Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's That Wet, Cracking Sound?

No, not the fallen branches underfoot in the woods this time of year - something else...

Oh, it's the first of October and that sound must be the hearts of those millions of northeasterners who have decamped to Florida and Texas and Arizona and similarly horrifying places over the last couple of decades.

Places with climates congenial to achy joints, and also to man-sized reptiles and hand-sized biting insects.

Places famous for poisonous snakes and developers; flat, flat places with shallow-rooted vegetation that does not change color in the fall.

If I had been born in another century, and on the other side of the sea, I think I would have been the sister who stayed: Bridie, alone, by the peat fire in the cottage. The letters would come back full of the marvels of New York and Boston and Milwaukee and Toronto and I would look at the green grass and the mist and think, "I still would not trade."

My brother in Dallas will ask again this winter, when I am complaining about making no money, and driving over an ice-coated road through the dark in a sideways snow storm, why I don't move to a real place? My sister in Florida will tell me in February about 82 degrees and no humidity.

But they don't have Fall, a proper Fall, in Texas or Florida and I couldn't bear to give it up. Nor spring for that matter. And while we're on the subject, winter is hard here, but it has its rewards (bright days, hunkering down during a quiet snow storm, snowshoeing and skiing through a world altogether different from what it will be six months later) and our Summers are like gold. And in the Fall, of course, at least for a few weeks, just about every place you look is so beautiful... Maybe that sound is my own heart breaking for sight of it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Am Glad I Got Those Gloves

What would I do with 32 pairs of size 6.5 to 7 ladies gloves (a size too small for me), in various colors? I haven't worn gloves since my mother put them on me for Easter in 1968 (I was three). Nevermind. They are inherently good and interesting objects. Each pair was neatly pinned with a tiny gold safety pin, pressed and cleaned. My left-bid of $10 got them for me at the auction last Sunday.

The Understudy and her friend got into them on Friday (fine, of course) and summoned me to a fashion show. I loved it and dragged the Understudy and her stylist outside for one of our periodic fashion shoots. I knew those gloves were worth the having.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Outdoor Contemporary Art; The Union Jack Flies Over Vermont

Hey Woolfoot. What did you do today?

Glad you asked. It was Sunday, and an auction day. Luckily, the Understudy was invited to a birthday party in Morrisville. Westfield, home of my beloved Degre Auction House, is en route to Morrisville. Great. Cover for at least partial auction attendance. (Whusband disapproves, why?) The party didn't start til noon and the auction got rolling at 10 AM. The Understudy didn't get word of the plan to "swing by" the auction til she was in the car, and belted in.

Do we have to?!


The Understudy 20 minutes into the bidding this morning

By the way, two weeks ago I took Shackleton the auction. He attended voluntarily and had a great time, urging me to bid on all kinds of stuff. He wound up with some old trophies we both loved. Here is his artist's rendition of the auctioneer, done as a live study.

He actually announced, when we got home, that we had a great day at the auction. Note to self, bring Shackleton to the next auction and let the Understudy stay home.

I left a bid on a box of Jackie Kennedy-era ladies gloves at 11:30, the only bidding I managed, and hied it down to the Birthday party. After depositing the Understudy with her friends at the ice skating rink I was off to Stowe, where I hoped to catch at least part of the English Car Show. This event seems to be growing year by year.

Unfortunately, most of the MGs and Triumphs and Jaguars and what have you that I saw were driving down the Mountain Road on their way out of town. Just a few tents coming down and the odd car remained at the show by the time I arrived:

Hey, that's a Rolls Royce, isn't it? No, no, the one up-top, by the tents, not the Mini down below.

It wasn't time to get the Understudy from the party yet, so I walked along the lower section of the Stowe Rec Path. I know, I know, I'm sorry for taking you back to the Rec Path. Maybe someone will have to fine me before I'll really stop blogging about it and photographing it.

Thing is, this is a part of the path I don't usually get to because I think of it as crowded, ending in the village as it does. Well, it wasn't crowded this afternoon and, I soon learned, the Contemporary Art Show that I wrote about a few posts back has straggled off the site of the Helen Day Art Center in the village and many pieces are now on display on this section of the path. So, I wasn't just walking, I was visiting an exhibit. Some of the art was fabulous. This teapot I just loved. I am going to find the artist and send her fan mail.

Isn't that cool - (the wrapped tree-trunks). Derivative of Christo, I suppose, but I liked it. The artist calls it "Chippendale." There was a sign nearby that said the trees would not be harmed by having their trunks wrapped in vinyl for a time. No, just kidding. I made that up. I am sure people are wondering about that, though. This is still Vermont, and Stowe, no less. The trees matter a lot, especially the trees along the Rec Path.

This one, (below) was the only real clunker I saw. Remember that Simpson's Episode where Marge discovers she's actually a great painter? She enters an art show and wins? I recall that one of the other entries in that show was a painting of a unicorn standing on a hill over a smoky, dirty city. A single tear runs down the unicorn's cheek and a thought bubble above his head asks, "Why"? This mini graveyard, with the names and dates of conflicts fought "in the name of religion", goes in the crying unicorn category as far as I am concerned.

By the way, we got the gloves. Ten bucks for 32 pairs - beautifully kept by some woman all the way through the Cold War, all pinned together, perfectly pressed. The Understudy got a pair and so did her friend. She didn't complain about that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things...

This line occurred to me this AM when I saw this:

A tree, a rock, ferns, leaves and BONUS, moss, all within about one square meter.

Maisy and I got up and out for a walk on Jay Peak this morning, where one can see trees and rocks in wild abundance. The walk was, as usual, beautiful for these small details and the grand views it afforded of the top of Vermont.

And doesn't Maisy look fetching in the raking light of the morning?

She knows now that when I steal down the stairs before anyone else is up and move around as quietly as I can, get my water bottle and hiking boots it means we are in for a nice long walk. She jumped right in the car.

We were out for about two hours, which represents a considerable effort for me in my middle aged semi-collapsed state. If only I could manage such activity about four times a week. Oh well.

Thinking about trees and rocks and ferns as a "few of my favorite things" (I am singing that line to myself mentally as I type) reminded me of a fresh (for me) source of glee; finding a source for super cheap old record albums.

That source is the Burlington recycling-for-social-good-center, a junk shop with high ideals called "Recycle North" It's a great institution that recycles appliances, computers, building materials and household goods. In the past I have mostly rummaged their building materials center. They have all these great old windows, bathtubs, doors, light fixtures etc. We bought 8 sets of real wooden, louvered shutters with their hardware, probably from the 1940s last summer for $100 - total. The plan was to dress up the facade of the Last House. Another summer project that didn't quite get started. Well, still.... About two weeks ago while I was all on my own in Burlington, I stopped in to the household goods repository to see if they had any nice old plates or pottery. Instead, I discovered that they sell old record albums for 25 cents apiece. The result was predictable.

NOT Digitally Remastered

I was born in 1965. It wasn't until I was in college that people began converting from vinyl to CDs. I was one of those people, of course, and I have never looked back - that is, until I was wandering through the household goods at Recycle North.

You should know that, owing to Whusband's Great Age and long years of adulthood before he had children (i.e., years with disposable income), he accumulated an extensive record collection. For that reason, we actually have several turntables here at the Last House. Only one is ancient, from Husband's audiophile days in the cretaceous period.

Of course, LPS and turntables never completely bubbled under, in the way of the Betamax or 8-track tapes - probably because DJs in cool clubs in the 80s still wanted something to scratch. You can still buy turntables and we have several. In other words, unlike most modern Americans (I imagine), we can still actually play records, though we don't do so often. Husband's collection (almost all classical) is stowed in a giant wooden box that also serves as a kind of coffee table. Clearing it off to get to the records is a big production and not one we often undertake.

At Christmas we pull out some old LPs of carols that I like - choirs of angels stuff, and I am particularly fond of a collection of turn-of-the-century music hall favorites that we play during dinner parties. Seeing all these LPs with (for me) their tempting titles suddenly renewed my interest in vinyl.

I won't be getting rid of iPod anytime soon. Despite the fact that I am half deaf I still appreciate great sound, what I can get of it anyway. Hmmm. Maybe because I don't hear that well I am now a good audience for analog recordings.

Here's part of what $2.00 or so procured:

I knew Mary Martin was a famous Broadway star back around the time of the Flood, as I recalled. The central fact I had stored about her was that she was the mother of "Master" (Larry Hagman) from "I Dream of Jeannie". Anyway, I had never heard her sing, and I didn't realize she had starred on Broadway as Maria in the Sound of Music, before Julie Andrews put her enormous stamp on that whole thing.

Listening to this 1966 recording, with Martin reading the story and singing the songs, has converted me into a big Mary Martin fan. Her voice has such a wonderful tone and timbre - even on vinyl. And check out the great 1960s illustrations that accompany this "Disneyland" recording. We have listened to this at least half a dozen times this week.

Maybe there should be a law that requires us to listen to Carole King on vinyl. It is so echt 70s; digital provides a false experience. Ah, the AM hits of childhood... Not one scratch on this copy either.

In case you have forgotten (or never experienced it), there is something sort of wonderful about dropping a needle down on a record, especially when you are at about eye-level with your turntable - looking for that little blank space between the tracks, watching the arm bob a little when the album is a wee bit torqued. Something satisfying about it. I guess you can see a little better where that music is coming from; mysterious as any recording process remains for me, at least with vinyl you aren't dealing with a laser in a drawer...

My sister and I and the Hulchanski kids next door used to sing "Consider yourself at home, consider yourself --- part of the fam-i-ly" when I was about six. Now, I own the record.

As I was rummaging around the stacks of records, one of the Recycle North guys asked me if there was anything special I was looking for. I wanted the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

"Would that be "soundtrack" or "pop" or "rock"? I asked.

He wasn't sure, but he noted that their soundtrack section was particularly strong. Yes. True. Couldn't find SNF, but nice copies of original cast recordings ofWest Side Story, Gigi and My Fair Lady were plentiful. I guess the people who bought SNF 30 years ago haven't died yet. It was pretty clear that Recycle North has inherited the record libraries of people who would be about 80 now, if they were still living.

The same guy told me that there are "a lot of young people" in Recycle North shopping the vinyl. I didn't take offense. Interesting though, isn't it?

I have loved Masterpiece Theater since high school. This is a collection of themes from MT, from the twilight of the vinyl age in 1981. Probably this one was safe from "the young people."

One last amazing fact. If you buy 20 or more records, the price drops to 20 cents a piece. I am going back soon.

Oh. I also picked up a made-in-England bone China plate, featuring a partially hand painted picture of Ann Hathaway's Cottage, for another 25 cents during my vinyl shopping spree. What a good day that was

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Dog, A Boy, House Paint, Caramel Syrup and a Kitchen Floor - Does this Title Even Need A Verb?

At the risk of channeling Erma Bombeck, I just had to share a little domestic experience that we enjoyed here at the Last House this afternoon.

Let me begin at the beginning. We got this dog back in May. She is a cute dog. Her name is Maisy.

Maisy, in a good moment, earlier this summer

Maisy spends a lot of time on the ugly porch that was appended to the Last House by the previous owners, sometime back in the 1970s. I think they added this aquariam-inspired structure around the same time they removed the proper, original porch and front door - sort of like a face removal and horrid, wrong, replacement.

In any case, the ugly porch ("U.P.") has windows facing south and east, creating an environment alternately boiling and freezing. It also has an ugly brown indoor-outdoor carpet. We enter and leave the Last House through the U.P., so there is no avoiding it.

Since adding Maisy to the family, I have noticed, particularly on warm days, that the ugly carpet gives of the scent of dog pee. Uh oh. The U.P., like every other room in our house, is filled to bursting with stuff: to wit, toys, shoes, no fewer than seven oil lamps, winter coats, a security system, balls, bats, books, a kerosene heater, an electric heater, three rocking chairs and a small cast-off kitchen table. You get the picture. Cleaning the ugly carpet is not a simple proposition. It has not been done for YEARS.

A particularly honest and unlovely view of the house, with the porch featured prominently

Nevertheless, the other day, goaded by that smell of dog pee, I rented a steam cleaner. Yesterday, I removed every shoe, chair, videotape, gew gaw and thingamjig from the U.P. and spread them all over the lawn. I then cleaned the ugly carpet. However, in removing the aforementioned rocking chairs from the U.P. I managed to scrape and otherwise nick the paint around the door frame. Also, since adding the dog, muddy pawprints and scratch marks have also been added to the door frame. "I must touch that up", I thought yesterday, at cleaning hour 11, as I was putting the last shoe back into the clean porch.

It was a beautiful warm day today and so, upon returning to the Last House from School and work, in an usual display of follow-through, I got out my foam brush and the can of Glidden exterior flat white.

The kids were occupied with visiting friends as I painted. When the Mom of the visiting kids arrived to collect them, I hastily put down my foam brush and left the open can of white exterior paint on the dryer in our kitchen. Yes - the dryer resides in the kitchen, just next to the door to the porch. The dryer also serves as counter space (think, old farmhouse with hideous farmer-brown-DIY kitchen). The dryer is the repository for a collection of spices and our cappucino machine. Perched on the back of the dryer is a stereo speaker (don't ask) and a pair of old coffee pots full of utensils. It is normal for us to leave all kinds of things, including open cans of paint from time to time, on the dryer.

Did I mention about the caramel syrup? Not to long ago, I came home with some caramel syrup for making home-brewed caramel macchiatos. Yum. It came in this elegant bottle, sort of like a wine bottle, though made of clear glass.

Finally, you need to know that on the menu tonight was Kraft Dinner, no, "premium" Kraft Dinner. (The Understudy asked what the difference between premium and regular Kraft dinner was and I told the premium costs three times as much). Whusband, the family chef and food snob, is away and when he is not around the culinary standards slip, shall we say.

Upon learning that we were having this suitable-for-a-bomb-shelter cuisine (a too rare event from the kids' point of view) Shackleton jumped for joy. He landed hard, right near the dryer.

Result: the stereo speaker on the back of the dryer came down. It dominoed into the open can of paint and the glass bottle of caramel syrup. Both caroomed onto the wooden floor. Oddly enough, the third item to hit the kitchen floor was an open bottle of off-brand Windex (still out from the previous day's porch cleaning). It made a separate, bluish puddle, not too far from where the caramel syrup and white paint combined in ghastly kind of cleaning nightmare concoction, sprinkled with shards big and shards tiny of broken glass.

Just a little evidence...

Cleaning this up (a five-bath-towels-into-the-trash job) made me glad we don't have hurricanes here. Galveston, I feel your pain. Maisy, our dear, I guess we have you to thank for one clean carpet and one clean area, at least, on the kitchen floor.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Escape From Contemporary Art And Other Little Events

I picked up the kids after school on Friday and we all then went a little further south, to Stowe. The Understudy, like me, has bonded with the Stowe Library and she wanted to pick up a few books. The Stowe Library, you few regular readers will recall, is housed in the same building as the local Arts Center ("Helen Day Art Center" to be precise). Hence, you cannot enter the library without running a gauntlet of art. (I always feel sorry for whomever has to mow the lawn. One installation this summer looks like a collection of rusty croquet gates arranged in rows). Shackleton, upon exiting the Camry, struck this pose in front of these interesting wooden items and demanded I take a picture. I think he was thinking Indiana Jones.

I liked these sculptures, or installations, or whatever they are. I think Shackleton liked them too, though he picked up on some hint of menace.

Today, though Saturday, was a semi-sick day. Shack and I are still recovering from a rotten cold and the Understudy seems to be coming down with it. Drat. We did come to consciousness briefly this afternoon and got over to the Pick & Shovel in Newport so the kids could get a Creemie and I could get odd-sized lightbulbs for a chandelier and some bubble wrap. They have everything at the Pick & Shovel, as you might suppose given that shopping list.

We had Maisy along on this trip, so we went to the beautiful Newport Bike Path for a very brief walk. Ooops, I had said there would be a moratorium on bike path photos, didn't I? Well, this is the Newport path, not the one in Stowe, at least. Months ago I had written a little about the contrast between the two bike paths and the two communities (i.e., Rich Town[Stowe]/Poor Town [Newport, duh] and great striking original thoughts like that)and promised a few Newport photos. So, let's not think of this as me breaking my recent promise but keeping an old one. Anyway, here's a shot of Shackleton, The Understudy and Maisy, on a little bridge on the Newport path where it traverses a swampy edge of Lake Memphremagog. What it lacks in parking areas, paved surfaces, contemporary art, benches, signage and porta-potties (all things they have in Stowe), the Newport path makes up with scenery.

Also, on Thursday, my neighbor and I traveled into Burlington together for various and several reasons. I wanted to do some research at the University of Vermont about Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan Am. I got a box lot of Trippe memorabilia at auction last week and this has presented some mysteries. Unfortunately, two hours in the library were not enough for the box to yield up its secrets. Drat, again. I did however, renew the exorbitantly costly UVM library card and with my new card in hand, I found a couple of satisfying photography books to bring home to the Last House. Mine now for four weeks.

One is a nice big folio book called: Cecil Beaton: A Retrospective Edited by "Dr." David Mellor (Little Brown, Boston 1986). The courtesy title suggests to me that the editor is a pretentious pratt, but I got it to look at the pictures and I don't much care what Dr. M and his ilk have to say about them. I had a brief look today and the pictures are really wonderful.

I had wanted to have a look at this book last year when I was at UVM to do some Gladys Peto research (see the sidebar). Beaton wrote about her in a book called The Glass of Fashion. There seems to be one copy in Vermont and they have it at the U. I couldn't find this book of photographs last year while wandering through those wonderful stacks, but I snagged it Friday.

Near it on the shelf was an intriguing volume called: Sixties London Photographs by Dorothy Bohm. (Lund Humphries 1996). I brought it home too and had a nice, long look today. Ms. Bohm is a famous photographer, though this is the first I have made her acquaintance. All very tight copyright protections on this kind of thing, so I can't put up any photos here, of course, but you may like to have a look at her things yourself. Q.v. So, really, not escaping from Contemporary Art at all, are we?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Admit It; A Blogger's Fantasy

Hello, is that KSV Woolfoot?

Uh, yes…well, uh, this is Kim.

Can I call you Kim, or would you prefer Ms. Velk or Woolfoot or something else? Say the word.

Uh, Kim is fine…

Well, Kim, I’m Sloane Abramson, from CAA?

OK. Hi. How are you?

Hi Kim. Fine. I’m fine. The question I really have is how are you today? I am so happy finally to have a chance to speak with you, Kim. Is it snowing up there yet?

Uh, Fine. No. To the snow I mean. It doesn’t generally snow in September, even here. Did you say Creative Artists Agency – like CAA?

Right, the LA office. Not Canadian Automobile Insurance Association. (Laughter). Kim, you might think that - living up on the Canadian border and all.

Well. I guess you must actually have dialed the right number.

Oh. Right. Well, sorry, Kim. Didn’t mean in the least to freak you out. It’s just, before we make these calls we do a little, hmm, light kind of background checking. Usually just stuff we can Google or get from your blog – no actual physical stalking or anything.

Oh. Well, that’s good to know.

Well and, Kim, it’s because of your blog that I am calling today.


Oh, we just love it here. Capital “L” L-0-V-E it. I was talking about it with Helen Mirren when she was in here the other day. You know, she was really taken with your post on her book. In fact, she was the one who put us onto you.


I’m sorry. I dropped the phone.

Right, well, I am guessing that was a joke because you are so funny. Really, I read a lot of blogs and I have to say I have never seen one that shows more genuine talent, strength of personality, depth of knowledge and just plain interest than yours.

Wow. Well, that’s so nice and really, no offense, but impossible and untrue.

Really, Kim. No joke I am a Hollywood Agent and I want to represent you! You know we represent writers too, not just movie stars. Right?


Well, Sloane, this is a joke right? You’re recording this, right? Give me your number and I’ll call you back.

(Laughter). I guess that’s the lawyer in you, Kim. No. Not joking. I guess you didn’t get my package?

Hmm. Nope, no package.

Damn, I mean, darn. I read your post on your two posts on St. Andrew and St. Paul’s and your Protestant churchgoing Grandma and everything - but then I saw you posted the Will Farrell video. I agreed that was a riot. Don't tell anyone but we're trying to get Will Ferrell to sign with us too. Not sure where you stand on the cursing issue – one of the things I just love about your blog. So hard to pin you down.

Oh I can curse like a drunken sailor. But the kids.

Right, Catholic school and all.

Let me call you back.

They said it would be there by 10. It’s 10 your time now, isn’t it, Kim?

Just about. Yeah. Oh. Wait. There’s the Fed Ex guy. Hold on. Hold on.


I have a box here, Sloane. A very big and heavy box.

Oh, great! Super! What timing. I think it’s a good omen. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if Fed Ex went up that far. It’s great. I had a friend from college from Vermont. But she was from Manchester. I guess that’s another world from North Troy, isn’t it Kim? I was going to visit her one summer but we went to Nantucket instead, where their summer place is.

Well, yes and no. North Troy is like Manchester minus rich people, restaurants, outlet shopping and prep schools. I am thinking of starting a Yacht Club here, though.

Funny, again.

I can’t get the, wait, this isn’t some Unabomber item is it?

Funny! No, Kim. See the Century City postmark. It’s from me. Open it up. I am so pleased to be on the line with you when you got this. I picked it out myself and really I am dying to know what you think.

Let me get a knife. Hold on. I, the tape...


There’s lots of bubble wrap. I recycle this so I am trying not to rip it. Wait.

Been in Vermont a long time, then? The recycling, I mean. Since about 1993?

Oh my God.


Where did you get all this?

You like it?

Well, yeah. I mean, it’s all MINTON in the PINK COCKATRICE pattern! AND , is it, yes, the Coffee Pot! Sure, how many place settings – like,

Only six; that’s all we could find. And believe me, my assistant tried everywhere on about three continents at least to get this. That pattern hasn’t been made in about 80 years. The woman we got this from said hers wasn’t for sale, at first anyway.

Oh my God!

Yes! It’s amazing isn’t it?


F*** How did you guys know about this?

Well, that “light bit of checking” I mentioned. We managed to track down that porcelain dealer on Portobelllo Road that you met in London this spring? He said the nicest things about you, and your daughter, “The Understudy,” I love that name by the way. I agree, way better than “Kid 1” and not so derivative of Dr. Seuss.


Yes, Kim?

What is this all about, really?

Well, Kim; I think I know the answer to this but I am not taking anything for granted. Have you ever thought about doing any screenwriting? Of course you’re not in the guild yet but we can take care of that…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If You Think Will Ferrell is Funny...

Stay tuned, because I think he is funny too and I am, mentally, working on a killer blog post that Will Ferrell will wish he had written, it's going to be that funny. Bill Murray and Tina Fey will wish they had written it, and David Sedaris will probably read it and be jealous. Gilda Radner, God Bless her Soul, will wish from heaven that she was around still so she could have written it. Only, I haven't actually written it, yet, so uhm, here's a sure thing from WF. If you haven't the "The Landlord" yet, see it here. Better go to the bathroom first, though.

See more Will Ferrell videos at Funny or Die

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Upstate New York - Land of Enchantment and Proper Cheeseburger Deluxe

If you have been following along you know that I spent last weekend visiting my parents in my natal New York State. My roots are in the uncool part of New York: Upstate, as culturally distinct from New York City as Ohio (although they probably have more ethic diversity - descendants of Italians, Jews and Greeks mostly- in upstate New York than they do in the midwest - a little more on that in a minute). Last Sunday, as you also will know if you have been following along, we went to the Highland Games. On Monday, Labor Day, we had to get back Vermont, but before leaving I thought I would take the kids over to John Boyd Thacher State Park.

(The View from the Overlook at Thacher Park)

Thacher Park is a popular getaway for the million or so people who live around Albany and as a kid and as a 20-something, when I last lived in the area, we would get over there for a field-trip or a picnic once a year or so. It is really a beautiful place and just a hop, skip and a jump from the current home of Dad and Stepmom. Again, in fulfilling my little self-appointed mission of sharing the Good Things in Life, here's a little glimpse of the part of the Park that makes it most famous: the Indian Ladder.

There are no Indians, anymore at least, and, as I discovered to my disappointment at age 9 when I first visited, no ladders either. It's the name for a cliff-face trail once used by Indians that traverses a part of the Heldeberg Escarpment. It is a rough foot path but the New York taxpayer has outfitted it nicely with stairs, here and there, rails and ropes as necessary. You couldn't do it on crutches or in a wheelchair, but Shackleton, aged 7 and the Understudy, aged 10 and wearing only sandals since our walk was slightly impromptu, managed fine.

I thought, as walked along the cliff, past the trees and under the overhanging rocks; with their periodic fine-spray waterfalls and small pools, that if there was a place in America where you might find a Totoro, this might be it.

Well, that was nice. It being Labor Day, and back to school time, walking the path our sixth grade science teacher took us down in a vain attempt to teach us something about geology was sweet. Ahh. Middle school.

On our way out of town Dad and Stepmom treated us to another New York experience: lunch at a proper NY Diner.

Vermont is not a culturally diverse place. The natives are either old Yankees or descended from French Canadians. The non-natives tend to be hippies or transplants from California and the big east coast cities. None of these groups have, generally speaking, the wherewithal to run a proper diner: by which I mean a place with booths, cheeseburger deluxe, holy cards over the cash register, and a menu that measures at least 2 feet by 2 feet.

The one we went to on Monday is a bit of an ersatz re-creation, but it feels true to Greek Diner roots. The kids call it the Shiny Diner, since it is clad in chrome. I think it's real name is the Metro Route 20. It is on, you guessed it, Route 20.

Since I had been tromping for an hour or two on the rocky path at Indian Ladder I felt justified in having cheeseburger deluxe, and a milkshake.