Sunday, April 19, 2009

First, a famous rock star destroys my TV, then a dog pees on my rug.

This is what a stone chamber looks like on the outside.

Me, at the dolmen stone.

An apology, because I can't get the stupid spacing right and I can't insert the pictures where I want them! Gnash-gnash! (that is the sound of my teeth...)


I attended a writer's group someone was trying to organize in Beacon. When I got home Robert asked me if I had met any interesting people there. I told him there was one--someone who had just moved to the area from England, and he had given me a postcard with his website on it. I didn't know much about him but I described him and Robert said, "You mean John Mendelsohn, the writer?"

Apparently, Robert was well-acquainted with the work John has done for Rolling Stone and Creem magazines. John had also been a member of a rock band called Christopher Milk, in the days when most of us had more and darker hair. I wrote to John and told him we'd like to get together with him sometime. For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen until just recently. But John finally came to visit and we spent a really good afternoon talking, and we introduced him to our favorite Indian restaurant. We found out we have many interests in common with John and his wife, and we are looking forward to meeting Claire, who was still stuck in London, trying to get their house sold.

Robert's Christmas gift to himself was a monstrous HD television set. As is his nature, he spent months planning the installation and re-design of our upstairs TV room. Robert built new video cases and planned to move our huge and bulky Sony from that room into his basement music room. The day before the new set was to be delivered, Danny, our neighbor's weightlifter son who usually helps us with efforts like this, was not available. Also, I had sprained my knee and was hobbling about on crutches. Reluctantly, Robert decided to take advantage of our FLEDGLING friendship with John, and ask him to help move the TV. John agreed.

The plan was to bring the TV down the front stairs then outside and around the house to the back basement door. Robert had the mover's dolly all ready. John showed up and I went to my basement art studio to be available to open the door when they were ready to move the TV in.

I guess I expected this to take about twenty minutes or so. Twenty minutes passed. I kept myself busy. Another twenty minutes passed. Then another. I had run out of busy work. I hauled myself up the basement stairs to find out what was going on. As I started to climb up the front staircase I noticed the carpet was sprinkled with what appeared to be black rice. At the top of the stairs Robert looked stricken. He and John both began babbling, "Extremely brittle!" and "Never expected!" and "Imploded!" Those tiny bits of black plastic were all that was left of my fabulously expensive TV.

I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the image of a television set, which, upon being lifted up and placed on a padded dolly, suddenly collapses into to a pile of plastic pellets. It has something to do with the immense weight of the inner TV tube (almost 150 lbs.!) and the requirement that it always be kept in a strictly upright position. Oh well.

I always had a love-hate relationship with that TV, anyway. It was purchased as a peace-offering to me from a tenant who never paid his rent because he spent all his money gambling. Then he won the lottery and bought me a $1,300 TV that I didn't want, then he got mad at me because I didn't want to do MY part, which was to purchase cable programming that I couldn't afford. And then, he never paid rent again after that! So I didn't care much that the television set died, and the fact that its death was as dramatic as its "birth" is only funny to me. Also, I do not believe that TWO people living in ONE house have any business owning FIVE televisions.

But Robert insists I'm wrong, and he is shopping for a new set for the music room. It's his way of supporting the economy.
Anyway, the new TV is fabulous, the video shelving looks gorgeous, and the gigantic TV tube sits in the driveway along with a lot of cut brush, waiting for bulk trash pick-up day. John sprained his back helping us, but we think he still likes us, anyway.

Norma, KISSING MY HUSBAND inside the stone chamber.
Lucy, Culprit of Cuteness

I met Norma Levinson when I was 14. I had won a scholarship to attend summer art classes at the University of Kansas. My mother told me later I was so awful that year (PUBERTY, MOM! IT WASN'T MY FAULT!) that she jumped at the chance to have me out of the house for awhile. Anyway, I met Norma there, and we had a blast. I think that is where I found my true identity.

I'm not a just a weirdo! I'm a hippie! Yay!

Anyway, after Kansas I was invited to spend a week with Norma and her five sisters in Toledo, where her family operated a Jewish restaurant. Over the past forty years we have had lots of other adventures together, and I was very touched that Norma traveled all the way from Virginia Beach, VA, to attend my wedding. Robert and I have visited her there, but Norma hadn't been able to take us upon our invitation until a week ago or so.

She didn't come alone. She brought her new baby, Lucy. We were a little concerned at first how our cats would respond to having a dog in the house, even one smaller than they are, and little yipping dogs send Robert right up the curtains. But the cats just sulked and glowered, and Lucy turns out to be a very quiet little puppy. She was so cute that we didn't care that she had puppy pee mats laid out all over the house and never managed to hit ONE of them.

The weather wasn't the best. It was chilly and rainy so we took little car trips. We took Norma to see the Vanderbuilt mansion, and the gorgeous Hudson River views that have inspired so many painters. We also took her to see two of our favorite mysteries--the dolmen stone and a stone chamber. The dolmen stone weighs 90 thousand pounds and is perched up on five little "finger" stones. No one knows if it happened naturally (sometimes this can occur when a glacier recedes, but there wasn't glacier in the area) and some speculate it was erected by early explorers who were Irish monks. In any event, it is quite a cool thing to see and a nice drive through "rich people" territory, with lots of horse farms.

After seeing the dolmen we wanted to show Norma a stone chamber. These are prehistoric structures found in a concentrated area in Connecticut and eastern New York. There are hundreds of them. No one knows how old they are, who built them, or how the massive solid stone ceilings were put in place. Once again, Irish monks are blamed because Native Americans didn't build stone structures. Any suggestion that the chambers might have been built by European settlers as root cellars is pooh-poohed by those greater thinkers who insist that space aliens with technology capable of transporting themselves across the universe figured the very best way to impress future generations of us cavemen would be to pile rocks in interesting configurations.

I also don't understand how a mere boatload of Irish monks could have built all of these things in the few years they were supposed to have been here. But this has not stopped people from claiming the chambers are holy druid sites, and one frequently finds mysterious offerings of flowers and other New Age offerings inside the stone rooms.

I thought I remembered where a chamber was, but I didn't. We spent several hours buzzing around curvy country roads and exploring little hamlets and villages (we even found ourselves in a place called "Monkeytown") and I finally gave up. We drove home, and suddenly, there it was! Miles away from where I thought it was. So Norma got to be amazed.

We had a great time with Norma, and even though Lucy peed on the rugs, we were sorry to see her go. I mean, that's why carpet shampoo was invented.

When you come here to visit us, we will take you to Monkeytown, and to see the big rock and to look at stone chamber ceilings. And you can even kiss my husband.