Monday, November 30, 2015

you can tell i had a houseguest...

...because this bag was in my house.

no kidding.

you know *I* wouldn't have one.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

glasses holder thingie

a while ago while i was out camping my friend barb came out to stay some and she had a cute little cord that a friend of hers had made to keep her glasses from falling off her face when she falls off a paddleboard.

and i looked at that and thought i should maybe make something for myself for that purpose, especially since i have become all knotty.

i made mine adjustable do it holds my gasses on, but also is a holder i can hang them from if i take them off.


Saturday, November 28, 2015


here is an actual convesation i had with MB last week:

goes to find some fontina to wipe up this pasta sauce

MB:  You use cheese to wipe up sauce?!?
flask: yes.
          that way, more cheese.
          you make that sound bad.
MB:   I've just never heard of that
          It's like a whole new world. I just use bread or my tongue
flask:  it's sort of like wiping it up with bread, only cheesier.
          mind blown
flask: yes, you can. ​laughs
MB:  bows to the master
         I am not worthy

Thursday, November 26, 2015

loading the boats

i know you are both DYING to know how i got all that stuff into the boats.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

buy nothing day

i don't buy anything on thanksgiving or black friday. not in stores, not online. i reserve these two days for the NOT BUYING OF ANYTHING.

i recommend you do, too.


because we have to stop enabling this nonsense.

we have to stop enabling the commercial culture that equates thing buying with being smart, being loved, and being acceptable to our loved ones.

more and more our commercial culture takes family holidays (whether you keep a birth family or a chosen family) and makes them into a death spiral of consumption, competition, unreasonable expectations and- get this- thanksgiving shopping and black friday shopping TAKE US AWAY from our families and our meals in favor of buying stuff we largely don't need.

think: we have an economic model based on exploiting the NEED of the middle and lower classes.

think: we have a culture that promises if we only spend MORE, we will feel secure.

think: maybe you DO enjoy competitive crowded shopping, but maybe your kids / spouse / relatives / friends would like to just sit down with you and enjoy your company.

think: some person, probably working for low wages and hovering near poverty, is now required to go to work whether s/he wants to or not on one of the few remaining days that was left to them.

did you really need to go shopping on thanksgiving? do you suspect there won't be BIG SALES later?

but those stores will be open as long as we keep showing up. those businesses will exploit your fears and their workers as long as we make it profitable.

so i don't buy anything on thanksgiving. not gas, not groceries, even if i run out of toilet paper. and i don't go black friday shopping. i suggest that you don't either.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

old-fashioned thanksgiving

i am having an old fashioned thanksgiving this year. which i mean that i will be arriving by boat and eating limited food under temporary shelter in the dark.

i'm feeling the darkness kind of sharply this year, and one good way to drive it out is to go live in it, alone.

so camping.

chop wood. tie knots. try to make yourself comfortable and you won't notice so much the gnawing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

thanksgivings past, volume two

so after my parents divorced, we had a general sense of relief that we were no longer required to show up as an ensemble for the annual parade of crazy.

but then my mom got a job that required her presence -and ours- on thanksgiving.

it was kind of a cool job. the university used to partner with IBM to bring guys (always guys, somehow) here to get a one year accelerated master's degree in electrical engineering, and they didn't just bring the guys. they brought their whole families to live here for the year.

only about a third of those families were from the US, the rest coming largely from france and germany, with a smattering of japanese and the occasional lithuanian.

and the program was kind of geniusly set up to include support systems for the families, because it can be hard to be plopped down in a foreign country for a year and have to rent a house and do the shoppings and get the kids to school and one of the parents is ALL THE TIME STUDYING.

so my mom's job was coordinating of the living parts of the program. she ran the weekly coffee/support group and the social gatherings and helped make connections and paperworks and all that.

and part of the experience was the good old fashioned american thanksgiving.

it was held at a local retreat center with an dining area and industrial kitchen. the americans would argue over which kind of stuffing / cornbread / pie was the best and how to properly prepare side dishes and we would assure our european and asian friends that these arguments are, in fact, part of a traditional american thanksgiving, especially when regional differences come into play.

it was a potluck thanksgiving. everybody brought things. american families brought all of the traditional regional dishes. the german women (some stereotypes exist for a reason) can loaded up with all kinds of german breads and pastries and bustled about industriously. the french women provided much of the soup and much of the wine and stood around smoking and criticizing the kinds of wines available in the US. the japanese women typically had the least command of english and the least understanding of european culture, and were most likely to bring dishes that looked most obviously japanese, for which they were apologetic.  they seemed to feel the least comfortable and the least like they fit in, but i loved them and i loved their delicious japanese thanksgiving potluck foods.

it was a splendid way to have thanksgiving, and a thing i would not trade for, but when the program ended and we no longer had to go anywhere for thanksgiving, my family largely stepped back to staying at home, not answering the phone, and pretty much doing nothing.

my mom started going to the cape. i took up thanksgiving camping.

when people ask me if my family gets together for thanksgiving and i say no, they typically express some kind of regret that my family is not close.

well, no. we get together for birthday celebrations in late october, mid november, and early december, plus christmas. we just don't do a big thanksgiving usually. we're ok with that.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

the backbone of my camp

later on i'm going to show you a timelapse video of me striking camp.

but while i was tearing down, i got to this moment where is was sad about striking this one line, which i realized was the backbone of my camp. it's a simple length of 550 parcord, anchored in a tree and tied to another tree across the site, but with a couple of lineman's loops, it made a secure and reliable ridge to the rest of my shelter.

not flashy, but important.

Friday, November 20, 2015

thanksgivings past, volume one

there's a sort of crazy that only comes from family, and family holidays are good times for that crazy to manifest brightly.

in my childhood, thanksgiving with grandma and grandpa was a minefield of shifting rules and bizarre disapprovals.

i'm going to paint you a skeleton portrait:

my father's brother was obsessed with new zealand (where he had lived for a year or so), mad magazine, and trotsky-era russian politics, which he talked about as if it were current events. he also had a GIANT LIFE SIZED portrait of JESUS at the head of his bed, which you might think would make his catholic parents happy, but it did not, primarily because my father's brother had converted to russian orthodoxy, nobody knows why.

you know how old guys mumble and they don't hear well and they blame their failures in communication on you because you're inattentive or too lazy to speak up and you are disrespectful? yeah, well, i suspect that my grandfather was one of those guys even before he had his stroke.

putting up the thanksgiving leftovers in my grandomther's slovenly kitchen was s difficult task to which her sole contribution was the valuable effort of retiring to the organ to play hawaiian music for the duration of the cleanup. nevermind that nobody in his or her right mind likes hawaiian music played ineptly on a console organ.

with televisions blaring. from two rooms.

you know how some people say they don't watch a lot of teevee and then they ask you about how you like THEIR favorite shows and when you say "i don't know, i don't watch a lot of tv" they say "neither do we, but we just like (insert names of a half dozen shows you don't watch here) and hint darkly that they can't imagine why you don't have an opinion on them because you're only putting on airs. you've seen the way they "don't watch a lot of tv", and it involves two televisions being on at maximum volume all the time.

and you cannot talk while a show is on.

you should also not show disinterest in a show by reading or playing a game, either.

for thanksgiving, one television was set to the macy's parade in new york and the other was set to the gimbel's parade in philadelphia and my uncle and grandfather locked in a dead serious and unspoken contest over how many people were in the room watching the superior parade from the superior city and by proxy, deferring to the superior person.

also, children may play poker and memorize the odds for drawing to a straight, but children should not ask "who dealt this mess" nor refer to a "lousy hand", because children do not use language like that.

children in particular are targets for broad disapproval, and it was easier for my parents to try to correct the behaviors of us kids than to drill us in the wildly shifting rules.

and it was some years before my parents were able to explain this to us: "sweetie, grandma and grandpa are just fucking nuts and we just want you to pretend to be apologetic for breaking rules that weren't in existence ten minutes before."

i remember the fantastic night on which i decided to join my parents for their walk after an evening meal. i had never been interested in the walk. why were they so wild about walking around the neighborhood after every meal? we didn't do this at home.

and then: ohhhhhhhh.

"did you HEAR the thing he said about bagels?"
"did you SEE him lift a hair off the lip of the milk bottle WITH HIS HANDKERCHIEF?"

it was an escape. all the unreasonable things were out in the open. my parents KNEW about them. they knew *I* knew about them. and now we all knew.

and before we rounded the last corner to go back in the house, my parents turned to me very solemnly and explained that NONE of this conversation had happened, and that when we got back in the house, we were going to start talking about all the nice lawn ornaments we had seen.

so we did.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

random scenes from camp 20

bright sun, snowy morning

you wouldn't see it until the leaves fall

camel's hump from open reservoir

morning from my beach. mind the duck hunter.

up by the boat launch

high chair

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

duck, duck, goose

you've seen the pictures of camp 20, but maybe it hasn't really sunk in for you that it is a high spit of land with water on three sides. what you maybe do not know about his is that it is about the right height that birds low-flying over the water are just about level with the ground on the campsite.

one morning i woke up to the sound of a large flock of geese flying south right about at ear level before they wheeled about JUST OFFSHORE FROM MY TENT to fly north up the other side of my site before they winged up and away for the day.

THAT was quite a wake up call.

in the mornings and the evenings, you'd hear a few rifle shots, because it was duck season. one morning i saw this gentleman come by my point:

he was so stealthy that at first i wasn't sure he was even there.

Monday, November 16, 2015

comforts of home

you realize, don't you, that by the time i get done posting about everything i wanted to show you from my last camping trip, that i will probably be out on my next one?

yeah, well.

i spent some time this year on campsites with outhouses and campsites without. and the state-issue composting toilets are very pleasant, as far as outhouses go. they are sturdily build and protect you from the elements while you enjoy using an actual toilet seat. oh, my, that is the very lap of luxury.

...which is what prompted me to send this picture via text to various friends:

...which prompted one of them to write "you did NOT just send me a pic of you in the outhouse, did you?"

no, not at all. i most certainly did not do that.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

flask's camping protips

Q: which water jug should i pour from?

A: the one that is least frozen.

also, later in the day when (if) the sun comes out, you can put all your water on the silver blanket and maybe thaw them a little.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


ok, so i'm STILL not done telling you about my october camping trip, and at this rate, i will not be done until i leave for my november camping trip.

anyway, i get weird about the woodpile.

i like to leave a site with more firewood than i found on it. that amount is usually "any", but sometimes you get lucky. also, if when you are camping it has the potential of being cold out and you have the potential of NEEDING that fire to sty warm, you want enough wood to last you through a number of hours incase a storm rolls in or some other thing happens and for some reason you have to go a day without cutting new wood.

also, i sometimes do not know how many days i will be on a site, so i want to be prepared.

this leads me to be almost obsessive about my wood cutting.

plus when it's chillly out, cutting wood is a good way to stay warm. it's also satisfying in a kind of primal way.

on vermont state lands unless you hold a lumbering lease you amy not cut live or standing wood, but you're welcome to all the deadfall you can get for purposes of camping. i get weird about it. when i see a big piece of deadfall with saw or axe marls on it that suggest that some other people tried to take this and then gave up because it was too hard, i sort of interpret that as a challenge TO do it.

so anyway. some pictures.

it's a challenge, right?

yep, woodpile.

Friday, November 13, 2015

hey, let's talk about kevin macleod.

the other day i was in a skype conversation with MB and she was playing a cute little game and even through her phone i thought i could identify the music as by kevin macleod. if you've been watching my videos, you have heard his work. i really wish my own music suited the purpose as well, but it doesn't. sad for me.

the good news is that kevin macleod has a huge archive of music suited to scoring projects which he makes available FOR FREE on the internet. you should go there and look.

"but flask", i hear you say. "i do not need music to score projects with." i don't care. kevin macleod is both very talented and very funny, and you should go listen to some of his music and read his descriptions which are both useful and entertaining.

"Action-y intense like percussion based piece. Need to defuse a bomb while riding in a pedi-cab? This should work well for that. Or anything where tension needs to be maintained."

"Lots of little sections ending with soaring horns. Who doesn't like that?"

"This piece is actively painful. It is ugly and nasty and dirty - about as much as you can be using exactly one orchestra. Seriously, there are occasional bits where there are notes - but mostly, it is just... uhh..."

and besides, some of the numbers have available sheet music and some have cute little youtube flicks of the sequencing animations, which are cool to look at.

plus graph paper.

seriously. this dude has a lot going for him.

as for identifying the piece from MB's phone over skype while she was playing a game on her desktop? i am very proud of that, because kevin's catalog (can i call him kevin?) is kind of diverse. he has a lot of sounds.

what tipped me off?  cheap little game. rich scoring. anytime you're looking at a low budget project that has really good music, you check the credits.


oh, in case you are wondering: no, this is not a paid endorsement. even if i had the kind of readership that would support paid endorsements, i'm not about that. i'm not above giving honest reviews of gear just in case some bicycle company wants to know my opinion on the latest, but we get back to my readership just doesn't support that kind of thing. you're both very kind, but not really commercially viable.

also, i have never met kevin macleod.

i may, however, send him a link to this because now i've gone on kind of at length about how awesome his work is.

augh. fangirl.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


on the fifteenth of october i went paddleboarding. it was a beautiful day, but not so warm i didn't need longjohns, or neoprene booties.

i'm doing a thing i only discovered by accident one day in the summer, which is to paddle up into a headwind and then turn and sail back, being pushed by the wind and steering with my paddle in the wind. it doesn't work against the rudder in the air as effectively as it does in the water, but it does work and you can steer it, with some planning and some patience.

i did this three times that afternoon, paddling up and sailing back to camp. you will notice how low the sun is in the sky, even though it's only three o'clock in the afternoon. i am coming to the end of light in the day. i am coming to the end of my time at camp 20. i am coming to the ends of things i cannot fathom but feel in my bones.

we are all of us parting ways.

paddle up, sail home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

the chair

if you're following the story, you know that i've been building camp tables and such at remote campsites on the res. i'd like to stress to you that these are remote sites and not primitive sites, because on primitive sites, it is poor manners to build stuff.

on the remote sites on the waterbury reservoir, people build a wide variety of structures intended to make camp more comfortable. there are steps, benches, tables, fixed ridgepoles that can be used for tarps, and shelves to keep gear off the ground. one site even has a pretty functional little lean-to.

anyway, camp 20 has a lot of table, benches, and table like things, so i kind of thought i would like to build something in a chair, maybe something adjustable.

i know how to build basic things, but past the odd tripod and such, it's all kind of experimental for me. one day i'll be good at it. not yet, but one day.

meanwhile, i am learning a lot about how pieces fit together and one day i'll be a right bushcraft queen.

here are some little movies from my chair building on camp 20.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 09, 2015

Sunday, November 08, 2015

open letter to hillary clinton

dear secretary clinton,

i know this is hard for you to understand, but as a likely democratic voter, i am not voting for you. i am not voting for you even if you are the democratic nominee.

it isn't about senator sanders. it's no secret that i love senator sanders, but if you were an acceptable candidate, you would have my vote if sanders failed to win the nomination.

but you don't have my vote, so in the event that you are the democratic nominee, i will have to choose between voting for the republican nominee or not voting. maybe a write in? i don't know. that feels a lot like not voting.

either way, you don't have my vote.

let's look at at why.

clearly you have the chops to be president. you're a democrat, and democrats scare me slightly less than the republicans. several election cycles ago when it became apparent that one day YOU might be an actual viable presidential candidate, i was really excited. i thought you were going to be a candidate i could really believe in.

but then i looked at your record.

sure, you support civil rights for gay people NOW, and i'll give you the benefit of the doubt that maybe your views DID mature and change with the times, even though i am more likely to think that your views changed and matured along with the focus grouping.

basically, you are a shape shifter. you appear to be whatever the large donors want, and you say whatever you think you need to say to get votes but when it comes right down to it, you leave a trail of acrimonious power politicking everywhere you go, and at the end of the day, you are still in the pockets of the investment bankers and corporate leeches who are stripping the wealth of the united states and the world.

you are not an agent for change, and you are not the ally of regular people. i trust you about as much as i trust chris christie. heck, even ted cruz must occasionally do something that benefits his constituency every now and again.

in short, you are not the solution to the problem. you are not even a warrior in the cause. you are the problem.


cc: DNC

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

return to camp

here's a video of my return to camp after my night at home.

i was kind of worried that someone might have come in the night and stolen my boat, but it was right where i left it.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

the snowy day

snow on tent
on the 18th of october i woke up to snow in my campsite. it was not a surprise to me, because a) it had been snowing on and off the entire previous day and b) i had heard the forecast.

i needed to go home and get some cold weather gear because although i had some, when i'd left the house it was late summer and i had needed to bring warm weather clothes and so didn't have all the cold weather stuff i would have liked.

plus that ONE PAIR OF  jeans i own that fits well over tights, midweight longjohns and fleece longjohns really, really needed to be laundered.

and i needed to buy groceries.

i could have done it saturday, and i could have done it monday, but why NOT do it on the most cold miserable day, if i'm going to leave camp for a few hours?

so i made a bottle of tea and a bowl of oatmeal in the leisurely way you can if you know you're not going to have to sit out all day and i gathered up the laundry, warm weather clothes i wasn't going to be needing anymore, and i got in my boat.

if was a pretty paddle, with a little bit of sunshine breaking out.

i got home, had some food, did some laundry, packed some things.

camp with snow 
i watched the afternoon storms roll in. snow and snow, wind and more wind, grey, heavy skies.

and those jeans were taking forever to dry. sometimes you can wear them damp, but you really shouldn't when you are out in the cold and you depend on them to keep you warm.

so waiting.

and at some point, jeans not dry yet (soon!) i looked at a clock and realized that if i left the house NOW (nevermind jeans or gathering the things i had packed) i was arriving back at the boat landing around 4:30 in the afternoon.
view from camp. pretty.

that maybe does not sound very late to you, but up there, even before the clocks changed, even in the middle of october, 4:30 was the time that the sun disappeared behind the mountain and the long cold twilight of the day began.

and i looked at the snow, and the wind, and the clock, and the fact that my jeans STILL weren't out of the dryer and i decided to sleep indoors for a night.

paddle out

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

first snowy morning

yah- boo, it was COLD out there a couple of them days, i tell you whut.

here's video from the first snowy morning.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

fixed for ya.

i got this email:

now, i've asked to unsubscribe, but they keep making me watch political ads and THEN throwing up an "unable to process your request at this time" message, which totally does not surprise me.

but i'm in a pretty good mood this morning, so i decided to play along and check NO.

this is what happens:



fixed for ya.

you're welcome.

Monday, November 02, 2015

early scenes

here are some pictures rom the first part of my time at camp 20.

morning from my beach

don't tell me these don't look like weird boobs.

just before rain

when the morning sun clears the mountain

cloudy paddle

returning from milk run (note pizza box)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

i got other eggs to fry.

you know how hard it can be to fry an egg?

i mean, even if you have skills and you know how to fry it just how you like it, there's rather a wide margin between "how you like it" and "oh, my goodness, this is perfect." there are a lot of variables.

and then you also want to time your toast right so your toast is done but warm, and then there's the whole other sport of timing the consumption of the eggs with the consumption of the toast so that you run out of toast right about as the plate comes clean.

MB says she likes a little extra toast because that's what lovely jam is for, but i can't be arsed to carry jam to and fro in case i don't get my egg mopping right.

anyway, on friday i nailed it on both counts.

little pleasures.


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