they came, they ate, they painted, they left

 Memorial Day is a kind of trial run for the summer. Everything that can shakedown, does—with just enough time to fix it all before The Guests Them. Or not. At least there's time to make signs warning them about all the dangers that have been caused by our "improvements."
   And then the rels leave, and it's me and the last laundry til October. The whole island takes a breather until the weekends and then the massive invasion end of June.



All was better than broom clean for the two-wave invasion. The first tenants arrive in a week. But first—the family.


magic morning

After a day of rain and a sudden warmth of sun, the dew and the fog were heavy. Edie asked if i could come over to her beautiful old house (her grandfather built it and a year or so later got married—"he got the cage before he got the canary," she says) to take pictures of her tree peony. It was fully flowered—better late than never—and a gorgeous color.


soft opening

The weather is still chilly, so the waiters at the Oar let down the shades.

Roberta and I enjoyed a lady's lunch at the Oar.
 Block island is prepping for the coming weekend. Wait staffs are in training, carpenters are hammering, painters are touching up, cottagers are cleaning for the rental season, crews are trying to finish the lines for the wind farm and the stairs over the dunes.
   And Islanders are checking out the new season's just-opened restaurants. Me, I stuck with the sushi at the Oar and the last free clam night at the Yellow Kittens. And one night the thought "ice cream!" popped into my head. Maybe Aldo's is open, I thought. Drove down to town and not only was Aldo's open for the first time, it was free ice cream night. Ah, some people are the fortunate ones.
The Yellow Kittens is still deserted but for a gaggle of old-timers clustered around free clams at the bar.


the graduates

I love this picture of my beautiful niece, Madison, and her childhood friend, Nathan, going off to the prom. So many years, and still friends. Graduating from high school. Oh my!
   Then there's nephew Noah. He was helping me put down hay bales to build Hannah's Hideaway nine or ten years ago. And now, as of yesterday, he is a college grad.
  Mazel to all!


sunset over the compound

From left: Hannah's; Claudia's; John's Big Barn, Little Barn, Big House and Kite Store; Douglas's Little Brown Jug and shed (rear).

Former tool shed behind the Kite Store, emptied
 When Mr. Hopkins died and we bought the place, the four buildings on the right were all there was—the big house Hoppy had moved to that spot, the kite shop, which he had left to his mistress, the little house by the tidal pond where Douglas and I lived and Douglas's shed, site of the first Claudia's Surf City. That was 1980.
John had vision, and he dug a pond and built and helped us build. Douglas built Claudia's and Claudia built Hannah's, and here we are—until last month, when John sold the tiny corner of the property that has the Big House and the Kite Store. Not visible in this aerial are the two brand new mansions that bracket the former compound (known to the locals with deep political incorrectness as The Gaza Strip). The new owner plans for the Big House to continue as a summer rental. The Kite Store will become a flower shop.
Big House and Kite Store on right, from Claudia's.


license to kill

 So yesterday I received the following from that perennial thorn in my side, Nose Bite Kitty, Esq.—or as I prefer to think of him: Many Spurious Suits Pain-in-the-ass Esquire. The message was in French, of course, and I have translated it for you. What I really take it to mean is that I can whack carpenter bees with a badminton racket, pour hot water into anthills, pay a dime to young children to swat flies, kick dogs, chase cats and do whatever I want to members of the animal kingdom—with impunity—for the next four months. I'm goin' in. . .

Dear Madame Dowling: Thank you for your kind testimonial about my human benefactor, Ms. Andrews. She indeed has many fine qualities, and I am glad you appreciate her as I do.
Since you have been so thoughful and expressed your sentiments so publicly, I and my firm, Les Felins por la Justice, grant you immunity from proscution for the period of four months. Sincerely yours, Nose Bite Kitty, Esquire


presenting: the birthday girl!

Sisters in crime

I forget how old she's turning today, but I know she's a hair older than me, and I'm 65. In any case, we've been clowning around for almost 40 years. That's a long fucking time. She can still make me laugh—so hard—which is about the best thing I can say about anyone. I also don't know anyone else who would spend hours composing the perfect response to a scamming email, seek for buried treasure in adulthood, ask her psychic what color truck I should buy (you should have seen the poor Ozarker salesman's face when she made the call) or spend all night watching a serial about mass murder and then all day composing a review to post on Amazon about how bad it was. 
   One of a kind. Love you, B!


where in the world

Do you recognize this place? I am glad to see that I recollected the first rule for a writer traveling with a photographer: Stay out of the frame! That's the legendary David Burnett in the khaki pants. We were traveling on Air Force 2 with Al and Tipper Gore. Late '90s. This picture was likely taken by Tipper herself, Burnett thinks. He got it recently and sent it on.


the rail road

Sam Savage (his real name!) installs.

From Holliston, Mass.

to Block Island, RI
 It started with Erin measuring back in the fall. Then her pal Sam made the railing inserts at his house in Holliston. Then Erin and Flip painted them. I picked some sections up, Sam brought the rest and installed them. Hopefully they'll be good for another 16 years or so, at which point I won't be the one worrying about them!
Et voila!


a new dawn

By dawn's early light
I love a construction site. And now I have one in my front yard. The barge laying the cable from the power station to the windmills appears to be towed by the bitty boat. Judging by the blazing lights, they work all night. If I were a journalist, I would get out there onto the barge and the windmill platforms and find out what's really going on (never mind the politics about the Manisee Indian firepit the on-island trench ran into). But I'm not, and so I just watch and wonder wotthehell is going on.


the evening

If you look carefully, in the middle window you can see the ship that is laying cable from the new windmills to Block Island. Plenty of people are pissed, but I am not among them. I am hoping that this wind energy will not only be a template, but also reduce my electricity costs, which are—high.


great great great grandaunt

The kids try to imitate the portrait behind them, the original Claudia Glenn, who gave the portrait (and hair locket hanging from left corner) to Claudia Dowling, my grandaunt, who gave it to me. The next inheritor will be my nice niece Madison Glenn.


old people people

David Grogan and Holly Poindexter discuss.
Joe and Holly Poindexter
Former People people had a mini reunion in New York. Nice to see old friends looking not very much older. I couldn't hug anybody on account of the code id da nose and managed to lose my shit with a paroxysmal coughing fit. Nurse Holly gave me tissues and cough drops and protected me from the throngs until I recovered my composure—though never my looks!


a formidable lineage

 Good luck, Camilla! (photograph by Mira Silverman, San Miguel de Allende, 2012)
 Four years have passed since this picture was made, and the biggest changes are seen in the youngest and the oldest. One to five and 85 to 89 are times of great change. My mother is beautiful still and alert, but she no longer goes up the stairs to her roof, where this photograph was taken. Camilla is taking ballet, writing letters and is headed to kindergarten in the fall. Only my mother has been all of the ages pictured.


sense of humor: lost

Turns out there was a reason for my bad attitude. I have a cold. And I'm glad I left the island precipitously yesterday ayem (above), because I'd much rather have a cold with heat than without.


ramp to nowhere?

They have begun to build stairways across the dunes. One problem: Right now they would be landing in the water. Well, we'll see. the idea is to keep the rebuilt "dunes" from getting trampled by beachgoers in the summer. In other Block Island news, the Deepwater wind farm cable laying is at a standstill because they hit Indian artifacts on Beach Avenue, and a big hoopdedo is going on.
Also, Daniel Berrigan, the radical Catholic priest who was captured on Block Island has died. NYT obit here.
A lovely takeout on old-style Block Island, and my sister-in-law's great great grandfather (or something's) house. His name was Amazon Littlefield. Don't you wish that was your name?
And I don't have time for more. Going to try to get the hell off the rock.


one room at a time

Yes, that's the ferry. Hard to see, right?Got the curtains up, though.
I am sick of it. Opening up and closing up houses. I am sick of calling plumbers and scouting for leaks, of defrosting refrigerators and starting them up again, of calling telephone companies and rebooting modems and finding out what species of bug has taken up residence in my residences in my absence. I am sick of washing sheets and cleaning and buying vacuum bags and  toilet brushes. Who has nine toilets and four vacuums, not to mention  four dishwashers, five refrigerators and 14 beds? Think about the pillow covers—and the bills—for a minute.
   And of course I am especially sick of it right now, when the propane fireplace that heats my house is broken, and it's 45 degrees indoors. And it's pouring rain. Fortunately I managed to wrestle the 7x4-foot bookcase into the house before the skies opened. By myself. At times like these I could almost wish I was married. Almost.
My mantra is one room at a time. So far I have nearly finished one room. Mine. Better call the freaking gas guy. Again.


this morning I was here

There have been several mornings in the past week that I have had to keep my eyes shut until I could remember where I was, which bed I was in, which state.