far too much writing, far too many photos

Halloween morning here on the hill, just outside the Northeast Kingdom in northern Vermont:

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Last night’s poker game: after picking up three or four respectable pots, I gave it all away and then some in three or four unnervingly massive pots. For a low-ante, allegedly low-bidding game, there were a few points when serious piles of cash accumulated in the center of the table.

During the pre-game pizzafest, the hostess received a northern lights alert via a phone call from a friend driving on the Interstate. All present poured out of the house, pulling on footgear, craning necks upward. Where we discovered a majestic extravaganza, centered at the top of the sky’s dome and extending from there down toward the horizon in all directions with broad, slowly-shifting streaks of understated reds, blues, greens. Completely eclipsing the two or three other modest displays of northern lights I’d seen in past years. A few folks appeared from other houses, standing in the street with us, one or two talking into cordless phones, passing along the alert.

Before the game — darkness gathering, the moon hanging bright and clear in the western sky above bare trees — I stepped out the kitchen door into cold evening air to take a look at the scene away from the lights of the house. Moving from the stoop toward the barn, I heard sounds off to my right, a combination of hoofs on ground and alarmed huffing breaths. Three white-tailed deer bounded off across the gravel road into the hilltop’s tree cover, nothing visible in the dusk’s dim light except splashes of white, tails briefly giving away their owners’ location before disappearing in the falling night.

Today: Halloween. In past years, no trick-or-treaters have braved the early darkness and long gravel road that leads up from the valley to the few houses spread around the hill here. Far as I know, anyway — my attendance has been a bit spotty during previous Halloween evenings. I expect to be here tonight, though, a bowl of empty calories waits by the door. Any kids who make the journey to my back stoop will be showered with Kit-Kat bars.

This morning, looking up the valley to the north:

Yes, I know I’m overdoing the photos-of-dawn/dusk thing. I don’t care. It’s my camera, I get to play with it any way I want. In three weeks I’ll be back in Madrid, there’ll be a different kind of photo thing going on. Enjoy the Vermont sunrise/sunset business, ’cause soon I’ll be flogging a whole other brand of image.

This morning: woke up early. Too f*#%ing early. 4 a.m., something like that. (A kind of waking up that’s been FAR too frequent this last week or two. Grumble, grumble.) Got up to dump the ballast. Shuffled back to bed. Never really slipped back to sleep. Finally got up, pulled on clothes, grabbed the camera, went blearily outside to see what photo ops presented themselves.

I remain bleary, and need to get the day underway. (The day: car inspection, gym, errands, writing, blahblahblah. And an evening poker game, where I will be easy pickings unless I manage to unbleary myself. Which may turn out to be the project of the day.)

We’ll see.

**************

Hours later –

This is what I do on days of bleariness like today: I crack myself up. I stumble along with in an adequately functional way, I spew blabberings with a bit less inhibition than normal. For instance: me at the gym, suffering my way to pumped-upness. One of the facility’s trainers is stretching after a workout. A good guy; a limber, flexible son of a bitch. Standing on one foot, he raises his other leg until that ankle/foot are right up by his head, like a trained dancer might. Impressive. I’m watching this, I suddenly hear myself calling out, “You know, if you keep showing off like that, someone’s gonna have to kick your ass.” Soon as the words are out, it occurs to me the guy doesn’t know me real well, it’s conceivable he might not get that I’m just giving him a metaphoric elbow to the ribs. I’m hoping I don’t pay for that crack at some future date. Still, people cackled, he smiled as he continued stretching in ways that, if I tried them, would produce massive internal injuries. All was well. (Hope I.)

Back outside post-gym. A seriously beautiful late autumn day — patches of clouds sliding across blue, blue sky, brilliant sunlight coming and going through it all. Leaves swirling before the occasional breeze. Ideal day-before-Halloween weather.

On to the afternoon.

Heading over to eBay? Go right for the entertainment: feedback!

*****************

Dusk, three days before Halloween:


Saturday: drove to Burlington, found my way to the Fletcher Allen health care facility where Kay, one of my downhill neighbors, is receiving treatment. I found her in a two-patient unit on the fourth floor, the room’s occupants separated by a white curtain. Kay had the bed by the window — when I entered the room, her eyes took me in, her face settled into a smile, an expression of quiet radiance.

She lay on her back, head cushioned by two white pillows, the sheets on the bed white, her hair a white corona around the thin oval of her face. Her body had grown even slighter than her normal slender state (which is saying something), the muscles on her arms had withdrawn beneath the skin so that the flesh hung loosely. And yet she shone, with a loveliness I’d never seen in her before, as if during the course of this possibly life-ending experience she’d released her grasp on the things she often worried and fretted over, surrendering to a situation that had pulled her out of her home, her normal routines, her accustomed ways of seeing the world and reacting to life. The smile on her face was not tinged with emotions that often seemed to play about her features in the time I’d known her — frustration, restlessness, fragility. Instead, it hinted at a genuine appreciation of her existence, her situation, the people in her life.

I pulled a chair over to the side of her bed and sat down. She lay a hand on my arm, I covered her hand with one of mine. And she talked, easily, the words coming as if she had plenty to say, as if this last week or two had been a hell of a time, a period in which she’d experienced amazing things. She couldn’t speak loudly, her words sometimes became inaudible — I’d lean closer, I’d concentrate, I’d lean closer still, but the ambient hospital noise overrode her in those moments. Asking her to speak up only provoked efforts that seemed to strain her physically, with little result, so I simply listened, letting her volume fall and rise as it would.

She told me about having cancer, about being the only person in her family to have developed it. She related the tests that resulted in the diagnosis, about the treatments, about the medicines that had brought physical relief, about being unable to use her legs (that last the product of a tumor pressing on her spine). She told me about the experience of being brought to a medical center near Montpelier, then to this hospital in Burlington. She talked about her husband, Mo, about her kids, about nieces, nephews, grandkids. She spoke about growing up on a farm, about living here in northeastern Vermont.

And during all this, I was struck by her distinct resemblance to my mother, or at least to the version of my mother I saw during her final days. Her hair, her features, the overall look of her shrinking body, of her arms and, in particular, of her hands. That last really caught my eye — my mother had distinctive hands, with long, expressive fingers. It felt strange to find myself in contact with a pair of hands so reminiscent of the maternal ones, in a situation so reminiscent of the last times I’d seen my family’s material figure.

My mother’s final months were not exactly a peaceful time, Herself not being exactly what might be described as a peaceful individual, though the physical limitations of her last years calmed things a bit. She was accustomed to worry, seemed to hold tenaciously to a lifestyle of worry, believing this world to be packed with danger, with the need to be alert, vigilant. Much of her basic take on things tended not to encourage serenity or restfulness. Her prime method of coping: try to control as much of her world as she could, try to impose her will on as many elements of it as possible — an approach that consumes energy and results in poor, fitful sleep. Which did not deter her from sticking to her customary m.o.

She struggled, she sometimes seemed to wrestle with a deep, hard disappointment in life. But she hung in there. She took care of herself as best she could, and she lived in her own home right up until her passing. (Down in Florida, a long way from the rest of the family, but still her own place — paid for, under her control.) And at the end, at what many would consider a ripe old age, she waited until she’d seen the people most important to her — me one weekend, my brother, my niece and nephew a few weeks later. And then she let go and passed over, suddenly, quickly, her lungs abruptly filling with liquid, her system packing it in, giving out.

Within 24 hours of her death, I felt her around. Or, for those who might cock an eyebrow at that kind of notion, I felt a vivid energy around me that I could only describe as hers. Happier, more curious and enthusiastic about everything than I’d ever known her to be.

Think what you will about it, that was my experience.

Kay mentioned that she didn’t think she would be going home. Both she and her husband, Mo, had told me it was possible she would be leaving the hospital this week, moving to a nursing facility not far from here in Barre, Montpelier’s working-class neighbor city. That prospect seemed to please her. Beyond that, time will tell.

After an hour, Kay’s lunch arrived, hospital staff materializing to set up the tray and move Kay to a sitting position, working in friendly, exceedingly kind fashion. I left at that point, finding my way out of the building into a crisp, gray day, thinking. Absorbing a lot of input. Heading off to spend the afternoon with a friend, for a walk around a lake, in woods still full of color, a nice contrast to the late autumn look prevalent in this corner of the state.

This life of ours — it packs a punch.

Found myself awake early, way early. Four-something, a bit shy of 5 o’clock, the world outside dark and quiet in the way it gets out here in the country. Got up, went to the window. Stars shone cold and sharp above; dim, diffuse light at the southern horizon indicated Montpelier way off in the distance. Went back to bed for a while, drifted in and out. Gradually became aware that a long day awaited, realized I wouldn’t be sinking back into real sleep. Hauled myself out of bed around 6 a.m., too bleary to grumble about it.

Stumbled downstairs, went through the ritual of cleaning out the stove/filling it again/getting a fire going. Clouds had drifted quietly in during my last hour of semi-sleep, the day’s first light revealed gray sky, gray landscape. The teeniest bit of light showed above the eastern horizon, a faint blush at the lower edge of the cloud cover, and as I got the stove cranked up, that blush swelled, the clouds breaking up a bit, all of it working to produce a sudden dramatic display. Didn’t see it until it was in full swing. Ran upstairs, grabbed camera, pulled on down vest, hurried outside, caught the tail end.

It faded quickly, gray sky reasserted itself.

A friend is in the hospital in Burlington — Kay, of Kay and Mo, my downhill neighbors (their house can be seen in the first of the three pics posted in the 10/23 entry). I’ll be making the hour drive to spend some time visiting, then will spend much of the afternoon with another friend not far from there, possibly do some horseback riding. We’ll see.

The day moves on.

Got the time? (Don’t forget to set the clock first.)

Contemplating the price of downloading music.

Concorde calls it a day.

Warming the oven — multiple multiples?

Badgers, etc. — what the #*%!! does it all mean?

And rediscovering the joy of living!

*************

Today, afternoon fading to evening:


Two weeks ago, northern Vermont was awash in autumn colors. This morning we’re awash in snow:

It may be time to bring in the lawn chairs.

***************

Two weeks ago a friend came to visit for a couple of days: G., a great guy — older, from the Boston area. Lives on Beacon Hill (a locale he claims is getting wackier by the day). Given that the variety of birds in his neighborhood doesn’t normally extend beyond pigeons, sparrows, maybe the stray starling or grackle, he spent a fair amount of time checking out the traffic at the bird feeders that hang outside the dining room windows here. There have been wave after wave of migrating birds making stopovers around the house this autumn, and the constant flow of diners at the feeders — not to mention the sight of passing gangs of robins hunting through the grass in the yard, 30 or 40 strong — kept him well occupied.

Among the waves of birds have been numerous groups of one particular kind, feeding in the grass like the robins. A bit larger than robins, a bit smaller than blue jays. Brown/gray heads; backs, wings brown, mottled with darker coloring; chests lighter, also mottled, becoming lighter down toward the tail; a bright red V on the back of the neck/head; and a marking like a bib or a black half-moon on the upper chest/neck. Distinctive looking buggers, vaguely familiar, though I couldn’t place them. I paged through my field guide more than once, came up with nothing, finally resigned myself to ignorance. (A state of being I inhabit far more than I’d care to admit.)

The last morning G. was here, a crowd of the brown birds had shown up, were spread out across the grass, mixed in with an equally large mob of robins. G. asked about them, I confessed ignorance. We pulled out my field guide, he commenced some research. “I think,” he finally says, “they’re flickers.” Woodpeckers — birds I knew from childhood years north of Albany, N.Y., in the woods on the Hudson. Couldn’t be, thought I. They’re woodpeckers. I always saw them on trees in those younger years, like the rest of their wood-pecking brethren. I said as much to my friend, he replied, “I don’t know, they sure look like flickers.”

I repeated that they couldn’t be — flickers were woodpeckers, they hung out on trees, blah blah blah. I knew them from the woods, had never seen them doing the ground-feeding thing, and swore up and down to that effect. My friend remained politely doubtful, we went back and forth, me asserting at one point that they couldn’t be flickers, that he’d have to take my word on that. Then I finally took a gander at the illustration he’d come across in the field guide.

Hmmm. Brown/gray head, dark, mottled back and wings. Light, mottled coloring on chest. Red V. Black, bib-like marking. Sure looked like the specimens out on the lawn. And according to the text, they were ground-feeders.

I began backtracking on my assertions, choking down small morsels of crow along the way. Then I went online and checked out three or four reference sites, all of which referred to the flicker as a ground-feeding woodpecker. (Pause to choke down a bit more crow.) And then I noticed that while each of these sites referred to the bird as a ground feeder, the only illustrations they had showed it working away up on the side of a tree. Which made me feel a teeny bit better.

A few days before this, another person in my life — R., a loved one from Greensboro, N.C. — sent a note in response to this journal’s entry of September 29, suggesting that the jumbo arachnid I’d found in my tomato plants was a writing spider. That prompted some fast online research, during which I zipped through two or three web pages featuring pix and info re: writing spiders. What I saw appeared to be different enough that I figured it must be a different spider from the creature that had made a home for itself in my tomato plants, and let R. know that. My research, it turned out, had been too fast, too sketchy — she supplied a bunch of other URLs that featured photos of writing spiders which were exact or close matches to the specimen on my webpage. In this instance, I at least had the sense to check out the additional information before drawing further buggered conclusions. And if R. hadn’t sent along the additional resources to begin with, I would have continued blithely along in my ignorance.

And so this is something else I value about the people I love: every now and then there are those moments when they save me from myself. If you know what I mean.

*************

A bit of the New York Times’ write-up re: the Quentin Tarentino film currently packing them in at movie houses in the both the U.S. and the U.K.:

“Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is rated R (Under 17

requires accompanying parent or adult guardian).

It has shootings, stabbings, beatings, beheadings,

disembowelings, amputations, mutilations,

eye-gougings, slicings, choppings, bitings and a

spanking. Also some naughty words.”

This morning, after a cold night: fog, hard frost –

***************

No Comment –

Recent headline, USA Today:

“High court refuses marijuana case, accepts porn case.”

Recent story excerpt, Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush — living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge — told his top officials to ’stop the leaks’ to the media, or else. News of Bush’s order leaked almost immediately.”

So. The poker game. Last time I made a profit. Not this time. Had more fun, though. (The good thing about nickel/dime/quarter poker games — profits feel great, losses make little impact.) This game I turned out to be the sole rep. of the male gender. Kind of interesting to sit at a table with three women, all of whom know each other far better than I know any of them. At times, they talked with one another while I listened, my attention drifting between cards and their conversation. I can tell you this: none of them care for Ahhnold very much.

We’re well into post-technicolor autumn around here. Cold, days often gray, punctuated with periods of sun pouring down through dramatic skies. Two nights ago, the local weather types warned of possible snow yesterday at higher elevations. A friend who spent yesterday up on Bolton Mountain said snow fell all day. (Aiiieeee!!)

Yesterday morning: me, sitting here at the computer. I hear a noise from outside the house — hollow, metallic. In the past that has meant (1) chipmunks trying to climb up the drain pipe from inside [see entry of September 10] and (2) a squirrel climbing up the drain pipe from outside, looking for a way to get to the bird feeders and/or get inside the attic (with no success either way). I go outside, a squirrel head pokes out from the rain gutter, beady eyes giving me the once over. I grab the garden hose, turn it on, shoot a hard, sharp stream of water up there, creating big noise of water against metal, soaking the squirrel. It disappears. To be sure it’s gone, I drag the extension ladder out from the garage, climb up to the roof, garden hose in hand. No critter. I send water into the downspout, on the chance the little bugger had squeezed in there to hide. Nothing doing. The squirrel had fled — with no trees near the house, that means it had to make the big leap to the ground and bolt.

Ah, the rustic life.

While I was up on the roof, it began to rain, same as last time I had to drag out the ladder and go up top. [See entry of October 8.] A short time later as I got ready to drive into town, the downpour intensified, changing from rain to sleet/hail. Sloppy. Three, four miles down the road, it petered out, the sky lightened. Much more user-friendly. In town, someone from Adamant, a few miles from here, mentioned they’d had about an inch of snow/hail.

Went to a film, a fine activity for a gray, cold afternoon — a French number, Le Cercle Rouge. A thriller of the hard-boiled kind, considered a classic. I can see why.

(Other films seen recently:

Intolerable Cruelty — a hoot. I find it hard not to like a film that includes a hit man named Wheezy Joe.

School of Rock — er, well, a B-film, with a sweet disposition and some funny moments along the way. Worth staying with for the big performance number at the film’s climax. Jack Black is a bundle of energy; Joan Cusack is a natural resource.

And most of all: Lost In Translation — it warrants all the hype, it bears up under all the ecstatic reviews.)

Today: another cold autumn day. Sky mostly filled with restless gray clouds, sunlight making it through from time to time, seeping between fissures in the overcast. Met with the woman who’ll be housesitting here while I’m back in Madrid. (A doll — a capable, hyper-responsible individual I’ve been blessed to have taking care of the place during my time overseas these last few years.) A month from now I’ll be back on the Iberian Peninsula. It will be interesting, I’m sure, to be there once more after 5 months away.

Is it just me or have the days been skidding by at an unbelievable velocity?

*************

Images from this last Tuesday, the day after Columbus Day, the first one taken here on the hill, the others on a swing through East Montpelier:


My earliest memory in this lifetime: Me — very young, one or two years old — on the bed in my godparents’ bedroom in Queens, N.Y., looking out the window at the El. Their apartment must have been two or three stories up — the tracks were level with or slightly below the window. My perception of the track slipped back and forth between its matter-of-fact reality and a more extravagant, cartoonized version akin to a roller coaster.

My godparents: jovial, social, well-intentioned. Her pretty; him tall, good-natured, bland-featured. They had no children, always seemed awkward with me and so had little to do with me apart from sending a birthday card (no note, just their signatures) and bringing a gift whenever they visited my parents (always something they’d have known I wouldn’t like, had they ever conversed with me).

My second-earliest memory in this lifetime: Three or four years of age, on a weekend outing with a bunch of boy-scout types — my parents, my two brothers, some others of both those age brackets. Autumn, north of New York City (the Catskills? Bear Mountain?). Wooded, angled terrain, large rocks scattered around. Bare trees stretching up toward sky, their long shadows angling across ground carpeted with brown leaves. The air quiet, golden with afternoon light. Little sound apart from the crunch of crisp leaves beneath shoes. I remember sitting in the back seat of a car looking out at tree shadows stretching across brown leaves, I remember being out in the cool air, people around me.

Didn’t especially want to be there, as I recall. Everyone else present was substantially older than my little self, me the only one not involved in scouting. That last remained the case throughout my childhood. Both my brothers spent years in the scouts, both my folks put in time as den parents. Everyone but me, and when it came down to it, remaining uninvolved suited me fine. Didn’t want to wear uniforms, didn’t want to do merit badge projects, didn’t want to be part of these strange groups of kids under the tutelage of uniform-garbed grown-ups. And never was.

**************

Deep autumn has settled in here, most of the bright colors have faded away. A time that always feels a bit dreamy to me, inward-looking. Meditative. Conducive to drifting through memories, as I found myself doing on waking up this morning, huddled under warm covers, the air in the house cool. Finally roused myself, saw a landscape briefly sunlit before clouds crept in. Grabbed the camera, went out into cold a.m. air for a while.

Tonight I attend a poker game. [See entry of September 27.] Last time I couldn’t seem to get myself into playing form — repeatedly dropped cards on table and floor, couldn’t remember games (it had been close to four years since my last attendance at a poker bout), couldn’t seem to clear away mental cobwebs. Yet managed to win a bit of $$$. Not much, but still an achievement given my general fogginess. Will attempt a clearer, more respectable showing this evening.

Later.

This morning, the colors in this part of Vermont past their peak, the countryside heading into stick season:


This morning, out in cool, damp October mist:

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The 2003 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Oct. 2, and it appears to be a bumper crop, well worth investigating, including:

For ENGINEERING: “The late John Paul Stapp, the late Edward A. Murphy, Jr., and George Nichols, for jointly giving birth in 1949 to Murphy’s Law, the basic engineering principle that ‘If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, someone will do it’ (or, in other words: ‘If anything can go wrong, it will’).”

For PHYSICS: “Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams of Australia, for their irresistible report ‘An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces.’”

For PSYCHOLOGY: “Gian Vittorio Caprara and Claudio Barbaranelli of the University of Rome, and Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University, for their discerning report ‘Politicians’ Uniquely Simple Personalities.’”

And for ECONOMICS: Karl Schw√§rzler and the nation of Liechtenstein, for making it possible to rent the entire country for corporate conventions, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other gatherings.”

For all that and more, check out the winners page.

A few days back — Sunday night, maybe — the temperature dropped to around 20. The next morning, frost could be seen scattered all around. Flowering plants began the slow autumn death, trees leaves already turning curled up, lost color, came down. The next night the temperature dipped into the upper 20’s — not as severe, but enough to continue the swing toward late autumn/early winter. And then a lovely Indian summer arrived. The days grew golden, warm, the nights relatively mild — 40s instead of below freezing. Yesterday afternoon could easily have been mistaken for mid-August, had one ignored the calendar. The freeze of earlier in the week apparently jump-started trees that had been turning slowly or just beginning to change, so that the colors have been blazing all across the countryside. The kind of display I haven’t seen in years.

Along with the spectacular weather, another wave of migrating birds has shown up for a rest stop. Plenty of robins, and another species I don’t recognize and can’t find in my field guides. They hunt through the grass, slowly clearing out the noisemakers — the crickets and their whirring, humming compatriots.

Yesterday morning out in the yard between the house and the barn, I came across a small pile of gray feathers. There are some pigeons that hang out in the huge barn on my uphill neighbors’ property, they occasionally land here and pick through the grass for seeds sprayed around by birds at the window feeders. And there are two or three mourning doves that hang about this end of the house, taking advantage of the shelter provided by the windbreak, also foraging for seeds. Some critter nailed one of the pigeons or doves — a fox. Maybe a hawk.

Life and death cycles on, the days roll along.

A friend shows up this afternoon for a visit. Posts may be sporadic for the next couple of days.

***********

Bumper sticker seen in Montpelier today:

Get a taste of religion:

Lick a witch

Photos from recent days as spectacular October weather has settled in over northern Vermont:

*****************

Notes from the last week [cont'd. from yesterday's entry]

Lunch. At the home of an old friend, D., in a small town off I-89, New Hampshire. D. trained as a vocalist. Classical music/opera. In the course of conversation, she mentioned that a musician friend of hers was in town for his annual two-month stay. Another musician, a keyboard player. With many years experience, someone with whom D. has a history of collaboration. She sings, he plays, songs from the classical repertoire and music of a more new-age bent, composed by him. D. says singing with him is an experience. He prefers not to, er, over-prepare the classical pieces. He prefers not to polish them, would rather let the music speak to him in the moment, which D. says leads to some distressingly loose performances. He prefers, apparently, to play his own music. All of which seems to produce mixed experiences for D. when they collaborate.

While he’s in residence in this small town, he plays at a local church, a church that apparently gets mired in politics and its own brand of small-scale bureaucracy. Going through the channels it takes to arrange a recital there would take a while, enough that it’s possible his two months in the town would come and go before he could get a slot scheduled in. Which led him to do a kind of end-run, arranging to use the space after a weekly 10 a.m. prayer group, whose members — middle aged and elderly women — all stay to listen to him play for an hour. Him and D. A little classical, a lot of his stuff. Every week during his stay in the town.

And here’s the thing: he’s a cross-dresser. A married, 72-year-old cross-dresser, playing for a group of older small-town women, once a week for an hour. In a nice blouse and long skirt, with make-up and earrings, maybe a scarf, low-heeled shoes. D. says he takes great care in how he presents himself. He takes pride in the product, likes to be told how good he looks. And apparently he passes, as an elderly, conservatively-dressed, matronly type. Playing self-penned new-age tunes once a week for church women.

Honest to god, I love this life.

**************

A teeny linkfest:

Stealth disco!

Going wild with elmo!

And “I feel your pain” goes high-tech.

Today, 7:45 a.m., out in the yard — the start of an Indian Summer morning after a night of hard frost:

****************

Notes from the last week:

Last Wednesday (Oct. 1):
Bumpersticker in Montpelier, VT, seen on the car of a dog owner:
Dog Is My Co-Pilot
(which brought to mind a bumpersticker seen many years ago: DYSLEXICS UNTIE!)

Thursday:
Woke up at 7 a.m., rolled out of bed, began getting ready to drive down to New Hampshire, then Eastern Mass., where I’d be spending most of the weekend running from one place to another. The bird feeders at the dining room windows were wildly busy, between the local winged buggers and their migrating brethern/sistern. Some hairy woodpeckers have become regular visitors during these last months — big, handsome, entertaining critters that have been nice to have around. Except that they’ve taken to pecking away on one of the eaves at this end of the house. Somewhere in the course of eating and packing for the weekend, I heard the sound of one of them tapping away on the house — not music to a homeowner’s ears. I scared off the bird, pulled on a jacket and boots, went outside to take a look at the state of the eave end. One board of which turned out to be riddled with holes. Bunches of holes, some small, some big and ragged. Damage getting progressively more serious, the kind that could not be ignored.

And as rain began falling, I pulled the extension ladder out of the garage, leaned it up against the end of the house. Found a piece of plywood, sawed it into a shape that would fit over the damaged area. Found a hammer and nails, climbed the ladder, nailed the patch down.

Not the kind of morning I’d anticipated, but this, sometimes, is life.

Packed the car, headed south.

The only two politically-themed bumperstickers seen en route:
in Montpelier: LIKE FATHER LIKE SON — ONE TERM!
in New Hampshire: Anyone but Bush!

[this piece in progress -- more to come]

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