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The past month on the family compound, on the banks of La Mer Gasnerre has been an anthropologist's dream vacation. First came my family, in all their tall, blond glory, who have two generations of lasting relationships with my former in-laws. Then came my ex-family, in all their dark and shining splendour, to pay obesience to the matriarch and patriarch (age 97) of their family. Then came the children of my former husband, the eldest 39 with children of his own the same age as my ex's youngest: 5. The grandkids call him "Ampa Ougie"; their uncle is a playmate. Needless to say, we all tried to learn the iterations of kinship. I once more learned the difference between a second cousin and a first cousin once removed, which I will have forgotten by tomorrow, and rediscovered the pleasures and perils of living in an extremely complex clan.


brothers and sister

All of Dada'a children—and one very happy puppy—reuned at the compound.
Depite all the innoculations, Ruca has some tick-born disease, Lyme's or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and has to take doxycycline for a month. However, as long as it's disguised as a piece of cheese, she doesn't mind a bit.


sick puppy

What is wrong with Ruca? No one knows, and so she has left the island to go to dog hospital. Stay tuned.


luck o' the irish spring

It's hard to know what has discouraged our ten-point stag from chomping down the garden so far—the fact that the tomatoes are not fruiting yet or the fact that I took Ricky's advice and festooned the perimeter with tin cans containing Irish Spring soap. Supposedly it smells as nasty to deer as it does to me. I read a study done by a state agriculture department showing that Dial soap worked better than any of the commercial deer repellents, but Ricky swears by Irish Spring.
Ed says it works because leprechauns whack their shins with little shilelaghs.


the storm trisail

Waiting for the Storm Trisail race to pass—and the storm too.
I have always heard that if you want to know what owning a sailboat is like, you need to get into a cold shower with all your clothes on and tear up hundred dollar bills. That seems to be especially true this Block Island Race Week. But there's plenty of wind.


great second act

She lost her husband tragically to brain cancer; he lost his wife publicly to another woman. Now they're happy together.


happy solstice

It seems to be a good thing for many that the longest day of the year is drawing to a close. Let's hope things improve starting tomorrow.


screw the acupressure bands

If you're prone (or prostrate) to seasickness, you should really get one of these babies.


grass farm

Dada produced this piece of evidence to show that last year he mowed my lawns 24 times. It probably won't be that many times this year, because it never dries out enough to mow, because all it does is rain,rain,rain,rain,rain,rain


swordfish and s'mores

There have been a lot of parties, and the space shrinks today from two houses to one. I am anticipating more folks, too—enough that the living room will be full up.
So last night I had this dream that friends were inviting their friends over to my house, some of whom were ordering in pizza, having tag sales in the front yard and playing darts. When more uninvited guests arrived with a rock band and four pet camels, I lost it. The camels had broken this fragile straw. "The camels have to go," I said sternly.
So now you know where I draw the line.



We have had some beautiful days, some awful days, and a lot of half-and-half days.
I have lots of pictures but too little time to write many words, so this will have to be worth a thousand.


the graduate

The class of 2009 at the Block Island School consisted of 13 kids—and that was a big class. Next year there are only 3 seniors. I must say that, sitting in the gym, I was reminded of how much I hate school—the gyms, the principals, the corridors, the bells, the rules. I am so glad that, after his valedictory address, Will doesn't have to go any more, either. Until Brown in the fall, that is. But at least high school is done.
What is your fondest high school memory?


electrical banana

Certain people thought this going to be the very next craze for someone who routinely eats half a banana a day. Certain people were right.


one that didn't get away

Actually three enormous striped bass lost their lives last night—one tagged by the Berkeley Striper Club in Seaside Park, N.J. So both the fish and the fisherman—from Santa Fe—had to travel to make it to this meeting.

PS Soliciting recipes.


on the ferry

The ocean is surly. Even now, my brother and his family are boarding the ferry to come to a cold and rainy Block Island. The good news is that, being from Santa Fe, they love wet weather. When my brother runs the water to get it hot for shaving, he catches the unused water in a basin and waters his tiny garden with it.
Here, we're drowning in the stuff. There are said to be 365 freshwater ponds on the island—one for every day of the year. It could be. I have one myself. I don't really get why water is so expensive here. But this year, anyway, I sure haven't had to water the garden.


the house birds

The gulls are stomping and scritching on the roof. Some bird is singing "tricky, tricky, tricky," two pairs of hawks are playing silently in the updrafts as egrets stalk the pond below. And it sounds like the house wrens are actually in the house again, a not-uncommon spring phenomenon. Turns out, they are making practice flights on the porch, chair to railing to chair. So I guess there's probably a nest in the eaves of the porch again this year. Their call is described as "bubbling" and "effervescent." But man are they loud.
I can't but think of the literary figure who, when quoted Cowper's "rural sounds Exhilarate the spirit, and restore The tone of languid Nature" muttered about how it was hard to sleep in the country with a lot of damn cockerels crowing their heads off.


the electronic cottage

It was supposed to be rustic—books and records (yes, vinyl!) but no TV, a clothesline instead of a dryer, no microwave. Bikes. Windsurfers. A garden. I didn't even have plumbing—cold water from a hose into a sink with buckets under the drain holes and an electric toilet. Please pee outside.
But the creature comforts crept in. There are still books and records and the garden, but there are also three bathrooms, a dishwasher, washer/dryer and a microwave for the renters, who are generally terrified by my Chambers stove. An iPod connection to the amplifier. Oh, and there's DSL.
I tried again. I bought a tiny building in the Ozarks a couple months ago. The barest necessities (bed, stove, toilet, refrigerfator). No cell reception unless you go to the top of the hill.
Friends, I failed. A week after I moved in, I ordered up DSL. No long distance line, mind you, but simple life or no, I wanted my New York Times, a line of communication with my friends and family. Thoreau schmoreau. You can watch me cave here.
BTW, per Pico Iyer's "The Joy of Less"in the NYT yesterday (the power of which is revealed by a surge of hundreds of blog readers who clicked on my comment), they speak a different language in the Ozarks, too. But I still found myself getting sucked into friendships and social situations. As a one-time professional listener, talking with people is my blood. And it's tough to be an island. Especially when you're on one.
I have held out on the TV, though. Once someone said to my brother, "Everyone in your family is so creative!" He said, "Everybody is creative; we just don't watch TV in our family." True. So it isn't like I'm denying myself something. The renters just have to suck it up. Or watch on line.


the bookcase

Ever since I built Hannah's house, in which the master (mistress?) bed faces the ocean, I have been wanting to likewise reorient the bed at Claudia's. It was difficult because I did not have a wall. But I tried moving the bed first and liked it and decided to build a wall—or rather a bookcase, which is what we use for walls here.

I used the same 1"x 8" rough cut pine that was used to make the walls, so eventually it should age to a similar golden color, and the headboard will look like an extension of the wall. OK, so my bookcase may not be as square as my brother Chris's wall.

And now when you wake up in the morning (really unconscionably early in the morning given the east-facing direction, the damn birds and the upcoming summer solstice) you can sit up and look out at this. . .

Whaddya think?


the best shower in the world

It hides behind a barn door on the back porch of Claudia's Surf City with a view of the salt pond. The pressure is ferocious. And now, thanks to Peter of Hull Suburban Propane, the water is once again as hot as you want it to be.
Yes, the new Bosch on-demand hot water heater is in. Isn't it precious? It's about one by two feet and eight inches thick. It will produce enough hot water for you to shower 24-7. But please don't.
If you care to quarrel with this assessment, please tell me why your shower is better than mine.


don't watch this video

Just listen to the video.
You will be able to hear Will playing.
You will not, however, be able to see him except very briefly upside down. What happened was I pushed the button on the camera one too many or too few times and I was not videoing when I thought I was and was when I thought I wasn't, if you know what I'm saying.
I probably could have done something with stills and sound in postproduction except I don't know how.
Sorry Will. You were great, though.



Donna cries because she has to leave Block Island.


ferrato's muse

There are all kinds of motherly interactions. Some mothers like to eat fried clams (with bellies) with their sons. Some mothers make their daughters break out in hives. But this one mother likes to take pictures of her daughter—and has been doing so since said daughter was born. Talk about the examined life!
Oops, the reluctant muse has withdrawn the photo. She is sick of being examined! We will try to find another one.