Wednesday, November 30, 2016

sneak preview

i went up to this year's thanksgiving campsite to have a look at it and plan my tarpage and such, and someone had left a roll of toilet paper on top of the shavings bucket.

apparently that makes a cozy nest for mice.

sorry, mice. it's gone now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


everything is under snow now, but a month ago, we had this:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

lazy morning, camp 27

sometimes it doesn't pay you to get out of bed.

on camping mornings my agenda is often to get out of bed and sit in the sun and read for a while.

on this particular morning it was wet and windy, so what's the use?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

in plane sight

i am sorry about the quality of this video, but i had barely enough time to grab my camera.

i have seen this guy fly low over the reservoir and then pull up because boaters or whatnot, but finally i did see him land.

my ranger friend tells me that there are four bodies of water in vermont where it is legal to land a float plane.

the res is one of them.

Friday, November 25, 2016

sure. that's it.

the twleve-year-old in me loves this picture.

i found this in the water outside camp 27.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

old-school thanksgiving

i am writing these posts out ahead of time because by the time you read this i will have been installed quite firmly on a remote campsite on waterbury reservoir.

i am having an old-school thanksgiving.

by "old-school", i mean i will arrive by boat and set up my shelter on land that does not belong to me and i will dine in open air while trying to lay in enough supplies and firewood for the duration.


and it's snowing. there is a half a foot of snow on the ground, so yay.

i hope you guys are warm and well fed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

librarian lottery

i have menu fatigue.

it's hard for me to decide what to have for dinner and also what to read from the library.

so i like to play librarian lottery, which is a totally awesome game if your librarian doesn't mind.

the rules are simple:

1) go to your library and ask the librarian to choose a book or two for you to read. if you have any special needs (like no scary stories about murders that happen on camping trips because i'm going to read this in the dark while camping) you should state them NOW.

2) you have to be happy with whatever they give you. this doesn't mean you have to love or even like every book, but you have to give them an open-minded try and you don't get to feel grumpy about the choices. you have EYES. you can read flyleaf blurbs. you're asking your librarian to surprise you, so you have abdicated your right to be fussy.

3) read the books. then when you return them, remember to tell the librarian how much you liked the game, even if you did not love the books.

this year while playing librarian lottery i read some books i loved completely and that i never would have found on my own, some of which led me to other books i also loved.

i also read some books that i enjoyed but didn't love.

the one book i couldn't finish, i couldn't finish simply because i needed something funnier and easier to read. i would probably like the book at another, easier time.

later on i will be reporting back to you about some of the big winners.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


this is what camp 27 looked like when i arrived there on 7 october.

pretty, yes?

Monday, November 21, 2016

more camp food

while we're on the page of experimental eating, i decided to investigate whether or not some of these prepared foods could be heated on a campfire and not in the microwave as intended.

the rice ones, not so much, but pasta in sauce works just fine if you heat it in a water bath. it takes longer than just boiling water, but if you have a fire going anyway, you have hot food with no hassle.

bon appetit.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

random scenes from camp 13

yeah, i know it was one camp and three months ago. it's still pretty.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


here is a thing i have recently discovered:

frozen falafel from your grocery store is completely delicious if you put it in TOASTER NAAN.

i know. this is not at all authentic, but it is delicious.


you should spread some hummus in there, too.

and now because it sounds fun, i want a wafflefalafelnaan.

Friday, November 18, 2016

tuna surprise

while camping, i made some tuna surprise.

what makes it a surprise is that it tastes good.

i made several experimental tuna surprises, all with good result.

tuna surprise 1: parboiled potato, sliced halfways and baked foilwrapped in fire with some carrots, some seasonings (i had non hand honey, cider vinegar, and soy sauce,  so i used all three. don't judge.), and a packet of tuna on the top.


tuna surprise 2: instant cornbread stuffing prepared with boiling water from camp stove, with tuna and melted cheese. also delicious. this also works with mashed potatoes.

tuna surprise 3: i made this at home just for giggles. because science. it turns out that instant mashed potatoes panfried with cheese and tuna is pretty good, but would be improved in taste by leaving out the tuna.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

pottery bar

ok, so i have to run an errand for my mom at the other end of the res and i paddled down there and there was a nice square chunk of clay that had fallen in the water from one of the clay banks.

so i picked it up and put it on my bow and then i went up to a sand bank and got the finest sand i could find to wedge it with.

and then i spent a week making some little primitive pots. they are not fancy, but once again, i am learning skills.

and i spent some time stone burnishing them, and i let them dry out on the rock, bringing them in under tarps at night.

and while i waited, i cut and piled firewood. you need a lot of firewood to fire pots in a pit kiln.

i rebuilt the fireplace on site 13. i laid in a base of wood on the bottom. i covered it with a bucket load of an invasive water plant i had pulled up. i packed my little pots with it and with pine needles and such. i buried and packed them and laid my fire on top of them.

and then i lit that fire and kept it hot all day.

the hard part was letting the pit cool down the next day, and the day after.

because you can't take those pots out of there until they're cool.

the pottery bar

first day fire
second day coals

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

stay tuned for the exciting denoument

here is a video i started recording, but then ran out of battery.

it's not well focused, but you get an idea of what morning light was that day.

also, it's a teaser.

don't  you want to know why i had lit a bigass fire first thing in the morning?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

the world is not your ashtray.

about half the time when i see people smoking in public, i see those same people toss their butt onto the ground.

sometimes they do this without even bothering to put it out first.

i have known a few smokers who field strip their butts and pocket the filters. mostly, you get this:

no points for arranging them neatly. none.

Monday, November 14, 2016

the breakfast room

sometimes when i live on a campsite, parts of it begin to feel like different rooms of a house.

on sire 13, i had the breakfast room.

the spit of rock down at the boat landing was reasonably flat and level and it got the morning sun well ahead of the rest of camp, so in the mornings it was very pleasant to go down there and have breakfast in my chair with a book.

here is the view from the breakfast room that same morning.

and here is the food prep / work  / tool storage area.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


ever since i got it into my head to make a hammock out of paracord last year,  i have also been making some other paracord projects because why not?

chain sinnet is my knot of the year, apparently,  and i have bade a few bags with it. they're not lightweight bags, because a standard water bottle will take somewhere around 70 feet of paracord. i like it for smaller pouches the kind you might use to carry something that needs a little padding, like a charge box or such. and in an emercency, you have 70 feet of paracord.

i used this guy's method.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

adventures in grocery shopping

i have an addiction to bolthouse farms mocha cappucino beverage.

i am not proud of this for a lot of reasons, but also my day sucks if i don't drink half a 32 -ounce bottle to start it every morning.

so every week i but 3 to 6 bottles, depending on sale price and how many i actually have on hand. lately the supply has been wonky so yesterday i decided to call ahead before i made a special trip into town just to buy this ONE THING.

hello, my name is (name) and i'm calling to see if you have bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino in the 32 oz. bottle.
what were you looking for?
bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino in the 32 ounce size.
hang on a moment.

i am put on hold, and another person answers the phone.

hi, i'm calling to see if you have the 32 oz. size of bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino.
the 32 oz size of bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino.
oh, mocha coffeemate? i'm sure we have that.
no, bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino. in the 32 ounce bottle.
yeah, we have mocha.
bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino? in the 32 ounce bottle? in the produce section?
oh. this is grocery.

i am put on hold again.

this is (name), in produce.
hi, my name is (name) and i'm calling to ask if you have bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino in the 32 ounce size.
hold on and i'll go check.


i have three bottles. when you get here just knock on the door. (this is the door at the back of the produce department. it is understood that i have done this before.)

so i get in my car and drive twenty-some-odd minutes to the grocery store and i go knock on the door and the nice lady says brightly oh, you're here for the protein plus.

no, i'm here for mocha cappuccino.
oh, well last week somebody called for the protein plus.
i called about the mocha cappuccino.
let's go look.

we get there and there are no 32 ounce bottles of bolthouse farms mocha cappuccino, but there are a lot of 15 oz bottles.

this is a problem to me because the 15 ounce bottles are very much more expensive per ounce than the 32 ounce bottle. i say that this right here is why i called the store from home before driving twenty minutes over here for this one thing and she says she'll ask her manager if she can sell me two 15 ounce bottles for the same price as the 32 ounce bottle.

i tell her that i need that price to be the same as if i'm buying fifteen ounces at that price, or else i am buying 30 ounces for the price of 32, and the woman just looks confused.

she comes back some minutes later with the very good news that her manager has approved for me to buy two fifteen ounce bottles for the same price as the 32 ounce bottle and she has no idea why i don't want to pay the same price for 30 ounces as i would pay for 32. she does not understand why i think this is not a good deal, and she keeps repeating that i'm getting TWO.

and i keep saying yes, but the two together are still SMALLER than the one big one and this is why i called from home. because i wanted the 32 ounce bottle.

and she said you could order a case.

and i said i wanted them TODAY. that's why i called from home ahead of time and got in my car and drove twenty minutes to get them.

and she said you could order some and they would be here by sunday.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

the wolf at the door

yesterday was a rough day for me, i think.

yesterday i learned that i have lupus.

that's a mixed bag and i feel ambivalent and kind of smacked around.

the mixed part is i'm over fifty years old and have always HAD lupus, so it's not like all of a sudden i have a disease i didn't have before.

i have lived for a long time with a lot of pain and weird allergies and unexplained flareups of medical problems that are here and gone but it's just pretty much been my baseline condition.

fatigue and pain that come and go and for which there's never been any explanation.

the doctor said "rheumatoid arthritis and lupus" and i just continued nodding while he talked of treatment options.

and then "hey wait. are you saying i have either of those things?"

and he said "probably both. but with the DNA marker and the antibodies and the symptoms, yes. you have lupus."

so i felt sad about that, but all of a sudden there's a REASON for a lot of these things and beyond there being a reason (and boy, i tell ya, that  takes a weight off of you), there are also TREATMENTS.

there are no guarantees any of them will work and it may take time to find something that does and even with good treatment, there's always the risk of flare-ups.

but HOLY SHIT it puts some hope in me, because "i am in pain and the pain has no known reason and it is only going to get worse as i age" was not giving me a lot of hope.

also, here's more good news. i wear glasses. sometimes (skiing and biking) i wear contacts. those things are expensive enough, but my insurance does not cover those doctor visits. now as a bona fide lupus patient, i'm going to have to go to an OPTHALMOLOGIST for a yearly checkup and while i'm there they can also update my glasses prescription and THAT'S covered by my insurance.

i am mary sunshining the hell outta this.

because i feel kind of beat up.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

drinking the milk

i'm lactose intolerant to a degree. this is not unusual.

but i like cold cereal sometimes.

this has largely been a process for me of letting the cereal get moist and then draining the milk out of the spoon. drinking the milk was out of the question.

and then MB turned me on to almond milk.

it is a whole different world out there.

Monday, November 07, 2016

little baskets

i am experimenting with primitive weavings, and while i was out on site 13 i used cattails to make some little baskets.

they are not terrible sophisticated, and i have not really learned the skills, but it's a start.

it's not that same as little boxes, but malvina reynolds was awesome.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

sweet potato

here's a thing you can cook on your campfire.

it is delicious.

cut your sweet potato crosswise and stuff it with a little butter and two marshmallows. then bake it in foil as you would any other potato.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

amenities of modern life

thursday afternoon we had a thing that was not really a storm, but it carried sporadic strong wind gusts.

starting about 6:30 i as without electricity. which also means no heat and no water.

ok, so no shower, even though i had skipped a day and really needed one.

and then yesterday afternoon i was suddenly without water.

apparently the electrical line to our pumphouse was fried and both our well guy and our electrician need to tend to it, and our electrician is not available so MAYBE if we can get someone else to do it today we MIGHT have water by tonight.

last night i bathed respectably well in my tub with jug water i heated up in the kitchen.

occasionally i get confused and cannot remember whether is is the water or the electricity that is out.

fo instance i go into a room and don't turn on a light because i forget it's the water and not the power.

in other news, i got my first solid nights sleep last night and had completely unremarkable dreams about normal things.

Friday, November 04, 2016

last night i dreamed

i was attending freshman "formal dinner" for the school where i used to work. it was more or less just gathering the freshman class in decent clothes to eat together using actual table manners. since i no longer work there and didn't have to stay i slipped out the back to go to sleep in my car.

i was hoping to make out with MB, but she was working on some documents so i went back into the mcdonalds to use the bathroom but there was someone in one of the stalls so i decided to practice a soft shoe dance and while i was doing that someone else came in and went straight into the empty stall and i felt a little embarrassed because i probably could have just done that, but my brown loafers(1) looked sharp, so i kept dancing.

when i was done, the manager came to tell me that the restrooms were only for the use of PAYING customers and i said "oh, i'm paying" and then i decided to walk to MB's apartment.

when i got to new york, it took me a long time wandering up and down hallway after hallway of farmer's market stalls before i finally came out in times square, which as you know features some sculptures by george rickey(2) and is carpeted in bright orange and hot pink with wavy lines(3)(3.5).

a cop ran by me very fast, as if on his way to an emergency and when i got there a woman with a VERY LARGE revolver had just shot a man for opening a can of soup. since i happened to have a can of soup with me, i threatened to open it and she threatened to kill me for it, but i made some sarcastic remarks about soup cans in general and turned my back on her and walked away.

it was tense for a few moments, but apparently sarcasm about soup cans is an effective defense to gun violence and i was unharmed. the officer was angry, though.

it was sunrise on the deserted streets on new york (4) and as i descended a very long concrete staircase into a totally empty parking lot i was thinking that i wanted to get home to MB and "why am i wasting time walking when i could take the subway?"

so i made my way to the vietto subway stop(5) and tried to buy a metrocard and there was no machine to do that, but there WAS a machine for subway TOKENS(6) so i put my last fifty cents into that and it gave me $3.32 canadian (a loonie, a twonie, a quarter, a nickel and two pennies)(7) plus a large ball of aluminum foil and a few grosgrain ribbons that had for some reason been silver-plated.

i had to doublecheck that i was at the right subway stop. yes, VIETTO.

and i couldn't get in. couldn't find a single living person.

so then i was in a hotel room with my friend barb and i was trying to find a clean pair of bike shorts and for some reason barb was building a wheelchair ramp for somebody as a pretext for some kind of investigation and we were talking and we didn't want people watching to be suspicious so i picked up a brush and started staining it brown.

bard said she didn't know how wide to make the ramp, and i said "i think you're going to have to ask the client" and now we were for real building a ramp in a hotel room instead of fake building a ramp in a hotel room and i do not know exactly when this happened, but i had picked up some sort of combo meal and it had way more food in the bag than seemed physically possible, but it included a breaded chicken breast sandwiched between two hash brown patties.

then barb decided to wash a tarp covered in cement mix in my washing machine and that did not go well.

there was a five foot high wave of grey water that swept across my basement and i was trying to get ahead of it, picking up my red wool socks and the grey cabin socks before they got wet and for some reason this made barb mad.

and then i was sweeping dirt and leaves off of my front steps while my mother and sister watched out the window and it was kind of an all day job and i was only two steps into it (8) and i realized that the party guests were going to be arriving in a few minutes and i had no food in the house.

that's about when i woke up.

it is no surprise that i do not feel well-rested.

(1) i do not own any brown shoes that are not hiking boots.
(2) it does not.
(3) it is not.
(3.5) part of place bonaventure in montreal used to have a carpet like that back in the late '70s. i still have nightmares about it.
(4) this just does not happen in new york.
(5) correct me if i'm wrong, but i do not believe such a thing exists in new york.
(6) they don't have subway tokens anymore in new york.
(7) they don't have pennies in canada anymore.
(8 i don't have front steps.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

brave new world

yesterday, we lived in a world where no living person had ever seen the cubs win a world series.

awesome. go cubs.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

headlamp lantern redux

i did it the first time because it was in the venture challenge.

while i was living on site 13, i kept one in the evenings on my boat landing and it was pretty.

sorry about the picture quality; i took the picture with low light from my boat, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

it was cold

on the 25th of september, it was cold at my campsite. cold and windy.

there was nothing for me to do but to crawl into a sunny spot out of the wind and bask.

down below the main site, in the shadow of the big rock, the ferns were warm and aromatic.

here is what it looked like from where i lay:

and here is what i looked like.


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