29jun00... Ryan Visit
fun with messages
I have 17 CDs
brahams sextets 
Snakes! There are snakes that sun themselves on the rocks outside the front doors every morning. I don't know if it's torpor or what, but they let me get right up near them and take pictures of them.
One big kind of weather we have here and not in Seattle, besides snow, is lightning. There are big storms out here quite frequently, the kind my parents used to refer to as "a gullywasher" or "a christer." If you drive into them it's like running into a wall of water. If you pull over under an overpass to wait them out, as many people do, there's an interesting kind of camraderie you develop with your co-storm evaders.
The night before last there was a distant storm. It was still hot and muggy where I was and I was sleeping with the sliding glass door open in my bedroom. From where I was lying, I could see right out the back door into my backyard and watch the lightning flash on and off over the hills. Meanwhile, the fireflies were out in force all over my deck. Lightning & lightning bugs. It was neat.
The party with no website is happening at my place this weekend. If you're interested in making the trip, let me know
I am banning the phrase "joys of home ownership" in my presence unless it is spoken by someone who owns a home that is also falling down as much as mine, or who has an insect infestation, or offspring, or something other timesink or malady I do not have. I promise not to solicit sympathy for homeowning woes and to only tell amusing or uplifting stories about massive outflows of cash from my pockets to the pockets of contractors and other professionals with toolboxes.
Such as the plumber who I spoke with late on Friday when I discovered a massive puddle on the floor of my bathroom. Could be a drippy faucet, could be a leaky water heater, could be, um, a new spring bubbling up from under my house. Either way, the trick was to contain the leak and wait until the plumber could arrive the next morning. I had to jerryrig a diverter for the leak out of an old pipe, a saucepan and a bungee cord [to keep the cat from getting in and drinking heater water "it's good for her, lots of iron" says my neighbor]. "How early can you be here?" I said, thinking I had to get new front tires at 8:30 [who is the spectre that is inhabiting my body that gets up this early?]. "I get up at 4:30" he said. We split the difference and I set my alarm for 5:55 and he got here at 6. The verdict: suddenly leaky faucet. Hurray!
Well, thanks for tuning in for another episode of What Broke This Week, join us next time as we travel with Jessamyn to her hometown of Boxboro Massachusetts in eighty degree weather with the heater on full blast to keep the car from overheating.
I try to go outside when I can. I have a lot of yard to mess around in. I am letting myself a bit more off the hook with lawn mowing once someone mentioned to me that I do not have a lawn. I have a meadow. Meadows can be long and unruly, thank jehu.
So, I was walking in my meadow when I was pulled, as I always am, towards the dump. No town dump this, this is the Chaloux's own personal dump. Apparently they just brought all the stuff they didn't want out to the woods in the backyard and left it there. This was a few decades ago so all the stuff that would have rotted has rotted away and what's left fits into a few general categories: shoes, glass bottles, appliances, and oil cans. I am mostly interested in the glass bottles, some of which are in okay shape, once you get the dirt off of them. I have made a pledge that if I ever do go anywhere near EBay, it will only be to sell stuff out of my own trash heap. I was also interested in the old milk container [shown] and the 50 gallon drum [likewise]. I thought I could maybe use them for something.
The dump is at the top of the hill, which must have made filling it up more difficult than emptying it. I put the oil drum on its side and started rolling it. Every few yards I'd have to kick it to keep it moving. It was slow going, and dirty sweaty work. Bugs seem to love dirt and sweat. When I finally came within view of the house, I saw the cat watching me through the window with an expression that could have only said "now she's finally flipped and is going to cook me in that thing and eat me" The rolling of the drum had left a very nice path up the hill, the better for retrieving my milk canister and my empty can of Breakfast Cheer brand coffee.
By the time I got back out to the deck, it was twilight and the upper backyard was filled with deer. They couldn't really see me on the porch and so they just went about their grazing ways. I swear they were frolicking, chasing eachother around the yard. I had a twinge of understanding of where the phrase "where the deer and the antelope play" came from.
Go to Seattle, earn money. Come to Vermont, spend money. Now that I'm in Vermont and earning money, I'm completely discombobulated. I have made two life-changing purchases in the last two weeks, besides the skrintinllion dollars I am spending fixing the barn.
1. In an effort to rid myself of all the junky unecessary plastic things in my life that pack badly and break and are made to be disposable in the worst kind of way, I am getting rid of my coffee maker. Please note that I live in Vermont and "getting rid of" means either a) putting in the barn or b) do you want it? What this means is that I bought one of those sexy stove top espresso deals. What that means is that I now drink espresso, instead of coffee. Similar to people who switch from beer to vodka, or pot to hashish, this now means that I need much less substance to achieve the same effect. The only reason I am aware of this is several very pesky teeth jangling what-is-that-NOISE?? days until I figured out how to adjust my dosage [downward] and maintain. I like my new drug machine.
2. Then I bought this hunk of plastic.... okay, try buying a CD player that is not mostly plastic. This one is special. It takes my CDs and broadcasts them into the FM band so I can listen to them through my circa 1978 car stereo, wirelessly. A side benefit of this is that I can still feel like I am listening to the radio [static] or my record player [skips] while listening to music tht rarely exists in either of these places [Hazel]. It also frees me from the horribly homogenized pop radio that is out here, which is fine for household projects, but less fine for driving.
I didn't take a single picture at the reunion. Most of the people I hung out with there are people I see pretty regularly. There were no big group photo ops, at least not while I was there. Everyone says that people get kinder with age and this [self-selected] assemblage of folks seemed to prove this out. I had fun, I didn't stay long, I passed out hand-typed cards, I made no new business connections, and I actually will stay in touch with the people I bothered to get contact info for.
One of the neat things about having gone to a [formerly?] hippie school is that the people there are generally interesting. At the reunion, I got a chance to see how some of my favorite characters are:
It's nice to be able to walk around holding someone else's beautiful baby without desiring one of your own.
So, last night around nine a woman I had never met before showed up at my house with two friends and an upright piano which is now safely nestled in my closet. This all started when I answered the phone on Wednesday at Jim's house. There was a distraught woman on the other end of the line who was looking for storage for her piano for a few months and thought Jim could help. Jim already had a piano [Vermont is thick with them, like flies] and was already trying to get rid of it. I figured since I had one piano, another piano couldn't hurt. And besides, I never play mine, maybe it was lonely. Actually, the other piano isn't mine either and I'm trying to get quotes to ship it to Norway. Maybe I am having piano separation anxiety...? So, I told her she could store it here since everyone else seems to have stuff stored here -- my stuff in in Seattle, mainly -- and now it graces the second room of this two room cabin, gently chiding my complete lack of musical ability.
Today I go to my 10 year reunion equivalent which is making me wonder for the first time, "hmmm, I guess I look different than I did ten years ago, huh?"
Mail call! I only get to the post office a few days a week, so when I do it's really an event. Today was extra excellent: a big orange sweater, a letter from a long haired stranger, a paycheck, my tapes from home [just in time!], a copy of New Mexico Magazine [special article on librarians], and a mix tape from a friend along with some purple Sharpie markers. Send postcards to:
PO Box 14 West Topsham VT 05086.
Ben and Kara are visiting and were making dinner here when I got home from work. Ben thinks he may be getting a job at the Putney School so they are scoping the place out and we're going to go to Burlington tomorrow.
As I was driving home today I saw a deer standing right by the side of the road with her spotted fawn right next to her. Tomorrow is also when I am getting the second piano. More on that story as it develops.
I've decided that my all-or-nothing take it or leave it attitude is getting me nowhere in terms of dealing with long term low level stresses in my life and I need new coping strategies. I'm just writing this down to mark it, I have nothing further to say on the matter for now.
I need someone to drive my truck cross-country from Seattle to here sometime before August 19th. Are you game? Get in touch with me.
This weekend I took off to Burlington to go see some of the Jazz Fest. I have to say that Burlington knows how to throw a party nearly as good as Seattle. Lots of free music, a farmer's market, a Brazillian band parade, children in masks, the whole deal. I took a bit of time off to go see the Brautigan Library -- a small subset of the public library -- and was blown away. You have to se it to believe it, it's a great library/art-project.
My party is officially scheduled for July second [Sunday] since the deck is now fixed and will not collapse under the weight of guests. There may be barn painting, there may not. Come prepared for surprises.
I was wrong, it's still mud season. I am reading a book a day, or nearabouts. I went through a small crisis of faith yesterday as I sat in my house and looked out the window and actually felt a twinge of boredom. Bordom is not usually in my emotional range, unless I am avoiding something. But here I was sitting in my lovely house [which needs work] looking at my yard [which needs work] and my car [you see the pattern here] and I didn't want to do anything. Unusual.
I work three days a week in Montpelier and it gives me a totally different view of Vermont since there are always people walking through -- they were having band practice in the living room on Tuesday -- and things to do offered nearby. Out here in the hill country, you need to occupy yourself, which I haven't been doing much of since I've been busy with travelling, and houseguests, and running Jessamyn's Home for Wayward Contractors. It was like I forgot how.
So, I sat in my living room and looked out the window for a while and looked at the piano and thought "gee, that's a little dusty..." and before you could say "orange barn door" I was up dusting off the piano, which shifted into cleaning off my desk, which became playing the xylophone, which segued into organizing the bathroom, etc. My summer vacation started yesterday.
Vermont has gone from mud season to black fly season with no time off in between. I am a mass of itchy welts. Saturday I was out planting sunflowers -- the package says "excellent for largest sunflower contests" -- and wrestling with my lawnmower. Since my mom was so enamored of our ride-on mower, I never really had to mow the lawn. Now that I have a large -- potentially 40 acre -- lawn, I'm trying to keep at least some of it kempt, and the roofers were suspiciously absent this weekend.
So, using the lawnmower that I traded to the roofer for my extra refrigerator, I pushed and pulled and sweated through the eighteen inch grass. I'm not sure if it's because I'm short or merely weak, but I had an unusual amount of trouble pullstarting the danged thing. My sister, who is two inches taller, did not. I'd mow til the thing stalled out, and then stand in the field looking forlorn until my sister Kate ambled over and restarted it for me. Meanwhile she was helping me weed out the dirt plots around my house that were eventually sunflowered. She got to see the gartersnake first. The gartersnake lives below the swallow-bearing eaves and dreams....
In return, I took her driving. She has decided to get her license by the time she's 30 and I am the only person with both 1) infinite patience and little to no temper and 2) an indestructible automatic car. We motored all over the empty Vermont roads this weekend making notes on who was hawking screen doors on their front lawn, where the small blue school bus was for sale and remarking on the zillion and one types of structures that count as dwellings in these parts. It's nice to have a reason to go meandering. My sister will be a good driver.
Earlier this week I got to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as performed by some junior high school in the Barre Opera House with my visiting friend Sarah. All I could keep thinking was how cool it would be to have Odd Stock there.
It all started when the cat threw up. Actually, it all started when I first got the cat here. She vanished -- as cats in new places are wont to do -- and I found her nestled behind the dryer, all cozy in a pile of pink insulation. I started watching her closely after that.
I got home from work on Wednesday and found a small spot of kittie vomit in my bedroom. It was mostly slime with a small piece of what looked like bacon in the middle. Bacon? I have no bacon in the house, what was that? Was she puking because she was eating insulation? My friend Sarah came to town. We were hanging out, I went in to the bathroom and found something that looked like a human ear on the floor. I examined it more closely and found that it was actually some sort of mushroom. Could that have been what the cat was eating?
On my next trip to the bathroom I noticed something I never notice -- complete darkness. The hot water heater is in the bathroom and, like every other heating device in the house [besides the stove], it runs on propane. There's always a pilot light on, and a warm glow coming from the corner. The pilot light was off. I worry too much about the house filling with propane while I sleep. I got down between the toilet and the tub to investigate. My mind was racing.... were there mushrooms growing in the hot water heater, causing this malfunction? Was there a water leak causing mushroom growth in my house [ick]? What had the cat done to my water heater?
I panicked, while my houseguest slept. I tried to light the pilot light but I couldn't reach it from where I could get to it. So, Macgyver style, I improvised a match extender out of a roach clip and a chopstick [so the hippies were good for something!] and after what felt like an eternity, got the heater going again with a big whoosh which I was sure was the sound of an impending propane explosion. When I was down there, I noticed mushrooms growing from between the boards behind the heater; there's some sort of small drip and the warm spaces were advantageous to fungal growth. Problem solved. Now where's that cat...?
A few things I may have forgotten to mention.