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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Punkin Pukes

It looks like a lot of people are doing the Guy Fawkes mask this year. I'll leave it to them. Wonder how many Guys there were at the Keene Pumpkin Festival?

So the Puking Punkin and Strider's cat will be lit, and we'll settle down to the live GhostHunters show on syfy.com. Well, I will. Strider may get willied out by it.

Made a pumpkin/curry/black bean soup. Hearty fare for the night of spooks.

If all else fails I'll read one of Joe Hill's stories. That oughta wig me out.

Pleasant dreams...Happy Halloween. :O

Political Psychopathy

Strider was just home for lunch and we discussed how people we know change so drastically when they get into office. This coincided with an email from a pal back home who was lamenting the same thing about someone we used to think we knew well.

How and why do people change from what they purported to be into political pod people? Were they always like that, secretly, chameleonlike to the nth degree? Do they not have the strength of character to stay who they were? Were they ever who we thought they were? And if not, after knowing them well and personally for years, are they then psychopaths? And how can you trust them ever again?

This seems to grow into a stronger personality change the longer they're in office, and so do their egos. They have a little power over others and for whatever is lacking in their lives they pump up their self-importance to make up for the deficit of happiness in themselves. It's kind of pathetic.

And what happens to the Good they used to represent? Does that go away, or was it all a sham, an appearance, in order to get where they are? And doesn't that point to some antisocial disorder? How can someone do such a 180 with a straight face?

Unfortunately I've seen this in almost everyone I've known in politics recently. And like most lousy things, it's always still a surprise when I see it happen again. But I think this is what's at heart wrong in my country now. It wasn't always like this. In the 70s and 80s people didn't pander nearly as much. There were passions and oppositions amongst the politicos I knew then, and they didn't back down or change to suit anyone. At least you knew what was going on then. 

Just a Hunch

For some reason, this feels like it's important. Have you ever had the feeling that something that seems pretty minor will have a huge effect down the line? That's what I have over this sitch:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/31/dean-st-pauls-resigns-occupy

For the past few years, I've been wondering why there was no clergy speaking up anymore. Where are today's Berrigans, King, all the priests and pastors who work for social justice? It seems to me that it's part of being a religious leader to set the tone for morality and social good. The last time the churches were this corrupt and uninvolved, there was a Reformation. That time, it was the corruption of monks and priests, and especially bishops and abbots that did it. Now, the C of E community itself doesn't want to do what Jesus Would Do. It looks like some of the clergy would do, as shown by their resignations. I just have a feeling about this. Could be wrong. We'll see.

The News, No Hughie Lewis

Hughie Lewis always annoyed me anyway. Here then, is some news of the world:

OWS hits the "Valley Forge Stage":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/30/occupy-movement-snow-new-york-winter
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/occupy_camp_defiant_on_snow_day_hG5neMYoXbQ6ATy4ygpI2J

Unesco admits Palestine:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/31/unesco-backs-palestinian-membership

True horrors:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/30/nuclear-powers-weapons-spending-report

We are 7 Billion now:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/31/seven-billionth-baby-born-philippines

Chavez seizes land owned by UK corp:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/30/hugo-chavez-orders-land-seizure

Journalist visits his former jailer in post-Gaddafi Libya:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/30/libya-former-captive-meets-jailer

10 Scary short stories:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/2011/oct/31/chris-priestley-top-10-scary-stories-halloween

24 hours in pictures:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2011/oct/31/24-hours-in-pictures?INTCMP=SRCH

Halloween!

With the snow, the physical wreck I was and one thing or another over the weekend, guess what didn't get done? The pumpkins! So while Strider's at work today, I will gut them and boil their flesh, and have them ready to be carved and sit outside tonight to drive the ghoulies away. Just as well, because the weather would've destroyed them if we'd done them earlier. Now the front deck is clear and dry.

The snow has melted down to about maybe 3-4 inches. It'll be gone over the next week. I saw in the news that kids have the school day off. Why? Not here- the buses went by at 8 a.m. like always. It takes a real snow, a foot or so, with gale force winds, in the middle of the week, to keep New England kids out of school.

Today marks one week until the Development Review Board meeting that determines our fates. I'm trying so hard to not stress out. At least pain has receded; that makes it all a lot worse. I did get sleep, which helps enormously. And Strider's been a doll. I love her, I love her animals, I love this house, but it isn't my home. I want my home back.

So yes, this Halloween is scary all right. In altogether too real ways.

I'm gonna go gut some pumpkins and give them names. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow High, Head Low

There's about a foot of the white stuff outside. Which usually makes me jubilant. It's the first snow of the season, I love this. Usually. Not really, this time. Being homeless can do your head in. It feels like I've been here for 3 seasons now.

It is beautiful. The trees that were dark sticks yesterday are frosted and bowed under the weight. For all intents, it looks like deep midwinter, not the end of October. The wind catches a branch with a large bird's nest and for a minute it looks like the tree is flailing, trying to rid itself of the whole thing, nest and snow and all. Power lines shake it off and bounce. Thankfully they're resilient.

Snow is falling, snow on snow, snow on snow...

The pain is remarkable. Everything hurts. Each vertebrae, each joint. Not doing much for my mood, either. Sleeping is a chore at times like these. An hour here, a couple hours there. Try to find a comfortable way to lay, try to ignore it. Keep your mouth shut as much as you can. Pray for unconsciousness, as we used to say. I wonder why seasonal changes affect the joints so much. Every damn time there's a weather swerve, and we get a lot of them lately, my body riots. I've gotten used to pain; this is 22 years now of joint issues. But it always takes me by surprise anyway when it gets like this.

Ems had to go out. Clemmie thought she wanted out. They were both back at the door in 2 minutes. Hey! Wait a minute- it stopped snowing! Yippee!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Full Court Press

Two months after the fact, the local press is covering what's happened to Melrose Terrace and those who live there. Facts are still hard to get out of everyone. I wonder if we'll ever get the whole story.

But at least it's making the papers. The Brattleboro Reformer did a report, interviewing one of the homeless residents. My Letter to the Editor was published yesterday there. The Commons did one piece and is working on another.

The news elsewhere is quite clear.
13 US soldiers killed in suicide bombing in Afghanistan:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/29/kabul-suicide-bomb-deaths

The Syrian government killed 40 of their own people:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/29/syria-40-dead-security-forces

Banks abandon new fees scheme
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/money/outcry-wells-fargo-chase-bank-america-back-debit-card-fees-article-1.968827

The Police state marches all over the Occupiers:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/occupy-nashville-protests-arrested-early-friday-morning-article-1.967636

Occupiers boo Quan off stage:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/28/BANB1LNK52.DTL

Following the kayaking Robin Hoods in Chicago, the Robin Hood Tax idea goes to OWS:
http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/28271-robin-hoods-to-occupy-ny-on-friday-to-demand-1-pay-their-fair-share.html

Here's the Robin Hood Tax, which would fix a lot of things:
http://robinhoodtax.org/how-it-works

The Pirate Party takes its seats in German Parliament:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/28/pirate-party-european-politics

The world's population hits 7 Billion. It was a measly 2 Billion when I was born:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2011/oct/24/how-big-worlds-population-born

If you're in the northeast of North America, prepare for snow. It looks pretty certain.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-28/wintry-storm-to-spread-october-snow-across-u-s-northeast.html

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Heard

That it was this or locusts, and we're getting this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/weather/2011/oct/28/northeast-snow-storm-forecast

Oh joy abounds. That's just perfect. Start snowing. Don't wait a couple more weeks, let people get their snow tires on, let me move home... no, no. Go right ahead.

Pumpkin Carving Time

Tonight will be Jack o'Lantern night. The week went by with two big pumpkins sitting on the kitchen table. They get gutted this evening.

Strider is working up a face like the pastel kitty's. I'm thinking a Guy Fawkes mask. But after seeing these:

http://villafanestudios.com/gallery/the-pumpkins-2

I may change my mind. Ever since seeing a drunk, vomiting Jack I've wanted to do one. It's beyond me to do the intricate art for a breathtaking pumpkin, so might as well go for the cheap laughs!

What are your pumpkins looking like?

2 Weeks From Today

All things look promising that in 2 weeks I won't be just going back to Brattleboro, but back to The Shire. Considering I've been here 5 weeks already, the next 2 will zoom right by. It's irritating that it'll still be another week and 3 days before the proclamation is made, because it'll be a last-minute scramble to get everything scheduled. But after all this, that's a pleasure, really.

There's a good piece in The Commons about the whole mess. Though it still seems very scrambled and I don't think anyone will ever know the truth. Our Town Manager said she'd written me a long email about policies and procedures but that I probably wasn't interested. I emailed back that yes, I'd love to read it. Still haven't gotten it.
http://www.commonsnews.org/site/site04/

This morning reports came in about a fire at another BHA place, the hi-rise on Elliot St. And of a car crash on the bridge downtown. For such a small place, it gets a lot of action. Especially this year.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ_hTTRT89A

And so the cold comes, the snow will follow, and New England will bed itself down for the duration. Time for another cuppa.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snow?!

I was trying to go to sleep when Ems did a desperate dance. So I got up and let him out. As the door was closing, the pastel cat zipped out. And when I hollered for her the Beest slipped out too. Little creepers. Ems is back and Hildebeest is sleeping. Clemmie the weirdo is out in the freezing cold. I call and call but she's being Honey Badger tonight.

Il neige. It won't stick- it'll be weeks before the ground is frozen. But it is pretty damn cold and up here at night it's dark. Strange night light from the sky- almost like the negative of the world they use in Tales From the Darkside. Only a bit more Stephen King-ish.

Okay, everybody's in and it's lights out. Until Strider comes in. I may be dead asleep by then.

It snows in Brattleboro tonight, too. When I left The Shire it was still Summer. I wonder what the fall looked like this year there. It'll be squarely Stick Season when I go back, with 2 weeks to get ready for Thanksgiving. I'm too old for this happy horseshit.

Late Afternoon Autumn

Ems wants outside. When I open the door he and I both stand there for a minute. Woodstoves are going- we may have snow tonight- and we smell maple burning. That sweet smell, the sap that rises in the Spring and is boiled down to yummy syrup, burns in the wood and fills the air.

Ems goes out and I watch him from the window, nose in air, stock still, enjoying being a dog.

Second Chances

It's a great uncertain sky, that "cloudy but glowing to the south because it's Autumn" light. Strider's out of town at meetings. All's quiet around here.I'm pretty much a physical mess (I'll spare you the details) so it's a "sit and think" sort of day.

I was thinking about how we nearly never get second chances. With people, with situations, with so many choices we made throughout life. How many times did you not get a second chance? Way more often than we realize. No second go-round to make things better, or even different. No chance to say what you wish you'd said.

It's looking hopeful for those of us who live in my building. But that leaves 20 people whose buildings will most likely be demolished and won't be going home to The Shire ever again. Including two elderly ladies I know pretty well. This is shameful waste, and all because the anti-subsidized housing people were handed a way to do it.

It's almost a certainty that my building will be certified for reoccupancy on the 7th and I will be going home to The Shire after 2 1/2 months of being homeless on the 11th. A second chance. I think I'll talk to the old bitty and make peace. Who cares if she hangs Jesuses everywhere? As long as she won't mind my Green Man and Mjollnir hanging there with them, we'll get on fine. She may think she's converted me when she sees my Xmas Lights and Display but I'll straighten her out about that. It's funny; Strider had a feeling there was gonna be a big something happening and then we'd be friends. The old bitty's life is certainly permanently changed. The other Weird Sisters' apartments were in the buildings the Town is trying to lose. If they leave, she'll have much fewer koffee klatches. And few to yell to from the front porch. Though I'm sure there will be much milling in the street for the first few weeks we're back. Everyone will be telling their stories. Maybe there'll be a Tenant Meeting. Maybe I'll go.

Guess it's time to start thinking about where the furniture should be put. The bedroom is going the way I want it so I can use it and get into things this time. It was much too disfunctional, set up the way it was. I think I'll put the TV and chest between the bookcases on the far wall...

Golden Years

Today is my brother's last day of work. He retires tomorrow. It's also his qualifying birthday tomorrow (Happy Birthday you old, old man.). It's amazing to think he's A) old enough to get old age retirement and B) lived long enough to make it to that age.

I mean, our parents' generation made it into retirement age, but this generation, not so much. Terrible health that puts them into disability, pain and dying young is the family pattern (everybody but Johnny). Or addiction (Johnny- and Tommy to an extent). Beery is now at the age when if he makes it through the next year he will be the oldest-lived of all my brothers.

He's had a good worklife and gotten to do some things he always wanted. He wanted to be a cop from the time he was litle, yelling at our grandfather, "You're under arrested!" In the 70s and 80s he was NYPD and I think, the happiest I ever saw him. He was single, young, in great shape. He drove a new Camaro. And a big motorcycle. He had the hair, the leisure suits, the weekends in the Hamptons. When we both lived at home in the 70s we watched The Gong Show together and played Pong- a brand new thing. He was happy. He says he was happy in Viet Nam. but I remember how he was when he first got home. You had to tap his foot to wake him. It was your own fault if you were hurt because you didn't do it that way.

He got married. They've been married 29 years. It hasn't been easy but they're still tolerating each other. Nobody's even bruised.

After the PD he went back to school and ended up Director of Rehab at a huge physical/relearning rehab center. He's done well.

So he enters the Golden Years. I don't believe he'll not work. He has all knds of specialized training to do freelance things. It pays very well. And he can't not work. He gets nutty if he doesn't work.

I wish him peace and quiet time to read. I wish him continued financial security. I wish him many, many years of "retirement".

The World Goes 'Round

While I've spent my time activising, the rest of the world has been spinning like a top.

People are protesting in China! Good for them!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9916536

Protesters surround the Oakland, CA City Hall after a protesting vet was seriously attacked by police there:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/27/oakland-police-protest-wounding-veteran
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/26/occupy-oakland-veteran-critical-condition

The NYC Occupiers march in sympathy:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/26/2011-10-26_occupy_wall_street_protesters_in_nyc_proclaim_solidarity_with_demonstrators_in_o.html

More bad police in NYC:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/27/2011-10-27_i_was_held_prisoner_for_five_days_at_a_brooklyn_police_station_after_getting_sho.html

Bangkok is in trouble:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/27/bangkok-floods-river-threatens-burst

Gaddafi's driver talks:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/26/gaddafi-driver-interview

It's Rocky time again:
http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/galleries/rocky_horror_picture_show_where_are_they_now/rocky_horror_picture_show_where_are_they_now.html

Our hometown theatre is back in business after Irene, and tonight is Rocky Night:
http://www.latchis.com/indexTheater.php
(they have Paranormal 3, too)

There's some good seasonal radio to listen to:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra/programmes/genres/drama/current

And my friend Lise has written a really good piece on "What the Protesters Want"
http://www.ibrattleboro.com/article.php/20111026185238938

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Leditters to the Editors

Here is what I sent to the editors of
"Bennington Banner" <news@benningtonbanner.com>, "Brattleboro Reformer" <news@reformer.com>, "Free Press Burlington" <letters@BFP.burlingtonfreepress.com>, "The Commons" <info@commonsnews.org>, "Deerfield Valley News" <DawnN@vermontmedia.com>, "NEW YORK TIMES" <letters@nytimes.com>, "Rutland Herald" <letters@rutlandherald.com>, "Keene Sentinel" <news@keenesentinel.com>, "Barre Times-Argus" <news@timesargus.com>
Feel free to drop them a line yourself if you're inspired to do so.

Dear Editor;
On August 27th, I and 25 of my neighbors were evacuated from our homes because of Irene's imminent flood worries. Brattleboro was hit surprisingly hard and in some unexpected ways. I live in Melrose Terrace, a subsidized housing development for the elderly and disabled. I had waited 2 years for an apartment there and had moved out of the Brooks House 2 weeks before it burned down. Melrose Terrace is my home. I can wheel outside, I have a ramp, I have an adapted bathroom where I'm safer from injury. It's safe, clean and well-maintained. It's a model of what public housing should be.

It is now 2 months later and we're still homeless. We had to move all of our belongings out and find places to stay while repairs were done. Repairs were done, when the Town of Brattleboro told the Housing Authority to do so. My apartment looks new again. The buildings were declared structurally sound, though some sustained a lot of flooding. Each building had its level of damage ranging from a thin layer of muck on some of the floors to several feet of muck washing through the apartment. They are solid brick buildings on deep cement slabs. Nothing moved. There was exterior damage but that's all been repaired.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line nobody seems to have checked what the correct procedure was with FEMA and National Flood Insurance and things were done bassackwards. This is causing us all to remain homeless while the bureaucratic bickering goes on.

The reasonable solution is apparent to everyone, it seems, except our Town, who continue to throw monkey wrenches instead of doing it the way it should be done, by FEMA calculations.

This is insanity. I am temporarily in the woods of Maine. My belongings are scattered to 5 places. Winter and the holidays are coming. Stop with the nonsense and let us go home.
 Sincerely...

Surprise Day, Surprise Day...

Oy. Emails are a-flying. Meetings are being held. Things are being said.

Every campaign for anything that I've ever been in has much the same smell. The particular flavor may vary but it's always in the same components, like a recipe:

1 issue, with at least 2 sides
ulterior motives
money
tempers
stubborness
disgust
careful wording
intrigue
indignance
righteousness
correct procedures
lies
culprits
victims

I'm sure there are many more, but these are what strike me. I've been in one campaign or another since 1987. All kinds of causes, but the same recipe for Things To Get in an Uproar About. We've all been doing it for years. It's a system. Emails, calls, real mail, meetings. Rousing the troops. Make jokes, sing songs, wait. And you never, ever know if all your time and trouble will work for you. From any side. Anything can happen and it usually does.

Maybe this is how my Dad's gambling jones comes out in me. ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good Fall Eats

Things get lost in translation between the UK, Canada and the US. The US takes things a step further and pretty soon nobody's sure what anyone's referring to. Heavy Cream, for instance. In the states, you have light cream and heavy cream and 1/2 & 1/2. Sometimes heavy cream is called Whipping Cream, but it's all different elsewhere; in other places, there are percentages that divide cream into several categories.

All this confusion happens with recipes and even titles of recipes. What some call Toad in the Hole over here is an egg cooked in the middle of a slice of bread. That's a one-eyed bandit to NYers. Toad in the Hole, to us, is what it is in England; sausages in Yorkshire pudding. And that's our first recipe today.

Toad in the Hole
1 1/2 cups  all- purpose flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb. (about 4-5 links) bangers or good pork or beef sausage links
water

In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, eggs, milk and melted butter. In a fry pan, heat the oil and brown the sausages. Add a little bit of water to the pan and remove from heat. Swish water in pan to take up the fond and place the sausages and pan drippings into an appropriate sized deep baking pan. Heat oven to 400'. Pour the flour mix over the sausages and bake for 20 minutes to a half-hour, until the pudding has risen and turned golden. Eat while hot.

Same rules apply to Shepherd's Pie. Where I come from, it's mashed potatoes over ground lamb or beef with peas and onions in brown gravy. But I've heard corn and white gravy (no onions, no peas), mashed sweet potato over onions and peas (no meat) and even pork and beans under potatoes.

Another thing that's seemed to drift away from origin is a scone. How can you mess with a scone? You'd be amazed. The scones I grew up eating from the Irish shop were dense and fatty, like eating a baked sweetened lump of pastry. But in the greater Brattleboro area, it's a muffin-like substance that I don't recognize. Here is the scone recipe I use:
Basic 10 minute Prep Time Scones
In a plastic bag put
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp sugar (or more if you want them sweet)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
then
1 stick cold butter in slices
and add
1 xl egg, beaten with
3/4 cup of milk
add
up to 3/4 cup dry or fresh fruit or other stir-in, if desired

Stir drys together in bag. Make as pastry, pressing the butter into the flour mix; beat the egg & milk together & add all at once. Add fruit or whatever, now. Stir lightly til dough sticks together into a ball. On floured surface, flatten ball to disk. Cut in 6 or 8. Bake on an ungreased pan at 375' about 20 min. Ice if desired. Serve with jams, etc. or lemon curd. Anyone have recipes to add that differ from place to place? Tag, you're it!

Books and Blogs and Leftovers

Stephen Fry has a great BBC series going about The Story of Language. I've been following it and am smitten with him and the series. You can watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/quite1nteresting?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/12/EYhI7cISCKw

Other parts are in the sidebar menu. At one point he goes into the evolution of the written word, typesetting and books, which led to religious dogma and collective enlightenment as well. Think of religion without a book to lay down the laws. Wouldn't have stuck.

Books have been my obsession since way back. One of the things I love about being here is that my bed has a whole wall of books running beside it. I don't know of anything else that makes me happier than books. Even music, though I'd be hard pressed to make a choice of only one or the other. I couldn't live without books, not happily anyway.

My friend Stevil writes about the Melrose situation with some marvelous visuals:
http://auto-de-fey.blogspot.com/2011/10/old-terror-in-new-buildings.html

We have a fridge full of leftovers again. In the past few days I made Moo Goo Gai Pan, meat loaf and chili. Strider will be gone tomorrow so I'll make Swedish Meatballs then and tonight we'll have made room for that. I've gotten re-domesticated. That'll go away once I'm back in Vermont...

There's more news but I simply don't want to deal with any more of it right now. We're going to make Jack O"Lanterns tonight. Strider's doing Clem the Kitty, I'm doing a Guy Fawkes mask. Guess it's piemaking tomorrow, too. That's fine, it'll keep the house warm. ;)

Laugh-In Looks at the News

If you're of a certain age, you will probably remember Laugh-In, the Rowan and Martin skit and variety show. Ancestor of the Saturday Night Live- Daily Show- Whatever's Next line of poking fun at the headlines. The Fickle Finger of Fate Award was given to who or whatever was the dubious achievement of the week. This week there are too many to pick one, and the headlines are too serious to be that flippant about anything, unfortunately.

A great earthquake in Turkey has killed too many:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2011/oct/23/turkey-earthquake-in-pictures

Herman Cain's ad creeps me out:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/richard-adams-blog/2011/oct/25/herman-cain-smoking-ad-video

The Occupiers are staring at winter ahead:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/25/2011-10-25_occupy_wall_street_protesters_planning_for_long_cold_winter_in_zuccotti_park.html

Five of the NYPD were caught very dirty-handed:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2011/10/25/2011-10-25_nypd_officers_arrested_in_connection_with_gunsmuggling_operation_report.html

Occupy Maine was chemically bombed; make of that what you will:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/10/25/2011-10-25_occupy_maine_protesters_targeted_by_chemical_attack_explosive_liquid_thrown_at_c.html

There's a reason why Stephen King lives here:
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20111025/NEWS05/111025015/-1/NEWS/Police-seek-ID-body-found-Maine-storage-unit-

Rick Perry is even stupider than I thought:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/25/rick-perry-flat-tax-plan

Comic relief. Dogs in Halloween costumes:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2011/oct/25/halloween-dog-parade-new-york

I Have a Cat!

About a week after I got here one of Strider's 2 cats became pissy to the other. She is a Tortie, a big round Tortie. She staked my bed as her territory, then became a right bitch to the other little pastel cat, stalking her and hissing and batting. We yelled at her but she doesn't give a shit. Like Honey Badger. Last night Strider told me she wasn't going to keep the secret anymore, she's giving me Hildebear. Also known as Hildebeest. I have a cat. I, of course, got teary. Apparently, everyone else knew she was giving Hildie to me; I am the last to know, as usual. ;)

And since Strider has November 11th off, we're going back to Bratt on the 11th, not the 12th. So I have some informing and updating to do. Kinda cool that I'm going back on 11/11/11. Don't know why, but I've always liked synchronous numbers.

No news yet on what's up at home; one of the BoD has emailed me. Maybe he has insights, we'll see. 

There's a boatload of news around the world but it's early and I've only been up a couple of hours. I'll get to it later. Bad news doesn't go away. This morning I just want to kvell over my new kitty for a while.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Break on Through

Bernie's office is now involved. Someone who knows the system has also weighed in and that's been forwarded to the Powers That Be. We should be hearing the sounds of backpedaling soon.

This could all have been avoided if anyone cared enough to find out the friggin process. But if that had happened I wouldn't have come to Maine, gotten to spend all this time with Strider and her furfaces and I may not have ever valued and come to love The Shire so much. So I guess it's a mixed bag. A lot of life comes in such wrappings. May I never take my home for granted again and always remember this experience.

And I'm always humbled and made so happy by my community and those who care about me. When the fan gets splattered there are always a bunch of steadfast people willing to yell, "Hey! That's wrong! Cut it out!" Usually I'm one of the yellers. It's good to be one of those being defended, too. Strange, but good.

Come hell or high water I'm going home November 12th. If I'm back in The Shire I'll take up the fight for the rest of the buildings. This may be a long campaign. That's okay. I got all the time it takes. And a patient smile can really piss people off. ;)

One Foot in Front of the Other

It's a flurry of activity this morning. The local activists are getting it together to go to the DRB meeting on the 7th in behalf of the tenants of The Shire. The Occupiers on the Commons are taking up our cause. People who've been through this already and know what they're doing are advising. It's 10 a.m. and I just now got here, after answering 13 emails. It's all encouraging. People are getting involved- which is what we need to have happen. If we tenants, strewn around the country, had to do it alone we'd be lost.

I've emailed Bernie's office and sent them everything I know. Someone big has to step in and straighten everyone out. This is nonsense and petty-ass small town politics now. The goal should be getting the job done, not making it harder to do.

There just isn't enough time in a day to do all that needs doing, but we can get ahead if we just keep going. It ain't my first time at the rodeo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Arab Spring Results

Tunisians voted for the first time ever today. We'd all be better off if everyone took the right to vote more like they do:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/23/tunisians-flock-to-vote-free-elections

I'm Not a Mushroom

News has come to me by way of a neighbor's son. It seems our building (which houses 6 apartments) was okayed for living in, but the contractor's estimate was for the whole street and project, and that's why the Town won't let us go home. Bureacracy at its stinkiest.

What needs to happen is that the Housing folks need to get a breakdown of building by building. He is on this like John on Yoko and I'm determined to raise so much Hell that they'll do anything to shut me up.

It makes me nuts that nobody of position will tell us what's the issue until they have to, and leave you in friggin limbo the whole rest of the time. Or as we say, "They keep us like mushrooms, in the dark and covered with shit."

Time for a Mushroom Rebellion.

For Your Eyes Only

Perusing the Guardian's Culture section this morning, I found some bits that fit some friends... this is all Arleen's fault, who started my day with Tom Waits (thanks, girl! ).

For Arleen :
http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/oct/23/tom-waits-interview-bad-as-me

For Maus, Anon E:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/23/art-spiegelman-maus-25th-anniversary

For CarrieBoo, Viking woman:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2011/oct/23/viking-culture-invasion-tv-books

For Strider, who loves Bill Murray:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/20/bill-murray-david-thomson

For Stevil, a kid at heart:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/21/google-doodle-honours-mary-blair

For Gary, who likes a good comedian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/oct/23/jack-whitehall-comedy-tour-standup

For Lawless, poetess and a generally curious type:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/23/sylvia-plath-ted-hughes-art

And for Geo., appreciator of the ridiculous:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2011/oct/23/ten-best-private-eye-covers-in-pictures#/?picture=380772840&index=0

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Day After the End of the World, Again

Well today's the day after The End of TheWorld. Again. Both the West Coast predictor and the East Coast predictor are presumably still around- Camping has $70 million to live for- and hopefully that's the last we'll hear from them.

Libya is getting ready to stand on its own. NATO troops will be leaving Oct. 31st.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/22/libya-liberation-ceremony-nato-withdrawal

The flooding in Thailand has let loose alligators and crocodiles:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2011/10/21/2011-10-21_thailand_offers_bounty_for_capture_or_kill_of_loose_crocodiles_alligators_as_flo.html

OWS continues dealing with things as they come up, including imposters:
http://occupywallst.org/

NewsCorp declares assets of $62 Billion and yearly profits of $33 Billion:
http://www.newscorp.com/news/news_511.html

And that's after taking a bath with MySpace:
http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/21/murdoch-on-myspace-i-made-a-huge-mistake/

Have your space helmets ready, there's more to fall:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15402157

Bernie Makes The Guardian's Front Page

Bernie, Vermont's U.S. Senator, is on the front page today! Aye, aye, Bernie!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/21/bernie-sanders-socialist-vermont-interview

Of Course You Realize This Means War

The Development Review Board meeting is scheduled firmly for November 7th. That should be when this matter is settled and we will get the OK to go home. However, there's the distinct possibility that it won't go that way and an appeals process will start. The Town screwed up; we'll have to pay for their screwing up, as if we haven't already.

Whatever happens, I'm going back to Bratt on November 12th. If I can't go back to my Hobbit home, my friends MuffinPants and his wife Carole will put me up. I can't wage this war from here, I can't work with the people I need to work with from here if we end up in appeals. And if, Gods forbid, my home is declared dead by the Town, I need to be there to find a new one.

Looking back, I've never been homeless this long in my life before. It's really much easier to take when you're young. Many of my neighbors are older than me, and sick. And they're also of a generation that played by the rules and did what they were told to do. If they can't fight for themselves then we as a community must. So I'm going home. I'll make a huge stink like they've never heard. I've never sued anyone in my life but I'm willing to, now. And I don't care if every Town Official hates my guts forever. This is going to be fixed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Shareholders vs. the Murdochs

The people who own shares in the Murdoch empire are questioning whether they should keep any of the Murdochs around. Old Rupert has been having quite the go-round with today's festivities; it's not clear who's winning what. Seems the News Corps annual meeting wants at least Rupie gone:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2011/oct/21/news-corporation-annual-meeting-live

It's Rupie at his table pounding, sharp one minute, stumbling the next, best. But I guess his best isn't good enough.

How We Got Where We Are

Here is the whole story, the timeline of the town's involvement and screw up and how it's come down on we, the people, to pay for it with homelessness. As my family says, "Shit rolls downhill.":

Irene Timeline
Immediately following the storm, BHA began clean up and working on housing options with its residents.

During the week after the storm BHA was told directly by Town Officials that it did not need any building permits and could and should begin clean up and repair immediately.

BHA moved swiftly to clean out apartments, enlist volunteers to help residents, have storage pods brought to the property and take numerous actions to get Melrose residents back into their apartments.

Town Officials visited Melrose at least twice a week for the first 2 weeks after the storm.

BHA had significant clean up finished and a contractor with initial estimates by the end of week 2. Given the numerous assurances of the Town with respect to repair and re-occupancy, BHA and its contractor John Brunelle, moved quickly to begin work.  BHA included $10,000/apartment of items in the repair which it never would have had it known about the permits and Substantial Damage issue.

On Thursday September 16th almost 3 weeks after the storm, BHA was told by the Planning Office it now needed permits. On Friday September 17th BHA was presented with a hastily prepared depreciated value appraisal of its property and forms to fill out for building permits. It was then that BHA was told about the NFIP rules and the Town’s method of determining Substantial Damage.  By this time the contractor had ordered all his materials as originally specified.

Because the FEMA rules suggest that market appraisal should be used over other forms (such as the one the Town had used) BHA hired a well respected local Appraiser to perform a complete Market Appraisal of its property.

BHA continued to work on the repair of all buildings because it was confident that the new appraisal would be higher.  And BHA’s commitment has always been the return of residents to their homes.

Throughout the month of September, Town and BHA officials discussed Melrose and the Town alluded to possibilities that they might in fact close up at least 4 of the buildings at Melrose.  BHA continued to work because its primary commitment has been to returning the residents to their homes.

A summary draft of the Market Appraisal was received during the week of October 3rd.  The repair of 4 buildings was still at issue. The Town said they would make no ruling until the formal Market Appraisal was received.  BHA voluntarily suspended work on these 4 buildings pending receipt of the formal document and more discussion with the Town.

On October 13th, BHA’s Contractor submitted new pricing which brought all work under the Substantial Damage threshold.

On October 14th, BHA informed the Town Planner that they would come in on Monday the 17 with their new costing and the formal Market Appraisal.

On October 14th the Zoning Administrator sent a letter with his finding of Substantial Damage for 5 buildings to BHA.

On October 17th prior to BHA presenting any information or applying for permits, it received the Findings and Order of the Zoning Administrator.  BHA attempted to discuss the matter with Town Officials but received no response until the 20th when the Assistant Town Manager informed BHA that the Town supported the Zoning Administrator and wanted to see the 4 buildings closed. There appeared to be little to no consideration for the 26 residents who were losing their homes.

The Game is Afoot

Our daily paper at home, the Brattleboro Reformer, carried the story this morning. The story is gaining media attention but we must pressure the Town to do the right thing and accept the bid it rejected. Much of the work is already done. My apartment, for instance, barely flooded and the Fire Dept said my building had no structural damage. The Town is now saying it was severely damaged. It all reeks of our Selectboard Chair's campaign to get rid of Affordable Housing in Brattleboro.

Here is a reasonable explanation of what's going on:
http://www.ibrattleboro.com/article.php/20111020190823553

Meanwhile I'm launching an email campaign to the Town Officials. Should you wish to weigh in on this class warfare, here are their email addresses:

Barb Sondag, Town Manager  bsondag@brattleboro.org
Patrick Moreland, Asst Town Manager pmoreland@brattleboro.org
Rod Francis,  Planning Director rfrancis@brattleboro.org
Brian Bannon,  Zoning Administrator bbannon@brattleboro.org
Sue Fillion,  Planner sfillion@brattleboro.org

We are being hosed. Please help.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paroxysms of Disgust

One of the housing authority's BOD members posted an explanation of what's happened at The Shire. It seems it's down to the insurance, and bureaucracy, natch.

Someone along the line called a bunch of our buildings severely damaged. That's news to me. I heard that my building had no structural damage at all. In fact I still have the email telling me that.

This estimation of severe damage had to be assessed, then a bid call went out for repairing and a contractor answered at well-beneath the value of the buildings, and the town has said "that's not fair market price". And so they won't accept it. Why? The insurance company.

Ya want my take on this? The town doesn't want The Shire anymore. And screw us who lived there.

I've been emailing everyone I can think of  for about 3 hours now. Now that I know who's holding our strings, I have more emails to send. But not tonight. Good thing Strider went out tonight. I need loud music. My music. And she has a great system and we're in the woods.

There's almost a Final Destination feel to this. I move out of one building and it burns down two weeks later. I move to The Shire and it floods. What's next? Locusts?

Unf**king Believeable!

So I just got an email saying that the housing authority will have to go before the town's Development Review Board in EARLY TO MID NOVEMBER before they'll know anything more about our return to the Shire. IF we can return at all- I'm hearing scuttlebutt now that they're going to tear it down.

I'm beyond pissed. This is simply not acceptable and I want to know what the goddamn problem is. Who do I have to bitch out, who do I have to appeal to, who do I have to blow in order to get something done there? How many times are we going to have the rug pulled from under us?

Getting Closer to My Home...

Yesterday, a call for volunteers went up on iBrattleboro.com. Included was a request for people to help move 6 families back into their homes where I lived until August 27th. It said they were anticipating this move back, pending Certificates of Occupancy to be given on Friday.

This makes it somewhat official. They wouldn't post it on a public forum if it wasn't thisclose.

Little by little I'm packing up my stuff. The dvds and music, the books going home, the thingies I've left around... I avoided opening everything and unpacking so it wouldn't be a rush at the end.

Also been planning how to better arrange the furniture. It all just kind of happened in the first move in. This time I can plan on where things will live. And it's time to change the bathroom. The shower curtain I ordered to replace the ruined one came yesterday, and in the next months I'll get new towels (bless Amazon for bargains). Then the remnants of the old apartment with its gold fiberglass bathtub and gold/green/maroon accoutrements will be history.

It's a fresh start in some ways. A chance to put things in order, to make things better. A flood only comes through Bratt every hundred years or so. I don't expect to go through this again. ;)

Official Word; Gaddafi is Dead

Amid a lot of horrific videos from cell phones, official word comes from the interim Libyan PM that Moammar Gaddafi is really most sincerely dead:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/20/gaddafi-dead-says-libyan-pm

So ends another dictatorial regime. I wish the Libyan people luck, compassion and fairness in creating their new nation.

Occupy Writers

Every movement has its writers. This movement has a lot of them. Over 1200, so far, with a list of more being vetted. If you're a published author, you may want to join:

http://occupywriters.com/

I've only read a few pieces that writers have contributed, and enjoyed Lemony Snicket's contribution immensely:
http://occupywriters.com/by-lemony-snicket

As well as Francine Prose's:
http://occupywriters.com/by-francine-prose

There are many, and more being added. All worth the read, even if it brings a tear or two.

Gaddafi Dead? And Other Worldly News

Reports from Tripoli this morning that Moammar Gaddafi was killed when a convoy he was purported in was attacked. Reports are sketchy. There is a running story here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2011/oct/20/syria-libya-middle-east-unrest-live
But be aware there are really grisly images of a body thought to be Gaddafi's.

I can't even keep straight what's up in Tunisia, but they're about to have their first election:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/19/tunisia-elections-revolution-future

Greece's general strike erupted into violence and people marched on the parliament:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/19/athens-police-clash-marching-parliament

GM'd crops are making matters worse:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/19/gm-crops-insecurity-superweeds-pesticides

Bolivians oppose the "jungle highway":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/20/indigenous-protesters-march-highway

And here is your 24 Hours in Pictures:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2011/oct/20/24-hours-in-pictures

Quite a Thursday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Naomi Wolf's Arrest in Her Own Words

Several things in this article made me go, "Wow!" and, "Holy crap!" Read it and bleep:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/19/naomi-wolf-arrest-occupy-wall-street

The manipulation of the law and the deliberate misinformation shows exactly where the power goes corrupt in NYC. Glad I don't live there anymore; I saw it coming in 1995.

Bram Stoker's Notebook

Descendants of the Dracula author are publishing his journal from his Trinity College, Dublin, days. For all of us horror fiction fans this is a boon.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/18/bram-stoker-notebook-dracula

But Stoker was more than the author of the world's biggest vampire; his best-known work wasn't published until after his death. For most of his life he managed the Lyceum Theatre in London. He wrote many stories, traveled, knew famous contemporaries- including 2 US presidents- and died at the age of 64; the cause of death disputable. He, himself, was larger than life and lives on in his undead creation.

More info:
http://bramstoker.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker

The End of the World Again

Robert Fitzpatrick will be staying at home when his second-predicted end of everything happens on Oct 21st. This time, he says, it's serious:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/18/2011-10-18_si_the_place_for_day_of_reckoning.html

(if it was the end of the world I don't think I'd want to be in Port Richmond for it.)

An interesting take on the financial situation that doesn't call for eating the rich:
 http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010051910/theyre-violating-30-centuries-moral-law-and-lobbying-crazy

Dr. Kaku's Universe - a talk about Deja Vu:
http://bigthink.com/ideas/40724

Naomi Wolf was arrested protesting at a HuffPo awards ceremony. Andrew Cuomo got an award; he opposes the rich people taxing despite supposedly being a leftie. Don't get me started on him:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/19/naomi-wolf-arrested-occupy-wall-street

If you live near Zanesville, Ohio, keep your eyes peeled:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/10/17/2011-10-17_exotic_wild_animals_including_lions_cheetahs_bears__wolves_escape_ohio_animal_fa.html

I think that's about enough for filling the noggin in the morning...

Okay, one more:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/galleries/mug_shirts_hilarious_mug_shot_tshirts/mug_shirts_hilarious_mug_shot_tshirts.html

Wednesday Worries

Patience is wearing thin. The food stamp people sent me a notice that since I didn't apply for heating assistance they're cutting off my food stamps. Well I didn't apply for it because I live in public housing and it's included in my rent, which is affordable. So the application goes in the mail tomorrow. Perhaps this will be straightened out but I have a feeling it'll be a hemorrhoid especially since I'll be changing my mailing address again and with no notice. If I don't hear about a go back til Friday and it's the all-clear to return on Saturday I have no time to change everything back. Just what I need, something else to worry about.

You see, when we were told to get out it was said that all open or perishable food in the house should be trashed. So I literally must replace everything from flour, salt and sugar up. All that's left here is teas, some herbs and a jar of Fluff.

Also, I don't know how anything is packed or in what location anything in particular is. My belongings are in 5 places. Perhaps some food is in storage; I gave the Ashram what ended up there, thinking I'd be gone for longer than this at the time and that it wasn't worth transporting here. Money is tight, because I had to lay out so much for a bed, but I'll have to have refreshments for whoever I can find to help me move back in. Pizza and beer aren't cheap anymore. And I'm sure the housing authority will want rent for whatever days are left in October. I already live 30% below the poverty line; it's not like the FEMA grant went very far, and apparently the PTB in Waterbury have already forgotten that we were all thrown out of our homes and will have to start over.

There's also the quite distinct possibility that I'll have no means of communication when I get back because the phone and cable/internet will have to be turned on and there's not enough notice nor anyone there, to have it done ahead of time. So really, it's no wonder I can't sleep. Sorry to bitch so much. I just had to unload and get it all down so I can figure things out. I can't wait for this whole ordeal to be over.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sitting on the Pause Button

It's been 3 1/2 weeks since Strider collected me in Vermont. In the first few days I fleshed out much of part one of the book I've been working on for 2 years. Then I had a meltdown and put it to the side. And haven't really put much effort to it since. A few notes here, a few corrections there. Funny how what I landed here so enthused to finish has again lost my attention. I got the guilts.

Yesterday I took it up again, rereading, reframing, more notes...and my hand gave out. Ah, now I remember what happened last time I really worked on this. My writing hand failed, and sure that I could make heads or tails of my own writing, for godssakes, I kept going. And ended up with a legal pad of indecipherable chicken scratches. It was very discouraging. Looking at what I scrawled yesterday, it still is.

Which makes me think it's time to make the leap into actually using all the hoohahs in this computer. I have carefully avoided it for 4 years now by telling myself  I'd rather write longhand. Well, that's true, but it's not an option anymore. The last 2 fingers of my right hand rarely cooperate even when there's feeling in them now and I seem to have become pretty adept at typing with my left hand only. So I guess it's time to get off the pause button and get on with it. Entering the 21st century was inevitable, though I dragged my feet as long as I could..

A Letter to Your 16 Year Old Self

For a few days I've avoided looking at the article in the Guardian's Book section that posts several letters from the rich & famous to themselves at the age of 16. They're all from a book called Dear Me. It struck me as poncy and who really cares what a successful person says to their teenaged self anyway?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/interactive/2011/oct/14/dear-me-celebrity-letters-extract

So I finally gave in to see who'd be in there, and two people stood out- Stephen King and John Waters. What would these guys tell their unsuspecting young selves? And after reading their notes of advice I read the others. Nothing you wouldn't expect, really. Advice about love, about what not to do, about believing in yourself. I'm thinking they held back on particulars because this was going into a book; there are plenty of nitty-gritty things I'd tell myself, but none of that appears in Dear Me.

I'd start by telling myself what Gillian Anderson said; don't be so self-involved. Do more things for other people. Then I'd make a list of all the people who'd be in and out of my life and tell young Laura to invest herself more wisely. I'd caution her about overindulgence in everything; things as well as relationships. To be more circumspect and to follow what she wants and ignore the naysayers. Otherwise it'll take her 35 years to get back to where she started. To be scrupulously honest, especially with herself. To believe in her brains and trust herself that she'll work things out, whatever happens. And to value time with her family more, because many will be gone before she could ever know. 

After reading all I'd say, I wonder if it's wise to do it at all. If my 16 year-old self were so warned, would I avoid some things that were invaluable lessons? Would I be the person I am today? Would I even listen to myself?

Well, it's all academic anyway. But it's an interesting exercise in how we perceive our younger selves. And I think the advice we'd give is still relevant. I am, after all, the same person, just older. It still applies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chili for the Chilly

Chili is good when it's cold. There's something instantly warming when hot spices hit the stomach, like jump-starting a furnace. I even put cayenne into my boots to keep my feet warm in the winter. Here's a simple quick chili con carne recipe, followed by my late brother's chili powder mix recipe that won 2nd place one year in the Denver Chili Cookoff.

(note- Chili heat is a personal taste; I like it hotter than most folks, so add 3 types of hot chilis to the powder I make. But most people like it milder.)

1 lb. good burger
1 onion, diced
1 16 oz. jar salsa (mild, medium or hot, to your liking- I use medium)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 16 oz cans beans (kidney, northern, black, etc.)
2 Tblsp-1/4 c. chili powder mix (according to your liking)
dash or more good hot sauce (again, to your heat liking)

Brown burger in large stewpot, add onion and cook until translucent.
Deglaze with salsa and stir well. Add all remaining ingredients and cook on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with cornbread, shredded lettuce, chopped onion and sour cream.

.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snow Bear's Chili Powder
3 types hot chilis (jalapeno, ancho. guadajillo, etc.), ground fine in a mortar and pestle or food processor
Add:
paprika
garlic powder
cinnamon
coriander
cumin
turmeric
parsley
oregano
cayenne
- in roughly the same amounts (I use a tablespoon of each). Store in a tightly lidded glass jar. For a mild mix, eliminate the 3 hot chilis

Maybe. Perhaps. Possibly.

Heard from the manager. Her boss is 99.9% sure that the certificates of occupancy will be given by Friday. The only difference this time is the "99.9% sure." I'm caught between being cautiously optimistic and recklessly pessimistic.

It's now at the point that I'll believe nothing until I hear, "You can move back on such-and such." There's just no hope left to gather.

This seems to happen a lot in life. Things move ahead when I've given up hoping they will. Its reccurence makes me wonder if everyone's life is that way. That you have to go through a series of disappointments until you disengage and then finally it gives. At least it does give, and while there's relief and happiness over the end of whatever, it saps the joy out of it. You just want it over and done.

Whatever. It'll be nice to see my socks again. When it happens.

Everyone Knows David Cameron's a Lizard

I can't even explain or comment. I'm too busy LMAO.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/16/charlie-brooker-cameron-a-lizard

Rory's Okay!

Very happy to report that Rory's okay; he's had a number of things going on (and still no surgery) but he's okay. That's a relief.

St. Paul's Canon Sends Police Away and Other News

Makes me proud to have been raised Episcopalian! The Rev Dr Giles Fraser, canon chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, asked the police to move along from his church and all the Occupiers there:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/16/occupy-london-protest-st-pauls

We pay them to make the world safe for Capitalism:
http://gothamist.com/2011/10/15/reports_at_least_20_occupy_wall_str.php

Citibank says they didn't do it:
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/10/citibank_releas.php

Today's UK youth in same quagmire as post-Thatcher years:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/16/fight-for-right-to-work

Updates from the source:
http://occupywallst.org/

And now for something completely different: The Sucklord:
http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-09-28/news/sucklord-bravo-work-of-art-bootlegger/

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lowering Expectations

One of my first jobs was in an information kiosk near the Staten Island Ferry. There I was trained into the job by an aging queen, the type you rarely meet anymore. His opening line to the unsuspecting tourist was, "Welcome to New York City, lower your expectations."

Through the years I've actively tried to lose expectations. They're "resentments waiting to happen" say some, "a good way to spoil things" say others. But it's hard to do away with them altogether if you live among the human race.

This situation, in particular, has been an exercise in expectations shot to Hell. If one cannot depend on the word of someone you must depend upon, what can one do? Well, lower your expectations. Learn that what anyone says in the situation means absolutely nothing and that nobody knows anything, whatever they may say. Don't believe anything you're told. Seeing is believing, actions are louder than words, etc. Yes, that sucks. But how many times must it be proven before a certain reluctance to believe sets in?

It's rotten to lose faith and trust in anyone, but there can come a time when it would be foolish to keep it. That's where I am now in the mix of trying to get home. I simply cannot believe anything I'm told by any of "the authorities" anymore. It doesn't bode well for an ongoing relationship; that's unfortunate. But if I have the choice of simply not believing whatever they say or having my hopes dashed, I'll be a skeptic.

Meanwhile, here I am in Maine until I'm not anymore.

Earth to Rory?! Come In, Rory!

It's been about 3 weeks since we left Rory of The Scottish Scribbler painting a bedroom. We who blog together love him and are very concerned about him. Nobody's had an email returned or replied to, nobody's heard a peep, and it's getting quite worrisome.

Personally, I'm hoping he finally got the arm surgery he's been needing and is simply too busy recovering.

If anyone has heard from him, please let us know he's okay.

How to Help the Occupiers

Plenty of us are in support of the Occupy movement but can't be there ourselves. There are other ways to be a part of it without leaving your house. Tad forwarded this article by Sarah Van Gelder:

http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/sarah-van-gelder/11-ways-to-support-the-occupy-movement?utm_source=wkly20111014&utm_medium=yesemail&utm_campaign=mrGelder

Stay informed of what's happening. Keep reading.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/16/occupy-protests-europe-london-assange

And in the midst of it all don't forget to have fun and give your mind a rest:

http://www.box.net/shared/static/a6omcl2la0ivlxsn3o8m.jpg

If you aren't having fun while fighting the bastards, you aren't doing it right.

A Firsthand Report

By my good friend Plague, unwitting guest blogger this morning: she's already given me permission to post her writings....

"Well, it was something less than an Occupation. Still, it wasn't nothing. Not at all.
"I was relieved to see that it wasn't co-opted by some sort of Kum-ba-yahing ickiness, with Alex Gyori at the head of the line. ('The Occupation, brought to you by your local food co op, long time supporter of worker's rights!" ed. note- this is heavy sarcasm) It was the basic Wells Fountain formula- a hodgepodge of humanity jammed into that little pussy-shaped wedge between two lanes of traffic, holding aloft signs. People honk if they approve. They give the finger or heckle if they don't.
"There were...between fifty and a hundred at the time (her son) and I arrived. (Her son) was very cooperative once I picked him up, but with the time frame, we arrived about an hour and a half into it. I could have dealt with a lot more people, and I particularly wish I'd seen signs of an occupation- a tent city set up, people determined to camp the night, and therefore, almost inevitably, putting themselves in a position where the police might haul them away, food being set up for the occupiers. Still- while I haven't ever been a sign carrier at Wells Fountain before, only a passerby, I did notice a certain intensity.
"While it was a diverse group, comprised of both young, loud, anarchisty kids and people my age, everyone had a singleminded feel, and was very intent on what they were doing, rather than milling around and catching up on local gossip. (Her son) and I quickly found his best friend and the kid's parents, but interestingly, he and the kid both held their signs with deadly seriousness. No one was doing the usual hobnobbing and shmoozing- at all. The passersby honked out all sorts of melodies of honking approval, waved, called to us, and gave the 'power' sign. It was dizzying- at one point, it seemed as if the whole world were erupting in enthusiastic honking.
"I could not have been more proud of (her son). A half hour into our stay, it started raining with a cold, pouring autumn rain, the kind that freezes your bones. Everyone quickly left except a core group. (Her son) elected to stay- he was being front man, holding his 'WE ARE THE 99%' sign, waving to everyone who honked. He got drenched with freezing rain, and he was just utterly, cheerfully into it. It turned out that with his good nature and loud mouth, he's a perfect protest front -of -the -line guy.
"After a while the sun came out, but I still felt like a clattering skeleton. There were only about five kids left, with two older people, one of whom was a woman who had spent her life in the army- I had an interesting conversation with her. She said it was the first protest that she'd ever been to in her life, and that she'd spent the day crying about everything that the movement brought up for her, before deciding that she had to come.
"So that was it. It could have been A LOT BIGGER. And I want OCCUPATION, damn it. I want an occupied Downs, Rachlan and Martin! But it rid me of that terrible, skull pounding feeling of frustration, that something was happening all over the world that I believed in so utterly, and yet I lacked all power to get there and be part of it. It was something. I've never felt so compelled to take part in something. I felt like I would have had some kinda cerebral aneurism, or gotten ragged, like a salmon swimming upstream, if I could not have protested.
"I pray that this is the bare beginning. I can't believe I hear the media asking, 'These are revolutionary times, but is THIS the revolutionary moment?'
"Oh yeah. My sign? It was; MOTHERS OF THE WORLD UNITE.
                                             FIGHT!
                                          FOR YOUR CHILDREN'S BIRTHRIGHT
                                          END THE WARS
                                          EDUCATION !
                                         END POVERTY FOR OUR CHILDREN
"As the rain ran down, the letters smeared just like blood.
"love,
Plague"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

O Little Town of Brattleboro...

Seeing my neighbors protesting at Wells Fountain today warmed my heart and made me homesick again. Lise reports some 200 people showed up:

http://www.ibrattleboro.com/article.php/20111015165920501

I'm waiting on firsthand accounts to come in emails. God I miss my town!

Olbermann Reads the Occupy Summary

Okay, I'm way late with this, but I only just heard & watched it. This is an all-encompassing indictment of corporate culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8o3peQq79Q

It reads like a second Declaration of Independence. This is beautiful and inspiring.

Occupy Everywhere!

Today there are Occupy protests all over the planet, from Australia to Canada to the UK to Tokyo. In Spain, Prince Felipe was invited to join the Madrid protesters:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AO-TUmmHRiM

Here's a photo collection from around the world:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2011/oct/15/occupy-wall-street-movement-global#/?picture=380478411&index=0

In London, Julian Assange was at first kettled by police but pushed through the barrier to address the crowd:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2011/oct/15/occupy-movement-occupy-wall-street

In my home state, four protests are being held today:
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20111015/NEWS03/111014037/Four-Occupy-Wall-Street-rallies-held-around-Vermont?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

NYC Occupiers keep on keeping on:
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/occupy_wall_street/2011/10/15/2011-10-15_bloomberg_bombarded_by_opposition_to_eviction_of_occupy_wall_street_protesters_f.html

It seems it's finally happened; people are mad as hell and they're not going to take this anymore.
Howard Beale would be happy.

Business Before People

Still can't sleep.

As of today I believe, our local movie house has reopened. Most of the businesses that were flooded out by Irene are back up and running, and have been for some time.

But we who were flooded out of our homes are still in limbo. Some, like the people in the trailer park, are and have been living in the muck all along. Which is a nightmare and I feel guilty for not being home making phone calls and meetings to help that get fixed.

Supposedly it's all up to the Fire Department now. I think I'll give the Chief a call tomorrow and ask what the deal is. Obviously I have no answers from management. Or even the courtesy of a promised email.

Ah, I'm too pissed off to sleep. That's the issue. Great. Maybe it'll be a "read all night" night.

Midnight Rambler

Seems like my stomach feels about me the way I feel about The Shire management tonight. I should be tucked between the flannels with a cat on each side. The cats are there, I'm not.

That's fine. I've got the boys live at the Royal Albert Hall in my headphones. It's good stress relief. I breathe and silently sing along with Greg, which takes some lung power, and that calms me down. Once more through "Pictures" and I'll be chilled. I can't do the sit quietly and breathe thing. I'm a Viking.  

Wait. Time to restart the boys. I should get some AlkaSeltzer. Hold the phone.

Well that was nasty. My SIL used to drink AlkaSeltzer instead of soda in the summer. Nuts, I tell ya. Maybe that'll quell the monster in my stomach. Gross, though.

My greatniece is graduating a year early in the top 25%, with many credits to spare. That's my girl. They're being fleeced on the accroutrements. I never heard of these things- announcements, thank you cards, name cards? WTH is all this paraphernalia? What a waste of trees! Oh, and school lunch is 5 bucks a day and you have an account!? We had bologna or PB sandwiches from home and bought a milk. Even in HS, you paid the buck to the nun and she handed you your lunch. Or you brought it, which was my curse through school. People came to school with these elaborate Mom's lunches when I had a freezer burned dry bologna sandwich. But it made me realize that there actually were parents who cared in the world. It didn't have to be the way I knew family life to be. And it started my personal uprising.

Anyway, Strider's been asleep for hours, the Wonderdog and cats are all snoring softly. I'm gonna go breathe-non-sing to "Pictures" and then go grab my book, Gaiman's Neverwhere, and try sleeping again..
Tomorrow's gotta be better, right?

Friday, October 14, 2011

No News is NO Damn News.

Well, I have 2 separate emails saying I'd have some kind of news "by 4 on Friday". It's 4:35 EDSFT and I haven't heard from her, have you?

Of course, there's the slim-to-none chance that things are being sewn up at the last moment and the office is putting in overtime so some of us can get back home or at least get an idea of when we won't be homeless anymore. Generally they close at 4 for the weekend.

I'm not holding my breath.

Killing Time with Cooking Gumbo

No word, still.

So I'm making gumbo for dinner, sans the shrimp. We've had enough shellfish for a while. Here's my recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 large garlic cloves finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 -10 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 boneless chicken breast halves cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 c. chopped  lean smoked sausage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 quarts chix stock
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a 3-quart pot, melt fats and add flour to make a roux. When roux is the color of milk chocolate add onions, pepper, celery and garlic. Saute' for 8-10 minutes until vegetables are soft.

Add chicken stock, bay leaves, sausage, seasonings, tomatoes, cayenne pepper, Tabasco and parsley. Allow this to simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
Add chicken, cook 1 more hour stirring every 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
Turn off heat, add shrimp, stir and leave covered for 10 minutes. Stir before serving.
Serve with a cooked rice.
Feeds 5-6..

This is an adaptable recipe. Add or subtract what you have to use. The only things non-negotiable are the roux, peppers, onions, tomatoes, chicken and sausage. It multiplies and divides well.

Note: Most gumbos include okra. I have to be in the mood for it.

Halloween Cartoons

For the kid in all of us.

Skeleton Frolics (1937)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXkQSiJG7fk

Betty Boop's Halloween Party (1933)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyLINozyD14

Scrappy's Ghost Story (1935)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksP7JiIk4Fw

Disney's Haunted Halloween (1984)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6LgVn4HRpk

Jeepers Creepers (1939)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm7i5ZT01II

Waiting...Waiting...

Already heard that my bed's been delivered and stored. Today's when I'm getting news on what's up with The Shire...hmhmhm...waiting. Too antsy to sit and write.

But, there's good news out of NY's Occupy! The owners of Zuccotti Park have called off the "clean up" and nobody will be leaving. I love the smell of Constitutional Rights in the morning.

OK, going to go do some things and work off the crawly skin-nerve twitch-butterflies in the stomach crapola.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wish Greg a Happy Birthday

It's still a few weeks away, but the Ladies of the Lake have put up their annual Virtual Birthday card for Greg Lake. Stop by and wish The Voice a Happy.

http://ladiesofthelake.com/wp/?page_id=990

The Spooktacular Season

Halloween is only 18 days away. I love this season. And I love the entertainment offered during it, being a big fan of horror and ghost stories. In fact, if you're in the mood, check out these things:

Reads. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger or The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Both wonderfully creepy, and unforgettable. For the more willing to be psychologically disturbed, pick up any of Joe Hill's books. He's Stephen King's son and much more insidiously spooky.

Movies. Oh so many Hammer films to recommend; start with Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed or Taste the Blood of Dracula. There is a sleeper movie called Trick'r Treat (not to be confused with others spelled differently) that's a classic style horror and uses the old legends about the holiday to great effect. The two that are my standards for that most unsettled-in-the-mind feeling are the original B&Ws of Night of the Living Dead and The Haunting. And I'd be terribly remiss if I didn't mention the Phantasm series. They hold a special scar in my psyche. Here's a list of most of the really top horrorfests on film:
http://www.ghostwalks.com/hh_scariestmovies.html

These days there are plenty of paranormal shows to give a chill here and there. The Syfy Channel has Ghosthunters and all its spinoffs (they'll be doing their live show on Halloween night again), and other channels have plenty to offer. There are almost too many. 

For kids:
http://www.nick.com/shocktober/
and don't forget It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! and The Worst Witch. Classics!

Thor's Day

In grammar school, Thursdays were when General Assembly took all morning and after lunch was gym all afternoon. I liked Thursdays. It's named for Thor, the Norse God of Thunder and Lightning, who helps humans when they need it.

Amy Goodman on the OWS and Obama
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/12/occupy-wall-street-barack-obama

The flood even made the dead homeless:
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20111012/NEWS07/111012029/-1/news/Flooded-Rochester-struggles-ID-cemetery-remains-

A blood test that'll tell you when you'll die?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/11/blood-test-predict-when-you-die

The Phone Hacking shame gains legs toward other things:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/oct/11/private-eye-editor-investigative-journalism

Everything you need to know about the Phone Hacking:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/phone-hacking

Libya is looking close to beating ol' Mo:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/12/libya-sirte-falling-government-forces

Fall Fotos From Vermont
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=BT&Dato=20110920&Kategori=PHOTO02&Lopenr=109200801&Ref=PH&odyssey=mod|galleriespic|news&odyssey=mod|dnmiss|umbrella|1

If you want to tell your Senators to Create Jobs and do their job:
http://www.workthatneedsdoing.org/#757

And here's a new horror movie I'm really looking forward to.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/video/2011/sep/15/awakening-watch-exclusive-trailer-video

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Obama Talks Back

To the Senate about the failure to pass the American Job Act. It ain't over, apparently. Obama may have grown a few vertebrae:

 http://my.barackobama.com/page/share/president-on-jobs?source=20111012_jm_act&utm_medium=email&utm_source=obama&utm_campaign=20111012_jm_act

He's gonna take the package apart and make them object to it and defend that stance job item by job item. A "How do you like them now?" move. And he's asking people to bitch their view at their Congresspeople. Things may be looking up.

How Sewing in Fear Buttons Ruins Our Fabric

The title is from a Home Economics class lecture, by Mrs. Armstead in 7th grade. Except for the "fear" part. This country, this society, is so fear-based, such a quivering mass of people who feel powerless. Marketing is fear-based and we're marketed 24/7. Everything these days is marketed. Every. Thing.

And the thing about fear is not only is it likely to stay under your conscious radar and mask in things like worry, no confidence, no trust, cynicism; it'll become an addiction because of the adrenalin involved. A physical need for adrenalin because some part of you stays in Fight or Flight mode. Without the adrenalin, and with a bit more hopelessness, it turns into depression. Have you heard how many people are on antidepressives these days?

So we're Pavlov's dogs, but with fear buttons instead of bells. Does anybody remember when things weren't like this, not like this at all? When neighbors actually cared? When if someone in your community needed help, everyone helped? When anyone who'd yell, "Let him die!" would've been shunned? What the hell happened? Well, September 11th didn't help.

Recognize fear being marketed to you. And then read this article about why the Danes are so happy while we're on Cymbalta:
 http://www.alternet.org/story/152673/why_danes_are_so_much_happier_than_americans?page=1

Chilly in Maine

The trees are vivid enough for me, though Strider says they're nowhere near the normal show. I'm taking pix (with real film) and got some shots of last night's full moon.

I've mentioned the idea of having a get-together of some of us who blog together next summer. Strider has offered her place as the site. There's room, a couple bedrooms stand vacant- and land even for tents & camping. Let me know what you think.

The manager emailed to give me the terms and okay for getting a bed delivery. After I talked to the guys at Emerson's it went smoothly, so that's a huge pile of crap off my head. The guy there said he was out of his house for a week and then went a further week and a half without electricity so he knows about the flood and being homeless. The office found a spot for keeping the bed. I guess even furniture doesn't go in without the Fire Dept's go-ahead.  Rugs will have to wait til next month or after. It was almost 700 dollars. FEMA gave me 230 towards getting a new bed, and 2 rugs. So that's a bite outta the cash. But it'll be delivered Friday.
News just keeps happening but right now I'm hanging with Strider (gotta go make dinner soon) and there's always tomorrow.  Stay warm, these are the thin-blood days for we Northerners. ;)

Pizza, Plots and Politics

We had pizza last night. Not just pizza, freaking excellent pizza, and Strider made it. A thin crispy crust, fresh everything on top, baked on a stone to pizza perfection. I haven't had such good pizza since Mrs. Vesuvio was alive, and that's saying something. She should go into business. She probably won't, but I'll keep it in mind for when Frankie finally retires.

No Jobs For You! The Boner Party has done it again, assisted by 2 Democrats who cave to Conservatives all the time. I have to wonder what the hidden agenda is behind this. Who's profiting by keeping the working class from working?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/12/republicans-defeat-obama-jobs-bill

In other unbelieveable bass-ackward thinking:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/10/11/2011-10-11_topeka_kansas_repeals_domestic_violence_law_in_wake_of_budget_concerns_.html

"They Eat Well, They Taste Good"
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2011/10/06/2011-10-06_albany_bigs_get_emails_warning_of_violence_if_tax_on_rich_expires.html

Psychologists Say Corps Aren't People:
http://www.psysr.org/about/programs/wellbeing/corporate-personhood.php

This will end in tears, as Mom used to say:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/11/iranians-charged-us-assassination-plot

Boston Occupiers Arrested
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-11/boston-protesters-arrested/50727182/1

OWS goes to the UES
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/11/2011-10-11_occupy_wall_street_demonstraters_march_on_millionaires_homes_including_rupert_mu.html

That's quite enough for the morning.