Archive for February, 2009

On a boat on the lake

February 23, 2009

For one of my jobs right now, at the Vermont Women’s History Project, I’m writing up a profile on Augusta Brown.  Augusta Brown was an artist from Brooklyn, and in the summer of 1895, she and three friends took a leisurely trip from New York to Montreal on canal boats, going up the Champlain Canal and up the lake, and then to Montreal by train.


This woman was cool, and her story reads like a typically awesome in-your-mid-20s summer vacation from 115 years ago (though she was in her 50s, making it even awesomer).  Brooklyn artist take summer trip to Vermont on unusual and cheap transportation, sketching and writing in her journal along the way.

Here is what she brought with her: “a small telescope bag, containing a change of clothes, a warm shawl and an umbrella. . .a shade hat and an extra pair of shoes.”

And here is what they did, pretty much the whole trip: lounging on the deck of the boat, rigging up a little canopy on the deck to nap under, drawing, writing, napping, eating mince pie, Boston baked beans, and cocoa, sleeping outside on deck at night, and occasionally getting off the boat to hang around on some docks and maybe get some tea.

I WOULD LIKE TO BE TAKING THIS VERY TRIP, RIGHT NOW!  Yes, I would like to be on a small boat on Lake Champlain, in the summer, with my friends, making some drawings and basically just hanging around for WEEKS, until I got to Montreal.


You can find more about Augusta Brown in Russell Bellico’s book, Chronicles of Lake Champlain: Journey in War and Peace.


It would be sunny, and we would lay around under our little tent and feel a breeze.

darkAnd then the sun would go down, but the breeze on the lake would keep the bugs away, and we would polish off a piece of mince pie, listen to the little mini-waves and fall asleep out in the air, and then wake up for more of the same the next day.  Take me there!

Crystal Stilts

February 17, 2009

I know I am about a year and a half late to this party, but I love Crystal Stilts.


Most reviews I have read describe them thusly:  “boring, but in a really good way,” or “like Joy Division, underwater.”  And it’s truly true.  They have all that frenetic energy, but they’re holding it back, and they have ineffably sad singing delivery, but they’re melodic too.  And patient.  I think the Walkmen wish they sounded like this.

Here’s a youtube with bad sound quality of their new single, which you will soon be able to buy from Slumberland as a 7 inch, I believe.  Note the rad Mo Tucker drumming.

And on a related note, I love the Vivian Girls.

And I love a lot of this garage-y punky stuff.  Here is what I think is so good about it, said very well by someone on Songs About Radios about the Vivian Girls:

“The essence of these songs is to uncover in the basic material of pop music (the most ordinary experiences of teenage romance) something powerful and unsettling that pop music is just unable to deal with.”


Go buy them!



February 16, 2009

I just joined Ravelry! What’s that? It’s an online community for knitters……….

I browsed through cardigan patterns for about two hours, and then I found this awesome, awesome sweater pattern.  It’s a pullover with a cabled neck, but the cables become owls, with buttons sewn on them.  The pattern is downloadable for free, here at the designer’s blog, Needled.

I also learned that vintage knitting books and patterns from the 40s, 60s and 80s in particular, are totally worth buying.

8686_1Buy them on ebay!

I’ve been listening to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, reminiscing about their show on Saturday, and reading Judy Blume’s BLOG, where she writes about going to Maurice Sendak’s birthday party with her friend Lois Lowry.

Combat paper project

February 13, 2009

Friend, neighbor and papermaker Drew Cameron does an amazing project called the Combat Paper Project.

Breaking Rank, by Drew Cameron and Drew Matott, 2007

Breaking Rank, by Drew Cameron and Drew Matott, 2007

Basically, here is what it is:

“Through papermaking workshops veterans use their uniforms worn in combat to create cathartic works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beat and formed into sheets of paper. Veterans use the transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniform as art and begin to embrace their experiences as a soldier in war.”

The levels of amazingness of this project are many.

And they have an exhibit coming up at the Firehouse Gallery beginning next week.  Well done, BCA!

Specialist Collar by John La Falce, 2008

Specialist Collar by John La Falce, 2008

ARTIST TALK: 2/20 5-6PM with reception from 6-8pm

And every Saturday, Combat Paper workshops at the Firehouse from 1-4.


Bell ringing for the great emancipator

February 11, 2009

Tomorrow, February 12th, is Lincoln’s 200th birthday.

To celebrate, Vermonters will be ringing church and meetinghouse bells across the state for 10 minutes, starting at 2:12 pm. Nobody knows the actual time of day Lincoln was born.


If I had my druthers, I’d ring the bell (if there is one) here, in the Meeting House in South Strafford.  This may be one of the most beautiful buildings there is.

stannardOr just the bell in the Stannard Church, maybe with my dad.  Here it is in it’s pre-preserved, pre-re-painted, and low resolution form.

historyOr maybe here, at the meetinghouse in East Montpelier.  Then the snow would be gone, we’d put on our 60s glasses and have a luncheon.

coventrycongregationalchurch-3Or more realistically, up in Coventry?  Photo from this great blog.

250px-calais_town_hall_vermontOr just Calais…..and it’ll be summertime…..

And by the way, day 3 of no coffee is going better.  It helps that I slept in until 10:30, and I’ve been drinking expensive rooibus tea with expensive milk and honey and pretending that’s enough.  It’s not, but it still tastes good.  Apparently someone has developed and patented a rooibus expresso.  Sounds like i can’t believe it’s not butter to me.

The good news

February 10, 2009
  • A former polaroid film factory in the Netherlands has been taken over by people who are aiming to re-start production of vintage polaroid film.  The Impossible Project.
  • I have been listening to Sam Amidon’s album All is Well quite a bit this week.  It came out in fall 07 on Bedroom Community, and you can get it off emusic or wherever else.  The album is great — basically Sam has carefully and with some very talented help, rearranged a lot of traditional American songs in very lovely and non-reductive ways.  Sam is kind of a old camp friend of mine.  So good for him!
  • It’s supposed to be in the 40s all week!
  • Dale found this awesome print at Recycle North — a lovely screenprint of the 1565 Mattioli drawing.  I guess dude was a very early botanist.
(this isn't the print we have, but it's very similar)

(this isn't the print we have, but it's very similar)

The bad news is that I am quitting coffee, at least for a month, and I HATE it.  This is day two, and I have a big headache.  But worse than that, I just want coffee.  Life just seems a lot less rich and less worth living without coffee EVERY DAY.

Where American music is from…..

February 8, 2009

Dale just got this totally awesome record!


It’s so good!  It’s a classic Alan Lomax.  Beautiful!




February 5, 2009


I am quite an enthusiastic canner.  It’s how I was brought up — my mom makes pickles, chutneys, preserves, and just bought a dehydrator.  And pickles are kind of big deal in our family, in that we all love them.  Especially me.  (Have you tried Penny Cluse’s new pickles?)  My favorite childhood sandwich is peanut butter and pickle (bread and butters, of course).

My sister loves pickles if they’re not too vinagery, and she does love to preserve.  She got me a great preserving cookbook for Christmas, and the introduction actually says…”we certainly enjoy eating fresh produce.  But deep within most of us lurks a desire to preserve these flavors for future enjoyment.”

Too true, Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, too true.  I like making jam way more than I like eating jam.  Actually, I don’t even like making jam that much, I like the idea of making jam.  Actually making jam is fun the first hour, and the second and third hours you are really hot from stirring something for hours, and you start to realize how much sugar you have to put in the jam.  But I have the desire for preserving!  Summer’s bounty come midwynter.  You know!

ANYWAY………on Monday I finally cracked the ol’ cookbook and made marmalade.  To make real (ie real delicious) marmalade you use Seville oranges, which are too bitter to eat and therefore perfect for this, and are only in season in Jan and Feb (now at City Market, FYI).  Here is what you do, and of course I made a bunch of alterations to the recipe……I am into cookbooks these days but still can’t bring myself to follow things to the letter:

4 seville oranges

2 lemons

4 cups water

1/4 tsp baking soda

4 cups sugar

Wash and peel the oranges with a knife, veg peeler, or zester.  Chop that peel up into little bits, or long stringy bits, which I prefer, and put them in a large, non-reactive pot.  Slice up the lemons (with the skin on) and add them too.  I also threw in about a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, which never hurt anything.  Add the water, cover, and boil gently for about 25 mins.

While that’s happening, peel the rest of the white rind from the oranges.  That’s the most bitter part.  Cut them in half, de-seed them over a bowl to catch the juices, and then puree the pulp in a food processor.  If you don’t have one, I’m sure you could just scrape the pulp insides and it would be fine.  Add the pulp and the baking soda (who knows why, it’s a mystery!) to your pot-o-rinds, and keep boiling gently away.  Keep the pot covered, but stir it pretty frequently.

Then add the sugar.  I was grossed out by 4 cups of sugar and was tempted to add less, but don’t be!  Your marmalade will be unbearably bitter otherwise, and probably won’t set well.  Return to a boil and boil rapidly, uncovered and stirring a lot.  You’re going to stir it until it gels.  It says about 20 minutes, but mine definitely took longer than that.  In fact, it didn’t truly set until after I’d taken it off the heat, which is very common.  The test I followed was to dip a spoon in the marmalade, then let the liquid drip off the spoon.  It will change from dripping single drops, to the drops joining together to form a little sheet.  Mine was sort of sheeting when I turned it off.

I canned some of mine (I won’t tell you how to can, you can figure that out) for some lucky friends, and put some right in the fridge.  Most importantly, I made some toast and put butter on it and then spread it really thickly with warm, fresh, gummy, full of rinds, marmalade!!!!!!!!!!!  It is so bitter and so sweet and so sour and so orangey.  I really think that maybe this is one of the better things I’ve ever made.  Or maybe marmalade is just clearly one of the preserves worth preserving — it’s just way more worth the effort than some plain old raspberry jam.

Happy 90th!

February 5, 2009

On Sunday, I took a family trip to Montreal to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday.  I mean, 90!!!!!  We had homemade chocolate cake (which my grandfather described as “a beauty”) and ice cream.  We picked up my cousin at the Atwater market, where I got to walk around and look at the one zillion kinds of sausage they are selling.  My grandfather lives in a Veterans Home on the West Island in Sainte Anne de Bellevue.  It’s the part of the river that’s so big that everyone refers to it as the lake.

(this is just a picture of the Quebec countryside)

On the way out to Ste Anne from Montreal, you get to see the mountains where they put all the snow from Montreal.  They are just these vast, insane piles of dirty snow, with tiny-looking graters and backhoes pushing snow up their steep inclines all day and night, as I imagine.  Come summertime, they become little piles of ice that are totally, disgustingly black!

I was inspired by the vision of those piles so I made a zine about them.  Next week, you’ll be able to buy it for 50 cents from the new ZINE MACHINE at Earth Prime comics on Church Street.

The strange ice sculptures

February 5, 2009

That I find on the street in Montpelier……