Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween…from Macy’s!


What the HECK is this thing?

Space junk or… Party Central?

I can’t imagine what this is or how it landed here, but I like it. Has a cupola feel to it.

If it weren’t so close to the road, my country cousins would be no doubt using it for partying.

Artists See Things

Late Foliage

…differently.  My drawing teacher said she digs this stage of foliage, when the trees have lost much of their leaves so you see plenty of branches mixed in with the brilliant leaves remaining. To me it has only ever meant that the leaf peepers are gone and we can go out to breakfast again. Praise the artists!

Living Low on the Hog in Rural America

The PBR tall-boy. Good enough for Clint Eastwood.

When a friend moved from New York to Connecticut decades ago, she railed about how everything was marketed there as country.  Country crockery. Country blue. Country curtains. CT was a lot of things, including the Nutmeg State, but it was not the country.

Their rural (scenis?) envy was understandable.These days, I wouldn’t mind their (sub)urban salaries. While we country folk were either born here or else traded income for an idyllic locale and are used to counting our farthings—so the New Austerity seems to us hardly new—things have definitely gotten harder. Since when is canned tuna “on sale” at $1.49? Wasn’t it 89 cents a can for, like, 15 years?

It’s gotten so tough here in paradise to pay for essentials while squirreling something away for old age that I, for one, have given up trying. I resort to a Ramen Pride lifestyle so I have enough to tithe and buy modest holiday gifts and send the occasional kid to summer camp. Financial advisor/retirement savings advocate Suze Orman would give me a spanking. But really, in the event of a global contagion or nuclear Armageddon, Suze, what good will our savings do us? I prefer games where you try to get rid of all your cards; he who has the least at the end wins. My retirement plan is to have spent it all by my death date, give or take fifty bucks. But I digress.

One of our maple-cured survival tricks for country living: we know how to have fun at little expense. While we didn’t invent pot luck— 16th century Brits did—we have taken that baby and run with it. We romp freely in our woods, lakes, and rivers and scamper about in snowy fields, leaving pricey divertissements like downhill skiing to strung-out city slickers (read: valued tourists) who, quite frankly, need ski outings to keep from going off the rails entirely. We save the craft beers for our guests and drink PBR in cans. The Genesee Cream Ale trucked here is allocated to killin’ slugs as firm evidence of our Yankee frugality threshold.

We get together and knit at the library. We form book clubs. We contradance. We pick up used instruments at yard sales and teach ourselves how to play. We may not be power yachting or padding our IRAs, but we can all hammer out Turkey in the Straw. And hey, if you haven’t taken up a musical instrument due to time constraints, my former mandolin teacher once had this to say, regarding the extra instrument (violin?) he had to learn to get a music degree:  “It’s amazing how little you can practice and still get better.”

My trick is to spend on fun and cut back on food spending. Often I see my meals as meager and pathetic. But then I think on college, when one can of corn plus one of stewed tomatoes equaled a “stew”;  a friend ate Ragu Bread, a dish of low-end bread topped sadly with spaghetti sauce. By those standards, Lord knows, I eat like a king. Though sometimes I do eat questionably old foods. It’s amazing what you can eat and not get sick. I save so much coin I can afford decent wine to share with nutter friends. (You know who you are. You are loved. But for God’s sake clean up the language next time.)

Yes, we dine cheaply, socialize cheaply, and amuse ourselves for next to nothing. Might I also suggest free classes at the hospital or affordable ones at RTCC or VTC? I’ve taken tai chi, Excel, gardening, kayaking, nonviolent communication, water aerobics, classes on how to take classes, you name it. Teach a class yourself. Or start a blog. Share your f-a-c-t-s or heart or wit. It’s amazing how little you can know and still have something to teach.  Good (country) livin’, and good day.

Looking For Work?

No, really, what is this?

Sounds dangerous. But then, one way or another, all good-paying jobs are.

We Don’t Talk Politics Much in Rural America

Michael Reynolds/AP

It’s not proper. But can I say that both parties in the veep debate last were mesmerizing?

Joe Biden came on like a fisher cat but with enough spazzy nutter facial expressions to round out his performance. I felt an almost maternal pride towards Paul Ryan for not soiling himself when it seemed as if every Biden statement ended with “…Son.”

[Coming to Vermont? The nasty, weasel-like fisher cat will run into your camper, steal your miniature doberman, take it, and eat it. BYO dingo.]

The Russians Are Strumming, The Russians Are Strumming!

And sister could pick!

While many celebrate one man’s questionable achievements, including the accidental discovery of land leading, arguably, to genocide,  on Columbus Day (one of the more shocking Sopranos episodes, btw), some turned instead this weekend to the 9th Annual Russian and Slavic Cultural Festival in Howell, NJ.

Folk dancers from Troika dance troupe

If you haven’t heard a balalaika contrabass–or eaten those savory dumplings I won’t attempt to spell–you haven’t lived. I love how  every culture seems to have its dumpling.  Meat wrapped in dough… a tidy, giftwrapped present of meat. Fabulous!

Note 1: Amid much conflicting Internet info, it seems Columbus day wasn’t made a federal holiday until 1937, under FDR.

Note 2:  Don’t get me wrong.  Some of my best friends are Italians. A vivacious and lusty people. You always know where you stand with an Italian. Happy Columbus Day.

For All You Obstreperous Recalcitrants

You can be a success!

One of the best presents I ever got was this box of vocabulary flashcards. No idea if the young people use flashcards any more, but I took to them like [plural noun] to a [singular noun]. I recommend the foreign language ones, too.

If you ever have to give a speech, here’s what some male friends used to do:  stick a word in there that the audience probably won’t understand but will be afraid to ask the meaning of.  Great good fun, like an inside joke.

I gave a speech yesterday and did my own version. I dressed like my 7th grade French teacher. She wore velvety pants and flowing shirts and when she wrote on the board her keister jiggled. As did mine, friends, as did mine.


  1. A person’s buttocks.
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