18 July, 2008

friends, friends

Several Notes to Self: first one up... remember last summer when the first really hot day, I mean REALLY hot day came and you decided to turn on the AC? Did you happen to be doing laundry at the same time? Well, don't! I did the same thing tonight and then blasted into total recall as the electricity shut down and we were plunged into darkness at 9:30. Avery does not do tremendously well in total darkness, plus any unexpected set of circumstances convinces her completely that I'm a total nincompoop idiot and incapable of handling anything the least bit challenging. "I'll follow you with a candle, Mommy, in case there's anything I can do," she said bravely, until she discovered that following me would involve... drum roll please... the BASEMENT. EEEKK!!!

Anyway, I flipped the dryer switch, the AC switch and the thing marked "MAIN" (feeling confident that, without an E on the end, I wouldn't inadvertently cut off electrical supplies to an entire Down East state). Nothing happened. Waited five minutes or so (in the TOTAL basement darkness, surrounded, I knew, by mousetraps, spiderwebs and... well, that's all, actually, besides a Christmas tree stand and several bottles of flat champagne). Tried the switches again, nothing. So I called the power company and reported it and lit ten thousand votive candles and fielded Avery's panic.

Then, in sheer boredom, I went down there once more and randomly threw the switches again, and HALLELUJAH! Everything back on, although I immediately turned off the dryer. I can definitely go until tomorrow without my pool towels being cozy and tumble-dried. Then, however, I realized the power company was still sending someone out, and sure enough, up our dear, dark road came an enormous truck with a huge CRANE and a searchlight. He passed our house despite our semaphores of "stop, stop," no doubt because the house was lit up like a Christmas tree so clearly we didn't need him? But I said, "He'll be back," so we sat down among the mosquitoes and moths and ants on the front step, admired that portion of the picket fence we could see if we didn't turn our heads toward the bit felled by the gravel guy... and back the electrical guy came. He trained his super-duper searchlights directly into the bedroom of the baby across the road, I have no doubt, as I waved wildly through his windscreen. Then we saw him don an orange plastic hard hat, and pick up a pair of GOGGLES (Always Be Prepared) and descend from the cab of the truck.

"I'm so sorry," I said, "but I called the power company back to say everything was OK, but I was on hold FOREVER." "That's all right, ma'am," he said, doffing his hat and making me feel incredibly OLD, "we were in the neighborhood anyway." "Well, it's good to know you're on the job," I said, and shook his hand. He got back in his very impressive truck (still wearing the hard hat, although the goggles had not appeared), and drove off, honking lightly to indicate his solidarity as he passed.


Friends indeed. What would we do without them? They smooth our driveways. Rollie came first thing the morning after I threw myself on his mercy, and as you see, smoothed everything out. He accepted a blueberry and raspberry pancake afterward and hung out at the picnic table, discussing with me the options as regards our windowsills, sadly in need of paint. "Why don't let's wait until John is here, to decide? He has that lawyerly sort of voice, if you know what I mean, not that he's ever been a lawyer, but you know. People'll listen to him." Shoot, but not to me? Definitely not. Fair enough. Thank you, Rollie, for making my driveway driveable. I spent the rest of the day alternately rejoicing over it and finding bits I needed to shovel and rake to make it all straight, and can I tell you? Gravel is HEAVY. It likes to stay where it is. I hurt in muscles I never knew I had.

Then it was onto more perfect friend encounters. We were dying to see Alyssa, however unencumbered, sadly, she is with children, with Elliot and Annabelle both committed to camps involving WAY too much of their summers, in my opinion! How I miss them both. But we agreed to meet Alyssa in Greenwich, as a sort of halfway point, and then it turned out Becky and her family would JUST have arrived, although with no furniture and so in a hotel. So the day turned into friend heaven. First lunch at "Aux Delices", the catering outfit and darling cafe run by the lady who used to run "Montrachet" in our old Tribeca haunts... we each had a divine bean salad that I came home and completely successfully replicated, although it took me a day to find out what the "green" bean was...

Three Bean Salad with Red Pepper, Green Onion and Sweetcorn
(serves 6-ish)

1 can each "small white beans," black beans, THOROUGHLY rinsed and drained
1 cup edamame (soy beans)
3 ears sweetcorn, lightly boiled and cut off the cob and separated
2 bunches scallions, cut on the bias right into the green part, in nice slivers
1 red pepper, julienned
1 clove garlic, smashed into tiny smithereens
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp wasabi horseradish sauce (or blended with mustard)
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to taste

Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Then shake together everything from the garlic onwards in a small jar and pour over salad, then toss thoroughly. Very nice!


I think if you wanted to add shredded roast chicken to this, or even seared tuna, you'd be in business for a fine entire lunch. As it was, it was lovely with the freshest tomato-mozzarella sandwich you ever tasted, on the side.

We shopped! Normally I hate to shop. Seeing more than about two dozen things in a shop makes me want to give everything I own to Oxfam or Goodwill, never mind buying anything NEW. But Anne Fontaine for a black t-shirt blouse, and JCrew for a ruffled v-neck button-up t-shirt? Done! Mostly it was beyond lovely just to follow Alyssa around, gossiping, sharing gossip on Tribeca news, John's job news, Avery's Prize Day and play news, Jill's pregnancy news... total pleasure, total fun.

And then Becky was there! With Anna and Ellie, jumping out of the car to greet Avery. "I feel I already know you!" Alyssa said to Becky, jumping on Becky's same words! To see my two best friends finally meeting each other almost made up for the realization that now I've said goodbye to BOTH of them. No fair! How have I been lucky enough to have either one of them, much less both. I will not whine.

Off to follow Becky to their new house (empty!) to tour the glorious place and the gorgeous grounds, complete with pond in which the girls felt it was necessary to throw many, many stones trying to rouse something under the surface... I can picture the whole family, fireplaces, gorgeous kitchen, high ceilings, rolling lawns... We sat and chatted and reminisced and silently wished we could turn back the clock and be back in London, ready for the whole adventure to start again.

But there will be new adventures. Among them was... getting back to Red Gate Farm! How hard it seems to be for me to go ANYWHERE without getting well and truly lost, no matter how well I write things down. I ended up throwing myself on the mercy of a whole VERY American picnic tableful of American guys outside some nice IT company, begging them to tell me how to get to I-95. There is something irresistibly American about guys in short-sleeve tennis-y sort of shirts, drinking Budweiser, looking crisp-cut and innocent and friendly. They fell all over themselves to help me find I-95, and it was such a going-home experience, that American-ness. I can't define it, but there's something boyish, kind-hearted, joyous and competent about that profile that both reminds me of John and also makes me realize how far his general profile has come from there, since we've been away. It's still part of him, but only part.

I did get home!

Another note to self: if you know FULL WELL your washing machine has a diabolical spin cycle, and that you've put your nice bedspread into it... don't leave the plastic container of laundry detergent on top of it to... fall off. And split open, onto the floor of the laundry room. EEWW! Not as nasty as something NASTY being spread all over my laundry room, but still, a big fat mess.

We've been enjoying the gorgeous sunny days... but we're missing John and waiting for his arrival next month... can't wait.


Shelley said...

I'm so happy that there is a sense of normalcy that is settling in on Red Gate for you. Despite the fence (see nasty elf, last post) and the lost power (ours sputters in the upstairs bathroom) and the mousetraps (the cats are totally useless with all things vermin) you're HOME an that's a lovely place to be.

Avery is radiant in those photos. She has a smile that melts.

The salad sounds wonderful and I do admire a woman who can use the word "smithereens" properly.

Kristen In London said...

Oh, Shelley, settling in is always a process, isn't it? Power outages, cars that don't start, forgotten PINs on cash cards in the local currency! Never a dull moment.

But as you say, it's home. And I love your saying how radiant Avery is. She is the BEST companion this summer.