Archive for January, 2009

Civil War Burlington

January 21, 2009

Today, I’m working on a Civil War walking tour of Burlington.  It’s something I actually intended to do last summer, when things were a little more walkable, but last Sunday I finally did the walking part of it, with the help of a very trusty and companionable sidekick.  The great portion of the research was done in advance by Civil War historian Howard Coffin for his book on Vermont’s Civil War places.  Anyway, I’ll be posting up some sites on the blog here, and I’ll let you know where you can find the whole tour when it is finished!  Here we go:


Here’s the Oliver Otis Howard house at 26 Summit St (just south of Main St up by UVM).

Major General Oliver Otis Howard moved to Burlington in 1892 to be close to his eldest son, Colonel Guy Howard, who was overseeing the construction of nearby Fort Ethan Allen (in Burlington’s New North End).  Originally from Maine, O. O. Howard commanded the brigade at First Bull Run in which the 2nd Vermont served, and lost an arm at Seven Pines.  He commanded the Army of the Potomac’s 11th Corps, which was smashed by Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville.  On the first day at Gettysburg, Howard was briefly in command of all Union forces and selected the high ground of Cemetery Hill at the army’s fallback position.  After the war, he was appointed by Abraham Lincoln to supervise the Freedmen’s Bureau, after which he founded two historic black colleges: Howard University in Washington, and Lincoln Memorial University in eastern Tennessee.  He died in this house in 1909, and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery on North Avenue.

HISTORY, IT’S ALL AROUND US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy inauguration day!

January 20, 2009

I celebrated this auspicious day by trying to figure out my taxes with some professional tax help.  I have a few different freelance jobs, and things get pretty complicated pretty quickly.  The advice I got was good advice, but bad news: basically it’s all more complicated than I thought, I’ve already screwed some things up, for which I may be penalized, I can’t count this, that, this, or that, and yes, the IRS is interested in auditing people who make very little money.  Whatever they would get from me would hardly cover the cost of getting it from me, that’s for sure, and yet it may end up being something like 50% of my total savings!!!!!!img_0437

I find this kind of terrifying.

Amethyst Amulet

January 11, 2009

If you haven’t yet, you should be listening to Adam & the Amethyst’s Amethyst Amulet. I received it this fall as a gift from the Amethyst himself, and it’s totally awesome!!!!  Definitely my favorite album of 2008 that was released after, say, 1975 (it came out in June). It was up in the favorites over on False45th, too, before RIAA forced them to take their mp3 list down.


It’s just really high quality pop.  And lovely psychedelia.  And it’s all about Thunder Bay, Adam’s hometown, which is on the northwestern shore of Lake Superior in Ontario.  It’s all about trying to figure out where you came from, and why, and what it means, and what you do if you went back there.  A topic I’m quite interested in myself!

I’m no music critic, go listen to it yourself!


And then go buy it at the POME RECORDs site.  While you are there, you might as well pick up the the Luyas‘ record too.  They have a sweet two for $20 (ca) deal right now, and the Luyas surely require listens as well.

Personal angle: they are super nice people, with whom I shared some delicious garlic knots last fall after a truly excellent MIRACLE FORTRESS show in Burlington.

Sunday morning weather report

January 11, 2009

It snowed bigtime early this morning, when I first got up I could see it drifting down.  When I second got up, the sun was starting to orange it’s way through.  When I got out of the house, the clouds burned off, the snow got a bit colder and started sparkling up everything.  Now it’s totally beautiful!  I think I’ll try to bundle up and walk down to the lake this afternoon.


Sketchbook Project!

January 9, 2009

Ok, it’s day three of only Shangri-Las listening (so that’s all you’ll hear if you’re shopping at BSJ this afternoon), but I don’t have anything in particular to say about that.

But if you like to sketch, you should check out this cool project, run by the Art House Gallery in Atlanta.

Basically, you pay $18, they send you an empty sketchbook, you fill it and send it back, and then it goes on a gallery tour with all of it’s many sketchbook brothers and sisters.

Here's a photog from their site of the gallery of Round II of sketchbook project (this is round III)

Here's a photog from their site of the gallery of Round II of sketchbook project (this is round III)

Go sign up already, you only have until January 15!

Day two

January 8, 2009

In the snow

That’s from our lovely snow/sleet storm yesterday.

It’s day two of listening only to the Shangri-Las.


No matter how I screamed, I prayed, I cried, she told me it was not really love, but only my girlish pride.

Is he a good dancer?

January 7, 2009

What do you mean is he a good dancer?

Well, how does he dance?

Close, very very close.


AHH! I love you, Shangri-Las!

The longest single span wooden bridge in the world!

January 7, 2009

On our New Year trip, my dad and I took a detour through the countryside of the lovely Schoharie Valley.  We detoured out of Oneonta, passed a bunch of big box stores, and pretty soon we were climbing and climbing up past little farms and trailers and maples.  You know, country life.  Except country life in this part of New York state seems pretty different from country life in Vermont.  The landscape is different — much less spruce and cedar, and while Vermont’s hills roll down with farms and roads built up into them, the hills in the Schoharie Valley are a little more severe — too steep to build on, and they abut these flat valleys really abruptly.  It’s very isolating — you don’t get a sense of the countryside rolling on like you can in Vermont — it’s more like you’re stuck in whatever narrow valley you live in, living in the shadow of these big hills.  Geologically speaking, I think you could say that Vermont was folded, and New York was stacked — meaning that you have vertical rock grain in Vermont, and in New York state, it’s more horizontal and layered.  You can see it in the hills.  (I’ve just expressed my total knowledge of geology).  Needless to say, it’s really beautiful.

Schoharie County

Culture is way different, here.  I saw one farm that was making cheese, but who knows whether you can buy it anywhere around there.  I didn’t see any organic farms, mostly just conventional dairy, but I did see some sheep.  Lots of sugaring!  The little towns are different too.  I think the biggest difference is that every tiny town in New York State has a bar — imagine that villages like Greensboro Bend, or Woodbury, or Eden, would have little bars in them.  Here’s the bar in Jefferson, New York.


The bar thing is probably just a New England sort of difference.  Is the rest just gentrification?  Schoharie County never got the wave of back-to-the-landers that even the Northeast Kingdom has gotten, or the Catskills?  Since upstate New York is so big, and hasn’t sold it’s name as well as Vermont has (excepting the Hudson Valley of course)?  I think it’s partially that — and it seems more isolated than Vermont, too.  It might also be more religious.  Who knows.  All I can say for sure is that there are a lot of heartbreakingly beautiful little Victorian houses that could be yours for not very much money at all.

We stopped in North Blenheim to take a look at the Blenheim bridge.  Yes, it is the longest single span wooden bridge in the world!  My dad also claims that it might be the best constructed timber structure in the world, and he, a card-carrying member of the Timber Framer’s Guild, would know.

Blenheim bridge

The bridge was built in 1855 by a Vermonter, Nichols Powers, who built bridges up and down the East Coast.  The span between abutments is 210 feet over the Schoharie Creek.


Well done, North Blenheim!

The carousel capitol of the world

January 2, 2009

For New Years, we drove down to Binghamton, NY to visit my extended family.  Binghamton is sort of a classic upstate city — it’s on hard times.  Though it’s former glory is still apparent in some places — like some extremely beautiful and large Victorian houses — it’s also a pretty good example of how to destroy a small city with strip malls and expressways.  Driving in Binghamton is constantly being on off-ramps and on-ramps that are totally empty of cars, passing over and around streets that were probably very nice before all this elevated concrete came in, with expressway exit signs that just say “shopping mall.”

It’s in this incredibly beautiful valley, where the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers join.

Oh, Binghamton.


Apparently, in 1890 Binghamton was behind only New York City in production of cigars.  After that industry died out in the 30s, shoe manufacturing was the big thing, and after “urban renewal” in the 1960s, they’ve just sort of been holding on, I think.  I have this vision where the neglected cities, and the countryside, of central New York state will come back to their former, or a newer glory.  Or maybe not glory, but just back to having downtowns and growing populations.  Their city motto right now is Restoring The Pride.

It’s also the “carousel capitol of the world,” and all of its many carousels are “jumpers”!