Friday October 24
After posting my obligatory Friday writing and listening to Himself present his paper on J.F. Powers I attend a reception at the Irish Studies Conference. There are no snacks, just mediocre beer and wine. The presentation is a dramatic reading of some of the columns Finley Peter Dunne, a Chicago newspaper columnist from the 1890s through the turn-of-the-century who wrote humorous columns, in the voice of an Irish immigrant sounding off to the neighborhood barkeep about political and social issues. A number of the columns are cobbled into monologues and recited by Myles Duggan, an RTE correspondent and historian whose performance is so hilarious we don't mind the lack of food. While others head off after the performance to a pub to watch the end of the World Series game we are feeling more old fartish and settle for a quiet dinner at the hotel restaurant. While I find the Hotel Santa Fe overpriced and underwhelming, the restaurant isn't too bad and the prices are fair. I am proud of myself for ordering a salad but ask for the dessert menu. When it takes more than a half hour to arrive, fatigue trumps sweet tooth and I end the day having done little financial or dietary damage.
Saturday October 25
Himself is committed to a full day of conferencing and I have a day of liberty. I head to the International Museum of Folk Art, which Himself reminds me I visited over twenty years ago but I have no memory of. The collection is largely a bequest from architect Alexander Girard and is a spectacular representation of folk art from all over the planet. The second I enter the huge gallery I am entranced. I am a sucker for color and also entranced by the urge that even poor people have to craft colorful objects that have no utilitarian value.
From the museum I head about 15 miles out of Santa Fe to the town of Lamy. The place is less sleepy than non-existent but for some reason, the Amtrak stops here, rather than Santa Fe and I am picking up my old friend Bill who is coming in from Kansas City. The train is late. There is a nice German Shepherd named Rocky who moves the wrought iron table his leash is strapped to several feet in order to greet me by sniffing my crotch. Rocky's people are a couple years older than I am. They live in Santa Fe and have driven to Lamy for the purpose of watching the train pull into the tiny station. We talk about Susan Orlean's book about Rin Tin Tin and the attractions of Long Beach where their son lives. It seems that Rocky and this handsome older couple could have found a more interesting way to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching a train screech into a dusty station but to each his own I guess.
It's been over fifteen years since we've seen Bill, who when before he moved to Kansas City was an integral part of the inner sanctum. He is one of the most observant people I've ever met. The weekend is somewhat of a see-saw experience for me. Bill remembers bringing a friend and his dog to meet us in our little Echo Park cottage. The dog immediately gave chase to one of our cats. The cat got tangled in some speaker wires and was extricated only after the wires were severed and I received a scratch on my hand that required medical attention. Later the same evening some imprudently placed candles ignite placements and a tray of appetizers. I have no memory at all of this. Bill later remembers a friend of his that he's lost contact with and I met only once or twice about twenty five years ago. With only a tiny bit of a memory jog I am able to remember that the man's parents adopted a boy and a girl of approximately the same age and referred to them as “twins.” Bill's friend I remember as being diminutive, bookish and somewhat nerdy. His “twin” I remember was obese and of dull normal intelligence. I do not remember a cat scratch that sent me to urgent care or a conflagration in the middle of a dinner party but I remember that when Bill's friend's sister married that in lieu of traditional gifts, she and her betrothed requested board games. After watching my mother descend into dementia I worry a lot about losing my memory. After spending time with a close friend I hadn't seen for so long the verdict is still out. Maybe my memory isn't quite as bad as I think it is but just no where near as good as Bill's.
Bill and I traverse a number of strip malls and gas stations in search of “Maria's” a well recommended Mexican restaurant that has an enormous separate Margarita menu. There are pages and pages of different Margaritas, some costing $45. We have no imagination however and end up with the house special. I have some decent trout and Bill has enchiladas with some of the chile New Mexicans are always going on about that I probably couldn't distinguish from roasted Ortegas in a can.