Archive for May, 2011

May 23, 2011

The Red Dakota Truck

The Red Dakota
The Truck as Match Maker

Many years ago I traveled to Nashville on business. For some reason I was offered a Ranger pick up as a rental. Having always been madly fascinated by all things country including: music, trucks, cowboys and rodeos, I was quick to take the truck.

At that time we were just moving from the city to the country and I needed a “station car.” My heart was set on a pick up. We headed out to look at the options and picked a red Dakota, which is a 3/4 size truck with a six foot bed. I loved driving that truck to the station for many years. There were only two pick ups in the commuter lot.
Eventually, the truck was stationed in Connecticut at our house and used to haul kayaks to Lake Winchester. I would drive it on the weekends, but over the winter it mostly sat in the garage feeling useless and unloved. Sometimes I brought it down to Rye Brook since my normal car didn’t do too well in the snow. It was not ideal for a truck who really wanted to be a work horse.
Ellie and Peter started driving at the same time. There was no way Peter was going to drive the red truck. It made much more sense for him to use Alex’s green Subaru Forester. Peter had longer distances to drive to Westchester Community College and he wanted a lower profile. The idea of Ellie, who displayed a bit of recklessness in her early driving days, would be ensconced in a big pickup was also a comforting thought. I am not sure she was too hot on the idea of a red pick up, but it was that or the school bus. Short argument.
Rye Brook high school kids all revel in the right to drive to school. Some of these kids drive some pretty fancy rides. I am not sure how wise it is to equip a 17 year old male with a BMW 300 series car or some of the other models I see, but let’s just say that student parking lot has some pretty nice wheels in it. I can promise you there is only one red Dakota pick up. Ellie has embraced her notoriety. She has christened my truck, Betsy Snow, for reasons she can’t quite articulate. She enjoys driving around town recognized by one and all. Aside from a few minor mishaps, she has learned to negotiate that 6-foot bed into most parking spots.
As the spring rites of boys asking girls to Prom heated up, Betsy Snow played a key role. It turns out Jordan, who has the parking spot next to Ellie, liked more than Ellie’s truck. She emerged from the school building one day to see “Prom?” spelled out in colorful post it notes on the back of her truck and Jordan’s stereo blasting. He presented her with roses in front of two gym classes and the track team who were all working out in the adjacent athletic field.
Teenagers may not like to stand out, but that red Dakota has been a welcome bit of notoriety, a match maker and it still does a great job hauling kayaks. Who knows, next year it may be back in the commuter parking lot.
May 17, 2011

The Yarn Diet


It frightens me when I calculate the number of years since I became a knitter. When people ask me how long I have been knitting, I shrink from responding. How in the world could someone as young as I am have been knitting for over forty years? That is a lot of stitches. You know how they always like to calculate how many times something could go around the world? Well, maybe the corollary to that is how big a garment I could have knit with all those stitches—a blanket which could cover our house? An even larger building? Perhaps the town of Rye Brook?

Of course the by product of all those years of knitting has been yarn accumulation. Knitters go to yarn stores. Knitters see yarn they can’t live without and they buy it. It accumulates at a rate that can never be matched by output. Knitters may be more or less forthcoming about how much yarn they have. Some revel in excess, some squirrel their yarn away in discreet caches. Some inventory their stockpile, others go to their maker leaving relatives to sift through bewildering scavenger hunts of half-finished projects and orphaned treasures.

 I believe I have written about this before, but at the beginning of 2009 I went on a pretty serious yarn diet. It had become clear even to me that my stash was a lot like my own private yarn store. Now, I think there are a lot of knitters with this situation. They may or may not be open about it, but I had started to feel like I had just ingested way too many desserts. There was yarn everywhere. I had yarn in plastic bins under my bed. I had a dresser full of yarn. There were three large plastic bins of yarn in the Blue Room and more yarn in plastic bins in the basement. I felt a little ill when I thought of all that yarn and it was time to go on a diet.

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May 10, 2011

The Travel Bug


I love to travel. I love to see new places and explore new experiences. We have had some outstanding trips both as a family and I have done some amazing trips alone. One of my early goals as a parent was to instill in my children the love of travel and it has been successful. As a family, we enjoy reminiscing about the places and experiences which have been meaningful to each of us. We also love to dream of future places we want to go. Peter wants to see Hawaii. Ellie is dying to visit Machu Pichu. Alex wants to see London and often laments that his adulthood precludes more family travel.

But as much as I love adventure and new places, I have to confess that I just like riding on airplanes and traveling through airports. Post 9/11, travel has become increasingly less glamorous and downright arduous, but I still love to head to the airport, endure security and board the airplane.

Airplanes are a place to be undisturbed. Thank heavens cell phones still aren’t allowed. There is time for reading, for knitting, for napping and contemplation. I almost always fall asleep right before takeoff. I drop into a comatose state shortly after settling into my seat. It could be relaxation. The feeling of having that uninterrupted time ahead. Maybe it is the air, or lack of air, and accumulated fatigue. Whatever it is, I nap until we’re up in the air and then wake refreshed and ready to play.

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May 5, 2011

Winchester Center Quilt and Needle Art Show

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This past weekend was the fourth annual Winchester Center Quilt and Needle Art Show. Winchester Center is the town in which our country house is situated. It is in Northwest Connecticut, but not the toney part of NW CT. We do have a beautiful New England green complete with church, Grange Hall, Historical Society and gazebo. The gazebo is fairly recent–a fine example of our increasingly sophisticated village infrastructure.

This quilt show is sponsored by the Winchester Center Congregational Church. They have a quilting guild and our neighbor, Mary Pat Leger, organizes the show. The quilting group meets twice a month on Wednesdays. Once a year they take over the church for the big quilting show. Services on that Sunday are held in the basement in deference to the display of quilts in the sanctuary.

This is not a fancy church but the sanctuary is full of light and it is a tremendous vehicle to display these quilts and works of needle art. The amazing variety of artistic expression belies the rural setting. There are some incredibly talented women plying needle and thread in these parts.

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