Category Archives: photos

Sign, Sign, Another Week of Signs

p2Another week, another protest. This one against the “non-ban.” Alt-facts and the temporary lift of the “non-ban” aside, Winooski gathered for the smallest, proudest protest of the Land, held in the center of its infamous rotary. Even the sun participated.

True fact: the Burlington area is famously refugee-friendly, has been for decades. That’s Vermont for you. First in so many things, including outlawing slavery, allowing blacks and women into its (first in the nation) private military college, first state college, and of course the first rope tow. Let’s not forget: first in civil unions. Yay, ‘mont!

Here’s some more signs, mostly last-minute, with heart.

 

 

Too Old to Uber, Too Young to Die

xmas-flatsI don’t know where to begin in trying to make sense out of 2016 for Dear Reader. In my current state of beleaguered puzzlement I am unqualified. It says something about this past year that so many watched Gilmore Girls (fanciful escapism), and guests who said they were coming to our holiday party simply didn’t show (boggled torpor…or home watching GG).

Observing actual, known stars in the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies this year, these oeuvres normally populated by actors you’ve never heard of, I had to wonder: desperate for work or, like most of us, just trying to contribute something positive in a world gone mad while wearing a corrective overblouse* to conceal unsightly swags of waistmeat?

flaskWhat a year. The departures of Prince, Bowie, Shandling, Frey, Ali, Wilder, Cohen, Palmer, Zsa Zsa, Michaels, Princess Leia and her funny mom, and Wessonality ~ and that’s just the celebrities. Olympic swimming shenanigans and women’s gymnastics gold. Refugees tossed about the globe. The Cubs. A female announcer at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gushing at a Victoria’s Secret model on live television about what an “honor” it must be to wear the Fantasy Bra. Women my age everywhere trotting around in stilettos – an orthopedic surgeon’s dream. Throw in, oh, the election and its aftermath, with the promise of a completely bizarre year ahead, and you have undiluted global befuddlement.

Now I’m not a strict party voter. I vote for the seemingly best candidate. Some of my truest friends are republicans, libertarians, anarchists, apoliticos, and members of the blissful ignorati. I’m not that smart myself. I had no answer when a young person asked at Thanksgiving, “Are there any vegetarian republicans?” I don’t know. Are there?

magooI don’t trouble myself with politics much because it’s evidently out of my control; at my advanced age I don’t fret about the uncontrollable unless it involves immediate family or friends. I’m old. Not old-old. Not Crazy Old Duffer with a limited range of movement old, not bumbling around Mr. Magoo old. Just tired old. Not-that-hopeful old. Old enough to speculate about some great feat I might accomplish, or imagine some sooper piece of good fortune that might come my way, ponder this notion briefly, and go, “Nah.” I’m pretty much just trying to avoid pain at this point.

Old. I embarrass myself with antiquated references. At work  I mention interoffice mail, pneumatic tubes, or Telex… at parties I’ll bring up Schweddy Balls, Lemon-freshened Borax  or the Hooterville Cannnonball,  exclaiming hilariously, “Book ’em, Danno,” or “Where’s the beef?” while lurching around the buffet like an old jalopy, the young people rolling their eyes Where’d you dig up this old dino? — as their parents laugh heartily, if not without a certain flushed derangement, at my archaic allusions.

uberA friend is using paper flash cards to get through school; she has to make them because flash cards are digital now. You can’t find a taxi, what with the Uber takeover, which I wouldn’t mind except I can’t figure out the Uber app half the time. Is a car coming? Did I order one? I can’t tell. I can’t even see my phone.

One excuse for our escalating idiocy is that we work long hours and are routinely exposed to an excess of information. There’s little free time. We end up doing everything too fast. Emails I send are definitely not carefully read by their recipients; if I ask 3 questions, I’m lucky to get 2 answered. I think I read things carefully, but I guess  not. I saw in an office notice that some employees will be “executed” where it really said “excluded” (seemed harsh). I interpreted a bulletin board’s “selectboard meeting” as “skateboard meeting” (more fun!). I misread a newspaper headline, Signs of Natural Resources on Mars, as Signs of Human Resources on Mars. (Did they find, like, on the planetary surface, an HR pamphlet, Respecting Other Martians in the Workplace & Grooming Guidelines?) I think I remember everything. Yet a friend insists that “chocolate bedroom antics” is something we discussed recently with big laffs. Zero recollection. Old.

xmas-crowd-largerBut I’m not too old to give! For you, Dear Reader, two gifts. The best way to open a pomegranate, and Yoko Ono’s response to DJT’s winning the presidency. Enjoy.

Suggestion for 2017: tune out and slow down. Do less. Device less. Pay attention in conversation. Go to the movies. Read a magazine. Sort a drawer. Take a nap. Love. Do one thing at a time. You might actually remember it. Good day, good luck and – let’s hope – good year.

*Nod to Zora

Twitter handle: @uvgvt.

On Cheering Oneself and the Bladder Diaries

foliage-closest

Fall is a time of endings. A time to bask in nostalgia and perhaps mourning. Some exceptional people have left our plane recently and it’s easier in autumn, somehow, to wallow in the loss. I go right down to bottom; I’m not a shallow diver. Anything less feels like I’m not getting the job done right.

In middle age, I try not only to navigate but enjoy life’s vicissitudes. When I’m up I know I’ll go down and – mercifully – vice versa. Our experience on earth is to be a rich one. We are not to be stuck in one mood; that would be annoying. So when Stick Season gets a tad dreary, just picture how we all recently hopped aboard the Foliage Express, cruising around in awe in a magical world of dappled, colorful light and canopied dirt roads, the sun low in a Superman-blue sky as we wondered how musicians who penned all-time great songs (Billy Joel; Phil Collins) also wrote such toads (Tell her About It, 1983; Sussudio, 1985).

foliage-mtnLiving here has mental health advantages. As an auctioneer at a fundraiser recently put it while auctioning off a dinner at someone’s home, “And their back yard is a gorgeous natural wonderland … which describes about 97% of Vermont.” True. Most of us can walk less than a mile and see a lovely slice of paradise. Of help during dark tymes.

 

lsu-gospel-choir-7498-l

LSU Gospel Choir circa 2013

And like humans everywhere, Vermonters throw feel-goodevents. Randolph’s New World Festival, Woodstock’s Lobster on the Green, the Tunbridge World’s Fair. All that dancing and eating and merrymaking, the grease of many nations, the musicians and animals and maple and historic historicness of it all … we just had that. We’ll have it again. For now, in blustery weather, why not lift your voice in song? Join a choir or chorus or hospice group. Sing in the car. Public restroom. Feed store. Do it. Cheering!

A friend sent me an article about High Functioning Anxiety. The poor person who wrote it was clearly living a life of self-loathing eased only, if cleverly, by X-treme busy-ness. No stranger to combatting distress with busy-ness myself, I felt bad for the author but had to wonder: why are so many people so miserable in modern tymes?

little-houseA Dalia Lama op-ed piece noted that modern man has more literacy, less infant mortality, less poverty and less hunger. He suggested our despair stems from people not feeling they are needed or contributing. Add to that, IMHO, the unreal images of love and careers projected on all our screens, plus Lord knows what environmental stressors. Hell, when mankind had few choices, struggling to survive pestilence and droughts, we were grateful for a meal and a bed and a set of teeth. Now, that’s not enough. The friend writes: “Laura Ingalls Wilder had a terribly hard life, but did she sit there and worry?  No, she did not!  She went and twisted hay for fuel during the Long Winter.” So what’s the answer?

little-library-from-old-phone-booth

Little Library

A trip to Bethel. Whodathunk? The renovations of its town hall andbethel-church churches, the post-Irene bridge, cozy eateries, good meats at the Central Market, the Little Library in a cleaned-up downtown, pop-up “university” Bethel U, … cheerful progress! I’ve been a fan of Bethel since 1969, because we could exchange our parents’ beer cans for fishing lures and because I hate change and it never, ever changed. But this change is good. You and Bethel: perfect together.

So once you’ve sufficiently enjoyed your dark, autumnal introspection, bask in Vermont’s boggling natural splendour, ponder fun tymes you’ve had, read Little House on the Prairie, consult the Thanksgiving Argument Generator online, daytrip to Bethel, and for God’s sake, sing. Time marches on. Before you know it you’re in your 50s keeping a bladder diary. Good warbling, and good day.

Email: uppervalleygirl@gmail.com       Twitter: @uvgvt

Night Blooming Cereus 1

Here we go, people. This little beauty was concealed behind my desk. Let the show begin!

An astonishing feat of nature, the NBC blooms for one night a year. The bloom grows right out of the leaf. The fragrance is astonishing, and lingers long after the bloom has faded. People throw parties for her splendour. As it should be.  Stay tuned!

Aunt Napper’s Easter Egg Tree

napper easter treeSome things are perfect. The old tymey songs you sang with your aunt in Bellows Falls, the laughs you had together doing so, and the Easter egg tree on her piano.

No room for improvement.

The Jellyfish Cam

jellycamI know this is live because I just clicked on it at 7 EST and it’s BLACK (Pacific Time!). It’s rumored to be lovely. Can’t wait till sunup.

http://www.pbs.org/big-blue-live/live-cams/mba-jelly-cam/

[I’m Tweeting cool little mesmerizers like this from @annVTPBS if you want in.]

Cars Get Dirty in Winter

be patient…and so do their bumper stickers. This is my new favorite of all time forever.

Lists Are Good For You

And now a tribute. To the mighty, the daunting, the beloved…the list.

dw parade m+mI don’t have a real bucket list. If I did, Disney World® wouldn’t be on it; I didn’t know it was any good. I went to Disney in my 40s by chance. When most people hear, “I’m goin’ to Disney World!” they think Sooperbowl. I think: time capsule, spinning teacups manned by deranged nieces, and Christmas parades with “princes” in wigs with many hair follicles per square inch. Also: pack well. Unexpected weather and unplanned befoulment demand backup.

SW1While a winter trip to a theme park ain’t exactly Christmas in New England, a good way to steel yourself is to get a flu shot then go to one. Disney’s a good bet because as the sweat of many nations and the sputum of the Lands settles upon you, you are exposed to virtually every germ currently available. It is, after all, a small world, certainly for a microbe. And as you build character standing on lines for rides and hear songs that won’t leave your head ever, you leave the prior year behind entirely—often a good idea.

Before I get into a favoured list of deep importance, the annual Fake New Year Predictions, here a short list of things overheard at Disney World:sw3

-Will all the lines be this long?

-I don’t think this line actually goes anywhere.

– It makes the line longer.

-We’re definitely under surveillance.

-Disney World is a young man’s game.

-I don’t want to go peeeeeeee peeeeeeeeeee! (said by more than one child from more than one nation in more than one Land on more than one day.)

– Did you say “teeming thong?!” NO, teeming THRONG.dw parade olaf

-This. Line. Is. Going. Nowhere.

Lists! Weekends generate lengthy lists. Line ‘em up and knock ‘em down.  Dump? Check! Tenny? Check!! Margherita – rocks – salt at Richardson’s Tavern? Checkarooni. Another…good day.

On to the prescient populist predictions for 2015, submitted by you the people from ME to FL, NH to CA:

North America will break up along the Mississippi and drift apart.

Angelina Jolie will have an affair with Jennifer Aniston.

Office betting pools explode on which former Disney child star will implode next.

Congress will be fined for not working; fined members will be unable to run again.

3D printing will be applied to implants from cheek to calf.

Jenna Bush Hager and Chelsea Clinton will decide to run for president in 2016.

With cheap gas, the price of vintage Hummers will strengthen.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will steal the rights to his own life story from himself, then turn it into a multi-billion dollar video game called Zuckerville, a place where he has the rights to all players’ personal information.  Suckerville?

The first smart refrigerator will arrive, voicing the caloric, fat, sodium, sugar, protein and fiber content inside.  It will lock after 8pm and won’t admit entrance until 6am.

Texas will secede.

Quebec will secede.

Killington will secede.

Punxsutawney Phil will be canned when he is bitten by a vampire and no longer casts a shadow.

ISIS will splinter off into new factions, one of which by year’s end will become the world’s most popular boy band.

More people will buy VW campers and park in Walmart lots to avoid campground fees, accumulating decals for amusement parks, roadside attractions, and states.

Americans will be required to rescue an animal by paying for its care or adopting it.

Vladimir Putin will be poisoned by an elite squad of journalists.jw mkaltydotorg

Putin will come out as gay, step down as President, and marry figure skater Johnny Weir.

The inane patter on award ceremony red carpets will worsen.

People will leave [followed by unintelligible gibberish].

 

I will be befuddled by new social media I’m supposed to master (Yik Yak?).

I will not gain weight (glad you said fake.)

I will stick to my New Year’s resolution to be happy and smile at everyone I meet.

I’m going to have sex every day.

 

Due to Equatorial Vortex Irene, we’ll have 90-degree days at the end of February.

Candidates vying for the presidency will optimistically fund new dog breeds, the Dachsoodleman (dachshund, +poodle + Doberman) and Cockzerstiff (Cocker Spaniel +Schaunzer + Mastiff) for his/her Whitehouse dog .

And my ties for Personal Favorite:

Rather than “predict, I “wish” we could all just slow down, get our faces out of electronic devices and embrace the outdoors…but silly me, then corporations wouldn’t make bank.

We will have weather.

A unifying figure will emerge.

 

sw adiosWith that, I wish you great list-making, great outcomes, great incomes, and good day.

Mix & Mingle in the Jingling Beat

bgs windowWhen you hate change as much as I do, things that remain constant are a necessary comfort. Holiday traditions that recur year after year, such as Randolph’s caroling with Santa’s arrival on the green, Woodstock’s horsey Wassail Parade, the Holly Jolly project, and mitten trees provide the longboard I need to surf life’s erratic vicissitudes.

 

Wrapping presents while watching treacly movies on Lifetime (theme: buff, middle-aged guy new to town chooses charmingly disorganized single mother over outfit-wearing sports-car/golfing lady) or the Hallmark Channel (title: A Bride for Christmas) soothes my holiday prep time no matter what’s going in real life. Which might not be all that good. I’m not mocking these shows. Christmas in Conway enchants, and The Christmas Hope is a bawler. I’m a sap. Akin to treacle.

hitched

 

Another lifesaver is the expressionless decorative light-up pilgrim I bought years ago at Rite-Aid. plastic fanny About three feet high, he gets dusty after a year in storage and I have a good hoot washing him off every November when I get to his little plastic fanny. Should have purchased the whole expressionless family (stalwart group!). And when Grandma Al and her granddaughter make magic cookies (not the Grateful Dead kind) in their aprons, or I look up Alex Hanson’s gravy recipe online yet again, all is right in the world.

Everything changes so fast now we can’t keep up. My fairly new TV is apparently already a “dino” (cable installer guy didn’t think I’d understand this high-tech lexicon on phone call to his mother ship in front of me—get a less obvious code word, pally!), and suddenly we don’t need to connect our computers to a cable for internet connectivity at home, even without a router (what?). My shiny, year-old TV remote is archaic, outmoded, useless; my router obsolete. Cableboy won’t take any of it away with him.

gift wrapWhat do I do with these antiquated accoutrements? The remote, the cables, the router…are others pouring same into landfill? Je refuse! I’ll find a home for them if it kills me. When I said to the Comcast guy and the TV wall-mounter guy in my living room, “Wow, I didn’t know you could tilt the TV like that on its brackets, there should be a remote for that,” they looked at me like I was some kind of sci-fi future-predicting genius. “I’ve never seen that!” one said. But I don’t want another damn remote. All I need is a sled, snow pants, hot cocoa with marshmallows, gift wrap, Jingle Bell Rock, and some people. That stuff doesn’t need upgrading. It never gets old.

Change: no! I like when people do their lights the exact same way every year. There is a little blue-lit tree outside somewhere (Tunbridge?) that, unlike nieces, never seems to grow up. That’s good. It’s bgs xmasdistressing when houses change hands and the usual trimmings change or disappear. Driving by my parents’ empty house is saddening. It’s been empty in winter in recent years, but this time it’s permanent – and no change is worse than permanent change. When the Barnard General store quit selling penny candy 30 years ago, I never recovered. It’s all still there, right where it belongs, the little wax bottles filled with colored ick, the caramels and the Smarties®, in my mind.

Some change is not so awful. That I moved from my beloved Bethel — not great. But I stay over a friend’s house (whom I used to live so close to that staying over never occurred to us) and we have spiked nog by the Christmas tree after her cat punches me repeatedly while I write (love the Siamese—naugh-ty) and, well, maybe a new tradition is in the making. When the old traditions fall off, due to death or dismemberment or some horrible new technology, they need replacing or we’re left with nothing.

I’ll start one now. Something you can see and think, “Oh good, there’s that thing again. A constant!”

You may enjoy what autofills in Google’s search box before you finish typing … endlessly amusing. Monthly, I might post the winners. For December:

Does a…” autofills with

-root canal hurt

-straight beat a flush     does a

-duck’s quack echo

-photon have mass?

Et voila. Your inaugural autofill of the month. Little gift fer ya there, as you jingle around the clock. Good day.

Bumper Sticker Suggested by Harry One Year Ago when I Wrote we Were Told as Children (by the Catholics?) That Writing “Xmas” Instead of Christmas was Literally a Sin:

Let’s keep the X in Xmas!

The Calm After the Storm

Tunbridge 12.13.14We hate to say it when so many have been without power after New England’s second last-minutely predicted storm this season, but:  Damn, it’s gorgeous out there.

There has been no wind, so the snow/ice keeps Winter Wonderlanding on the trees.

For good and bad. They bending.

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