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...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beverly Hills, Charlie Palmer, Ghastly Morning, and Other January Things

I'm watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yes: one of my guilty pleasures). There are all these women, Kyle Richards who was a child star and is the sister of Kathy Hilton and aunt to Paris; Camille Grammer, bitter ex-wife of Kelsey; and a half-dozen others, famous (well, sorta famous) women who spend $30,000 on a pocketbook, who live in houses bigger than most hotels, attractive botoxed broads who have not much better to do than go to parties and drive expensive cars and eat in fine restaurants. In fact, at this moment as I'm watching and writing, they've just sat down to a meal at Charlie Palmer Steak in Vegas. Charlie Palmer, Master Chef. Charlie Palmer, who has fine restaurants all over the country. Charlie Palmer, who graduated three years behind me in high school, who lived in a tiny town nearby that was even tinier than my tiny town. We knew him as "Chick" back then. He and I shared a home-economics teacher from whom he clearly learned more about cooking than I did. Charlie Palmer, that nice kid underclassman who has made such a success of himself that he's got botoxed broads from Beverly Hills eating in one of his many restaurants and they're showing it on TV. My mind goes a little haywire as I watch this. Good for you, Charlie. We're so proud of you here in your old hometown.

I got up at 6 a.m. today. One eye peeped opened, and then the other one's lids popped apart around 6:30. I was watching the coffee boil at 6:45, marveling at what outside looks like at that time of day, misty and gray, snowy this time of year, impossibly quiet. As I've mentioned more than once, I'm a night owl, but this morning's work required that I rise early. By 10 a.m. I'd gotten scads of work done, and by noon I felt like I'd put in a full day at the stockyards. Now it's 9:30 p.m. and I think I'm hallucinating. How do people do this, get up so early? I mentioned my pre-dawn awakening to several friends and got shocked gasps. I'm afraid this early bird news will end up in the paper.

It's been bitter cold here. Bitter. My sister, weather-watcher, reported that it was 15 below the other morning (she's one of those nuts who gets up at six). It was so cold the other day Harry couldn't move in the back yard. I had to rush out in socked feet to cart him back into the house, a whining frozen fish stick. In fact we were both whining. I. Am. Over. This. Weather. I'm dreaming about golf and green lawns. And Charlie Palmer's restaurant in Vegas, where it's warm. I should have been nicer to the kid in high school, maybe I could have gotten an invite out to Vegas for a winter vacation and a good meal.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Time To Act!

Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project (SSIRP) is now accepting donations. Please make your check payable to Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project and mail to to: Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project (SSIRP) PO Box 1102 Sherburne, NY 13460 You may also donate at our website, http://thesherburneinn.wordpress.com by clicking the Contribute link. Nonprofit status is pending; donations will be deductible retroactive to January 15, 2013 to the fullest extent of the law. Thank you in advance to our patrons, and for joining us in this remarkable community project!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Sherburne Inn: 2013 Update

Much has been happening with The Sherburne Inn project in the last month. Our nine-member board of directors is complete (profiles of each member will soon be posted on our website), Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project is officially incorporated with the State of New York, our application for nonprofit status is ready to send off for approval, and our business plan is under review by the board and approaching finalization. Our volunteer list continues to grow; soon we will post a discovery survey on our website that will help us clarify the skills of our volunteers so that we can call upon you for specific needs as the project moves forward. Finally, we are initiating a weekly column in The Sherburne News as a way to keep everyone updated on where we are, and to provide a look back at the rich history of The Sherburne Inn.

Most importantly, in the coming days we will launch our fundraising campaign. In addition to calling on those of you who have already pledged a donation, we will also be sending a fundraising brochure by mail and email. Please be as generous as possible, share with your contact network, and become a part of one of the most exciting community projects Sherburne has seen in many years. The board is also hard at work on developing a video of the project that we will use for Internet fundraising, and of course we will be working on grants and talking with potential corporate supporters in the days ahead.

Stay tuned to The Squeaky Pen, our Facebook page, The Sherburne News, and our website (http://thesherburneinn.wordpress.com) for more information.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Just The Flu

I was thinking about Ida Storrs Dietz over the weekend; about Ida, and her sister Mary, their parents and their aunt Mary Crary. Mr. and Mrs. Storrs and Mary Crary died in December of 1893 right here in my house, of "the grippe" (translation: the flu). The entire family of five was stricken with flu after Thanksgiving that year. Mrs. Storrs passed away first in one of the upstairs bedrooms; then her sister Mary; and finally, less than three weeks after his wife died, Mr. Storrs went too, passing on in the bedroom downstairs. I read of these dreadful events in Ida's diaries, which I stumbled upon in Sherburne's wonderful Historic Society archives.

On Saturday, I lay in my bed and wondered if I would follow in their footsteps. 

I haven't had the flu since 1992, a memorable occasion because that year, the flu smacked me down a few days before Christmas. I was in bed then for a week. Two decades later the flu has smacked me again, not so seriously as twenty years ago but bad enough to make a note in my journal. It started with sneezing last week and segued into full-blown knock-me-flat on Friday. Since then, I've spent one day in bed, another day on the sofa, and yet another two drifting around the house in a big fog. This morning I wandered for ten minutes looking for my glasses until I realized I was wearing them. I wore the same nightgown for four days. My hair hurt. The dog has been looking at me with quizzical eyes, pawing at me with an expression of "What's the deal?" There are wadded tissues scattered everywhere, the result of my feeble attempts at hitting the trash can. The television has droned on for 72 hours. Thanks to Spike TV I've watched (sort of) all four Indiana Jones movies. Three times. 

What must it have been like, back in 1893, when there was no electricity, no furnace, no Indiana Jones for those poor souls who succumbed to the flu in my house? In Ida's diary, she spoke of her delirious aunt Mary falling in one of the bedrooms with a kerosene lamp, marveling that the house didn't burn down. Ida and her sister, Mary Storrs, were carried upstairs by helpful neighbors to sit at the bedside of their dying mother and aunt. Her most chilling diary entry had her asking who would be next. On Saturday, as I thrashed around in my sickbed next to a whining, concerned dog, I was thinking it might be me.

It's Monday now and I guess I'm recovering. I actually took a shower, got dressed, and talked on the phone. My head remains full of fuzz, and the thought of food is nauseating (I think I had an egg sometime over the weekend, and I think it made me gag), but I'm better.  I know where my glasses are. I've changed the TV channel. And Harry has stopped hovering. There's something indescribably creepy about a small dog an inch from your face, brown eyes anxiety-filled, sniffing what in my haze of illness I imagined to be the ghastly odor of imminent death. At one point both cats were there, too, eyeballing me with what I'm sure was the vague and selfish cat thought "If she dies, who'll feed us?" The animals have all relaxed and are leaving me alone, a good sign.

So many scary millennium predictions have been made, not the least of which was the end of the world. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm happy with the second decade of the new century. Unlike Ida and her doomed elders, I have medicine and lights and a wireless telephone where 911 can be dialed even with a hallucinagentic flu-virus-filled brain. Thankfully I never needed to dial, and my body is fighting -- and winning -- the good fight. All is well, or getting there.

Still, as I recover, I'm haunted by Ida's shaky handwriting; I'm haunted by the image of her there, sick and in darkness, scrawling in her diary: "Mother died around six," then "Aunt Mary is a corpse upstairs," and finally, "This makes three who have died in this house in less than three weeks. Mother 75, Aunty 78, Father 80 yrs. Who next?"


...by the heartache a hundred years ago, inside these very walls, caused by an ailment about which so many of us nowadays shrug and say, "Aw...it's just the flu."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sherburne Inn Fundraiser, New Year's Eve

December 31st rang in more than the New Year. A jolly group gathered for a New Year's Eve Party in Sherburne as part of the Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project. Below are some of the folks who came by to contribute and toast to all good things in 2013. 

Kristina Rodriguez, Mark Perrin, Jorge Rodriguez
Mike Tefft, Colleen Law-Tefft, Rose Tenney, Cindy Carter,
Randy Muth, Patty Matson
Helen Braun, Lee Perrin, Scott Braun
Jackie D'Erasmo, Jim McDaniel, Bill Brown, Paul Harvey
Jorge Rodriguez, Vince Yacono

Kit Enscoe, Pamme Swan, Peg Jeffrey

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum