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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Summer is coming to an end and it is with some regret I will return to Westchester County for the beginning of the school year. I would be more than content to stay up here in Westport, New York and paint more pictures of Lake Champlain and walk dogs for the local animal shelter and work towards our various goals for the new house. Our amazing granite retaining walls are now full of wildflowers I planted from seed and I get a real kick out of watching hummingbirds checking out my poppies and sunflowers. And although a number of people I know up here are leaving at the end of the summer, many people are not. I feel like both my kids and I have more friends up here than down there.

This is a Great Place: there are a number of cool houses and store fronts on on the market around here that can be had for very reasonable prices. I have personally looked at a number of them, some while shopping before buying this one, others while shopping in hopes of convincing friends and relatives to buy around here. (I can tell you all about what's on the market here if you'd like to know.)

It used to be a resort town before the advent of air-conditioning, so it is a very comfortable place to be in the summer. There is a lot to do here, especially in the summer: concerts, theatre (both professional & amateur), art events, fairs, never mind the kind of activities people come to the Adirondack for like, say, hiking. (The kids and I did less of that kind of thing than I'd expected since there were a couple of unusually stormy weeks up here and I didn't want to strike out on unfamiliar trails during flash-flood or thunderstorm warnings. On the other hand, watching a production of Pippin in the Depot Theatre during a particularly violent thunder storm was pretty cool; there were some especially serendipitous thunderclaps in the second half after intermission; I think that if I see it again I'll miss them.

A few days ago, I was in complete panic at the thought of having to go back to Pleasantville and resume the life we have there. I'm not exactly reconciled to it now, but sort or resigned, gloomily thinking of what I can do there to prepare further for life up here. (As I write this, Elizabeth has just spelled "YouTube" out loud, presumably typing it into Google, and then asked how to spell "exploding" and "Elmo"; perhaps she is more ready for Westchester County than I.)

This summer, we have made more progress on fixing up the house than we had expected. We'd had a whole bunch of estimates made before closing last October and weren't sure when and in what order contractors would appear, but suddenly we're well past what we thought we'd be able to do this year and well into what we thought was going to get done next year. They've temporarily run out of scaffolding for the back of the building, giving us a several day respite from people pounding on the walls with hammers from 8AM to 4PM.

On Saturday, we had a small but instructive equipment failure: the lock to the door in the store part of the house -- yes, we bought a house equipped with a bookstore -- failed, locking us out completely unless we were willing to break a hand-painted glass window to get in. The store had previously been a liquor store (hence the hand-painted grapes on the windows), and so conforms to all of the nutty NY state laws involving how it is possible to access a store. There is no way in but the front door of the store and the lock broke.

Much is made on the Internet of "social networking" these days. Let me tell you about real social networking: real social networking is when you know the guy who can take your hand-painted window out and get you into your space and then put the window pane back intact in the same shape it was, and you get him to show up and do it. (The nearest currently practicing locksmith on this side of the lake is about 40 miles away, in case you were wondering.) We did that and now the lock has been replaced. Now David can proceed on to organizing his books in his Westport book space.

We have a dinner guest coming, so I should stop now. I guess this is the traditional What I Did on My Summer Vacation essay that one writes with the utter certainty that what one did on the summer vacation is better than what comes after that. But life may surprise me.