Archive for April, 2009

Fiddlehead season

April 30, 2009

It’s fiddlehead season!  Or at least, the very tail end.  I picked some in Winooski last night at my plant class, and this morning made a fiddlehead scramble for breakfast.  Granted I was really hungry, but they were meaty, creamy, tender, and crunchy all at the same time.

When picking: look for the unfurled ostrich fern….recognizable by its brown, papery, flaky covering.  And just pick a few from each — don’t pick them all or the fern can’t survive!  I recommend boiling them for a few minutes before you sautee them, they turn bright green and you pour off some brown water.  That makes them really tender!

celendineThis picture is celendine — which is invasive — but is a good remedy for warts, and also has a yellow sap inside that might be a good painting pigment.  And has a beautiful name.

It is also dandelion green season (though I’m not a huge fan), and there is ground ivy and wild violets to be picked and added to salads.

Don’t forget to wash your hands!!

The Writer’s Almanac

April 20, 2009

I just signed up for the Writer’s Almanac by newletter, since I can’t seem to listen to it on NPR in the morning at 8:30.  You can sign up for it online and today’s poem, by Tennessee Williams, is really, and sort of surprisingly, good.  Yesterday’s poem about blueberries was sort of underwhelming.  So here is today’s, you can read it with or without your best Garrison Keillor voice:

Life Story

by Tennessee Williams

<!– (from The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams) –>

After you’ve been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what’s your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there’s some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you’ve had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they’re telling you their life story, exactly as they’d intended to all

and you’re saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that’s how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

“Life Story” by Tennessee Williams, from The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams. © New Directions, 2002. (Reprinted without permission, but nobody really reads my blog anyway).

I’m going to New York this weekend, and I think I’m going to go see the Henry Darger exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum.

afam_2318afam_2314-1I like him for so many reasons.  I love the Vivian Girls, I really like folk art, or course, and 1900s Chicago is one of my top historical time periods — mostly from reading Sister Carrie, William Cronin’s Nature’s Metropolis, and everything about the Columbian Exposition.  Darger’s story was really sad — he had a tough childhood and spent a lot of time in institutions, and as an adult, could never really get over it.  So in his own way, he devoted his life to protecting children, in part by writing the Vivian Girls, his super-fantasy heroines, into being.  All his famiyl was gone, but he did have a friend, one friend.


Love is Overtaking Me

April 19, 2009

Record Store Day was yesterday, and of the great things about Pure Pop is that they had copies of the Arthur Russell album released on Rough Trade last fall.  And Dale went and bought it.  AhHH, thank you!


Arthur Russell died of AIDS in the early 90s after being a brilliant genius for his whole life.  I’d mostly heard his disco and cello stuff, and this album collects his some of his country and pop stuff, Modern Lovers inspired.  He breaks hearts like no one else.


April 16, 2009

It is the one year anniversary of the death of one of my very old friends today.

I am feeling really happy and alive today.  A very good and lucky thing.

But surely, I still think about him, and I will keep thinking about him.

While Husker Du is playing

April 13, 2009

I went to see Adventureland last night, and you know, I was pleasantly surprised by a pretty good movie!  It was way, way better than the trailer makes it seem.  It’s a good, coming of age movie that doesn’t offend anyone who thinks that women are people.  Or, for that matter, that men are people.  In fact, this movie manages to humanize almost everybody, and there are some really perfect articulations of 22-year-old righteous anger, confusion, and realizing that you have to get your shit together all by yourself.  Set in the 80s, and apparently they took a cue from the sweet coming of age movies of the era (though without the making fun of Asian people, sorry 16 Candles and Pretty in Pink).  I wish that I could have gone to see this movie in high school, instead of going to see movies that lots of dudes thought was funny and made me feel bad and then not talking about it.

Plus a good soundtrack.  Lots of Lou Reed, and then gently mocking the lovers of Lou Reed, all at the same time.  And of course Husker Du.

Don’t you think that we should kiss while husker du is playing? — that could really be the subtitle of this movie.

Shapes and Suvis

April 10, 2009

Some old pictures from our Shapes and Sizes, Sister Suvi, Nat Baldwin, and Ryan Power show last month.  I know, it was an all-star line-up.  I know!


Ryan crooned.  His new material is sounding great!

Nat Baldwin sounded really wonderful too, though I was at the back handling the door at the time.  I like his album (MVP) just fine, but live he was less pop-y, freer, and generally more interesting.  Very Arthur Russell sounding, which is of course a good thing.  Plus, a SUPER-NICE GUY!  Here he is playing an Arthur Russell cover.

Sister Suvi was exciting because while I had seen Tune-Yards and Islands it was great to see what they were coming up with together.  Their new album came out the day of the show, basically.  It’s also wonderful to see someone like Merrill exercise her humongous musical chops.  I go back and forth about this, because while in the abstract I’m really glad that you don’t have to be an amazing musician to play rock music, in reality, I really really like to see musicians who are talented take it out and show it to you.  Merrill has this tremendous voice and she knows just where her break is…..


And of course Shapes and Sizes closed out the night by playing all new material.  Or at least new to me, since it wasn’t on their last album — Split Lips, Winning hips, A Shiner — which, (sorry guys) we found on vinyl in the bargain bin at Pure Pop.


Plus they are all super-nice people!  I know it’s annoying when people talk about how they know so and so, and guess what, they’re super-nice people, but I’m just trying to be honest here.  It was certainly a show for Tick Tick history.  Since Tick Tick is basically history itself, ha.

My camera spent most of the night reiterating just how GOLDEN the drum set was.



April 9, 2009

Finally, we made it!  We didn’t even follow the directions very properly, but my starter was healthy, bubbly, and well-fed, and it PAID off.  I opened the fridge and thanked it after I tasted.  The sourdough taste replaces the need for salt in homemade bread, I think, because I found that the taste I’m always really looking for is just sourdough!

I took my directions from this obviously pro bread-baker, here.

He thoughtfully includes this inspiring chart.


I like the moulded twin, and of course cob and cottage.

What was I thinking back when I lived in a co-op with an industrial kitchen and it was somebody’s job to bake bread every day?  I didn’t bake a single loaf there for 2 and a half years.

Congratulations, Vermont

April 7, 2009
The Joint Chiefs of Bluegrass play the state house

The Joint Chiefs of Bluegrass play the state house

Well done!  You squeaked right in there with one extra to spare, but now it’s official — it’s in the New York Times.

Finally finished what we started in 2000.  Only this time hopefully there will be less Take Back Vermont signs.  While I think that the “take back Vermont” movement was a little bit more complex than just plain old homophobia, it was a major factor and the catalyst, and the remaining signs that are still up around the Northeast Kingdom make me sad.  Start articulating your many valid feelings about how Vermont is changing without connecting them to the struggle for equal rights of other people.

That time was also a catalyst for me, in a political way.  I was a high school student in the NEK and what I did to express my opinions about the bill, well, I’m still keeping it a secret.

If you want to read about this sort of two-Vermont divide, which is more recently dividing the Northeast Kingdom over wind-towers (arguably this issue is maybe even more complex), you can read Paul Searls’ book:


A hundred years ago, but about the same thing, which he calls “uphill” and “downhill” Vermonters, and how their identities were opposed in many ways on axes of modernity, political participation, land use, and culture.  It’s a good book, but I disagree with Searls — mostly because I don’t buy into the idea of using two opposing categories as a way to understand identity.  It doesn’t allow for people who don’t fit into either category to be included, and those people always exist — to begin with the Abenakis, African-Americans, and other immigrants in Vermont who don’t fit into those.  And I just think things are more complex than that.  Right now, in Vermont, things are certainly far more complex than that.  Though admittedly, when you look at the role-call for who voted today, it’s hard to resist a binary!

So for added complexity, I suppose you could also read this book by David Moats, who won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the Civil Unions fight in 2000 in the Rutland Herald.

Anyway, I’m just sitting here in Vermont, appropriately drinking some Celebration Love tea from the VT Love & Tea Company.

It’s time for celebrating, and it just makes me so happy!!!!!!!!

Now we really, really need some instant runoff voting in our state elections to get Douglas out of office.

(Photo is from here, where he also refers to Hardwick as “Little Chicago”)