Monday, September 30, 2013

museum day - rokeby

saturday was smithsonian museum day, which ought to be a more widely celebrated national holiday.

a couple of years ago i went with my friend barb to visit the lake champlain maritime museum , and this year barb's first choice was the calvin coolidge museum, but she also said she didn't want to spend all day since she had things to do at home. since plymouth isn't particularly close to where either of us lives, i suggested maybe something closer, and rokeby was next on her list.

that worked out fine for me, because if i was going to have to pick, it would have been hard choosing between rokeby and the vermont history museum.

so rokeby it was.

it is a fascinating place.

rokeby is a family residence that was occupied by the same family since 1791. they were farmers, musicians, authors, artists.

and incidentally they were abolitionists.

so there's a lot to consider.

and they have growing on the property a lot of black walnut and butternut trees, and i was permitted to forage a big bag of the dropped nuts.

so awesome all around.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

a day on vinalhaven

i was telling you about the day barb and i went out to vinalhaven, only i had split off the part about the ferry ride into a separate post.

it's an hour and a quarter ride on the ferry onto the island and of course the first thing i had to do was get me that geocache that was going to get me map 9 for the delorme challenge.

vinalhaven visitors map
no, seriously. there were some maps in the parking lot, so of course those took my FULL attention right off the bat, and some other people who had gotten off the boat with us seem to be vaguely amused by my extreme level of enthusiasm.

maybe other people are as excited by EVERYTHING as i am and they want to look cooler than i do, because if you were going to pay 34 dollars a person to go to an island why on earth WOULDN'T you be excited to be there?

so barb and i set off on our bikes and we were kind of heading toward some geocaches because if i find one at the other side of the island, i get maps square 15, too and that's kind of a big deal for me and barb is very tolerant of it as long as she gets to see some pretty scenery and have a nice ride.

she's a good traveling companion because her own agendas are limited and compatible with mine, and besides, she is skilled in map reading. and easygoing.

so we ride our bikes up the road toward the north end of the island and i think at first we were expecting it to be a walkover because we are used to riding bikes in VERMONT where we have MOUNTAINS, and i'll confess *i* was thinking that a little island out in the ocean just wasn't going to have that much in the way of elevation changes.

they really mean this.
maybe it was excessively lowered expectations, but that one little hill they have (that they keep calling a mountain) has enough climbing on it to make us breathe hard.

it's still nice riding.

life ring at lawson's quarry town parkwe come to an unmarked parking lot pretty soon and it looks like a public area and there are signs all over that say NO SOAP so i decide we should ride in.

well, it turns out it's laswon quarry public park! it's the island swimming hole, in an old quarry, and the water is spring fed and clean and that explains why there are NO SOAP signs everywhere.

as we ride around the island (or more accurately, up one side of it) we notice the houses of the lobstermen. these are not like other houses in maine where they have a few traps and buoys out as decorative features. these are the piles of traps and buoys that get used on the boats, and you can see that some of them are out, and some of them are stacked and ready to go out.

we recognize some of the buoys from seeing the lines of traps on the boat ride over.

bayberries we get to the fox rocks park and we take the trail in to the cache and it is a stunning landscape of granite and scrub pines and a thing i could identify right away but had never seen before: bayberries! we picked some for barb to save.

next time i see bayberries i'm going to pick a whole bunch.

and maybe make a candle or something.
north haven seen from vinalhaven
then we rode to the end of the island and looked out at north haven (you can't get there from here) (except by boat) and then we turned around and hiked in to another cache by way of some really pretty trails into the other end of the perry creek preserve.

it turns out that we would have had a much shorter walk if we'd simply gone direct from that other cache, but by the time i realized it, it was easier to just keep going.

that's all right. we got to see a lot of pretty scenery and that was really the whole point of it anyway.

lobster sculptureby the time we got back to our bikes, it was TIME TO GO INTO TOWN FOR LUNCH.

we were thinking of having the lobster for lunch, but at the harbor gawker (and all the sources say you should go to the harbor gawker) they told us that we really should have the crab, since they'd just gotten in fresh and had been shelling it all morning.

the people who make the food know what's best that day.

and i got crab tacos and barb got the crab club sandwich and we traded one taco for a half sandwich and so each had both and it was FANTASTIC.
weather coming inand right about the time we were sitting down for lunch a very dark windy little storm flew over us, pelting the island with rain, and if you're only going to be on an island for one day, i guess it's best to get the weather sampler.

it was too rainy and cold for us to tootle around main street for the last hour before we had to get on the ferry to go back to rockland (you do NOT want to miss the last boat), so we sat in the ferry station and read the newspaper.

in the ferry station
us on vinalhaven

or more accurately, barb read the newspaper while i played around with taking pictures of us reading the newspaper.

and then we got on the boat.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

blind spot

recently i was going somewhere with my friend barb and she said something about adjusting my car's mirrors so i have no blind spot.


so she explained it, and i wasn't totally clear on how to do it, i adjusted my mirrors and now sure enough, when a car disappears from one mirror is magically appears in another and when it disappears from that mirror, it's in my view.

it's like magic.

but it takes some getting used to.

here is the method barb told me to use, which she heard from the guys at car talk.

Friday, September 27, 2013

andrea selkirk

andrea selkirk would have turned fifty this year.

in the years right after andrea died, her mom, who worked at our school, seemed to me very much like she would like to go on with her life and the business of mourning privately and not have to keep being the public face of the dead girl's mother.

i probably couldn't have said the thing i want to say until it was many years later.

not properly, at any rate.

but i have always wanted to tell her some things, things i think she would want to know, things that are not a surprise, things that will not take away the sorrow, but things i think she might want to know nonetheless.

i don't know where mrs. selkirk is now, or mr. selkirk for that matter. i only knew mrs. selkirk and while this thing i want to say is for her, it's also for him, and anyone who loved and remembers andrea.

maybe you know them; maybe you know where they are. maybe you are in a position to pass the message along.

i was a spindly, gangly kid, uncoordinated and clueless about how to throw a ball or when to run or even WHY and in my adult years i have learned that i am just not naturally athletic. other kids (grownups, now) have some sort of instinct about these things, and people can teach them.

i enjoy sports, or at least sporting activities. where my friends just get on their bikes and ride, i have to think about everything: position of my pedal, shift properly, weight back, lift front wheel, keep momentum, over the obstacle, rebalance weight.

i have to THINK about every part of every sporting activity. i have no natural sense of it. so while i like to play with the other kids (read, now, middle aged people), only a great deal of thinking and training and attention can allow me to keep up with them on a slow day.

it's not really a complaint, but more of an observation. i'm good at other things, and naturally good at some.

but do you remember when you were a kid and all the kids in the neighborhood would get together and play games? catch and kickball and games that maybe don't even have names? i wanted to play with the other kids, and i tried my best, but i was too clumsy, too awkward, and nobody even had an idea how to help me improve if they'd wanted to.

i was the last kid picked for everything, even when little kids were playing. sometimes i wan't even allowed to play. while it stings to be picked last, it REALLY stings to be standing there and not picked at all, invisible and outcast.

andrea selkirk was a golden girl. every ball she kicked went right where she meant it to. you couldn't outrun her, not if you had a minute headstart and a note telling you where she was going. andrea selkirk was not just good on the street. she was special.

she was special and she was gifted and she knew it.

but unlike the way in which many kids carry this kind of knowledge, andrea carried her gifts like a responsibilty to the world.

when andrea was on the street, everybody got to play, even me. she had enough juice in the social order to enforce fairness and kindness in the world of children's street games.

she had the grace to treat each and every last one of us kindly, to notice the weak and the unpopular, to speak our names and let us in on the camaraderie that the rest of the kids enjoyed. she didn't so much exert this force on the other kids as she quietly lived it.

andrea could sit down on the curb next to you to tie her shoe and by her choice of location, confer upon you a safety from the common cruelties of children.

her decency in streetcorner games was so persistent that even if she wasn't there, the culture of the corner was just that much kinder for a few days after she had come to play.

andrea didn't live on our block, so she wasn't a daily fixture.

but she made a difference.

she made a difference to me in my childhood and she made a difference to me in my teen years. she made a difference to me when i was working as a schoolteacher, and she makes a difference to me now when i am out at some sporting event that i love but i'm not very good at.

she was the first person to teach me that i could have fun in sports i'm not good at. she was the first kid to really show what it could be like to welcome everybody onto the field.

i took her as an inspiration and an example and my life is different and the lives of people around me are different because andrea selkirk was there a long time ago.

by the time i got to high school, andrea had already been killed by some mysterious wasting disease that i did not understand. they put up a plaque to her in the school library. it wasn't a really fitting tribute because it was static and andrea was about movement. it is unlikely that the people who go by that plaque remember her.

but she was special and golden and i remember her sitting on the curb in her army-green shorts and her high-top sneakers, casually tying a shoe and talking with you and then going on to make the most amazing catch you had ever seen.

andrea selkirk didn't live long enough to make of herself whatever really amazing woman she was going to be. she was smart and compassionate and she had real talents and she would have, i'm sure, done some important things.

and yet, cut short as her life was, she did manage to do important things. i'm going to be 49 years old this year, and i have not forgotten her examples. i doubt very much that i am the only kid who learned a thing or two from andrea. i believe that some of us will have taken those lessons and examples we got from andrea and we will have passed them on. ripples spread. the movement of them is visible at the shore long after the skipping stone has disappeared from sight.

and that's what i want to tell andrea's mom. i doubt very much she would remember who i am, just a kid from a nearby street.

your daughter, mr. and mrs. selkirk, is not forgotten. she left a legacy of a little more kindness and decency in a sometimes hostile world.

so if any of you know the selkirks, i would appreciate it very much if you would pass this message on.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

have you seen this thing?

i am tempted to use it.

while i think it would be awesome, i often like to go into canada and i think that between that and the fact that i send regular letters to john kiriakou while he's serving time for whitleblowing illegal and immoral government activity, installing that thing would be just the thing to tip the scales so that my computer and phone would be stolen every time i try to cross the border.

and the harper government is even more of a corporate conservative lapdog than the obama administration, which is saying a lot.

so. as long as i entertain hopes of being able to pass in and out of canada, i probably shouldn't install that thing.

but i want to.

if i can't stop the corporate-funded spying on citizens for any reason at all, i at least want to be a smarty-pants about it.

down with government spying! down with legislative corruption! down with the war on women! down with the impoverishment of the middle class! down with the militarized police state!

last week i saw a bumpersticker, and it was not at all ironic:


what? really?


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ferry to vinalhaven

i could, i guess, tell you about the whole third day of the maine trip, but there's just too much stuff about the ferry.

we did not get up at crack of dawn to catch the first boat out of rockland, because hotel breakfast wasn't open until 0600 and we didn't see any point a-tall in wasting a perfectly good paid for meal.

so AFTER breakfast we hopped in the car and headed up to rockland.

now, it's a THING to go over on the ferry to vinalhaven. just because you can get a car over on the boat doesn't mean you can get one back on any particular day and parking and lodging, like everything else that far off the coast of anywhere is limited and expensive.

but it's the sort of thing you should maybe do once in your life as an adventure, plus i've been working for a lot of years on doing the maine delorme geocaching challenge, and caching this island gets me map squares 9 and 15. go ahead, check your maine delorme atlas. there is NOTHING on page 9 for which you do not need to travel by boat. if you do not own a suitable boat, it's the ferry for you.

here is the schedule for the vinalhaven ferry, and the rates. yes, it costs as much to go over with your bicycle as it does with your car. for two people traveling by bike it is $34 each, and by car it's $33.50 each, provided you split the cost. for $17.50 you can go on foot, but that will really limit your travel on the island. there is a very affordable excursion fare, but in order to take advantage of that, you have to return on the same boat on which you came, so unless what you really wanted was a three hour cruise, bring either your car or your bike for the day.

and if you're bringing your car, be sure to study up on that because there are PROCEDURES that have to be followed, including some kind of permit you have to get if it's your first time bringing a car over. at least that's how it sounded on the recorded information line at the terminal.

for amusement, you may wish to compare the ease of travel to vinalhaven with the ease of travel to matinicus. just sayin'. that is one ferry you do NOT want to miss.

so anyway, we buy ferry tickets and a parking ticket and we wait for the boat.

vehicle lines at rockland ferry terminal
me, i am WAY TOO EXCITED about everything, but that's just pretty much how i get.

they have exotic multicolor lanes in the parking lot, with abbreviations that i HAVE TO DECODE because i'm like that.

reserved and unreservedit makes sense to me that on one side there are lanes labeled "VH" and "NH", which i suppose stand for "vinalhaven" and "north haven" but then each line splits in two and gets a second color and i figure that these are the lines for cars with reservations and ones without.

there appears to be no particular lane for the matinicus ferry which also leaves from this station because there's probably no need to mark out lanes you're only going to use every eight and a half weeks.

when the boat comes in, we get on it. it is the captain charles philbrook, the older and smaller of the two ferries that serve this crossing. there's a plate in the passenger cabin that identifies her as washburn & doughty hull #42.

while crossing, there is a lot to look at: islands, buoys, boats, more islands, and about a gazillion lobster buoys. they are very pretty in the water and if i had a camera with a bigger lens i'm sure i would have taken some very nice pictures of them.

i do get some decent pictures, though, and i have spent a happy couple of hours sorting them out and identifying them because you just can't take a picture of a navigational aid. oh, no. you have to look at maps and charts and figure out exactly which ones they are and where they are located on the map.

because maps.

so, like, here's this awesome chart explorer thingy you can look at all this stuff with, and here's a sweet explainer of what all the thingies on the chart mean. i used them to figure out EXACTLY which buoys i had taken pictures of, because that's super important.

yeah, because looking at a pretty picture of a buoy will leave you howling with an ache that can only be relieved if you know exactly which buoy it is and where it is located.

victory chimes in rockland harbor owl's head light GC 7 with greens island and lobster bouys vinalhaven harbor

on the way out from rockland we get to see the victory chimes in port; she is (according to the wiki) the last remaining chesapeake ram schooner. she is beautiful.

returning from vinalhaven we are on board the captain e. frank thompson, which is the state of maine's spiffiest and newest ferry.

outgoing ferry green can 4, bell red can 2A the captain neal burgess, serving north haven rockland breakwater light

back in the parking lot there are already truck and cars parked in the waiting lanes to get on the first boat in the morning. our parking is paid for until eight the next day and i hate to waste time on the meter like that, but the hotel is also paid for and we are cold and tired.

so we just find one more geocache (delorme page 14) and we return exhausted to the hotel.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

day two in maine

so we woke up in the morning at the hotel and they had a pretty good breakfast there, as far as hotel breakfasts go.

we had some time to kill before the opening of the museums, so we decided to head down into freeport because l.l. bean.

i have catalogue shopped bean, and i have driven through freeport, but i had never shopped at the mother ship.

so we went there.

the bean store, in case you do not know this, is open 24/7, 365 days a year, including christmas. i know this last bit because i had a friend in college whose family tradition at christmas was to pile everybody in the car somewhere in new hampshire and roadtrip to bean ON CHRISTMAS EVE, arriving early christmas morning.

i guess if you like sporting goods this is no more bizarre than going to church christmas eve and christmas day. it is family time together.

anyway, they have things at that store i didn't know i needed.

me and my new friends and they have brilliant marketing, at least to sporting people. the store is full of running water and fish ponds and even a big fish tank with popular game species and it has a little bubble on the underside designed for children so you can stand in there and look INTO the tank. i do not care if it's intended for children. it is cool and you should get in there.

and then we were wandering out of the store and they were set up for some kind of l.l. bean themed lawn games and i wanted to go over there and play because if you have a weird activity going on, i want to do it. there was a boot toss and a game where you try to get the knit frisbees into the iconic bean tote bag, and another game that involved running around some lobster pots with plush stuffed lobsters balanced on a canoe paddle.

let's just say that my natural failure to be athletic at all really shines through, even in silly lawn games.

so then we wandered downstreet to have a look at the giant globe in the delorme store.

the awesome thing about the delorme store is that besides that it has a huge three-story globe in the lobby, they sell a lot of maps and books about maps.

but the store sort of gives the appearance of being set up by nerdy people with no attention span for nerdy people with no attention span, which essentially means it is niche marketing aimed at me.

because oooh! look at these maps! oh, look! there's that book i loved when i was twelve and read it over and over! and ooh! little toys i love but don't need right here next to a precision navigation instrument i want!

in short, i am not able to just look at PART of this store like i can do at l.l. bean, where they have DEPARTMENTS. at the delorme store i have to walk around and look at EVERYTHING. i end up buying some stuff.


a pat on the head so then we headed back into brunswick because the number one thing we wanted to see there was the arctic exploration museum on the bowdoin campus, but we had some time to kill before it opened so we did a couple of geocaches and then we went to the museum and found it STILL not open and we were all indignant and everything and went to take a picture of the posted hours and found out that we were still forty minutes too early, so we went to the art museum.

it is not a large art museum, but its collection is kind of high-powered. they have portraits of thomas jefferson and james madison by gilbert stuart. you've seen gilbert stuart's work before. you know that portrait of george washington? the one on the dollar bill?

yeah, that one.

so then it was time to go to the arctic exploration museum. i'm interested in this sort of thing and i have read up on it, so when i was standing there in the lobby looking at one of the sledges that peary actually used on the expedition, i nearly cried to see it.

then we wandered downtown and went to slotcar junction, which from the writeups we expected to be a lot cooler.

along the way we had been asking people where to go for dinner, but brunswick is a town with no shortage of restaurants. i think before i told you that asking people to recommend ONE place is a lot like asking them to pick which of their kids they like best.

one place on everybody's list, though, was henry and marty. it is a little on the pricey side, if you are comparing it to everything out there, but if you are comparing it to upscale dining, it's pretty cheap.

and it is so good you could DIE. there was so much good on the menu that we just turned it over to the server, who was both attentive and unobtrusive (a mark of really fine waitstaff) and she was also both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food.

she loves it, and she wanted us to love it too.

after asking us a few questions about what we like, she decided that we ought to start out with the vegetarian paté (crackers made on premises), followed by the pear and pecan salad. because i do not like green or blue veined cheeses, she recommended a substitution of a local hard cheese. we had the pan seared scallops (petite size, and plenty of food), which were not just perfect in their being lightly crunchy and caramelized on the seared side, but delicate and soft everywhere else. the rice and vegetables that came along with it were beautifully matched and the sauces both unobtrusive and delicious to the point that we wanted to eat each thing not touching anything else and then to eat each thing touching another thing to combine those flavors and then we wanted to eat all the things all touching everything because DIFFERENT AND DELICIOUS EVERY WAY!

and when we were done, the server came and said "blueberry pie?" and i am not a pie after dinner person, but the server said the pie had just walked in the door fresh made at four o'cock that afternoon and that it was very, very good.

it was a perfect match to our meal.

oh, my GOODNESS gracious.


so yeah, you should go there.

you should go there if you have to drive many miles out of your way to do it.

you should go there if it uses up half of your dining budget for the week.

i am not kidding about this.

photo set of maine trip here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

flo's hotdogs

i said maybe, right?

well, i have tabs open on my desktop about it and there is no point not telling you.

flo's hotdogs in cape neddick, maine is a favorite of mine. it's a good quality boiled hotdog on a steamed bun served by curmudgeonly people in a landmark shack, but what makes it really special is the sauce.

if you go there and you order any kind of dog but the house or the loaded, you're an idiot. this is because if you go to a place and they really only serve two things and everyone else there is ordering those two things, you should get one of those two things because if a place is in business that long selling two things- or more accurately, two versions of the same thing- you should order that.

the traditional way is the house dog. it comes with relish, mayonnaise, and celery salt. i don't care if that doesn't sound good to you. that's the way they eat it.

it is awesome. order the house dog. and get a can of moxie to go with it.

and when i say "relish", it is not what you're used to.  it is the special brown relish unique to this hotdog stand and last year i bought a jar to take home and i will tell you that it is my new favorite condiment. are you making anything with onions in it? toss some relish in there to pep it up. it goes anywhere you want something a little more spicy, a little more savory, or a little more brown.

yeah, brown. because in cooking brown is kind of a flavor of its own.

a perennial favorite in my house is a panload of onion cooked down until the onions start to turn golden and then you toss in some kielbasa and cook it until it's brown and then you take the kielbasa out of the pan to cut it up and when you do that you toss in a mess of sauerkraut and after you put the kielbasa back in you cook it down a while.

i have learned recently that you can drop a couple of spoonfuls of flo's relish in there and the thing just POPS out of the pan into your mouth.

just be sure when you eat it that the following day you are not going to be in a closed space with anyone who minds cabbagefarts.

i'm sorry, but there's just no nice way to say it.

you may not be able to get to cape neddick, but you can at least order the relish online.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

day one in maine

when i asked barb what time i should pick her up, she said "anythime after nine",  so i figured 9:02 would be just about perfect.

i managed to estimate the time it would take me to do my last chores and gas up the car pretty well, because i arrived in her driveway at 9:03.

"it's anytime after nine!", i shouted cheerily from the driveway.

it is a good thing barb has a sense of humor.

she had already been out in the morning to get a haircut, and she picked us up some muffins which i was TOTALLY going to need because at about 9:30 every morning i am STARVING and need to eat and you never know how your weird eating and sleeping habits are going to play with your friends when you go on a roadtrip with them.

the muffin got me through all the way until lunchtime, when by fortuitous chance we happened to have been near york, maine.

now, see, the one thing i was sad about not being near ogunquit for the weekend was that it would be hard to catch lunch at flo's, and i really wanted to go to flo's because a) it is good, and b) i am nearly out of relish at home. it s my new favorite condiment. later on maybe i will go on and on about that.


cabot millbut we get there just in time for lunch, so YAY! we are now completely unencumbered and we head for brunswick.

it's kind of a lottery destination, because when my stepmother was making the reservations, i couldn't decide where to go and she picked brunswick. this is perfect for me, and if you've read much of my story, the way i like to travel is to go where people send me and be surprised.

brunswick is an old mill town on the androscoggin river. the river smells like there are papermills upstream.
view from sea dog tavern

so we drove around a little and stopped at the swinging bridge, where we asked some local people where we should eat.

there's a thing about brunswick: it is a small town with only one main street and one "strip", but there is no shortage of very fine restaurants. when you ask people where you should eat, you get the feeling you are asking them to choose which of their children they like best.

frank j. wood bridge
we ended up going to the sea dog, where the food was good and the view fantastic. the server recommended the potato encrusted halibut, so that's what i had. it was good, and the vegetables that came with it were both good choices and well-prepared.

then we went for a lovely walk across the bridge to a small park and back to the hotel.

androscoggin river at last falls

arty shot of water

view of sea dog tavern

Friday, September 20, 2013

y'all talk funny.

if you've known me for more than ten minutes, you know that i have more than a passing interest in both language and maps.

i keep this monster bookmarked so i can refer to it conveniently. you know, like you do. and last winter there was some hoo-hah when the results for the harvard dialect survey came out, but i was all, like, REALLY excited when i was reading the results and those questions looked WAY TOO FAMILIAR and i realized that i had been one of the original respondents to the survey, so i was all hopping up and down on one foot excited about it.

and then last week or something like that a guy came out with some pretty dialect maps BASED on that survey and that was nice, but more recently he brought out an accompanying quiz you can take and find out where in the US they talk most like you!!

OMG!OMG! *waves hand in front of face, flaps arms and spins around in circles* this is SO cool!

here is where in the US they are most likely to comprehend me:

it's sort of funny, because i don't live in any of the red area.

but i was BORN in a red area.

and there is still time for you to participate in one of these big dialect surveys. there's is the cambridge survey of world englishes, and you should go there now and take the survey if you are an english speaker anywhere in the world because it's funFUNFUNFUNFUN!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

didja miss me?

no, of course you didn't.

you didn't even know i was gone.

that thing happened again, the one where i'm getting ready to go away and i suddenly have WAY TOO MUCH TO SAY and i think it would be nice, after all, to have a little buffer in case i miss a posting day while i'm on the road and then the next thing i know, i'm out a week ahead of my publish date.

it's not like there's anything actually at stake if i skip a day,either, but a daily posting is kind of like a discipline for me and i am currently on streak.

i have a thing about streaks. i have some that go back ten, twenty-five, thirty-seven years.

you know, because if you start to do a thing, you should do it until you find out the answer to the question "how long can i keep this up?"

so anyway.

i went on a little vacation to the maine seashore, and there are pictures and stuff.

today i'm not doing a damn thing, though.

i am resting.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the last buoy

so i mentioned to you that i had gone out with barb and also with my friend diana to bring in the buoys and flags leftover from the bitter pill, but there was still one last buoy i hadn't gotten to yet, the one way out in the great northern swamp. it's not terribly close to any trail and to get there you have to, well, cross the swamp.

...which is full of razor grass.

...and THEN you get to the edge of the pond and can wade in the mucky water to go get the buoy.

sounds like fun, right?

well, i was out riding with barb and she agreed to come along for moral support (and i am telling you that moral support is worth a LOT) and we walked together up to the edge of the pond but then that puppy was all mine.

but here is a thing about having barb walk in front of me as far as the pond: she was wearing long pants, and was able to make something of a path for me through the razor grass.

even so, i'm still pretty cut up a week later.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

leader of the free world

last week i heard lindsey graham (R-SC) soulfully complain that the leader of the free world had asked the american people to come through for him and we had not measured up.

i just don't even know where to start.

the free world? where is that located?

in the US police/surveillance state somewhere? in the home of gerrymandering and the gutting of the voting rights act? in that place where they can do anything to you if they call you a terrorist first?

ok, ok. let's assume he means western "democracies".

how did president obama get to be the leader of all that? did somebody run that by angela merkel? mariano rajoy brey? juila gillard?

leader of the free world.



Monday, September 16, 2013

more about the sullivan campaign

last july i sat in an arena in halifax, nova scotia with a large crowd celebrating the 1813 naval battle in which the USS chesapeake was taken and towed into halifax harbor by the HMS shannon.

my actual ancestors did not begin to arrive on the north american continent for another 80 years after that, and i can't say that anything about my life or the history of my people is very much worse for that war.

still it was a little unsettling. all in good fun, yes, and i had come to the show expecting a celebration of canadian military bands and such. there wasn't anything about it that felt hostile, even, but there i was sitting in a crowd of canadians wildly cheering over the commemoration of a battle between our two countries.

and i felt very much an outsider. it was kind of like being the supporters group at an away game when your team loses. the winners call you over and offer you a beer and you have a laugh.

or maybe there's a fight in the parking lot after.

but the thing about that war is that we got to go on being a country, with all of "our" land. and there's so little animosity about it between us and canada that most of the time when we go on chanting USA! USA!  and going on and on about how we never lost a war on our own soil and are the world war champions, canadians smile politely and don't bother to mention that time they came down here and sacked our capital.

i will tell you who the REAL losers of that war were, though: the natives. and the biggest losers of our revolutionary war? the natives. and the seven years war?

yep, you guessed it. natives.

because while we were busy carving out a new nation from england and england was busy being at war with france and spain and the netherlands, we had nearly neglected to notice that there were people already living here, because they weren't white europeans and they can't really be considered to be people.

let's imagine you have three neighbors down the end of your street, in adjacent houses: susan lives in a house between chuck and dave. chuck does not like the way dave keeps his garden, and dave thinks chuck's paint job is ugly and each of them resolves to fix the problems with the other guy's home.

while they're busy with that, they burn down susan's house and take her yard for themselves and now chuck and dave are ok with how the neighborhood looks, but susan's out of luck.

later on chuck and dave will have barbecues together and tell the stories about the fight and sing some songs and show the photo albums and everyone will agree it was an important time in the formation of the neighborhood, but susan is not invited to the barbecues.

dave has a shed called "susan's shed" and chuck has a garden plot called "susan's flower garden" and sometimes at halloween the kids dress up as susan, but susan is not invited to comment on how she feels about it.

dave and chuck pitched in to move susan's remaining stuff down to the homeless shelter and they think she ought to just shut up and be grateful they let her use the truck.

susan is kind of like the iroquois nations.

right, so everywhere you go in central new york there are historical monuments about the bravery and significance of the sullivan campaign, but monuments are put up by the victors, even generations later, and communities largely agree what a fine thing it is to commemorate the saving of white civilization from the savages, but few of those civic pride groups take into account that the "savages" still live here. the "savages" have families and jobs and live in the community where the monuments celebrate the defeat of their ancestors, the death of their way of life, and the end of their prosperity.

it is easier, maybe, to kill people if you can dehumanize them or demonize them.

for history to be told well, you can't really tell it from a neutral standpoint, because the interesting parts of the story are the parts where you hear what the opposing sides tell you.

but these things always have at LEAST two sides, and we should look at how those other people felt and what drove their part in a conflict, and how they saw things line up.

history is complex. we are not all good or all evil. monuments that commemorate an important victory necessarily commemorate someone's crushing defeat.

i believe these things should be noted. they should be taught and thought about and remembered and studied and maybe even celebrated, but we should never figure our celebration is universal, and we should always remember to invite susan's descendants to speak if they wish.

here are some accounts of the sullivan campaign:

wikipedia: sullivan expedition
early america: sullivan campaign
sullivan/clinton then and now

Sunday, September 15, 2013

emails to strangers

here are two emails i sent to strangers this week.


i just read your piece on BGD about your name.

you are awesome.

i am familiar with this concept where some white people think they get to stand in judgement of all other people's names. your name shouldn't have to be an act of resistance, but it ends up being that for arrogant douch-canoes who think somehow their culture is the defining apex of all of creation.

if you ever decide to change your name, maybe change it to something like jean-phillipe or even doorknob. charles-marie o'hara.

you know, something that will REALLY stop a conversation.

but no. 

sometimes, i guess you just want to wear a name you like and are comfortable living in and not have people try to assess your right to wear it.

a long time ago when i was younger and more foolish, i was working as a cashier at a discount store and a woman whose full name was moonbeam wrote a check and when i got all nervous about her writing a check as "moonbeam", she simply put her driver's license down on the counter and said flatly "if it's good enough for the state of vermont, it ought to be good enough for you."

lesson learned.

i am educable.

even so, here is a thing i long to do: go up to women named bambi and ask them if they are not aware that BAMBI IS A BOY'S NAME!!! 

it would not be polite and it only reinforces the concept of the gender binary and the idea that some names can only be worn by a particular gender, but i still think it is funny.

i hope you are having a great day.


pick up some basic things: camera, notepad, some money.

leave your desk and go outside.

turn left.

go three blocks (or one kilometer, whichever comes first) find the nearest public transportation stop. get on the first bus (train, whatever) that comes. ride fours stops, get off, take your first two left turns, go about 50 meters and strike up a conversation with the first person you see.

if they do not cooperate, keep approaching people until someone will talk to you.

offer to take them to coffee (lunch, dinner, whatever).

keep doing this until someone accepts.

record all your results.

have a nice day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

the shallow end of the kiddie pool

i am not telling you what dates or what person, but i have been working on writing my geocaching logs from my road trip last may.

this is actually pretty caught up in the logging process for me, because after i find each cache i write a real log about each one, usually with photographs and it takes me a while.

sometimes i get all distracted and have to spend a week or two researching stuff i saw on my way to a cache, and that all takes more time than texting in "TFTC" from my phone.

not that i would ever do such a thing, but people do.

if there's a problem with the cache or if i have an especially outstading experience i will send the cache owner an email right away, but often i am eight or nine months behind in telling the story.

sometimes in that interval a cache i have found (or not found) becomes inactive and is archived, so when i finally get around to writing my backdated log, i am logging a cache that is no longer there.

usually this isn't a problem.

recently i got this email (stripped of its identifying marks):

stop goning [sic] to my archived caches and saying you were there and cheating. bad on you. It is only a game.

ok, so this cache owner either does not read the cache logs, or else just comes out swinging.

here is my full response (identifiers redacted):

you may feel free to check the logbooks for my signature. you do that, don't you? 
plus i have photos.
i am very sorry it upsets you to have me log caches some months after i have found them, but the fact is that i found them. i am simply logging them the way i found them and telling the story. sometimes it takes me a while. i am currently halfway caught up to logging the caches i found on [date], which is a day i happen to have had to make a return visit to one of your caches in order to return the bag of [descriptor] toys i accidentally took with me when i was there on [date].
quite frankly, i would have expected better of you just based on your cache hides and the people who like you. 
and yes, i do intend to log both my finds and my not-founds on the caches i visited while i was staying in [town] last may. some of those caches are yours. 
i am hoping to finish logging last may's cache visits (some found and some not found) in the next couple of weeks before i come back out to the finger lakes in october. 
perhaps you would like to meet for lunch or something?

you can read the logs from the may trip yourself. granted, such a thing could be faked, i guess, if you had enough time and energy and it was that important to you. i think the record as a whole stands up pretty well as a plausible account of how i spent a couple of weeks on the road.

it also wouldn't have been terribly hard for this person to simply check the logbooks for my signature.

it would not have been out of line for this person to have noticed my backdated found logs and thought: i wonder what's up with that? and then gone and checked either the online logs or the signatures in the physical log to see if i was legit.

which brings me back to this person's email to me.

stop being so suspicious and calling people cheaters without checking any facts. bad on you. it's only a game.

Friday, September 13, 2013

signifying nothing

apparently tostitos commercials are full of more stupid than i was aware of.

you can google it yourself if you want to go down that hole.

but since my laptop died a couple of weeks ago i am watching more tv in my downstairs hours, and YOUTUBE, I MISS YOU!!!

*wipes away tears*

anyway. i'm seeing a lot of commercials, many of which are amazingly stupid. plus it's just barely september and i heard my first commercial of the season for some kind of cookies and in the background?


'coz it's the holidays! you know, that season that goes from labor day (which is a second mother's day, right?) to valentine's day (which is that time when all men are expected to show either their desire for a woman or their commitment to a woman by buying an expensive piece of jewelry that will be the barometer of his worth to her).

uh, right. so. tostitos commercial.

they're hard selling their new line of "artisan recipe" chips, and the visual shows us fresh vegetables and whole grains in an open market while the friendly voiceover tells us that the chips are baked "with real ingredients".

you're kidding me, right? real ingredients.

let's just back up a little so we're all on the same page. do you need me to review the definition of "ingredient" for you?


i'm going to tell you anyway that it simply means any ole thing you toss into a mixture.

and a "real ingredient", i guess, is anything you toss into a mixture that exists in the physical world and not your imagination.

for instance, "real ingredients" may include

animal feed
veterinary tranquilizers
fish slurry
sawdust filler
agricultural by-products

those are all real things, and if you put them in a recipe, you can call them "real ingredients".

the tostitos commercial wishes you to think by its juxtaposition of images of real food and fresh vegetables with the words "real ingredients" that they mean the same thing.

they don't. "real ingredients" means "anything we toss in there that exists in the physical plane. too bad for you if you thought that meant fresh vegetables."

i am not eating tostitos anymore.

i do not mind eating crappy processed junk food sometimes. i even enjoy it. but i like honest crappy junk food.

i want a commercial that says "here. eat this stuff we made. it's crunchy and you will like it. nevermind what's in it. you don't need to know."

i don't like a friendly voiceover telling me "it's made with real ingredients"

well, no kidding.

so's rat poison.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

why i am not now a supporter of my public radio station

a long time ago, i used to give $60, twice a year.

that was a lot for me.

and then there was an overambitious president of the station who thought he would like to raise more money. the way he thought it would be a good idea to raise money was to aggressively shake down current donors for MORE money.

so they started calling us at home asking for more money.

the first time i got the call, i was polite.

the second time i got the call, i told them not to call me again. they said they didn't think they could do that, since i was still on the membership list. did i want to stop being a member?

no, i just want you not to call me asking for money.

the third time i got the call, i said that they really needed to stop calling to ask me for money. i said that the next time they called to try to squeeze more money out of me, i was going to stop giving money to them altogether. they said they couldn't really control who was on the call lists and that they couldn't guarantee that.

just make a note, i said. do not keep calling me.

it wasn't even a week later before they called me again.

i don't send them money anymore.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

stupid arguments i have heard about syria

i was against it until i saw the videos of those women and children and how they suffered in the gas attack.

have you seen many videos of what women and children look like after a tomahawk missile hits them? or is the method of delivery of maiming and death really important to you?

and why are you more concerned about women and children especially? are men some special group it's ok to bomb the crap out of? or are you just assuming that all men are terrorists? maybe you haven't seen the statistics on child soldiers and women suicide bombers?

it's not ok to kill PEOPLE.

chemical weapons are illegal and we have to respond with military action.

military actions against countries who have not directly attacked yours are illegal by the same "rules" unless you have a UN mandate for it.

so by the exact same reasoning, iran or russia or even france could start bombing washington as soon as that first missile is launched.

let's also by the way maybe examine where those chemical weapons came from. maybe we should be bombing the countries that sold the weapons to assad's regime?

it is incumbent upon us to support the president and if he wants to go to war, we all have a duty to support him because he's the president and we don't want him to look weak.

what? you're kidding me, right?

ok, ok, let's take it down to small scale.

that guy who cut you of on the interstate? your kids should go over there to his house and shoot the crap out of his wife and kids because they have a duty not to let you look weak. if your family does not do this, you will lose your credibility with me and some of the other drivers. we will laugh at you.

you'd better go spill some blood, pal. you have a DUTY not to look weak.

does that sound crazy and disgusting?

it ought to. it ought to sound crazy and disgusting on a personal level and it ought to sound doubly crazy and disgusting when missiles are involved.

but we have to fight al-qaeda.

don't be an asshat. the people we're going in to drop missiles to help in syria are al-qaeda and al-qaeda allies. for some reason (read: the interests of oil companies and defense contractors), it's ok to help them out because ... nevermind. it is just so screwed up i can't find a solid place to stand in this huge lagoon of bullshit.

there are very few explanations for that and they mostly involve fat oil companies or possibly satan himself.

and those are just the more sensible explanations.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1000 miles

ok, so it's a thousand posts.

this here marks a thousand posts on this here blog.

right... there.

no, a little to the right, two steps forward, a little to the left.... good. that's got it.

i was going to go through my list of previous posts and link you to the greatest hits, but if you want to read them, they're all there in the sidebar.

and i maybe wanted to say something pithy and important or at least important sounding, but it turns out that this blog is just about what i happen to be thinking about NOW and what i happen to be thinking about NOW is some mild indigestion, my fall allergies, and the fact that i am writing my thousandth post on this blog.

none of that is very exciting, except maybe the thousandth post thing, but i'm finding that's not as amazing as i thought it would be, which is weird, since often going to the grocery store is for me a lot MORE amazing than i thought it would be, so maybe it's about expectations.

Monday, September 09, 2013

marriage equality

so now that gays are getting married all over, let's talk about real marriage equality.

i don't have a horse in this race, but i remember a lot of arguments from timid people saying oh noes! if gays get married, next people will be having plural marriages! and we can't have that!!

and i want to know: why the heck not?

it's icky.

well, if you find it icky, don't enter into one.

but the bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman!

actually, the bible never defines marriage, but it does DESCRIBE some marriages, and the ones it describes often involve one man and several wives, or one man, a couple of wives and some concubines, or one man and hundreds of wives and concubines. the bible even has rules about the inheritance given to sons of multiple wives, so that argument's done with.

but the children! what about the chillllldrennnnnn? we can't allow them to force girls to marry old men!

who said anything about letting old perverts marry children? consenting adults, bucko. i keep hearing that stupid argument come from even sensible people, as if people who might want to enter into a plural marriage are suddenly pedophiles.

but! but! it's abusive to the wives! one man will think he is king of them and that's not ok!

well, for starters, you're assuming that it would all be one man taking a bunch of wives and ruling over them as king. except for numbers that wouldn't be all that different than a lot of the one-man-one-woman marriages you see. but here's the important bit: if you as a woman WANT to enter into such a marriage, that is not my business. you are a consenting adult and you have the right to marry whom you please.

but the chllllldrennnnnnn! who is thinking of the chilllllldrennnnnnn! children can't grow up in a home like THAT.

um... why not? you're not seriously telling me that a group of five adults couldn't raise children in a caring environment as well as, say, one adult with an absentee parent not paying child support?

but the sex! we can't expose the children to weird sex!

do you have sex in front of your children? or do you just pack their lunches and take them to soccer practice and try to get them to do their chores and homework?


ok, you got me there. but here's the thing. we can't deny perfectly competent adults the right to form households of their choice simply because of our accounting practices. sure, one man supporting ten wives and a truckload of children would be a drain on social security but the reality of it is that one adult is very unlikely to be supporting all those people. it's more likely that you'd be getting little groups of threes or fours and probably more than one adult in that group has a job to support the family.

i bet we could come up with some new rules to cover how many adult members of your household would be covered by your benefits and your insurance.

let's just imagine a household with one man and four wives. if all the wives stay home to take care of the children, that one man is making a TRUCKLOAD of money that is subject to payroll taxes.

if you have two men and three women living communally and three of them have jobs and two of them stay home and care for the home and children, the system is coming out ahead.

and let's face it. people who are polyamorous exist. they already have wives and husbands and children. they already work out the intricacies of how to live as they choose. they just can't have legal protections that, say, gay couples have. additionally, there are actual criminal penalties for marrying more than one person. the government is very strict about that. if you freakazoids are going to try to define your own family, you are going straight to jail.

right NOW our only examples of plural marriages are fundamentalist mormons and odd fringe culty people who INSIST on going against the stupid law. if we just make it legal for consenting adults to enter into domestic partnership contracts as they wish, you'd get regular joes and janes figuring out what kind of family configuration works best for them and then doing that.

and the cultish weirdos would have less reason to be all armed and suspicious that the gubmint is trying to break up their families. added benefit.

wouldn't that be nice? people of all kinds having the ability as consenting adults to decide how to best configure their own households for their own domestic tranquility?

call me a radical, but i'm for it.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

how to use a four way stop

i spend a lot of time standing on a particular corner. i see a lot of bad driving there. i see people on the phone while driving, but most of the bad driving is people who do not at his late point in the history of mankind know how to use a four way stop.

boys and girls, it's really simple.

follow this simple rule: when you get to the stop sign, memorize all the other cars who were there before you. when they have all gone through the intersection, it is your turn.

there are some variations for advanced players, like if you and a driver opposite are both going straight, you may proceed across the intersection that the same time he goes IF YOU DO NOT HOLD UP SOMEBODY ELSE WHOSE TURN IS BEFORE YOURS.

if you are unsure, just stick to the basics.

and if you think it is ok to turn left without stopping at the stop sign because you stopped once when you were three cars back, you are a douche canoe.

if you think it's ok to proceed through the intersection fifteen miles an hour above the posted speed limit without first bothering to pause and see if there is traffic coming, you ought to have that phone installed in your transverse colon.

remember, boys and girls: it is your turn to go after all the other cars who were at the stop sign before you have gone.

"at the stop sign" means anyone who is at the front of the line, and not three cars back.


was that so hard?

Saturday, September 07, 2013


right. so.

let's back up a little bit before asparaganza.

i was on my way "home" to an undisclosed campsite in the finger lakes national forest the first weekend in may and if you're coming from tburg (which i was) you pass the STARLITE SPEEDWAY!!!

STARLITE SPEEDWAY!it's a dirt-track go-kart track in a guy's side yard and he has bleachers and lights and everything and i thought: huh. that would be a cool thing to see and i suppose i might could'a' just pulled up into the parking and sat on the bleachers, but i thought maybe i would look up to see if they had a webpage or something.

and they do.

lookit those bad boys.and i am thinking that perhaps the best way to see this thing is from the inside and since the website says they always need volunteers, i call and volunteer.

so i'm at the library in tburg on thursday and i get a call and i arrange to meet damien friday night but then the race is rained out so i say if it's nice saturday i'll come then.
tire prep with wire brushon the racks
...which brings us to the afternoon hours after asparaganza.

so i have come from the gentle barefoot horse-tilling fiddle-playing hippie gathering just a few miles over dirt roads and now i am at the STARLITE SPEEDWAY!!!!!!!
driver's meeting
i am very sorry, but it's hard not to say that as if i am saying it through the loudspeaker at the track.

there are cars. lots and lots of little cars being hauled in big honkin' trailers with big honkin' trucks. there are tools and noise and motors and gasoline fumes and so many people are smoking that at one point i nearly imagine that a few of those folks are smoking several cigarettes at once.

ok, i wasn't really culturally at home with the barefoot hippies, and now in the space of fifteen minutes i have flown way off the other end of the spectrum where i am equally out of place.

it is cultural whiplash and i think my head might asplode.

over and over i keep trying to relate this very dense experience to anything i understand, and all i can do, sort of, is find the analagous structures in bicycle racing, because i understand bicycle racing.

there are similar bits.

here at the STARLITE SPEEDWAY!!!! you want to be the first one across the finish in the bell lap, only i don't think they call it the bell lap. and here, too, people compare and adjust equipment and gear and test things and put them on and off racks, except it is a bigger, noisier process to tune a little car than it is to tune a bike.

and it takes more than one person to lift the car up onto the work stand, and they probably don't call it a "work stand".

they wear specialized outfits, too. on my racecourse we wear special little shirts and pants and gloves and helmets, sometimes carrying the sponsor's name, but none of our outfits have to be fireproof.
into the weigh shack
but yeah, once i get over the initial shock and general gee whiz, look at THAT! aspect of it, a lot of the tire selection and gear adjusting looks a lot like what we do with the bicycles, at least in concept.

damien puts me to work in the weigh shack. they have a platform scale to weigh the cars! how cool is that? he also sets me to work as the house dick. this is a job i'm used to.

on the scaleat my regular race venue when we're not racing, part of what i do there is to help people find trails they will enjoy and i also check for trail passes. on a good day, i am the welcome wagon. on a bad day, i am a poacher catcher.

so wandering around the pits checking for pit passes fits inside my skill set, and i even smoke out a couple of poachers, thereby earning my keep.

mostly, though, i wander around taking pictures and asking questions.

lineupa LOT of questions. people are very kind to me even though i am clearly not of their tribe.

at some point in the evening, betty says to me you haven't ever seen a NASCAR race, have you?

hm. no. it shows, does it?

but people are very nice to me and explain a lot of things and at some point damien takes me out to the center of the track to watch a race from there. it is so noisy and fast moving that i begin to feel seasick.

team johnson
trailer lights

but it is also very exciting.

by the end of the night it is five or six hours past my bedtime and my head is pounding from the noise and my lungs hurt from all the fumes but i am not all that anxious to go because let's face it: this is COOL.

Friday, September 06, 2013


ok, now i'm going to go back and tell you about some stuff that happened in may.

you know, because while i like to tell to the story, i do not feel bound by temporal constraints.

no, seriously. i'm only getting to sorting out the pictures now.

so anyway, on thursday 9 may even though i did not tell you where i was at the time, i was sitting enjoying a lovely evening on the patio at the ulysses philomathic society, otherwise known as the trumansburg public library. i was doing my usual computer things: checking emails, playing a game, doing research and solving geocache puzzles, which requires some research.

it is very pleasant sitting there.

and the librarian came out and asked me if i would like to come inside for a book reading, partly because she thought i might enjoy it, and partly because she wanted another butt in the chair for a community program.

i understand that second motivation. when you are putting on a community event, you like to fill the chairs. and the librarian is about seventeen different kinds of awesome, so even if i hadn't actually been interested, i would have gone in anyway.

it turns out they were doing a community read of seedfolks, with the idea that everybody gets a copy of the book and then passes it on to another library or person. and they were reading it out loud in chapters on thursday nights with readings by local celebrities. the reader the night i was there was the chief of police.


and also present was a woman who works at good life farm, where they are preparing for ASPARAGANZA! people tell me i should go.

so i figure i gotta go see that. at the very least, i am fond of asparagus and enjoy looking at pretty fields.

plus it's a discipline to just say yes to the opportunities that arise.

ok, so i go to a geocache to start the day, and then i make my way out to the farm.

there's supposed to be some sort of demonstration of worksongs, a participatory thing and although i am a musician by training and trade i am naturally suspicious of participatory singing events. sometimes they are AWESOME but sometimes they are a forced frogmarch relying on the indulgence and goodwill of the crowd.

but i get there and there's this crowd of people lustily singing what turns out to be some kind of alpine sheep herding song and then the guy tells us we're going to sing a marching song, and that's all right, but we're not just going to sing a marching song; we're going to MARCH.

and i am thinking "ok. this is gonna be way more better than i had imagined."

this turns out to be not just way more better than i had imagined, but way more better than i COULD have imagined, because we do not just march over there with our marching song, but we have marched right to an agricultural field and now we are going to sing some fieldwork songs, so they hand us tools and we weed three rows of baby apple trees.

while learning and singing worksongs.

this is SO not what i expected.

i am smiling so hard i think my face might break.

often i give links in line with the story, kind of subtly, but i want to tell you flat out that these people doing the song leading are bennett and edith, of allemande farm. you should go listen to some of their audio and stuff.

i would show you the sweet video i took while i was there, but a sad data transfer accident left me without most of the video i took while i was on the road.

i have stills, but no video. it is very sad.

after the worksonging (i still find the odd verbing of this noun disturbing) i wander around for a bit and then there's a tour of the farm, which makes me happy for about a bazillion reasons, among them that it is a pretty farm, and that there are people working hard at raising food in a sustainable, moral, and joyful way.

afterward i find myself talking with a nice couple who are in town to buy a goat, and i wander off to figure out which of the many ways asparagus is being served today i should try.

if i had a lot of money, i just would have tried everything, but i am on rather a limited budget, so expensive artisanal foods are a little beyond my reach, but i have a little money budgeted for special things, and this qualifies as a special thing.

i get the asparagus combination plate which is a hard choice over the kielbasa with ramps, but this is not the ramp festival. it is asparaganza.

so asparagus.

and then after a while it is time for me to get fully immersed in whiplash

culture shock. i am about to visit the starlite speedway, which is a lot of stuff that asparaganza is not.

what they have in common is that the people are kind to me.

and that it is amazing to be there.


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