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All in the family

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While I write about my family fairly often, there are a few who would not mind me leaving them out of the equation publicly and I have deferred, with respect to their privacy. My sister has let it go, understanding that it’s impossible to discuss my childhood without mentioning her part, while my dear departed mother enjoyed the spotlight shining on her from time to time. Even though I have alluded to my little one, she is not a fan of the spotlight, while both her mother and I spent years seeking attention both on and off the stage. More than 30 years ago, Cordelia Flynn entered this world, and although we were inseparable for the first 18 years of her life, everything changed when she went off to college in San Francisco and I relocated to the East Coast.

Once Cory moved to Maine in order to follow her dream of becoming a chef (www.davidsrestaurant.com), I assumed that we would see more of each other, but life often gets in the way, and it’s been a while. Thankfully, she found herself with a few days off last week, and instead of flying to the West Coast to see her old chums, changed her plans at the last minute and made her way to the Catskills.

“I’ve been worried about the dog,” she told me, “and spending time with you will be a bonus, I guess,” she admitted with a laugh. “I can see you on the computer,” she continued, getting in another dig, “but there’s nothing like petting a puppy.” Wildly excited, I gave Dharma her dose of medication, as she is still recovering from Lyme disease, and headed out to the museum (www.bethelwoodscenter.org) where a “press preview” of the new installation was being unveiled just days prior to the official opening of the season. Titled “Love for Sale,” the new exhibit is devoted to the “commercialization of the counterculture” culled from the extensive pop culture collection of Michael Stern, and curated by Jill Silas Rooney, who holds a Ph.D. in that genre. In addition to Stern’s amazing collection of vintage black-light poster art and glass cases filled with curios depicting the ‘60s, the exhibit also boasts full scale mock-ups of a living room, dinette and both a boy’s and girl’s bedroom circa 1970, all of which stirred memories of my past.

Assuming that Cory would appreciate the permanent exhibit at the museum, which “explores the unique experience of the Woodstock Festival and its significance as a culminating event of a decade of sweeping cultural transformation,” I made arrangements to return on opening day, where we were treated to a personal tour led by Steven Jay Rolnick. He regaled us with stories of his experience at Woodstock, where he worked on the lighting crew during the iconic event, operating the (you guessed it) spotlight. Even though I’ve visited the museum more than a few times, taking the tour with Rolnick elevated the experience and (IMHO) made the day that much more special. The tour schedule is available online. While Dharma signed pawtographs and had her picture taken with well-wishers, Cory checked out “Love for Sale” downstairs, and I chatted with my cousin Andrea, who lives in the “other Portland” and was on her way to see Aunt Marcia in Binghamton. “I want you to meet the newest member of the family!” Andrea enthused, “so I’ll meet you at the farmers’ market in Callicoon, with baby Phoenix in tow!”

Checking out Andrea’s company page online (www.facebook.com/ahararasaghee), I attempted to familiarize myself with “ghee”—a “class of clarified butter that originated in India.” Apparently “science now verifies what Ayurveda health has claimed for thousands of years—that it is good for the mind and spirit” (www.wikipedia.com). While I ducked in to check out Ramona Jan’s new puppet show, which often entertains the little ones during the market, I quietly observed my own little one (not so little anymore) deep in conversation with cousin Andrea, baby on her lap, as they discussed cooking with ghee, undoubtedly sharing sordid stories about Jonathan. 

Observing the constant stream of friends checking in with Dharma, Cordelia marveled at the endless interaction that is part of our daily routine. “I don’t know how you do it,” she commented. “I wouldn’t be able to handle the attention. I like my quiet life that follows a busy day at the restaurant. But you’ve always been gregarious, so I’m not surprised. I think some of it stems from being an only child,” she mused. “I guess it’s those differences that make us unique, but at the end of the day,” she grinned, “It’s all in the family.”

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