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Let the Games Begin May 28, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

After my sister bought Paul’s house on Route 153, after she had torn down the condemned barn in the back, after the size of the yard was realized and grass planted, it became clear that someday croquet must be played there.

So two Christmases ago, my parents and I got Alison a croquet set. And at last, on Monday, two games were played.

The game had been set up once before, last summer. Alison’s friend Richard had come to visit. A dinner party was planned, and Richard, on a sweltering hot day, carefully set up the course. Ultimately, a thunderstorm and steady rain dissolved our croquet dreams.

Time passed. Rain happened. Then, the long winter.

We talked about playing croquet on Memorial Day, but never confirmed it; at the last minute, Tim and I ended up with some important evening plans. I was ready to let the game go, but then realized we had enough time to make both things happen. We should play.

So Tim set up the course (I helped), Alison mixed gin and tonics, Tim reminded us of the rules, the brass (ceremoniously) played Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream,” and we began.

It had been, maybe, thirty years for me. I was terrible. I consistently hit too short, then too long. But it was quite fun, and it felt so bloody civilized. So civilized, in fact, that not once did I clobber someone with my mallet.

At the end of Game One, I said, “We should call Paul.” No one likes a G&T on a hot day more than Paul. Who knew how he felt about croquet? As he’d previously insisted on our attendance at a polo match, we figured he’d be open to it. Alison went inside to phone him. As she was dialing, Paul drove by, homebound after a day of work. We tried to scream/flag him down, to no avail. He would have to pick up the message at home. His new home. The one he moved into after he sold this one to Alison.

Alison, Tim, and I lounged under the shade of the big pine. Soon Paul showed up. Alison armed him with a gin and tonic. Game Two was on.

Turns out Paul is a bit of a croquet animal. He knew the rules. He was good. He played barefoot. He refused to shoe himself even when sending his opponents, his mallet whacking the ball that was both perilously close to and solidly fixed under his exposed metatarsals. Was he really that confident, or was it the gin?

Now that croquet has been played, I suspect that it will be played more. One needs to get a thing on one’s radar. One needs to remind oneself that one can. I now declare croquet added to the summer repertoire, and I challenge others on Route 153 (and beyond) to insist upon joining in.

Shoot May 27, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

As some of you may recall, I have shot a gun only once—that is, a pellet gun many times on one occasion. Guns do not play an immediate role in my life and, unless something drastically changes, aren’t likely to. That said, I do believe in the right to keep and bear arms. And I believe in gun control. I don’t find these concepts mutually exclusive, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.

But this isn’t a what-I-think-about-guns post. This is more of a WTF post.

My friend Joe called me last week. He said that one evening his phone rang, and his caller ID read NRA.

Would I ever pick up on that call? No.

Joe, however (whose views I consider to be generally to the right of mine), thought, “This’ll be good,” and decides to engage.

Female Voice: I’m calling from the NRA. May I ask: when was the last time you went out shooting?
Joe: Pretty much never.
FV: So you don’t care about people’s rights?

Just try to wrap your head around that logic. It’s enough to make your brain explode.

It’s precisely that depth of intellect that makes me think Do not let this chick near a firearm.

American Toad (Bufo americanus) May 21, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Last Thursday, just before my trip to visit my high school BFF and see my beloved Bill Irwin play Vladimir in Waiting for Godot (supported by the likes of Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and John Glover), our good buddies several miles down Route 153 invited us to dinner. The gourmet, wine-loving buddies. The ones who half the time serve you something they either grew or raised themselves, or both. (And no, that is not foreshadowing. Calm down.) Their names are Deb and Dan. We have a nickname for them that sneers at their utter unachievable perfection. It involves a word that some would consider rude and unprintable. I will say only that their last name begins with the letter F.

It was a wet night. Tim met me there after work, driving over the mountain to save time. So we had two cars.

After the perfect meal, when it was time to go home, Tim started his car first. I began to pull out behind him, but suddenly, Tim wasn’t going anywhere. He was just inching along. What the…? I thought. Then I saw them.

Hundreds of toads.

They were everywhere (everywhere here meaning including all over the long drive to the road).

We had to get past the ponds now hosting Toad Orgy 2009.

I hate killing things. The sight of roadkill can occasionally induce tears. (And no, I’m not a vegetarian. My life is filled with inconsistency.)

We crept down that drive. (To be fair, there were probably only tens of toads we had to physically dodge—maybe we didn’t have to drive over a hundred. But maybe we did. It was close.)

There was no way we could miss them all. Dan later reported the carnage. His number sounded a little low, given the circumstances. He also noted the death of a yellow-spotted salamander. Very, very sad.

Last night Tim was off at recorder rehearsal and I wanted to drop a VHS tape off at Deb and Dan’s so that my perfect friends could transfer to it something they’d DVRed for me. I got invited to yet another perfect dinner (starring salad greens from the garden!) and got to sit a spell and just look at the beautiful surroundings out that way and at all the leaves that are finally here and at the grazing deer and the yaks. I got to listen to barred owls calling from three different directions, and I got to play with the dog. When the sun was pretty much gone, I figured I better get gone too.

It was dry, but the toads were out. Not in the numbers of Wet Thursday, but out.

I shooed a couple away from my car, but one jumped right underneath, next to the back right wheel, and wouldn’t budge. Dan talked me through backing up and cutting the wheel to miss it. One toad saved.

Then he started down the long drive ahead of me. He’d stomp behind the toads, which, for many, was enough to get them to jump back into the grass. The uncooperative ones he’d pick up and toss aside.

I was delighted that lives were being saved. I was a little jealous at not being the one picking up the toads (despite my general reluctance to do that simply because I can’t imagine that the toads enjoy it; besides not liking to kill things, I don’t really like to freak them out, either, but obviously freaking them out is the lesser of two evils).

It’s an image I think will always stick with me: Dan ahead of me in the headlights of my Big Rolling Death Machine, tossing toads aside.

This morning, a bit of City Indigo creeped back into my stream of consciousness. I found myself thinking about how I regularly tip the parking attendants in Portland, and I realized that perhaps I should have left a sawbuck or two for Dan. I’ve never had better service.

Overheard at the Bar Last Night May 4, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

“What wine would you recommend with the wood-fired sardines?”

“I’d probably go with the Viognier—something fruity.”

“I’ll have a Cosmo.”