Saturday, December 31, 2016

prepared remarks

i am preparing my remarks for when i go out for new year's eve, because i am always interviewed by reporters. my interview doesn't always make print or broadcast, but they always interview me.

it's not because i'm unusually wise or famous, but because i have a hat and scarf that are kind of a fixture and have a level of celebrity that i myself do not possess. because it is not possible to interview the hat and scarf, reporters interview the next best thing: me.

i just find it goes a lot better if i have something brief and meaningful to say.

i am toying with "2016 was a hard year for a lot of us for a lot of reasons, but babies keep getting born. we still sing and dance and the sun still comes up. let's all try to be kind to each other in 2017 and make it a better year."

Friday, December 30, 2016

august views from the res

ok, kids. let's hop in the wayback machine because apparently i have no respect for linear storytelling.

i'm going to show you some pretty views from august, when i was staying on site 7.

little river state park seen from site 7

little river state park, camel's hump in background
waterbury dam and camel's hump
little liver state park
spider web


Thursday, December 29, 2016

librarian lottery, game 1

while i was doing my gig at the state park and living on site 7,  i brought with me three books (besides field guides).

i brought with me mary roach's stiff, which is a book i checked out on purpose, and while i was browsing the stacks for that, i saw a copy of bradford angier's how to stay alive in the woods, which has a rubberized durable cover and i thought would make for very funny reading from my hammock.

in addition, i asked my librarian to pick something for me, which is a thing sometimes they will do if they're not too busy and you aren't going to be fussy about what you get.

stiff is a really cool book, but not so much for the squeamish. mary roach is an awesome science writer. i also went on to read bonk, which is also worth a read.

for some reason i think it's funny to read this book hanging in a hammock on a sunny say.

it's a fairly complete collection of survival information (although you'd want a better plant guide), and moderately entertaining, but mr. angier never uses two words where five would suffice.

and here's the first entry in the librarian lottery.

i said i wanted something light and maybe quirky. the librarian asked me if i minded romance. i do not.

so she handed me this.


charming and sweet.

there's a sequel too, but i do not like it as well. the characters are the same and it's nice to visit with them, but they do not seem to have learned very much from the WHOLE FIRST BOOK, and that bothers me a little. i still thought it was worth reading.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


i just need to close some tabs so i can function.

down the video hole we go!

a man allows his phone to be stolen and tracks the thief

this guys talks in his sleep.

you need this.

and here's a documentary on co-living that's interesting. it takes about ten minutes. starts with autoplay, but it has a mute button.

and OMG it you like radio, or eavesdropping, or are learning a language, or just like cool stuff, there's radio garden!

and last up, this:

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

how to eat breakfast

yeah, BABY. you've waited hours for this. load up that plate with all the food that will fit. hot it up in the microwave.

when you take it out, find a comfortable place to sit because you're not getting up real soon.

start with the vegetables. you like those. eat the cabbage, the broccoli, the onion, the mashed sweet potato.

then you will have more room to really mix the turkey and stuffing in with the gravy.

oh, god, the gravy.

when you have shoveled all of that in your mouth, wipe up any remaining gravy with your biscuit.

yeah, breakfast.

(please adjust menu for dietary needs)

Monday, December 26, 2016

the third spoon

this one is eating size.

i did not know if that's what my brother in law wanted for christmas, but it's what i made him.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

do yourself a favor

this maybe gets old for you, because this is not the first time i've posted this.

but you should listen to willem lange tell his story favor johnson.

it's a vermont christmas tradition, and worth your time.

if you just want to read the story (not as good. really.) hop on over to the VPR webpage. you can listen to it there too, as well as download it.

and if you're inclined, while you're at willem lange's website, you can buy the illustrated book. it is a lovely gift and if you order from him, they come signed.

i gotta go.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

white christmas

i do not really need this map to tell me whether or not i am likely to have a white christmas.

interactive white christmas probability map

i pretty much look out the window.

if it gets very warm today in some freak meteorological event, i suppose all my snow will melt.

it's funny how i just have no instinct for that whole "will there be a white christmas?" thing, since here it's fairly likely that we will have a white halloween and a white thanksgiving and a white easter.

anyway, ion television has a NEW holiday movie airing tonight called "a christmas in vermont", which i cannot imagine is actually filmed here. i may have to watch it just to see.


as we say in my family, happy midwinter gift exchange light festival of your choice.

Friday, December 23, 2016

tale of two sofas

awright, so MB bought me one o' these newfangled inflatable sofas, which is awesome and all the cool kids have them.

i took it out to the campsite to test it with barb one day, but the one MB bought was a cheap knockoff PRETENDING to be the name brand jobber, so she turned around and bought me the real one and i've since returned the knockoff.

this is me on the cheap one the week before the campings.

and some video comparing the two.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

october views from the res

view of little river state park

view looking east toward remote site 9

elephant rock

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

the shortest day

today is the shortest day of the year. the solstice itself happened in the five o'clock hour this morning.

i was awake to notice it, but a dark sky is a dark sky and there wasn't much to notice. and yet, imperceptibly, my days move back toward the light.

here is first light and my house, and sunrise at my house.

tomorrow's length of day will be three seconds longer. a whole three second! but they add up, and they gain speed. by early january we will gain a minute of light each day. you'll hardly notice for another month, but it's there.

and may the light grow within you as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

hard times

i had the misfortune yesterday to overhear some of a guy's phone conversations.

he is desperate and he was crying.

his bank is doing what they do so well: apply fees to money he thought he had scraped together. four days from now his truck is being repossessed. that's how he gets to work, you know? because there's no public transportation. he rents a room in a two bedroom condo out in the country to make ends meet.

and he is crying because he cannot afford to buy christmas presents for his kids.

i have never heard that kind of crying out of a man. those gutteral sobs will haunt me for a long time.

i do not know how to help. i live pretty close to the margin myself. i don't have money to leave under his wiper blade.

i wish i had a nice way to wrap this up. i don't.

Monday, December 19, 2016

adam ruining everything

ok, so occasionally something from adam ruins everything, in which adam conover tells you why that thing you like sucks.

at first i thought it was just a youtube thing, but apparently it's a tv show.

i started looking more closely when i was watching this segment

and i went "hey, is that peri gilpin?"

because yes, it is. and it turns out that a number of famous people appear in this show, but not just actors. also experts in the fields adam is talking about.


here are two more episodes, in case you're not hooked yet.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

so this happened...

this conversation actually happened.

me: i just found a thing on the front of my shirt and popped it into my mouth
       It was nice and crunchy but tasted all wrong
MB: jesus fucking christ, flask
me: i didn't eat it
       I spit it out.
MB: that makes it better?
        you put a dead spider in your mouth long enough to taste it and tell it was crunchy
MB: you could have looked at it
       the 8 legs are kind of a giveaway
       also, if you don't know what something is, DON'T PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH
me: I thought it was food.
       Because what else would be on the front of my shirt???
MB: something that drops dead from the ceiling
me: It was right under my chin.
MB: can we talk about poop now?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

well, shit.

a week or so before i moved in at camp 3 (which is where i lived at thanksgiving) barb and i went by to hang out and prep the site and we saw this really big bunch of shit on the ground.

now at first glance, you might think it's just people being pigs, because it's a very popular spot frequented by people.

but no. no human has that much grass or animal hair in their diet.

that's one of the ways you know it's bear shit.

because it's big like people shit, and shaped a lot like people shit, but there's always way more grasses and game hairs and insect exoskeletons in it.

given the location, it's probably a black bear.

i never did see the bear, which suits me JUST FINE.


Friday, December 16, 2016

winter colors


yesterday i put up my winter colors on the blog, which you maybe wouldn't notice if you read it in RSS.

i totally skipped over the fall colors because i was still depressed about LAST year when i never did get to use my winter colors.

my rule for winter colors is there has to be snow cover.

last year there just wasn't any.

but this year we have snow and i am having to get used to the thing that happens here at winter full moons, in which a full moon is fully as bright as early morning or late afternoon sun because of all the nice white reflective snow and you're sleeping along peacefully and then WHOA, NELLIE, IT'S LIGHT OUT and even if you were wearing an eyeshade your body still thinks it's morning because "my, isn't this unexpected?"

it takes a little while to get used to.

and then of course the moon wanes.

but it's a winter thing.

in summer, you have to be looking in your neighbors' windows to know if they're up yet.

in winter, even if your shades are drawn,, you know when they get up because of all that reflected light.

isn't that gem├╝tlich?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

in the closet

i have a closet roughly the size of my college dorm room.

to be fair, my college dorm room was on the small size and just wide enough to hold a bed, if i put the foot of it under my desk, where it also served as a chair.

some time recently i was talking with people about what shirts we had. it was a simple conversation designed to lure one person into stating what size and style shirt she might enjoy as a gift.

and in the course of it i took a picture of my closet.

why, yes, i did have to back into a wall of shirts to take a picture of the other racks of shirts.

why yes, they are all arranged by spectrum order.

well, first by style and sleeve length and then by spectrum order.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

you should read this.

hey, i was going to post some drivel about the shirts in my closet, and then i read this:

i recommend you do, too.

Monday, December 12, 2016


i have been carrying around a big clear plastic tarp yanno, in case of emergency and sometimes i use it as a nightcover over my gear under the main fly because at night your stuff gets damp if you don't or if it rains sideways any tarp high enough to make comfortable living won't keep out sideways rain but the thing didn't have grommets, which kept me from using it as an awesome tarp over my hammock so then while i was on site 27 i decided to grommet that puppy up BECAUSE I CAN.

so first you reinforce the corner where you're going to put the grommet. i used clear gorilla tape.

then you pinch a hole in the corner with your hole-punching die and you stick the brass piece in there on the grommeting anvil with the sticky-up bit going through the hole and the donut bit on top and you slide the mandrel right in there and start hammering away, turning it a quarter turn each strike just to keep the thing even as the metal crimps.

and you're done.

what i have learned is that nearly every job looks arty if you photograph it on a cut log against fall leaves.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

the video hole

i was going to write you some things about grommets, with pretty pictures and everything, but then i got distracted.

so here ya go.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

the 20th century: i am done with it.

last night i celebrated my birthday with my family. it is our custom to celebrate birthdays on an evening of the nearest weekend, and i always prefer weekend after. it feels like a letdown to celebrate the week before and then have a plain day of, but like added festivities to have a quiet day of but a celebration later.

i spent the day with my mom; yesterday was my day of GETTING A NEW SMARTPHONE OMG OMG i am so excited because now i have finally caught up to the twentieth century, nevermind that we are nearly seventeen years past it.

anyway, i don't have the kind of money to run a data plan for one, but then last spring we realized that if i simply get on my stepmother's family plan and pay her the difference, i DO have the money and even save some. ok, a lot.

phone plans for single people are expensive. family plans become downright affordable.

and also because my mom has a half heated garage, i asked if i could come vacuum out my car. this was an item of much merriment later at dinner, since my mom's idea of quality family time with you is cleaning out your car or your closets or whatever and when we told my sister what we had done, spike said "but it's YOUR birthday, not hers" which sort of gives you the level of the joke.

and then my mom and i went shopping FOR CAMPING GEAR, which you KNOW is like my favorite thing and THEN we all met for dinner at the restaurant we always go to for my birthday.

which means i ate dinner late, i was up late, and i did a lot of things.

oh, what a head.

Thursday, December 08, 2016


last june i was sad about something. very, very sad.

i did not know how i was going to survive the extreme sadness without my heart breaking, but i knew that if MB sent me some kind of surprise present i would be ok.

MB was a good sport about it and ordered me a box of see's chocolates. oh, my gob these things are good.

we developed an adventure game in which i would taste one chocolate and try to identify the tastes and aromas of it and figure out what kind it was. MB had the key, so she could look them up by shape and decoration. each one was a challenge and a surprise.

oh. and delicious.

so kind of a fantastic game to play.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

let's go shopping

today is my birthday. here, more or less, if a conversation i had with MB.

me: i'm not sure how old i am, and i don't feel like doing simple subtraction.
MB: You're 51, aren't you? Which is prime, I'm pretty sure. Oh, wait. 13 x 7. Well, its only factors are two primes. Which is pretty cool. And you'll always be prime to me. Math is not my strong suit in the morning (or maybe at all)*
me: i don't think i'm 51. i was born in '64.
MB: 17 x 3, not 13 x 7.
me: is confused
MB: 52. Weird. I thought you were 50 last year. But apparently you were 51. I used a calculator, since math is hard. Let's go shopping!
me: no, i'd have remembered a biggie. or even the year after. but then i'm like, was that two years ago, or three?
MB: it was 2 years ago. And i love you
me: i love you too. a lot.
MB: All the lots. Including ocelots!
me: i love you ocelot?
MB: Yes!! The lack of a comma is important.
me: i love you, ocelot.

*MB is the kind of person who understands complex math concepts, and knows how the quadratic equation is derived, even though she can never remember it. so if she needs it, she just derives it in the margin of whatever she's doing. me, i consider myself to be doing well to know that there is a thing called the quadratic equation and leave it at that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

some random things

i'm cleaning up some tabs.

here are some random things that i like.

a handy chart so you can know you overhead silhouettes of hawks.

i'm thinking of getting these. because shoe tying is hard.

this looks tasty and i might try it. and as long as you have apple cider, try this.

apparently you can help amnesty international track human rights violations from home.

then there's this:


and then there's kulning.

Monday, December 05, 2016

body heat

saturday morning my friend barb came to visit at camp. she likes camping, but when she's short of time or energy, she likes to come visit at camp, which means she gets to hang out and play at camping and then go home to her own bed.

so saturday morning she came down the trail with an oh-so welcome cup of hot coffee, just the way i like it. i stoked up a good fire,  which in open air in cold weather is a PROJECT. you have to babysit that thing for a couple of hours before there are enough hot coals to make it heat anything.

but then i put the coffeepot on for hot water and i made us some bowls of hot glop.

i know, sounds delicious.

so then we made some plans to go to the river of light festival in waterbury. ordinarily i would not leave my campsite to return after dark because i get freaky about it.

but barb offered to walk me back down to camp after dark.

all of this sort of explains why, at two thirty in the afternoon, with the temperature dropping, i was still hanging out on the campsite and not in my tent.

because in about an hour i was going to go up the trail and get in barb's car.

but then i was too cold. my choices were to conserve body heat NOW while i still had some to conserve, or paddle out and go home.

i cancelled with barb, washed my face in warm water, and got in my tent to begin the warming.

by five o'clock i had to leave it to pee, and when i cam back in i was shivering.

shivering represents a bit of a setback.

so i lay there in my sleeping bags and blankets: two winter weight sleeping bags, two blankets (one over and one under) FOUR air mattresses (two wide and two thick), a yoga mat (keeps the mattresses in place and prevents thermal leakage in the middle), and underneath everything, one o' them silver space blankets.

i sealed myself right in there and proceeded to eat cookies.

because your body is an amazing furnace, but it needs fuel to run on.

i kept saying to myself "i am a bright sun. i am nearly a hundred degrees warm."

i kept checking my parts to see what was warm and what wasn't. belly, chest, crotch, head, all warm. legs, butt, and feet, not so much. good news / bad news.

it took six or seven hours, but at last i was toasty warm.

but then i woke in the morning to an even colder day and a forecast of a colder night and i decided that while my body had recharged quite well, it probably didn't have the reserves to pull that off a second time on short notice.

so i packed my stuff and left camp.

today it's snowing hard and i'm glad to be indoors.

i feel a little chilly even though my heat is up and i am wearing longjohns. and every part of me that CAN be sore is sore.

so i'm pumping fluids and NSAIDS. life would be nicer if i had felt up to unloading the boats from my car yesterday.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


i'm experimenting with making cider vinegar in my kitchen.

i'm using this method more or less, and i have five jars going on my counter all with slightly different configurations.

i'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

october weather

it's old news now, but when i left site 27 in october, it was warm and dry and sunny. i left camp a little early, because what was going to follow was some nasty weather.

here is my gear packed to leave camp on october 19:

and here is what it looked like in my driveway on october 23:

Friday, December 02, 2016


a hundred years ago the era of hardscrabble farms in the valley of the waterbury river was coming to an end. many of the less fertile farms up on the hills had already been abandoned, but there was still a little community, some lumber mills, and a few successful farms in the early years of the 20th century.

Green Mountain Power was already buying up land along the river for a hydroelectric plant.

and then in 1927 the flood came down. water rushed down the valley with sufficient force that when it reached the winooski river the water itself dammed up the flow of the winooski and backed that river up to flood a long way upstream with tremendous loss of life and property.

the state of vermont along with the federal government laid out plans to buy what was left of the community on what is now called the little river and the CCC went to work building an enormous earthen dam. it was determined that as part of the new flood control project the land surrounding should be purchased under eminent domain and the hills reforested.

the river behind the dam is now the waterbury reservoir and all around it is state forest, and the land is set aside for recreation.

the farms are all gone, but some of the handsome orchards that were the farmers' pride still stand.

apple trees do not care if the farmer is dead and the house is gone to a cellarhole. they just keep being apple trees. they bear fruit pretty much as they always did.

i like to collect the branches that drop sometimes, in a storm.

it's pesky wood to work with. it has twisty grain sometimes, and because it's naturally dropped wood there are spots with rot, or insect holes, and you can't so much predict where all the flaws are going to be, but a lot of it is still good wood, and it makes me happy to reclaim it and put it to use.

applewood smells pretty when you work it, and if you can tame it, it has a pretty grain.

oftentimes when i start out to make a thing i don't know exactly what it's going to be or who it's going to be for, but usually as it takes shape i begin to know who it's for and what it will look like.

this is the most recent one.

if you can't find me, i'm out on the res.

on a sunny morning i might could be walking the old orchards, looking for dropped branches.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

extra sexy

it's a running joke by now that MB tells me she thinks people with their boats unloaded and put away are especially sexy.

so here is a video of me being super sexy.


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