Tuesday, September 30, 2014

not ready for hillary

today i asked the hillary clinton PAC to take me off their mailing list, because while i typically enjoy receiving email from the democratic campaigns (for the purposes of ridicule, mostly), i just can't be cleaning out my inbox every hour.

and they send crap that often.

so i hit the UNSUBSCRIBE button, which brought me to a page that said "before you unsubscribe, won't you please consider signing up for a mailing list that will only send you a message once a day? we're sorry we email you so often, but we're passionate about the cause."

ok, fine. you're passionate. and you already KNOW that hourly emails are pissing people off. unsubscribe me.

and they wanted to know WHY, so i wrote "i want to unsubscribe because you are all warmongering toads and deserve to be clapped in irons. moreover, you fill my inbox with crap i don't want. good luck with that election."

this is the face of a likely democratic voter.

i'm not all that excited about the war monger hillary. sure, it'd be pretty cool to have the first woman president, but it would hardly signal parity for women.

i mean, we've had a black president for a few years now and i don't notice that there's been a significant decrease in black people getting arrested or shot for no particular reason.

so, um, hillary. yay.

you know, if i absolutely have no other choice.

i think that would make a lovely campaign slogan.

Monday, September 29, 2014

a lesson from larry

we met this guy named larry at the party.

before we met him, we saw him driving out along the roads in his little red smartcar, or as i am about to explain to you, his smart.

some days into the party in response to me saying something about his smartcar, larry said he doesn't drive a smartcar.


now i was all confused.

because if it's not a smartcar, what is it? are there more brands of those than i knew about?

it turns out it's just called a smart.

it's a matter of language and a matter of etiquette, apparently.

"you don't drive a subarucar, do you?" larry asks me.

well, no. but i am still confused.

nobody you know drives a toyotacar or a fordcar or a volkwagoncar.


it's a smart.

it is cute and red and holds a lot more gear than one might expect, plus larry is able to drive it on some back roads that might give you pause.

well, you learn somethin' every day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

THAT was a party.

i am home now from that party in maine.

it was AWESOME.

i took picture and stuff for you and i promise bit by bit to show and tell, but right now it's time for bed.

Friday, September 26, 2014

party time!

by the time you read this, i will already be at the party.

i promised the Dean of Students that i'd take a lot of pictures and write amusing stories about it, so i'm going to try to blog a little of it live, even though i'll have to drive to the library and balance my laptop on my gearshift.

it can be a thing i do in the morning before the sun comes up.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

four cents

i buy gas these days at the snowco store.

for all of you from away, that would be a store that sells sunoco gasoline. it happens to be the only gas station in my town, and unless you count the deli up at the ski mountain, it is the only store in my town.

it costs four cents a gallon more to buy gas there than a lot of places on most days. it costs me a dollar and a half more every ten days or so, but i think of it as a small investment in the place.

you maybe don't need to think about it, but if your one and only local gas station goes out of business, that might could be trouble for you.

plus there's a lot of road construction on route two, and so far this season the decreased business on account of the construction has cost the store owner thirty thousand dollars.

so far.

how would you be doing if your business revenue was down thirty thousand dollars halfway through the year?

you might hope your neighbors would pay the extra four cents a gallon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


tonight i'm going to a party, which means i have to bring something for the potluck.

tomorrow, i'm going to a PARTY, which means i have to pack camping gear, a bike, a boat, and something for the potluck. and i have to figure out how to decorate my boat for the flotilla.

and then right after i get home from that party (a three day affair), i have two days at home before i head out for the october road trip.

but i'm doing this a little differently. i have a friend who's never been to the finger lakes and it's grape season and all the years i've been going i have often thought that many of the activities would be more fun with a friend, so instead of me living alone in my car, she's paying for campgrounds and i'm being her tour guide.

museums! farmer's markets! vineyards!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


so yesterday i woke up in the morning and threw in a load of laundry, put the vegetables for the tomato sauce in the oven to roast, and set up the yeast to prove.

then blah, blah blah and by two in the afternoon i had cleaned out my car (because i have to pack it to go away for a party)
bagged the dozens of teeny little quiches
made dinner rolls
put together a collection of maps and list of places to tourist that are kind of hidden
roasted vegetables and blended tomato sauce
researched recipes you can make with green tomatoes
done the laundry
whipped up a batch of master sauce eggs
packed my bags

and then i was going to write to you about it before i went off to meet the people from indiana at their campsite to tour them around lesser-known-landmarks and have dinner (i'll bring the sauce!), but just before i had to leave the house i had a little crisis of a lost camera.

there is a certain panic that sets in when the last place you're sure you HAD it was in the seat of a boat.

i found it under the passenger seat of my car.
today i need to pick up some things at the store (remember that i am twenty minutes by car from the nearest grocery store) go buy more eggs at the farmstand, update my ipod, finish packing, make a green tomato pie, and go to a party.

it'll be fun.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

it isn't exactly writer's block

early in the day i know exactly what i'm going to write to you. i know three or four posts i'm going to make when i come in from playing and then when i come in i sort of remember what i was going to say but i have chores to do and dinner to make and then the sun goes down and all of a sudden i have no clue what i was going to say.

in the morning i remember.

every. day.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


of course i didn't have my camera with me.

this morning i went for a walk up the hill behind the vermont youth conservation corps and to get up onto their trails proper, you have to walk up behind the solar collectors and the chicken pen and today besides the girls IN the enclosure, a couple dozen handsome hens were hanging out in the meadow and they were interested in me.

by "interested", i mean that they all came running over to look at me, which is kind of a weird feeling.

even weirder is the feeling you get when you pass the chickens and then you notice some movement out of the corner of your eye and you look over your shoulder and a flock of chickens is running behind you.

you ever watch chickens run?

it's funny.

and then i got up around the meadow and into the woods and there was a big old wild turkey.

dinosaurs are not dead. they walk among us.

we call them "birds".

Friday, September 19, 2014

stars of indiana

so today i was hanging out at the crown point historic site looking for geocaches when i happened to run into some nice people from indiana and their beautiful weimaraners and we got to talking and they offered me a sandwich since it was getting to be lunchtime.

you know how i am about sandwiches.

and how i enjoy talking to strangers.

anyway, it turns out they are on their way to pretty near where i live and like suggestions about where pretty parks and interesting things to see are and where to get a good cheeseburger and it turns out that some of the things i already love (like hubbard park!) are already on their list.

they want to know if it's worth going to the islands.

yes! yes it is, and i know where you can get good apple pie and a maple creemee while you're there.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

flipping the bird

i have a new hobby.

you know all those surveillance cameras the gubmint keeps putting up to watch you can collect data just in case later they want to investigate you?

i flip 'em off. i have to be a little careful that other drivers are not around to think i am flipping them off, so it's not a uniform exercise.

one of these days i will get a sign i can hold up tht says maybe NO SURVEILLANCE, ASSHOLES!

just so they're clear why all the hostility.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

on the porch

i'm sitting in my dad's porch recliner, enjoying his view of the lake. i have no picture for you because i am not at home.

come to think of it, i have a lot i keep meaning to tell you about, but i keep being busy going out to play doing things i mean to tell you about and on the rare rainy day i have three weeks worth of laundry and dishes to catch up on, nevermind i have to get ready to go out and play again.

it takes WORK to do all this outside playing! and i MEAN to have opinions about things but right now i'm watching a pretty purple sunset across north america's sixth largest freshwater lake.

and you know, mountains.

and recliner.

later on it will be cold and rainy and i will have time to sort out my pictures and show you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

signalling straight

near my house is an intersection at which locals practice a particular courtesy.

brown's trace (going either direction) comes down a hill to where it meets lee river road.

if you're heading north on brown's trace you have right of way, whether you are going straight or turning left onto lee river road. if you are turning right onto brown's trace you have right of way. if you're going south on brown's trace, you have a stop sign.

so local people heading north on brown's trace tend to put on the right directional to indicate to drivers waiting at the stop sign that we intend to go straight and not use our awesome left-turning right-of-way power.

it's a small courtesy, but it's how it's done out here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

exciting news

an exciting thing happened yesterday.

i took pictures.

am i telling you about it?

no, i am not. i am lying on the sofa. i am tired.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

tomato sauce

i meant to write to you yesterday, really i did.

but i got caught up making tomato sauce. my stepmother's garden wnet kind of gangbusters this year and i came away with way more tomatoes than a single person can reasonably eat so i decided to make tomato sauce and recently i saw a thing about susie bright's tomato sauce, and it is a slow roasted affair.

and oh my goodness good.

i bet if i added some cream to it and maybe a little stock i could call it soup and it would be just as fabulous.

it's a little bit of a mystery to me why the wikipedia page for susie bright is buried in the second page of google results,  but it is what it is.

Friday, September 12, 2014

venture vermont: the wrap-up

last friday i finished putting together my documentaton for the venture vermont challenge. the department of forest, parks, and recreation prefers either to have your photos and such on cd or dvd else in googleplus.

oh, goodness, what a nightmare googleplus is!

because it's really well suited for SHARING ALL THE THINGS WITH ALL THE PEOPLE, but it's not so good at letting you control your formatting or your layout and let's face it: i have a blog and i have a number of other accounts on which i share things, but google is only flexible if you want to put ALL YOUR THINGS on google and even then it's a clustertangle.

so i tried that for a couple of hours, threw up my hands, and decided to simply keep my super nice formatted albums over at flickr and toss the bare minimum of the photos onto some discs.

of course, the photos aren't much good without the accompanying texts, which are here in the blog.

so as a compromise i tossed the photos and videos with some minimal labeling onto discs with an accompanying document in paper form and also in pdf that's essentially the blog posts about the sections of the scorecard. the pdf document on the disc has live links in it, so they can fire that puppy up and see it more or less the way i like it, plus they have the discs.

the organized photo albums are here. i am particularly proud of the field guide album.

the playlist of videos is here.

and now, to tie it all up in one linky place, are the posts of the past week detailing each section of the scorecard:

i was so excited to finish the challenge that i couldn't just drop it in the mail; i felt that a field trip to the mother ship was in order.

so i sent an email to the DFPR to ask if i could hand deliver, and on friday afternoon i went to the big shiny state office building to hand in my packet. it gave it a little ceremonial finish, and i got to meet the people in the office.

the state parks are maybe the front end flagship thing you think about when you think of the DFPR, but they administer and care for a lot of things in this state that make the place so nice. a lot of state forests just sit there kind of quietly and you'd barely even notice the parcel was there, but i tell you whut: if someone came and put up condos on those parcels you'd notice in a big fat honkin' hurry.

and the venture challenge could have been written as one big promotion of state parks, but it wasn't. it was written like a thing to encourage people to get out and enjoy outdoor activities, which is a super smart long view of the thing, because if you have a population that uses outdoor spaces, you have a population that cares about state, federal, and municipal parks, forests, and wilderness areas.

and if you take a longer view, a population that gets outside to play tends to be a healthier population, which drives healthcare costs down.

now, i needed very little coaxing to go out and play. i'm currently on a daily geocache streak that started last november first. i go outside to play every. single. day.

but this challenge gave me some extra reasons to pay attention to my little friends the frogs and the flowers. i had to really work on firebuilding skills. i took a closer look at my state parks.

and now i'm going to get a pretty shiny medal.

i LOVE shiny things!

next season i am thinking of using my medal to visit EVERY state park and forest and doing an activity in each.

hey, DFPR! you want to set me up with a challenge about that?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

venture vermont: know your parks

know your parks

have a picnic in a state park (10 points): this one is not hard. you get a sandwich, a beverage, and maybe a dessert and you go eat it in a state park. for documentary purposes, i'm claiming the picnic area at the top of the mt. ascutney road.

visit a state park playground (5): i took an arty shot of myself in the playground at button bay state park. yeah, you should refer to the miscellaneous vermont state parks album.

attend a state park interpretive program (10): i went to the birding by ear program at little river and liked it so much i stuck around later for the stevenson brook walk.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

venture vermont: pioneer


build a boat out of natural materials you find outside. see if it floats (10 points): my plan was to make a little raft with a lashed base and a woven mat, but the materials turned out to be harder to work on a short time budget. i got a thing that held together and floated, at least.

build a kite and fly it (10): i still have my little kite downstairs. you know,  just in case.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

venture vermont: fortitude


build a fire without using matches (10 points): this one was the hardest for me, and took months of nearly daily practice. someone said to me "did you use a flint?" they were impressed when i said i'd chosen hand lens.

make a camp cooking utensil using found natural materials (5): i made a roasting fork. sometimes simple tools are the best.

use stone tools or do flintknapping, the technique of shaping flint to make useful items (10): i actually studied flintknapping in college and while you can't always get real flint, you can usually find shales that will flake off enough for you to use as knives and hole punches. when i was making my little boat for this challenge, i used some flaky shales for my cutting edges and hole punches. shales are only temporarily useful as tools; they make sharp edges, but they're soft and so don't last long. not everybody lives near a good flint deposit, though, and you make do with what you have. early people who lived near good flint deposits could use flint in valuable trade.

Monday, September 08, 2014

venture vermont: reveal


use a map and compass or GPS to place yourself on a topographic map. (10 points): i totally do this every day. i had to choose one, though: crow hill, a few feet over the boundary of camel's hump state forest. N44° 19.422 W72° 55.275. it has a nice view of camel's hump.

create an emergency first aid kit for hiking of camping. send us your list of fist aid and emergency items (10): i carry emergency gear in my pack pretty much all the time. last season i updated it to include all the mandatories from the GMARA list.

Team First Aid Kit:
Each team must carry a first aid kit with at least the following items, or equivalent:
[ ] 1” bandages
[ ] 3x4” gauze pads
[ ] 2x5 yd gauze roll
[ ] 1/2” adhesive tape roll
[ ] Tweezers
[ ] Anti-bacterial creme/towlettes
[ ] Ibuprofen
[ ] Iodine tablets or other water purification system

besides the mandatories, i also include benadryl, immodium, acetominophen, my inhaler and epipen, and some other small niceties.

i will also have map tools, compasses, knives, and emergency blanket, and light sources, because you never know.

in cold weather, i will also carry extra clothing, and TWO working lighters, along with firestarter and hand warmers.

find a historical fact or story about a vermont state park and send it to us (10): it happened just this way. i was doing a geocache and found some information about the old coach road and bridle trail that used to go up camel's hump, courtesy of the recently retired forester of that parcel.

go to http://bit.ly/1o12Pfl to find a letterbox and visit the site (10): i had to dust off my letterboing stamp, but i went to florida dolphin visits the richmond round church.

sit outside for thirty minutes and write down every sound you hear (10): i went up to the the pet cemetery in huntington, where there's a quiet corner and a nice bench.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

venture vermont: investigate


photograph and identify each of these three types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary,  and metamorphic (10 points): i am perhaps proudest of my field guide flickr album. i went a little overboard with the identifications, but for the purposes of the documentation only i'm going to claim and ordovician era gastropod in limestone at button bay state park (sedimentary), the large outcrop of monkton quartzite (metamorphic) that makes up bristol ledges, and the summit of mount ascutney, which is syenite (similar to granite, and igneous).

photograph and identify five species of native vermont plants (5): once again, i'll refer you to the field guide set, in which i went overboard and started identifying things everywhere i went. for the purposes of the documentation, i'll just pick toxicodendron radicans, (poison ivy), cypripedium acaule (pink ladyslipper), cornus canadensis (bunchberry), nymphaea odorata (fragrant water lilly), and nuphar variegata (spatterdock).

photograph two kinds of mammals in the wild and describe its behavior (10): i wrote a blog post about it. for documentary purposes, let's go with tamias striatus (eastern chipmunk) and eptesicus fuscus (big brown bat). the chipmunk was scolding me, and the bat was sleeping.

photograph and identify three different amphibians (10): yay! i LOVE these guys! i'm just going to say bufo americanus,  rana clamitans melanota, and notopthalmus viridescens viridescens (land form).

are you looking at the field guide album? you really should go look at that. because frogs.

bonus: make a recording of a toad or frog's call at night and send it to us. (10): done and done.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

venture vermont: observe


find the biggest tree in a vermont state park and take a picture next to it (10 points): i figurred if i picked a smallish state park, it ought to be easy to find the biggest tree. maybe the rangers know, but i like to conduct my own investigations. i hiked the pinnacle trail (does that count as a summit? it has a sign that says "summit".) and looked all around me in the forest for big trees, measureing them by with my arms and hiking poles at chest height, which it turns out is a lot like how foresters measure trees. i found one or two with a diameter of "the distance from my fingetrtips to the forearm of the opposite arm with my arms stretched out", but none larger. the picture of the one i chose, is, of course, in the miscellaneous venture vermont album.

i thought i was going to take a walk with a forest landowner, since i happen to have a friend who is a forest landowner, but i was in downtown bethel one day and happened to be parked right next to a logging truck, so i checked off take a photo with a log truck. find out where it came from and where it's going. (10)

Friday, September 05, 2014

venture vermont: get moving

i thought i'd drop the whole venture vermont documentation into one convenient post so it looks pretty, but the lists of documentation are starting to look like long posts, so i'll break them up and then make one indexed post to wrap it up and link all the materials.

i'm only including the items on the list that i completed. there are a lot of other things ON the list, but i'm just showing you the ones i did, organized pretty much the way they're listed on the scorecard.

get moving:

go for a bike ride in your neighborhood (10 points): this is a thing i do pretty regularly. the photo i'm using for documentation can be found in the flickr album miscellaneous vermont venture.

ride your bike on a rail trail (10): since i started the challenge, i have ridden my bike on the ashuelot rail trail (hinsdale, NH),  the mississquoi valley rail trail, the lamoille valley rail trail, the northern rail trail (grafton, NH), the island line rail trail, and the alburgh recreational rail trail. a few rail trail photos are in my flickr album rail trails, and a youtube video of the ashuelot trail can be found here.

go trail running (10): this is kind of a no-brainer. every tuesday night i run the catamount family center trail running series. matter of fact, i hold the all-time record at that venue for most consecutive last place finishes at 18 in a row, stretched over two seasons. i haven't missed a tuesday night start in a few years. i'm number 97.

go for a hike (10): oh, goodness. i lose track. there are a lot of them. but the scorecard has three sub-headings:

  • it's a trail that's new to you (5): i went for a walk on the ironwood trail at grand isle state park, where i discovered i am horribly, violently allergic to honeysuckle. there's a video of a minute on that trail here.
  • hike to a summit (5): there was more than one, but i'm going to claim glastenbury firetower in the green mountain national forest. while we're at it, i also want to claim mount ascutney, the pinnacle trail at wilgus state park, and in maine, sugarloaf, cranberry peak, and sw kennebago, which was drive until you have to bike and then two miles of hiking. in hip deep snow. in bike clothes. but i'm proud of it. i have a flickr album of those here.
  • hike to a waterfall (5): once again, i hike to a lot of waterfalls. the one i'm claiming is gerry's falls at mt. ascutney state park. (vt. state parks album)

swim or wade in a lake or stream (10): again, this is not a one-off for me. for the purposes of the challenge i'm going to claim that time in may that i jumped into lake champlain off of my dad's boat south of the crown point bridge. there's video.

climb a tree or boulder (5): it seems i'm always climbing a tree or a boulder or something, but i had a hard time picking one and getting pictures of it. i'm going to use "huge boulder and stone wall corner".

paddle a portion of the norther forest canoe trail (15): on 4 july this year the place we were going paddling just happened to have been on the NFCT so that was lucky. there's a picture at the trail box over at the flickr album.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

catching fire

the last thing i needed to complete the 2014 venture vermont challenge was "build a fire without using matches."

i'm pretty sure that a lighter does not count for the challenge.

i learned how to use a bow drill in college, so i thought it would be fun and easy to use a hand lens to do it.

it turns out that the lens on my orienteering compass isn't strong enough, nor is the lens on a little "survival tool" i had in the basement. i tried a 50mm camera lens, and i was able to focus the light sufficiently to get a tiny pinprick of burning and i as able to char an area of my base, AND i was also able to melt wax around a candle wick, but i really had nothing going.

word about procedure: since i was only making fire for demonstration purposes and not actually starting a campfire, i figured that any transferrable or sustained flame would do, since one you had a candle lit or a small flame going, it wouldn't be hard at all to use that like a match flame.

plus i'm not working with a fireplace, which would have helped. instead i picked a small slat of hardwood and decided to make a small flame on top of that.

it made things both easier and more difficult; there was no protection from wind and only a small surface to work on, but i was getting practiced at focusing the sunlight on that one spot.

weeks went by.

i do not even want to know what my neighbors thought of me, out on the lawn, practicing to build fire on nearly every sunny day.

finally i broke down and bought a good-sized magnifying glass at the hardware store.

i got a good sized area of smolder by now, but still no transferrable or sustainable flame.

i kept modifying my tinder.

yesterday i settled on a little cup like structure made of corrugated cardboard, some torn bits of cardboard and paper, and on top of that a little chimney thing made of rolled up corrugated cardboard with bits of wood shavings jammed in.

i was able to get a good smolder as usual but i was not hopeful of getting any actual flame.

and then i noticed: the smolder was active. the breeze was just right for fanning it apparently and the cup of cardboard held in just enough heat and the chimney had just enough draw and i smoked and smoked and smoked and the whole thing got browner and browner and then all of a sudden about twenty minutes in the whole thing BURST into flame.

so. a tiny little fire, but an unqualified success.

yay, me!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

venture vermont!

today i completed the last activity i needed for the 2014 venture vermont challenge.

later i will tell you about it, but it's kind of late in the day to process video. i don't want to tell you what it was yet, but it took me a while.

now i have to assemble all the supporting materials and mail my form in. i feel like i want to hand deliver it!!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

where i am

one of the items on the venture vermont list is to place myself on a topo map using either GPS or map and compass.

now, i do this on a daily basis, so picking just one point represents a bit of choice fatigue with me. i decided to pick crow hill, a place a few feet outside the boundary of the camel's hump state forest. it has a fantastic view, and it's a long bushwhack to get there.

its coordinates are N44° 19.422 W72° 55.275 and here's my map:

Monday, September 01, 2014

how to eat pasta

first est other meals. normal ones. all day. then get really hungry and decide that you need to eat pasta. cook a whole box of it even though there's just one of you. then put some of it on a plate. put so much of it on the plate that it falls off. eat anything that falls, even if it falls between sofa cushions. eat so much that you will be uncomfortable. then when the plate is empty, grab handfuls of pasta from the strainer and scrape out the remaining sauce.

be sure to put the pasta away in the fridge as soon as possible so that you aren't tempted to eat any more. eat a handful of pasta on your way to get and container, and while you are putting the pasta away, stuf as much as you can in your mouth.

are you feeling bloated and uncomfortable yet?


then you should eat more pasta.keep eating pasta until you feel sick.

now you are done.

you may now resume normal activities.


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