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Have a Seat June 29, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

In August 2007 it was at last completed: the slate patio off the back of our carriage house/barn/garage, built in part from the barn’s removed and replaced slate foundation.

At the time it was finished, we had spent too much money to think about purchasing actual patio furniture and made do with the Adirondack chair and couple of plastic numbers we already had.

There is a highly reputable outdoor furniture maker whose factory sits just a few miles from Parts West over the New York border. Each year, I would think about getting patio furniture and, believing my memory must be wrong about how much it cost, would visit the showroom. And each time it turned out that it was very expensive. With all the house maintenance projects going on, I couldn’t justify it.

This year, though, I was determined. I visited the showroom. I found some things I liked. I talked with friends who have had this furniture for seven years and the stuff looks brand spankin’ new. I took Tim to the showroom. He is always more willing to spend money than I am, and he was quickly on board. They let us take a couple of chairs home to try on the patio. We ordered four chairs and a coffee table (the patio is a tad small for a dining table). We paid them lots of money and were told that our order would be fulfilled in three to four weeks.

They called in four weeks, but I was in Bloomington, and the car with enough room to transport the furniture was parked at the airport. After I got home, I went to get it. We opened the boxes in the garage, tried out one of the chairs, and assembled the glass-topped aluminum-framed table. We left it all in the garage because I didn’t feel like putting the furniture out in the rain. It’s been raining all the time.

Saturday night there was a small afterparty in the garage (after a potluck across the street!), and all the chairs were used. Or so I’m told, because I didn’t actually make it to that afterparty.

Sunday we visited with my next-door neighbor Lynda and her mother, Donna, while they were planting rosebushes. It was sunny at last. We decided to move the furniture down to the patio for an inaugural happy hour. Tim and I had cucumber purée–infused Hendricks martinis; Lynda and Donna had Cosmos. The table turned out to be the perfect size for a small cocktail party.

We could still use a couple of small square end tables, but I’ll probably get some cheap ones, not the hundred-dollar-plus matching ones. Tim and I were discussing this as we stacked the chairs and pushed the table up against the barn to guard against the inevitable stormy winds. I mentioned casually what that little table had cost, and Tim, who hadn’t blinked at the total of the set, said, “Are you *%&^ing kidding me?”

Note: In looking up the price of said coffee table, it turns out my memory had slightly inflated the number or confused it with the one we decided not to get.

Twelve Things I Did on My Five Days Off June 22, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I’m back from my Bloomington mini-vacation. Last Thursday, when the Park & Fly driver at the airport found out where I was going, he asked if I’d be getting there by dirt road. He clearly had no idea where I was coming from, let alone where I was headed.

I had a predictably great time with Esther and Terry. Here are twelve things I did on my five days off:

1. Got on a plane after four years and nine months of not getting on a plane. Every plane was a 737, thus meeting my size requirements (insert juvenile snicker here). I ascended and descended four times and only felt completely horrible during the bumpy descent into Indianapolis. Luckily, I recovered quickly.

2. Ate some of the best pulled pork I’ve ever tasted, which was, in fact, purchased at a gas station. Esther had the foresight to order it early in the day for later pickup. Good thing she did, because they sold out before we got there.

3. Went to a real movie. In the afternoon. We got all hopeful that Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams would still be around, but when it wasn’t, we made do with Bridesmaids. A great way to dodge the heat and be lazy before going to the airport to get Terry.

4. Went to the WonderLab Museum (where Esther works). Played with all the cool science toys and had great fun climbing the Grapevine Climber. Admittedly, I was a bit on the large side to attempt such a thing, but Terry, both climber and petite in real life, was quick!

Terry and the Grapevine Climber

Moi et la Grapevine Climber

5. Stopped at the homemade ice cream place three successive days because Terry makes it a point to eat ice cream every day of a vacation (maybe every day ever—I’m not completely clear on this point). To be sure that this place was good enough for Terry, on the way to the airport, Esther and I selflessly checked out the one closest to home. We both got black raspberry, which, being phenomenal, passed our Terry test. We took her there the next night, and I was primed to order the coconut cream pie, but apparently they switch out their coconut flavor every day. I was disappointed, but that day’s alternate—coconut monkey—proved delicious. The third day things got crazy when I mixed the favorite black raspberry with a heavenly graham cracker concoction. It felt really good to support Terry in this way.

6. Got shit on by a bird. While sitting in a car. A car that is not a convertible. Despite this setback, we stopped for ice cream on the way home. I believe this was the day I did not order black raspberry.

7. Visited the West Baden Springs Hotel (built in 1902), where Esther had booked mineral baths for us. Not only was the bath relaxing and gave us all surprisingly smooth skin, but the hotel itself is something to behold. Until 1955, its free-spanning dome was the largest in the United States, and for almost a decade, it was the largest in the world. After our baths, we had lunch in the jaw-droppingly beautiful atrium (keeping tabs on said jaw while eating, of course).

8. Visited the Archives of Traditional Music at the university and got a tour of the room and collection devoted to a certain songwriter and native son of Bloomington, whose own son is a dear acquaintance of mine. Said son-that-I-know hooked me up with the fascinating and knowledgeable librarian, who not only gave us the room tour, but also took us into the archives (electronically controlled moveable stacks!). She has a really cool job, and I was thrilled that she found some time to spend with us.

9. ACOG goes to the Kinsey Institute! Esther, Terry, and I worked together years ago on publications for ob/gyns and their patients. What better field trip, then, than for the three of us to head to the Kinsey Institute, which is housed in the same building as the Archives of Traditional Music? (Isn’t that amazing? We couldn’t believe our luck.)

Alfred, Terry, and Esther look so good that I will ignore how bad I look and post this anyway.

The Kinsey Institute is working offices, lots of erotic art, and posters of abstracts describing current research. There are handwritten letters on display from Sigmund Freud and Tennessee Williams. There is a gift shop, although it didn’t have any of the items that I think my friend Dana was imagining when she wondered if they had a gift shop. There were some t-shirts with Kinsey scale numbers—K0 to K6. Neither of the two available styles really suited me, and although my number would be lower rather than higher, I didn’t know which number I should commit to, and we had to leave to get Terry to the airport. (I figured I could order them online later, if necessary, but the gift shop link doesn’t seem to be working. However, I found a nice shot of the one of the styles here.) So I picked up a hoodie I liked better. It has the institute name, no number.

10. Acquired a new boyfriend, Gary. I think he won my heart with his awesome haircut. Also, he is allegedly aloof but warmed up to me quickly. (I am easily flattered, it turns out.) Many lovefests ensued. My immediate love of Gary (perhaps a little too obviously more than Mira, his equally feline but feminine housemate) may be further evidence that my Kinsey scale number is low.


11. Visited the Rose Hill Cemetery. Found the grave of said songwriter and left the requisite penny. We looked for, but didn’t find, the Kinsey graves. That was OK. I was there for the songwriter.

12. Had breakfast (most days) on the back patio. Greek yogurt with blueberries and granola. Coffee. Mmmmmm.

I had a really great time. And now I am home.

Souvenir Terry (Joy Ride) socks for all!

Facing Flying June 2, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I haven’t been on a plane in almost five years.

It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it, exactly. But I haven’t been seeking it out, either. Since Northbrook shut down a few years ago, we’ve been mourning our old vacation spot and putting money into the house and laying low travelwise. We let our frequent business trips to Portland fill in some of the excitement gaps.

The last time I got on a plane was for a trip to Oregon to celebrate my twentieth wedding anniversary.

Now I’ve purchased airline tickets for two trips.

And now the panic is setting in.

It’s not exactly a fear of flying, although I am definitely capable of freaking out in turbulence. The thing is, my body just hates the whole business. I dehydrate easily. I need to drink a lot of water. I need an aisle seat to deal with the consequences of drinking all that water. An aisle seat is also handy if I happen to suffer motion sickness, which sometimes I do. (Only once have I ever actually vomited on a plane, and it was a three-seater bumping along for nearly an hour in Belize, so really, I hadn’t a chance.)

As a friend once pointed out, a fear of the plane crashing is an irrational fear. A fear of throwing up in front of people? Much more realistic.

The anticipation is almost always much worse than the reality. Once I am in the air—reading, whatever—I’m usually fine, although I need a little recovery time afterward, especially if I’m jumping several time zones.

Things have changed a lot since I last got on a plane. I have to read up a bit on exactly what I can carry on and what I can’t. Most airlines charge for checked bags now. The whole boarding-pass thing is confusing. My friend Terry, who travels all the time, says that the current hassle of travel is even enough to get her to occasionally think twice about going somewhere (but she, ever the adventurer, has yet to be deterred).

Terry, in fact, is part of the inspiration for this month’s trip. She lives in LA and made plans to visit our mutual friend and former coworker, Esther, in Bloomington, Indiana. I had planned to fly out to see Esther in September 2001 and ended up canceling that trip (imagine!), thinking I certainly would reschedule sometime. When Esther and Terry invited me to join them, I realized that it has been almost ten years, and that sometime better be now.

There is no direct flight from Albany, New York, to Bloomington, Indiana. There is only one airline that offered a big plane on both legs of the trip. I booked the trip with them.

Lately there have been daily and horrible storms all over the United States. I am trying not to think about that. I am trying to have faith that my much-needed trip to spend time with friends will not be front- or back-loaded with me having panic attacks before or during flights because of weather or any other thing. I am trying to have that same faith about my trip in September—when we’re heading to California to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.