Daydreaming in the bathtub

the-lighthouseMany an evening during my tweenie-teenie years would end with a soak in the bathtub. I would luxuriate in the warmth daydreaming of becoming a National Parks ranger or marrying a fisherman or living in a lighthouse.

I did work for the National Parks for a while, in Lowell.  I was a librarian in an urban historical park which is a far cry from being a ranger in the desert or in the mountains. My husband was a sailor, not a fisherman. And now the Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration & Sailing Society is holding a raffle for a night at the Saugerties Lighthouse. Of course one night in a bed and breakfast is a lot different than living in a lighthouse, but it is pretty good.  If you never daydreamed about living on a tiny island, waiting for the mail boat and supplies, seeing the tides come in and out, watching the gulls, signalling to the ships that pass in the night, get in your bathtub right now and do it.

“Lighthouses capture the imagination in ways few buildings can.
They hark back to an era when nautical travel reigned and
time moved at a slower knot…As special as these buildings are,
even more uncommon is the privilege of staying in one overnight.”
                                                             – – – The New York Times

Eleanor sailing towards the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

Eleanor sailing towards the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

Your raffle ticket money will go toward completing the restoration of the 1903 sloop Eleanor, the last of a class of “raceabouts” built by Clinton Crane. She sailed the Hudson River from Albany to New York City. You can read about her and the band of volunteers who are meticulously rebuilding her so that she will once again be on the water offering all the opportunity to learn about the Hudson River’s history and environment, the forces of nature, the value and rewards of cooperation and good communication, as well as the thrill of the wind at your back as you sail.

Like the Eleanor, the Saugerties Lighthouse is on the National Registry of Historic Places. In 1834 the U.S. Congress appropriated $5,000 for a lighthouse at the mouth of the Esopus Creek. It was required to guide ships away from nearby shallows and into the Creek when Saugerties was a major port with daily commercial and passenger transportation.

One beautiful summer afternoon several years ago during low tide I walked out to the Saugerties Lighthouse and daydreamed again, but along with growing up comes practicality.

cup-3I’ve bought my chances.

Get your chance to stay at the Lighthouse here.

And what are you doing May 31st?

Rokeby and wildflowers cropped even more

Why not dress up and party with the Hudson River Historic Boat and Sailing Society at Rokeby in Barrytown, NY?

Eleanor

Eleanor

As a member of this lively band of sailors, woodworkers, city of Hudson and Hudson River history buffs, and crazy romantics, I invite you to an Edwardian Great Porch and Lawn Party at Rokeby, a  privately-owned Hudson River Livingston/Astor estate with a twist. The event is a benefit to fund the purchase of the spars for the restoration of the 1903 Clinton Crane sloop Eleanor.

According to the Historic American Buildings Survey prepared by the National Park Service, Rokeby, originally known as La Bergerie, is 200 years old this year. Ricky Aldrich, Vice President of HRHBrass is our host for the day and Wint Aldrich will be giving tours of the first floor of the mansion. Speaking unofficially for the volunteers and supporters of the Eleanor Project, I will say that we are extremely thankful to them and to Ania Adrich for opening their home for this occasion.

First Floor PlanGuests will be able to stroll the grounds which offer beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Catskills. If the sun is out, the afternoon will be magnificent If not, it will just be outstanding! It will be hard not to have a good time.

Reliance, 1903

Reliance, 1903

At 4 o’clock Halsey Herreshoff will speak about his racing experiences, the America’s Cup and things dear to sailors. Since 1878, the Herreshoff family has been designing and building select high quality yachts, including the famed Reliance and Westward, the most technologically advanced racing yachts of their time. Halsey is a prolific designer of production and custom yachts. As a sailor, he has been bowman, tactician and navigator, with four successful America’s Cup defenses, and he will have just returned from this year’s race. He is  responsible for the development of the Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame in Bristol, R.I.

000_0005-860x547Hudson River Historic Boat was organized in 2011 to save a very distressed Eleanor. A hard working group of volunteers meet weekly in a warehouse in Hudson, New York to bring her back to her glory so that she can once again sail the Hudson River for the public’s pleasure and education. This event will raise money for Eleanor’s mast, boom and gaff that will be built by the Beetle Boat Shop in Wareham, Mass.

There will be food by Bruno’s, there will be music by the Blackiston Brothers, and we hope you will step back in time and dress Edwardian and join us.  Or dress for 2015 and join us.

For more information on the Party and to purchase tickets, as well as to learn more about the work on the Eleanor please see our website.  If you can’t make be with us on the 31st, but would like to join our group and volunteer your time and/or expertise, please give us a call.

We do have fun.

She had a big breakfast, lay down and . . .

Mom, 2009?

Mom, 2009?

My mother died November first. She was 98 years old, though she looked younger. Yesterday her death became one of the stories Lee tells to people — at dinner, parties, breakfast, or whenever they seem appropriate. This telling was at Crafts People in Spillway, according to Lee, or Hurley, according to their business card.

When we walked into the first building — Jewelry, Lamps and Toys — the man sitting at the door, the owner, recognized Lee. We wandered a bit about until we were in different places. I was kneeling at a counter with barrettes and hair ribbons, sticks and such, hoping to find just the thing for my niece for Chanukah, when from the other side of the aisle came the words: “She had a big breakfast, and lay down for a nap, and . . . .”

He may have already told the story to Derrick or Eric or others of his men buddies separate from our life together, but this was the first I heard him tell it and it shook me a bit.

Only those few words. I quickly moved into the little room at the back which held the toys, in order to avoid hearing more. If it becomes part of his repertoire, it may acquire embellishments, and I’m looking forward to them.

But this telling was, like her death, quiet, peaceful, simple. I wasn’t at her death and will never know if she died as peacefully as the woman who sat with her told me. She said it was beautiful and the way she said it and looked at me and cried, there is no reason not to believe her.

I would have liked to have been with her.

She was in her own world these past few years or so. For the most part they seemed comfortable, content, healthy years, although I have no idea at all of what was going on in her mind. Did she know that she was and yet was not the woman she used to be? that she was unable to communicate? that she no longer could walk? that her sister had died? that her grandson got married? that people still loved her? Did she really just exist in the moment and did that moment ever seem much too long or meaningless? What did she do in-between those moments?

Did she recognize me as her daughter, did she recognize me as someone who came to visit every now and then, did she miss me when I wasn’t there?  Did I disappoint her by not doing whatever she might have wanted me to do, or not saying whatever she wanted me to say? Did she want?

redheaded woman illustrationMy presence during these later years may have had no impact on her happiness. My presence at her death may have been the same. Her last thoughts may have been of those who died before her — her mother, father, husband, or maybe no thoughts, only a longing to be finally free of the confines of her wheelchair and her own mind, or maybe no longing but just a blissful nothingness.

Is it a gift to be present at death? My husband Clark told me of how he held his father’s hand and felt his spirit pass on to him as he died. I wanted so much to give Clark the chance to be on the giving end when he died but I made a mistake and I’ve never forgiven myself. The night of his death was a nightmare that still continues to haunt me, all the layers of which I have yet to explore.

Perhaps being at the side of my mom when she died would have helped me.

It’s been written that

            “when Mister Death come, the living couldn’t see him, and wept and wailed,
            but the folks that was dyin’ rose up to greet him, and smiled at him on their way,
            like they knew him for a friend.”

I like to think that is true, but its simplicity makes me cringe when I think of those who lose loved ones, especially young loved ones, to accidents, gun shots, cancer. Who gives a shit about this Mister Death coming and taking our innocents away?

           “Well son,” said granny, “here’s another question she asks of you. Why did you take             away her baby sister from the cradle?”

           Then Death twisted and turned in his sleep again. “She was sick,” he said, “She                  was full of pain. I took her so she need never cry again.”

Life, death — it’s all a burden and a blessing.

*

redheaded woman cover

Mr. Death and the Redheaded Woman, by Helen Eustis, with illustrations by Reinhard Michl. A Star & Elephant Book published by Green Tiger Press, 1983, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, February 11, 1950 under the title “The Rider on the Pale Horse.”

The Great Water Race and Barbecue to help build sloop Eleanor’s Spars

EleanorThe Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration and Sailing Society Inc. invites all to the Great Water Race and Barbecue at the Roe-Jan Creek Boat Club in Germantown on September 6th, from 2 to 5pm.  Proceeds will go to support Sailboat Eleanor’s restoration – specifically to restore the mast, boom, and gaff of this lovely landmark vessel.

The racing sloop Eleanor was built in City Island in 1903 and is on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.  Being well over a century old, with materials of mahogany, oak, cedar, iron and copper, she will provide invaluable restoration experiences for both master craftsmen and their apprentices.  Eleanor is the last surviving example of a class of boats known as “raceabouts” that were designed for speed, and represents a unique chapter in the evolution of sailing.  This is an opportunity to have a wonderful afternoon and contribute to a unique cause as well.

Duck and FlamingoThe Water Race will begin at approximately 3:30 pm.  Ten ducks and ten flamingos, who have gathered from various point on the map and are staying at members’ homes, have been studying and swimming the waters of the creek for the past month or so, will vie for the finish line.  Racers, at $50 each, can be sponsored before September 6th by calling 618-568-8832, or at the barbecue if still available.  Five hundred dollars will go to benefit Eleanor, $250 will be awarded to the sponsor of the first place winner, 50 to the second place sponsor, and $100 to the third.  The racers will have the option of remaining with their sponsors as honorary drink floats or returning home.  Guests can bet on their favorite racer. Enjoy the view of the river and the mountains as you cheer the racers on.

Music will be provided by The Livingston-Blackiston twins, Sky and Sandy, and by Mike Pagnani and Friends.  A menu of hot dogs, chicken, local potatoes contributed by Staron Farm and fresh corn contributed by Holmquest Farm, salads, and home baked desserts will be served.  Call 518-567-8832 or email eleanorrestorationproject@gmail.com for tickets or get back to me in my comments — only $15 a person.  You may also purchase them at Anglers Marine at 12 County Route 31or Bruno’s in Hudson. .  Tickets must be purchased before August 29th.

Come have a great afternoon and learn more about Eleanor.  Visit HRHBrass’s website at www.hudsonriverhistoricboat.org

Thanks to Hudson River Sampler from whom I happily stole whole sentences!

 

 

 

Love in the Cookie Jar

Back in those crazy years after my husband died and I began dating again, a fellow who intrigued me asked me to bake him cookies in exchange for his affection. He followed a quasi gluten free diet. I bought Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America.  Author Richard Coppedge had formulated four specialized flours that could be blended for breads, cakes, cookies, bagels, pancakes, everything to keep a lover happy.  It was intense, scientific, and required visiting several natural food stores for ingredients. This was 2008, before gluten free baking flours and such were readily available.  I am just a casual baker, and after several attempts at success, was not willing to put in the effort to get it right.

Love in the Cookie JarIn the end the fellow wasn’t worth the effort either, but at this point I was hopelessly smitten. Momma’s Favorite Monster Cookie was perfect. I found it on the internet.  It was simple, forgiving, nutritious, and the recipe produced 48 delicious cookies.

He loved them. They surpassed anything found anywhere, and they still are hard to beat. He encouraged me to market them.

Well he’s gone but the cookie is still a favorite.

Lots of friends and family, one with gluten issues, visited these past few weeks.  I made a double batch, froze them – which they do so well — and served them continually.  Several cookie lovers asked for the recipe.

I went online to send them the link. The url no longer existed. Fourteen million, six hundred thousand results popped up binging “Monster Cookie.” Ah yes, a lot of them were Cookie Monster hits. Forgot about him.

There were countless versions of this oatmeal, peanut butter cookie:  Grandmother  versions, Jewish versions, Amish versions, Nestlé’s version, Pillsbury’s version, Paula Deen’s version which has 447 comments by the way; a modified version for autistic children which uses corn syrup instead of butter or margarine, fully illustrated presentations, utube demonstrations, and some which added flour.   One site honored it as a “modern classic.” And then there was that entirely different blue genre mentioned above.

What is my point?

I’m not sure.

But many caring women, and hopefully some just as caring men have featured this recipe on their blogs or have commented on it suggesting variations, asking for more details, or simply praising it.  And surely, an even greater number of women who have discovered and baked and loved this cookie have their own story they will tell when they share this treat.

Momma Kate’s recipe was originally at recipezaar.com and is now available on food.com.

One of the most recent comments on Paula Deen’s site is “. . .They did not turn out. They were yucky cookie balls. Such a bummer.”

My suggestion to the writer is that she try again.  Practice makes perfect, and mine get better and better every time.

Just like picking fellows.

Stephen, Lee Rubinstein, Jo Hills, Mary Jo @ Beekman Arms (Rhinebeck, NY)

 

I hope I’ll get another chance

We just recently moved into the eleven by eight foot loft of our new addition where we can lie in bed and look out over the Hudson and the Catskills.  There’s not much we can do there but sleep, read, and you know what.  It’s very romantic.

Our kids were up for Thanksgiving – three thirty-ish men with their lovely women.  It was a fabulous weekend for us, the first Thanksgiving with the two families merged.

The last of our children left Sunday afternoon, and the house felt suddenly empty, but it also was once more ours alone.  We decided to pour ourselves each a glass of wine and watch a movie in bed ––

*

*

An hour or two later we awoke.  Lee told me he felt like were in our twenties again.

I told him I forgot to open my eyes.

Mommy! Mommy!

Zachary Kanin, in The New Yorker, 11/25/2013

“Mommy, Mommy!”

I’d hear my son’s baby squirrel voice from the back seat of the Caravan.

“Mommy!  Where’s Daddy?”

We’d have just passed a squashed squirrel on the road – most likely Groton Road on the way to  — to anything.

“It’s okay, honey, he’d reply in his mommy squirrel voice.

My boys had a huge repertoire of voices. They’d invent characters and mimic others:  Bush one, Spock, Jack Nicholson, and oh my goodness, a favorite teacher during a speech at graduation.

“It’s okay.  Daddy had to go somewhere.  He’s all right.”

I guess that’s why when I read the featured cartoon this morning my stomach lurched, I felt the blood drain from my face, and my entire day has been colored by the sorrow and pain of those stupid water toys.