Happy Wednesday! I am writing this late Monday night, thinking I might be able to get a head start as I go into the busiest week of my summer. Very often, I write my next blogisode the day (or evening) before, and then I schedule it to publish. I have trophies in procrastination, so I am trying to get ahead for my own good. This week, the show I am doing A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum opens, so I am in the final rehearsals and trying to stay ahead of the game. As I write, I am in the lingering hours of my day off. Rob is working in Williamstown, Massachusetts this summer, and I am in Weston, Vermont, but since the towns are only about an hour and 15 minutes apart, Rob commutes to Williamstown every day from Weston. Maybe that seems crazy, but his commute in New York—from our apartment in Washington Heights to his job downtown at Pace University—takes just about the same amount of time, and is on a smelly subway train. The way he sees it, he has a brand new rental car and a drive through beautiful Vermont mountains, so it's a treat. And we are glad to have him home every night.
Since Rob and I have the same day off (remember that Monday is the day off in the theater world), we piled the kids in the car and drove to see an estate owned by Abraham Lincoln’s only surviving son, Robert. The gardens are beautiful. I can tell you quite a bit about the gardens because a certain 3-year-old of mine was not so keen on the guided house tour, so we were outside a lot. Rob and I tagged teamed, switching between Charlotte who loved the house tour, and Beatrix who made it her duty to try to pick all the flowers (not intended for picking). I did hear enough of the house tour to hear about the insanity trails of Mary Todd Lincoln—which I'd never heard about. How did I miss this? Does everyone know about Mary Todd Lincoln and that she had to be committed? I could write a whole blog about it—I won’t—but really, witnessing the assassination of her husband, having 3 sons die, an insanity trial against her only son--fascinating stuff BUT instead, I will say that this episode of Don’t F*$% With the Pancreas—The Maine Edition, is brought to you by The Hildene Estate in Manchester Vermont, and your homework is to Google Mary Todd Lincoln. Was she really batty, or was her son just ticked off and committed her because she wouldn’t let him run for President? You decide.
Back to New York and our decision about how to get Rob to Maine.
We left off with the two women in Rob’s life making work decisions on his behalf, and the question of whether or not we are polygamists. Answer? We are not. Another answer? If I had to choose a Sister Wife, it would be Amy Rogers.
Amy Rogers, a friend of our for years and years, is the head of Pace University’s Musical Theater program, which she runs it with Rob. She is not legally married to Rob—in fact she was just recently legally married to her partner Lauren—but Rob and Amy act like an old married couple. Which I appreciate. and encourage. Furthering their relationship, they also work together at Quisisana, where Amy directs.
I keep wondering if I can do this blogisode without taking a time out to explain Quisisana—and I think I have to describe it in order for you to picture upcoming events. For years my friends have asked me what this Chrissysana place is that I always talk about—so let’s just explain it and move on. In the writing world we call this exposition...and it is usually boring…but I will do the best I can to jazz it up.
To create ambiance, I suggest you light a pine tree scented candle (an old Christmas candle will work nicely), turn your sound soother to “gently lapping lake waves” and “loon calls”.
You should also put a bathing suit on and a layer black yoga pants and a tunic over it—the uniform of all Quisisana guests at breakfast and lunch. Your belly should be distended from eating too much delicious food, yet you are weirdly hungry and ready to eat every four hours. You should be tan. You should have the sweet chemical smell of deep woods OFF bug spray. The most important decision of your day is whether you want the salmon or the duck for dinner. Making the correct decision—which is a decision you make at 9am while eating blueberry pancakes—is essential or you will have food envy. You can also watch On Golden Pond, which is set on a lake very near Quisisana, or read any Stephen King novel for ambiance (not the gore, but the Maine setting). Stephen King has a house on the same lake as Quisisana, Lake Kezar, which was named one of the 20 most beautiful lakes in the world (I kind of just made that up, but it has a title like that).
Quisisana (pronounced Kwis-is-ah-nah) is an Italian word that means “a place where one heals oneself”. This is important and will probably be on the final exam because it does come into play later in the story. When most people describe Quisisana, they compare it to the film Dirty Dancing because it is a bunch of cabins set by a beautiful lake, with an attractive and talented staff of twenty-somethings (Nobody puts Baby in the corner).
The cabins are quaint and comfortable, but not luxurious—meaning--the cabins have no phones, televisions or Internet. Guests stay for a full week, and three fantastic meals a day are served in the dining room. There is a different show every night.
Many of the guests have come for years and years, and often they meet up with other family members, so the dining room becomes long tables of cousins, grandparents and multi generations. I grew up in the Midwest, so the closest thing I have to this was when we’d all go to *Chi-Chi’s for my birthday dinner. (Chi-Chi’s was a more formal version of Taco Bell and my favorite as a kid. Beef chimichangas, (fried burritos), followed by fried ice cream. No idea why I weighed 220 pounds as a kid…). Quisisana attracts a lot of Northeasterners who attended 8 week sleep away camp as kids. They pretend they are still campers—although this camp has filet, lobsters, and a concert pianist on Tuesday night. At full capacity it holds about 130 guests and has a staff of 80. With that kind of staff to guest ratio, let's just say you get a little pampered at Quisisana. It's delightful.
Rob and I were full time staff members at Quisisana in the late 80’s-early 90’s, and this is where we fell in love twenty years ago (I know, I know, that's so sweet **sigh**). Rob still goes up in the beginning of the season to put together the music for the musical they do on
Monday nights and the Cabaret they do on Thursday nights.It is a lot of work—more than you would think—which involves 14 hour days at a piano, but not a lot of physical labor. It didn’t seem that he would need to completely cancel going to Quisisana because of his surgery, but it did seem like he was going to need a few more days to recover. So, after numerous e-mails between Marshall (the artistic director) and Amy and I, we decided that I would put Rob on a plane 10 days after surgery (Rob was insisting), and Marshall and Amy would retrieve him on the other side.
There wasn’t any risk to doing this, Rob had gotten the okay from the doctor (barely), with the agreement that as long as he didn’t lift anything heavy (like luggage), eat fatty food or drink alcohol, he’d probably be fine. My big concern was Rob’s stamina. He was still falling asleep numerous times a day and in the middle of conversations. I couldn’t imagine him making it through a meal without a nap, let alone an entire music rehearsal. One solution was that they hired someone to help rehearse during the first week (thanks Mark Fifer), also, his overly protective wife may or may not have written an e-mail to Amy and Marshall explaining just how fragile he was while he was enroute to Maine. The one thing I knew was this--Rob would be well taken care of at Quisisana by Amy and other friends, he would sleep, he would have three meals a day prepared for him, he wouldn't have to wash any dishes, take a subway or do any of the other incredibly stressful things one must do it New York. He wouldn't have to change diapers or deal with tantrums. He'd miss us, but he would recover better away from us than with us.
And, the good news is, he did recover well. He regained his strength and even managed to do a steep but short climb up a mountain on June 20th, his 43rd birthday. Good health was back in Rob's favor, or so it seemed.
To end today's blogisode, here's a video from the Hildene Estate Gardens. If you like the final 60 seconds of CBS Sunday Morning, you'll like my knock off version. Peace and quiet in a loud world.