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Monday, November 23, 2015

Brown and Gray

I was talking to a friend tonight who said, "Every year I feel I have less and less to be thankful for." Maybe because we remember better times, I suggested. And we've lost a lot along the way, including the little things like patience and our minds.

These are the days when things are getting very real. I've stepped back from Fecebook. It can take over your life, especially when you volunteer to admin or monitor a page. Or 5. The constant barrage of opinion, right or wrong, agree or disagree, judging judging judging, is darkening to the soul. Too much news is as bad for you as ignorance. I remind myself this crapola is why I gave up cable, and that the intrusive Comcast homepage plastic news is bad enough to have to see. "News" media has turned up the volume, and I'm just going to try not listening for once. People pieces, the ones on BBC, are enough to tell me stories. The Guardian is not purposely traumatizing. Though don't get me started on the BBC.

Tonight it's finally cold. Fall is here. It's Thanksgiving week, I have no idea what's going to happen with Billy beyond he'll be here Thursday and probably Friday. This is because of medication timing and confusion, along with whatever else. I try not to speculate. Kick and Scott will be by on Friday, I haven't seen her in years. Billy gave Patrick his old leather jacket and she sent a photo. I can't believe he's a 6' tall 17 year-old wearing Billy's leather. Strider had a kitchen fire and was burned pretty badly on her hands and arms trying to put it out. But she's okay and the house will be fixed, hopefully by the new year. What's verynot okay is that there was a baby's death in the family. That's never going to be okay.

And all of that and so much more is why I haven't done much besides read historical background for the Beest book in weeks. Maybe for once I'm actually doing this bookwriting thing the correct way. It's good dissociation from the holy shit-look-what-happened-my-opinion-is-better-than-yours circus of the day world we live in. We didn't used to have to know people this well. We didn't used to have to know everything that everyone on the planet said. What the hell? I'm better off learning about the battle for the Somme or the Red Baron.

Yes, times are hard and even scary. People are nuttier in greater numbers than I've ever noticed. Well, we were all nutty in the 70s but that was in a friendly way. This isn't. I'm already treating gut problems (and miss my percolated coffee!!) and I don't need more tsuris. So to hell with it, let me map out Beest's travels around France as an Allied spy in WW1. She's roughly following my Uncle Bert, who bicycled around France carrying maps and intelligence from unit to unit. It's not a happy place, but a hundred years later it's pretty straightforward and not as terrifying as say, any of the current Republican Party Presidential candidates.

This Thanksgiving I do have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm trying to be mindful of it. Good friends, family, enough. I could do with less of some things and more of others, but enough is what I have. Which makes me a very lucky woman.
Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Undeniable

Today is the day that Autumn is undeniable. Though the Leaf Peepers have been here and driving through for the last couple of weeks, it's just hitting peak here. The oaks are already stripteasing, and the thinning of the canopy reveals more light, more sky. Those 40 ft tall elms along the Brandywine are still green. The last holdouts, always. This may be the last Fall in the Shire. It's expected that next year the new building next to the shopping center will be open and we'll be packed up and moved out. The fate of the Shire is unknown.

About the Shire. It was built 50 years ago as housing for the elderly. Over the years and HUD regulation changes it also opened to the disabled, and then to general low-income people. We have a mix of ages and abilities here, workers and retirees side by side, but everyone is somewhere around the poverty line or they wouldn't qualify to live here. When the Shire was built, there were no Flood Zone Maps or regulations and so it had been grandfathered in as okay for anyone to live in. All was well until Irene flooded the Shire 4 years ago. We fought to come back, and won. However, HUD regulations state that the elderly and disabled can't permanently reside in Flood Zones. So the Brattleboro Housing Authority made plans to get us resituated.

Somewhere in the middle of this several things happened. Byron Stookey, founder of the Housing Authority, finally retired. He is one of the best humans I've ever known and is sorely missed around here. Soon after his departure, the BHA became the Brattleboro Housing Partnerships and left the HUD property lists. There is little info to reference about this. HUD is divesting itself of property management and these "projects" (so long publicly owned) are being made private concerns, partially funded by HUD under Section 8 Vouchers for the residents and new construction partially funded by the Feds. The BHP is a whole new entity, a combo of the old BHA people and other housing investment types. For the new building we're slated to inhabit, the partner is Vermont Housing, a non-profit syndicate and developer. Here's more about them:

With this new hybrid of private and public involvement, the new apartment building, called Red Clover Commons, will be mainly senior housing. Here is the info we have of what it looks like:

3 floors in a T shape, across the street from a major shopping center, next door to a 24-hour chain pharmacy, close to the high school, the hospital and the local EMT service, and right off the highway. This is practical to the general view. It's easier and cheaper to have the elderly and sick near so much. The board of directors and everyone involved have put a great amount of work into this and they're satisfied. I understand and appreciate all this. It's necessary and there's nothing to be done about it anyway. But that doesn't mean we who've lived in and loved the Shire don't have feelings about it.

I could take this all as part of the suckage of life if the Shire was to be no more after we depart it. Were it to be knocked down, raised above flood level and turned into something new I could live with it, as that's what we all thought would happen. But recently I learned that these are historic buildings, and the VT Historic Preservation Society has something to say about it. This development is the only one of its kind in New England, of a model done in several places around the states, but one that's stood the test of time, and Nature's wrath as well. These brick buildings were built to last. And so they won't be knocked down.

Like a lost love, it would be easier to never see it again, but knowing it's still here will always tug my heart.
I'm soaking up every detail of my plants dying in my little front garden, it's their last cycle I'll see. The vine I trained around the front porch pillar will go on climbing without me, I hope, and the roses bloom each June and September.

But I will not go gently into that new building.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Funny how conversations go all over the place and things you haven't thought of in dog's years come up.

Today, while reading the riot act to Billy for his general lack of using noggin, nicknames came up. And so, beginning with a diaper-inspired first nickname, I recall all the nicknames I've had. Why? I don't know. It's a relief from all the serious crapola going on.

Stinky. The first, and what my 2 eldest brothers called me til they died. Billy calls me Rora now but for years he called me Babe.

Laura Begorrah... Grammar school. Rhyming was big.

Lady Jane, Bratinella, Mother Laura Stella. Thanks to Mom. I knew what was in store by which name she called me.

Fat Stuff. A charmer from my Uncle Bert.

Moose...from the old block. We were all animals.

Bubbles... Junior High. Possibly because I laughed a lot?

Janis... High school. I think every hippie girl was called Janis at some point, if you were one after the original was dead. I was also Queen Hortense, Nard, Laura-Aura, Jaybird, and still Bubbles, depending on who was talking.

Treasure... this was post-college, when roommates named me after a character on "Gidget". The character was named Mary Eleanor Chest, "but the boys all call her Treasure". It's still used by a few, as it made a comeback in the union drive when we used pirate names in things.

Mama Duck... when Seth was living with Ian and me, he was like our ward. Ian was Papa Duck and Seth was Little Duck. It's now only used by Dodo, and he calls me Mama Q (for Quack).

The Whore of Bethlehem. What Anthony at the Magickal Childe called me. He was confused, everyone laughed, and so it stuck.

annikee. I use this as a nom-de-net but certain people use it to my face. It was a Dutch friend's name and I always liked it. The bonus is it's a lot like "anarchy".

Fitty Cent... after the rapper, but not because of rapping. It's a long story.

It seems, including my real name, I've answered to 19 names.
And now I'm wondering if I should use a pen name for the Beest book.
Can a person have too many names?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Berning Up

Much of my time these days is spent in organizing the unorganized. The Bernie Sanders campaign is a full-blown social media campaign, and I've jumped right in, admin-ing 2 Fecebook pages as well as networking and contributing with others and networking thru Fecebook into the real world.

For one thing, I'm entirely blown away by the people wanting Bernie. They are not only good, decent people who want a good, decent country. They're from every political view there is. And the common denominator is in wanting better. "We All Do Better When We All Do Better" may be the axiom that applies universally to everyone I know in this.

Another thing is that so many of the Bernie supporters have never ever been actively involved in any campaign and have no organizing clues at all. This is at the same time, exhilarating and problematic. To keep a campaign up and pumped, people need to be enthused about their contribution. The best way to be enthused is to do what you love and are good at doing. Bad- or no- skill assessment and task assignment can kill a campaign, and I worry, seeing this done willy-nilly. But I have faith it will all straighten out.

The morale among the Bernie people is something I haven't seen in my lifetime. And every time I interact with a new Bernie person, I'm amazed at the variety of characters, and that the thing everyone wants is to straighten things out. Nobody wants this oligarchic-theocratic-gossipy-mean society we've stooped to being. That's the only commonality. They've all had enough. They want the high road. They want issues, not hairdos. They want straight talk and no bullshit answers. I can't draw a picture of a Bernie supporter, and I could, in every other election. There is no stereotype.

This is the first time in years that I've put so much time into a candidacy. I'm a Bernie or Bust gal. And I'm in very good company.

My other attention goes to the Life and Adventures of Hilde Beest. I think I'm finally writing something the way you're supposed to write. Doing research, building the framework, making a time and place schedule, all while dreaming out the story. And I'm loving this process. It's the life of Beest, whose 150th birthday starts the book, in Naulakha, Kipling's home here in VT.  

In amongst this are the other things in life, which at the moment are all pretty cool. Not perfect, but not awful. I'm back to the "Is Anyone Dead?" scale of calamities. Everything's do-able as long as nobody's dead. Right now, everyone abides.

So forgive my sporadic posting and reading, I'm busy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


What now, this notice? I have to inform the EU that this blog has cookies attached, not by me. Google, aka the Evil Empire that Owns Us All, has cookies on everything. This is why I've taken to clearing cookies and cache twice a day, and running a scan every night.


EU, consider yourself informed. And that goes for the rest of you and all.

Carry on.