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Wednesday, January 08, 2020
not a single post in 2019
Listening to:Foreigner unplugged StarRider
Reading:Little Book of Restorative Justice
Weather:34, windy, clear

The hell. I slacked for an entire calendar year+. I blame it on social media wasting/taking up my typeytype time. Weak, I know.

It's 2020, time for some resolutions, I suppose. I saw an interesting one (on social media, for the record) that I have already been halfheartedly trying. Cook one classic dish per week. And maybe drink a nice classic cocktail while you do it. I started making a list aiming at 52 classic dishes to make in 2020. Not necessarily new to me, and not necessarily classic to my culture. I already cooked 3 of them: roast chicken, chicken pot pie (which I made from the breast meat from the roast chicken the day before), and pineapple halwa. All turned out really good! The pineapple halwa was a mishmash of recipes and made up, I used fine couscous, crushed canned pineapple, coconut milk, cardamom, and butter instead of ghee. Delicious.

Another cool idea I saw was to make lists of things you'd like to get done on your house, room by room. You can put the lists in a cute drawing of a floorplan of your house to be extra cute. Put it in your bujo, like you did the classic dishes checklist. Working on that, too.

I should have some kind of resolution related to better controlling how much news I consume. Not cool to just turn away from it in disgust like I would like to, but also not helpful to stare too long at whatever bullshit the sellers are trying to sell, either.

Livi is living in DC as of last month. It's a year gig, but it already seems like it's been so long! Winter days are long days, I look forward to the increasing daylight now that's we've gotten past both solstice and the latest sunrise. Maybe that will make for a lighter disposition, as well.

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not a single post in 2019
Monday, October 08, 2018
getting paid to not work on john lennon day
Listening to:zebra, tell me what you want
Reading:the shitty news
Weather:crazy hot and humid
One of the first executive directorish things I did when I became exec director back like 20 yrs ago where I work is propose to the board that we change our holiday policy to celebrate John Lennon day on the second monday in october instead of columbus day. It was liberal hip to hate christopher columbus at the time, still is only with less fervor. So today I am chillin like bob dylan here at home, on this sunny humid day about to get strangely hot (high 80's) fall day, getting paid to not work and not celebrating gentrification or exploitation of indigenous peoples or whatnot.

A friend (well, at least in the facebooky sense, though in the small town of motown we've been among the usual suspects in various ways for about 20 yrs) who is a blogger and professor and promoter of language and literature posted a short bittersweet lil piece about what middle age means to her right now. She's 49. I'm 52. Her kids are younger, her dad died much younger than mine, she's been married a long time, so we have substantial distinguishing experience, but this notion of having lived longer as an adult than as a child is a mutual thing. I was 51 when I my dad died, and if I live til Livi is 51 that'll make me 76 when I die. Larry is going to be 70 next year. He's got a grandchild old enough to legally drink liquor. Shit is hazily getting real.

One thing I'm noticing about my middle age is the creeping affluenza. When you spend more and more of your leisure time dealing with your stuff, cleaning it, moving it, culling it, maintaining it, replacing it, buy stuff for your stuff and to contain your stuff, etc. you realize the burden of your accumulations is a bunch of bullshit that you can choose to avoid entirely. But you don't. And by you I mean me, of course.

btw, I cannot recommend Ricki Lee Jones's first 3 albums enough, holy shit, she is amazing and these records totally still hold up. I've been listening to these records for more decades than I have left. Not so hazy there.

Plenty of hickory and chestnuts this year. Gonna be a wicked snowy winter, I'm thinking. We'll see.

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getting paid to not work on john lennon day
Saturday, September 08, 2018
2018 tech check
Listening to:rain and wind
Reading:How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
Weather:rain and wind

Still don't carry a cellphone. I am the last one on earth.

But I did get a battery-powered self-propelled electric lawnmower, a Honda Insight hybrid car, and a Sonos wifi speaker with Alexa this year.

The lawn mower: pretty sweet. Quiet. 1 hr battery life and 1 hr to charge, came with one battery and charger. It's an EGo brand. I heard a smart retired science dude at the Blue Moose talking about how after much research that's what he bought. So I questioned him about a few things, including where he bought it, and went down to fill-in-the-blank big store in Bridgeport and lucky me it was $50 off for end of season and they gave me another $25 off to open a credit account there and charge it. Larry had a mysterious illness for weeks this summer and it really knocked him out, so he has been not feeling up to his usual joy of lawn mowing. My shit is like 18 inches high and it hasn't stopped raining all summer, so it's lush. This mower is knocking it down pretty nicely, and the self-propelled function can even easily haul it up my hills. It has variable speed and if you put it on the fastest you'd be seriously jogging behind it. It folds up, too, so you can just fold, grab a nicely-placed handle, and haul it up the 3 steps onto my covered porch for storing. So far, so good.

The Honda Insight: It's way more tech and luxury than I'm used to, obv, since my previous wheels are a 15 yr old Civic with manual everything (transmission, windows, locks). This Insight is supposed to get 55 mpg. I am halfway through my first tank of gas, I don't see it getting that, but I figured it was not calibrated for these hills. Still, a very smooth ride with lots of screens and tech. Would be even more if I carried a cellphone. Remote start, auto all the everydangthing even the highbeams, no key, multiple cameras. Honda sent me an email with an account for my car and it includes some pretty sweet instructions and videos about how to use the cool new stuff. You can flip through about a dozen screens on the left half of the dash where the tach is on my old Civic, and of course there's a screen in the center of the dash showing the backup camera and all manner of other stuff. Stereo seems decent. I got the EX, the middle trim level (it's just 3 trim levels of choice, not an array of options like they used to do) so I could flip the back seat down 60/40 rather than just the whole thing which is all the cheapest trim level offered. It's white. Pearly. Of course I wanted silver, but I watched the inventory online at my dealer of choice and they just had blue, black, and white for a couple months, so finally I decided to just take the white one. The interior is mixed with light seats, so I ordered funky cool seat covers. So far, so good.

The Sonos with Alexa: I had gotten some Sonos speakers with Alexa and tv sound bar for Miss Livi and found it pretty fun to interact with Alexa when visiting her house. I was particularly interested in having my audiobooks and podcasts voice activated and handy using Alexa, but also having the high sound quality for music that Sonos provides (unlike the Amazon branded Alexa thingies, which have rather lousy audio). It was a little frustrating to get started, though the actual setup was pretty easy and smooth. The skills aren't so easy to get into and don't work as easily as I hoped. Also Sonos environment doesn't function with all Alexa stuff the same as amazon branded stuff. So, for example, Alexa will not read me my Kindle books on Sonos, but she would on an amazon branded alexa device. Bitch. She will play my Audible books, though, and there is at least one podcast player (Anypod) that seems to be functioning reasonably, although it defaults to starting with the most recent episode of a podcast rather than the first one. Alexa will tell ya silly jokes and give you weather on demand and other cool stuff. So far, so good.

Still no cellphone. Maybe in 2019. Probably not.

permalink posted by cat 6:49 PM

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2018 tech check
Sunday, January 21, 2018
rainy day John Prine still kinda sucks
Listening to:Chris Thile's radio
Reading:The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves

It's a new year and I don't have a dad anymore. It happens to just about everybody, your dad dies. Mine died in September so I'm still in that year of firsts and still having those moments of "my dad might be interested in that, I'll call and tell him. . ." oh yeah, nope.

We're on probably on some spectrum, at least those of us with dads, of how much he drives you crazy and how much you like hanging out with him. Mostly my dad and I had opposing views on politics (I'm a socialist, he an oldschool conservative repub) and social stuff (I support potsmoking and free love, he supported scotch drinking and heterosexism), what we considered to be fun (I like my chickens he liked guns) and what was important (I want a good-running gas-efficient Japanese engine under the hood he wanted a shiny dashboard and no dents). So there was plenty of driving each other crazy there. I honestly didn't generally want so spend more than a day or two at his house, whether it was the big house at 510 Wolfe Street in Alexandria where I visited him one weekend a month as a kid, or his suburban colonial-style house in the cul-de-sac in Manassas where he lived that last 25 yrs of his life. My patience for the mansplaining and ordering everyone around was short.

But I recognize that much of the luxury I enjoy is because my dad either taught me (sometimes by negative example) or gave me the means to get it. I am content to not give a shit about money because I always had my dad the great safety net under me. With him around I would never be homeless or broke or in need of anything important. I never needed to access that safety net, but knowing it was there gave me the comfortable freedom to get and keep my own shit together. I am a saver, not a spender. Same as my dad.

It's a slightly rainy overcast Sunday, so I'm all stereotypically reflective and whatnot. Since Chris Thile took over for the now-scandalous Garrison Keillor I'm trepidatiously listening to the show formerly known as Prairie Home Companion on my local pubrad station. This week's live show is actually pretty much killing in many ways, but I must publicly now admit, I'd rather eat glass than listen to John Prine sing. I know, so uncool amongst all my musician friends, my hillbilly friends, my good liberal friends, to denigrate the great writer of Paradise and Angel From Montgomery. I'm not saying some of his songs aren't great, though some are as frickin monotonous and boring as hell to me, but there is not one single tune of his that isn't infinitely improved by a performance by just about anyone other than him.

When I lived in Bloomington IN in the late 80's John Prine came through on a tour. Several of my crew out there were all stoked, got tickets as soon as they came out. But that same night Jonathan Richman was also bringing his solo tour through town. NO FUCKIN DOUBT I grabbed my ticket to the Jonathan Richman show, which was at a very cool venue, an lovely old ballroom kinda bar called the Second Story up above the gay bar Bullwinkles. I went by myself and it turned out to be one of the most memorable club shows of my life, it did not disappoint in any way and I had high expectations having seen him several times before. All those Prince goers so missed out, imho. They don't even know. This show I'm listening to now is buttressing my argument bigtime. Thank goodness the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is killing after that insipid 3 chord country rap I just endured.

Robin spotted in Barbour County yesterday. After weeks of below 0 nights and below freezing days I am cautiously enjoying the hope of an early spring.

permalink posted by cat 2:02 PM

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rainy day John Prine still kinda sucks
Saturday, September 23, 2017
what I've learned about chestnuts
Listening to:public radio
Weather:85, breeze, sunny
The autumnal equinox was only 24 hrs ago and it's warmer than many days we had this summer. Hurricanes have been pounding the Atlantic islands and gulf states and we've been under a lovely dome of high pressure for weeks here. Lake McConnerd is fully dried up.

Good garden year, great one, really, Larry has been cranking out the tomatoes, corn, green beans, beets, potatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers, even celery and watermelon and pumpkin. I've got a volunteer acorn squash by the compost pile. The chickens have a lovely garden they planted right by their front door of corn and a cute lil sunflower that bloomed.

Larry's nuts. He's been collecting chestnuts every day for a week or so and has been collecting pocketfuls of various kinds of hickory nuts on his multiple daily walks up the hill. Many of the hickory nuts appear to be bitternuts or old shagbarks, but the fresh shagbarks have been delicious. I got a few shagbarks from another friend, too.

I've read and tried a lot with the chestnuts and I have come to some conclusions. FWIW: Before collecting totally sweep the area and throw out what's already on the ground. I swear the second they hit the earth a worm finds his way in. Clear then gather every day from yesterday's clearing. If you're going to use in a recipe, savory or sweet, you might as well boil rather than roast. They cook more evenly and get a more even and usable texture, and the inner skin sticks to the shell rather than the nut, making your life better when you peel. Roasting is a bit of a crapshoot, as overroasted they suck and underroasted they suck. Also no need to cure in the sun if you boil. If you cure just do it a couple or 3 days til they give just a little when you squeeze. The real aha moment for me was when I read about cutting a band across the belly of the nut before roasting or boiling rather than the well-accepted x cut. The band makes them open like a clamshell for ya when they are done. So much easier than trying to rip that shell open from the x, oy. The can opener blade of your swiss army knife makes a great chestnut knife. I freeze them in chinese food soup containers after boiling and if they got a little overboiled and mushy I go ahead and add vanilla and brown or white sugar before freezing. Apparently they freeze well raw and in the shell, too, though I haven't tried it so I can't verify just yet. Best to vacuum pack them that way for freshness. Gonna try that since I've already cooked and peeled many many pounds and ready to be done but the nuts are still coming.

Gonna make chestnut pumpkin bread again, that shit was delicious a couple yrs ago. And perhaps some chestnut stuffing for our Good W/o God Thanksgiving at the Chestnut Ridge this fall. How appropriate.

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what I've learned about chestnuts
Wednesday, September 06, 2017
Goodbye, Dad
Listening to:my rooster crow
Reading:Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Weather:66, partly cloudy, anticipating Hurricane Irma

Harrison Fargo McConnell died September 1, 2017 at age 82 after a brief hospital stay near his home in Manassas, Virginia.

He is survived by his daughter Catherine McConnell (Lawrence Boland), granddaughter Olivia McConnell, and ex-wife Susan Longstreet whose special care this year enabled him to live at home independently. He was predeceased by his beloved mother Zerelda Clark McConnell.

Harrison was active in local grassroots politics. He was a hook and bullet conservationist who hated wastefulness. He was a lifelong gun enthusiast, an American history buff, and enjoyed drinking good scotch until he gave that up a few years ago, much to everyone’s surprise. He was proud of the hard work he and his mother did maintaining her home at 510 Wolfe Street in Alexandria. He was a folk artist and created detailed works in wood and paint on themes of trains, boats, ocean fish, and quotes from his favorite historical figures.

He enjoyed life and had long friendships he valued with people of all ages. He was polite and respectful but could cuss like a trucker. He was no-nonsense about getting things done right, but he enjoyed telling stories about the antics, hijinks, and shenanigans he and his buddies got into back in the day. No fool, no fun, he liked to say.

Harrison’s remains have been cremated at his request, his ashes will be spread in private, and there will be no funeral. The family offers heartfelt thanks to the good friends who looked out for him.

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Goodbye, Dad
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Listening to:audio book
Reading:Hope's Boy by Andrew Bridge
Hurricane Harvey is moving slowly over Corpus Christie dumping what might be 40 inches of rain over the next several days. It's sunny cool and gorgeous here, the middle of a sweet week of it. I've got cornbread in the oven in an old cast iron pan I restored, the batter has honey pickled cherry peppers and corn from the garden a couple years ago. My rooster and hen are strutting around the yard, ignoring the cats who are mostly ignoring them, too.

Perfect life.

This memoire I'm listening to is reminding me to appreciate the easy privilege I have enjoyed for 51 years. Thanks to Tracey Whorton for recommending the book. It's a well-written compelling story of a loving mom with mental illness and her son battling a shitty foster care system. It's another in the million pieces of evidence that but for a cosmic dice roll any accomplished shiny person could have been an invisible loser in your eyes.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017
a celebrity in Arden dies
Listening to:fridge hum, rain fall
Reading:White Trash: 400 yr untold history of class in america
Weather:33, rainy

Zeb died last weekend. He lived with his mom Patsy along the grade in Arden, where a creek came down a steep hill into the Tygart. Til his mom died years ago, anyway. Then it was just him and his hetero lifemate Jimbob. Jimbob, guitar player and singer, jack of various supervisory trades, and the most educated man in Arden, lived on and off in a trailer at the edge of Patsy's property, and had been a kind of adopted adult son to Patsy and brother to Zeb.

I'm pretty sure I never saw Zeb without a can of cheap beer in his hand. Back in the day it was often Falls City. "It's a premium beer, says so right here on the label." I worried about his drunk ass losing a limb or a digit to the bandsaw in his woodshop, but as far as I know he still had all his extremities intact when he died. His woodworking skills were pretty kickass. I have a sweet little kitchen thing you can put stuff in and hang a roll of paper towels from that he made. I don't use paper towels cuz i'm a treehugger but I've kept that thing up in my kitchen for years, probably could use a thorough scrubbing by now.

Zeb would sing and whistle all the time. A down on the crickbank a-cookin sugarcane, takes 14 quarts o'molasses to sweeten ole Liza Jane. What crickbank could that song be about? Isn't sugarcane a tropical plant? Is it really about making moonshine or something?

2016 was the year of celebrity deaths: Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, Antonin Scalia, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy, George Martin, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, the list goes on and on. Zeb was a celebrity in Arden. Everybody knew him. His house was a landmark along the river, "go about a quarter-mile past Zeb and Patsy's. . ." He literally was friendly to every single person he would ever encounter, and would give you his last beer, which was an important goddam beer to him.

According to his obit he was in the army, but also according to his obit he served in the Korean Conflict. Maybe in his dad's nads because he was born in 1953. I never heard Zeb or Patsy say anything about his dad, don't know the story there.

It doesn't matter what kind of job Zeb had in his working life, it didn't define him at all. He was a true hillbilly, of the river variety, who sought little more than to have a few friends to hang around with and at least enough beer for the rest of the day, and a few pieces of nice wood to make into something cool in the shop. He played banjo. Everyone was welcome at Zeb's house anytime, and many would stop there on the way to or from a swim at the party rock, or on the way to Betty's bar.

One time on a very hot summer day I came by Zeb's house and he was cutting up some trees with the chainsaw. He stopped and wiped the sweat off his forehead with a cold can of beer. "Zeb, it's kinda hot for cutting firewood, isn't it?" "Summer's only 3 months long." There's that.

He and Brian and Larry slipped and slid in the mud chasing a pig he was raising to get her moved to another pen. I watched laughing my ass off, it was like a cartoon in real life.

He plowed our garden and about 8 other people's gardens one day. He road the tractor all around, cooler strapped in behind the seat, and got paid in beer and deer meat. It was hot and he was pretty shitfaced by about 6p. I tried to get him to climb in my van and come home with us for supper, we'll give you a ride home, Z. He insisted on riding his 4 wheeler over. You're too drunk buddy. No, it's all backroads between your house and mine, I'll be fine. We couldn't talk him out of it, so we followed him. Unfortunately so did a cop, who came outta frickin nowhere, seriously, when the hell has anyone ever seen a cop near Clemtown road? Zeb sees him, too, and quick takes a crazy path into the woods. That didn't work. They got him. They were kinda manhandling him, he wasn't trying to be uncooperative he was literally just too drunk to comply quickly enough while handcuffed, and they jammed him into the back of the copcar and damn near shut the door on his leg. Bastards. They told us we could go pick him up at station in about 45 minutes after booking. It was scary.

When he came out of the door at the copshop he was whistling and singing, his usual self, had a styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand, and when he saw us he said "free at last, free at last, good gollies Miss Mollies, I's free at last! Got a beer?"

permalink posted by cat 9:28 AM

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a celebrity in Arden dies
Sunday, September 18, 2016
the snakes were getting thirsty
Listening to:Big Country
Reading:just finished Hillbilly Elegy
Weather:rainy front, 77
Good it finally rained some, it was getting pretty dry around here. Haven't seen any snakes but it was just a matter of time. Though perhaps the gazillion cats living in and around my porch kept them away.

I don't blog much anymore, I guess I get my expressive yaya's out by my near daily facebook rants/raves/mehs/memes/pix. But it's like fast food, satisfies the craving easily and cheaply but makes ya feel a little McRegret not long after and inspires a vow to do something realer and better and more deliberate and better for ya next time.

Speaking of cheap and easy, I'm fully addicted to La Croix flavored sparkling waters this hotass summer. Grapefruit, apricot, berry, lemon, what's not to love? Add a splash of juice, maybe a little vodka, slice of lime. Or just drink it straight from the pretty colorful can, which is what I do about 93% of the time. I should be a paid spokeswench for these people, it's ridiculous. I get a little nervous when I only have like 20 cans left on the shelf in the kitchen, or fewer than 3 different flavors. The hell.

I just finished up learning Waste by Smash Mouth. Nice acoustic guitar tune, nice and dark the way I like my, well, everything.

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the snakes were getting thirsty
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
things are black and white in the barnyard

Listening to:tv noise
Reading:Paw Paw, forgotten fruit
Weather:foggy, 62
This summer I've got 2 hens and a bunch of cats. My hens are a silver-laced Wyandotte and a light Brahma. The cats are all tuxedos except 2 all black and 2 all white. There is no red, orange, gray, or any other color out here amongst these animals but black and white.

None of this color scheme was planned, it just happened. Cats wonder in, get fed, hang around, make more cats. I've had longhaired tortoise shells and orange and white tomcats here in past years. Past chickens have included Rhode Island reds, Americaunas, barred rock.

It's random, but it's brought me to wonder about black and white and absence of gray as I sit on the porch with my morning coffee or stare at the campfire of brush and neverending black walnut that the squirrels keep planting all over my yard (why never in the pasture or back 40??). It's the Hillary/Trump year, too, also seemingly absent much nuance or gradation.

The transgender bathroom nonsense had me thinking about this barnyard thing, too. Maybe part of the reason country people might be slower to get that is that the non-human animal world, at least in agriculture, is pretty well binary on sex. Not a lot of intersex critters survive and there's virtually no transitioning from one sex to the other. Not only that but we even have different names for critters based on their sex, and you better be cognizant of what you're dealing with on that front. If that cow is actually a bull, watch out. Or that mare rather a stallion.

But humans are full of nuance and fluidity. Maybe the critter world has more of that than we know, but we just aren't capable of understanding it, the thoughts of nonhuman creatures, and how they perceive themselves and others.

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things are black and white in the barnyard
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
I'll just leave this here
Listening to:jingle bell rock
Reading:superbetter by jane mcgonigal
Weather:a crazy 60 and overcast

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I'll just leave this here
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
not on Rex Manning Day!!
Listening to:car wheels on wet road
Reading:The Moral Arc, Shermer
Weather:rainy, 53
No snow yet this year. But you know it's coming. Time to build a kitty shack on the porch for my too many cats. Mary and Kate, the white girls with a blue eye and a gold eye, keep tagging along with their mama black Peaches as if they aren't full grown and bigger than her. But Tupac, Biggie, Bootsy Collins, and Half 'Stache are independent enough to sometimes take a while to get to breakfast. The chocolate-eyed FlavorFLav seems to prefer life under the spruces than the porch, though he's usually paying attention to the status of the food dish.

Uncle Peaches comes around once a week or so, he's a big white boy, very snuggly. I think he's sleeping amongst the deer, he always comes home with multiple ticks great and small.

It's so dark, only a month and a half to solstice. Hunker down, kids, you know the drill.

permalink posted by cat 5:50 AM

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not on Rex Manning Day!!
Saturday, November 29, 2014
A kid goes to camp
Listening to:Queen, Jazz
Reading:Daddy, What's the Middle Class?
Weather:21, a few inches of snow on the ground
I was lucky enough to get to go to camp when I was a kid. I think I was about 12 yrs old when I went to Appel Farm in rural southern Jersey for 3 weeks. It was a performing arts camp, all about music, theater, dance. But it was on a farm, so there was fresh food growing and our bunks were old converted chicken coops and whatnot.

The counselors were from all over, Ghana, Australia, UK, etc. The kids were mostly jews from NYC and Philly. It was totally fucking awesome.

I spent my days learning jazz theory and improv from Lenny Liebman with a small group of musicians and my nights with my 8 or 10 slightly-older boycrazy bunkmates. They were worldly in an urban way. They knew enough to ignore the "don't bring anything to camp that requires electricity" rule. I was the token suburban WASP who wished the savvy chick who sneaked in a tapedeck had thought to bring more than 2 tapes. The blowdryer I could easily live without.

I still have the small dark blue trunk my mom bought me to pack my campstuff in, it's upstairs in my guestroom holding a couple of old wool blankets that I haven't trotted out in a couple of decades. Probably mothfood by now. Hopefully my grandkids never pushed the big latch shut, I have no idea where the key is.

Quantumleap back to the present, a team of my atheist buddies decided to try to raise $ to send a WV kid to Camp Quest, a weeklong sleepaway secular camp. While drafting the appeal I started this nostalgic mindtrip about the whole camp thing. Of course we had no internet back in 1978 or 1979 so we couldn't friend each other on the social web after camp or cyberstalk the cute boys or whatever. But we can do something like that now, if we remember enough to google.

I remember crushing on the sax player who riffed for hours over my piano rhythm from Herbie Hancock's Chameleon. He was from Teaneck. A few years older than me. He seemed like a fantastic player to me, what the fuck did I know, I was 12. Maybe he really was great, though. Remind me to bust out the Head Hunters album and see if it still sounds frickin awesome to me, too. Anyway, saxman's name was Ibrahim Tyner. We called him Abe. A quick google reveals that he died in 1999. Not much else. If he was a great sax player there's no evidence of that on the worldwideweb. Except this post. I wonder if he had kids? Became an insurance man? Got murdered? What happened to my sweet fellow camper from Teaneck who died at 36?

I also remember Injun Joe from camp. He was a counselor and fiddle player from India. Dot not feather. He was also a little bit creepy, liked to put his arm around you as you walked to rehearsal and feel you up a little. Yeah, if you were ever a 12 yr old girl you probably know exactly what I'm talking about, it's everyfrickinwhere. It wasn't all that serious, didn't put me in therapy or anything. My bunkmates eventually warned me about him and encouraged me to grab a buddy to go to rehearsal with. Buddy system, always good advice.

----Time Out----Just had to grab my guitar and pick along to Dreamers Ball. The Queen album Jazz is definitely a soundtrack to this time period for me, I was obsessed with Queen in the late 1970's, while apparently the guy who would be my college boyfriend was similarly obsessed with the Clash. But that's a whole 'nother Oprah. ----Time In----

So what were the two tapes? Of course I freakin remember, how could I forget? Blondie Parallel Lines (One Way or Another I'm gonna smash the fuck out of this tape. . . ) and the soundtrack from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, you dirty old indian man. . . .). Yes, I know Blondie was new wave, not punk, but that 3 weeks pretty much pushed me far away from that whole corner of the musical world until 1984 when reintroduced by, you guessed it, a cute boy.

Well, I suppose if we get enough donations to send a kid to camp he or she might look back 35 years later wistfully, google or send a drone out to spy on the camp crush or whatever the kids are doing in 2049, maybe write a blog post about it. However it goes, hopefully the camper will have a fat stack of fineass memories of the experience to enjoy on Thanksgiving, like me.

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A kid goes to camp
Sunday, September 28, 2014
spectacular early fall
Listening to:birdsong
Reading:Year Zero: A Novel
Weather:48, sunny

Sunny, warm days, cool nights, sugar maples just starting to turn. We are still canning beans every weekend, every weekend Larry says "I think the beans are about done." Pickled beets and peppers well underway. I canned some peach (from Romney) and apple (from my yard) pie fillings after discovering Clear Jel is the ticket for homogenized texture that doesn't break down. Google it, it's a modified cornstarch made from waxy maize. Next up, apple sauce. After these last 4 pintnahalf's of beans.

I didn't make it to my 30th highschool reunion. I'm still trying to figure out if I have some kind of unique highschool Alzheimers or something, cuz Facebook has become the conduit for me realizing I only know like 30 of the 700+ people in my graduating class. Yet they all seem to know each other and remember amazing detail of that 4 yrs of life. I can't tell ya shit. What's up with that?

This blue sky with puffy white clouds is a bit stunning this morning. The daylight is decreasing at the most rapid rate, so 8:17 still looks early these days, sun still streaming in at a steep angle, coming up more and more to the south. I can't see how any person who has ever come to or through WV this time of year would ever find a reason to leave. Every curve in the road offers a new beautiful vista. Wild and cultivated food is all around you. Water, air, earth, all offering the perfect environment for humans here. If you can forget for a moment the looming dangers of frack destruction and whatnot, you can realize you're actually in paradise. Why shouldn't you deserve paradise?

Back to the beans.

permalink posted by cat 8:22 AM

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spectacular early fall
Saturday, July 12, 2014
hoe handles, copperheads, and guinea hens
Listening to:Penn's Sunday School
Reading:The STARLING Connection by Theodore Webb
Weather:82, sunny
I got invited to participate in a panel at a supergroovy conference about LGBT and rural yesterday. It was sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the USDA, among others. The conference was in Lost River, WV. Wha? Where's Lost River? Exactly. That's the point.

If I say the conference venue was fabulous am I inappropriately stereotyping? Well I don't give a shit because the Lost River Guest House was legitimately fabulous. Gorgeous landscaping and design, beautiful setting, delicious lunch out on the deck, groovy bar, kind and helpful and welcoming staff. Two thumbs up for the place.

The conference was also pretty dang awesome, as we say in Appalachia. Well, I say it, anyway. Great collection of thoughtful and effective people sharing ideas about how to keep rural people in mind while we work toward fairness for lgbt folks. I felt extremely fortunate to get to be there, what a sweet life I live when I get to hobnob with cool people in beautiful places and on the clock.

Though my drive out that morning was in heavy fog, I got to enjoy the wide open mountain vistas on the way home in the sun, and also passed that way last weekend on the way home from my dad's. On that trip we saw a bald eagle! And it was on the 4th of July, for real. What kinda charmed life am I livin? Jesus loves you, but he apparently loves me more, yo.

On the way to the conf my stomach was grumbling and I realized I was on a time trajectory to miss anything breakfasty at the conf, so I stopped at Cool Springs. Cool Springs is of course just about the only place you're gonna find something to eat along the way. If you've never been (it's on 50 near Rowlesburg) you're missing a sweetass slice of Americana, and a chance to sit at the counter and watch a friendly but efficient waitress fry up your egg sandwich on the flattop while filling diner's coffee cups with deft timing. And there's a crazy huge assortment of farm implements, cheap plastic toys, fruitfly-ridden fresh garden tomatoes, redneck ballcaps, and a metric shitton of other sundry stuff, all jumbled together in a delightful roadside distraction.

It was about 7:30 or 8a. I sat at the counter on one of the orange swivel stools two seats down from 2 older gentlemen. There were a few mend in coveralls or similar work clothes, grabbing some breakfast before heading out to the logging forests or gasfields in their Ford F150's. The older guy at the end of my row leaned a long fat wooden dowel against the counter. "Broke my hoe handle." Guy next to him looks over at me, looks back to his breakfast partner and said "I never break'em, cuz I never use'em." I laugh, "yep, that'll keep them in great shape." Then guy #1 says, "actually I was just killing a snake with it." Then guy #2 and I begin a conversation about how he's lived here all his life, they always had copperheads, and since he got Guinea hens 3 yrs ago hasn't seen a single copperhead. Not sure why, never sees the hens eating or going after one. Maybe they find and eat the eggs. Payback's about a bitch, I think, since snakes eat chicken eggs.

Breakfast ready, my coffee poured into styro instead of mug, I paid my $5 and went on my way.

Lovely drive, mostly had the road to myself. New highway 48, a soaring divided 4 lane through the mountains, across a little triangle of MD and back into WV, Grant and Hardy counties. Followed my directions (I still print a Google map to take, old school), got there no problem, right on time. My panel was in the afternoon. The whole day was great, very interesting people and ideas. Lucky me.

And it was friday, so lovely way to end the workweek.

This morning I confirm that Malala is giving her kittens hunting lessons. Malala's 6 kittens (all named Peaches, I'm not tellin why) have tortured screaming baby bunnies, rodents, and bugs on my porch numerous times while I was home to witness, and likely plenty of times while I was away. They cornered a baby bunny with half its fur torn off inside a tipped gallon jar one time. Ugh. I wondered which were the hunters. This morning I open the porch door about 6a, 6 tiny cats race inside the house. Dammit. I just wanted to fill the bowl with food, but they blasted past me before I could stop it. So I leave the door open, pour the Meow mix, and walk back into the kitchen. Minutes later I hear a series of distress squeaks, a now familiar noise, and I look to see that Lala is eating the food and has dropped a tiny half-alive mouse in the bowl.

Confirmation. Teach your children well, kittymama.

permalink posted by cat 12:41 PM

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hoe handles, copperheads, and guinea hens