The Lady Of The House

postcard-westchester-county-new-york

We have arrived!

By the time our daughter was born, it was obvious that our little garden apartment could no longer contain us. We’d shoved her crib into her big brother’s room, and wedged her changing table in a corner next the closet (the door of which could no longer enjoyed its full range of motion).  Her dresser was in the kitchen. We were bursting at the seams.

So, after scraping together every nickel and cashing out our paltry investments (like our 75-cents worth of Disney stock), we managed to buy our first house in the suburbs. In Westchester County, no less (the Shangri-La of suburban New York State).

Oh, we had arrived!

There were, however, some weird moments during those early days.

Before we moved in,  we had the whole place painted and the hardwood floors resurfaced. Once, when I showed up to check on the progress, the painter greeted me with, “You must be the lady of the house.” It seems absurd, but I really didn’t understand the question. I stood there, mouth agape. He tried again, “Are you the homeowner?”

“Who me?” Then, as if a hypnotist snapped his fingers in front of my face, I woke up. “Why, yes. Yes! I am the homeowner!”

Homeowner. Such a glorious word! It stirred up such a sense of security, such pride. But it was still so new, it hadn’t fully sunk in.

Finally, it was move-in day and I began unpacking.

Some of our toiletries were too tall to fit in the medicine cabinet, so I set them aside and considered buying a bathroom storage piece of some sort. Two days later (two!), it occurred to me that I was allowed to adjust the medicine cabinet shelves because I owned that medicine cabinet and the wall it was attached to, and every other wall surrounding it.

But the weirdness didn’t stop there. My voice was changing. I caught myself speaking from the back of my throat through clenched teeth, “Kids! We’re going to Bed Bath & Beyond for home décor!” Here in Westchester, we call this affectation “Larchmont Lockjaw,” (think: Lovey and Thurston Howell, III, from Gilligan’s Island)

What the hell was happening to me? “Stop it, stop it, stop it!” said my inner voice. “You haven’t been coronated! All you did was buy a house, ya crazy bee-otch!”

But it was hard to resist. I was feeling so high, so grand! I’d always dreamt of owning; I watched all those “interior design on a dime” shows, I read Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I kept a scrapbook of paint colors and garden layouts… Oh, we hadn’t just bought a house. We bought a dream. And we were the perfect American family: Mommy, Daddy, Son and Daughter. Now all we needed was a dog and a second car. A minivan! But those things would have to wait, since we’d sunk our last sou into our new abode.

At some point, I pulled myself together and came to my senses. It might have been on that third day after moving in when my husband took a bedtime bath.

In the morning, we discovered that the tub leaked. Water poured through a light fixture in the kitchen, collapsing part of the freshly painted ceiling onto the newly refinished floor.

Or maybe it was around Christmas when a chimney sweep called, claiming to have worked for the previous owner. Since this was my first rodeo, I let him come and he scammed me out of $1200.

Or it could have been the time the skylights sprung a leak turning my family room into a tropical rainforest, soaking our brand new furniture.

Ah yes, homeownership is a dream many of us aspire to. But only the strong survive when the shizzle gets real.

All in all, that house was very good to us. We stayed there for six years and, through all of it, I was so happy. Some nights I’d stand out front gazing at it; its forest green shutters and bright white cedar shakes, the house number plaque I’d custom ordered from LL Bean, light streaming through the gauzy curtains of our dining room… On those nights, I wished my arms were long enough to wrap around and hug it, for it wasn’t just our house. It was our home.

 CLICK HERE for the podcast.

 

Don’t Have My Cow, Man!

Image

Buttercup, in happier times.

Buttercup, in happier times.

If you were driving from Southhampton to New York City, late on a summer afternoon in 2006, you may have seen something peculiar. Many people did a double-take, disbelieving their eyes. Is that…? No, it couldn’t be…

It wasn’t a bird. It wasn’t a plane. It was Hubby, tootling along Route 27. He had the top down on his car, with Buttercup in the rear. She was on her back with her legs sticking straight up in the air. Not very ladylike, even for a cow. But that’s the only way he could fit her in his car. Allow me to explain…

We own a red barn. You can’t have a red barn without putting a cow in front of it. You simply cannot. So one day, while in the Hamptons on business, Hubby passed an establishment that sells lawn thingamajigs. They have wishing wells, planters, gazebos,…and cows!

Each cow was slightly different in size and pose. Hubby made his selection, paid $250, and asked the proprietor (I’ll call him Mr. Tchotchke) to ship it. Mr. Tchotchke said delivery would cost another $250.

Hubby’s not cheap, but he didn’t want pay $500 for $250 cow. What to do? He really wanted it. She was perfect for the barn. “Never mind,” he said, “I’ll take her with me.”

“I don’t think she’ll fit in that little car,” replied Mr. Tchotchke.

Hubby eyed the cow, eyed the car and said, “Oh, I’ll make her fit.”

With that, he dropped the top, turned the cow upside-down and wedged her into the back seat. As he drove home, people were staring, pointing, taking pictures, mooing…it was quite something, according to Hubby. In fact, when he called me from the road, to say he had a surprise for me, I could hear people beeping at him. I didn’t think much of it…just assumed he was driving like he usually does.

When he pulled into the driveway, the kids and I were taken aback for a second. What the…? Is that…a cow?

Before we took her out of the car, we had to get some photographic evidence, lest anyone think this was a fish story, rather than a cow tale. Then we arranged her in front of the barn – a little to the left, a little to the right, yes! Right there! She looked fantastic, which immediately made us think that someone would definitely try to steal her.

66709_10201399446365525_1936981986_n

Hubby’s wheels started turning again. This time, his solution was to drive 4-foot stakes into the ground and secure the cow to them with aircraft cable. Unless the cow was Houdini, she wasn’t going anywhere.

For the next 7 years, the community got to know Buttercup, as she came to be called. Children would run into the yard to see her. Parents would perch their kids on her and take pictures. People referred to our house as the one with the cow. Buttercup became a neighborhood staple.

Every year, somebody would try to kidnap her. We could always tell, because the stakes would be pulled out of the ground a little bit. But Buttercup remained secure.

Until this past Saturday.

While Buttercup was minding her own business, some depraved criminal snuck into the yard, cut the cables and walked off with her. Walked away carrying a cow! How is that even possible? Nobody saw a thing. Not even me. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t notice she was missing until a neighbor called and told me. I’m ashamed because, clearly, I had taken Buttercup for granted. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she had run away in search of a more attentive family.

So, what do you do when somebody pinches your cow? The first thing you do is create a Facebook page, of course. I set up Cowgate: The Search For Buttercup. Then, I called the cops. An officer came to the house, and a report was filed. Period, I thought, that’s the end of it.

Not so fast!

I started getting Facebook condolences about Buttercup. People were sad, upset, and even outraged that anyone would steal her. Several offered to drive around looking for her. One friend posted a reward for Buttercup’s return. The outpouring of support really touched me, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

Two days after the heist, I received a call from the Detective Sargent of our local police department. “Mrs. Rosner, I’m sorry about your cow,” he said. “I know you’ve had it forever. Every time I pass your house, I notice it. I want to try to get it back for you.”

I was speechless. The Detective Sargent continued, “Do you have any pictures of it? One from the front and one from the side would be best.”

“Like a moog shot?” I quipped. Dead silence greeted me on the other end of the line. I had to remind myself that this was police business…no time for jokes. Clearing my throat, I said, “Oh sure. I have some photos.”

He gave me his email address so I could send them.

“Are you going to put up flyers or something?” I wondered about the next step.

“I’m going to put out a bulletin. A statewide bulletin,” he said.

Statewide? I tried to imagine the reaction such a bulletin would illicit in the police departments of the Bronx or Greenwich Village or Niagara Falls. How would they respond to a report about a missing melamine cow from Westchester County? Would they put a detail on it right after roll call, like on Hill Street Blues? Would this become a ripped-from-the-headlines episode of Law & Order?

As of this writing, the cow is still on the lam. If there’s any news, I’ll post it on the Cowgate Facebook page.

In the meantime, we wait. But I know that my friends may never spot her in the woods, or floating on the lake or tossed by the side of the road. And despite his best efforts, the Detective Sargent might come up empty-handed.

I can see you. Yes, you! I know you think this whole thing is ridiculous. But you’re wrong.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem very significant in the grand scheme of life. However, consider this: One single, thoughtless person did something bad, something hurtful, something wrong. Then dozens of people came forward to do something right, something good, something kind.

There is nothing insignificant or ridiculous about that. No, not one thing at all.DSC_0043