Jennifer Egan, the wildly talented novelist whose most recent book is the rave-reviewed A Visit From the Goon Squad, was interviewed last week on NPR and I heard her say something that amazed me.
Jennifer Egan said that she is bored by her own life, so she invents stories to make things interesting for her.
Really? She finds her own life boring? Really?? Because I find ordinary life fascinating — and my own ordinary life most fascinating of all. I’ve written two memoir-ish books already and plan on writing several more, all about me, and how I’m getting through this life, and what kind of things I’ve found along the way that makes me not want to kill myself, because I really, really enjoy being alive.
Why, just this past weekend was chock-fullof stuff that made me glad to be alive, in my real life, taking notes for possible future memoir-ish books.
On Saturday Top Cat and I drove to upstate New York to deposit most of my collection of vintage costume jewelry and other objets d’art with the thrift shop that benefits the Heart of the Catskills Animal Shelter.
(FYI: I did not enjoy this. It’s really hard to give your stuff away, even though you really want to de-clutter and downsize your stuff, but all my stuff used to be stuff I once loved and it’s not CRAP like on those Hoarders shows– and it doesn’t feel at all that great to put my stuff in the hands of strangers, even if those strangers are lovely, very grateful, and considerate of your treasures, and are cat people. I’m just saying. I hate givng my stuff away.)
I should have taken some photos of the place but I was too stressed to think of it. But trust me, the Heart of the Catskills Animal Shelter Thrift Shop in Andes, New York, is a sweet little shop that you would enjoy buying my stuff in. All my owl stuff, my Trifari stuff, my Coro and Sarah Coventry stuff, my stering silver stuff including the silver bracelet that was the first real piece of jewelry that my first serious boyfriend gave me in 1977 that I haven’t worn since 1978…but still. It’ s hard to see it go.
In this neck of upstate New York, it is pot hole season. Winter freeze and April semi-thaw and all, for those of you who live below the Mason-Dixon line and haven’t seen the true ravages of Winter.
So, after Top Cat and I handed over my stuff to the thrift shop, we went to the East Meredith Presbyterian Church for the Third Annual Pie Auction to raise money for the East Meredith Historical Society.
All the pies are home-made by local pie-making geniuses.
The bidding started at $10. (The highest-priced pie was a Lemon Meringue that went for $65.00.)
The auctioneer was a profesional — he knew how to keep the action fun, but truth to tell: people knew this was a fund-raiser and they were ready to spend money. I love these people. (I’m related to that lady in the apron, by the way.)
But I really wanted the Lemon Cloud pie and I was sure that the winning $55.00 bid was with me (as we used to say at Christie’s, when I was in the Faberge auction biz) but when the hammer came down it turned out that the winning $55.00 bid was with someone else. Bummer.
So Top Cat bagged an Apple-Plum pie for us, for $45.00. All told, the pie auction of 40 pies raised $1,155.00. (In this photo, there’s a lady who designs gorgeous coffee table books for prestigious publishers in NYC, and a fellow who was a LIFE reporter starting in 1961 who has done a bunch of the Time/Life books you love, and a handsome bon vivant who I’m married to. And that’s just a few of the people in this photo: I’m telling you, this was an auction for the cognoscenti.)
Well, fast forward to Sunday, when we took a walk in the country. We had a good old DoG named Malcolm with us, a rescue DoG from the Heart of the Catskills Animal Shelter. Life: it’s a wheel. Or a circle. Or a chain.
Anyhoo, we’re all connected.
DoG joy leaps and bounds, it soars in happiness. It’s a good day to be a DoG! It’s always a good day to be a DoG!!
I waded into the swamp marsh that is, for the moment, high and dry. In a month this will all be overgrown and hidden, so I had to take advantage: I was looking for birds’ nests.
I found two beautifully preserved nests in the thicket. One was so very, very delicately woven onto its perch on a low bush (above). The other one was smaller, and perfectly balanced in a teeny tiny sapling. It looks like just a random clump of dead mush…
…but on a closer look, you can see how marvellously it’s been engineered:
And then it was time to head back to Long Island. But we had to make a pit stop: We’d heard tell of new owners of the local convenience store, a Dutch couple who’d bought the moribund general store (it’s also a worm and bait shop) last July. This I had to see, not least because I’d had some of the Duthch wife’s home-made almond cookies and they were the best thing I’ve tasted since the last time I was in France. (I’m a big fan of the French almond patisserie called Pithivier — and those cookies were the delicious Dutch version: no frilly pastry, more down to business, all butter-almond crumb filling baked into a cookie. Very Dutch. Very to the point.)
So, luckily, the shop was open and I told the Mr. Dutchman that those cookies were the best thing I’ve tasted and I bought all the rest that he had left. And he kindly showed us some more Dutch specialties that he had on the shelves:
It seems that the Dutch are very fond of licorice — there are several different kinds for sale in the worm/bait/Dutch Deli in Meridale, NY. I would have bought some licorice because I have a very Dutch fondness for it, but the last time I had licorice I broke a tooth. Teeth: they get surprisingly brittle after age 50.
I really liked this table, set up right by the front door of the shop. I would like to sit here one day, with a Dutch almond cookie and a cup of tea, and watch life inMeridale come and go. (The wife brought the oil-cloth all the way from Holland. So: Holland people like table cloths that look like Delft tiles, with pictures of Dutch scenes on them! Nice!)
And this is my haul of Dutch treats:
And all this coming week I will have Dutch treats with my tea, and I’ll be ruminating about my jewelry for sale in Andes, NY, and wonder how that Lemon Cloud pie that should have been mine tastes, and try to imagine all those new birds’ nests being built, and I’ll think:
Jesus Christ; I have a facsinating life.