May 13, 2007
Here's a letter I wrote and forgot to mail out! Only new news since is that my high school is having a reunion, and I offered to put together a booklet updating the lives of everybody in the class. (Maybe that's why I'm to busy to send out a letter in a timely fashion!) Also, my story "The Copyist," about an art forger, will be published by Deadly Ink Press at the end of June. "Mr. Beak's Treasures" got an honorable mention from them last year, and was also published in their anthology, but they are being more "sneaky" about what they are telling me this year, and I think I may be one of the place winners. I'll find out some time after June 30.
The library's done–for real! We took pictures and everything! I must ask Linda Sharkey to show me how she puts pictures in letters (sigh.) I have about seven hundred different photo programs on my computer and twelve hundred places where photos get stored and no idea how to find one once it's in there. But I'll try to get it together, soon.
Anyway, back to April 29th...
April 29, 2007
The rain stopped, and the pump in the basement kept everything under control (we did have to keep it running night and day for almost a week, though) and we've had two wonderful spring weekends in a row. I spent the day yesterday dividing the hosta plants that I dug up at my old house in Detroit, and planted all along our front fence. I hate having to weed a fence, and had hoped that the hosta would grow in so thick that weeds wouldn't be able to take hold there. It worked pretty well, except that the City came put in a new water meter and killed a bunch of the plants in the process. So I dug up some of the big, healthy ones and divided them, to fill in the thin areas. It was like trying to divide iron with your bare hands. I am still achy. It looks great, though.
Last weekend was so pretty–perfect temperature and sunny. I opened the doors to air out the place. Mabel takes advantage of every opportunity to streak out of the house (there are all those things outside she has to smell, you see), but old Alice is happy to sit inside, in a windowsill. I never thought Alice might also be tempted to explore, so I didn't look for her last Saturday night, when I finally got Mabel coaxed back inside for the evening. I didn't think it was particularly odd that Alice didn't show up for breakfast at the crack of dawn. By about ten a.m., though, I started looking through the upstairs rooms for her. I finally found her, poor little baby, snoozing in a cardboard box on the back porch. She'd spent the whole night out there, and the temperature had gone down to forty. I felt really terrible about it, as Alice is about 100 years old, and this is no way for me to treat my favorite feline senior citizen!. I think she has forgiven me.
I've not really forgiven Mabel. It is my plan to have only indoor kitties, and we do our best not to let her outside. But her will is strong. When we come home from work, we try to block the door with our briefcases as we open it, but she is usually too fast for us. Then it's a big pain getting her back into the house, as she likes to play a little game called "hurry up and wait." In this game, we open the door and call her. She comes bounding up the stairs, then stops, three feet from the door, to smell a leaf on the porch, rub her head against the railing, or pretend she hears something. Then she just saunters away. If we try to go after her, she scampers away. Somehow Robert and I do not enjoy this game as much as Mabel does. We usually end it by yelling, "Fine, then! See if I care!"and slamming the door, only to try her again in another half-hour. This is how the evening had progressed last Sunday, when at ten p.m., she finally dashed into the house when I opened the door to call her. As is her practice, she runs into the dining room, falls on her side on the rug, and expects to get her tummy scratched. This time, however, she was acting really goofy, talking and zipping around the room. Then she tossed something through the air that landed, writhing, at my feet. She had brought one of those mean little snakes into the house. It was coiling and striking and hissing, and Mabel was having a blast.
I have never been particularly bothered by snakes until my experience in the backyard where one chomped onto my big toe and wouldn't un-chomp. And I've run into nests of them (Northern brown snakes) while weeding, and ended up with a handful of them once, when I was putting raked-up leaves into a bag. Having this thing flipping around in the air and being tossed at me freaked me out a little bit. I got all girly, and made Robert come downstairs to remove it from the house. By the time he got to it, the poor thing was dead. Mabel was hopped up all night, running around the house, calling for her lost victim/playmate. Now, of course, she'll be wanting to do this all summer. (Don't worry, Dawn. By the time you get here in November, snake season will be over.)
We had great birthdays. For some reason, so many of you remembered! Without being prodded! We got lots of phone calls and cards and e-mails, and some cool presents! Robert got me a fancy label-making machine (which I find too intimidating to learn how to use), a new (used) camera of exactly the same model that died in Mexico, a jacket, and a pair of wireless earphones, so I can listen to a book on tape while I do housework, and I don't have to keep stopping the tape or CD when I leave a room. Yay! I am hoping I can wear them on the treadmill in the basement, and hear the TV over the roar of the furnace. I got Robert some Charles Dickens books on tape, and I filled a bunch of plastic Easter eggs with promises, such as "I'll mow the lawn" and some more risqué offers. We had a couple of nice restaurant meals, and our friend Ruth gave us a fabulously expensive juicer. All the better to make grape jelly with!
What else? The library continues. I took some pictures with the digital camera of Robert, organizing books, that I will TRY to send along with this letter. The picture will probably be gigantic when you try to open it up. I am such a cyber-moron. Anyway, every day I think he is nearly done, but the next day, the exact same number of stacks of books are on the floor again. I don't know where they come from. We have bookcases in every room, sorted by subject (travel books in the TV room, poetry in the guest room, humor in Robert's music room, architecture in the parlor, etc., etc.). Robert is trying to take the best advantage of space, so he's not just filling up these bookcases, he's shifting books all over the house. It's the curse of the literate. But the end is in sight, I think.
My friend Dee, who had applied for a job in New York with the Girl Scouts, instead accepted a job at an Indian school on a reservation in Arizona. She's miles from any store, and as part of her compensation, they offered her a horse! So far, her cat Oliver doesn't like being indoors all the time, but there are rattlers under her porch.... I sent her dozens of little bottles of shampoo and lotion that I collected during my three weeks living at the Hilton Hotel in Hackensack. I thought she might like to give them as gifts to the women she meets there. I'm glad she has a job, and I hope she enjoys her time there–she'll be there for at least three years.
We are members of a chamber music society. The concerts are held in the Howland Art Center, that used to be Beacon's public library. It is a fabulously ornate carpenter Gothic structure, a gift to the town from Victorian millionaires back when being a millionaire really meant something. In addition to being a concert venue, they have art shows there. We sit on the second floor balcony, that runs all around the room, below a gorgeous intersecting vault ceiling, made of cedar, and arched windows decorated with wrought iron filigree. It's a beautiful place, with great acoustics. We always enjoy the performances, though we haven't made any real friends through our six-year involvement there, because frankly, people in that group are snooty.
At the last concert it had been a beautiful day, and we had been off on some adventure, getting back to town just in time to grab our tickets and run. We didn't have time to get gussied up or anything, and in fact, I was feeling rather self-conscious about how informally I was dressed. The musicians–two young cellists--played beautiful, somber music, and came back for an encore. They started out with the usual stuff, playing something that sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. Then they played faster, and people started grinning. It took a moment for me to recognize it was the theme song from "The Simpsons." By the end, everybody was laughing. It was a fun.
Well, I've got a little more Mexico adventure for you, but no room left in this letter. We hope you are well and enjoying good weather!
Love, F and Robert.