30aug04: change, redux
And the Virgo Month of Leisure kicks off in Grand Style. New people moved in to the house next door with their three kids and they were immediately the center of attention in the neighborhood and everyone is over there now hula hooping like it's some Pepsi commercial. One chatty VLS student moved in to the back house and we stood outside leaning on our cars Vermont-style and got his story, and told him ours. Our landlady came back from a three week vacation, bringing her dog. We went to the local fish hatchery and driving range and I was laid up for a day with muscle agony [who knew you had muscles in your BACK!?]. We had houseguests. The weather was non-stop mugg in that can't-sleep sort of way, leaving me to zombie walk through the daytimes and fuss through the night. Greg goes back to school today. My birthday happens next weekend and my sister might come up and go to the State Fair with us.

But none of that has to really do with the radio silence here. Friday morning I got some bad news from an old college hallmate that my friend Chuck Yerkes had been killed in a motorcycle vs SUV accident [guess which one he was in?] the previous evening. I am not a good griever in public or in private, so I've spent a lot of time moping, lying around reading books, and having dreams that he's still around. Though I haven't seen him since we were in college, Chuck and I swapped email frequently and he was on my short list of "people who give good advice." Chuck's techie aspects mostly flourished after I knew him, so the memorial mailing list is full of people recounting server heroics, sage sysadmin advice, and open source geekery of the highest caliber. They've set up a memorial Wiki and it's a beauty.

My main memory of Chuck has very little to do with computers. I remember one Summer at Hampshire when he and his pal Mike Conway had just returned from the Rainbow Gathering. They had both squeezed on to Chuck's motorcycle for the long drive to Virginia [Tennesee? North Carolina?]. Chuck tried to explain the whole Rainbow Family thing to me. I was still a blob of unformed political and social ideas at the time and I remember not just being interested in what he was telling me, but also by the big goofy grin he had on his face, his eagerness to explain the scene to someone who knew nothing about it, and the happiness and joy and enthusiasm he passed on. He was still spreading his infectious zeal for life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, Billionaires for Bush, and the well-formed URL in emails we were swapping just this month. Chuck thought that women who knew Unix were cool -- in that way where cool doesn't really mean "hot" -- and I was always appreciative to have a political and techie peer out there to swap ideas with. I miss him.
24aug04: change
we'll have a hot dime in the old town tonight! Ask any librarian what he or she collects; we all collect something. I have a coin collection. It lives in ice cube trays and mugs all stuffed into an old whiskey box. I haven't lived near it and had time to work on it for years now. The damned thing is too heavy to mail, too pseudo-valuable and all chock full of sentiment to ship, and too bulky and full of metal to be an in-flight carry-on. Last Summer, when Scott drove my car across country, I had the foresight to stash the coin collection in the trunk before he left.

The collection got its start when my father travelled for business in the mid-sixties before I was born. He kept a sock at home that he'd toss all his change into at the end of a trip. When he and my Mom travelled, they would add to it. When my parents split, if I am remembering this correctly, each of them got part of it. All I know is that some point, I wound up with two sockfulls of old dirty money and got a book to help me sort it all out. I added to it when I travelled in Eastern Europe in the mid-Nineties. Some of my father's coins are from Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], East Africa [now Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda], and the US Phillipines [now the Phillipines]. From my own collection I have Czechoslovakian coins, as well as Czech and Slovak coins, old Hungarian coins and newer ones, and a lot of very ratty bills from Bulgaria. I take it out and play with it from time to time. Nothing in the collection is fancy or particularly valuable [some of the coins are made out of silver, that's about as high-class as it gets] but some of the coins are interesting, and a lot of them remind me of places, or people. The one pictured is an irradiated dime back when they thought neutrons might be good for you. I put together a little page of some other non-coin things I found when I was messing with the coin collection lately.
21aug04: baby birds & robert frost
We went for a drive over the Bethel Mountain Road to drop off Greg's bicycle at Green Mountain Bikes where it was fixed by guy who used to be a French chef for ten years before he somehow became a bike mechanic. We decided to take the long way home to scratch off a few more Vermont towns and discovered the Robert Frost Trail off of route 125 in Ripton. It was an easy one mile hike with a lot of nifty boardwalks and bridges over the southern branch of the Middlebury River. Along the trail, at somewhat appropriate places, were posts with Frost's poems engraved on plaques. Ripton was where Robert Frost spent his Summers and the trail is down the road from where his Summer house was. I've always really enjoyed his nature poems and there was something incredibly wonderful about being able to read a poem about meadows while standing in the middle of one. Towards the end of our walk we came upon an older couple who were intently staring out over the river and when we came closer to them they showed us the group of 20-30 cedar waxwings that were perched there in the trees flying out over the water to eat bugs.

We came home to find that all the birds had had baby birds somehow in the three hours we had been away. The air was filled with baby blue jays, nuthatches, and grosbeaks all learning how to fly and balance on branches and eat seeds from the sunflowers. They were also doing something very unbirdlike: sitting and staring. We decided to do something un Jess&Greg like and sit and stare at them for the rest of the afternoon.
19aug04: men in cars
No resolution on the ticket issue yet. Apaprently in Vermont the ticketing cop is also your prosecutor so if you want to cut a deal or something beforehand, I guess you need to call him on the phone and discuss it. In the meantime, I feel like I have herpes; something formerly fun for me has now become rule-governed and cautionary. On the other hand, I drove too fast.

I do very little driving on my days off, but today I went to all the food stores since Greg is coming back tomorrow. I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before, but the parking lots of Vermont are filled with men sitting in cars alone. Actually it's men and boys. Apparently the women and girls go in to shop and the men sit behind and smoke and stare out the window -- one time I even saw a guy in his truck shaving with an electric razor -- and read the paper and whatever it is that men do when they have free time. Greg comes right in to the store with me, I can't imagine it being otherwise.
16aug04: odd state holidays & punishments
Vermont may be the only state whose one and only state holiday commemorates an event that happened outside the state boundaries, the Battle of Bennington. [We also let our felons vote, us and Maine] For some reason, the library was open today anyhow. I have been in a bit of a surly mood for weeks now since the DNC put me in a state of melancholy about the realities of US politicking. I drive fast on back roads to calm down and recenter and get through my 30+ mile commute and into my house more quickly. Today I got my first speeding ticket of my entire life.

Being still in a bad mood, I am sure this says something about my waning feminine wiles. I'm not one of those women who cries or flirts or does anything special to avoid tickets. I just act polite and a bit contrite [which I am, both] and seem to get off with warnings, always. Until today, at age 35.

The most irritating thing about this ticket, besides the loss of the "I've never gotten a ticket" moral high ground, is the cash setback. As someone who lives quite frugally, the amount I'll need to pay is the equivalent to the amount I probably save by using coupons and buying generic stuff in the supermarket over an entire year. Put another way, my fine is almost my take home pay for a week. I don't know much about fighting tickets, but since I actually was going roughly the speed I was charged with, and since two points seems like less than other point amounts I could have had tossed at me, I'll likely just suck it up, pay it, and get over it. One more big screw up this week and the scales are going to tip in favor of labeling it all an "amusing comedy of errors" as opposed to the current "terrible horrible no good very bad week." Greg's in Milwaukee for the week and our landlady is off on the West Coast so if anyone wants to pop in this week and watch some of the Olympics here, you're more than welcome.
12aug04: hitting the road
freedom + unity I'm taking advantage of a rare Friday off and heading South to see my sister, father, stepmom, and friends. Maybe fix a computer or two. Possibly get to the beach for the first time in way too long. Definitely see some friends that I haven't seen in way too long. I've been having a lot of free-floating agitation lately, based on a lot of things but primarily the starting-school thing [for Greg] the excellent-weather-pressure-to-do-things thing [for me] and just the general too-long-without-a-road-trip thing. The last few times I've had any significant time off, I've been not going to my main job so that I could work at another job. I'm bad at taking actual vacations. It's been said that I don't know how to relax.

Speaking of the DNC, please go read what Rebecca had to say about it, if first-person reportage from this event is something you enjoy. She was many places I wasn't and has a lot of worthwhile observations. The big story that I am still telling people to this day is about the advanced copies of speeches we got, and how some networks decided to use this as an opportunity for some advance spin.

In productivity news, Greg and I have decided to make the stupidly easy php photo application that I use for my photo archives available under a creative commons license. You can look at the files in this directory as an example and just grab them all as a zip file and use it yourself.

Greg's heading to Milwaukee this weekend to help his folks pack for their big move to Buffalo NY. Greg's Dad took a new job so they're moving back to where most of Greg's Mom's siblings live [where most, but not all, equals ten of them]. Exciting times to be sure. Today is his parents' 32nd wedding anniversary. I feel really fortunate that I like my boyfriend's parents and they like me, and, after 32 years, they still really like each other. Happy anniversary, Florence and Jim!
07aug04: speaking of other people
I come up with these little platitudes now and again, bear with me. The big difference between the country and the city is that in the country, older men wear hats and in the city they don't. We headed up to the town auction today -- where the volunteer fire department auctions off stuff to raise money so our houses don't all burn down -- and the six or eight men there running it were all in their sixties and seventies and wearing farmer caps.

I was lamenting the lack of ethnic diversity in Vermont, especially in food, with a friend from California today. On the other hand, since I've moved here I find myself spending more time with people of all ages, not just the narrow 25-35 year old age range that I am quickly aging out of myself. Our landlady/roommate is 72. The kid next door whose baseball games we go to is 16. The nutty neighbor who lives in a converted cellar hole and secretively fills up our carriage shed with firewood has to be in his late fifties. Most of the people I work with are 40+.

Today at the auction I spent $15 and wound up with two percolators, a Revere ware saucepan, a lawn thatcher [Greg calls it a "prehistoric garden weasel"], a reading-in-bed light, two Liberty Bell lamps [mostly bought for the shades], another lampshade, a weird old GE sunlamp that I swear has one of these bulbs in it complete with blob of mercury, yet another coffee maker [they throw one in with anything else you get at these auctions] and this weird game. If you add in the $2.50 I paid for a roast beef sandwich, soda and a cupcake, it was still less money than a night at the movies, longer lasting, and with better party favors. I'm a little sorry I didn't bring my camera, but it looked pretty much like it did four years ago. They even saved an organ for last this year as well!
05aug04: summer's day
flowers The transition from the artificial to the natural is somewhat jarring. When we learned what nouns were when we were kids, we learned that a noun is a "person, place, or thing." When we got older and learned to understand abstractions somewhat, we also learned that nouns could be concepts, not tangible, things like democracy or justice. Perhaps this is why I've always seen these words as a bit more like abstractions than the average citizen, not quite as nouny as the other nouns. There are nouns you can have, and nouns you can just know about, and maybe dream of.

Today was one of the first weekdays that both Greg and I have had off in months. The Jeffords office sent him off Tuesday with pizza, and a card, and a Senate mug, and he got his picture taken with the Senator [who put on a tie for the occasion]. Greg is a free man until school starts in a few weeks, and I only work every other day. Today we found a new way to get down to the river, to a place where the baby birds congregate and eat flies as the sun sets and the bugs come out. Greg looked for fossils on some of the river rocks and I noticed the little bird turds, all full of bright red seeds, fulfilling their biological destiny. Or in this case missing it, because they landed on a rock by the river and not in the moist soil nearby. We found two crayfish picked clean by something who clearly thought they were tasty, and saw some little tiny fish flailing around while the kingfisher swooped around overhead. When we walked home, the steel drum band was still playing at the free concert in the little park down the road. Earlier today I took some pictures of the flowers in the garden outside.

Not to belabor a point, but listening to everyone at the DNC talk about the interconnectedness of things -- when they bothered to mention it -- from inside that climate-controlled, access-controlled, heavily guarded concrete bunker and watching trees go by [and amber waves of grain, and purple mountains, etc. etc.] on the giant television screen, really struck a dissonant chord with me.
01aug04: I miss Howard Dean. Or, back in Vermont
watching the final minutes on TV I'm just a walking zombie. I got back from Boston at 6 pm last night and worked all day today at the Rutland Street Fair and Ethnic Festival, signing people up for library cards and trying hard not to say "Hey, I was quoted in most major newspapers over the weekend because I was in the right place at the right time and I'm your librarian!" The Friends of the Library volunteer who worked two of the eight hours with me is running for state rep on the Democratic ticket so we got to talk DNC for one more, and hopefully final, day.

If you haven't already, please take a look at some of the pictures [in the sidebar for all your rss readers] and text from this past week if the whole thing interests you. Even if it doesn't, you might enjoy this picture I took. I'll check back in once I catch up on sleep.
Jessamyn is in...
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24aug... D&M?
29aug... brent
05sep... b'day
02oct... wedding

noted elsewhere
"Television is bad because it is fun and I'm a Calvinist."

"Is it morally right for me to pay protection money to my government to protect me with their military from enemies they decide I must fear?"

"Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection."

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