So you thought I had disappeared? No, I just moved, and, as anyone will tell you, that’s right up there with a death in the family. Some of my belongings are in storage in New Jersey; some of my most precious pieces of Jacobean furniture are at daughter Martha’s; and most of my “stuff” (those unable-to-live-without photos, paintings, journals, and memorabilia collected over sixty years), is in 50 boxes on a moving van wending its way through the heart of Continental America.
In the meantime I am living very simply in a two-bedroom apartment in Langley, WA on magnificent Whidbey Island, eating breakfast every morning on my front deck with this view of Puget Sound and Mt. Baker in the Cascade Mountains. It’s cool, it’s sunny, and it’s peaceful beyond description. Can a longtime New York City theater addict find happiness living an un-frantic lifestyle surrounded by the mountains and fir trees of the great Northwest? Tune in over the next few months.
How did this happen? When I last left you I had just sold my house while climbing in the Langtang area of the Nepalese Himalayas, and taken up temporary quarters at Martha’s in Maplewood, NJ. My search for a new place of residence was getting nowhere, so I decided to head west. First, I visited my old friend, Bonnie Phipps, a top Autoharp Maven and the recent winner of the Mt. Laurel autoharp contest, in Boulder, Colorado. We took a glorious walk in the Rocky Mountain National Park….
How great it is to be alive!
Leaving the hills of Colorado on May 8, I flew to Seattle and was greeted by a stunning view of Mt. Rainier from the plane. I never tire of that snow-covered volcano!
My destination, as in every summer for twenty years, was Whidbey Island for a visit with my eldest daughter, Cary. At the same time I planned to celebrate yet another astronomical birthday on June 3rd with a gathering of all my children and numerous island friends.
My party was a gala celebration on the spacious center lawn at Talking Circle in Langley. As usual, it was potluck, which assures amazing creations, and there were a dozen young musicians (mostly interning or working on farms on the island) playing everything from the old Pete Seeger folks songs to modern rock and blues. I have a lot of videos of square dancing and swinging from the zip line, but few photos. Shame on me. I even had a blast riding the zipline a la these girls.
Son Tom steam-cleaned the Commons House in preparation…
The tables were prepared by Mully and friends…
That’s a very high number, but it sure tasted good!
Hey, a cake? What a surprise? I prefer looking at the letters from this direction!
Everyone threw something into the fire…preferably wood. What a great evening!
Cary suggested that I try island living for a year and I lucked into a terrific apartment that overlooks the Sound, with a three-minute walk down the hill to the heart of Langley. And for one-third the price of a comparable living space in the NY Metropolitan area. There are a couple of outstanding espresso/designer coffee shops close by, along with numerous restaurants, galleries, and a thrift store to die for. South Whidbey is teeming with activity, albeit not crowded or noisy, and has a long list of cultural events, including a variety of music and drama venues. It’s close to Hedgebrook, a writer’s colony, and a ferry ride across the water from Seattle. I’ll admit the gas is about $4.00 a gallon, but everything you want is only about 15 minutes away. A movie is $5.00 if you’re super old, and the popcorn to go with it is only $1.00.
I was able to buy some stunning furniture at the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store in Freeland, so jettisoned most of my old possessions in an effort to “let go” of the past. I haven’t lived in an apartment for sixty years, but it is definitely low-maintenance. I don’t have to push a lawnmower or worry about the basement flooding anymore. What’s not to like?
Before I left Maplewood in early July, I was treated by theater buddies, Paul Sharar and Phyllis Bitow, respectively, to my last two shows of the season; the excellent Lucky Guy, starring Tom Hanks, and the uproarious Nance, with Nathan Lane. That should hold me until early September, when I make my final pass in NJ and head with my son, Tom, cross-country, with whatever we can stuff into the old Toyota. It will be nice to have my car, again, though I’m getting a bit attached to driving Cary’s 1987 Mazda pick up. How better to strengthen your arm muscles than driving a truck with no power steering?
Next week I head for the Northern Cascades and Mt. Baker with my climbing buddy from Annapurna, Jon Pollack. We’ll camp and hike for ten days before I return to the East for three weeks at the Noble family cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee. When I return to Whidbey I will face an apartment crammed to the gills with boxes. It will keep me out of trouble all winter!
Keep reading. There will be plenty of pictures coming