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Foodie Bonding April 30, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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“I love you,” said Tim, as I popped the last crunchy sardine head into my mouth.

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Just Before the Bonfire April 27, 2009

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Friday night, postdinner and prebonfire, Tim and I were sitting on the couch catching up on some taped TV. The phone rang. It was Ursula.

Ursula is scheduled for hip surgery tomorrow. Actually, she was scheduled a couple of weeks ago, but she had a cold or something the day of the procedure, and they sent her home.

Our mutual friend Paul—who also happens to be our mutual housepainter and who himself had hip surgery last year—had been helping Ursula and her partner get ready, prepping the house for the recovery period and just being the generally all-around great guy that he is.

Tim picked up the phone. Ursula asked him if we knew if Paul had left town, gone to visit someone or something. We didn’t know. She asked if he still had an answering machine. We said he did, as far as we knew.

She’d been trying to reach him all day. No answer, no machine. She didn’t start to worry until evening, when he should have been home from work.

Tim offered to go over right away and check out the situation. (Ursula lives about a half-hour away; for us, it’s about ten minutes.)

Paul is a very healthy, active guy, age 69, who lives alone. I’ve had a little more fear of healthy people dropping dead since my 32-year-old cousin did two years ago.

We called his number. No answer, no machine. Tim hit the road.

I stayed home like a coward and tried to distract myself. I figured that Tim, who with his buddy Roger discovered a body in a park last year, had a little more experience with this potential situation. I was pretty sure I would fall apart (although it’s possible I’d become quite calm and task-oriented).

Maybe a quarter hour later, the phone rang. “He’s fine,” Tim said. “There’s a short somewhere in his phone line. He jiggled it.”

And then Tim stayed for a scotch on the screened-in porch.

Ursula, having also been informed, called again, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. I’m happy to live in a place where some attention is paid and people will call for backup.

I went upstairs to shut down my computer. Just as I posted “Indigo Bunting’s heading next door to the bonfire” to my Facebook page, I heard a soft knock on the mudroom door. It was Nolan. “Coming to get me?” I asked, knowing I was bit late.

“Yep.”

“I’m shutting down. I’ll be right there.”

Jumpy April 17, 2009

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I’ve been feeling somewhat anxious this week. Not exactly sure why. It could be the general state of the world. It could be that my Alleged New Project may have hit an unexpected bump. Maybe it’s spring fever.

It could also be chemical: I’ve been ingesting more caffeine than usual. Tim got home Sunday night. I had finished up the last of that brewed coffee in the morning, and it wasn’t quite enough, so I made a fresh French press. I had a cup and saved the rest.

Of course, with Tim home, there’s fresh coffee every morning. So that meant the refrigerated coffee was extra coffee. Extra coffee that, when iced, made an excellent accompaniment to my daily postlunch homemade Easter egg. Made by Tim’s mother. Peanut butter or coconut covered in chocolate.

“How many do you want?” he’d asked me on the phone.

“Eighteen,” I joked.

He brought fourteen. Fourteen.

So every afternoon has started with an Easter egg and an iced coffee.

And I’ve been a bit jumpy.

Today, in my jumpiness, I got fed up with waiting by the phone like a schoolgirl to hear what happened at yesterday’s launch meeting for the Alleged New Project. So I decided to take a power walk on the rail trail, out to that little bridge that runs over the creek. Maybe 3 miles round trip. Maybe.

I grabbed the binoculars, of course, and did get mightily distracted at the Swampy Place when I heard what I am pretty darn sure was a bobolink mixed in with all those red-winged blackbirds and a couple of peepers. The sound was otherworldly. (A Swampy Place seems like a weird hangout for a bobolink, although it is right next to the fields where bobolinks often are.) I couldn’t get a visual for the life of me. So I continued on, walking briskly, watching a bird here or there, til I got to the bridge. The one that runs over the little stream.

A secret: I like to use the side rails of this small bridge as a ballet barre, as it is just about the right height. Upon arrival, I like to throw a leg up onto the barre (throw, not lift, as I am no ballerina and could never get into that position in a controlled fashion) and stretch out my hamstring. First one leg, then the other. It feels good. I stretch, I watch the stream.

This time, there was a rustling below me. I saw something moving in the brush. At first I thought it was a large bird, maybe a duck (it was about that size, it seemed, but a duck would have flushed long ago). Maybe a woodcock? Not likely, but a girl can hope. I lowered a leg and raised the binoculars. Something brownish and furry. Mammalian.

I couldn’t get a good look, but I kept my binoculars on it. If what I was seeing was its head, maybe it was an otter. I was hopeful. But it could also be a muskrat. Muskrats are cool too.

I waited.

It moved around a lot, and the more of it that I got into my line of sight, the more convinced I was that it was an otter.

Then it moved out of the brush into the clearing below the bridge, with intentions of moving under it. We spotted each other at the same time. Otter! Human!

It made a sort of hissy noise at me and took cover. It hissed a bit more. I heard a splash, and in record time it was bounding along the opposite bank. It would take cover, then poke its head out and stare at me. Hiss.

It was exactly the type of reaction an otter should have when encountering something like me.

I moved along. Back at home, still no word on the Alleged New Project.

I think I’ll go to Aaron’s Pilates class.

My Lodge, Myself April 12, 2009

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I heard the news two weeks ago (oh boy) from our friend Tim. I had been putting off trying to find out myself, because . . . well, because I figured I’d hear something when I heard it. But I also needed to start getting aggressive about it, what with it being March already, June just around the corner in Adult Time.

Our beloved lodge, our annual vacation place for twenty-two summers, will in fact be placed in private hands. Last August was truly the last visit.

We had signed up for two weeks again, one in June and one in August, just in case it didn’t sell and the owner operated it as a B&B. But even as I did that, I wasn’t sure I could handle another bittersweet stay, the long goodbye. Some time back it became clear that (my) Tim wouldn’t be able to make the June dates anyway, but I was holding onto them just in case, with the plan of trying to get someone else to go with me.

So oddly, there was a bit of relief (mixed with the sadness) in hearing from friend Tim. It’s over, I thought. It’s really over. Now I can think about other possibilities.

Truth be told, I have yet to hear the news from the horse’s mouth (the owner), which surprises me. But friend Tim quietly forwarded her e-mail to some of us. It explains that they signed a long-term lease with a Canadian family who will buy the lodge in the near future (who live, incredibly, two blocks away from where the original 1920s owner lived). The family will use it as a private residence and will not run it as a business. The property is under strict environmental and preservation covenants.

Friend Tim noted that he and Valerie were probably too busy to try to find another place in the Adirondacks this year, although many of us would love to reunite there. John and Virginia are spending a week at another camp on the lake, where they have stayed before with friends—a nice place, but with a completely different feel and the usual hard-to-get-into-ness. Rosemarie, Bill, and William will spend their usual two weeks in Mary Lou’s more modern house (the late wife of the late owner), which is just off the lodge property and has lake access. Again, a very different feel from our lodge (but nothing feels like our lodge). Maybe someday one of those options could work for me.

I’m not quite ready to make a plan. I still feel newly widowed. I need to use this time to visit family and friends. In these economic times, I wonder if I’ll be able to afford even that.

I need to be still for awhile and listen for the calls of other places. And I need to enjoy being right where I am.

Same As It Ever Was? April 9, 2009

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Tim’s away this week. I went to Portland with him, but I couldn’t stay the whole time, then he had to do a photo shoot in upstate New York. Today he’s headed off for his annual fishing trip with his dad. He’ll visit with family and drive home Sunday.

This morning, heating up my coffee, I began to think about last year’s post, “What Indigo Bunting Does When Tim’s Not Around,” and I wondered if I was still doing it. Here’s an update:

Coffee crimes: It’s a mix. Tuesday morning, my first morning back, I did in fact use my large French press instead of hauling out the drip coffeemaker. And yes, I heated up said French-press coffee until I ran out this morning. Just now, in an effort to stay awake to work on an article, I’ve decided I need a cup. So I hauled out the drip coffeemaker. Coffee is brewing as I type.

Sleep crimes: I have, without question, been sprawling like crazy.

Timmy watch: I wore it on my drive home, and I believe I have worn it since, but I wasn’t wearing it when I reread last year’s post. As Timmy is on the road to his next destination, I decided I better put it on. It’s on. (Not that I’m truly superstitious or anything—I just like to wish him well.)

I wonder if my coffee’s done? I bet that pot will last me through Saturday.

The Night I Was Lusting after Green Stone Algorithm April 7, 2009

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“Billy was there?” George says. “Did he show up after we left? I would’ve punched him in the face!”

Billy had been a photography assistant, a really good one, who left the studio upon falling in love with a woman who could apparently keep him (her mother having sold a small company you may have heard of), so now he was off traveling and photographing, although maybe not so much now, what with his arm in a cast and a pin (or was it four?) in his wrist, which happened—he told us at Diane’s opening in the modern-furniture store where George had just missed seeing him—in Florida (I think) when he flipped over the handlebars of the safest bike imaginable and his t-shirt got caught in the spokes, but there he was at the opening in his delightful Billyness and it was lovely to see him and say hello as I admired all the Diane paintings I would like to own myself, particularly that one in the corner, behind the counter/register (which was also serving as the get-your-free-mini-Cosmo-here station), where those two greyhounds (one brindle, one brown and white, whose beds were also behind said counter/register) put up with me each time I took a closer look at that painting, which was many times more than once.

We visited with Billy and Wendy and Jeff and Peter and Tim and Alfred and Diane but I missed meeting Tallulah because, now being a good half-hour behind George and Michele and Emma, who had been there earlier, we hurried along to have dinner at their house (Tim and Emma having set up that recorder-and-flute-duet date), but when we got in the car I realized my left earring was gone, and I loved that earring, and I was sad, but it could be anywhere, it could be on the floor at the opening or at another gallery or on the street, but I’d only removed my coat and scarf at the bar where I sipped a prosecco before the opening, and coat/scarf removal was the Movement Most Likely to Dislodge an Earring, so Tim dropped me off at the White Heart and a nice woman let me look around the floor at her feet—alas, no earring—but I did find Tim and the car just around the corner, Tim having managed to not have to circle the block, and poor-little-moi figured that if my earring was on the floor in that furniture store/gallery, I would never get it back, as at the very least it would be vacuumed up, and the whole crowded setup of the situation (an art opening in a crowded furniture store!) made it impossible to even consider going back and looking for it, so we headed off to George et al.’s, and Tim turned the CD player on, and Flight of the Conchords started up, and I have to admit that hearing “Boom” and “Business Time” cheered me up a bit in spite of myself and in spite of the hard rain that started to fall as we crossed the bridge to South Portland.

We made it there just as Michele was leaving to pick up Thai food, and Emma was taking coats, and when I took my scarf off, the missing earring—which had been caught deep in the folds—fell to the floor, and there was much rejoicing on my part, and Tim and Emma had a great play date and I got to play with Murphy the Staffordshire bull terrier and Buddha the little manx cat and I got to visit with George and Michele who are rather delightful and I got to eat Thai food and drink white wine and look at the Diane paintings that George and Michele have, and eventually Billy’s name came up, and George said, “Billy was there?” and mentioned that he would have punched him in the face, I think because Billy was so good at his job and had simply abandoned them all to be kept and to his follow his dreams, but I don’t really know for sure, and we mentioned that Billy was at a disadvantage at the moment, what with the wrist pin and all.

“Still,” George said, smiling. “I would’ve have punched him.”

Portland Reality April 2, 2009

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Admittedly, when I head to this wonderful Maine town, I have visions of what it will be like. I see myself sitting in the hotel room, writing blog posts to my heart’s content. I envision sneaking out on rainy afternoons to take in a movie. I imagine long walks on the promenade by the bay, birdwatching. I see myself chatting up bartenders, a cocktail or wine glass in my hand, a friend on either side of me. I hallucinate about the good food I’m going to eat.

And yet, more and more, I find myself working most of the day.

The economy has been scaring me as much as it has everyone. It seems that I’m getting less work, although I’m afraid to get out the books and make the year-by-year comparison. I’ve already lost a job this year by insisting the client pay me at the rate they paid two years ago. I do have something new lined up, but there’s a delay in the start date. So last week I went begging.

I didn’t come up empty-handed, but in obtaining a small job, I discovered that yet another client is changing how they pay (from hourly to per-page, which often means the copyeditor will make less). Because of the light nature of the book, I figured I might still be able to make a decent hourly rate, plus I figured I needed to try to make enough money while in Portland to offset what I was going to eat in its fine-dining establishments.

So I worked on that book during my first three days here, in addition to my regular journal chores. And I nearly hated it. It was essentially a book of quotes, something someone might purchase for a friend but never for him/herself—an impulse buy. It was filled with every e-mail forward we’ve all received over the last half-dozen years.

Maybe what depressed me most was that this is the kind of book that can find a publisher these days, while very good writers have work that will never, ever be promoted.

Still, I was thankful for the job. I have to be. But now I find that I haven’t even read blogs in three days. I certainly haven’t been writing.

Is it really that I am so much busier that I seem to get so little accomplished? I fear that in my old age I’m simply becoming less efficient.

And Portland, this town I love, becomes just another place to chase my own tail.

Dinners, though . . . the food here is a dream.