Well, these odds and ends are important to me, at least.
They’re events that I don’t want to forget. And, since I cut out and save columns as do some of you, I’m recording the events right here. Hey, giveme some slack! I’m old and I forget things fast.
The most important recent event was Wolf and Mary-JoMerk’s Annual July Fourth/ Wedding Anniversary/Wolf’s Birthday Party, which began on Sunday just as clouds cleared away and sunshinebrightened Fly Creek. About 50 people milled on the Merks’ side lawn among decorated tables that were almost going bow-legged from the food piled on them.
We were first told that Wolf wouldn’t be coming down for the party. Still waiting for a liver transplant, he was really tired and needed to stay in bed.
But not so. Halfway into the party, someone shouted, “Here’s Wolf!” and everyone stood, whooping and clapping, as Wolf stepped out onto the patio. When the noise abated, he eyeballed the crowd and showed his unique wit.
“HEY!” he shouted with mock outrage. “YOU PEOPLE GET THE HELL OFF MY GRASS!” My best buddy is still at the top of his game.
Another wonderful party had Anne and me at our neighbors down at the east end of our road. Janet and Victor Erway’s spacious back lawn was half covered by a big tent that shaded a splendid buffet and eight tables surrounded by happy eaters. And happy listeners, too. For ona small stage also under the tent was Mary Dougherty and her guitar, joined a drummer whose serene pleasure in playing was infectious, and by a guitarist/fiddle player.
Calling that man a fiddleplayer underrates him. He’s a true violinist who’s completely at home in R&B, country music, and blue grass.
As Mary sang, he often followed her melody with a perfect descant that hovered angelically a third or so above it.
And Mary! I’d heard her at the Farmer’s Market the previous day and had marveled at her own compositions. I surely don’t have a critic’s knowledge of music theory, but Mary’s chord progressions were so unexpected, but beautifully apt that my jaw kept dropping.
All that skill, seemingly so artless, was in her playing at the Erway’s, too, backed up by those other players.
Then, for their second set, their organizer, Scott Anderson, joined “Jellyroll”. His mellow baritone complemented Mary’s soulful alto to perfection. Oh, thanks, Erways! What a treat you gave your friends and neighbors.
Still another happy event took Anne and me to Canada for the marriage of Cheryl Probert, her dear cousin and my dear cousin-in-law.
I had bonded at once with Cheryl’s Brian, a bright, warm, truly zany man and a talented musician. Their wedding took place right next to Lake Ontario and on a dockside promenade.
Brian Shedden, mind you, sang his beautiful bride down the aisle to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Beautiful,” accompanying himself on the guitar. What a guy! Could you do that? Not me! I’d have better luck juggling five bowling balls. Flaming ones.
The other high point of the wedding was something that would have brought most brides to tears. Before and during the reception we’d all been admiring the wedding cake, stunning in its simplicity. Three tiered it was, the tiers graduated in size, and two and three raised on delicate Doric pillars. The thick white icing had been painstakingly dimpled with, I imagine, a small spoon, giving the surface slight depths that picked up light and shadow from every direction. Oh, and between the pillars and around each layer’s edge were full-blown pink roses. An astounding cake!
But, as it turned out, structurally unsound. Literally moments before the cake cutting, two of the top layer’s pillars must have sunken deeper into the thick icing. That layer tipped, then slid, then dropped onto the floor with a horrifying PLOP! Its dimpled, rose-laden top was face down,of course.
Disaster, you say! Not all the kings horses and men couldhave put that cake together again. Oh, woe!
But no. The smiling bride stepped through the upset folks squatting to clear up the mess, picked up the plate that had held the late layer, daintily sampled a smear of icing, and nodded her head enthusiastically. What a girl!
Next, Cheryl and Brian, arms around one another’s waist and together holding the knife, cut into the second layer, now promoted to first. All smiles and laughter. What a pair!
Finally, friends, a great addition to Fly Creek dining, especially if Cooperstown places (including the stellar Bocca Osteria!) have lines out the doors.
You know that, for lunch out here, we’ve had delicious quick fare at the General Store (right at the blinker light) and at the Fly Creek Cider Mill (not a half mile north of it). And for a more leisured lunch, there’s Harmony House, with great food and as comfortable an ambiance as you could imagine.
But now a large banner outside Portabello’s announces “LUNCH.” And lunch indeed it is, indoors or at the umbrella tables outside. A special lunch menu offers a dozen selections, none over ten dollars.
There are the salads, hamburgers, and steak sandwiches that you’d expect, but nice surprises like littleneck clams, pulled pork, and a special Buffalo chicken, bacon and Provolone sandwich that’s spicy enough to call for a sip of iced tea with every bite.
And so, if you need to escape the madding crowd (yep, that’s spelled right), flee to Fly Creek. The livin’s easy out here.
Well, these odds and ends are important to me, at least.
- From Fly Creek
- A banner time for Jim Atwells Tim Wiles urged me on. "You'll get a column out of it," he said.
- Spangled with debate over anthem What fun! Cathe Ellsworth and I are back to playing badminton, lobbing columns back and forth across the Crier's net. My serve:
- From word to phrase to sentence As usual, Dennis Savoie started it. Old friends, we long ago discovered our mutual interest in oddities of words and language usage. His most recent challenge to me: Is our flag properly called "spangled" with stars?
- 'They were out of step but Jim!' All right, skip the drolleries about the headline. The quote is actually the title of a 1918 song by Irving Berlin, who, with George M. Cohan and other songsmiths, was producing patriotic pieces by the dozen as the Yanks were going "Over There!"
- Replanting has taken root Lots of boxes still to be unpacked and stuff to be put on shelves and into closets, but Anne's and my shift into Cooperstown is almost done. We're securely replanted at 24 Delaware Street and already feeling at home.
- There's reason to hope I hadn't planned this piece for my April column, but something happened that was impossible to ignore. Within a week, three different friends (count them, three!) from different parts of the country emailed to say they'd come across an old Crier column that they'd saved for twelve years and had sent to many friends because it meant much to them.
- Let not thy left hand know That headline's a Bible allusion, trenchant advice not to preen when doing good: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Amen, I say.
- How good to be back! "Tis I, the Spirit of a Thousand Columns Past, back after a twelve-month silence to talk at you again in the flesh!"
- Mammon Triumphs in Turkey Bowl Editor's Note: We're thrilled to announce the return of our columnist, Jim Atwell, and his legendary column "From Fly Creek." Jim's column will be an occasional feature, when he is able to write or he has something he wants to contribute. We celebrate his return with one of his classic columns.
- Rolling toward a stop Iâ€™m slowing down, friends, rolling toward a stop for this column. The best way to describe my reason is through an analogy: I want you to think of me as a horse-drawn wagon and driver â€" not just as the driver, but as the whole shebang.
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