Raised in a Barn: A Heist

When I was a kid we went from our home in New York City to our work-in-progress barn in Massachusetts virtually every weekend. Among other things, this meant that my brother and I got very good at packing. My father had a system for packing, which meant we had packing lessons and were supervised by my father until he was certain that we could be trusted to follow the protocol. All clothes were to be folded and then rolled into neat tubes which could then be stacked in our brightly colored duffels (mine pink, my brother’s, blue). This allowed one to pack an extraordinary amount of stuff–far more than one generally needed for a two-day weekend.

In addition to the duffels, routine weekend luggage included my parents’ suitcase, whatever luggage weekend guests were bringing, and an object that we called the Meat Bag. Continue reading “Raised in a Barn: A Heist”

What’s In Your Pocket?

When I was making the sketchbook for my brother I recalled, as I hadn’t in years, that my father always carried four or five 3 x 5 file cards in his breast pocket–unlined, often in an assortment of colors–with his fountain pen, available for quick sketches or notes. In the way of kids, I assumed that all fathers carried file cards and a fountain pen with them in case inspiration struck. I’m not even sure when I realized that this was not so.

My father also carried a Swiss Army knife. Not one of those 20-blade knuckledusters, but a plain six-blade knife that was employed all around the house and all around the Barn (my parents’ colorful converted-barn dwelling in the Berkshire hills) for a variety of uses–tightening screws, opening bottles, widening belt holes. But most particularly for slicing apples. The front “yard” at the Barn was an orchard of old apple trees (okay, with two Bosc pears and a two peach-tree-come-latelys which were annually nibbled by the deer before they could produce fruit). Continue reading “What’s In Your Pocket?”

Running Water

Everyone in California is dealing with wildfires right now (along with the pre-existing catastrophes of this stellar year and yes that was sarcastic, 2020 you train wreck) so of course I’m thinking about floods. (I’m thinking about floods, actually, because my friend Kate in Ireland recounted, elsewhere, the epic tale of the back yard drain clogging up and thereby soaking the floor in her mother’s apartment, and…). Kate’s house is built into a hillside, and because gravity works, water runs downhill into the yard and… squish. Wet rug, to say the least.

I’m familiar–very familiar–with this situation. I was raised, at least in part, in a Barn–a sort of extended weekend project of my highly creative father’s, that started out as a working double barn and wound up as a 60s-inflected House Beautiful. I have written elsewhere about many of the exploits at the Barn (always capitalized in the specific) but not the water problem. The Barn, like my friend Kate’s house, was built into a mountain, and in spring, when the snow had melted, the cowbarn–what normal people would call the basement–would flood. Sometimes significantly. Continue reading “Running Water”