tail end of Tim and Lynda’s rehearsal (more on that later), but that wouldn’t be completely true. The tail ends I wanted to see were on the new goats, the Nigerian dwarf darlings who’d recently moved in.

Tim and Lynda are next up on the salon docket. Lali and Dona have been holding monthly salons for the winter, which have thus far featured shepherding, politics, and art. Tim and Lynda will be playing recorder/flute duets next Sunday, barring prohibitive weather or ill health (we are hoping Tim’s very bad cold abates). They were at Lali’s to practice in the actual space.

When I got there, the two were playing, Lali and Ed were listening, and Kristina, Lynda’s daughter, was practically dog whispering with Wolfie, the large German shepherd who significantly outweighs her. Lexi, the older German shepherd, was being her sweet, sweet self (although Lali assures me that Lexi is not sweet, just a dog who knows how to get what she wants). If what she wants is attention from me, it’s working. I’ll give it.

The rehearsal wrapped up, on went the boots, and out we marched to the goat/chicken house. And here are Alsiki (left) and Blossom, as interpreted by Tim’s camera:

goats

Alsiki is very friendly and curious and will happily touch faces with me. Blossom is a bit more tentative but warmed up to us quite nicely. Their coats are wonderfully soft. These goats could be quite good therapy for an overworked editor who needs to get away from her computer. (Sadly, just because she needs to doesn’t mean she will. Once one is hanging out with goats, it is difficult to disentangle. Just ask Lali.)

By summer, if the goats are now with kid, if we are still in Lali’s good graces: cheese.

Northbrook Buttermilk Griddle Cakes February 15, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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For Mrs. S and Helen

OK, gang, here is that pancake recipe I mentioned in the last post, the one Mrs. S should try should he in fact ever receive his maple syrup.

These pancakes were served at our beloved Northbrook Lodge one night for dinner in 1989. Tim had to have the recipe, and it was provided. The secret is in the separation of the eggs and the careful folding in of the egg whites. It is imperative that the egg whites are not overstirred in the batter.

The recipe noted both small and large batch. However, if you look at the quantities, you can see that the change from small to large isn’t proportional across the board. Tim says the large makes a slightly thinner batch. He can’t really say which is “better.” Often, when cooking for several people, instead of doubling a small or large batch, he will combine a large and small batch. This has always worked out quite well.

They are really good with fresh blueberries, too. And, of course, 100% maple syrup.

Northbrook Lodge Buttermilk Griddle Cakes

Small batch
(4 orders of three 2-oz. pancakes)

2 eggs separated
1½ cups buttermilk
⅔ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour
⅔ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter

Large batch
(6 orders of three 2-oz. pancakes)

3 eggs separated
1⅔ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter

Beat yolks til thick. Add buttermilk and soda.

Sift together and add rest of dry ingredients. Add melted butter.

Beat egg whites in copper bowl and fold in.

With the batter, make the cakes.

Australia February 9, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I woke up this morning to the BBC’s coverage of the fires in Australia. Nasty stuff. When I got up, I quickly reviewed the geography: Where is Mrs. S in relation to the fires? Where is Mali vacationing? I also checked Mrs. S’s blog. Looks like Mali’s home already, and Mrs. S is sweltering, but not on fire.

Australia has been on my mind a good bit because of Mrs. S and some Mrs. S–related tasks that I keep transferring from one day’s list to the next. One of them was a recent request: Could I send the copy of his sweetheart Kate Cole-Adam’s novel, Walking to the Moon, to their good friend Fran, recently moved to California?

Kate’s novel, so far, isn’t readily available on this continent, and when I checked into ordering it from Australia, the cost with shipping was mighty high. I decided to wait it out. Meanwhile, Helen had a friend in Australia who happily sent her the book. Helen offered to send it to me when she was done. (Oh, I love my little blog world!)

Helen read it, then loaned it to Maureen, who got it back to Helen, who read it once more and sent it to me. What with reading all day as my job, it takes me forever to (a) get to a book and (b) get through a book (at approximately 10–20 minutes per night before lights out). But I read the book, I loved it, and in fact had dreams of reading it again, all in one piece, in big chunks of time by a lake somewhere. Ah, fantasy.

Then the message from Mrs. S. Could I send it to Fran?

The selfish part of Indigo, of course, wanted to keep this souvenir, a symbol of my cyberfriends in Australia and Canada. I wanted to hold onto the someday-reading-it-by-the-lake fantasy. But I also know that this North American copy, so lovingly obtained by Helen, needed to travel and bring joy to yet another.

I mailed it this morning, priority mail, and it should be in Fran’s hands by the end of the week. (Mrs. S, I forgot to note my e-mail address when sending it to her—perhaps you can let me know when you’ve heard that it has arrived?)

But the other Australia-related task has been long on the list. Several months. After my October post about abandoning my PO box of 14 years, Mrs. S sent me a sweet little Penguin book with Eudora Welty’s short story, “Why I Live at the P.O.” I wanted to send something in return, and he jokingly mentioned maple syrup, to which I thought, Why not?

But when I called my regular supplier to see what they would charge to pack/ship it, a figure of $95 came back to me. Stunned, I backed off for a little while. Then I talked with a woman at work, who briefly lived in New Zealand, and she assured me that this could be done for much less.

Sometime before Christmas, I went so far as to buy a pint. I figured I’d pack it up and shop it around to post offices, seeing how well I could do shippingwise, seeing if I’d come up against trouble when the contents turned out to be liquid. I could tell the truth at the first PO, and if I didn’t like the answer I got, I could little-white-lie at the next.

This weekend, after I packed Kate’s book for Fran, I packed the maple syrup. It’s in a plastic pint container, not glass, and I’ve taped the lid. It’s enclosed in a Ziploc bag. It is surrounded by big bubbly packing stuff and some confetti from my shredder.

This morning, I went to the post office.

I went the honest route and stated exactly what was in the box. The postmistress didn’t balk. She quoted me two very reasonable prices: first class and priority. I went with first class, which, theoretically, will get it there in a week to 10 days. (I’m thinking maybe two weeks.) As to why I originally was quoted $95? All I can figure is that my maple syrup supplier does a very professional job of packing and does not use the U.S. Postal Service as its means of transport.

I hope this works. It’s now out of my hands.

Mrs. S, I hope that within two weeks, you will receive a box from me that contains real Vermont maple syrup. I hope that nothing breaks and that you do not open a box full of sticky confetti. I hope that whatever conditions this box encounters on its journey do not in any way spoil the syrup. I hope that customs does not turn the package away or decide to keep the syrup for themselves. I hope that the box does not catch fire. I hope that you do not catch fire. I hope that soon you will get a break from the heat (46.4ºC, 116ºF!) and that soon the fires will be over.

Mrs. S, would that I could also ship some of Tim’s fluffy, egg-separated buttermilk pancakes! They are tiny soufflés of yummy goodness! I will send you the recipe electronically. I’ll put that on my list right now.*

*You won’t be voluntarily flipping pancakes in that heat anyway. Might I note that a drizzle over some vanilla ice cream never hurt anyone?