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Sunday, August 6, 2006

Well, it's a working vacation, but it's going to be really nice. A week at The Chautauqua Institution, on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in western New York. It'll be our fifth visit to this augustly amazing spot. I can't describe it other than to say it's lovely, historic, deeply stimulating, peaceful, erudite, genteel, and pretty much the diametric opposite of Ocean City, MD. A click on the link will help.
I first experienced TCI five summers ago, when I was invited to speak to the Chautauqua Bird, Tree and Garden Club. They put me up in a room at Wensley House, where Mister Rogers had once slept. I slept like a baby on that antique bed with its white chenille bedspread. The next summer, both Bill and I went up to give a music program, sans kids. Summer #3, we brought the babies, and had a blast staying at the huge Athanaeum Hotel. I got a commentary out of it, too, about trying to keep the kids in line in this oh-so-genteel place.
For the first three summers, we stayed only a couple of days. In 2005, we rented a basement apartment (pet-friendly), and brought the kids and Chet Baker. That was really fun-a whole week of Chautauqua. We're doing the same thing this summer. Bill and I are officially on the faculty now, and we're teaching a course on attracting birds. It's a ball-buster--lots of papers and exams and pop quizzes. The students are on tenterhooks the whole time.
When I think of Chautauqua, I think of peace and renewal and deep thought. Bill and I are hoping to come back renewed, having had time and space for some good conversation and prolonged eye contact. The kids will be in Boys' and Girls' Club, so they'll be kayaking and swimming in the lake, doing crafts and hanging out with kids their age. We'll ride our bikes everywhere, or walk...there are no cars allowed within the gates. Now there's a concept! We're all really looking forward to it. Imagine. A vacation.
Here's some of what we'll be doing: Pitching wiffleballs (BOTB beefcake alert!!)

Liam at bat

Phoebe under a tree

Zick with Baker, lounging for once.

So we've been packing and sorting lyrics and loading equipment for our gigs Saturday night. The little catbird is still hanging in there as of Sunday morning, her leg splinted, and scheduled for possible surgery on Monday night. Belle the turtle got disinfected and re-dressed and dropped off to stay with the family that found her under their mower. They're anxious to help care for her. Gary handed me a $75 check when I handed Belle over. That was amazing, and much appreciated.
Chet Baker lay on the bed all day Saturday, his nose between his paws, legs straight out the back frog-style, rolling those orbs at me. The sight of me packing suitcases bums him out. I keep reminding him that he gets to go along on this trip. And then he smiles and kisses me, and chews my hands for a little while, but then the nose goes back down between the paws and he glares at me some more, because he is a dog of very little brain when it comes to suitcases.
We're packing, packing, packing, rushing around like crazy people. It's Sunday morning, wearing on toward noon...six hour drive ahead...
Our gigs last night went really well. We played from 7-10 pm. outside on a stage at the Blennerhassett, and then schlepped all the tons of music equipment (including a vintage Lesley cabinet that makes Vinnie's keyboard sound like a chorus from Atlantis)about 50 yards down an alley and into a ballroom for a class reunion. Once re-set up there, we played until 1 AM. We followed the gigs with a 2 AM burger at the Mountaineer Family Restaurant. Urrrp. And now off to Chautauqua.

It's just a ride it's just a ride
No need to run no need to hide
It'll take you round and round
Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down...
don't forget, enjoy the ride

We plan to be up.
I don't know whether I'll be able to post in the coming week, but I'll try. To do that, I have to wrestle BOTB's laptop from him in the limited time we'll have to hook up to the Net at Bestor Plaza. Hope I don't drop it in the struggle. I guess I do need that Mac PowerBook Pro after all. Hang in there; I'll be back with your morning coffee before you know it. Enjoy your ride; we will too.


I love Chautauqua. We just this week made our arrangements for Week Six. Didn't get there last summer and are almost desperate for a Fix. Found your blog while Googling for pics to possibly spruce up my entry for today. Nice blog.

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