Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Greetings from Perfectville

You wouldn't believe where I am right now. I am on this beautiful patio and there are banks of flowers and a bird feeder teeming with yellow birds. We are at the top of a gentle hill and all you can see are trees and flowers and cottages. And there are no boom cars!

Well, I just glanced at the bird feeder and the yellow birds have flown away for a moment and the thing is occupied by a giant squirrel. So all is not perfect.

But it is pretty close to it!

Every time I am in a place like this -- this is the home of Jane's friend Linda, by the way -- I think reproachfully of my own house, and I wonder why I have so much trouble keeping it clean, keeping it neat. I do not know what the secret is. What I do know is I come to houses like this and everything is perfect. I would be relieved to find that the vases of flowers are fake, but they are not.

Contrast this with my house. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, as Leonard Pennario used to say as a joke to me to apologize for something.

This house is in the new build section of Chautauqua. Sprawl, at the Chautauqua Institution! There are whole neighborhoods that were not here when I was a teenager studying piano for a summer and working for these two drunk old ladies. I will always remember that summer. My cousin Caroline, who is my age, was there with me. We started cracking under the stress of having to clean a hundred rooms a day -- we were chambermaids -- and missing our friends back in Buffalo, and we started to fight. To keep the peace our parents would bring us bottles of gin. We would make gin and tonics and sit on the porch at night and all would be well.

Chautauqua has more stores now than it did then, and places sell energy drinks, and there is an Eckard Drugs and also this is the first summer they serve booze. You see, you let in the Catholics and the Jews, and now anything goes. Years ago when I was a teen-ager here the Catholics and the Jews were not recognized. They did not have their religious houses here. Chautauqua was the only place where I experienced anti-Catholic prejudice. But you know what, it didn't bother me that much. It wasn't so much annoying as it was quaint and curious. It was also true to Chautauqua's roots in old-guard Protestantism. I was seeing a bit of history.

The pianist lastnight was excellent. But that is a matter for the Buffalo News blog. I blog on the Buffalo News Artsbeat blog at and I am supposed to write about music so when I have something good to say about music, I put it there! Except about Leonard Pennario. I am not supposed to write about Leonard Pennario in The News because I am writing a book about him.

All I hear right now is the ticking of a clock and the chirping of birds. My cell phone does not even work. There is no cell signal.

Tomorrow morning, I go back to my old hectic environs.

How will I do it?


Anonymous said...

That anal house with those yellow birds and the squirrel sounds great.

Back home at Big Blue last night I was sharing company with the rabbit and the bat. But this time the bat was indoors flying around me while I worked down in the boiler room like the hunchback in Frankenstein.

pythagoras said...

I am glad to hear that the city Fathers (and Mothers?) of Chautauqua apparently view cell signals to be more of a threat to the ethos of the place than a glass of wine. Surely wine will be welcomed by nearly all people of good taste - at least by the Catholics and Jews, elevating the spirits and adding a new element? Wine is in the bible, right? Imagine the possibilities of a wine tasting at Chautauqua! But I digress -- cell signals are bound to spawn hoards of people walking along those picturesque village lanes with bluetooth headpieces talking loudly to no visible person. It's possibly the second worse thing after boom cars - maybe the Chautauqua equivalent. So I'm glad to know cellular is still verboten. Thanks for the peak into your time there. I have not been in many, many years.