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What I Did on My Summer Staycation August 31, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

We were still pretty heartbroken about Northbrook closing two years ago and we had done a lot of house projects and we didn’t have much money or energy to plan a vacation and we live in a beautiful place so we decided to have a staycation and see what happened and maybe go away a little, but if we did, make it not too expensive and maybe do some stuff around here we never find time to do, stuff that isn’t work.

Like, we finally took our canoe out and had a great paddle at Glen Lake and took our lunch and had a picnic. And we went to a play with some friends and another friend took me to a spot in a river I’d never seen before and one day I took Tim there too: cascading pool after pool, but too cold for us to jump in. And some days I went to the river just for a little bit, just to hang with my friends and have a quick dip. And sometimes I rode my bike on the rail trail. And one of our friends had a birthday party and it was a (usual) amazing Parts West gourmet potluck and Tim made tuna ceviche and scallop ceviche and there were veggies fresh from gardens and gumbo made with a turkey raised right down the road. And that birthday party turned into a dance party and I even snuck off near the end and took a hot tub. Because there was a hot tub. I love hot tubs.

And on the last night of staycation Tim’s recorder group played during the cocktail hour of a benefit dinner, which we then attended with a table full of friends for a raucous and almost inappropriate evening, and I bought more gym passes at the silent auction, which is totally predictable, but what makes me happy makes me happy. I did not get the three bottles of French wine.

But we did open several special bottles of wine during the week, like that bottle from France that one of my authors brought me last year when he was in the states and that bottle of Veuve Clicquot and that bottle of Italian we’d been waiting a few years to try to see if it got better with age. We were on vacation, and one day it was our anniversary, so there. Time to open the special bottles!

We took two overnight trips. First, we went to Poughkeepsie and visited friends. It had been too many years since we’d seen them, and we also wanted to see Storm King (a sculpture park), which is not too far away from them. We met them at Storm King on a very rainy day, which is not the best way to see Storm King, at least not the most comfortable way, but the sculpture is beautiful in the rain. I got to walk the Andy Goldsworthy wall, which is the one thing I had to do, no matter what (you can see some of it in this clip from Rivers and Tides). There were painted turtles hanging out on the edges that slip into the pond as it disappears into the water on one side and reemerges on the other. It was wet and hot and we had a demanding 10-year-old with us, so we didn’t last long, not more than 2 hours, but I’m so glad I got there at last, and someday I will go back on a pretty day and spend hours and hours. We had a yummy dinner with our friends and visited and spent the night and the next day we went to the Walkway over the Hudson. It was still overcast but it wasn’t raining and the 2.5+-mile round-trip crossing was wonderfully pleasant.

Then, for our legal anniversary (JP, not wedding), we did an overnight in Burlington. Tim had enough points via all the Portland stays that we scored a free night at the Hilton, right on the waterfront. When we got there, it had been noted that it was our anniversary, and we got upgraded to a lake view (corner room!), and within 20 minutes of check-in, they delivered champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. We were there to ride the Burlington Bikeway, which we did immediately. The trail along the water ends up on a causeway that runs right across the lake to an island—until it gets to a break in that causeway, where there is sometimes a bike ferry (but not when we were there). The trail is stunning, and we did the ride both days, and I didn’t find out til after I’d done the trip twice that it was 20 miles. Bike trails make me miss cities.

And we went to a great noodle place. And a great Italian place. And a great Mexican place. And I got to go to a real record store and buy 45s for my friend who was turning 45.

Marilyn died last week too, and I went to calling hours before I left for my anniversary trip. It was good to see her husband Ernie and her dear daughter-in-law Leslie. Marilyn was one of the most positive people I ever met, and when she and Ernie got together, everyone around them fell in love with their happiness. We will all miss Marilyn.

I had a Pawletti grilled cheese at Consider Bardwell Farm. I had ginger ice cream at the Ice Cream Man.

And that’s what I did on my summer staycation. The end.

LAST DAY gym membership August 29, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

This is written on my calendar today.

Still devastated.

And today’s my last day of staycation, too.

Robbery on 153 August 12, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

So, one morning last week, early, there’s a knock on the door. It’s my friend Sue. She’s looking for soy milk for breakfast. She’d gone to our local general/convenience store, which I’ve previously called Barney’s, but the door was boarded up and there was a sign noting they’d be opening late, thanks to a robbery the night before. That’s right. A robbery. Here in Parts West.

Sue didn’t have any details at that point. Later, I ran into Ron at the post office. He told me that the robbery had been interrupted and that the thieves had made off with a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of cigarettes.

When I finally talked with Will and Eric, the proprietors, I learned that the door had been busted in; that a thousand dollars’ or so worth of cigarettes were gone; and that the guy who lived upstairs had scared the intruders off. He said they were dressed all in black. Apparently their getaway car was around the corner. A police dog picked up on that trail.

Will and Eric said that they usually didn’t have that much inventory in cigarettes, but New York had just jacked up their prices—and one can walk to the New York border from Barney’s door in ten seconds.

Everyone was stopping by, expressing outrage and sympathy. It totally sucks. It happened on the three-year anniversary of their opening the business. Like many small businesses, they’re barely scraping by.


Last week, I was also in the throes of party prepping. Ever since I had my slate patio built in the backyard (in part from the slates that were the foundation of the garage/carriage house [henceforth referred to as the barn], which needed a new foundation to save the building)—a slate patio that complemented my next-door neighbor’s slate patio utterly, what with the two being designed by the same guy and all—Lynda (said next-door neighbor) and I have talked about how we should have a double-backyard party. After about three years of this shoulding, we finally found a date. We tried to keep the guest list to Parts West and very close environs. It was shocking how long that list was, and it kept getting longer, despite our intentions. Likely I should have gone ahead and invited absolutely everyone, but we’d never tried this party thing before.

So despite the fact that it was a potluck, despite the fact that it was a simple party, there was much tasking to be done every day. Lynda brought tables and chairs home from work. I bought beverages and disposable diningware. We cooked a little more than we would have if the potluck was elsewhere. And one night, as we were unloading tables and chairs from Lynda’s car, and talking about what happened at Barney’s, Lynda said, “We should take up a collection for them or something.” I agreed—it would be good to do something nice for them. And then we continued to unload chairs.

The next morning Sarah called me and asked what I thought about taking up a collection for Barney’s at the party. I told her I thought it was a great idea and that Lynda and I had had a similar discussion. With Sarah, we now had a doer on the project. She sent a message out to invitees and told them we’d set up a place to drop donations, if they were interested in contributing.

Then two things happened: Sarah’s husband was worried that she was turning the party into a fund-raiser; she wasn’t, but I understood his concern, just in case Lynda and I hadn’t been on board. Sarah also heard from an invitee that he didn’t think asking for contributions was a good idea, as “that’s what insurance is for.” I get that too. But Barney’s lost that awkward amount of money: It’s a hardship, but it’s almost worse if you report it to insurance. And it sounded like they had decided not to.

We were definitely going to go soft sell on this. I’d put a can out marked “Barney’s.” We would not point it out to anyone. Anyone who had heard, wanted to contribute, and saw the can could drop some bucks in. Anyone who wanted to know what the can was for could ask. The end.


The party on Saturday night was a crazy success. The weather was perfect. The heat had broken and the temperature was divine. Lynda had a tent that we set up against her barn, and we put the food tables under it. There were a couple of tables for people to sit and eat, if they wanted.

The night before the party, we’d set up sundown lighting. White lights were strung on the patios and in the tent. Tiki torches marked some pathways. Lynda’s friend Marie, who was on full-time party duty with us, brought some wonderful solar lights; Lynda’s boyfriend Glenn discovered that sticking them directly into the slate walls produced a starlike pattern around each. It was stunning. There was a bonfire ready to set in Lynda’s backyard and a small outdoor fire pit set up on my patio.

My barn was used as the bar. Lynda’s yard is next to that, and her patio is terraced below. My patio is in the backyard behind the garage. All of this is invisible from the front.

The barn and Lynda’s yard essentially became the kitchen. You know what I mean. You have a party, and the guests never leave the kitchen. Many of them never even ventured into our backyard to see the spectacular light show. Even after we set the bonfire.

More than a hundred people showed up. The kids played in the back, but getting the adults back there was nigh impossible.

Only a couple of people got too drunk.


At the end of the evening, I was pulling a few things in from the barn for the night. I picked up my ice bucket. I noticed the lid was missing. That’s odd, I thought. I looked all over for it, but it was gone. It kind of pissed me off, because it was a brand-new, not-cheap ice bucket, the first I’d ever actually owned, the first I’d ever used it, and now the lid had gone missing.

It was especially perplexing, because the ice tongs were still there, the ones shaped like the clawed feet of birds, which I had hesitated to put out in fear that they might disappear.

Then I looked to where the Barney’s can had been, and it was there no more.

I checked with Tim. He hadn’t seen it. I checked with Lynda and Glenn. Nope.

Had someone stolen the Barney’s money?

It was too late to call Sarah to see if she had taken it with her or had had Monty pick it up when he left later. It was possible that Will and Eric, who were at the party, had taken it, but it was weird that we hadn’t heard about it.

It seemed as if someone had taken the lid off my ice bucket, stuck it on top of the can, and made off with the stash. I didn’t have any idea how much money was in there.

Is it irony if the money we were trying to raise for the robbed store was stolen? What was I going to tell the guests if the money was gone?


About the can: When I was looking for a receptacle for the Barney’s money, I decided to go festive and use my Roy Egg paint can. This gallon paint can, the outside of which is a painting of a chicken with sunflowers, has sentimental value to me. It’s completely disgusting inside: paint has dried into globs, and there’s rust and oil and god knows what in that old thing. I had to line it with foil just to make the inside acceptable.

But the outside is the first Roy Egg painting I ever owned.

Roy’s a local artist with a particular niche. When we were first getting to know him, fourteen or fifteen years ago, we were visiting with him down at his studio. Tim is a painter, and Roy must have said something to tease him, but I can’t imagine what it was—whatever it was, it rolled right off. So I was surprised when early the next morning Roy came to the door, this paint can in hand. It was even filled with flowers. “I’m afraid I might have offended your husband,” he told me. “So I thought I’d bring you this.”

Neither Tim nor I had any recollection of what Roy may have said, but clearly, he thought he didn’t know us well enough to have said it.

But I kind of love that can. The missing can. That was my selfish reaction to what was happening. Why hadn’t I just put out a glass jar?


The next morning, I called Sarah. She did not have the money.

“You know,” she said, “I worried off and on all night whether someone should be watching it. But who would take it?”

Who indeed? None of us really wanted to think about our friends and neighbors in this way.

The next obvious thing to do was to call Will and Eric, which Sarah said she’d do.

Within the hour, she called back.

“They have it,” she said. “They have the money, the can, the lid to the ice bucket . . . ”

Here’s what happened: It was late in the evening. Will and Eric were about to leave. One of the other guests grabbed the can, handed it to them, insisted that they take it. They didn’t want to. Lynda and I weren’t around, and they were put in an awkward position. But the guests were insisting, so take it they did. Unfortunately, these guests never told us.

Frankly, we hadn’t planned to give them the money that night. Sarah was going to take it, cash some checks she’d received, and give them all of the money in a day or two. We figured they might see the can at the party, but we didn’t discuss it with them.

Will and Eric got the money. That’s the important thing. That’s what was going to happen all along. Our guests meant only the best. It was a happy ending.


On Sunday afternoon, on my way to a quick dip in the river, I stopped at Barney’s to pick up my can and lid. I felt awkward about that (there was a bit of awkwardness all around, eh?), but I told them I was emotionally attached to the can.

They seemed utterly blown away by the generosity of the community and were extremely touched. The community, of course, just wants them to know that we really, really want them here.

I didn’t know how much money was in the can. I was curious, but as I was selfishly asking for my stuff back, I didn’t feel like I could ask about the money too. They did say to me, “Tell everyone we have enough to buy a new door.”


Meanwhile, since the party, Lynda and I have felt all warm and glowy from the thank-yous and praise from our neighbors. That’s been great, because when you’re hosting—or at least when you’ve got a personality like mine and you’re hosting—you spend all your time flitting about, seldom landing anywhere. It’s a blur. A wonderfulish blur. But they’re saying they had fun. A lot of fun. And I think they did.