Wednesday, September 30, 2015

not that hillary for america reads this blog

they certainly don't respond to unsubscribe requests.

just now i've gotten ANOTHER email from those asshats.

Friend --

This deadline matters. It would mean so much to me if I had your support before midnight:

get this through your head: i am not your friend. i'm not supporting you, and i never have.

open letter to the hillary clinton campaign

dear hillary clinton campaign,

for some reason you guys send me emails like i support your campaign.

i don't.

i mean, if it comes down to hillary or ted cruz, i'll take hillary, but i won't be happy about it.

please stop sending me campaign emails. i keep unsubscribing from your mailing lists, but you keep clogging my inbox anyway.

on my latest attepmt, you made me watch a political ad before you told me you can't process my request.

come to think of it, ted cruz is looking better all the time.

love, flask.

Friday, September 25, 2015

maybe you noticed

i suddenly stopped posting after a good daily streak.

turns out i was camping longer than anticipated.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


i'm going camping.

in real time, by the time you read this, i will just have come back, because i like to post ahead in case i go camping or something.

anyway, i have goals.

i want to learn to draw something.
i want to write a letter. on paper. with ink.
i want to whittle some things.
i want to make an adjustable eyeglass holder from cord.
i want to build a lashed camp table out of dri-ki.
i want to read a novel, maybe a novel and a half.

and you know, mess around in boats.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

open letter to people who manufacture and sell tampons

dear manufacturers and sellers of tampons,

this plastic applicator asshattery has got to stop.

nevermind that applicatorless tampons are really more ecologically sound than the cardboard, but really. i get that sometimes we just don't want to have to jam a finger on up in there.

but plastic? seriously?

i thought we were trying to pack our landfills with LESS plastic, not more. and i realize that you don't really care about my opinion because i'm not your target demographic. one day soon i will buy my last box of tampons ever.

did i mention that day is coming soon?

anyway, it's harder and harder to get tampons of any brand or size or package without the plastic that's really going to jam up landfills and when you DO manage to find cardboard ones, they include either a sample plastic one OR the package includes a suggestion to TRY the modern, easy-to-use plastic ones.

WHY, tampon industry, WHY?

is it THAT much cheaper to produce plastic? and how much cheaper would it be if we put a surcharge on you for every one of these plastic things that goes in a landfill and a super penalty for each one of these plastic things the gets found on a beach or parking lot or ocean?

how then?

because we all DO pay for that.

it's time for you to stop this nonsense.

love, flask.

Monday, September 21, 2015

views from the rez

here are some pretty views of and from my campsite and stuff.

morning fog, view from my chair

view of campsite from water

messing around with boards

it's like an anti-gravity recliner

neighbors at night

party lights

fall and summer. view from chair.

view of campsite from south

view of campsite from north

packed up to go

Sunday, September 20, 2015

goodbye, old friend.

it happened a long time ago, and since then i have kept the red bike in my garage, not wanting to part with it, and also knowing i could never ride it again.

but my garage is small, and i recently added another bike and a paddleboard to my collection, and i still want to be able to put my car in there.

so i called up bike recycle vermont. they do some really fine work in the arena of rebuilding bikes and making bike transportation accessible to everyone. they work out of the old north end, and they said they would be happy to take my beloved old bike and turn it into parts for bikes that other people will love.

which is the best i think i can hope for.

goodbye kiss

Saturday, September 19, 2015

when things go right

i was getting together some pretty pictures to share about a recent camping trip, but i have this one blurry picture that represents one of those fantastic moments in your life and i thought i'd just break it out for you.

i went out and made camp early in the day on friday. barb comes from work on friday and if i want her to be happy about starting my adventures the SECOND SHE GETS DONE WORK i sort of think i ought to do the prep work.

so all she has to do is show up with her boat, her sleeping bag, and her own personal gear.

...and here's the important part: a nice fresh pizza.

and i get a text from her that she's loading her boat and i hop on my board and go to meet her.

it's a fantastic sunny evening, with long golden light over still black water and when i meet her halfway up she is almost the most perfect thing i have ever seen, placidly paddling down the reservoir and SHE HAS TWO PIZZA BOXES STRAPPED TO HER BOAT.

so we stopped right there. i sat down on my board with my feet hanging in the water and we ate pizza in the dimming day.

and then we went to camp.

sometimes life is just perfect.

Friday, September 18, 2015

board hanger

i think i mentioned that i got a paddleboard.

yeah, so there's a thing about storing the thing.

and hanging it from the garage ceiling seems like the thing to do, so i went on the youtubes to see if there was a thing about how to do that (because of course there is) and i found this:

so i went to the hardware store and i bought the things i needed, and managed to put it up.

only when i went to put my board up in there, i realized one real problem for me with this design: i am about a foot too short to use it comfortably.

but i had a headstart in that i had a good idea of how the original design worked, so i just modified it so i had a second pulley instead of a front cradle and now i can just put it in the thing and hoist it up.

here's me building it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

get your shit together.

recently i was checking out a couple of empty campsites and at at the top of the ridge, you know, right where you'd PUT a composting toilet if you had such a thing- i came across a pile of shit daintily covered with toilet paper.

ok, let's start here.

if you are taking a dump in the woods, there's some disagreement as to the proper disposal of your shit depending on the environment. most sources suggest digging a cathole and burying everything if no toilet is available.

NO sources recommend leaving a big pile of two or three days' worth of shit and covering it lightly with toilet paper under any circumstances.

in the case of THIS hatwipe, leaving a pile of shit like this is especially egregiously wrong because the view from the place where this person obviously squatted on more than one day INCLUDES  A NICE CLEAN MODERN COMPOSTING TOILET.

seriously. in order to squat here, you had to ignore the toilet.


in order to squat here...'s hard to ignore a BUILDING here.

i mean, granted, it blends in with the trees and my picture is out of focus, but that is definitely a BUILDING. it's like fifteen feet tall.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

camp table, take two

for the venture vermont challenge i built quickish at a campsite a table made of found wood and twine.

it wasn't at all an elegant affair, but you could put a couple of bags on it to keep them off the ground which is all you really need sometimes.

but more recently i was out on "the rez" at a different campsite with a general dearth of appropriate camp "furniture", so on one of the days barb was out there, we put my paddleboard under tow and went out in the kayaks to harvest dri-ki in the uninhabited coves.

we found wood for the fire, nice driftwood for table making, and two fat logs that make super lovely endtables.

and i spent a happy day working on design and execution of a new table for the campsite that is both stylish and sturdy.

i'm not good at it yet, but i am learning.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

forest landowner

one of the items on the venture vermont challenge is to go for a walk "in the woods with a forest landowner, logger, or forester" and while that's not difficult in principle, you have to call up your forest managing friends and ask them to make time.

what a happy coincidence it was, then, that as i was coming out of the woods after a bike ride, i ran into my friend jim on his way back from lunch.

now, i know it says "walk", but jim was on a bike and i was on a bike because that's just the way we roll.

he was on his way back out to the splitter, but he was happy to have me come along and he was happy to talk with me about the management of this particular forest.

state representative jim mccullough and his wife lucy ("be sure you mention lucy, because it's the jim and lucy show") own and manage the forest at the catamount family outdoor center. They harvest wood from the forest to heat the house, which is also the catamount bed and breakfast.

because the property is under current use, the forest has to be managed under a plan made with the chittenden county forester according to sustainable forest practices. They cut only marked trees, but wind storms in recent years have given enough blowdowns that they cut up a lot of what's already down.

As part of their forestry plan, they select mature trees for harvest, which gives trees in the understory opportunity to grow. they also give consideration to where mature trees are sited with relation to trails for what jim calls "social value" because a nice mature forest is pretty to walk and run and bike in. near the trails they'll leave mature trees as they are, but in the large forest areas between trails, they'll thin the basal area  between thirty and fifty percent.

here's a little video of it. i have to apologize for the sound quality; i wan't expecting to meet jim, so i had my camera set up waterproof instead of sound friendly.

Monday, September 14, 2015

morning person

it seems unlikely, but i am apparently a morning person.

although to be fair, i do not do my mornings in the fashion of those who just jump out of bed when the alarm goes off and are bright and shiny.

my morning begins sometime around four or five when i START TO WAKE UP. this doesn't involve an alarm clock. it happens organically, and it's a process that takes somewhere between a half hour and an hour. i move experimentally, thinking a little and dreaming a little the half dreams of the half asleep. maybe i fall asleep again, maybe not.

for a while i just enjoy the comfort of the bed, and when i have moved on from thinking and dreaming to just thinking, it's time to get out of bed. this is usually around five or six.

i pull on clothes, brush my teeth and wash my face and i wander downstairs to get my breakfast beverage.

then i like to sit at my desk and look at emails, play some games, and in general take a slow start.

often between eight and eleven i wander off to make a plate of real food.

i get my best work done between six and ten.

it's lovely.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

september afternoon at catamount

it's kind of leisurely riding even for a middle aged lady who can't really be having too much of an elevated heart rate, but here's some footage from some pretty trails on a pretty day.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

scavenger hunt update

unless you are a child or are going to an outdoor party attended by a lot of good sports the item "Create your own nature scavenger hunt and photograph your friends completing it." presents rather a challenge.

i figured i had to get creative and i asked my geographically scattered adult friends to play my scavenger hunt and provide photo documentation of their finds, which is as close as i am going to get to photographing them completing it.

the trick about a nature scavenger hunt for adults who are in diverse habitats is that you have to ask for items specific enough to be challenging, yet general enough to be possible in different locations.

my scavenger hunt list can be found here in case you missed it.

flurgh, who lives in texas, and rapunsell, who lives in new york city, were both good enough sports to take the trouble to send in completed entries and will both be receiving fabulous prize packages.

rapunsell is something of an authority on edible wild plants and would have kicked butt on that alone had it not been for the cap on points in that category. it is worth noting that her photo of a feral peach tree was taken in central park.

texas, however, is apparently a wonderland of invasive species, escaped crops, and grazing animals. and besides, flurgh managed to identify some abandoned fishing line as the BRAND NAME fireline, which is pretty darn clever and i awarded full points for that.

flurgh comes out ahead by seven or so points and is therefore declared the champeen of the 2015 flask nature scavenger hunt.

Friday, September 11, 2015

whatever boats float

ok, ok, so while technically seeing that your boat made of natural materials does not float, i think the folks over tat the DFPR maybe had in mind boats that float.

i made a loose weave raft from moosewood branches and pine sticks, and a little canoe of pine.

SS pine

SS Moosewood

Thursday, September 10, 2015

the SS Stone

there's a thing on the 2015 venture vermont challenge that reads "Build a boat out of materials you find outside. See if it floats".

so i built this beautiful little boat of PEI sandstone, a sumac mast, and a knotweed sail.

of course i did.

because i am a smartypants.

and i know you are dying to know this: no. it does not float.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


well, you wouldn't notice, but i took off last friday afternoon to go kayak camping because i liked it so much the first time.

it turns out that you can strap a couple hundred pounds of camping gear to a paddleboard and tow it behind a kayak.

so luxury camping at remote paddle site! yay!

later on there will be pictures and stuff.

Monday, September 07, 2015

goin' for a swim

ok, so i'm fully clothed and wearing a PFD, but it's swimming, sort of.

kind of like lounging in the water, but i'm not fussy.

Sunday, September 06, 2015


"Learn to tie three new knots" is on the venture vermont challenge.

i can tie half hitches and bowlines and clove hitches and larksheads, but i got out my knot book and picked three i didn't know.

i learned a proper tautline hitch, and because nearly every source suggests that a much more USEFUL knot for the same purposes would be the midshipman's hitch, i learned that, too, because it seemed like the right thing to do. it is mostly recommended for tying down tent stakes, and because the midshipman's hitch is made up of an awning knot and a half hitch, it is apparently recommended in the case that you fall overboard and just HAPPEN to be able to catch a trailing line.

tautine hitch

midshipman's hitch

i also learned the butterfly loop (also called the lineman's loop), which has practical applications and is a good knot anywhere you need a loop with even load on both sides, and it can be used to isolate a bad section of rope in a pinch.

butterfly loop

butterfly loop (closeup of knot)

and then i learned to tie the good luck knot, which is almost entirely decorative, but i guess you could use it if you needed to start a rope basket or something.

good luck knot

closeup of good luck knot

Saturday, September 05, 2015


i think i already mentioned how the venture vermont challenge caused me to be standing on a paddleboard for the first time ever.

i think i may have mentioned that it was a lot of fun.

so the following saturday i got myself up to umiak (where they have a test pond you can try boats in!) and i ended up buying a paddleboard. it was not, alas, the board that i liked the best, but let's face it: mountain biking is my primary sport, and i have a truckload of expensive bikes for that, so i can't just be spending bazillions of dollars on equipment for a secondary or even tertiary sport.

the board i got, though, i a pretty nice board, and it turns out that it is one of the boards favored for stand-up paddlboard YOGA, should i ever get into that.

i do not think i will ever be into that.

i have enough trouble with yoga on something that's NOT moving.

anyway, my new board is AWESOME.

here's some video.

Friday, September 04, 2015

interpretive programs

i have been using vermont state parks since i arrived here in 1973. not once did it occur to me to go to an interpretive program at one until i did last year's venture vermont challenge.

i've still only been to programs at little river state park, because that's the one closest to my house, but i am sufficiently impressed that i have gone a couple of times SPECIFICALLY for the program.

this year barb and i went to the owl prowl and ghost hike (which is a combined nighttime nature and history walk). we planned a weekend around it and arrived at little river state park from our remote campsite via kayak.

and then hiked up from the boat landing to the hike.

and then back.

it was a fantastic no moon dark paddle back to camp after.

and then i went to the saturday morning mushroom walk, because i am interested in mushrooms in general and it is always awesome to go out into the field with someone who knows more than you do.

Brian is the naturalist at little river state park, and although his main area of expertise is ornithology in general and warblers in particular, he has made himself pretty much an expert on all the things that grow or creep in the park.

also, he's studied the history of the old farmsteads up there, so that makes him kind of awesome.

he's good at making his presentation suitable for whoever turns up, because there might be people who know stuff already, or he might be talking to six-year-olds and he has to make it a worthwhile outing for everybody, which is kind of a tall order.

brian at work

Thursday, September 03, 2015

goodbye and hello

yesterday i was on my way to pick up barb to take her to the hospital mostly because the regularly scheduled thing required sedation and she needed a driver to take her home, plus anxiety over never having an IV or anesthesia before and you want a friend with you.

my old car (a 2006 subaru forester with 168,000 miles on it) had gotten to the point where every time i brought it in for an oil change or a tire change over, the cost of the repairs was in the hundreds, and also every couple of weeks i had to throw in a quart of oil.

there's a sensor light that goes off when it needs you to do that- you go around a hard corner and the cruise control light starts to flash and the first time it happened i was all afraid but then i learned it's the car's way of saying: "hey, it's been a couple of weeks. how 'bout another quart of oil?"

i was going to stop on my way to barb's house to buy a quart of oil because turning onto bolton notch road the light came on and i was headed down bolton notch road (down being the operative word here, because bolton notch road is steep enough that in the winter if you are smart, it gives you pause) and all of sudden my engine has WAY TOO MANY RPMs and then the car made a noise i have never heard from a car and later the tow truck driver would ask me what kind of noise it was, and all i could say was "i don't know, horrible?" because i was really kind of concentrating on BEING GOING DOWN BOLTON NOTCH ROAD WITH THE KIND OF STEERING AND BRAKES THAT YOU HAVE LEFT WHEN YOUR ENGINE DIES.

you know, because a disabled car at the bottom of the road where you can at least safely pull far enough off to the side is much better than a disabled car in the traveled lane on the steep part of the road.

so then there were a flurry of phone calls: barb, my mom, towing. there was a lot of figuring to do in a big fat hurry. and then an hour or so of waiting next to the car. happily there was a shady spot and i had brought a chair and had a book to read.

when the tow driver arrived, he didn't so much as say good morning. he set to work like a flash, partly because he's a taciturn new england type and partly because to load my car he had to block off traffic and there was a dump truck waiting for him in each direction.

so then there was a long ride to the car place and when i got there i tried to call her but she wasn't picking up the phone so i walked around to the front of the building and she was coming out to meet me.

i swear, this conversation really happened:

"oh, there you are."
"how do you like this one?"
"does it come in other colors?"

it is very disorienting to have this happen in this way.


and also, when you set out in the morning with no intention of buying a car, there are certain things you leave undone, like cleaning your stuff out of the car, or removing all of the bike racks.

you know, and then those things have to be done in the dealer's parking lot on a hot afternoon while you're under some stress.

but i was up there on the ladder working on it and all of a sudden i thought. wow. it is hot out. and i did not bring any water.

and all of a sudden, as if on cue, the salesman came walking out with a big cup of cold water because, he said, "i'm sure you need this by now"

the salesman's name is mike. my family buys a lot of cars from him, because we like subarus and we like mike. of course, like all car salesmen, his career rather depends on how many cars he actually sells.

we like mike, and he takes good care of us as a family, so i'm going to say it here: that's mike, at twin city subaru. go buy a car or three from him.

so anyway, i have a 2016 subaru forester. i like it very much. but the last time i closed the door on my old car, i bent over and kissed it on the hood before turning away with tears in my eyes.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

a day on the rez

when we were out camping on waterbury reservoir last week, barb and i saw a lot of people go by on stand up paddleboards, which looked like a LOT of fun to us.

and it's one of the things on the venture vermont challenge, so all the more reason to try, yes?

so we did.

and the awesome thing about the SUP is that you can hop on and off of it a lot easier than you can with a kayak, so easy to flit around, or just slide off into the water and go swimming.

and i can tell you plainly that when you fall off of one, it hurts a lot less than when you capsize a snark sunfish. you just slide off into the water. it's lovely.

anyway, here are some pictures.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

a letter in your box

right, so.

i'd always intended to go letterboxing. i had even carved a stamp to use but until last year's venture vermont challenge came along, i just had never gone out to actually DO it.

since then i've been to a number of letterboxes and now letterboxing is on my list of Stuff I Do.

cool, yes?

this year i made you a little video.

seen on the way



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