far too much writing, far too many photos

It started raining sometime during the afternoon so that the 8-10 inches of snow blanketing everything has begun getting more compact. (Perfect snowball material.) When I left the house this morning, the world was covered in thick, light snow, and between morning sunlight and the temperature floating up above freezing for the first time in a few days, the trees were shedding white material so that it came down like a second snowfall. Real pretty.

I’ve been deeply into travel prep., both actual prep. for the trip and also readying the house for a friend who’ll be staying here, taking care of the place during the months I’ll be in Madrid. Have been going since I got up this morning with the result that I’m right on schedule, I think, as far as preparations. This is good. Plenty left to do, though.

I’ll be out of here tom’w a.m., won’t touch down in Madrid until Tuesday sometime. Meaning that entries here will be spotty at best until mid-week.

To get an idea of the effect Madrid has on my writing, take a look at this journal’s entries for the second half of July of this year, beginning with the 15th. Change is good.

Be well. Have a good few days.


No Comment:

From the News Quirks column (”Odd, strange, curious and weird but true news items from every corner of the globe”) of Seven Days, a weekly alternative newspaper based in Burlington, VT:

“Weeks after introducing its newest planes, the $200 million Airbus A340-600, Virgin Airlines said it is having to replace plastic tables intended for changing diapers in its ‘mother and baby room’ because passengers have broken them while having sex on them. ‘Those determined to join the Mile High Club will do so despite the lack of comforts,’ a Virgin representative said.”

More snow came down overnight, an inch or two — fresh, puffy and white, white, white. Light snow started up again within the last hour or two, gradually intensifying to where it’s now a bona fide snowstorm. I need to head into Montpelier to get some things done. I went downstairs to move the car out of the garage, the door opener — an old, tired model that’s put in long, honorable service — gave up the ghost. Had to unfasten the mechanism so the door can open and close, and will now have to add a trip to Sears to the errands in town.

This is why we have change: so our plans don’t stay the same.

In 48 hours I’m out of here for the first leg of the return trip to Madrid. Suddenly I feel it looming.

Time to get busy.


A quick nonsequitor:

“Smart chicks are so hot.” — Xander Harris


Thought for the day:

Too much self-love will make you jealous of the people that envy you.

Man, it’s been years since I’ve experienced a genuinely cold, wintry Thanksgiving. And snow — I literally can’t remember my last white Thanksgiving. The day slipped by at a startlingly rapid pace, in part due to lack-of-sleep bleariness on my part (getting to bed too damn late, getting up too damn early), and here I find myself at the end of it feeling the need to attempt a wrap-up of some kind.

Why? Well. A short time ago I watched Don’t Look Back, the nearly free-form documentary filmed by D.A. Pennebaker during the course of Dylan’s 1965 solo tour of England. An outrageously influential, iconic piece, which left me feeling a mix of emotions and thoughts that I’d be hard-pressed to express clearly. It’s a bizarre work, a strange, slippery, powerful, exasperating bit of filmmaking, which somehow drew for me a starkly clear picture of the limited value of words. An odd place to be considering that I deal in words to an extent.

There is so much blabber in the film, and it never clarifies anything, at least to my eyes and ears. It deals in smoke and fog, in obfuscation and a sharply aggressive brand of elusiveness. Standing in drastic contrast to the words of Dylan’s lyrics, which the film’s brief concert segments showcase as potent, dynamic expressions of thought and emotion, expressing with a clarity that seems strange to me considering how dense those lyrics are, how excessively packed with words.

Blah blah blah. And right here, four miserable paragraphs into this entry, I find myelf hyperaware of my inability to express simply and clearly because I have to toss together a continually swelling accumulation of words, sentences, paragraphs to get at things having to do with feelings and perception, not with intellectual hooha.

I rely on my feelings more and more as this life of mine wears on, and I talk less. I trust my feelings. They lead me to clearer experience, clearer understanding, both nonverbal states that get served in pitiful fashion when I try to cram them into verbal form.

It’s a curious, hilariously subjective thing, perception and all that. Example: take a look at some of the wildly varying takes on the film, beginning with the hyperlink in the second paragraph of this entry, and then here, here, here and here. The writers have distinct takes, all different in different ways and, apart from some factual goof-ups (i.e., Roger Ebert writes that “…Pennebaker’s 1967 film… is a time capsule from the period when Sgt. Pepper was steamrolling Mr. Tambourine Man” — the tour took place in ‘65; Sgt. Pepper didn’t show up until two years later), who’s to say that one is more valid than any of the others?

It’s a provocative film of a provocative artist carrying on in messy, provocative ways. And provocative is good. Just uncomfortable at times.


I’ve been thinking about this life of mine a lot lately, this being Thanksgiving and all, a good time to assess and appreciate. Which led me to a thought I’ve had before, one which might sound silly though it’s true: I’m grateful to every person who has passed through my life. Every single one, whether they played a featured role, a supporting part or a cameo. They’ve all contributed to this wacky existence I’ve stumbled my way through, and it’s been a great existence.

Hope you had a good holiday, whether you shared it with friends, family or no one but your worthy self.

So who needs drugs when one has satellite TV? Especially now, when every other channel seems to be running marathons (Whose Line Is It Anyway, X-Files, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Trek films, James Bond films, blahblahblah). All one has to do is turn the television on, settle down in a comfy chair and sink into a channel-surfing stupor. Which is kind of what I did for a while tonight, a while being somewhere around three hours. Which brings up the other use of satellite TV: time travel. You sit down, pick up the remote, next thing you know it’s hours later. Creepy.

It’s been snowing here for most of the last 48 hours. Lightly, most of the time, sometimes so lightly you have to step outside to get that there are actually snowflakes drifting down. The temperature hovered around 20 all day today, the sky was partly to mostly sunny most of the afternoon, the snow coming down anyway, at times heavily. Beautiful, really.

Christmas lights have slowly, quietly been appearing on more and more houses. The holiday season has crept in and made itself at home. In Montpelier, the streets have been adorned with strings of lights, every downtown pole wrapped with garlands of evergreen branches studded with bells. As I walked down Main Street yesterday, enjoying the cold weather and the holiday ambience, an attractive woman in business dress passed in the opposite direction, a Santa outfit folded neatly over one arm.

It’s a sweet little town. Madrid may be a bit of an adjustment after these months in the north country. On the other hand, I’ll get there just as the Christmas decorations are blossoming everywhere. Not bad timing.

Sunday morning I grab a bus down to Cambridge, Mass. to spend the night with friends. Monday night I board a plane to Europe. Tuesday morning I’ll be back in the Spanish capital. The days are slipping quickly by, and I’m feeling tremendous gratitude for being alive here in the middle of it all.

There is so much to be grateful for.

Have a fine Thanksgiving.

To the north, the sky is a thick, uniform gray. To the south it lightens up near the horizon. To the north, snow is coming down, becoming heavier as it extends up the valley. Here around the house it falls lightly, gently — to the south it appears to taper off. Snow’s been coming and going all day, usually lightly, occasionally in squalls which move through with sudden bursts of intense snowfall, the flakes swirling with the breeze. Not much in the way of accumulation (which is just fine with me), but loads of atmosphere and great visuals.

It’s a classically beautiful winter scene. The hills spread out arrayed in dull grays, browns, dark greens. Snow covers most of the open ground. Perfect holiday season conditions. Which brings me to my idea of holding Christmas early this year (see entry of 18 November). Or holding two Christmases. Or making it a two to three week affair. The only fly in the ointment that I can think of is the deer season gunfire thing. Puts a teeny bit of a dent in the deckingthehalls/happyhappyjoyjoy/peaceonearth vibe, plus it could be distinctly hazardous to eight tiny reindeer. Holding off until December’s a few days old and the hunters have all realized the season’s over is an idea to consider.

Otherwise, yuletide-friendly weather like this doesn’t come along every year and one never knows what kind of meteorological turns this wacky planet of ours may take, so it behooves us to think a bit, make a quick decision and seize the opportunity to maximize this god-given opportunity to celebrate the holidays when our little world (and I’m referring to Vermont here) actually looks like all the cheery snow-laden Christmas card images that we’ll all be pelted with soon.

Or maybe I’ll just do it on my own. I have a feeling the rest of the western world may not pay much attention to this brilliant idea I’m trying to foist off on it.

So let’s see. Last Wednesday I ordered a few CDs from Half.com (now an e-bay fiefdom). Because Half.com is the strange place that it is, each CD turned out to be purchased from a different seller. So, fine. A bunch of CDs began making their way across this broad land of ours toward my mail box. Today – five days later! hot damn!– three of ‘em arrived. Brought ‘em inside, carefully opened the mailing pouches (thanks to my childhood indoctrination re: reusing mailing pouches that arrive in good condition). The first package turned out to be a CD by those Australian head cases, the Vines. “Highly Evolved” — it’s playing right now in the background. Fine rock ‘n’ roll.

Whoever packaged the CD up wrapped it neatly up in a page from the September 19 issue of Rolling Stone. One side of the sheet: page 125. The other side: page 126. From the very rear section of the issue where the classified ads lurk. It’s been a while since I’ve perused an issue of RS, so I took a look at what they were pushing on their readers. Here’s what I found:

Page 125 consisted of:

– five (count ‘em – five) ads for outfits wanting to train me (or you) to be a recording engineer — one promising “No experience required. On-the-job training in local major Recording Studios…. — along with two ads from more ambitious, possibly more legitimate concerns offering a broader spectrum of training options (video production, radio production, digital media, computer animation, etc.)

– two ads aimed at college students – “Term Paper assistance – send for our free catalog listing 19,278 quality research papers….” and “University Degrees – You may qualify for a Bachelor’s Master’s or Ph.D. degree based on your life and work experience. Free confidential evaluations.”

– one ad for the CIA – “Opportunities as diverse as the nation we serve. Challenges for a changing world.”

– one ad promising the following (in LARGE LETTERS): “Increase Breast Size … Guaranteed #1 Seller In America! Now she can increase her breast size with the #1 selling breast formula in America! Bloussant Breast Enhancing Tablets increases her breast size, firmness and fullness – naturally! An independent double blind clinical study states that ‘Breast volume, bustline, breast width, breast circumference and breast length were all significantly increased.” The clinical study also showed an average increase of 2 cup sizes – and, in several participants, an increase of 3 cup sizes. No more artificial padding or expensive surgical implants. Get back the increased cleavage and gain back the firmness she had as a teenager. NOT available in stores!

That’s page 125. Page 126 consisted of one half-page ad whose banner read “EXCLUSIVE Jenna Jameson Bobblehead plus FREE VHS or DVD Videos!”, three classified ads for videos (”OSVS Bizarre Sex Videos!” “Topless Lolitas” “Traci Lords”), six ads that fell under the category of “Teledating” (”BI CURIOUS LOCALS! Live Male Phone Chat” “Casual Sex Dateline” “Sexy Girls Want It Now!”) and a whole big bunch of ads for “Phone Entertainment.” I have a vague memory of the days when “Phone Entertainment” meant calling random numbers and asking if their refrigerator was running (Punchline: “It is? You better go catch it!” followed by helpless snorts of teenage laughter). In this case it’s more along the lines of “1-800-WIFE-CHAT – Bored housewives love to be naughty” and “Hot Coeds” and “Horny Nasty Babes!” And then there’s the tried and true “FOR A GOOD TIME CALL MONA.” And even one that says “Wild Sex Like The Rock Stars!”

Those rock stars — ever the role models.

Did whoever wrapped my order use this page ‘cause they didn’t want to waste paper containing a readable article? And what’s with the bobblehead hooha – aren’t people tired of those things yet? How many recording engineers does the world need? And what kind of folks answer those phone sex ads?

The world is awash in mystery and unanswered questions.

Just stumbled across a quirky, specialized blog — GoogObits — which describes itself as “Obituaries and essays augmented by Google searches.” That may not sound compelling, but yesterday’s entry turned out to be worth the time it took to read it. It begins: “Lynda Van Devanter, whose pained account of her life as an Army nurse in Vietnam focused attention on the burdens of American servicewomen in the war, died on Nov. 15 at her home in Herndon, Va. She was 55.” Again, that may not sound wildly interesting, but it’s only the intro — the intro to a brief description of an unusual life.

Not your usual blog.

With Thanksgiving looming and me playing holiday music day and night, my thoughts have turned to big holiday meals. (Two contributing reasons for that line of thought: (1)I’m having company over tomorrow a.m. and will be baking a pumpkin pie (yes, a manly type like myself can pull together something like that); and (2) starting in a week and a half I’ll be in Madrid for quite a while — a place where it takes some work to track down Amurrican type holiday food, so I’m aware of what I won’t have easy access to. Not that there’s *anything* wrong with the local fare he reminded himself, moaning with food lust.) Therefore when I stopped in at foxvox.org today and saw the link to Eating Dangerously’s Thanksgiving recipes, my salivary glands immediately hopped into a hyperactive state. A website, as it turns out, well worth a minute or more of your time.

They’re not kidding re: the ‘dangerously’ part, by the way. Check out the recipe for Dangerously Deep Fried Turkey.

Dear god, just the thought of a table laden with beautifully prepared holiday food has my system in a state of longing that could result in some truly unfortunate bouts of shoveling chow into my system.

Two days ago: The dawn brought a clear sky and brilliant sunshine (for a change) so that despite early-hours temperatures in the ‘teens, the mercury shot well up into the 50s by midday. This with something like ten inches of snow on the ground, mind you. A big day for melting snow, water dripping from the eves, water streaming through the gutters and downspouts. Warm enough that the air was full with insects brought to sudden life. Warm enough that one could walk outside without a coat or vest or sweater or sweatshirt (though waterproof boots remained a must). By mid-afternoon, the snow on the ground had shrunk to less than half its morning depth, becoming soft and dense (perfect snowball material). With the accelerated melting and evaporation, vapor began rising from the earth, producing a thick, white mist that hung above the fields, still and quiet. Ghostly.

As the sun dipped behind the trees and daylight waned, the mist grew thicker, becoming fog that filled the air and lasted throughout the night. Rain started up yesterday morning, meaning hours of fog and rain. The fog eventually cleared up. For a while. This morning: no rain for the most part. Some fog. Later today: rain fell. The fog thickened.

Rain. Fog. Rain. Fog.

On the way back from Montpelier late yesterday a.m., I stopped in to say hello to Mo and Kay, my downhill neighbors. We’re sitting around their small kitchen table marveling at the goofy weather, discussing this and that. Just after noon, there’s a knock on the door and three people enter. Three salt-of-the-earth Vermonters, two men (mid-40s, late 20s), one woman (30-something). Local folk, probably lived here their whole lives, like Mo. Wearing bulky clothing, wool hats, big, clunky waterproof boots. Hands thick, reddish, the nails dirty. They had store-bought sandwiches and a bag or two of fried pork skins. They apparently weren’t expecting to find a stranger there, their initial vibe toward me cautious and distant, almost suspicious. Mo introduced us all, they realized I was the person who lived up the hill across from the woods. Things relaxed a bit. I got up and pulled on my coat, the three new arrivals pulled up chairs around the table and sat down, stripping the plastic wrap from their sandwiches and digging in. The woman had roast beef on a roll, the meat as red and raw as I’ve ever seen. She pulled the bag of fried pork skins open, it made its way around the table.

Mo and I continued talking, mostly about the mess Goddard College has been in. The others talked between themselves. At some point, it became clear they were listening to Mo and myself. I mentioned what we were talking about, they all began contributing opinions. Goddard is in the neighboring town of Plainfield. The younger guy mentioned that a group of people had bought close to 100 acres in Plainfield and were planning on creating a community on the property, a communal mode of living, not seen here in many years. From there the conversation turned to hunting, the reason they were up here on the hill. It turns out I’ve seen them going by on the road on a daily basis this last week, one of them driving a massive pick-up with a snowmobile loaded in the rear. I’d waved, they’d waved back. Local courtesies. The older guy began talking about their plans for the afternoon: to go up on the hill behind Mo’s place and spread out, the idea being to flush out deer, drive the game into the area between them all, then close in and bring one down.

I’m not a hunter. Their way of life isn’t mine. But it’s theirs, as it is for many local folk. They like it, they identify with it. It’s something they grow up with, part of the fabric of their lives, part of the cycle of the seasons in these parts. Worthy of respectful interest, at minimum.

There was more talk, eventually I excused myself, said good-bye, headed back up the hill. I pulled up by my garage, was standing out in the snow looking off down the hill and up the valley when one of the hunters came out of Mo’s place off down the hill, going to one of the parked cars. They got in and started it up, drove slowly up the hill, pulling over by the woods across the road, a couple of hundred feet away. The door opened, they got out and stood there pulling on gear, zipping up. I waved. No wave came in return. Could be they didn’t see my gesture. Could be they didn’t feel like responding. Could be something else. It felt, though, like the vibe I’d experienced when they first entered the kitchen, that standoffish you’re-a-stranger thing, may have resurfaced. Or not. I can’t say for sure.

The coming days may bring more encounters. I’ll be curious to see what comes of them.

Meanwhile, the rain continues, as does the fog. The snow dwindles, patches of lawn slowly reappear. The forecast for tomorrow: colder temperatures/snow. Could be time to get the Christmas music cranking again, light a few candles to offset the chilly late November dark. We’ll see.


In keeping with the early holiday season mojo I’ve had going over the last week or so, the following arrived this morning in an e-mail from a loved one:

In case you are remotely interested in what two teenagers on the planet want for Xmas (my nephews… with a couple of asides from their mom).

Forrest’s Christmas List (age 13)

– Hot Topic, Kohl’s or Best Buy Gift Cards

– Paint Ball Gun & Paint balls

– Zero gauge earrings

– Fluorescent orange hair dye

– Low cut white socks (lowest you can find)

– Black belt (30 ” or so)

– White tank tops, white undershirts (adult small)

– Korn or System of a Down Posters

– Adidas soccer shorts (adult med.)

– Soccer socks (black or red)

– Black, blue, red gel pens

– Rings ? silver (size 8?)

– DVD’s The Pest, Queen of the Damned

– Cell phone (yeah, right)

– Good portable CD player


– LA Looks hair gel (strongest hold)

– Black neck tie

– Boxers (adult small)

– Duct tape

– Another black light (he has one already though)

– Black light posters

– Little red slider turtles (live ones)

– Razors and shaving cream (he doesn’t need these..haha)

– Stereo

– Hackie sacks

– Incense

– Bottle of easy cheese (stocking thing)

– Etnies Wallet

– Bed Comforter (twin size ..heavy one)

– Digital camera

– Kicker ramp for skateboard

– traffic light (Wal-Mart)

– Beta fish [note: this must refer to a

Betta Splendens, also known as

Siamese Fighting Fish]

– Tank for beta fish (small) ? kitty proof

Philip’s Christmas List (age 15)

– Wizard or Dragon Pewter Statues (like you

can find at stores like The Unicorn)

– CD’s: Any Korn, Rammstein, Slipknot, Ozzy,

Tool, Kidney Thieves

– Reptile Stuff: Fake plants, vines, little houses

any decoration stuff for cages.

– 60-100 watt UV light bulbs for cages

– Book: The Wings of Merlin

– Electric Hair Clippers

– Any kind of books about Merlin, Celtic or

Druid Books

– Black, Red and any kind of fluorescent paint

for walls (gallons)

– gift cards to Best Buy, Hot Topic, Kohl’s or

any soccer store or pet store with reptile stuff

– Black, red, yellow/gold soccer socks

– Black curtains, black sheets (twin) and black

pillow cases

– Posters: David Beckham (soccer player), Korn,

System of a Down, Tool, Slipknot, Static X, Flaw

– Etnies bookbag

– Digital Alarm Clock

– 4 gage earrings

– Colored sharpie markers

– Any band above T-shirts

– Cheap VCR

– DVD remote for x-box

– DVD’s: Queen of the Damned, Brotherhood of the

Wolf, Reign of Fire, MIBII, Super Troopers, The Pest,

Merlin, Joan of Arc

– Bongo

– Long Wallet Chain


– Picasso’s art work books

Going through old, old, old e-mail, I came across the following (author unknown):


10. Thou shalt not act half-starved whenever thou watcheth me eat.

9. Thou shalt not lift they leg to water the Christmas tree.

8. Thou shalt not roll in any distressingly aromatic dead organic matter thou mayest find in the yard.

7. Thou shalt not lie down next to me and commence making licking and popping noises.

6. Thou shalt not treat my shoes like a chew toy.

5. Thou shalt not drink out of the toilet.

4. Thou shalt keep they nose out of the cat’s litter box.

(4A. Thou shalt not WATCH or BOTHER the cat while she is in her litterbox.)

3. Thou shalt not pass gas in my presence and then leave the room as if thou hath been offended by me.

2. Remember that thou hath been neutered and do not run away from home in pursuit of a good time.

1. Thou shalt not sneak up on me and lick me in the mouth while I am sleeping.

No meteors here last night due to overcast. (Sniffle.) Which is fine ‘cause way down deep inside, I wasn’t too thrilled about dragging myself out of bed at 4 or 5 a.m. and going out into the glacially cold night to stand and stare up at the sky. With a playmate, maybe. On my own, not a hugely exciting prospect.

But the early-holiday-season mojo continues. More and more Christmas lights are appearing between here and Montpelier, and considering that recent weeks have been mostly gray and cold, strings of lights bring a cheery note to the days as they head into the darkest time of year, growing shorter with every 24 hour span. (Meanwhile, the big illuminated plastic Santa that I mentioned in the entry of 14 November is now lying flat on his back in the snow. Hitting the eggnog? Making snow angels? Decked by the big illuminated plastic Frosty the Snowman positioned to Santa’s left? Don’t know, but it’s a disturbing image.) Inside the house here, I’ve got Christmas music going and Christmas candles burning. Silly? Perhaps. But it feels just fine. The days, for the most part, have been so dark – between that and the close to one foot of accumulated snow, I need a boost. The early holiday thing seems to be doing the job.


An extremely cool news item tolen from Metafilter by way of foxvox.org: a small poetry magazine suddenly finds itself on the receiving end of a mammoth stroke of good fortune.

A few timewasters, copped from Mike’s List:

To make your own virtual graffitti on a virtual wall (and then mail it to a friend), go here.

To draw little pictures then post them online, go here.

To make your own fireworks, go here.


It’s continued snowing, getting heavier and wilder, the wind picking up, snow flying everywhere — in swirling sheets before cold breezes, in huge, slow, majestic clouds across the valley to the north of here, obscuring the long arching lines of the hills. Tremendously beautiful, genuinely beautiful in a deep-winter-arriving-way-early kind of way. A kind of beauty that deals in transience, the scene up and down the valley constantly changing with the blowing snow and shifting light. The clouds overhead are whipping across across the sky, much faster than normal, bringing occasional glimpses of sun, bits of blue sky, sending patches of light and shadow undulating across the valley’s slopes, visible through shifting curtains of driven snow. It’s a powerful, primitive scene that feels a touch overwhelming to be out in, showing as clearly as it does how small we are before the force and scope of it all.

Someone should consider rescheduling Christmas, move it up to, say, this Thursday. Call off work for the week, give everyone 48 hours to get shopping out of the way, break out the decorations and carols, get on the horn and round up friends and loved ones for a major celebration, and savor a classically beautiful white yuletide. ‘Cause it’s as perfect as one could ask for, and we should take advantage of it. Run out and pick up bunches of groceries, pull together a huge, multi-course, sprawling meal, share it with people we love, and let the cold world outside put on a spectacular display.

I would enjoy that. And whether anyone take me up on the idea or not, I may have to break out some Christmas music and light a white candle or two. I’m not going to be here in December — for the first time in this lifetime of mine I will be overseas for the holidays. It’ll be lovely, I’m sure, but it’ll be different. The world has provided the perfect surroundings for a fast, early bit of Christmas. I may have to indulge.

There’s nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Time to head out into the weather and tramp around in it all before darkness falls.

Yow! There’s something like six inches of snow on the ground and it continues to fall steadily, though lightly.

It actually began sometime in the early hours on Sat., so that when I got out of bed a half inch to an inch lay over everything. It quickly turned to sleet, then rain, and remained so throughout yesterday, a day that turned out to be a good one to remain inside and hibernate. Last night, it reverted back to snow, and the world around here is now white and gray, with traces of deep evergreen peeking out from under snow-covered branches. Kind of mind-boggling, I think, given that Thanksgiving is still 10 days away.

Could be worse, though. South and east of here – in Maine, southern Vermont/N.H., Massachusetts – the conditions led to icing rather than snow. As in ice storms. I give groveling thanks to the universe at large for the relatively benign local conditions.

So there it is. November 18. One more pelting in the string of early-season peltings November has brought. Two weeks from tonight I’ll be flying back to Madrid. Lovely, active, snow-free Madrid, city of tapas and, er, no snow.

Meanwhile, early feedback on the novel is good. Received one excited call from someone reading the manuscript, had to get them to wait until they’d actually finished the thing before they began unloading specific feedback on me. They’d apparently reached the end of chapter 7 when they picked up the phone. On an impulse, after the call I picked my copy and zipped through that chapter, which reads pretty well, though I found all sorts of small errors. How do I miss that stuff? I go through a chapter, it looks clean. I put it away for a few days. Next time I take a gander at it, I’m practically tripping over small, embarrassing typos and the like. (This is why people have editors. I need to get me one of them buggers.)

Saturday morning. Man, it’s cold outside. Right now, 9:45 a.m., the temperature is about 21. Just went outside to put a letter in the box for pick-up and move some plant pots into the barn. Though I wore a big down coat, the cold air made my hands hurt and, despite a scarf, insinuated itself down the back of my neck (one of the disadvantages of a real short haircut). Two huge pick-up trucks cruised by on the gravel road, probably scouting around for likely deer-hunting spots. Which reminds me – all those mentions I made in earlier entries re: deer-hunting season being in full swing? They were wrong, at least for rifle hunting. That season starts today. Which raises the question: what’s with all the rifle fire I’ve been hearing over the last few weeks? Answer: could have been for any number of reasons. Black Bear season’s been in effect since the beginning of September. The seasons for hunting rabbit, gray squirrel and ruffled grouse are in effect. Could have been any of them. Me, I’m just an ignorant nonhunter, so I can’t say for sure.

Another pick-up just drifted by, a big black one with silver trim.

It’s a strange time of year, hunting season. Men with rifles everywhere, wearing camouflage outfits, driving huge pick-up trucks, big enough that they could almost be ocean-going vessels. The local macho equivalent of low-rider cars or hopped-up street rods — enormous, beefy, wide-flanked vehicles whose exhaust may contain testosterone. One of Vermont’s many quirks.

Two of the few residents of the neighborhood, Charlotte and Jody, just walked by out on the road, one of them wearing a luminescent orange vest, which brings up another strange aspect of hunting season: bullets flying everywhere make it a good idea to wear bright orange clothing so hunters won’t be quite as likely to let loose in your direction.

Meanwhile, the deer, who were cavorting everywhere during the warm season, have wisely taken cover. The only one or two I’ve seen during the last few weeks – when bow hunting season was happening – did not linger in the open. They made tracks, running directly for cover. They may not be rocket scientists, but they’re no dummies.

Another truck just drove slowly by, a red one.

Deer rifle-hunting season lasts 16 days. A good time to stay out of the woods, maybe rent a few videos or catch up on e-mail.


To blow bubbles using Andie and Mike’s bubble machine, go here.

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