Beerhunting along Route 7

I have now figured out the secret of surviving a Tanglewood residency. It involves a car, a map, and an Internet connection.

To back up: I had a hazy, mystical picture of life at Tanglewood prior to arriving here, including random music clinics with the famous and artistic; brushes with genius at every turn; and the sort of breezy camaraderie that goes with all good choirs. I am in the process of recalibrating my expectations.

For one thing, most of my fellow 178 choristers seem to have made plans well in advance for every meal and don’t linger about after rehearsals, leaving us newbies to shift for ourselves. (In fact, another Tanglewood first timer to whom I gave a lift today decided that he was going to hike around, and hike back the five miles to his hotel, after we tried unsuccessfully for half an hour to find a group to join for lunch.) For another, we are early in the season, and the masters classes appear not to have started (or to not be advertised to the hoi polloi, at any rate). What to do?

Well, for me, the solution was to do a solid afternoon of work for the office, and then to strike out on my own. And if you know me, you know that means beer. In particular, thanks to a BeerAdvocate recommendation, I found my way 10 miles north up Route 7, which runs from the Mass Pike past Lenox and through Pittsfield, all the way up to Lanesboro, where I found Ye Olde Forge, which claims it has the “county’s largest selection of imported and domestic beer.”

And it just might. The draft list was about fifteen beers—numerically nothing spectacular, but when those fifteen include Belhaven Scottish Ale and Delerium Nocturnum, your writer tends to sit up and pay attention. Add to that a long (if incompletely stocked) list of bottled offerings and a pub menu that stretches from mussels to chicken fingers to etoufée, and you have a minor mecca on your hands.

(Chicken fingers? Well, Ye Olde Forge is family friendly, as evidenced by the two young kids at the table across the way from me. The younger child got off the best line I heard today when, looking at the bar TV which was showing the Tour De France, he solemnly told his mom that he didn’t ever want to go to France. “Why not?” “Because I don’t want to be run over by bicycles.”)

Anyway, I recommend Ye Olde Forge—and I recommend arriving early, particularly on a rainy summer evening when the patio isn’t open.

Room transformation

teaser for completed work in office

We were so busy over the weekend, and I was so busy the last couple of days, that I never got a chance to record our progress on the latest project—closing the walls after the first round of AC install.

As recorded previously, I opportunistically ran phone, Cat 5, and coax through the open walls where our contractor ran his electrical wires, the cooling lines from the compressor, and the drip line from the attic. I was originally planning to run speaker wires as well, but Lisa talked me out of it. We will leave audio out of the second floor for now.

We wanted to get the walls closed off, so rather than completing the coax run from the outside drop to the structured wiring box, I moved ahead to installing insulation. After reviewing the options, I reluctantly went with fiberglass — reluctantly because our house’s 2×4 exterior framing only allowed using R-13 batts, and even those were somewhat compressed by the pipes in the wall. But, as Lisa keeps pointing out, it’s better than the horsehair that was there to begin with.

After the insulation, I cut blueboard to size and installed that with drywall screws. Upstairs, I was able to drive the screws directly into studs on both sides. Downstairs the studs were hidden behind the window frame on one side of the opening, but there were still the ends of some laths visible in half the hole. I cut some 3/4″ by 3″ standoffs, nailed those into the studs whereever I had gaps, and then ran the screws through those into the studs (in a few cases, at an angle!) to support the top of the board. It was an ugly process, but it worked well enough, and after the seams and screw holes were taped and the entire thing skim-coated with two layers of veneer plaster, it was OK. (Lisa did the actual plastering, and has concluded that it is the skill most lacking by us for this whole project.)

After the plastering was done, I installed the wall plates for the media wiring outlets, which involved terminating each of the cables and snapping the plugs into the modular wall plate. Final steps were priming the plaster and then (finally!) painting the first floor office/bedroom. I took a few photos throughout the process; the one on this entry is a teaser that (with the exception of the uncovered electrical outlet) shows the final product of all the work I just described. The original wall opening ran between the two outlet plates on the wall to within a few inches of the ceiling.

So that was the work on the office this weekend. Plus of course assembling the desk we bought at Ikea. But that’s another story. So is repainting our bedroom, but that story will have to wait until we start it.