Summer of Ivy

Summer is always densely scheduled and the first half of 2014 has been jam-packed with great adventures and a World Cup background! We had our first family camp at The Backyard in Vermont and are headed up again this weekend; Ivy seemed to love being in the woods and although she has requirements that we have never dealt with in camping before, she was remarkably low-maintenance and fun to be with! We have attended two more beautiful weddings: in Brooklyn for Paul and Lindsey then Bartol Island, Maine for Patrick and Betsey. Celebrating Love is the best and most important reason! After a one-year hiatus, The Land Party resumed and Land Band rocked it! In a series of painful events (holding my baby in a non-ergonomic fashion then falling off my bike trying to ride one-handed), my wrists were incapacitated and I was unable to play bass, but Family Fun bassist Ricky heroically stepped in… We have been to Bellport, swimming, sailing and playing with added bonus Barcelona brother Kevin in a rare appearance Stateside. For my entire life, Cape Cod July 4th has been one of the greatest family weekends; celebrating my Father’s birthday with fireworks and lobster and extended Taylor clan has now evolved to include the next generation, with Lincoln, Oliver and Ivy, while the cousins have grown from babyhood to college in my memory! How amazing is life?!?!

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Eventide Rides NYC

When Chef Andrew Taylor and the Hugo’s/Eventide crew roll into NYC, they come on a mission. They seek the best food experiences in the city, and on this occasion, provide some of their own. They returned to The Lobster Roll Rumble and served thousands of their signature Brown Butter and Steamed Bun Lobster Rolls. I assisted with service at the Eventide Oyster Co. table, and although they were dethroned as defending Champions, the crowd’s enthusiasm and appreciation for their unique take on the classic sandwich was amazing to witness. It is a daring creation from my brother’s kitchen, and I was honored to be a part of the team introducing this Portland, Maine gem to New York.

I was also incredibly fortunate to be along for the ride wherever their food and bar safari took them. We enjoyed cocktails at Del Posto and Toro (including a porron pass-around). We ate incredible late-night dinners at Pearl & Ash and Carbone, with the latter topping my lifetime list of outrageously delicious and delightfully extravagant meals.

I enjoy good food often but rarely like this. Andrew knows the food in my city much better than I do, and it is always a treat to tag along on his excursions. But for all the pizzazz of fine dining, It is also just fun to hang out with the dude and his family; I am more than happy to eat chicken fingers at the Central Park Zoo snack bar if it means spending time with Rachel, Lincoln and Oliver!

Eventide Lobster Roll Rumble

Eventide Roll

Oliver

Zoo

Colorado Taylors

Ivy took her second plane trip this weekend and she did phenomenally well! Despite a few piercing shrieks (including several that echoed through the cavernous tent at Denver International Airport) she was a great companion through the rigors of travel. She was also supremely well behaved at the wedding and reception–especially considering we completely abandoned any semblance of her normal routine and schedule. We were there for cousin Anna and her dude Kaulin, celebrating their love in Littleton, Colorado, and the Taylor turnout was very impressive, including Mommom and her four sons, their spouses and 11/12 of the cousins! It is a truly wonderful family and although full congregations are rare, I always appreciate their company. In Denver, we visited the Zoo, took a Stranahan’s Whiskey distillery tour and enjoyed the novel experience of browsing a recreational pot shop. The local scenery was awesome and the long weekend afforded us extra time to enjoy the surroundings, taking several hikes through the stunning rocks that jut from the plains at the very base of the Rocky Mountains. I am always inspired by these tectonic masses and look forward to visiting again in the winter with a few days on my skis!

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Dorset Bucklands

Ivy is an international traveler! We brought her to England to meet her great-grandparents and to experience the idyllic nature of her middle-namesake, Dorset. In the tiny village of Sydling St. Nicholas, nestled in a valley of rolling hills and farmland, life is beautifully simple. Our days involved long walks through the village and surrounding farms, passing through pastures of sheep, cows and horses with our baby in a carrier on my chest. We would walk for hours then return for teatime and delicious meals around a table that expanded as more family arrived daily. The Buckland clan forged by G and Grand is an eclectic family of artists and engineers, doctors and scientists who all share the incredible warmth and love of the matriarch and patriarch. The great grandparents are a testament to eternal love and a true inspiration to all; I thought many times this week how amazing it must be to look out across a table of your children and their children and their children’s children and I hope to someday in the twilight of my life have the same experience. To think about 7 month old Ivy becoming a grandmother is absolutely incredible and puts in perspective the amazing and infinite generational nature of life.

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SNOW!

I was born a snow lover, a few weeks before the blizzard of ’78 in Boston, and have always appreciated the convergence of atmospheric phenomena that produces dendrites! Sledding was the earliest form of snow fun and my backyard, with its 15′ vertical drop was more than enough to thrill me through my tiny years. When I outgrew that, I would sled down our back steps off a jump onto the patio. I started skiing when I was 7 and was quickly obsessed, following daily conditions in the Boston Globe Sports Section and memorizing mountain statistics; I drew hundreds of imaginary trail maps and skied every Saturday with the Mass Ski Club for  years. I chose college in Vermont to be near the mountains and bought a season pass every year. Upon graduation, I considered moves to a more permanent ski bum lifestyle in California, Utah and Colorado…

But ended up in New York City.

I have lived here for 12 years and couldn’t be happier. I chose a culture bum lifestyle instead and enjoy the world’s best Arts and Entertainment here. I make sacrifices in personal space and ski access to live here but still get giddy for a good Nor’Easter, of which we have had several this year. I have skied on the sidewalks of Brooklyn when there is ample powder, but haven’t quite found anything steep enough to satisfy my schuss needs… So I bought a hill in Vermont!

I now find myself sacrificing ski days for my daughter and still love the trade-off. I look forward to years of skiing with her in the future. But even with my inconvenient locale and family overtime, I have managed to click in for a few fortuitously-timed days this season. Just after New Years Day, I skied some fresh snow at tiny Mt. Peter in Warwick, NY; top to bottom was under 30 seconds, but most runs were untouched and pure powder. The most recent storm dropped two feet on Southern Vermont and the conditions were spectacular for President’s Day Weekend. Half-days at Okemo, Killington, Magic and the VT Backyard took the edge off my craving for frozen sliding and the prospect of Spring doesn’t scare me as much now as it did a week ago.

I still follow snow reports around the country and get excited when The Pacific Northwest gets dumped on or sad when Tahoe is dry. I have dedicated myself to other life pursuits beyond this passion and have learned to enjoy any time I do spend on the slopes without reservations about its limited nature. I have little control over timing and less over conditions which makes the recreational appreciation greater than any experience in a controlled environment; when my work and family schedule allows, plus a perfect combination of temperature, moisture and pressure drop crystallized water molecules from the sky, I will always enjoy them!

Philip Seymour Hoffman

His death is haunting me. Since the moment I read of his demise, I have been wrestling with the grim details and vividly imagining his final moments. I do not follow celebrity news, but for all his fame, he seemed like a true man of the people. I have seen him around town at various theater events and he was dedicated to that world–one that most movie stars abandon entirely or dabble in only occasionally. He was immersed in the craft and pursued it completely; it is obvious he had a true passion for the work and his career is astounding. His performances are so strong and so varied and every one of them draw the viewer into whatever world he is creating. His characters are alive and inhabit him. He makes great Art.

 

And now He is dead.

 

Heroin scares me more than almost anything else. How the most respected actor and a nameless junkie can be on that same high stakes quest to inject poison is beyond my comprehension. It transcends life and it ends life.

 

I will miss watching him grow old and continue his incredible work, but he will always be an inspiration. We are lucky that he gave us so much before his final credits.

2014

Time Check:

2014 is two weeks old.

Ivy is five months old.

I am 36 1/12 years old.

 

Free Me-time is extremely limited these days, which is why it has been over a month since writing here and it is 11:00 pm, which has become obscenely late-night for me recently but is the only time that everyone else is sleeping so I can be selfish and creative! In theory I could have these hours every night as I did Before Ivy, but somehow I am drained after a day of work and play and find sleep to be the most attractive evening option… Music Production, a staple of my previous life’s evening activities, has been negligent over the past 6 months; I miss it but know that my rhythms and melodies and harmonies will express themselves again. Movie and concert experiences have dwindled because of obvious logistical burdens, but art and culture cravings have not abandoned me so I am sure the balance will resume eventually. Social engagements are carefully planned and negotiated with many opportunities for old-fashioned hang-outs passed up for the sole endless purpose of child care.

The rhythm of my life has completely changed.

And I love it.

Everything became infinitely more complicated when Ivy arrived–the time and effort required to keep her healthy and happy was unimaginable before it happened. I was aware that it would be different but had no hope of understanding the impact it would actually have. I might have balked at the trade-off of My Time for Family Time before I knew how deeply rich and rewarding raising a human being would be. I have always loved making music and could never eliminate it from my life but it seems obvious to me now that if I needed to do it for my child, I would. I am a consumer of entertainment but nothing could possibly be as entertaining as watching my daughter grow every day. Friends have been and will be a part of my life forever but no one has ever given me pure joy like Ivy.

Life has never been better.

The First Thanksgiving

This may rank as my best Thanksgiving ever. I don’t really remember the first five or ten of my life and Ivy may someday overlook it in her list of greatest Fourth-Thursday-in-Novembers, but I can’t think of another incarnation of this Holiday that brought together such delicious food and incredible expanding family. We spent Thursday in Armonk with Alaina’s family and a beautifully prepared, classic spread of Turkey, Ham, Stuffing, Potatoes, Cranberry and Incredible Pies. Ivy is the newest addition to the next generation on this side, with six cousins under 13. It is a fun crew and I always enjoy hanging at the kids’ table but this year I brought a guitar and some instruments and we had a blast jamming “Eye of The Tiger”, “Roar” and some original compositions!

We finished our desert and I drank lots of coffee then got in the car and drove to Portland, Maine, to spend time with the Taylors. It was the first time cousins Lincoln and Ivy met and their grandparents could not have been happier to be surrounded by the growing family; they were thrilled to babysit so we could experience the new Hugo’s! Recently renovated into a stunning open-kitchen bar, we sat in front of my cousin Lars and watched him artfully create our dishes with the dance of kitchen activity behind as servers presented us with delicious and uniquely perfect taste combinations. Andrew has mastered the art and succeeds brilliantly in this restaurant, as well as the one next door, Eventide Oyster Company, which the whole family was able to enjoy on Saturday, and of course in his Thanksgiving meal home cooking which we all enjoyed for days! Complemented with epic paddle tennis matches, log cabin living, family sing-a-longs, and a long walk in the woods with Ivy asleep on my chest made this holiday celebration perfect. I Give Thanks!

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The Boston Red Sox Are 2013 World Series Champions!

The Boston Red Sox bring me great joy. With an amazing redemption from last year’s debacle, they go from laughable losers to World Series Winners! All year long they played with resolve and determination, willing victory from certain defeat, a different teammate stepping up every night to deliver when it mattered. It has been an incredible ride beyond this season that stretches back as far as I have memories; The Red Sox are always part of my life. Through pain and suffering to joy and celebration, I love this team and feel fortunate to have grown up in a geographical location currently conducive to winning Championships (even though I don’t live there now and this was not the case when I did). This group was special in Spring training, but after the Marathon bombing they became bearded Superheroes, called to save a wounded city and embody Boston Strong. They played valiantly and passionately, delivering the ultimate prize of pride. This is a Legendary Team and it is all Ivy has ever known!

Two Months

Time has lost any relative meaning it might have had for me. It is impossible to believe that two months have passed since Ivy was born; it still seems so new and yet hours pass instantly with me doing nothing but holding her and staring in amazement. She is always incredible.

But in many ways my life is the same! Every day I go to work as I did since before the dawn of Ivy! I still have friends that existed before she was ever imagined! And my eternal devotion to the sports teams of my youth has never been deeper! On Sunday I witnessed one of the most memorable days of greatness I have ever seen: After losing several of their key players to injuries, and relinquishing a late lead, The Patriots staged an impossible last minute drive to win and then the Red Sox, perhaps the most redemptive and hirsute bunch ever assembled on a baseball diamond, came back late on a Big Papi Grand Slam and took game 2 of the ALCS.

It would have been enough to watch those legendary sports events, but to spend the weekend with the Strong family in peak foliage Vermont, one day clearing glades at Magic Mountain Volunteer day then two days hiking through our new property with Alaina and Ivy made this one of the finest weekends of my new life.

SJT&IDT