Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Old house in Brookline, Mass.
When I visited Boston I stayed with an old friend who lives in Brookline, an incorporated enclave inside Boston, like Alamo Heights in San Antonio. He lives in the second oldest frame house in the U.S., built in the 1680s. That's oooooold. 'Frame' isn't like framed with two-by-four scantlings; 'frame' is big-mama beams cut from tree trunks. In one of the bathrooms he has put a clear cover over some of the old stuff he found in the walls of the house, so you can contemplate it at contemplative moments. The heat mostly comes from a wood stove, working better than you might think. To preserve authenticity, he painted the ceiling with a wash from a recipe he found somewhere esoteric. The wash is made from salt and water and maybe lime. It doesn't stick so well, but is non-toxic. If it falls onto the food it probably adds savor and maybe calcium, so desirable for strong bones. It's a cool old house. JFK was born in Brookline; we drove past the house. There are a lot of Russian Jews there, and the local paper has some ads in Cyrillic alphabets. We could walk easily down the river to the Museum of Fine Arts, maybe a mile and a quarter away. The river drops only one foot in a mile. There are so many Canadian geese that they constitute a nuisance. For some reason, the street people don't eat them, as they surely would in Austin. I had gumbo thoughts myself.