28sep02 . . . . .
So, a combination of two advances in domestic technology led to a surprising Friday morning yesterday.
One: I put a curtain in the teeny 5x6 laundry room doorway. The room is cold, the cold can stay in there and not give the whole house the freeze. I was pretty proud of my dowel-and-hooks arrangement. It works well.
Two: Greg did the laundry. Generally, when I do the laundry, I wait for a sunny day and hang the laundry out on the line. Greg is one of those guys who runs out of socks and underwear, so he decided to splurge and dry the clothes in the dryer. I'm not even sure if I had used the dryer this year so far.
As we were sitting on the couch reading, we noticed the windows were steaming up. And we weren't even cooking. A spelunking epxedition behind the dryer later, we realized that the dryer hose was busted and was venting all the dryer spew back into the house. The laundry room had turned into an impromptu steam room which was not altogether unpleasant, but did seriously impact visibility in the rest of the house. We decided to fix it, but we always know how to break it again if need be, and maybe we can put in a few benches and some lava rocks....
Greg took some pictures of our recent trip to the woods. This was just the little low tech interpretive trail. In the next few weeks, we're hoping to make it out to the Peacham Bog.
25sep02 . . . . .
In Seattle, if I want to go to the dump, I have to schlep the the transfer station and dig among the highly sanitized versions of people's trash. I have found some nice bicycles there, and a toaster or two. Here in Vermont, I only have to go as far as the upper backyard where there are several layers of trash
, some new, some antique, to rustle through. Greg knows better than to refuse when I get that look in my eye and say "want to go mess around in the trash?" There's piles of wood there that are probably some of the outbuildings that used to go with this place. Bottles that could be from the 40's or could be from last week. Plastic junk shares a resting place with old thresher parts. Yesterday, I found two long slabs of granite which would make great outdoor seating if I could only get the down the hill [they likely weigh in at a thousand pounds each]. I also found a tricked out rusty red wagon, still in working condition, that we immediately put into service as a wood toter for Greg as he chopped firewood into kindling.
For my part yesterday, I decided to tackle the last remaining exposed sheetrock wall in this house. The house was built in the seventies and has managed to stay unfinished through three sets of owners and about thirty years. I spackled the wall two years back and have just been sort of glaring at it since. Yesterday I got the paint roller out and painted as high as a 62 inch person can. Today I finish up with something to stand on. I've decided that the way to cope with the truly horrible sheetrocking on the inside of most of this house is to cover the walls with bookshelves.
I got a bird book and a mammal book and a tree book for my birthday and now I can realize a true pleasure of having an excuse to read even when outside supposedly communing with nature. We saw a pileated woodpecker just fly over our heads the other day. In other Autumn news, the tour busses driving by my house are making traffic a bitch. Someone pulled into my driveway so they could take a picture of the mountains across the street. Every year I debate putting a big sign on the side of the barn that says Tour Busses Welcome and giving unsuspecting tourists a tour of my house and a cheese sandwich.
21sep02 . . . . .
Today was the first day I looked out at the so-called mountains [4500 feet or so] across the street from me and said "Hey, it's Autumn" The leaves are changing and starting to fall. We went to the Groton State Forest to see what was going on there -- I've had this big recreation and wilderness area down the road for years, never been -- and the leaves are even off the trees there. We saw lakes and ponds and mushrooms and loam and little trees growing out of dead trees, ferns growing from the tops of big rocks. The last place we went was on the shore of Groton Lake, we skipped some stones and marvelled at how few people were out on such a lovely day. Greg and I have a pretty easy rapport, we sing songs in the car, get tired at about the same time, have about the same attention span. I spent a lot of time on the beach picking up little pieces of mica and quartz and granite that I thought looked interesting. I showed many of them to Greg. Sometimes an excellent Fall day with a pleasing companion can be summed up in a few brief words:
"Hey, look at this rock."
"That's a nice rock you have there."
Over and over, til it was time to go home and read on the couch.
I'm not sure when the last time was that I saw all my immediate family members in one weekend, but it was likely when I got out of the hospital. These circumstances were much more pleasant, I just wanted to come for a visit. Boston grows on me more and more when I go down there, Providence too. The excuse for the trip was Fray Day 6 which was a fun open mike [storytelling, technically] in a YWCA in Cambridge. There were some featured performers and some more got up on the mike. Everyone was nice and respectful, the stories were great, the chow was excellent and I enjoyed being at an open mike that I didn't have to run [though I miss Oddstock
terribly]. There are some pictures up on the Fray site
, I have some more that are still in the camera. We went with Kate and Mark
and met a few other nice folks there. A little less huge and crazy than Fray last year
in SFO, but then again a lot more intimate.
Other highlights were: risotto at my sister's place, a mocha torte that couldn't be beat, not getting lost in Boston, seeing Dave and Lizzie's new place and hanging out with Tex and Beth, fixing my Dad's computer, Nickanees with Jordan and Louisa, eating dinner with Tingle and his new gal, and getting to hang out with Joe in Boston which I haven't done since college.
I also saw The Sopranos for the first and last time. While I love my friends, and would really enjoy doing nearly anything with them, I was a bit surprised at what passes for good television these days. Now we're back with a new scanner and a new CD burner, so there may be a more multimedia feel to what comes out of West Odd Productions in the next few months.
Also, we are having a party in two weeks to look at leaves and say goodbye to Summer. Feel free to invite yourself if you're in VT to look at the leaves. May I also nicely ask you to try to go the speed limit [at least] if you're driving on the major roads around here? Some of us have no other way to get to the grocery store than to crawl behind your meandering ass. Thank you.
12sep02 . . . . .
work vs not work
The day after finding out I didn't get the job, I was in a vaguely bad mood and it was hot as blazes here. We have no air conditioning; in fact we don't even have a window to put an air conditioner in. So when the weather gets really hot, you go to the lake. We went down the street to Noyes/Seyon Pond
a favorite of local fishermen. The sun was just setting and the lake was abuzz in dragonflies, going nuts for all the little naiads
. We sat for a while and marvelled at how clear the surface of the lake was, interrupted only by the lone fly fisherman, who was singing to himself. The one other thing in the water was tough to make out, but as it got closer we realized that it was a swimming beaver
. The beaver would submerge, come up with a full mouth of plant life and then bend his head way back, chewing it up before going under again to look for more chow. We watched him for maybe half an hour, repeating this lazy routine, listening to the fly fisherman sing. I haven't groused about not having a job since.
In fact, one of the things that has always brought me sorrow since this time last year was thinking about the people in the Trade Centers and the fact that they died at work. Maybe this seems trivial in light of weightier matters, but I would think, if I got to choose, I'd rather die in the presence of loved ones, or at the very least by myself somewhere peaceful. I think being at my job, in some only vaguely comfortable clothing, in a sterile skyrise environment, surrounded by unspeakable chaos, not near my family or likely a lot of my friends, would be about the worst thing ever. That is the thing that makes me the most reflective and sad thinking about last year.
Yesterday we spent inside in the tippy tail of Hurricane Gustaf, listening to the barn creak and moan, watching little parts of the barn roof lift off and, for my part, panicking. Most people who are not me believe that the barn will not suddenly come tumbling down crushing the house and all its inhabitants with it. I am not so confident. Rarely does it get stormy enough that this paranoia becomes a liklihood in my eyes, but the 35 MPH winds of yesterday got things swaying and bumping in a way they haven't before. Every now and again there would be a THUD and I'd look up, wild-eyed and Greg would tell me to please relax. This morning we got up and realized that all the porch furniture had been blown into a large hulking pile and we had probably been hearing it shifting around in the night. I'm still not so sure that destruction wasn't imminent, but being left happy to be alive can't be a totally bad thing. Heading to Boston this weekend, drop a line or see me at Fray Saturday night.
09sep02 . . . . .
I am beginning to enjoy the phrase "unemployable" when appended to my name. The trustees called me on Saturday to say that while there were "several good candidates," the decision came down to "splitting hairs" which means that I either lived too far away, was too overqualified, too unschooled in the ways of public libraries, or maybe just too annoying. I have no idea. The upshot was, they're hiring someone else, but they will keep my resume on file. I expect to hear from them around 2032.
The interview was really weird. While I liked the trustees, there was definitely this uber-formality to the entire proceedings. They would ask me a question, I'd respond, they'd say thank you and ask another question. None of that organic "Oh, tell us a bit more about that..." banter. Nothing about me personally or the work I've done. It put me off. Additionally, while I had done my homework about the library [could tell you the circulation, the number of reference questions per month, the history and so forth] at least one of the trustees didn't even know I had a Master's degree. She was also fairly nitpicky with me about issues that I felt were purely semantic, in that sort of "don't you forget who's running the show" way. I found it really hard to ignore.
In any case, this means I'll be heading back to Seattle in mid-November, continuing my quest for fame and fortune. I'm a bit disappointed but not crushingly so. A midwinter 30 minute commute was not going to be fun even if the job was a cakewalk. My book is due to the publisher this week and I am in the ninth circle of hell dealing with the Chicago Manual of Style and its bullshit punctuation and this 95 degree heat.
06sep02 . . . . .
I got two presents for my birthday -- along with a lot of well-wishes. The first was a small candle from my friend Ned, who we went to dinner with, who just wanted me to have something to unwrap. The second was this story from Greg:
For your birthday, I bought you a crop dusting plane. After giving you
your present, I ask what you wanted to crop-dust with your plane.
"I want to cropdust crops on the moon," you told me.
"You can't do that, though," I say. "There isn't any atmosphere
on the moon. Thus, no crops."
"Yes, but you don't understand the type of crop-dusting I want to do
up there. I want to dust the moon with an atmosphere, which will allow
us to grow crops."
So we fill up the crop-dusting tanks with water and oxygen, and I
outfit the plane with an air-tight cabin so we can travel through
space. Then we take off for the moon. After a long but mostly
uneventful trip we get there, exhausted.
We begin to dust the moon. Orbiting the sphere, we release the water
and oxygen until we have none left. After we determine that it is
inhabitable, we land, remove the air-tight cabin, get out of the
plane, and begin planting our garden.
Neat huh? I am a lucky person.
04sep02 . . . . .
So, I guess I missed that it was the Virgo Month of Leisure
. Why? Because I've been too darned busy. Job interview went well but not amazing, so I am still up in the air as to what I am doing after mid-November. I find out more next week. This week I am finishing up editing Revolting Librarians Redux: reading through thousands of book-related emails [we decided to spell it email
, style guides be damned -- in Romanian email is already a word that means enamel, it's pronounced Eh-Mah-EEL] making sure we didn't miss anything; ftp-ing megabyte upon megabyte of data from here to Illinois and back again; cursing the bibliographic citation format to high heaven, etc. I'll be taking a short break tomorrow for some merrymaking where I lord my 34th birthday over everyone within earshot and wear the special birthday shirt, then it's back to the keyboard and a lot of whining and complaining that will be over by the 9th, like it or lump it. Then I just have to worry that the book will have an icky cover.
01sep02 . . . . .
So, instead of waking up in the desert and preparing for the long drive home like I've done the past two years, I woke up, packed some coffee into a thermos and went to an auction in New Hampshire
. I could, of course, afford almost nothing. The things that were going for prices that I could
cover with the money in my wallet were so small as to be invisible to me at the distance we were from the auctioneer [we slept in, only leaving the house at 9, I am not on VT time yet this year]. It was a nice drive in the country and it's always fun to look at weird old furniture and watch people pay $15,000 for a grandfather clock.
This weekend is what Americans know as Labor Day. It was signed into law by Grover Cleveland -- after his federal strikebreakers busted up the Pullman Strike six days earlier -- as an attempt to suck up to the extremely pissed off workers. While May first is more commonly thought of as a workers holiday worldwide, Americans have this strange notion of Labor Day as being for all business -- workers and management -- as if the interests of both are similar instead of being nearly diametrically opposed. The Department of Labor website really sums up the mixed blessing that is American Labor Day...
The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. [emphasis mine]
I may be wrong, but I think that by "mass displays" they mean strikes and/or organizing rallies and by "problem" they mean something that happens against general corporate interests. The danger I guess being that perhaps people will get interested in joining unions
again. The current level of unionization in the American workforce hovers around 15%.
Speaking of work, Greg and I [mostly Greg] have now released Oddbook, the little php/MySQL application that we use for maintaining our booklists. Feel free to use it.