Hilltown Families Isn’t the Only One Turning 5!

Happy New Year & Happy Birthday

Now we are in the hammock week of the year. You start out the year in January and, well, the year is like an egg. You start out January first on the top of the egg, just off center, and you slide down it. June is at the bottom of the egg, and then you kind of climb back up it until you get to Christmas, back up at the top. Then you have one week that’s shaped like a hammock between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. That’s the hammock you sleep in for that week, resting in the quiet, dark, wind-howling, snowy days of that week. Then you get to January first again and start a-skiing downhill again!

You know, this January begins Elmer’s fifth year in bidness after I came along. We have a lighting display in the side café room to commemorate it—it is a string of lights with cows, flamingos and palm trees. The cows, see, they represent Ashfield. The palm trees, they represent me coming from New Orleans, where we actually have palm trees, and the flamingos, they represent the flamboyant stuff I do here that makes people look at me sideways.

So happy five years to us!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm in her column, “Notes from Nan.”  nanparati@aol.com

The Further Adventures of Mr. Justin Jones

Back to Our Story…

And now it’s time to tell the further adventures of Mr. Justin Jones!

As you may recall, last year at this time, Justin was fourteen years old and living in a homeless shelter with his mother, Regina Jones, in New Orleans. I wrote of his plight and a very good many of you responded with deep-hearted wishes of a good life for him, and brought me money with which to aid him in having a good Christmas, and a level playing field upon which to build his life.

I opened a bank account for him and from it, bought him clothing, personal care items (very important to a fourteen year old in a homeless shelter) and some white folks’ Christmas food and sent him several packages, with which he had a very, very nice Christmas, and for which he was extremely grateful.

Then, in the late spring, when I was in New Orleans for my annual Jazz Fest job, I saw him and Regina, invited them to the Jazz Fest, and visited them at their shelter. Spent more of your money on them and we had a good and funny time. (Life with Regina is always filled with a lot of laughter, even in the worst times.)

The update on Regina and Justin is that they are no longer living in the homeless shelter; they got themselves a two bedroom house in Mid-City of New Orleans. Their house is very close to my old neighborhood there, and so I know that they are in a very good neighborhood! (Not a fancy neighborhood, but definitely a safe one.) I’m not sure how the house came about, but it seems to have come through some low-income housing program in New Orleans. I don’t think it’s Section 8 housing, though it may be.

Justin is going to school and doing well, recently had his fifteenth birthday and seems very well adjusted and happy. Regina isn’t doing as well with her health, as she has had blood clots in her legs and has a difficult time standing up for very long.

My plan with the money was to keep it and use it as necessary. I’ll send Justin and Regina gifts this year again, and help them out when ever they need it. They are grateful and happy people and I hope you get to meet them one day, although I doubt it, as the idea of a world where it’s cold and there is no public transportation is a repugnant one to Regina. “Huh uh, Baby,” she says. “I’m stayin’ RIGHT HERE! You come visit US!”

And so, I will.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm in her column, “Notes from Nan.”  nanparati@aol.com

Big Name in a Small Room Concert Series Continues in the Hilltowns

Strange Coincidences

I have a friend named Dave Taylor who I worked with in New Orleans. Dave now lives in New York.  His best friend is named Seth Bernard. Seth lives in Michigan and his girlfriend is named May Erlewine. Dave Taylor’s mom was in the hospital having surgery in Florida. While she was recovering from surgery, a young woman came in to sing to her as part of the hospital’s new recovery through music program.  The young woman sang a gorgeous and uplifting song that she said was written by a friend of hers named May.  Dave’s grandmother, who was there visiting her daughter said, “I know a May.  She lives in Michigan. Her name is May Erlewine.”  The young woman said, “That’s the same May who wrote the song!”  And the young singing woman?  That was Rani Arbo of Ashfield!

The only part of the story I don’t know is why Rani was singing in a hospital in Florida.  But I don’t really care—I love the story!

Not this last summer, but the previous August we had a concert by May and Seth across the street in the backyard of the inn and it was beautiful!  May wrote the Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem favorites, “Shine On” and “Rise up Singing.” (Remember that concert?  It rained all the way through it, but it was such beautiful music that no one left!)

This Saturday Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA is going to bring them back and inside as part of our Big Name in a Small Room Concert Series continues with May Erlewine and Seth Bernard! This Saturday, November 20th. Dinner will begin at 5pm and the concert begins at 7pm. Tickets for this are required so that we don’t go over room capacity. Git ‘em now! (413) 628-4003


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm in her column, “Notes from Nan.”  nanparati@aol.com

Scary Trees in Ashfield

Just in Case You Were Wondering …

Scarier things were seen on Halloween night in Ashfield! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

One day a few weeks ago, while walking down the sidewalk towards Elmer’s, I thought, “It’s almost Halloween! I should make bark-like faces to put on the trees on the Common!” I could use the same technique many of the float-builders use at Mardi Gras in their Papier Mache—same words, completely different process from what others think of as Papier Mache.

I proposed it to the Select Board, they approved, Tom Poissant the Tree Warden approved, I called the only place in the country I know to get the kind of glue one needs for this kind of stuff (New Orleans) and ordered it, got my paper all ready along with all the other accoutrements I would need for the project and waited for the glue to arrive. We had some glorious days before Halloween, but the glue never arrived until the evening of the last of the glorious days.

This particular glue needs a temperature of 65 degrees or higher in order to Act Right and so, since all the days after it arrived had top temperatures of only 55 degrees even while standing on their tippy toes, it was not possible for me to make the trees scary.

Upon the Eve of Halloween, however, some one or ones decided to enhance the trees of the Common (and all the trees up South Street) with their own form of decoration using Scott toilet paper. (I found the balled-up wrapper in my yard.) JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, that was not I. I would have made the toilet paper look like something other than toilet paper hanging in the breeze. Not at all to disparage anyone else’s craft, I just didn’t want to take away from their art and have you think it was mine.

I plan to keep my glue until next summer when we have a stretch of days above 65 degrees. I will make my faces at that time and then hold on to them until October, when I will ask the Select Board if I may put them up for the week before Halloween. I’m sorry for my lack of display this year, but wait indeed, until next year!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm in her column, “Notes from Nan.”  nanparati@aol.com

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