Monday, July 23, 2007

On the blog again

Dear friends,

So sorry for my long absence. I am back now. Yes, we moved, on June 22, but despite planning a month in advance Verizon dropped the ball and we didn't have internet for two weeks afterwards. We switched to Comcast. Our landline still doesn't work consistently so if you are trying to reach us be sure to try our cells, too. We do have an answering machine on the landline so if it just rings and rings it could be call waiting but it probably isn't. Email is good now, too.

Here's some of the highlights of the last month:

-- Lily has been to four weeks of horse camp and is into her second week of arts camp. Pics to follow. She came home exhausted every day and brown as the proverbial berry. She made some nice friends, she learned how to trot and post, she jumped no hands! and best of all, she's not afraid of horses. I am thrilled.

-- I still love my job, boy, do I love my job, and love working, and boy, is it wonderful to be back in magazines again! When you are at Barnes and Noble sometime in mid-August, look for the September/October issue of Wondertime and my name on the masthead. Subscriptions are still really cheap, too, and a great baby gift. It's just a fabulous magazine.

-- The house is just gorgeous. We like it so much and it's so peaceful and serene. While I go off to work every day, Dave has acted as the General Contractor, negotiating and overseeing the carpenter who ripped off a lot of rotten and ant-eaten siding (Homeowner lesson #1: never remove your gutters) and replaced it with good wood and Tyvek, as well two new lovely sliding doors. (But they didn't come with screens so we have to keep them closed, which is highly annoying.)

-- About this carpenter. The second day he came to work he said no one was in the office because they were all at the funeral of another carpenter's son. His only child, I believe. Killed in Iraq. The third day the carpenter said that his niece in Texas had been shot in the head by what sounds like was her boyfriend. She was a model, 21 years old. Also an only child. What a waste.

It occurs to me that the small-town aspects of living here means that we just simply know more varieties of people, and for the most part, the people who are fighting this war are not the children of the movers and shakers. Unlike living in New York, if we only hung out with professionals we'd be very lonely. I think that's a downside of living in New York, because the movers and shakers, business people, media, whatever, are isolated from the true effects of what life is like for most people in this country. This is not a fully developed thought yet but I'm working on it.

--Other house work. Besides our new paint (which I've decided I like the colors of) and repaired deck, we also finally got new carpets (delayed a bit because of the lousy retailer) and they are soft and luxurious. He's overseen the installation of said gutters (he then ran conduit from them into the woods and has buried a hundred feet of it) and also the adjustment of the garage doors.

Dave has gutted the ancient storage room in the basement as he readies it for new paneling, drop ceiling, and floor. It's going to be laundry/storage/and art space for Lily. He's repaired closets, adjusted doors, unpacked and sorted boxes, he's arranged the garage, he's looked into buying wood pellets in quantity (we have two pellet stoves and can buy three or four discounted tons now that will heat us through the winter). He's attacked the smelly closet in my three- season porch--cut a hole in the sheet rock and found a nest with dozens of mouse carcasses. (Lesson #2: never spread rodent poison, they just die in your walls.) The sheet rock is going to have to come out and be replaced. Oh, well.

When I've been home I've cleaned bookshelves and other furniture, and bathrooms. I unpacked our room and Lily's room and Lily's basement playroom. At last she has room for all her toys, and she gets up at 6:30 sometimes and goes down and just plays in there. She loves it. That's the room we three painted and it has a new carpet and some shelves and she has room to spread out.

-- Daily life is great. We all get up around 7 but even if we oversleep until 7:30 we've still got time. The birds start around 4 am but I don't seem to hear them any more. God I love them, though! I leave for work around 8:45 -- it takes 10 minutes -- which is when Dave takes Lily to art camp. I'm taking lunch most days, usually fabulous leftovers from Dave's dinners. He's been cooking up a storm with the veggies from our farm share. It's corn season at last! and we eat fresh corn on the cob almost every day. Lonnie and Erika bought a new grill and gave us theirs, so at last we can have bbq's. Yum. And Dave's making ice cream again. Double yum!

I get home around 6 and we eat one of those great dinners, and read. Maybe we have a bath. We are serenaded again in the evening and go to bed early, usually.

--We've all had several Japanese soaking baths. We have this lovely, deep, blue-tiled bathtub that we fill and take turns sitting in. If everyone showers first and scrubs off the dirt we can all share the water in turn. Dave put some tea candles in there and it's just lovely and peaceful.

-- We've had lots of company. Dave's family, my sister Cate and mother, plus I've had several dinners for various new friends. We hope to see Mike and Steph soon, plus others. We hope our friends think of this as a place to escape to and rest.

****If you are reading this, we miss you and want you to visit. Consider yourself a good enough friend to invite yourself. Call us up and find out when is a good time to stay. All our guests rave about this cool house and how it fits us, as a family. Come see why.

-- Lily is having more playdates, with some very nice kids she's met at various camps and school. Thank god for that, although she still really misses her Brooklyn buddies. I don't blame her, I miss them, too. She's having a sleepover tomorrow night, in fact, and they will go to camp together in the morning. She's excited about school and also a bit nervous. Natch.

-- Lily and I are playing the flute. The wife of one of my colleagues is a wonderful flute player and teacher and she's teaching both of us. I had my flute cleaned and gave it to Lily and bought myself a better second-hand one. I haven't played since I was 14 but my tone is getting better, thanks to some tips from my one lesson. Lily and I are playing a couple of short, lovely, duets. It's really nice.

-- Dave is the family bear-spotting champion. My sister Cate and kids were here Saturday morning and Dave suddenly shouted, "Baby bear!" We all ran from window to window as a mama bear and cub walked around the back of our house and down our neighbor's driveway and across the street. Dave had already seen one cross the road on his way out last week.

Best bear story so far: Our friends Lonnie and Erika have a daughter who has a friend who was sunbathing on the front lawn or driveway of her family's home in downtown Northampton. She is about 12, this girl. She had coated herself with coconut oil and fallen asleep. She was awaken by something licking her foot... yup. A bear. She screamed and ran into the house. Hilarious. Glad it wasn't my kid.

-- Of course I finished Harry Potter seven. I was done by Saturday night, along with many other people I know. And of course I will post no spoilers here. But I will say that in a way, I am relieved it's over. I don't think I could take another book. And I am grateful to some work colleagues who helped me resist reading the pre-release spoilers on Friday. One of them pointed out that even though I don't think it's literature and in fact think it's very clunky writing at times, what I really like is the experience of reading it and trying to figure out what's going to happen. I did just that on Saturday.

My friend Margaret's son Peter was reading his copy this weekend and after chapter one came one of the final chapters! Thank goodness he didn't read very far into it before stopping. Last I heard they were all fighting over the remaining copies.

When book four came out I was too snobby to actually order the book to be delivered that same day. Luckily I could read my neighbor Heidi's copy before she went on vacation. When book five came out I was determined not to repeat that experience so I ordered the book for Saturday delivery. It came about an hour after I left for a five-hour bus ride to a funeral in Boston. And five hours back. Lots of uninterrupted time to read the book, gone to waste.

When book six came out I volunteered at the Community Bookstore's Harry Potter party. I worked hard for several hours helping set up--Catherine does the best party around, including making hundreds of gold and green chocolate frogs in various sizes--and walked home about 11:45 p.m. with the book wrapped in tucked under my arm, smugly aware that I had gotten it a whole 15 minutes before all those suckers waiting in line.

Determined to recreate some of my Brooklyn traditions, I went to what I thought was the first showing of the HP5 movie that came out last week (turned out it was released a couple of days earlier), as I have done in Brooklyn for the last couple of movies. I took my mom for her birthday, and sprung for the popcorn. It was loads of fun.

More importantly, I volunteered at Northampton's Broadside bookstore, helping with their launch party. I left at midnight with two books, one I had already paid for, and one that was my gift for helping. It was a lot of fun and very jammed. They had pre-sold something like 325 copies. Yikes!

There's probably more to say about the events of the weeks since June 16, but this is a good start and I'll be impressed if anyone besides my mother actually reads this far.

I'll try to stay more current in the future. We miss you, please come visit!