Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving, a sofa, and ballerinas!


Just finished Thanksgiving dinner.  Yum!  I love to cook and I love to have an opportunity to use all the fancy dishes and silver and crystal I have inherited from everybody.  We had our friends, Paul Clark and Paul Aronson.  It was a very pleasant day.  Kitties are excited at the prospect of turkey leftovers.

My sofa...

I am thankful on this day for many things, but especially for my sofa.  When I moved out of my house in Detroit, I brought my two Mission-style sofas (that had been so perfect in that house) to Beacon.  The plan was to put both of them in the upstairs TV room, but the big one wouldn't fit up the stairs.  It ended up in my parlor, where it has been a nice place to curl up with a book, but it was too lumpy and huge and modern to suit a Victorian parlor.  Also, while I had considered it to be nearly impervious to any assault by cat claws, that was only because it had not yet met the Big Twerp.  He was able to do within weeks what generations of cats (oh well, at least, any of my cats since since 1995) were unable to accomplish.  

I was bummed out because the sofa looks so crappy and the floral slip cover I put on it in spring and summer is baggy and cheap-looking.  I decided to make a new, tailored slipcover. 

Whatever they tell you on "Trading Spaces" and those other redecorating shows, making a slip cover that fits right is NOT EASY.  It is a big, frustrating pain in the butt.  But I found some upholstery fabric that was the right style and color and price, and I decided to go for it.  I bought seven yards, but I started getting nervous that I hadn't bought enough.  I went back to the store to buy additional yardage but they no longer had any.  Argh!  Depressed and dejected, driving home, I SAW IT!!!  Sitting in the parking lot behind an antique store!  The perfect sofa!  The perfect color!  They had just unloaded it from a truck!  I demanded a price!  $200 bucks, the guy said!

But I do not have $200 bucks!  I am the marginally employed part of my family unit!  So when Robert came home I told him my exciting news.  He was not so excited.  It seems he really likes the old green-and-red sofa, and even the frumpy-looking slip cover.  He didn't want to buy a new one.  And this is the time of year when we get hit with the taxes and the insurance bill, and money is tight.  "Not possible," he said.  I sighed.  Poop

But the next day Robert said, "OK, let's go look at this sofa."  By the time we had arrived the shop owners had had an epiphany, and the price had risen by fifty bucks (still, NOTHING, for a sofa...).  I knew Robert wasn't happy about the idea but when I promised him I would move the new sofa in and move the old one from the parlor to his basement music room and he'd never have to lift a finger, he pulled out his credit card.  

I lined up about six people to help me with the project.  They said, "Sure, when it's time, give me a call and I'll come right over!"  I did everything I could think of to get ready--taking down unnecessary doors and moving the furniture out of two rooms, and even tearing down a lattice "wall" at the back basement entrance.  When I got the call telling me when the new sofa would be delivered and dumped at the end of my driveway, I called all those people.  Nobody answered.  For two days, nobody called back.  I started to flip out.  I even stole fifty dollars from Robert's collection of quarters and went out into the street to accost buff-looking high school kids.  No takers!  With only half an hour to delivery time, I went through my entire address book, calling mere acquaintences.  Most were mysteriously not that excited to hear from me when I told them what I was calling about.  To make matters worse, a downpour threatened.

But amazingly, just minutes before the new sofa was delivered my wonderful across-the-street neighbors appeared and wrestled the big sofa to the basement and helped me move the new one in.  I want to kiss them!   I am thrilled with how it looks, and it's even COMFORTABLE.  That's saying something when you're talking about Victorian furniture! It's my Christmas present from Robert.  I want to kiss him!  (Excuse me, while I do that...)


Ballerinas and Boats....

Norma came to visit in late October.  I met her at art camp in Kansas, when I was fourteen.  That summer was life-changing.  I had been an ostracized geeky weirdo, but through my parents' gift of allowing me to go away to find myself, I found out I was a hippie!  It fit me like a glove!  Suddenly at school I wasn't an outcast, I was --MYSTERIOUS!  People wanted to know me!  People wanted to be like me!  What a fabulous thing!

Norma Levinson and I also found each other at art camp and an instant friendship gelled.  She was one of six daughters of a Jewish restaurant family, in Toledo.  What great folks!  What a fabulous fun and creative family! 

Anyway, since she has retired we have been seeing a lot of Norma, who lives in Virginia now.  I love it when she visits!  She brings her silly little dog, Lucy, and I am usually able to rope her into helping me work for some charity event or another.  We do art projects and have fun adventures together.  This time, we went to see Cassie Okenka be a dancing mouse.

I was introduced to Norma's niece when she was about three years old.  My memory is of a tiny girl with a not-tiny voice, screaming and running up and down the stairs for what seems like hours.  But that dramatic streak has served Cassie well as a professional actress and singer.  She was a contestant on a reality show to cast "Legally Blond."  Unfortunately, as a Jewish redhead, she didn't fit the Reese Witherspoon mold and was quickly voted off, though all the judges agreed she had best voice of the bunch.  Her magnificent talent was noticed, and for two years she was Dorothy in the traveling tour of the Wizard of Oz.  She got tired of that and moved back to New York City, and now she's in a Broadway version of "Angelina Ballerina."

If you do not know who Angelina Ballerina is, you do not have a three-year-old daughter.  Angelina is a mouse that attends ballet school and is the subject of  prize-winning children's books and a cartoon show.  And now, she has a Broadway musical.  Norma arranged for us to have tickets.  Not only was the play fun, but it was a blast to watch the audience.  Zillions of little teeny girls from above-average income families came with their au pairs and nannies.  And they dressed up for the event!  One little girl wore pink cowboy boots with a tutu, leopard-spotted tights and a tiara.  They were so excited and so funny!  

Here I am, performing my wifely duty of
telling Robert he is not holding the camera the right way.

Norma and Cassie.

Another adventure with Norma was a sail on the "Woody Guthrie."  This is a reproduction antique sailing boat called a Hudson River sloop.  It is operated by an environmental group in Beacon, and they give cheap sailing lessons and free rides, with the end result of educating people about the Hudson River and how important it is to keep it clean.  Norma and I signed up for an hour-long evening sail.  We were advised to wear coats and sweaters and hats and gloves and extra socks and bring blankets and hot cocoa and something warm to sit on.     

I have only been sailing one other time, in Portland Maine.  Robert and I boarded a beautiful, restored sloop, they unfurled the magnificent sails, and then -- nothin'.  The sails just hung there, sagging, as we drifted through pea-soup fog for way past the time we were supposed to return to shore.  We were cold and uncomfortable and hungry.  Eventually, the captain gave up and turned on a little motor, and we chugged slowly back to the pier.  That sailing event was a big dud, so I was excited to have another opportunity.

Norma and I got all geared up, wearing multiple safety devices and looking like kids imobilized in snowsuits.  Mysteriously, all of the other six guests who had signed up for the sail failed to show up for the cruise.  The crew and captain got on board.  We settled in.  They unfurled the beautiful sails, and then -- nothin'.  Nothing, except that the Hudson has an extremely strong current, so we drifted quite aways.  We looked at the pretty moon and the twinkling lights from the shore.  We got to drink our hot cocoa.  We began to get really, really cold, and to wish we had worn more coats!

Right here is where I'd stick in the really funny
pictures of Norma and me, all bundled up,
if I could find them. 

We also got to hear the captain yell at everybody.  We got to listen to the crew make nervous comments about how the heck are we going to get back?  The crew started singing sea chanteys, about being lost in the Sargasso Sea doldrums and ne'er see' me sweetheart again.  The captain ordered them to break out the oars.  The crew was not excited about that.  For a good forty minutes, they rowed like madmen, but didn't move us an inch back toward Beacon.  They begged, "Turn on the motor!  Turn on the motor!", but our Captain Bligh wasn't havin' none of that malarkey.

And this is where I'd put the picture of the grumpy sailors, rowing.
Finally, the crew used the Franny and Norma card.  How unfair it was for us, poor guests, to suffer!  The Captain finally relented, and turned on the feeble motor.  We chugged back home, about an hour late.
Well, that's enough for this missive.  Next time I'll tell you about the Beatles and maybe, zombies.