Dear Friends, Family and Loyal Readers,
When I last wrote, back in September, so many of you responded with such care and kindness about our struggles with our landlady, Hopper’s health, our impending move, etc. Your notes, as they often have, buoyed both Dan and me and made us feel less alone. Thank you.
Before I get to the updates on where we are (!!!), how Hoppy is and everything else, I want to share a selection from the nice things you wrote. I think it’s important for us all to know that we’re out there for each other in a real, human-to-human way, supporting each other, even over email. All we have to do, sometimes, is dare to reach out:
“…I send beams of lamby and millety love for Hopper plus a warm sunny spot to lay and heal, and good luck with your move…Finally, I'm all for expressing desperation. “
…Thank goodness no one was in the room when the ceiling caved in. Sounds to me - as difficult as it is to move - between the mold and the asbestos - it might prove to be a "gift”…I love your slogan "No you can't"! Naturally, because I know - yes you can!
Much love to you all,
…If it's any consolation my iCal looks about the same! Remember the old trick, to focus on how much time you do have, instead of how little? Really, it helps when I remember to do it. I have nothing very dramatic to report, aside from moving twice and sending kids to a new school, getting used to the boonies, and trying to find time to write a book along the way, but nothing so terrible either.
....Wowsers. If you have any interest in a more rural setting, my house is vacant.
Well, reader, did you already guess? We took our friend, Chrisso, up on his incredibly thoughtful offer and decided, commute be damned, to move into his lovely home in a small town 30 minutes north of Portland (he’s moved down to Louisiana to get married.) “We’re up for a new chapter,” we told each other. Hopper, in the weeks leading up to the move, slowly started to get better; what happened that night we ended up in Boston was, we think, some kind of severe inflammatory reaction (possibly due to some bad dog food), which effectively shut down his bowels. In the weeks since, our instructions have been to get his weight up (which we’ve done—yay!) and to bring him back to Boston for rechecks (also done) and, so far, although he still has two abnormal lymph glands, he’s fine—himself. Fingers crossed.
The first weekend of October, I moved up here alone with Hopper and Master M. while Dan finished the packing of our things and moving most of them, for now, to storage. Although it was a little shock to my system to be in a village with neighbors—after all, I grew up in the woods and have lived in cities for the last 20 years—I felt myself come back to some intuitive part of myself our first night here when, lying in bed next to my sleeping child, I heard what I thought was rain. Getting up and going downstairs, I realized it was falling leaves. I marveled that I couldn’t remember the last time I had heard leaves fall! The leaves, it turned out, were the big excitement for M.--we spent most of that first weekend (and the two following weeks) raking up enormous mounds of colorful leaves and moving them via wheel barrow and tarps to the woods. A couple of times we borrowed the neighbor, Dick’s, Leaf Eater, which ravenously munched the leaves.
But get back to the house, you say. Well, it’s a small four bedroom, with a big stairwell and a fireplace. We’ve made a little room off the kitchen into a playroom for Master M. and there have been a few blissful afternoons of cooking on Chrisso’s Magic Chef vintage gas stove, while M. plays and murmurs to himself. The neighbors are very friendly (and patient, too, about the oddball arrival of two artists, their big dog and a rowdy three-year-old—I keep thinking of that Greg Brown song, “Boom Town,” in which he sings, “here come the artists, with their tense faces and need for money and quiet spaces…”—Eek is that us?) Speaking of artists, a plug for Dick and Sue, next door: They make the most beautiful painted boxes, ornaments and watercolors. I’m particularly fond of the boxes which, for instance, are painted with, say, a salmon on top and then inside Dick has tied some salmon flies that sit like jewels against a small cushion. Her lovely paintings of fruit and houses are simply done in the Shaker tradition and are lovely works of art. If anyone can’t think of a Christmas gift, and might like to fill a lovely box with something special or send flies to an intrepid fisherman uncle, get in touch with me!
Our first week here, while Dan started a new job working for Colby’s Art Museum, M., Hopper and I found some lovely trails through the woods—one we’ve named “The Christopher Robin Walk,” where we’ve built houses for Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin and Rabbit. That walk has become our daily rite—if we don’t do it, we mourn it. Another walk takes us up through the woods on an old train track and we usually turn around at some slightly grumpy cows. Our first week here, the cows appeared to want to charge us, giving me a bit of a jolt. I’m not sure if it was my too cheery “moo-ing” or Hopper’s wagging tail, or the Bob stroller, which Master M. still likes to ride in for the better part of long walks—but a horned brown cow, in particular, got very snorty and annoyed at us as we passed by and led the whole group of five or so to snort and paw and run at us while I tried to pretend that this was all totally Mary Poppins normal and safe to Master M., even though I was fairly sure those two thread like strands of electric wire would do little to stop an angry cow weighing well over 800 pounds. To get past them, I held Hopper close by on his leash, and ran like a bat out of hell pushing the stroller as fast as I could, just praying my lightning-mother speed would sail us past a stampede.
More things I like up here: At night we hear a train go by—hoot hoot, chugga chugga chugga—and a river is not far away. There’s a lovely little store, which we visit at least once a day where we can get tea, coffee,bubbly water (A.K.A “farty water” in our house) and maple candy. The library is a short walk away and there’s a pumpkin farm down the road from whose bounty we’ve carved countless Jack-O-Lanterns. Also, the trees around here are some of the biggest and oldest I’ve seen still standing on Maine farmland—I am in awe of these trees. Last night, as Sandy whipped through and we moved ourselves to a back bedroom, I found myself wondering, “What does it feel like to be a tree during a storm like this? What kind of amazing courage and strength does it take to hold on by one’s feet?” Maybe, in the end, we’re all holding on by our feet most of the time while the winds of change toss us around.
There have been a few bumps along the way, as moving is always hard. But we’ve found ourselves saved by a few simple pleasures: instant oatmeal, rice cakes (who knew they were so soothing!), Ryan Adams’ song “Ashes and Fire,” which we’ve been playing at full volume while we dance around playing air broom- banana-whatever-you-can-grab-for-a-guitar and we’ve turned the potential negative of explaining hunting (the season just began up here) into a fun opportunity to wear lots of blaze orange outfits which we’re sure look a tad overactive to our more seasoned neighbors. On some of our worst days, we’ve needed a few You Tube sessions with Bert and Ernie (which, it occurred to Dan and me, should have been called “Scenes from a Marriage.”) I include a few of our favorite episodes, here, below, for a few giggles.
Take care and send me your news,
BERT and ERNIE (Or, “Scenes from a Marriage”):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hou8AyxWTYw&feature=related (this one, in particular, reminds me of the time I “trimmed” Dan’s hair….)