I hated writing those three words. End of Summer. As it always does, it has gone by too quickly. I am here in Maine for 10 more days, alone now after company coming and going for the past three weeks, catching up now on neglected writing, and starting to put the house to sleep for the winter: ACs out of the windows; Adirondack chairs off the lawn and into the barn; Furnace Guy coming for Fall furnace cleaning; Exterminator Guy coming with his ward-off-mice methods. (I feel them gathering outside, preparing their attack: "You three dozen over there, you get in under the garage door and head for the laundry room"; "You twelve big guys, you enter through a basement window, then go directly to the pantry; start with the box of Bisquick; gnaw on the lower corner" etc. etc.)
There have been some difficult times in the past month. For one, my friend Deborah who had a successful heart transplant two summers ago, had an emergency that meant that her lovely healthy heart had to celebrate its second birthday in Massachusetts General Hospital, the same place where it was placed into her chest in August 2006. But Deb - and her heart - are home now and recuperating. She and Jack (here they are) have a fall trip planned to Nova Scotia and I hope this setback won't ruin that for them.
Alfie has had a series of dog visitors, including his German Shepherd friend Sophie, and (here shown) his big Newfie friend, Bear. He went (with his humans) one August Saturday to New Hampshire to lunch with the family of his corgi frend Charlotte, and afterward had to write a note of apology: "Dear Charlotte: It was a lovely visit but I must apologize that I peed in your house. It was the excitement of being with a beautiful female." Later Charlotte replied in an understanding way, saying "I am currently in New York and just peed in an elevator. It happens to the best of us."
One thing I am waiting for before I go back to Cambridge is the return of a painting that is out on loan to an exhibition. It's a large oil done by my friend Bill Manning many years ago and I value it especially because he no longer paints in this style. The exhibition is a retrospective of his work, and though I like his current work very much, (and will also include a current work of his, a piece that many would like to call sculpture, but Bill prefers "standing painiting") still I am nostalgic about the early oils.
The 3-dimensional piece, incidentally, is in front of a painting by another favorite contemporary painter of mine, Lloyd Martin.
Okay, this is more than you wanted to know about my house, about my art collection, about my dog's social and urological life and my friends' medical crises. And I haven't even (yet) mentioned the DNC ( great speeches by Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama) or the Olympics (closing ceremonies: the most astounding tasteless excess I've ever seen. Just when you thought —after the dancing people leaping from the London bus—there could be nothing left to throw into the awful mix, the giant panda appeared. Martin didn't even watch because he is a wise man with a sense of maintaining one's dignity. Me, I'm the person who leans out the window to peer at car wrecks on the highway; and with the same can-this-really-be-happening look on my face, I watched to the very end, the last lip-synch, the final firework.)
Now that I am alone here, I am watching on DVD the first season of "Mad Man"...which I had missed; and also "Dexter" ...which my partner-in-crime, writer Susan Goodman, brought me when she came to visit a couple of weeks ago. That's in the evenings (and Dexter is kind of scary in the evening, when you're alone except for a dog who is as vigilant and protective as a teddy bear). In the daytime, I am re-opening and re-writing and re-thinking the two manuscripts I've been neglecting. Sometimes work benefits from temporary neglect. You notice things when you come back to it: things badly done, needing change, things unclear. So I will work hard in this next ten days, then return to Cambridge, I hope with a feeling of things really-in-progress. But also I return to a brutal schedule of upcoming trips: Connecticut, Milwaukee, Chicago, Orlando, Nebraska...
Back to work now.