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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where has the time gone?

When you haven't blogged for a while, it's hard to know where to start. It has been, and continues to be, a beautiful fall.

Just back from a good weekend with the kids in Boston. The usual gamut from the sublime (fabulous dinner with the whole gang at Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai's restaurant in Wellesley) to the ridiculous (spending an entire day sorting through 935,778 teensy and totally mixed up Legos -first separating by color and then transforming them into a fleet of helicopters, ambulances, fire trucks, various vehicles, houses....)

Dinner with H&D at Halcyon, the new "seafood brasserie" in Montclair. I don't envy anyone trying to open a new restaurant in this economy, but I predict that this one will endure. Can't wait to go back.

Several worthy NYC adventures. The Morandi show at the Met. The prefab housing at the MOMA. Bryant Park! Former druggie heaven, now one of the most civilized and urbane places in the city. The lunch scene is amazing, fueled by great HEALTHY take-out places that have sprouted up along Sixth Ave and beyond: Wichcraft, Pret a Manger, Pax...

A peaceful day of bridge with friends in Mantoloking - "down the shore".

A lot of good reading. Notably:

Telex from Cuba, by Rachel Kushner. National Book Award finalist, about Americans in Cuba in the fifties. Written from multiple points of view, including children. Outstanding.

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, by Atul Gawande. Thought-provoking essays by MacArthur Fellow.

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, by Peter Godwin. Zimbabwe memoir. Author, who grew up there and lives now in NYC, wrote previous memoir about childhood. In this one he returns to visit aging parents (physician and mining engineer), describes current horrors under Mugabe regime and discover's father's surprising past as a Polish Jew during WWII.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. Epistolary novel about Channel Island residents who lived under Nazi occupation from 1941 to end of war. Light and charming, despite the grim subject (maybe inappropriately so?).

The Size of the World, by Joan Silber. Glowing review in Boston Globe led me to this one. Six stories that take place across time and space, but with characters who are all linked. I want to read more of this writer's work.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski. An Oprah pick now, I see. "Hamlet with hounds", as described by Janet Maslin. I look at dogs differently now. But it's not really about dogs. How will they make it into a movie?

All highly recommended. And there are some others I'll save for another post.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

News addiction

I thought it was just me.

Link to NYT article.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The letters

Still in need of peace and solace after a rocky week in the news. So here are a few more Adirondack pictures from last week.

A view of the field, from the road.

Same field, but looking toward the lake.

Another glimpse of the water, from down the road.
Here are the original main gates to the house. The driveway is kept mowed, but isn't really used any more.
Approaching from that direction, you'd see the house from this oblique angle. I can spend all day just walking around the house, and up and down the road. I think that by now I've taken hundreds of photographs. Always different, and yet always the same.

But remember those letters? Here we are in the attic. See that big box on the right, behind the wicker chair?
Here's a closer view.
This is the stash of letters I came across last summer. I knew I was going to have to revisit them sooner or later. I believe that they are mostly from the thirties and forties, covering the period when my mother and her sisters were in college (during the depression) and later, starting their families during the war. I assume that the letters are mostly from the three sisters to their mother, my grandmother, and to each other, and possible to Tante, their aunt. But I won't really know til I've managed to sort through them all. Where to begin?
The box is much too heavy to lift. You can see that the letters have been at least roughly sorted into groups, tied with string and ribbon. I finally decided to stuff a bunch of them at random into a black plastic bag and bring them home with me. I can barely lift the bag, and yet the box is still nearly full.
Never having done a project like this, I am not even sure how to begin. Will I want to arrange them chronologically? Or by writer? Or recipient? Subject? Stay tuned.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Stability and continuity


The Adirondack house provided welcome relief from last week's financial turmoil. Abraham Beecher, my many-times-great-grandfather, walked here from Connecticut and settled here nearly two-hundred years ago. Here are the fields he first cleared, and the stone walls he built. A survivor of wars, depressions, recessions, and more, the place never changes. It is an oasis of calm.

And something good to eat is always in the works. Here's daughter G turning out a batch of doughnuts for Saturday breakfast.

The main project for the weekend: the chicken house. The always hard-working grandkids, C and L, want to turn it into a "bunkhouse" - a place where they and their cousins and friends can hang out. It's been years since there were any chickens in residence, so there are decades of debris to be removed. That's my father's old boat in there. We'll have to find another place for it, I guess.


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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bar Pie

Is this a common term? A New Jersey thing? Another place I could easily walk to (but don't) is the Star Tavern - an institution beloved by many, and believed by some to be the source of New Jersey's best pizza. I can't very well eat a whole one, and they don't sell it by the slice, so I never think of going there. But I had a craving today. And I found out that you can sit at the counter and order a smallish (and cheap!) "bar pie" - perfect! Who knew?

On the way I stopped at the high school recycling bins to load up on more big sheets of flattened corrugated cartons. The next phase of the lawn reduction program will be a large round strawberry bed in the middle of the upper back yard - at the base of the deck. To be planted in the spring. Is this getting out of hand or what?