Thursday, May 31, 2012

month of MAYhem™ is now over

did you do the Month of MAYhem™ blogging challenge?

i didn't. i write whatever i feel like writing here and don't give a fig for following some rules about what to write, even if i made up all the rules myself.

and quite frankly, if i have so little to say that i need to rely on a writing prompt in order to make an entry, i'm better off spending my time doing something else.

but awards were given out! oh, yes they were. i saw a lot of little awards with rules attached given out, and some weren't even given. some were simply left out on the doorstep with instructions to take it if you wanted the award, THAT'S how prestigious those prizes are.

everyone whose feelings would be hurt if they didn't get the prize is hereby awarded it. or everyone who is not feeling validated today.

maybe i will make a spiffy web award for that:

the you-do-not-seem-to-feel-validated-without-awards-and-i-wouldn't-want-you-to-feel-underappreciated award.

would you accept it if i gave it to you? and post it on your blog?

i dare you.

i double dare you.

anyway, i am in favor of mayhem.

a few years ago i wrote this piece on basically that very topic, and with a few edits it works as a very lovely piece read out loud. stand up in church sunday and read it to your congregation.

i double dog dare you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

games children play

did you play war as a kid? cops and robbers? cowboys and indians?

not me.

i was a goofy pacifist kid. kids like and maybe even need crisis games; it gives them a chance to play out mastery scenarios.

but i didn't like games that involved shooting.

and while i remember having a cowboy hat and a civil war kepi, the only games i can recall involving those props involved playing at long marches and trail rides. loneliness of the prairie. bad rations. lots of marching and drill.

no shooting.

we played "rescue the lighthouse keeper before the storm surge and get him to his emergency appendectomy".

seriously. i remember being nine years old on the playground and shouting to the other kids over the imaginary wind and waves to ROW HARDER!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

until the cows come home

whatever it was you were going to do, you're done now.

the cows have come home.

Monday, May 28, 2012

brain teaser

you are a spectator at a well-attended athletic event. you are standing in front of three bins clearly labeled RECYCLING ONLY, TRASH ONLY, and HEAT SHEET RECYLING ONLY. in your hand is a half-empty beverage container. there is an event volunteer buried to the shoulder, picking trash out of the recycling bin.

which is the correct thing for you to do?

a) wait a moment to toss the container in recycling
b) toss the container in the trash
c) toss the container in with the heat sheets (whatever those are)
d) pour the remaining beverage ON the race volunteer and throw the container in the recycling.

this is a bit of a trick question: the acceptable thing for you to have done would have been a, b, OR c.

just sayin'.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

the healing power of cheeseburgers

this lovely story is making the rounds of the big aggregators this week, which puts me very much in ind of lenny.

the recent history of dogs in my mother's home started with a poodle of high pedigree. he was good natured and kind of goofy. and then a second poodle of the same parentage but different litters came along, and although they shared the same parents, she was, well, kind of bitchy. high strung, and fussy.

then there was another dog who had been returned to that breeder, a dog with some interpersonal problems brought on by what is suspected to have been some abuse and he needed a good home.

and then there was the dog the rescue people had at the pet store, the elderly half-blind diabetic incontinent dog who for sure wasn't going to be homecoming queen and some friends of my mother's saw the dog there and knew just whom to call.

and then there was lenny.

when they found lenny wandering half-feral out in milton, they were not certain at first that he was even a dog. they had to get him cleaned up to even guess about his breed (some poodle thing) and he was blind and old and sick, mostly deaf and not particularly housebroke.

and you know who the rescuers called.

my parents loved him. they got him cataract surgery. he peed where he pleased, often the center of the livingroom. since his accustomed method of dealing with the world had always been to bite first and then consider alternatives, he saw no need to change this approach if there was any doubt.

he needed to be hand fed. they loved him.

and he was happy in his way.

but then he developed some serious heath problems and needed a lot of medical care. one of those problems was an extreme allergic reaction to a medication they'd given him along with one of his surgeries. it was the kind of allergic reaction that the vet had heard about, but never seen.

at one point my mom went to bring him home from the animal hospital; they thought to let him die at home.

and then they stopped at the mcdonald's drive through because what the hell? he'll be dead tomorrow and there's no need to worry about nutrition or fat content or blood pressure anymore.

it was magic.

lenny came alive and regained hope.

but last month it was apparent that he'd experienced some sort of brain trauma and no longer recognized his surroundings or would consent to be fed, not even cheeseburgers without biting every hand in his terror.

they had to put him down.

sorry, lenny. it was a good ride while it lasted. they loved you and you had some good times in between the homelessness and the horrors.

you'll be missed.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

think less

one of you wrote "greetings from this leg of the pants of time" which at first confused me mightily and then made me laugh rally hard.

so welcome back to my time warp. i have decided to maybe not write a new post every day until my postdated posts clear, but at this rate it will be june before we all catch up.

there's a picture that's been making the rounds of the interwebs, and i think it applies here. go ahead, look. it's funny.

today i went to ride wednesday's course. well, it's tuesday's course, too, but on tuesdays we do it on foot and wednesdays we ride. it what we do. this week is the season opener.

i'm way out of my prime shape and both of you already know that, but just for good measure i will reassert that illness can take a wide stripe out of you for a very long time. often it feels like one step forward, one step back, but i know it's really closer to five steps forward, four steps back.

recovery is slow.

so i went with the crashcos last week to ride it and sucked toast and i went yesterday to ride it, and today i thought i would unload some of my mental baggage by riding it backward. last week i opined that it would ride swoopier in reverse anyway, and officially the trails are all two-way anyhow, if a little harder to follow against the arrows.

if you want to know your local racecourse well, ride it a lot. if you want to know it intimately, ride it backward. ride it forward and backward and reride the hard spots and ride all the connecting trails and also do it on foot, because no matter how much you pay attention to the trail, you see a lot more of it on foot than you do riding.

tomorrow is a planned rest day. i am still sore from last week's hiking and tuesday night's run is going to hurt no matter how i slice it, so tomorrow i have planned a fun day of bicycle maintenance and some laundry and some reclining. and the regular ingestion of ibuprofen, at least until the inflammation in my feet and knees tones down a bit.

the thing about the trails, though, is that even though every year there's some new singletrack and eric cuisinarts everything up to run different, there are always places you remember. and if you ride enough, you fall some. sometimes you fall very painfully and remember a particular shelf or wall crossing with some apprehension.

mrs. crashco still does not like riding the rock garden ever since that one night we had to take her to the ER.

so for me there's the little place where i tore my ear, the place where i fell on my head and punctured a helmet, the place where i separated a shoulder, and that place where i flew like superman over my handlebars.

these days the worry of those places holds me a little tighter than it does when i'm in good shape and able to shrug it off.

but i have decided to approach it as if i were just starting out, learning the skills as if for the first time and not being disappointed with my results. and i'm riding along the course backwards in the field, coming to the topknot of goose hill thinking that this is a very good idea to shake loose some of the nerves and restore confidence.

and i get to that little ledge up top and i'm thinking: last time i rode this, i went down. hard. good thing the course goes other way this year. well, i'll just put my tire up and over-

-and i went down.


right on the rock, with my left elbow.

small ragged wound, but happily unusually clean and when i went to clean it out, there was no gravel and not much dirt and the bruise will be festive, but the worst part of it is that it's warm out and i have to wear long sleeves because i fell (walking) a couple of days ago and ran my right forearm right along a sawed-off sapling and have a long not totally clean rip from wrist to elbow, and i can't have either of those things dragging on  the furniture.

which means i'm a little warmer than i'd like to be.

maybe i will just go without pants.

anyway, i will posit the following: if you are not a health care worker and your day 's activities include debriding anything, you are not having your best possible day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

kickerville station

ok, ok.

i have just eaten a very good veggie panini from -wait for it- kickerville station.  i got here and i thought "what kind of a goofy name is that?" but apparently they didn't make it up. it's at the corner of kickerville road.

ok, fine. so i'm in long lake, which is not where i was heading but it's where i ended up and if you've ever been to long lake, you know that it is mostly a summer town.

it is not summer yet.

but the kickerville mobil and the stewart's are open year round, and they sell real groceries there. and at kickerville, the have an open wifi network which makes me so happy that i am spending all my money here.

this is where i'm buying my supplies.

and they make a decent sandwich.

last night i was here to get some water and use the bathroom and there was a couple sitting out front with their hotrod modded '27 t-bucket. which means it used to be a model t.

and it's a super awesome eggplant purple with shiny chrome and stuff and it weighs 1600 pounds and pulls 400 horse. and it runs dirt track tires on the rear, so in second gear the front wheels lift right up.

and i'm standing there talking with the people (who know EVERYONE in town) and the guy asks me if i want a ride.

well, of course i do.

and  tonight i was waiting for my sandwich to be made and ruthie had just left leaving only the one guy in the store when a whole busload of kids pulls up and food items are FLYING off the shelves and one of the local guys called dave and he sent ruthie back in which was too bad since she'd only left two minutes before but at least she hadn't settled in.

local guy and i said we didn't mind waiting for our sandwiches.

the kids were coming from paul smiths  (which is a town as well as a college located in that town); apparently there's a statewide boces competition for conservation skills and i didn't catch all of what the events were, but i did understand there was a chainsaw event.

never a dull moment.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

job offer

last night on my way into the adirondacks i passed through moriah, which is where i got the first job offer for a real grownup job in my life.

it was a long time ago.

there's not a lot i remember about a lot of job interviews i went on that year, but i remember that at this one they asked me what the last two books i'd read were.

coincidentally, i had just finished reading a large volume of american folklore and a very detailed cultural history of the lumber camps in the tupper lake region.

"really?!?" the guy said.
"yeah, really." just a happy coincidence, i explained.

it was weird, since (i'm assuming you're not looking at your map) moriah is not that far from tupper. in its heyday it was one of the towns where the logs came down to the lake.

he wanted to know why i'd been reading local history. hadn't i been called to the interview on short notice?

it had something to do with my general interest in folklore and also a game my friends and i used to play. friday nights we'd go to the library and spread out into the stacks looking for the weirdest books to bring back and read to each other. we found some awesome stuff.

anyway, i wasn't able to accept the job. he needed me to start on monday, and i needed to finish college.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

get the white bean

so yesterday afternoon i left home again and on the road at dinnertime i was looking for a joint where i could get some local food and i'd have settled for a hot dog, but over on the new york side of the lake the towns are small and there are a lot of burned out shells because it's a very economically depressed area.

but i was coming into keene and passed this little place called the A.D.K. cafe and i might could have passed it right by, but i noticed that the parking there is jammed and all the places around it have private property no parking signs so that's an indicator of how much people go there.

so i found a parking place and i walked in and they have take out and i maybe looked at the menu for two seconds but then asked the server "if i'm only ever going to get one sandwich here in my whole life, what should i get?" and without thinking for even a second she tells me to get the white bean sandwich.

"ok, i'll have that."

so that's what i got. you can look at the menu at the link if you want. that thing was so good you could have dreams about it. and it was beautiful, even packed for takeout. and everybody there was very kind and i left feeling happy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

poster art

by the time you read this, i will have left home again and come home again. so good morning from my time warp.

to complicate the temporal confusion, yesterday (that is, the yesterday of when i was writing this) i was going through my pictures that i meant to show you because they were buried in pictures for some of my geocaching logs that i'm only getting around to now and instead of keeping them buried, i thought i'd dust them off, process them, and bring them to light.

last fall connie asked me to make some posters for the tribute tent at out local ALS walk. this isn't a surprise; it's kind of what i do to help.

so here are some pictures of the work on the posters. connie wanted a welcome poster in the style of a set of panels i made a while ago, and she wanted a photocollage of last year's walk (two panels) and a poster with the team names on it.

these are only pictures of the works in progress; of course i have NO pictures of the finished posters.

in the end the welcome poster has text on it that says "welcome to the tribute tent" (no shocker there), the photocollages end up with a little rectangle on each with the walk title and date, framed, and over ALL THOSE INDIVIDUAL NAMES i wrote in silver ink, kind of disappearing, the names of the teams. for the header and footer, in the empty space, i printed in black block letters:



Monday, May 21, 2012

general store

recently i was in a rural general store.

if you wanted, you could buy hunting gear, camping equipment, used videos, assorted sundries, cold drinks, a good pizza,

...and a large selection of very elaborate and ornate drug paraphernalia.

pretty ballsy in a place where they're always driving up and down the street in those big white pickups from the local border crossing post.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

three campsites

i have recently made my home on two campsites in the bigelow preserve and one in the seboeis unit.

here are three short videos of those places.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

kissing them on the lips

my friend crashco says we should not just face our fears, but run up and kiss them on the lips.

and you already know my list of fears and that i thought it would be a good idea to challenge some of them.

last year i heard of the geocache desbsconeag ice cave. it was on my map and it sounded way too scary, way too undoable for me. too strenuous of a walk (i was in worse shape than i am even now) too underground-y, not for people traveling alone, too dangerous, too complicated.

but it was working on me and i thought that it sounded very, very cool, and maybe i could just go have a look and see what i could do instead of deciding beforehand what i couldn't do and i decided to check it out but found the road to be flooded and that scrapped my plans.

i don't write much here about my geocache adventures, because i write my geocache adventures in my geocaching logs mostly, which end up being sort of a blog about what i did while geocaching, but all the entries are attached to locations and when you look at a page you are seeing the story of a place and not of one person.

it is helpful to remember that stories come in webs; there is the web of my stories that intersect with the web of stories of places that intersect with the stories of items that move from place to place and, well, you get the idea.

so i got into millinocket and i got to the library and rad everything i could find online about the ice caves, mostly trail articles and the odd newspaper "things to do you hadn't thought of" piece, but there was enough information for me to feel all right about going.

so i did.

i'll be telling that story by-and-by through the geocache logs (which you are welcome to read if you have that kind of time), but in the meantime i want to post a couple photos and a video here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

does a bear...?

yes, i take pictures of animal scats in the woods.

yes, sometimes i do poke them with a stick.

yes, sometimes i do touch it with my hand if necessary.

for starters, all this dung in the woods is very informative. it tells you a lot about what species are out there, and if you look closely you can tell a lot about what they're eating, which tells you about the health of the animal and the habitat. it's interesting stuff.

and why, you ask, would it be necessary to touch any of it with my hand?

to see if it's still warm.

if you have in front of you an enormous pile of bearshit AND it's fresh enough not to have developed a skin yet, you NEED to know if it's still warm. this is a safety issue. if you find a pile of really fresh bearshit, you have to get out of there NOW.

if it's not that fresh but it's still today's edition, you have to be careful.

this particular pile is less than eighteen hours old. the bear is pretty good sized, and it's been eating mostly plant material, which means if i looked a little sick or sleepy, i could be on the menu.  this bear would enjoy a little sumthin' meaty. he ain't starving, but he'd like a little more protein.

but this pile has also developed a little skin on it, so even though it's fresh, i know it's at least a couple of hours old and if i just look sharp and stay alert, i won't be seeing the bear, and i won't be on the menu.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

great plan

if you've been following along, you already know that i have some phobias: i am afraid of closed spaces, vomit, heights, and the dark. i am also afraid of submerged pipes and large machines that use pipes and that fear extends to any submerged thing that MIGHT be a pipe or a chain or a machine part and that includes power substations.

my friend david tells me that this is not a phobia, but a trauma reaction to an actual event.

anyway, i was on my way to millinocket (i just like to say it: millinocket. millinocket. it's like candy in your mouth.)

uh, anyway, i was on my way to millinocket, or the area just north of millinocket because i had decided that it would be a really good idea for me to visit the debsconeag ice caves.

you know, and go down in them. alone.

the thought of it scared the pants off me and gave me nightmares, so, yeah, that's an awesome plan.

so i was on my way to check out the trailhead and then to the campsite and on my way i stopped to a) scramble around in a steep talus field and b) hike down along the west edge of ripogenus gorge.

tremendous fun.

being on the edge of ripogenous gorge is fun, because as you come down the trail you hear the thundering of the water and then suddenly your brain tunes in to the terrible noise of the generating station.

it is an uneasy transition from pastoral sounds to industrial sounds and yes, my fear does extend to power generating stations and penstocks.

it's not a surprise to me because last year i had been on the other side of the gorge and had been just above the blockhouse, but even knowing it was there it scared me.

and then i did a little light bushwacking along the edge of the gorge and stood right out on the edge, trying to estimate the height of the drop and i am a bad estimator of height (although a very accurate estimator of horizontal distance, provided the distance being estimated is somewhere around 500 feet), but the one thing i knew for sure is that the height of the drop was maybe five or six deadlies, in which a deadly is the height from which you would not survive if your foot slipped and you went over the edge.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

pride and self-sufficiency

last night in my beautiful campsite on flagstaff lake my dome light burned out.

i was surprised how much i rely on that thing. i thought i'd get it fixed when i get home, when i have my snows taken off. yes, i realize it's may but the last time i was in northern maine in mid-may i needed snows.

 anyway, i hadn't gotten gas leaving town because i figured on needing to use a bathroom later in the morning and while i know i CAN just go into businesses with public restrooms and use the restrooms without buying anything, i don't like to do it.

 i've been potty trained pretty firmly for a while now, but being on the road requires of me a different kind of training: it helps to have to go when i am at an actual toilet. i do not mind peeing in the woods, but taking a dump is a whole other animal and i'd rather just not.

so i got into monson and it's about lunchtime and i could use gas and the irving there has gas ten cents a gallon cheaper than it was back in stratton, and that's ten cents a gallon cheaper than at home, so it's a win all around.

and to make it even awesomer, the mailman pulls in and he has a right hand drive jeep and doens't mind if i take pictures. and even BETTER: in the store they have gallon jugs of water with screw tops, which i have been unable to find and which i prefer because they stand up to re-use better than the other kind and they also have a big assortment of replacement bulbs, but none of them are the replacemet for my bulb, but while i'm checking out i'm talking with the lady at the counter because i feel that i am smiling SO broadly that i have to explain my extreme happiness or else look deranged. plus i like to talk to people sometimes.

she expresses some disbelief that i might live in vermont where it is "drop-dead gorgeous" to come here, but i tell her it's a different kind of gorgeous and i like it just fine, but i also like to wander. and she says that there's a napa auto parts store in greenville, but they close at noon, so i'd better get a move on.

on the way i pass through a town called shirley. and for five or six miles i keep saying "STOP CALLING ME SHIRLEY!" and laughing at what i believe to be my extreme cleverness. probably they hear it all the time. i bet their local teams use it as a cheer at games.

anyway, i get into greenville with twenty minutes to spare, and sure enough, they have the part. i am very proud of myself for having performed the operation of the extraction of the old part and equally pleased with the installation of the new part, and even though the process only involved a flat head screwdriver and having figured out where to put same, i am also pleased that i am carrying a flat head screwdriver in a place where i know just where it is, which makes me feel like i can conquer anything.

which is good, because very soon i am going to come rubbing up close to two of my phobias. it's not omniscient narrator from the future; it's part of a PLAN. talk to you later.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

two pizzas

today it is miserable and cold and rainy, so i didn't do a lot of outdoor activities. i drove some roads, found some new campsites, make an unexpected trip into augusta; you know, stuff like that.

 at lunchtime i happened to be back in stratton and sometimes when i'm on the road i treat myself to an actual sit-down meal in a restaurant and not just a pizza that i'll eat for two more meals. did i mention that it was cold and rainy? and that i'm kind of sick of cold and rainy, which it has been since last tuesday? so i went into the diner, and they have good wifi and i was kind of expecting a breakfast anytime kind of place, but it was a salmon and cream cheese quiche kind of place, and i wasn't sure what to have so i asked the waitress if i was only ever going to eat one meal in this joint, what should i get?

and she steered me toward the flatbread pizza which to be fair was very unlike actual pizza but yet stunningly good. if i remember correctly, it involved garlic and boursin with grilled shrimp and salmon on a thin crust with red onions and capers.

 but then at dinnertime i had to make some choices because i was on my way back from augusta and hungry but not wanting to get a stupid chain sandwich i was looking for something local and i was coming around the corner in -i think- madison? and there was this little dumpy lookin' place called pizza-palooza or pizza-ramathon or something else dumb and it was the hoppingest place on the block so i went in there and asked the guy at the counter if i was only ever going to get one pizza in this joint, what should i have? and he said the kielbasa and pineapple pizza, fresh crust. apparently they also serve a pizza with a premade frozen crust that's thinner and some people like that, but he shrugged when he told me as if he couldn't figure why anyone would prefer frozen to fresh and neither could i.

 short version: the crust is good and chewy, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and tastes a little of herbs and garlic and just enough salt, but it is not brushed with additional fat, which means those flavors are there for real and not just brought out by fats. obviously if i'm having kielbasa as a topping fat is not my primary concern, but i have an eye for foods that are made flavorful with real taste instead of heaping on extra fats and sugars as happens in so much of the crap we get served these days. the sauce is good and the cheese is good, and i was doubtful about kielbasa as a topping and uncertain how it would pair with the pineapple but the guy at the counter knew what he was talking about. and it was fairly cheap as pizzas go. i often expect to pay about a dollar an inch for a two topping pie but this was about twelve dollars for a sixteen inch pie and just that much heaven.

 ok, i have to head to the beach now.

Monday, May 14, 2012


last night i repaired to my campsite, washed up and got into bed.

when i am on public campsites i sometimes fear that i will have unwanted company. it's a risk you take on free public sites, and the closer you are to a town and the nicer your site, the more likely it is that this will happen.

...i think.

and sometimes i sleep uneasy, thinking there are noises in the dark, and maybe not friendly noises. ever since i got here, i have been starting awake in the night by noises that are maybe real, maybe imagined. it's hard to tell sometimes when you're near water and mountains if a sound is close by or if it is reflected.

in any case, i have not been sleeping well.

and last night as i was fussing with my bedding, a thing i  was afraid of happened.

a big truck with bright lights and loud music blaring came roaring out to the little spit of land where i was camped.

sometimes this isn't a thing to be feared. sometimes the local people come and use a site and are good neighbors, but you never know who's going to be unpleasant until they've been there a few minutes.

they parked near me, and noticed i was in my car and the guy kind of skulked over to my side and i didn't know what kind of interaction that was going to be, but he said hello and that he just wanted me to know they were there.

polite, but kind of unnecessary.

and then a bunch more cars arrived and i was thinking great. it's party night out here. but they seemed friendly and maybe even good company against the darkness, and then i noticed that there were little children running around.

ok, now this is totally not threatening, if a little weird.

and then the fireworks started.

no, not metaphorically.

actual honkin' fireworks. chrysanthemum shells and everything. probably very illegal, but maybe permitted, since i can't imagine a display that large so close to law enforcement offices and visible from everywhere in the area would have gone without notice.

but i had from row waterside seats to about a half hour of pretty good fireworks, better than some small towns do at independence day.

and then after a while all the cars and trucks left, and i slept soundly all night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

ranger steve

i was going to do something else, i think, but i got going up a road that i wanted to see where it went, and clearly it went SOMEWHERE because there's a geocache hidden at the end of it.

and it's on the map as a regular honkin' road so i don't think twice about driving on it, even though it is the kind of road you would HATE on account of it's one narrow lane and you have to drive slow and careful.

and i passed the ostensible parking lot where the ranger truck was parked, because even though it was narrower and steeper it still looked like a road.

and then i got to the bottom (i had gone over some sort of ridge thingy) and there was this guy in an orange vest and he looked a lot like the ranger and i hoped i hadn't missed a sign that said i couldn't drive here but thought if he was mad, i could probably
get away with a nice apology and such but it turned out i wasn't in trouble.

turned out he's the manager of the preserve where i'm staying. has been for thirty some odd years. and we made chitchat and he made some recommendations about what to see on these mountains and where i might enjoy biking and if i only had the knees for one hike which one i should do, and we watched a loon and a beaver fishing (he thought) the same school of fish.

it's still nearly fifty degrees out, but a little breezy.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

month of MAYhem day 12

maybe you're doing the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™,  but probably not.

when i was busy making my duct tape roses, i discovered that duck tape brand duct tape makes collegiate tape, and it comes in KU jayhawk.

now, see, at the time KU was soing good in the NCAA men's hoop tournament, and cr went to KU and while she's not a huge fan, she has some fondness.

so i thought it would be a hoot just to call my local hardware stores and see if they had any.

you know, as kind of a longshot.

so i called every hardware store within a 20 mile radius of my house and asked. i also called office supply stores and craft stores.

four stores were closed because they are not open on sunday afternoons, including richmond home supply, which is my regular hardware store.

both of the staples stores i called had ugly automated phone systems. i had to wait over four minutes to get through to a live person on one, but at the williston store i waited under a minute and got a pleasant person who could tell me with certainty that although they were aware such a  product existed, they did not carry it.

most of the people i talked to were very lovely.

the conversation went kind of like this:

hi, my name is (my real first name) and i'm calling to see if you have any duck tape in the kansas jayhawks collegiate pattern.

duct tape?

yes. duck tape brand makes a collegiate line that comes in KU. do you have any?

most of them were friendly and bemused and some of them knew without looking that they did not carry duck tape in any kind of prints, and some knew that the only print they carried was zebra stripe.

at the ace hardware in south burlington it took two people to tell me they only carry solids. at the ace hardware in colchester the guy said "you lookin' how many we have?"
"no, i'm lookin' if you have any at all."

they didn't.

at a.c. moore in williston, they were able to tell me right away that while they carry duck tape in a lot of colors and patterns, they do not stock the collegiate line. they recommended some stores that also sell duck tape.

at the ace hardware in essex way, the young man laughed and said "i think you'll have to wait for them to win the championship before we carry that!" and i gave him a lot of credit for quick thinking.

when i called micahael's, their answer to my very specifically phrased question was "uh, i think we only carry duct tape from duck tape", which was kind of sad because i had already specified that it was a duck tape brand product.

at the ace hardware on north ave in burlington, i was on hold twice and talked to two different guys, but they were able to tell me for sure that they only carry duck tape in solid colors, but if i wanted to special order, they could get me some by wednesday.

oh, thank you, i said, but the game is tomorrow.

and he laughed and wished me luck.

Friday, May 11, 2012

northland cash supply

all right, now that the cat's out of the bag i may as well tell you that i'm writing to you from a parking lot in maine, and i won't pretend you're reading it in MY present, because i know darn well that i have scheduled this thing to run a little over a week from now, which a) gives me a little cushion on the road in case i have a day or six in which i cannot blog, and b) it nicely fulfills my requirement that when i am on the road i do not tell anybody where i am.

so i'm in stratton, maine and yesterday and today i did a little shopping at fotter's market, because if you can't get everything you need there, you can get everything you need to improvise with until you can get what you need.

and i needed a pizza last night, so i went to northland cash supply and general store across the street and ordered me the veggie pizza, and the guy made it and when i went to pick it up, he said "this is going to be  a GOOD pizza" which i thought wasn't really necessary because a 16 inch pie for under twelve dollars doesn't have to be that good a pizza for me to be happy with it.

but he was right. it is a good pizza. it is so good a pizza that i ate four slices of it, which was more than i could comfortably eat, but is was SO GOOD!

i'm not sure yet what i'm doing today, but i'm pretty sure it involves the study of some maps.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


hi, everybody.

according to my usual practice i left my home on may 1 and have been living in my car.

also according to usual practice i'm not very specific about where i am or how long i am gone. for all you know, i'm home already.

i am actually scheduling these posts a good deal into the future, so even i don't know where i am when you read this sometime in my future.

one thing i do know is that while i am still reading many of the blogs i read every day, i am commenting less than usual (which is pretty infrequently because often i just don't have anything to add to the conversation) but hey, i'm writing this with my laptop balanced on the stickshift outside a public library in northern maine.

and now i need to go out and play.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


i went down into richmond first thing in the morning to get a haircut. it is my usual haircut with the clippers, but i put it off until just before i left for my trip, because nothing beats a shaved head when you're living in your car.

and while i was there a guy came in looking to buy some product. apparently the day before or maybe last friday he'd been in to get a haircut and he didn't know what they'd put in his hair, but he wanted to buy some of it.

they figured it out.

"you liked it?" they asked him.
"my wife did." he said, with the look of a man who has seen God.
"well, then. you want some more of THAT." we all said.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

clark's sunoco

normally i don't g out of my way to eat gas station sandwiches, not even if they make them fresh there.

and i certainly wouldn't go out of my way to get a sandwich made in a gas station off of exit 12 in williston, which is the closest gas station to my regular grocery store.

but last time i went on a road trip, i got a late start to my day and happened to have bought gas there at about lunchtime before the trip started properly and i got the italian sub, and it was one of the best sandwiches i've ever eaten.

i don't imagine the guy did anything terribly fancy with it, but he got it RIGHT. and that counts for a lot.

Monday, May 07, 2012

feral apples

bit by bit i am wading through the mountain of stuff i was gonna tell you about but then got distracted doing other stuff i wanted to tell you about.

about a year ago while i was out on the road i listened to the audio version of michael pollan's book the botany of desire which made me start to pay attention to feral apples when i saw them.

not wild apples, because mostly what you find along the country roads and old farm lanes in the northeast US are apples that used to be somebody's trees on purpose.

i started to pay attention when i read or heard something about old apple varieties and i learned that these aren't heirloom apples, either, because apparently the term "heirloom" refers to varieties that are known and catalogued and somewhere (or maybe a few somewheres) there is a project to find and record the huge number of what they call "lost varieties" of apples.

apples are perhaps the most wildly heterozygous species on the planet. that's why apples have to be grafted to be cultivated. you have no idea what wild apples will come up like, no clue if the offspring of a perfectly good domesticated apple will have fruit anything at all like its parent.

if you're looking at the land along the old rows where there used to be farmsteads, you can guess what the apple will be like. if it's a single tree growing next to a cellarhole chances are very good that it is a sweet and delicate eating apple. if it's one of several growing where the dooryard used to be, those are probably apples for sauce or pie, not as sweet, but with some strength so they'll keep. large thickets of apples off away to the fields are cider apples, or spitters, or cattle feed.

and i started to think about small batch jams.

even spitters make decent jam, some of them.

so i thought i'm go out in my neighborhood and gather up the drops and sort them out into varieties and maybe even identify them and then make some jam and some applesauce from them.

i found a lot of different kinds of apples, many of which could be classed as maybe belonging to one variety or at least related varieties. i was going to make a batch or two of single variety jam, but then each variety was so different i kept them all separate.

for weeks i had little piles of apples all over my livingroom, waiting to be sorted, washed, peeled, and made into something.

i spent hours trying to identify them, but even with old apple guides i was having no definitive identifications.

down on the corner there's a tall slender tree (maybe a relative of an orange pippin?) that drops a beautiful yellow apple with red stripes that is the sweetest, lightest apple you ever tasted, but the time between when it falls from the tree and the time it starts to go bad is about twenty minutes.

and it bruises easy.

which brings us to why storeboughten apples are such crap, anyway: they're not raised for taste anymore. they're raised to look pretty, be blemish free, and to have a long shelf life.

crap, all of them.

but out on the country roads there's a tiny olive green apple with dark red striping and a tough skin with a complex fruity taste, like peaches and pears and apples all together.

and there's a light green apple with moss colored spotting that tastes fresh and grassy. and a yellow apple with bright pink spots that's so sugary your hands get sticky, just picking them up.

and you can make applesauce and jam from all of them.

for jam, it's just equal parts by weight of sugar and fruit, macerated for about a day and then finished in a pan until the natural apple pectin and the sugar thicken to make a gel that will set. you get a feel for it.

for sauce, you just cook down the apples with a little sugar until it's sauce.

and for apple butter, you start out like you're making applesauce and then you keep adding apples and cider until after about 18 hours it slow simmers down into a dark brown paste.

and since your house is full of apples, you can make apple bread, and apple turnovers, and apple syrup and you can even use the peels and cores to boil out and make jellies. i used mine to make apple ginger jelly.

you want an awesome lunch? toast an english muffin and lay on some apple jam and top it with slices of brie. it is GOOD.

those apple trees were somebody's livelihood once, somebody's bright autumn dessert, and it makes me happy to use them and not leave them forgotten on the backroads.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


sunny saturday afternoon dinner in the oven lying on the sofa eating a few cookies and watching football.

no, not that abomination played by drug-addled overpaid wife-beating bounty-hunting  violent thugs; actual football.

and i can hear the crowd singing and i have stood in the supporter section and beaten drums, so i know those tunes and it makes me smile.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

a field guide to north american holidays

today is cinco de mayo. it is not a holiday i celebrate, but just for the occasion i have whipped up a little field guide to holidays as celebrated by americans, or at least the portion of north americans who have the stones to call themselves that even though they're just 1/3 of north america's large countries.

so without further ado: a field guide to north american (US) holidays.

  • january 1 - new year's day:  nurse a hangover. watch football. begin to break resolutions made yesterday.
  • third monday of january -  martin luther king jr. day: either make lukewarm comments about the niceness of getting along or make barbed comments about race mixing. take your pick.
  • february 14 -  valentine's day: fall prey to perpetually spiraling cycle of unrealistic expectations, resultant doubts and disappointments. children engineer cruel popularity theater. men buy expensive presents that are never good enough. women pout. advertisers attempt to make men feel inadequate if they do not buy enough cars/diamonds/chocolate/flowers.
  • third monday of february - presidents' day: there used to be holidays for washington and lincoln, one each, but it was combined to make room for MLK day and not everyone is so thrilled about washington and lincoln these days anyway but what you should really do to celebrate is buy new cars and appliances.
  • march 17 - st. patrick's day: who is st. patrick? some irish guy? drink huge amounts of green beer and eat any food that can be dyed green. advanced players eat corned beef and cabbage and maybe soda bread. get crashingly drunk. make tasteless jokes. 
  • mid-late april (movable) - easter: buy expensive candies and toys for children. dye eggs. eat ham.
  • may 5 - cinco de mayo: drink tequila. make sure it's the kind with the worm. order many cervezas. eat tacos. have no idea why.
  • second sunday of may - mother's day: buy your mother greeting cards and flowers. the greeting card industry loves you.
  • last monday of may- memorial day: go to barbecues. drink a lot of beer.
  • june 14 -  flag day: what? there's a holiday called flag day?
  • third sunday of june - father's day: buy your dad useless crap he doesn't want. barbecue. drink beer. the greeting card industry really loves you.
  • july 4 - independence day: does anyone actually call it that anymore? barbecue. drink a lot of beer and wine coolers. engage in as many different violations of the us flag code as you possibly can. watch fireworks. make slurred speeches about the greatness of america. do not for a second consider the constitution or try to understand it.
  • august 15 - christmas shopping season opens.
  • first monday in september - labor day: drink beer. barbecue. complain about unions and poor people.
  • second monday of october- columbus day: schoolchildren still learn about the goodness of white people. everyone else shuffles their feet, clears their throat and does not know what to say.
  • october 31 - halloween: (old-style) children go door-to-door begging for free candy in costumes they have made. adults cheerfully admire the costumes and hand out candy. everybody remembers to say "please" and "thank you". (new style) children go heavily supervised from venue to venue in expensive costumes demanding free stuff to which they are entitled. adolescents sneer at everybody. adults wear sexually suggestive costumes and get drunk. (alternate modern version) commit crimes of arson, vandalism, theft, and assault. call it "fun".
  • november 11 - veterans' day: pay lip service to the idea of veterans. do not do anything to see that they get proper medical care or benefits. wave the flag.
  • fourth thursday in november - thanksgiving: get together with people who annoy you. eat too  much. drink hard liquor. watch football. save up horror stories to remind you why you can't stand all these people the rest of the year. go to big stores and shop fiercely.
  • fourth friday in november - black friday: formerly the day when christmas shopping started in earnest. this day now marks the day when advertising and promotions for shopingshoppingshopping go into a month-long full fever pitch.
  • late november-late december (movable)- hanukkah: what? there are still jews in america? oh. well, then. aren't we being super nice to recognize that their most important holiday comes around now? won't they feel appreciative?
  • december 25 - christmas: the culmination of the five-month long shopping competitions. crashing of exhausting unreasonable expectations of buying enough, decorating enough and happy shiny perfect family times that if only you'd bought enough stuff you would have been a good person. unwrap presents. compare price tags. drink. eat. watch football.
  • december 31 - new year's eve: do you have a date yet? because you are a loser if you don't have a date to go out and drink champagne with at the crucial moment when the calendar whirs around to its arbitrarily set start point yet again. drink heavily.

Friday, May 04, 2012

still in the closet

i had a leak in my roof.

no, i don't know when it started, but over time i began to notice the sound of dripping, but only in my living room, which is on the first floor.

i looked in my closet, which is above the place where i heard the dripping, but didn't hear or see anything.

after a long time of doubting my sanity on this issue, i finally began to see watermarks. first in the living room, then in the closet.

after a LOT of testing and checking, uli was able to find the source of the leak and he's been working on fixing it. so far there is only a little moisture being wicked in by the chimney, and we're keeping our fingers crossed.

but there's a good deal of water damage to the ceiling in both the livingroom and my closet, so uli has been here to start off the work in the closet, and while he was up there he discovered that when i had lights installed over my bed, the incompetent workmen (who also stole some things) moved my insulation to install the lights but didn't bother to put any back, which is why my bedroom has felt so blasted cold.

so. fix roof, fix ceiling, change out light not to code, put things back to right.

this means also sanding off the dreadful popcorn ceilings, at least in the closet and the livingroom.

because you can't just have one corner of a room without.

uli is very patient with me and tolerates a lot of general picture taking, even stopping once or twice to tell me that if i was taking pictures, now would be a good time.

expensive, yes.

cool to look at, you bet!

and my heating bills will go down.

...i hope.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


last august my laptop keyboard died.

to be fair, not all of it died; just certain keys. i was suddenly without v, b, n,  comma, period and question mark, along with a few others scattered about.

it began to be a challenge to write anything, even though i'm familiar with lipograms and not that long ago wrote a series of essentially the same geocache log as a set of progressive alphabetical lipograms. you can start reading them here if you like.

so anyway, my laptop isn't all that new, but it isn't that old either and we were going to get it repaired, but that would have cost as much as a replacement, but the nice boy in the computer store told us that IF the problem was just the keyboard, it was a $20 part.

otherwise, i was going to have to ship the machine to some repair place and then they'd make an expensive repair and we decided that it was worth $20 just to see.

so i called up dell and asked for whatever department sells replacement parts, and got a HUGE runaround and a bunch of guys in some call center who wanted to know a lot of information about my machine that wouldn't be necessary to simply buy a replacement part, but would be very handy in trying to upsell me a plan for something or other.

i just want to buy a part, i kept telling them. i do not need a plan, or a technician, or an appointment with a service center. is there a way to just buy a part?

it was a few months ago so i'm not sure i remember clearly, but i think they hung up on me.

so i went to the website, which is similarly organized. what i wanted was to find a page where i enter my model number and the part i need and it tells me my options. it took me a LOOOOONG time to find such a page.

and i'm pretty good at finding pages and such, so this is an indication of the consumer friendliness of the site.

surprise, surprise! the website is geared toward making it super simple and FUN to buy tons of new things, but really, really hard to find replacement parts for things you already have unless you want to pay money to talk to a service center who will charge you a lot of money to replace a $20 part.

but find it i did.

and (did i mention that my laptop isn't all that new?) when i finally got to the page that listed what parts were available for it, there was exactly one keyboard, so i ordered that.

two days later it arrived at my house and i installed it.

old keyboard, access panel removed
i knew how to do this because the nice boy at the computer store explained it to me: "see that little access panel? pop it off and slide the keyboard right out. you'll see a connecting cable and you should disconnect it and then just drop the new keyboard in and close it up."

so that's what i did.

without keyboard
only after i had it all installed, i noticed it was a spanish language keyboard. that might not seem like a problem, but spanish language keyboards have some keys that english language keyboards do not have, and many of the punctuation marks do not correspond to what's labeled on the keys.

i thought: fine. i will just change my keyboard preferences over to spanish and everything will match, plus how cool will it be to have an ñ key?

new keyboard, installed and tested.
turns out that to do that, you have to change your whole system over to spanish, and i was not prepared to do that for the sake of a few punctuation marks.

it is what it is. it was the only replacement keyboard available for my machine, and it works just fine and every time i can't find the apostrophe, it serves as a happy reminder of my first computer repair.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

summary of a blog

first off, i am not linking you to it. i read it because it's a train wreck, and i don't want to encourage it.

but i have been reading it for a couple of years. i drew some conclusions about what the writer's life had in store and hung around mostly to see if it's going to be as miserable as all that.

but i'm going to summarize a number of the posts and the general arc for you.

i'm a skinny little white girl from the midwest, but really under the skin i am black. black people are my people and because i speak spanish passably well, i think i'm hispanic too.

i am a reasonably competent musician but sabotage my work by alternating periods of creativity with periods of missing appointments and leaving my partner to fend for himself.

i use a lot of drugs.

i have a new girlfriend. we have sex a lot.

my girlfriend thinks i use too many drugs. i'm not sure she really loves me.

i have a job as a tutor and have a special relationship with my students. i'm not like other teachers. i really GET the kids.

my therapist thinks i use too many drugs. i am going to fire her.

here is my poetry. i am the best poet in the world.

people don't really like me.

the secret to a lasting relationship is to be very hot and to have a lot of sex.

i love my job so much because i am special and kids really want to learn because i have a personal relationship with them.

my new therapist thinks i use too many drugs. i will fire her, too.

my dream job is to work as a teacher in the public schools. the world will notice how special i am.

i got caught trying to shoplift and i am outraged because the store asked me to leave instead of letting me pay for the item. it is inconvenient to have to make a second trip to buy it later.

here is a draft of the last paper i wrote. i like to talk about racism.

my sister was embarrassed that i was shoplifting while out with her. i am not talking to her anymore.

i am surprised that a student i tutor would take advantage of me. i have such a special relationship with them.

here is a picture of me when i'm high.

i never have enough money to pay my bills.

everyone who thinks i need to use fewer drugs just hates me and doesn't want me to succeed.

i am angry that i am being sued for unpaid debts. 

the only reason i am being held back from success is racism. i am oppressed.

why are people judging me? 

racism is also the cause of schizophrenia. 

i am confused. people are following my blog, but nobody comments.  i think this carries a secret dark meaning.

i have finally gotten a position as a student teacher in a public school. now i will make people take notice of how special i am!

i share personal information with students and am reprimanded. it is unfair for people to judge my style. i am creating rapport.

here is a video of me while i'm high.

i have been informed that i am not going to be hired to teach full-time in this district. their loss. i will focus my attention on charter and magnet schools, because i am special and better schools will appreciate me.

i am angry that you are judging me. i judge you right back.

you'll see.

i am the world's best poet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

crash course

you thought it was going to be yet another tale of injuries, didn't you?


these days i am in love with this youtube channel.

'scuse me. world history episode #14 is out and i have to go watch it.


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