Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 26, 2007

I still can't figure out how to stick the pictures in where I want to stick them. Sigh.

The picture below is Dave, me and Sally, at the Vanderbilt's little cottage on the Hudson...

Here's a fairly current picture of ME. I'm so beautiful...

Here's a picture of my neighbor, Pete Seeger, at the Strawberry festival. He's beautiful, too.

And finally, the letter!

Howdy, again! I just got back from a short but nice visit with my Mom in Michigan, and seeing a lot of old pals at my 35th high school reunion. The days prior to the party were spent toiling on my magnum opus, a 70-page update on the lives and deaths of about 100 former classmates. I sent out a questionnaire to the people for whom I had an address. It was a lucky break that I’ve been in a lull at work, so I had plenty of time to sit at my computer, searching through cyberspace for people and news about them. I found several who had been lost. Then I scrunched all the information together into a nice little booklet to hand out at the party and to mail out to the ones who couldn’t make it. People were very pleased with it. I tried to make it light and humorous, and I hope I haven’t offended anybody too deeply!

If I didn’t have so much else to write about, I’d tell you about the amazing transformations of some of the people I knew, and my observations about high school reunions. Suffice it to say that at this point in our lives, most of us seem to be over the fierce competitiveness of earlier reunions, and the general spirit seems to be that we were all happy for one another’s successes. In all the pictures, everyone is grinning absolutely honest grins. I continue to be surprised with the "quiet" ones at school, who now lead such interesting, exciting lives, while some of the "golden ones" seem to be living the most boring lives imaginable. (Golf? Country clubs? What’s WRONG with you?) Also, it was interesting to discover how many cute guys named ME as their secret crush! I must have been BLIND!!!! (And we used to make fun of my brother Chris for that sort of obliviousness . . . perhaps it’s genetic.)

Last weekend we had house guests. My old college buddy from Fresno, David Johnson, and his wife Sally came to visit. Robert and I had such a fun time when the Johnsons took us exploring through the boondocks of western Pennsylvania when we visited a few years ago, we were looking forward to returning the favor. We showed them some of our favorite restaurants. (And now I must tell you, because Dave made me promise I would over Sally’s emphatic objections, how Sally caught her menu on fire at the Canterbury Inn. I was amazed at the many clever ways Dave was able to rub her nose in that over the course of the rest of the visit!). We also took them on favorite drives along the Hudson. We visited the headquarters of Gen. Henry Knox, near what is now West Point, and the headquarters of George Washington, right across the river from Beacon. We’d never been there before (it’s always been closed when we’ve tried to see it). I was surprised how moved I was to be there, walking on the same floor boards as the brilliant men who founded this country.

Important things in history happened all around where we live, but there seems to be so MUCH of it, that it’s overwhelming. I really enjoyed reading the Alexander Hamilton biography (or actually, listening to it on tapes in our car). As it got nearer the end, I found myself getting more and more upset, because I knew my hero was going to be senselessly murdered by Aaron Burr, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I found the book must have had a similar effect on other people. While Googling for images of the people we were reading about, I found and appreciated a very well-researched blog by another Hamiltonite, who refers to Alexander Hamilton as "my dead boyfriend." I know how she feels. Anyway, Robert and I are getting a book on tape about the life of Benjamin Franklin, next. (I probably won’t think of him as my dead boyfriend. But who knows?) [Robert remarks: He was kind of old by the time we got to know him.]

In addition to the trips to Revolutionary War sites, we took Dave and Sally to the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Roosevelt home, in Hyde Park. It was too late to go inside the houses, but we got to explore the flower gardens and magnificent lawns. We had tried to think of things to do with our guests that they can't readily do up in the woodlands where they live. We thought a boat ride on the Hudson would be nice, so we went to see Bannerman’s Island (yeah–that’s the thing the guy was wearing on his head at the hat Parade). We tramped around, looking at the remains of the castle there. It was a bit too much climbing for Sally, I think, and we weren’t allowed on the deck for the boat ride, but it was still interesting.

What else? The weekend before THAT, was the Strawberry festival. I spent the day painting kitty faces on cute little kids, while the other ladies sold T-shirts and the buttons and other things I’ve been making. We made a nice chunk of dough, and it was a pretty and pleasant day. They hold the festival in a park on a little spit of land on the River. Of course, my other "boyfriend," Pete Seeger, was there. [I think he’s the same age as Ben Franklin, honey.]

We had to drive my old car for about a week while our Prius was at the dentist’s, getting new front teeth. I hit a very large raccoon while driving many months ago, that took out the grill, punched a big hole through the front fender and tore up the underside of the car. We kept putting off getting the car fixed, until the act of hitting a cardinal turned a tiny chip in the windshield into a dangerous crack, and we really had to do something. (We have been calling the car our "faunacide-mobile" lately). I was surprised such a little bird could do that to a windshield. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d hit that low-flying turkey that decided to fly right at us in the middle of a thunderstorm!

Anyway, the repair job was supposed to take three days, mostly to allow time for the new paint to cure, but the repair shop kept putting us off, day by day, saying "Tomorrow, for sure." Robert got grumpy about it on day six, and demanded to know what the problem was. It seems they had to disconnect the car’s battery as a safety precaution before working on it, and then couldn’t figure out how to turn the thing back on! I can’t tell you how many times it has happened at oil change places, where, when I hand over my keys, I always ask if they know how to drive a hybrid electric car. I get all kinds of manly snorts in reply. Then, thirty minutes AFTER they said the job would be done, they send some kid out to ask me how to start the thing. Anyway, she looks nice with her smile back.

We had a sad loss this weekend. Nothing big, but I’m surprised how bummed we both continue to be about it. Robert’s brother-in-law made us a bluebird house a few years ago. Our yard is a little too small and crowded for bluebirds, but last year it became the home of a resourceful little house wren. It was a very tiny brown bird, and we enjoyed sitting on the back porch, watching him (or her) struggle to pull sticks and bits of grass through the opening of the birdhouse to make a nest. Then there were babies, who rested their little yellow beaks on ledge of the top of the walls and waited for their parents to come with food. (The birdhouse had a hinged roof lid that I didn’t close all the way, so we could see them peeking through that opening.). But this week our intrepid huntress, Mabel, caught the bird unawares and killed it. (Yes, Mabel’s getting a flea collar with a bell on it this weekend!) I feel very guilty about our dear little friend. I checked in the bird house and the nest was not finished, so at least there aren’t baby birds starving somewhere, as far as I know.

Another little garden friend I am having second thoughts about is Munchie the groundhog (we called them woodchucks in Michigan) who moved to our yard after people cleared a brushy lot down the street and deprived him of his previous wilderness home. At first, I welcomed him, because it's fun to watch him waddle around the gardens. In a yard crowded with plants of all kinds, I will never understand how he knows EXACTLY which plants I DO NOT want him to eat, because those seem to be the ONLY plants he’s interested in. [Robert queries: What’s to understand? The guy’s got taste.] I’m not just talking things like the cucumbers (now surrounded by unsightly sawhorses and chicken wire) and parsley (now protected with a chunk of fencing, after being mowed down by groundhog teeth to a height of exactly three inches). Munchie capped my beautiful black-eyed Susans, that make such a spectacular golden show when all of the other flowers have faded. I don’t know if the plants will be able to survive with only three inches of stem and about twelve leaves. I AM SO BUMMED! Damn you! Damn you, Munchie!

Now Munchie has dug a new den under the fence near our neighbor’s garage which looks about large enough to rent out to tenants. Maybe I’ll wait until NEXT week to get Mabel that flea collar.... I love her in spite of her murderous tendencies.

Well, it’s time to hit the hay. We hope you are all well and happy. We are!
(Honest! Honest! Those library pictures are coming NEXT TIME!!!)
Love F and R

Friday, June 1, 2007

June 1, 2007

Well, OK. Maybe we're not quite cooking with gas. Perhaps I'm using charcoal.

I promise I will eventually figure out how to put pictures where I want them in this blog, with titles under them and everything. The following are pictures of:
1. my beautiful front porch with azaleas;
2. the guy wearing a ferry boat and an island (with a ruined Scottish-style castle on it--it's in the middle of the Hudson--you've got to see it!);
3. me, in my stunning cat hat.

On my hat, two cats are lying amid flowers. One carries a sign that reads "Mid-Hudson Animal Aid - Beacon," and the other one says "Don't Litter! Spay or neuter!" I'm also wearing some of the kitty-face pins that I'm making. I expect to wear this ridiculous get-up while attending functions on behalf of the shelter. Will I frighten away the children?

What else? We are on our way to Maryland to visit my mother-in-law for the weekend. We're listening to a great book on tape--the biography of Alexander Hamilton. I think I have a new national hero. When you tally up all the things he did, it's amazing any one person could have done them. It's too bad he died young and he had so many political enemies, who were able to tarnish his reputation after his death. One bit of interesting information we have learned about Alexander Hamilton--he used to live in Beacon!