Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31-Settling In-Rutland Vermont

Dearest Readers,

Miss Mole continues to dig
Into the darkness
With perspicacious claws
And blind eyes.

She settles on a cul de sac
That’s comfortable and roomy-
A nesting place
For rest and rumination.

Outside-Inside she drags and pulls
Rolls and pushes the ordinary objects
That will occupy the space,
Removing the detritus.
Clearing the way.

She begins her summer life
With big circular arm movements
That pivot at her shoulder blades.
She drags an ample chair
With deep cushions and a footrest
Down to her thought box
And her vision screen.
This is enough for now.

Miss Mole (me) is settling into my Rutland Routines and loving it. Are you bored yet? (Routine sounds so...routine).

I walk to the “Gymnasium” (its real name), to work out every other morning.

Most afternoons I’m in my studio at the Brandon Granary working on small charcoal, ink or pastel drawings of holes. I’m preparing for my extensive daily digging performance beginning December 6th.

There’s a train that chugs past my studio window every afternoon around 4:00 Railroad bells clang at the point where the tracks cross the small street in front of the building. The Blue Seal Feed Company is across the road and usually loads up the train cars with sweet molasses-smelling livestock feeds.

I drove north to Burlington, VT this week, home of my alma mater the University of Vermont, to buy more art supplies. I did not bring enough drawing materials, and Rutland only offers only a small, standard selection of media.

Etta and I checked out Burlington’s waterfront on lake Champlain. It was a clear day. The Adirondacks are barely visible in the distance on the New York side. Loved this embracing stainless steel sculpture with French and English alphabet flowers at the top--a gift of friendship and communication from Canada to her USA neighbors on the occasion of the quadra-centennial of Samuel de Champlain’s discovery of his namesake lake in 1609.

Here I am with Marie Weaver and her husband Steve at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester Vermont for printmaker Sabra Field’s opening reception last Saturday. Marie is a Hand to Hand artist and lives in Atlanta. She studied in Italy with Sabra in the 70s and made the trip to Vermont for the show (small world). It was a feeding frenzy with gobs of well-dressed people in attendance. They ran out of champagne and food in the first 30 minutes!

David turned 77 Thursday. Glenn prepared a lobster feast with lemon, butter and all the appropriate tools for sucking, pulling, and picking lobster flesh from the crustaceans’ innards. (I was conveniently not around when the doomed green beasts were tossed into the cauldron of boiling water.) The tasty creatures were accompanied by a fresh tossed salad, and same-day farm-fresh corn on the cob from Woods Farm about ½ hour up the road.

Glenn made a dark chocolate cake with butter cream frosting from scratch that was shared by the neighbors Paul, Susan and kids Daniel and Anna. Glenn stuck a full-sized candlestick in the cake.

Today I toured Rutland’s Sidewalk Sales and the weekly Farmer’s Market downtown on closed off Merchants’ Row. This folk dance group I believe is from the Twelve Tribes Christian hippie commune in town. Their band played old-timey bluegrass-ish music with violin, trumpet, guitar, and reed recorder–all with a strong hint of an old English medieval sort-of-Greensleeves-y tempo.

Meet Carol Tashie and Dennis Duhaime of Radical Roots Farm. They offer a colorful summer spread of unique fresh veggies, and now they are selling their produce to a new local food restaurant in town. Dennis’ brother Walter lives in Decatur, Georgia, is a friend of mine, and a regular at my Dancing Goats neighborhood coffee shop back home . (Small world again). Here I am at their farm stand with Sharon Nimtz, the food critic of the Rutland Herald. Sharon’s a big proponent of locally grown food, but says most of the area restaurants still get their meat and produce from the big corporate (not necessarily organic or local) food distributors.

Finally, I’d like to share the view from my feet as I take daily walks along North Main Street in Rutland. Here’s an assortment of big, eclectic period homes probably built in the mid to late 1800’s or turn of the 20th century. Many are now law or accounting firms.

Talk to you all next weekend. Eat healthy, and “Buy Local” as the signs around town say.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23-Emergence-Rutland Vermont

Dearest Readers,

Miss Mole raised the hem of her morning gown,
Extending a tentative toe to the floor
Below her bed.
The water had receded.
The mud tiles stretched hard packed and dry
All the way up to the circular door.

She smelled sunshine and predictions of more summer
That tempted her to slide her rounded self
Out from under the quilted cloths of recuperation.

Miss Mole (me) is reemerging from the blues. She climbed up the ladder and out of the mole-hole.

I went to church last Sunday at Christ the King, my old parish, and marveled at its beauty with new eyes.

I met my cousins Moira (first) and her daughter Julie (first once removed) after mass, and went to their house for a home-made waffle brunch with pecans and berries. Cousin Elaine took this picture of us enjoying the food out on the sun porch. Etta came too and was a good girl. So I’m relaxing...reading and have now established a routine, which has helped to give me purpose and joy.

1. Walk in the early AM, leaving Etta with my friends Glenn and David.
2. Cardio/weight train on alternate mornings at a health club I joined for one month
3. Draw in the afternoon at an artist studio complex in Brandon (1/2 hour away by car). I rented ½ a studio for a month. Etta comes along.
4. Visit friends, relatives, art shows occasionally
5. Help with the chores here in the house, like planting/weeding in the garden.
6. Mix all that up and go with the flow of a month to rest

Here are some pictures of events of the past week:

Planted some late tomatoes with David in the garden.

Girls’ sleepover at Glenn’s house on Wednesday. This is Toryn, me, Kerry and Glenn in the kitchen.

Dinner in Dummerston Vermont at Gordon Faison (with ear of corn in the ear), and Eleanora Patterson’s house. I’m in the middle. Etta is under the table. We’re enjoying grilled tuna, (Etta isn't), fresh local corn and green beans, even locally made vanilla frozen yoghurt on sliced peaches swirled with a drizzle of an expensive Italian balsamic vinegar reduction that tasted like sweet grape syrup with a tinge of piquant. Bravo!

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 16-Depression and Reading-Rutland Vermont

Dearest Readers,

Miss Mole (me) has slipped down her tunnel and fallen into a slump. I’m struggling with a depression and a disoriented head. Blame it on the let down from the end of Phase One of the journey...Blame it on traveling four time zones one way, and then reversing back. Blame it on Etta James who hates to be left alone, or the surprisingly hot weather here in Vermont.

OK. Now that that’s off my chest, you should know I’m burying myself in book reading and hiding away–kind of.
Folks in Atlanta and along the road lent or gave me books for the journey. What a collection! Here are my bedtime companions, with Etta and I hunkered down underground.

Book 1-Living on Wilderness Time (Melissa Walker). Lent by Susie Winton in Atlanta. I thank the author for the term “Hurry Sickness”, and the evocative title and mystical cover photo, but the book did not grab me by the throat and shake me. Sometimes in my tent I was going through what Ms Walker had experienced. That was nice.

Book 2. Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami). Lent by Ruth Schowalter in Decatur from her Japan tsunami party last spring. Not the author’s best. It felt like the training bra for The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, which is on my list of all time favorites. The familiar elements were there of the well (briefly mentioned), suburban Tokyo life, vivid descriptions of apparel, lots of smoking, drinking, subway rides, youthful debauchery and relationships that never gel, and a dreamy lack of a purpose.

Book 3. At Knit’s End–Meditations for Women Who Knit too Much (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee). Lent by Charlotte Wegrzynowski on Day 1 of the journey in Tuscaloosa Alabama. She’s a knitter and I’m a beginner. I read a few of these cute little knitter jokes a day. I’m not finished. I understand the mind that delights in artistic predicaments and creative conundrums.

Book 4. Shambhala–The Sacred Path of the Warrior (Chogyam Trungpa). Given by Vince Whitlock in Chicago. What a gem of Buddhist wisdom! The author jumps into heavy stuff about the “cosmic mirror”, ones place in the hierarchy of reality, the vastness of space before thinking began, and the idea of egolessness (no self). My mind kept drifting. I probably read most chapters twice. Logic doesn’t work here...only surrender to the idea that an awakened life in service to others can happen without striving.

Book 5. The Savage Detectives (Roberto Bolano). Given by Joel Adams in Portland OR. Great stuff. I’m half way through this high-speed fictional documentary written in interview style about two youthful poets, founders of the Visceral Realists, an attempt to establish a Mexican poetic revolution in the late 70’s. A raft of characters reminisce about their desperate, rejoicing, creative encounters with the two dissolute kids who live on the edge with little money, lots of sex, drinking, and wild discussions about writing a new world.

Book 6. Magnificat (June 2011)-a monthly pamphlet of Catholic daily prayers and meditations. Given by Aileen Barreca of Decatur Georgia. I could not fit this regimen into my traveling schedule. Now I’m reading the daily contemplations, concentrating on simplicity and humility.

Still Unread:

Book 7. Undaunted Courage–Merriweather Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West (Stephen Ambrose). Given by Carolyn Terkla in Monroe Wisconsin. Can’t wait to start this historical novel. I unwittingly traveled some of the Lewis and Clark Trail (1834-ish) in reverse, driving from Washington through Idaho and across the Missouri River at Chamberlain South Dakota. Want to learn more about their journey.

Book 8. Locus Solus (Raymond Roussel). Salvaged from the trash in Olympia Washington. Joel tossed out the soggy paperback after it fell into Puget Sound. It took three weeks to dry out in the back of the Scion. I turned signatures of moist, gritty pages each day, splaying them out across a suitcase in the back to dry.

Book 9. The Gift of Faith (Father Tadeusz Dajczer) Lent by Aileen Barreca of Decatur Georgia

Book 10. Shorter Christian Prayer–A Four Week Psalter of the Liturgy of the Hours. Lent by Aileen Barreca. I probably won’t delve into this compilation of Bible readings, designed to be read throughout the day.

Book 11. Rosary Meditation Companion. Given by Aileen Barreca of Decatur Georgia. This will remain a good reference for contemplations while reciting the rosary...something I've reinstated in my life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 43-July 13, 2011- Rutland Vermont Phase 1–Hand to Hand Roadtrip Across America–Complete

Dearest Readers,
8,900 miles. Relief. I am here in my own “private Idaho” of Rutland Vermont (pop. 17,000)–town of half my immediate ancestors, and the place where I spent much of my growing up. Phase one of the return of H2H national artists’ gloves and hands is finished. I’m taking a five-week respite at the idyllic home of my gracious hosts and friends, Glenn and David Horgan on Church Street. Etta and I will resume the trek, returning art to east coast artists in mid August.

This is the view this morning of their sunny backyard from my upstairs bedroom nest of recovery and reflection.

We enjoyed dinner last night in the Florida room. David grilled hamburgers (local beef), and Glenn and I fixed a tossed salad with produce from the Rutland Co-op Market. Even the aged balsamic vinegar is a locally made product.

The God of this journey put a lid on the trip with a display of extreme exaltation. Hints of nature’s impending excitement showed itself in the tempestuous skies above Amsterdam NY on i-90 as I headed eastward yesterday afternoon across New York state. I snapped the Welcome to Vermont sign as a few big drops plinked on my head and shoulders.

I jumped in the car, and the skies opened up. The Green Mountains appear gray in the mists and driving rain, as I traveled the final few miles to Rutland. Traffic slowed because of slush on Route 4. That white stuff along the edge of the road in the last picture is hail!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 42-July 12, 2011- Cayuga Lake, Seneca Falls NY

Dearest Readers,

Etta and I (really just me) started the day with a delicious coffee and a muffin at Tim Horton’s in Angola New York, a Dunkin Donuts clone and very poplar in northwestern New York. Howard Salzman, my camp buddy from Buffalo couldn’t believe I’d never heard of the chain. “They have stores in Boston,” he exclaimed! He was right about the good coffee. I drove five miles in the wrong direction to get a refill. (Silly, happy me). We drove north and then east along i-90, skirting the southern shore of Lake Ontario, until we arrived at the Finger Lakes area southeast of Rochester, NY–just west of Syracuse.

We are now camped on the shores of Lake Cayuga, one of eleven “Finger Lakes”, formed like claw gouges in the earth some 10,000 years ago when glaciers receded from the area. Etta and I strolled along the lakeside, and are now relaxing at our campsite. She’s got her fuzzy green frog (ignoring it), and a new rawhide “bone” to whittle on (enjoying it). She stayed in the car while I sampled some wine at Montezuma Winery nearby.

I bought a few bottles to share with friends and family. The crew at the wine tasting place were not too friendly, so no pictures of them.

I’m also sampling at my picnic table a local IPA called “Caged Alpha Monkey”, with the subhead, “A Big, Bold, East Coast Animal That Throws Hops At You.” It’s made by Custom Brew Crafters of Honeoye, NY. Sorry, chimp, it’s too bold and “hoppy” for my taste. I’ll finish it, but I’m holding my nose!

After setting up the tent, Etta and I toured historic Seneca Falls NY founded in 1831. The downtown area is a model of well-preserved 19th century storefront architecture.

The Erie Canal flows through town, near a now renovated waterfront area with restaurants and shops along the old barge mule path.

The key marker in town is the sign commemorating the First Convention for Women’s Rights that took place here in 1848, spearheaded by local women’s activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Three hundred people attended, including Fredrick Douglass, Quakers Lucretia and James Mott, Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock, and human rights philanthropists Jane and Richard Hunt.

This nearly life-sized bronze sculpture by Lloyd Lillie of twenty of the convention participants dominates the lobby of the Visitor Center.

Driving back to the campsite this evening I snapped this picture of a roadside sign about another human rights struggle unfolding today between some area business people, and the Cayuga Indians who appear to be petitioning for a reservation and return of ancestral lands.

I shot this movie poster in ZuZu'z Cafe, a really good coffee shop downtown. Seneca Falls is where "It's A Wonderful Life" was filmed. How perfect is that for a perfect looking town with a lot of American history.