Berkshire Bohème

I miss you. I miss writing, sharing, watching for events and photos that may please and heighten life’s experience for another. But more than that, I miss what writing does for me. I view life differently when I am searching for words to describe my feelings or for a camera angle that will show what my eye sees. Do I have less to write about because I am having less interesting experiences, or am I having less interesting experiences because I am writing less? I am playing with the idea of the latter and so have been on the lookout for topics and vignettes to tantalize. photo-6

Since I last wrote, I have been cast in a three shows, one ended in August, one just started rehearsal last week, one upcoming in December and I have been hired full-time as School Programs Manager at Shakespeare & Company, until my directing duties start in mid September. This is all very exciting stuff. It is what I have dreamed of.

But my living situation continues to be a challenge. Right now I am in a basement dormitory room in Company housing. The ceiling above me has a maze of pipes running haphazardly in many directions, varying in diameter from about 6 inches to 1. They drip from condensation so have wrapped towels around them to keep them from dripping on my head.There are cracks in the ceiling, holes gaping, and mold. When I first moved in with my boxes and bags, the ceiling was spotted black and some of the pipes were completely covered with thick black growing mold. This was too much. Almost in tears I asked if something could be done, and our Company Manager took things in hand and in a few days I had a freshly painted white ceiling and no more visible mold. I continue to be grateful everyday for the hands that cleaned and painted so I could be less at risk for health issues. IMG_1362

The pipes will take some getting used to. Not only the dripping but the grand sounds of flushing above my head. It is really loud and startles me into ridiculous laughter at the absurdity of it all. Is this the bohemian life? La vie Bohème? Am I like those wandering artists in nineteenth century France that lived unconventional lifestyles for their art, burning pages of their precious books to keep warm and painting canvases in freezing garrets?  My room certainly has the look of a rag-tag gypsy caravan with a plastic wardrobe, lamp shades with water stains and sheets covering my belongings. There is no closet so everything is out in the open, not organized or beautiful but completely bereft of charm. I have set a few cute things around but they are so overpowered by cardboard boxes that it’s like noticing one raccoon hat in an opera house filled with feather boas.IMG_1373

Am I complaining? I am grateful for the roof over my head, even if at times I worry it will all come crumbling down. I am humored by my life of the moment. I have moved from a beautiful, large, modern farmhouse to this and there are moments I wonder WHY? But most of the time I know exactly why and I am thrilled with my choice.

‘To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art—this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. ” Gelett Burgess (1902)

Where would I be without such colorful things to write about? To tell you that this morning I devoutly wished that I had a mirror in my room as I kept trekking back and forth to the dank, claustrophobic bathroom down the hall to get ready for work, and tonight I went to a barn party where I saw a mirror leaning against the wall and the owner gave it to me! Now it sits inside my door and I can see as I leave the room if I have matching shoes on, or my skirt tucked into my underwear. You can’t get stories like that from a life without a little Bohemia. So even though I may not be as comfortable as I would wish, and I play croaking frog sounds on my phone to try to drown out the toilets flushing in the night, and the roommates next door arguing at 2 in the morning, I can still see that my life is charmed.

“What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.” Gelett Burgess

Sap happy in Vermont…

So many firsts today! First time in Vermont, first time seeing a strutting wild turkey, first time at a maple sugar shack, first time to eat “sugar on snow” with pickle and donut thing, first time driving over a covered bridge, and first time to buy a homeless man a cup of coffee. A day beautifully spent.

Bennington, VT

Bennington, VT

I headed north from Lenox, MA, destination Vermont. The state has held a secret fascination for me since I was young and watched White Christmas every year on TV during the holidays. “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow….” But the state somehow eluded me until this month.

Bennington, VT

Bennington, VT

I only had one day so I crossed the border and stopped in the first cute town. I wandered the quaint streets of Bennington and got lost in a bookstore buying all sorts of things I wasn’t needing, a travel book, cards, and a book of cottages to dream about buying.

Near the temptress bookstore was the Village Chocolate Shoppe where the world’s largest peanut butter cup was made, so of course I popped in and purchased chocolates to send to my daughters. The owner was in attendance with a jolly, humble presence, as he pointed out the 2013 newspaper article on the record breaking peanut butter cup. I was bubbling over with curiosity, delighted to meet a man who so obviously loved his vocation and charming conversations ensued with him and a group of ladies that were also shopping.

IMG_0730Next stop was the Bennington Battle Monument, a tall stone tower, that was closed but overlooks the town.This is not the prettiest time of year, no snow, all brown deciduous trees but the rivers were rushing and it was quiet driving through the Vermont National Forest. It must be breath-taking in the fall, all that pre-snow color.

Wilmington, VT

Wilmington, VT

I stopped in Wilmington and diddled around main street and stopped at Dot’s Restaurant and had decadent comfort food. While I was stuffing my face with meatloaf a man came in asking how much coffee cost, obviously counting his pennies. As I slipped out of the restaurant I asked the waitress to put his tab on mine and went on my way very grateful not to have to ask how much a drink costs to know if I can afford to buy it.

IMG_0767Hailing from the West Coast, I am unfamiliar with maple syrup production and since being in New England I have seen sugar shacks along the road but never found the time to stop. Today was the perfect opportunity. At Sprague and Sons, a 5 generation family business, I got the whole spiel about the maple syrup process from sap to table.

Sugar Shack

Sugar Shack

It reminded me of my wine making roots with the precise nature of measuring sweetness, collecting data and filtering. The sap, which looks much like water, gets boiled and steamed by a huge wood stove, until it is reduced from about 43 gallons down to 1 gallon. It is no wonder that maple syrup is expensive!

Mr. Sprague welcomed me in and shared his love of this crazy natural craft. They have three children and many grandchildren. His wife told me that their maple sugar business is done for the love, history, and tradition of it. They do not make money, it is hard work and she has a day job to make ends meet. This is their art, their gift to society, much like mine with theater and teaching. I was touched by their generosity and the sadness that none of their children want to follow in their footsteps, as they have understandably moved on to more lucrative jobs. For now, the parents are holding down the fort in the hope that one of the grandchildren will fall in love with the process and take over.

IMG_0782I bought syrup that I don’t need because I wanted to support them. I also purchased this amazing Sugar on Snow. Boiling syrup is poured over coarsely ground ice, served with donut and a little dill pickle (to counteract the sweetness). It was sticky deliciousness, full of antitheses, cold and warm, dense and light, sweet and sour and I went on my way with a happy sugar high.

Sprague & Sons

Sprague & Sons

It was time for me to head back to Massachusetts and I was in the middle of no where without cell service or gps. So I veered south figuring I would have to hit MA eventually.  I took winding back roads, with pot holes, that once or twice turned to gravel, but I was happy for the adventure and a full tank of gas.

IMG_0799 IMG_0804I drove by a field with 4 wild turkeys and made a quick U-turn to watch them. My only connection with turkeys has been from cartoons, or a carcass on the Thanksgiving table and drawing them in kindergarten using the outline of my hand print. From that background I assumed that a male turkey always strutted around with feathers plumed. But nope, here was the male plucking around in the field showing off for the females, raising and lowering his fancy tail feathers like the peacock at my great grandma’s house.

Southern Vermont

Southern Vermont

Back on the country roads from the turkey gaggle, I rounded a corner and bam, there was a covered bridge! This is what traveling is all about. Delightful discovery, surprise, and finding unexpected delights around any corner.

Sunset  road to Massachusetts

Sunset road to Massachusetts

Life is beautiful and as the day dimmed toward sunset, I experienced the beauty of the light glowing golden on trees and towns as I wound my way home without the aid of technological devices. I encourage you to take a drive, get lost and stir up a little mischief in your days!

Intrepid, really?

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe, CA

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe, CA

My boss introduced me to a group of people as the “Intrepid Lori Evans.” He meant it in the most complimentary fashion, but I reacted inside to the word intrepid. It spoke to me of stubbornness, a bulldog that bites and doesn’t let go, and had whiffs of the USS Battleship Intrepid in it somehow. Does anyone want to be referred to as a battleship!? Not this girl. I don’t want to be some huge aircraft carrier that plows through water and breaks down the icebergs in its path. Continue reading

Dreaming of Puck’s Trail…

Benedict Pond, MA

Benedict Pond, MA

Strapping on my yaktrax I hopped out of the car to meet my old friend Benedict Pond (see my post On Benedict Pond). Always in pulling into the parking lot and seeing the pond, there is a familiarity of bonding, of shared experience, of connection. Yep, the pond is rather human to me, a living, pulsing ecological beauty, with life throbbing around her thick frozen top. Interesting I see her as feminine when her name is Benedict.  Continue reading

Drab reigns in the winter’s pale…


My boots fitted with yaktrax worked wonders!

As most of you know, we have been having quite the chilly, snowy winter in the Northeast and March came in like a white lion. I am not complaining, I am fortunate that I can “work” at home. Right now I am off contract and keeping busy with writing, reading, hiking, art, auditions, and classes, nothing where I have to be at work at 8am every day. So when it snows, I can stay home and bake, or sing and play ukulele. I am fortunate. But I miss hiking so I recently pulled out the yaktrax that I got for Christmas and hit the trails. Yes, it’s cold, and yes, it’s worth it. I even found a message written in the snow just for me…. Continue reading

Lions and tigers and beaches, oh my!

The beach down our street

The beach down our street

I am back to Lenox, MA after spending a month on Long Island directing Shakespeare with young people. It was such wonderful, happy month, learning new skills as a director, establishing old ones with confidence, and being with 2 co-teacher gals that are fun and talented. The school we taught in put us up in a wonderful cottage a half-mile from the ocean and I was in heaven getting to walk on the beach 3-5 times a week. Continue reading

Aphrodite by the Sea

The Hamptons

The Hamptons

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

I am in love with this photo. I took it last week on the beach down the street. I have it on my computer desktop, I stare at it, get lost in it and feel so pleased with it. Rarely does that happen with photos that I take. I am not a photographer, I snap pictures with my iPhone to document my life, to please myself. I do not labor over taking a shot, but I just point, shoot and move on. Continue reading

She will be free….

Independence Pass, Colorado

(Independence Pass, Colorado)

This world is far from small

And her heart is the center of it all

And there’s a river that runs through hills, and it’s never still

Listen closely to the sky

And it’ll show you how to dot life’s I’s.

And don’t be afraid if the girl decides to run

It’s half of the fun

This song by the Josh Abbot Band hit me right between the heart-strings.

In a hotel parking lot in Aspen, Colorado I met a man who made me feel beautiful and ugly. We had exchanged a few sentences two days earlier in the hotel jacuzzi and now as I was leaving the hotel and loading up my car, out he strolled rolling his suitcase. He asked where I had been, we chatted about our Aspen experiences, he told me I am beautiful and asked for my phone number in case we should ever cross paths again. Continue reading

A Pictorial Toast to 2013

In 2013…I danced with a 75-year-old Norwegian prince in Sun Valley, Idaho; drank beer with a track-hoe driver in Wyoming; exposed a friend to the ridiculous joys of miniature golf in Wisconsin; rode a cowboy’s horse down Main Street one evening in Colorado; watched the waves of the Pacific coast with the ghost of my ancestors; hugged 700 year old redwoods in California; made pancakes over an open fire with my mom and sister; fell in love with, and in, small towns across the states; mourned the loss of John Denver in Aspen; spent a weekend at a most special niece’s wedding in Oregon; hiked deliciously beautiful mountainsides; was treated to meals, drinks, couches, pillows, and connected conversations with so many friends old and new; taught/directed Shakespeare and opened metaphorical doors for kids from 11-18 yrs old in Massachusetts. Life is wonderful and the song playing over and over on my iPod is Jason Mraz’ Life is Wonderful…

The highlights start with time with my girls…

Continue reading

Where the rubber meets the ravioli…

The smell of fresh rubber is pungent in my nostrils. I’m writing this post from the lobby of a tire store while I wait for new tires to be installed on my travel weary car.

Chihuly Museum, Seattle

Chihuly Museum, Seattle

I’m recording another magical night and shaking my head in disbelief. When I am in Seattle, it is home, it is returning, it is my daughters. I spend as much time with them as possible, both together, each separately, whatever I can get of their busy lives, I grab and treasure. Continue reading