Into the Woods
Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
85Trip End Dec 24, 2011
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Friday, 29th July:
A nothing day until Shit Theatre are on in the Dixon Place Lounge for their NYC debut. The crowd is pretty fair and despite the mild flinches of disapproval and shock at their opening 'Dead Babies' number, they warm up nicely and are receptive to the madness. After they are done, actually at least an hour after they are done, Jerry (Rupert Murdoch's bartender if you have been following the plot so far) turns up pissed and with a fancy Russian bride on his arm demanding 'So when are they on?'. This was funny enough but considering we had also been told by the bar staff that he had arrived yesterday asking the same thing, its bloody hilarious.
After the main show in the theatre finishes around 11pm, the lovely Mimi (head of programming and neighbour of Lois and Peggy's in the Catskill Mountains) drives us 3 hours up state where Lois and Peggy (AKA performance duo Split Britches) have a cabin
Poor Mimi is lumbered with 3 excitable English girls who are blown away by the extent of choice offered by the service station we stop at to get gas. Louise: 'fridges full of hundreds of different bottles of drink. Bottles of drink!' We finally get back on the road and arrive around 2.30am in what feels like the middle of nowhere, and its actually the middle of the national park. The only light in the clearing we arrive in is that from the string of Christmas lights hanging between a trailer in the yard of Peggy and Lois' cabin and the tiny desk lamp inside it to indicate where all 3 of us are going to be sleeping for the night. Its so sweet all made up with our little beds (one for Claire and Jo and one for Louise) and bottles of beer in a bucket keeping cool. At this stage there is only one problem. We had under estimated the bugs. They have swarmed around the little desk lamp in alarming quantities. Bug spray is applied in alarming quantities and then we drink the beer whilst contemplating how to remove the bugs from the trailer. An elaborate process of switching lights on and off to get them to migrate nearer to the door ensues and works, and we all settle down to sleep around 3am
The second problem then becomes evident.
The trailer is already inhabited. With mice (but country mice which means they are a lot cuter than city mice). They rustle inside the cabinets of the trailer, run across the floor and up and over Louise's bed. She is not amused. 2 hours later, after numerous fits of being woken up by her bed partners, Jo and Louise swap beds (and Claire snuggles up to a rigid Louise) and despite Jo having a brief stare off with a baby mouse, everyone is too tired to care and finally falls asleep.
In the morning we see how beautiful the surrounding area is. The cabin is nestled in the hills with a river running down below. Air stream trailers sit on some of the dirt tracks that lead away from the cabin, one belonging to Lori and Squid (her beloved 12yr old jack russel). We take it all in over breakfast and paddle in the nearby stream before heading to the nearest town, Livingstone Manor, to help Lois, Peggy, Lori and Viv (Lost Lounge's composer, third performer and musician) set up for their show at the Catskills Art Society centre. The centre serves a community of about 2500 people (which swells in summer to far more). The town itself feels stereotypically all-American with a Main Street complete with its own yard-sale.
The show turns out to be the first sold out performance the centre has ever held, with about 55 in attendance, and is brilliant. The concluding section, where Lois and Peggy read
out the audience members missed people, places and things collected before the show is very poignant
To celebrate its success an impromptu stop at the river on the way back to the cabin is made for skinny dipping in the darkness (Jo and Peggy sit it out trying to see a shooting star). This part of the Catskills is one of the darkest so the stars are magnificent.
Back at the cabin the sparkly wine is finished and Becca, Louise, Claire and Jo are the last left up, sitting outside drinking beer. Jo seems unable to comprehend that the table they are resting their beer bottles on is on a hill and therefore not level, and when opening more knocks about 5 still full bottles onto the floor. Three times. Moggins.
Excellent late breakfast (eggs by Lori, Pancakes by Peggy) before driving over to the choreographer of Lost Lounge's house about half hour away. The house is called Dingle Hill and has its own private pond with beautiful views of a valley. The house is pretty well known as it was bought in the 70's by a group of feminist lesbian artists who established it as a kind of creative commune. Now apparently the lesbians are all shrinks as apposed to artists but their hospitality is probably equally as great and we are all fed and watered well. Great to swim in the natural pond with the sound of frogs croaking and salamanders(/dinosaurs) in the water with us
Before we leave we attempt a photo of everyone with Lois standing still and in the last seconds of the camera's countdown timer everyone else attempts to make it into the picture by running full pelt at Lois... we will attempt to get a copy to explain.
On returning to the cabin for the evening we cook everyone a pasta dinner and enjoy drinks outside on the porch and surrounding swing chairs, with a fire burning, built by fire building expert, Peggy. We laugh and chat the night away whilst being taught how to make 's'mores' by Mimi, Lois, Lulu and Lori. (chocolate and marshmallows melted over the fire and sandwiched between biscuits.) With unexpected visitors arriving with (more!) dogs and all enjoying the remains of Peggy's UNBELIEVABLE birthday cake, it is an amazing night and one we will remember as a highlight of our trip. Once again, Jo, Claire, Becca and Louise are the last left, lying down next to the campfire and staring up at the stars.
Monday, 1st August:
Jo and Claire travel back to the city in separate cars, Claire with Lori, Viv, Antonia and Squid and Jo with Mimi, Lois, Becca and Louise. Although Claire's car leaves an hour earlier, the two cars meet parallel in a traffic jam on the motorway an hour and a half into the journey and we converse briefly through windows out on the road
In the evening we meet with the Palmer parentals briefly, who have just arrived in the city for an action packed week.