Musings about music, writing, Portland, my new house, my travels, my family, politics, whatever.....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Update from Cambridge.

I haven't had time to post anything for a while because I was out of internet range at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival this weekend. But before that, I spent the week in Cambridge, so here are some pictures from there.

Me on the front steps of the house we lived in the longest during my childhood. 54 Kinnaird Street near Central Square.

I was stunned to see that my climbing structure, though totally decaying into the fence, is still in the back corner of the backyard. I am sure nobody has used it in 20 years, it was falling apart even before we moved out in 1989.

My friend Emily on the front steps on Kinnaird St.

Me by the Charles River, where I used to spend a fair bit of time.

My old elementary school, Graham & Parks, is no longer housed in this building on Upton St (about 4 blocks from the house on Kinnaird). It seems to have become a parking lot, which was sad to see.

Emily and her niece, Ruby (her brother Caleb's daughter). It was a pleasure to meet Miss Ruby.

Ruby and her monkey and her sunscreen.

My mother's grave in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Me standing on the ramp at the Boston University School of Social Work that my mother and her friends fought for in 1990.

My mom's good friend, Cal Andrews, who I had dinner with twice. Hadn't seen her in 17 years. It was really wonderful to see her.

Joanne and her and Beth's son, Gabriel. Joanne was my mother's girlfriend the year she got sick. We've been in touch ever since, but I hadn't seen her in about 6 years, and had not yet met Gabriel and Beth. So it was really good to stay there and hang out with them (and they happen to live about half a mile from the house on Kinnaird Street and even closer to the apartment we lived in in 1989-90 on Chestnut St).

Me and Joanne.

Stay tuned for a few pictures from Falcon Ridge. I'm taking a few days off from the visiting go to the beach and write. Then I'll go back to Cambridge for a few days before the Marge Piercy workshop at Omega next weekend.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And even more pictures from Western Mass...

I'm writing from my hometown of Cambridge, Mass. From Joanne's house, which is about half a mile from two of the places I lived growing up. More about being here soon, but first I'll post some pictures from my adventures in Western Mass this past week. The first one is my beautiful butterfly latte from Cushman (Amherst) where I sat with Tracy to write last week.

Outside the Route 63 Roadhouse in Millers Falls for my first Dead Horses show (Wednesday)!

The Dead Horses are (from left) Chris Devine, Guy Devito, Doug Plavin, and Jim Henry.

Madonna, Tracy's beautiful (and, um, full bodied) kitty.

Rebecca outside her farmstand in Montague.

View from the balcony of the Guthrie Center, where Tracy and Jim Henry had a gig last Friday night.
It was nice to have Arlo and his message with us there... :)

Hot air balloons at the Green River Festival in Greenfield on Saturday.

Tracy giggling at her laptop in Rao's, Amherst on Sunday.

Jim Henry and I on his lovely deck in Shutesbury.

The elusive Mr. Jackson Henry.

Ruby and Tracy on the deck.

Me and Miss Kitty, Tracy's house, Sunday night.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pictures from Rochester and Western. MA

Here are bunch of pictures from various things that I have been meaning to share.

Maeluise and I in Rochester on Monday night.

Tracy and I making quesadillas at Jim Henry's house on Tuesday night.

Jim Henry.

Jim Henry's lovely (and tough!) daughter Ruby and her friend, India.

My cousin Alex (Mae's granddaughter) and me at Rebecca's house on Wednesday night.

Tracy playing the banjo at Rebecca's house.

Rebecca trying to fix her roommate's cello.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Welcome Zoe Elizabeth Moos!

Miss Zoe Moos finally decided to join us. She was born at 8:53pm, she was nine pounds. I got a message from Jonah about a half an hour later (or maybe it was sooner, but the cell reception here is very sketchy). I happened to be at Rebecca's house in Montague with Tracy, my cousin Alexandra, and her friend Melissa. We were all pretty excited to hear the message (yes, I played it on speakerphone).

We had all gone to see Jim Henry play with the The Dead Horses at the Route 63 Roadhouse in Millers Falls. A stunning show.

Now I'm back in Shutesbury with Tracy. Lovely to be here in the woods with her, Miss Kitty, and Madonna (who sleeps with me every night).

More soon.

Rochester connections....

Saturday, I spend the afternoon with my great aunt Maeluise, Happie’s younger sister, the middle child (Barbra is the baby). She is 84. We have a lovely time looking through old photo albums, taking a walk around her quiet neighborhood, and talking about my trip. There are incredible pictures of the three girls when they were little, in the 1920s. They are adorable. My grandmother is a gorgeous child, they all are. We flip through those. She tells me about the aunts, a few friends, some funny stories.

We get to a picture of an attractive blond girl. Nobody is blond is our family; we’re all dark-haired Jews. “We had an exchange student from Finland,” begins Mae. “She was very pretty, had quite the figure... Here she was, a senior in high school, and *we* were responsible for her.” I see where she’s going. Not easy to keep the shapely Scandinavian exchange student out of trouble. Sounds like maybe they didn’t. Funny. We turn the page to Mae’s daughters, glamorous high school portraits, fully airbrushed, big round hair.

We plan to talk more on Monday, record some of her stories, and take some pictures to Kinko’s to be scanned. Mae asks where the friends I am staying with live, and I tell her they live on Edgerton Street near Canterbury Road.

“Oh,” she says, “We had a house on Canterbury Road for a while in the 50s and 60s It was 211 Canterbury, near Vassar.” I made a mental note to remember 211, check it out the next day.

So the next day, I’m sitting on Kathy and Pete’s front porch on Edgerton Street, just like I loved to do with Carly in high school. This is where we’d sit to talk about our crazy obsessive crushes or why our friends were being weird or our parents annoying. Pete returns from taking Kathy to the airport, she’s off to North Carolina for work (she facilitates racism awareness workshops).

“What’s up?” says Pete.

“Oh, I was just thinking of taking a walk around the corner to a house my Aunt Mae used to have on Canterbury.”

“Cool. Where?”

“Canterbury and Vassar.” Its literally a block and a half from their house.

“Really? What was the family name?”


“No... I had a crush on a girl named Judi Barkin in high school.”

“Judi. Yep. She lives in Arcata.” I’ve seen her several times this year. Last time was Bob’s wedding. All I can do is laugh now. Because of course there’s a connection. Of course.

Pete goes inside, finds his high school yearbook, and there they are. All three of them. Monroe High, class of 1963.

So Pete and I stroll around the corner to find the house on Canterbury with the double lot, big garden. He tells me how Judi was cool and glamorous, he was just a dork, into nature and science. She wasn’t interested. Then he mentions there was an exchange student. “She was from Finland maybe? Heidi? Haily? She was very blond and pretty.... But I don’t know if she was at their house...”

“She was.”

Pete looks at me sideways, eyes squinty. “She was?”

“Yep. I saw a picture of her yesterday.”

He smiles. Oh my, I know what he’s going to say. I let him say it.

“She was the first girl I ever kissed.”

~ ~ ~

In the evening I go over to Mae’s for dinner. I’m late because I couldn’t find my car keys, and it’s clear she’s eagerly awaiting my arrival. Deep smile on her wrinkled face, somehow more open and vulnerable than my grandmother. Dark eyes, the color dulled with age but not the life in them. She’s wearing the same gray Sun Valley sweatshirt she had on yesterday and totally nondescript khaki slacks. I was there when she bought it last summer in Arcata, some place near Judi’s house. She’s made a lovely salad with olives, blue cheese, and homegrown cherry tomatoes, has out the good bread and some iced tea. She puts it all on trays and we carry it out to a picnic table in the back yard. The sun has not quite set and it’s a little bright where it shines through the trees. There’s a tiny pond near the picnic table with a few big orange koi in it. The sun is shining on one end of the pond, illuminating the fish.

I tell Mae all about Pete and Judi and Heli. She laughs and laughs. “What was his last name?” She asks.

“Debes, Peter Debes.”

“Oh, well sure. Debes. I worked with his father on a project at Kodak. Jack. We had lots of meetings together. Yes, I knew him well.”

This is almost comical now. It figures, of course we all know each other. We decide we should have dinner with Pete Monday night.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A little slice of home

So last Thursday on my way from Ann Arbor back to Bay City (for a night), I had the wonderful fortune to stop in Okemos, Michigan (just east of Lansing) to see my friends Kate, Brandan, and Willa from Portland. They just so happened to be visiting Kate's brother and his family there. I don't know if I can convey how happy it made me to see them there in the middle of Michigan in the middle of my long trip. Like a little slice of home. And it was an honor to meet more of Kate's cool family, especially Willa's cousins Zeke and Olive (who I'd seen pictures of for years). A very lovely and talented bunch (check out the music here).

Willa (right) with her cousin, Olive, in fancy dress-up clothes.

Willa and Kate do an impressive stunt.

Brandan and me before dinner.

Willa makes a face at me at dinner.

Then my first stop in Rochester was at Kathy and Peter's house (parents of my friend Carly, now in NYC). I have known them all since Carly and I were in high school, and they are almost as much family as anyone. (They have a web site about their adventures in Italy here.)

Kathy on the back porch on Saturday morning.

Me with their good friend Wilson, very sweet guy.

Kathy's car.

Kathy and me, front porch.

Kathy and Pete.

Stay tuned for a pretty insane coincidence, and pictures of my great aunt Maeluise (Happie's sister).