Thursday, August 24, 2006
Waxing Moon (yesterday was the New)
Cloudy and warm
I got back from Saratoga yesterday and I go to CT in a bit. I am so tired I could hardly see.
Saratoga was a whirlwind – too much socializing, not enough solitude. I jotted some notes, but didn’t actually sit down and write, which made me cranky. Had I stayed even one more day, I would have had to turn into Boundary Bitch and carve out a few hours for my writing.
The traffic on the trip up was awful. Next time, I go back to leaving at 6 AM. I had to stop in Coxsackie (don’t go there) to call my friend J. and tell him I was running late. I also bought a pair of sunglasses there that match the Magic Shoes.
I took the photos I needed for Shallid and for the novella. I also realized that Winter Hills, the fictional town where I set the minor league hockey team for Clear the Slot, is stuffed right near Saratoga. I hadn’t realized how much I set in that area.
The Bed and Breakfast at which he stays is only 500 yards from the track gate, so I parked the car in the spot they’d put aside for me and headed to the races. I didn’t bet at all – wasn’t in the mood – but got to see some of the lovely horses. And the track is so delightful. It’s a graceful, beautiful place. It’s a shame that people no longer dress to go there, although the clubhouse and the restaurants still have a dress code. May they never get rid of it.
I grabbed a couple of Seabiscuit mugs (they were on sale for charity) – funny looking things, but grabbed one for myself and one for my friend B. We met some people J. knows – at this point, he knows just about everyone in town. It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day and lovely to be outside. I took some photos. We drank from one of the famed springs – it was awful! They are sulphur springs, so you can just imagine . . .
After the races were done, we went by a house J. is interested in buying. He’s in love with the carriage house on the property and that’s where he would live during the summer months, renting it for the rest of the year, and keeping the tenants in the main house. It’s a lovely property, but overpriced, especially considering that some work needs to be done and there’s a halfway house across the corner. Now, I have no problem with them being there, but I pointed out that there’s no way the owners can jack up the price (we found a listing at over $100K less somewhere else) when they’re across the street from that establishment. Especially not in a socially stratified town like Saratoga.
One of the reasons I couldn’t live there is it’s run via an economic caste system, with which I disagree.
For dinner, we went out to the Saratoga Hotel which houses a chic new restaurant called Chez Sophie. It used to be a retro diner, and now it’s an upscale French place in the conference center. In fact, a group of funeral directors held a conference there. And they were quite rude to the staff – but not as bad as the Republicans there for a fundraiser. The ego and entitlement they exuded made me want to slap them all silly. Their single goal – to get into office because “too many people who don’t deserve it live around here.” Direct quote that I overhead. Who the fuck are they to decide who “deserves” to live somewhere? They don’t “deserve” to make the decisions.
Some racing people came in while we waited for the other people joining us for dinner. One of them grabbed my ass when he met me and I just about took him out. “I’m not a horse and I’m not a hooker, so keep your hands off me.”
Fortunately, dinner was both delicious and lovely. Two friends of J’s joined us. One owns the B&B where we stay, and she is lovely. The other guy had invited himself at the track. He’s a rough, loud Boston guy. Good heart, but a little much sometimes. There were several times when I told him in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t answer his questions because they weren’t any of his business.
The food was wonderful; the wines exquisite. The owner came to talk to us (we were the sanest people in the room, isn’t that sad?) It was nice to chat with her, and I’d like to interview her for an article.
We got home well after midnight.
I had to get up at 6 the next morning, because my friend told me to be at the Gideon Putnam at 8 AM. I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast – including a very BIG cup of coffee.
Well, of course, no one was there by 8, and the staff though they overhead something about 9:30 or 10. Normally, I would have been a fit to be tied and stomped off. However, I was grateful for the gift of solitude. I took my coffee and the newspaper and my book and went out roaming the grounds of the park. I took a lot of pictures, which I’ll post. And I had some time to myself. I wrote a few notes; I read. I enjoyed the sunshine, the quiet, and the solitude.
By 10, people started wandering in. We unloaded auction items. I went back with F. to her house, where we loaded her truck and my car with more items, and came back. I had two young interns and we folded over 300 napkins like bandanas (western theme) and tied them with raffia. If I never seen another strip of raffia, it’ll be too soon. I was annoyed because “the committee” – which should have been sitting with us rolling napkins – was off discussing the event. First of all, the discussion they were having should have happened two weeks ago. Second, if you can’t talk and roll a napkin at the same time, you shouldn’t be in charge of anything.
The frustrating thing about the event is that I made my living doing benefits for non-profits, yet they never listen to me. So, a few years ago, I figured, well, you know, people are well paid to do benefits for non-profits. They’re paying people who aren’t anywhere near as good as I am, or organized. And that’s their choice. I don’t need to take any responsibility – I’ll just help with the set up and leave. And it’s much easier on me. They still get the stuff done that their committee ladies think they’re too “good” to do, I get to go to Saratoga for a couple of days “in season”, and, as long as I don’t listen to their silly talk, I’m fine.
I decided, after 300+ napkins and starch all over my hands, that I’d had enough. It was 4 PM by then, so I thanked the interns, changed into a nice green dress with the bronze shoes, asked what time I should return the next day . . .and left. Very pleasant, very cordial, very firm. If someone with a rich husband who’s never worked a day in her life can waft in, pick up a single stuffed animal, place it in a basket and call it a day (telling her friends how hard she’s working and it’s not a joke), I can leave after six hours of heavy lifting. I did go back to my friend’s house with her and load up her truck again.
I may have to kill five or six of that type off in the Nina Bell novella.
I went back into town, visited some of my favorite stores and did some shopping. Too much stuff is overpriced during the race meet because people will pay a high price for a mediocre product because they like to boast how much something costs. But, over the years, I’ve found some good, year-round artisans who create good work at a fair price. They are the ones from whom I buy. A friend reached me as I wandered through Borders and asked me what I was buying. When I said “Nothing”, he said, in all seriousness, “Do you need to go to the hospital?”
J. met me for a cocktail in the garden of the Adelphi Hotel, which is a lovely, graceful place with a long history. And, of course, he knew half the people in the garden. It’s on the market now, for a reputed 10 million. The place needs a lot of work. It’s got a wonderful history, but has fallen into some disrepair. I think part of it is because it now closes for the winter; if it was year-round, they could keep it up. I wish I had the money – I’d run it as a haven for writers. Still rent to tourists at high prices during “the season”, but off-season, turn it into “the” place to be in upstate New York for arts events. The back garden is lovely – a warren of patios and porches. It is a place where I could find a nook in which to write.
We planned to eat at Mouzon, which is supposed to be wonderful, but it’s closed on Tuesdays (dark day for racing). So we went to One Caroline instead. That was wonderful – good service, (although I’d heard quite a few complaints about service there before), excellent wines, and, again, wonderful food.
After a leisurely dinner, we wandered over to Lyrical Ballard, a wonderful second hand book shop, but they’d closed for the night. So we strolled a few doors further down to Twice Told . I went to town there – I should call my friend and tell him I don’t have to go to the hospital, after all. I bought:
Letters to a Fiction Writer edited by Frederick Busch
Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh
Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trilling
Group Portrait (Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane Ford Madox Ford, Henry James, HG Wells – a biographical study of writers in community) by Nicholas Delbanco
Small Wonders essays by Barbara Kingslover
Freelance Writer: Looking on the Bright Side by Jane Johngren
The Size of Thoughts essays by Nicholas Baker
And I played with the shop’s spoiled, bossy tabby cat.
Then we wandered over to The Parting Glass to have a quick drink. It was quiet in there, but a band was setting up. Unfortunately, during sound check, they seemed more like a construction squad than a band, so we decided not to stay. The pub itself is very nice, and they have Blue Moon on tap, which sets them pretty high up on my list.
We came back to the house, chatted with the owner. J. put in a bid on the house he wants, and we discussed negotiating strategy. I tend to play hardball much more than he does, and I hope he holds his ground. Of course, if he is completely in love with the house. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works out in his best possible interest.
Up on Wednesday at 6 AM again, because I had a 7:30 AM call time. They were late, I expected it, and drank my coffee and read my book under the trees. If I had a clear idea of how late, I could have tried to write, but having to keep one eye on the event hall meant I couldn’t concentrate too deeply on anything.
When some people arrived, we started designing the tables, which is fun. Spread everything out, and make it look enticing, so that people will spend money. It’s fun and creative, and there’s a group of people who actually pitch in and work, while others just stand around and chat.
And, just before noon, I got back in the car and took off. I felt odd – headachy and weird. Not hung over (I hadn’t drunk that much), but feverish. The interview I was supposed to do on the way back was cancelled, thank goodness, so I could go straight home. I had a fever, cancelled out of last night’s gig, and I went to bed, after taking some feverfew and willow bark. I woke up later in the evening (the feverfew did its work) and had an omlette, then went back to sleep. The cats were thrilled I was home, and stuck to me like they were velcroed.
I feel better this morning, although still a bit achy. I wonder if I had a bad reaction to something that bit me – it was rather buggy up there. I took a bit of black cohosh, which should also cleanse my system.
I have about an hour to work on my article due tomorrow, and then I’m off to Connecticut.
The cats will have a fit.
I was offered a job to come tonight and baby-sit a Famous Band that’s playing locally and turned it down. I’d rather be writing.
PS Some of the 2007 Annuals arrived – I’m looking forward to seeing how my articles came out.