Friday, July 28, 2017

Two girls from New York lost in Vermont

When two writers get in a bind, what is the logical thing to do?

Write a headline about it, of course.

The headline of this post is what we came up with when driving down a dark country road after an extremely interesting and civilized evening of chamber music at the Marlboro Music Festival in the eponymous town in Southern Vermont on the campus of Marlboro College.

I had gone with a new friend who had an extra ticket. It was magical out there, with the landscape having a different feel than here in the Valley. I was glad I went. The New England Travel Planner gives a good succinct description:

The Marlboro Music School and Festival, directed by Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida, brings together 75 of the most talented musicians in the country, some famous and some soon to be famous, for two months' practice, consultation, and tutorial.

On weekends from mid-July to mid-August the school is opened to concert audiences, most of whom have ordered their tickets weeks or months in advance and have also made early lodging reservations.

The auditorium at Marlboro College (map) seats fewer than 700 people, and to keep the spirit of the chamber music, directors and performers resist demands for a larger hall.

Young musicians and accomplished artists wove an fascinating musical tapestries. The hall is small enough so that even in the back, you can see the emotion in the performers' faces and watch how much of their body they put into a piece.

We saw String Quartet in D Major, Op. 50, No. 6, by Joseph Haydn; 8 Etudes and a Fantasy, by Elliott Carter; and String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48, B. 80, by Antonin Dvorak. I thoroughly enjoyed the first and the last but have to confess to not being able to make sense of the modern work in the middle. I closed my eyes and took a micro nap. I was glad I was awake for the complicated Dvorak, which went through multiple moods and tempos. At one point for some reason I imagined the music to be the soundtrack for characters in a fairytale dancing through the woods.

The mood continued when we drove off through the woods, took a turn, and soon realized we did not know where we were. We had no phone reception, hence no way to get directions on the unmarked road. We drove a little, hoping to see a road sign when suddenly we came upon an inn. We decided to drive up and ask for directions. It was before 10 p.m. and we expected to see someone at the reception desk or in the living area. There was nobody to be found. We saw empty card tables, a couch with pillows, and an unattended bar stocked with liquor. If it was a play or movie, we might have poured ourselves a drink while we pondered our next move.

Admittedly mawkishly, I said, "Maybe they're all dead," and I had visions of Agatha Christie's "And then There Were None." We gave up and had just begun to back out when a face peered suspiciously out of a window. I knocked and mouthed the words, "Can you come out?"

A man came out and said we were actually headed in the right direction, Brattleboro, through which we had come.

I had met my new friend through the Western Mass Dog Walkers' Meetup. When we were doing introductions of ourselves and our dogs before we took a walk at Mt. Toby, we realized immediately that we had to have coffee.

Both native New Yorkers, we had each gone to a Friends School, me to Friends Seminary and Abigail to Brooklyn Friends. That alone was enough for a long conversation. She also went to Vassar, though only for a year, and she is also a freelance writer. We are both dog people, and we both have a Lives.

Here is hers: Bitten to the Quick
And at the risk of repeating this ad nauseam, here is mine: Running for My Life

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Theater in NY, baby in CT...reprise

With new grandson Callen
"My sister just reminded me of the day a dozen years ago when I had had my Dana-Farber intake appointment and I was standing outside the Cheesecake Factory where she and Korby and Kit, the two friends who had brought me to Boston, were getting a table.

I was on the phone with Jim, in a crouch, sobbing and saying, "I'm never going to see my grandchildren."

Although I said that many times over, the first one stands out because it was all such a shock. One day I was a busy single mother of three, running around like crazy, holding down a full-time newspaper job, playing on a tennis team and running races like the Saint Patrick's Road Race that I had recently completed and during which my fatigue had sent me to the doctor and led to my leukemia diagnosis, and the next day I was a cancer patient facing three rounds of chemotherapy, multiple hospitalizations and a bone marrow transplant.

The time that I remember most clearly occurred later – eight years ago – after my last relapse when, while Diane drove me to the emergency room on a snowy December night and I knew I was facing stronger chemotherapy than ever and my fourth bone marrow transplant, I slid down in the passenger seat and said, once again, "I'm never going to see my grandchildren, I'm never going to see my grandchildren."

And there I was yesterday in the maternity section of Norwalk Hospital holding my two-day-old granddaughter in my arms, feeling the warmth of her body, finding it hard to believe that my baby was now a father, and loving how happy Ben and Meghan looked."

Thanks to Dana-Farber, to The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation that found me my donor, and to that donor, Denise, and to so many others, my prediction did not come true.

I actually wrote that two years ago and it still all holds true.

I thought I was never going to see my grandchildren, and now I have welcomed two at around the same time of year.

Baby Callen was born on July 12, a big boy weighing 9 pounds 4 ounces.

And there I was two days ago in the same maternity section holding my grandson this time, having just come back from New York with Katie, having just seen two shows, our traditional Shakespeare in the Park and a Broadway show. 

It is not too bad to be a creature of habit under certain circumstances.

Two years ago, although a little later in the month, I wrote Theater in New York, baby in Connecticut, after Katie and I saw "Hamilton" and "Cymbeline."

This year we were going to stop in Fairfield to see Nell, but Ben suggested parking in Stamford, the station nearest the hospital, because they expected the baby to arrive before his due date of July 19.

Having fun on the Shakespeare line
Sure enough, it worked out well, because we were drifting in and out of sleep at our Airbnb on the lower east side (after seeing Come from Away, which was wonderful) when Ben called to say the baby had been born and Meghan was doing well.

The next day we were up bright and early to go and get on the Shakespeare line. Some people don't "get" why it is fun to sit for four hours waiting for free tickets to see Shakespeare in the Park. But it is one of our favorite things to do. We got there at 8 a.m. (people start lining up at 6 a.m.) and got so engrossed in talking to people around us and watching people and their dogs go by that when they started giving tickets out at noon, we felt like the time had flown by.

We thought it might rain on the line or at the show, but it didn't.

Jeanne and Amanda met us at the show, continuing the tradition of Shakespeare in the Park with cousins. (I texted Serena that I missed her!)

The performance of Midsummer Night's Dream was magical.

I'm writing this from beautiful Wellfleet, where we are squeezing in a couple of days with Diane and David. We got here yesterday in the late afternoon, but with enough time to get down to the beach, where I did a little jogging near the water. Today I got up bright and early and went to the Flying Fish to get Cape Cod muffins and scones. Next it's on to the beach or maybe a dip in a pond. All good traditions.

Ben sent the above photo of Nell looking at her brother. They will have birthdays close together like Ben and Joe. Her birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to seeing her then.

I can't thank Denise and Dana-Farber too many times.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

From dermatology to dinner and theater...hopefully

When you need to go to Boston for a dermatology appointment, forgot to book a ride because you were writing, need to drive yourself but first need to go to body sculpt class at the Y and then get overcome by the urge to pull weeds and pine needles out of the garden (without putting on sunscreen or gloves) and need to answer emails and realize you have half an hour to get ready and get out of the house. And also write this post. Today I am my own crazy driver.

I wrote this for Facebook but moved it over to my blog. I'm not sure why, except maybe it inspired me to write a post. I've been remiss.

I need to drive to Chestnut Hill to see dermatologist Stephanie Liu, who is in the same office as dermatologist Jennifer Lin, who I saw recently on a day where they would not let me book an appointment when Stephanie was in the office. I assume it is because of insurance. They look at different aspects of my skin but must have the same office code for a checkup. I told Dr. Alyea that although I like Stephanie very much, I felt it was a duplication and I was thinking of not going to see her again. He said I should see all of them. I lost count.

Dr. Liu is director of the Graft vs Host clinic and specializes in subcutaneous dermatology, with knowledge about layers of the skin. So, two doctors, two trips, for different layers. We will discuss my ECP schedule and my continuing issues with rippling my Graft vs. Host of the Skin.

I assume she will also look at the top layer because I have been watching (OK, also picking at) some flaky spots, the flakiness signaling possible squamous cell cancer. I got obsessed wth a couple of dark spots on the back of my calf and went into a melanoma whirlwind in my head. I sent Dr. Lin some photos but she did not write back. 

So today I will see.

I hope they don't keep me waiting the usual forever.

I'm trying to get back for a "girlfriend" dinner and outing to the New Century Theatre's performance of "The Foreigner," directed by Jack Neary at PVPA. 

Good for them to have shows at PVPA and the Academy of Music after leaving their home at Smith College in what artistic director Sam Rush called an "amicable divorce from the college. I've been following Sam and Jack and the rest of the Mount Holyoke College Summer Theater crew since my T-T days and am glad that they're continuing the tradition.