Monday, October 27, 2008

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Today I watched a man cut up a huge oak tree with a chainsaw in Crocs. Crocs!!! When will this madness end? Who the hell leaves the house in these things, let alone wields a chainsaw while wearing them?!!? I'm over this whole Croc thing. What I'm not over is watching him get his chainsaw unstuck from a tree by driving into it with a tractor and also seeing the huge piles of sawdust that end up in his pockets. The things I find funny can only be explained in my head, to me.

Other than that it's been rainy and slow today. I get the feeling Alex does not like it when I sit in the kitchen not contributing while he takes everything apart and organizes the whole damn space. But judging from what happened with the dishes last night, I don't really think it's a good idea for me step in and try to help him. Last night as I started to wash the dishes he told me it was "inefficient" and started filling up the sink with water for me. I told him maybe he should wash the dishes and I would rinse. At moments like these I remind myself of my mother. Why get upset about it? It's not like I was super excited to wash the dishes. I'm happy to let him do it if his way is so much better. So thanks mom, for the patient and passive attitude you passed on to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Oh dear, I've been a bad blogger. I've been a little busy for the past few days. I've made some new friends that I like more than the internet, if that's possible, so the posting has been a bit slow. I started to write something about the cold the other day, but never posted it, because really I'll have all winter to discuss that.

So here's what's been happening recently:
Oliver and Bonnie have been looking to move to a new farm. Where they are now is four acres, spread out on four different properties, none of which they own. Oliver's father owns them all. He's not a tyrant of a landlord, or anything close to it, but farming this way is not efficient and it also doesn't offer them the chance to feel independent or very self-sufficient.

The farm they have been looking at is in Pawlet, about 15 or 20 minutes from here. It's so much bigger than where they are now. Just one of the fields is over twice the size of what they have now. A river goes through part of the property and much of the land is also an entire hillside. There are several barns, a sugar house, and an old farmhouse. All of the buildings would need work and all of the fields used to be used for nothing but corn, so they need quite a bit of work as well. Oliver thinks he can do it. What he's not sure about is raising the money. It's not a cheap farm by any means, but it is a wonderful one, and it's the kind of place they've been looking for.

I went to see the property twice with Oliver. I understand why he's so in love with it. For someone as dedicated to farming and CSAs, it's a perfect farm for him. It's still close to this location, so they can keep their current CSA members, and be close to family. The hillsides are beautiful and Oliver says the soil is amazing. However, it's a lot of work. It would take up all of Oliver's time, which is worrisome because of the baby Bonnie is about to have. This is more than just risking money, it's a risk to his family as well.

In the end, the risks have been assessed. Bonnie is aware that if they get the farm Oliver will not be so available, but she is just as eager to move as he is. Oliver knows that if he doesn't get together enough CSA support he won't be able to afford the mortgage payments. I think they also know that no matter what happens, the people around them will do their best to support and help them, even if they think buying this farm is a bad idea. As for my own opinions, I am undecided. I love this farm. If it were me, I think I would be going just as crazy as Oliver is right now. What a perfect opportunity, at a less than perfect time. Who knows if something like this would come up again? Who knows what this particular farm could do for the lives of everyone involved? The biggest problem with these things is that you can not spend a year thinking about it. You can't try it out and then take it all back if it doesn't work. You have to dive in head first, and that's the scariest part of all. What happens if the farm fails? And is the possible success of the farm, worth risking failure?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

One of the things I have not mentioned much yet is the Wilburton Inn. The inn is owned by Oliver's parents, Georgette and Albert. They occasionally need extra help on busy days and on Saturdays the WWOOFers have the option of going over there to work for some money. I have been roped into doing this for the past two Saturdays (of course roped actually means I was asked nicely, and had no reason to say no). Last week it was buffet breakfast, this week it was a bus lunch. For both meals there was a sense of panic over being shorthanded, but both meals seemed rather easy and calm to me, so I wasn't unhappy doing it.

Today was a bus lunch, which according to Oliver is Bagels Under Salad (B.U.S. Lunch, har har Oliver). It's actually a group of people who come in on a bus for lunch (too obvious I guess). I tried to find out where these people came from and why they were there eating these weird limited menus of chicken or beef?, water or coffee?, apple crisp dessert!, but no one I asked could or would tell me much about it. But I didn't spend a bunch of time asking, everyone always seems so busy that I didn't want to cause any kind of brain aneurysms by suggesting that they stop thinking about how best to freak out for a second.

These people were a bunch of senior citizens. They were a bit grumpy and worried at first, as people tend to be before eating. Wives were ordering for husbands, which always makes me giggle a bit. People changed their orders, which isn't actually as big a deal as the group leader seemed to think it was when she started dictating what they had said they wanted a few days or weeks (who knows, maybe even hours) earlier. Then the food was slopped onto plates in an attempted graceful manor. The chef made us wipe off the splatter from the side of the plates, but it was all such mush it squashed together on the plates on the way out. These people did not seem to care in the least. The scarfed down food happily, occasionally asking for more bread or coffee. Easy as anything. Plus the old men got to give me a hard time, which old men love doing for whatever reason. Yes sir, I am, in fact, nothing but a young whippersnapper and your wisdom is infinite, are you done with your precooked pot roast and vegetable mush so I can take your plate? Great.

By the time they left everyone was cheery and happy and full of food. They took a bunch of pictures, the chef came out and they clapped, I helped clear the tables and reset them for a dinner at 7pm. Easy. I was there for about two hours and people were only there eating for one hour. Why everyone at the inn panics at all times for all events, I'm not really clear. This dinner could not have gone any more smoothly or been any easier, yet the chef and the coordinator were rushing around the whole time as if people were standing at the kitchen door raising hell. If they were it would have made the whole thing infinitely more interesting. Nothing's funnier than old men with pitchforks yelling about cold pot roast.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Yesterday was an apple picking day. We've got a few people coming to the house for the weekend to take part in a yoga retreat and the person who runs it asked that we have fruit available. The most abundant fruit we have right now are apples. We drove the truck over to the Big White House, where the apple trees grow, and spent a few hours picking apples. Alex hopped on top of the truck while Jos collected the ones that fell to the ground. I climbed into a few of the trees to reach some of the higher apples. Finally a reason to climb on the job. I've been missing that.

After we had picked an insane amount of apples, we hung around on the grass. Max and Sarah began to do some two-person yoga, which prompted Alex to start throwing apples at them from the top of the truck.

This then turned into an apple fight and I can not be blamed for the crack in the windshield of the truck because Alex started the whole thing. Just kidding.

I ate so many apples I got a stomach ache. WELL WORTH IT!

A few days before this apple escapade, Oliver asked Alex to build a sweat lodge for a little party that was planned. No one had ever built one before, but Alex had spent some time in one, so he was put in charge. It actually worked really well. A fire pit was made outside of the sweat lodge and we spent all day heating rocks in the fire and by the time we climbed in there, just having the rock in the lodge made it warm. I highly recommend that anyone with the space, should hurry up and make themselves a sweat lodge. It was the perfect way to end a busy few days. Oliver has been feeling rather stressed so I know it was nice for him to relax. Theo attempted to lead a Vision Quest, but that idea didn't really take off. I think we were all just happy to sit quietly and enjoy the heat.

We spent at least two hours in there. When I finally got out I felt so refreshed and clean. Oliver, Sarah, and Max jumped into the creek and then rushed back into the sweat lodge, which sounded like a great idea while we were in there talking about it, but quickly turned into a terrible idea as soon as I crawled out. The evening air was cold enough I think. It would probably have been the perfect time to take a quick shower with my skin being so open and amazing, but I pretty much just went inside and fell asleep. Mer.

The whole thing kind of reminded me of one of those typical College of Santa Fe gatherings, where some people couldn't wait to take off their clothes, and others were more inclined to stay fully clothed, while several people were somewhere in between, but the whole thing never became an issue. Those kinds of things are always the most comfortable. It kind of gives you an idea of the mix of people here. Maybe we're all idealists who want to grow organic food and sell it locally, but the idea of pushing everyone into the "Dirty Hippie" category really doesn't work. I'd like to really push this point towards my friends in New York.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spiral Press Cafe - Manchester, VT

It's been a pretty wonderful time here in Vermont so far. The weather is unreasonably nice. I feel like everyone is just waiting for the weather to get stupid-cold. Today when we went out to harvest for the CSA pickup I had to take off my hoodie because it was so warm. And then we stopped and got pumpkin ice cream and cider donuts from the nursery across the street from the greenhouses. Can I just state for the record, one more time, that I LOVE VERMONT. I know it will get colder, much, much colder, but I think I will find my own way of loving that as well.

So what have I been doing? Well I've been picking up buckets of unused food from local resuants to feed to the chickens. I've been harvesting tomatoes, beets, radishes, salad greens, and cabbage. I've been planting garlic. I've been feeding and cleaning up after chickens. I've been picking up Oliver's junk from a tag sale and onions from another farm to give to our own CSA. I've been walking through the woods. I've been celebrating Jewish holidays. I've been hanging out with children. I've been making a few new friends. I've been learning how to play two chords on a guitar (don't ask me which, I'm really not sure I remember them now). I've been driving that crazy Organic Food truck that was made famous to DTF when it crashed into two cars in under a minute. I've been coming to town to use the internet because it's slow at the house. I've been having a pretty great time.

I took a bunch of pictures, some of which I will post when I have them uploaded. I haven't really had a ton of time to do this, because generally when we aren't out working, we find other ways to occupy our time that do not involve the internet (crazy, right?). We cook and eat communally. I love it. Sadly, two of the WWOOFers are leaving this weekend, so it will be much quieter around here. Maybe I'll get better about posting and putting up pictures with all this extra time. Maybe.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

A few days ago, I was nothing but nerves. I was so worried that I had made the wrong choice to leave New York, yet again, after having some promise of work and a solid foundation of friendship. Now that I am here in Manchester, working with these wonderful people, I can't think of why I would have passed up this opportunity just to stay in New York, with the same unfulfilling life I was leading.

The family that runs this place is wonderful. I just got here and I already love them so much. Bonnie and Oliver run the farm. They are good-natured people who care so much about what they do. Their two children Guvra, who is 3, and Talula, who is 1, are two of the most lovable children I've ever met. Guvra is so smart, it's hard to believe he is only 3. You can tell they are not city kids, in that they don't have that automatic distrust of strangers that city children have. The first day I was here Guv informed me that he hoped that I didn't like to work outside so that he would have someone to play with. He then handed me an Obama button. He loves Obama. Talula is just a regular trouble maker. She likes to get into everything and has broken something glass every day that I've been here. Oliver's brother is Max. He's 23, but until today I had him pegged at 26 or 27 (must be the beard). He and Oliver are so close, it makes me a little jealous because I can't get along with my own brother so well.

The food here is beyond yummy. I love going out to harvest, because it means getting the freshest food imaginable. I picked tomatoes the other day and was encouraged to taste them in order to check that they were ripe. I almost didn't get any into the basket they were so good. Today it was arugula, mustard leaves and raspberries. I had never had a mustard leaf before. Better to just chew on it bit by bit then take a big bite. Pretty spicy for something that looks like any other green salad leaf. I also harvested some radishes and they made my hands itchy, which was odd. I'm not allergic to eating radishes, but I apparently have a reaction to harvesting them, which I'm going to ignore.

Chickens! Chickens are not smart at all! I spent some time cleaning out their nests today (ugh), and spend some time everyday putting them back into the pen. They do make yummy eggs though and they are the perfect way to put food waste to good use. Twice a week we go out and pick up food waste from some restaurants around town and then feed it all to the chickens. Hungry little beasts. I like them though, because they do not fly. I will not, however, go so far as to pick them up as Alex does. At least not yet anyway.

I will post more about other WWOOFers and farm friends later. Too tired now. And I don't want to overdo the posting here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Amazingly, my ghetto-rigged, duct taped, super glued suitcase made it to Manchester without being much of a hassle. Remind me to never ever buy another article of clothing because I can not drag a heavy suitcase anywhere again in my life.

The bus I was supposed to get on at 10:45 didn't actually exist and the schedule I had was apparently an old one. I called over to the farm and they said they would send someone to pick me up. The people who came to get me were pretty awesome and we ended up eating lunch at Back Home Again before heading out. This gave me a chance to find out more about the situation here at the farm.

Listen, at this point, if they want me to leave this place, they'll have to drag me out. I get my own spacious room, with a window, and my own bathroom. The room even has two beds, so I can have visitors if I want. How is this possible?!!?

The far half of the room

The half I sleep in

The bathroom. Which is mine. All mine. Wow. Last time I had my own bathroom? 3 years ago for 4 months.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cafe Terra - Rutland, VT

Last night when I got off the train I asked someone in the parking lot where Centre St. was and I must have misunderstood him, because I walked along the street, lugging my suitcase and never saw the place. When I got to a corner I realized I was not on Centre St. I called Back Home Again and explained where I was and that my suitcase had broken, so the person I spoke to came out to meet me. He grabbed my suitcase and I followed him back towards where I had come from. I can not remember his name now, but he was perfectly nice. I was terribly grateful to him for helping me with the suitcase. It was a two minute walk from where I was standing, but it would have taken me at least 15 to lug the suitcase there.

I promptly went to the Walmart and purchased superglue and duct tape for the suitcase.

I headed to the cafe, which is next to the hostel, and sat down to eat some homemade pizza. When I asked which pizza did not have meat on it the three people at the table looked at me with a mixture of awe and pity. I've gotten used to this by now and I laughed it off as I took a slice of the yummy veggie pizza.

I struck up a conversation with the men at the table and told them I had come from New York. They all expressed that they liked it there, but could not live there. One of them had tried and left after six months. He also lived in Tucson, Truth or Consequences, and about a thousand other places. We talked a little about Tucson and New York. All of them were very friendly and smiley.

The oddest thing about these people were that when I was introduced to any woman, I always smiled, but they never smiled back. I only got into conversation with one of them the whole evening and she was perfectly pleasant, but she seemed almost worn down. It was the end of the day, so I really shouldn't think much of it. I'm sure they get people in and out daily, so they don't invest a ton of emotional energy in them.

After dinner I moped the floors and then headed to bed. I really don't think I did much, so I was planning to come back down and offer more help for the morning, but no one is around yet. I walked to the bus station and got schedule. My bus doesn't leave for another hour or so, so I figured I'd grab some chai and give an update. Also, the room I stayed in smells super funky right now and I can't stand to be in there. It is a small, windowless room with three bunk beds and a bathroom. The bathroom doors have all been taken down which is kind of odd, but you can't see the toilet from the bedroom, so it wasn't a huge deal. The other women in the room did not seem at all interested in talking to me, so I fixed my suitcase in silence and climbed into a top bunk for a restless evening.

A view of the front of the place. The door on the left is the shop, the right is the cafe, and the middle leads to the hostel.

The bunk I slept in. It was missing it's ladder, so they had that small wooden guy in place of it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Somewhere between New York and Rutland

I'm currently sitting on the train to Rutland, VT. The train is scheduled to get in around 9PM, but I don't have high hopes for that. I'll probably get in closer to 11. I'll be staying at this crazy place called Back Home Again. It's a community of people who live by some kind of religious practice. I'm not completely clear on what it is, but from what I gather it seems like some kind of Hippies for Jesus community. They run a cafe and a hostel, which I can stay at for free, for an exchange of two hours of work. If I don't want to work, I can give them $20. If I have time, I'll definitely work. Not only because I'd like to save money, but because I'd love to learn more about these people and how they live. All of my friends from DTF call them a cult. Who knows, maybe they are, but as long as they aren't crazy-freaky-animal sacrificy, I don't really care what they are.

Tomorrow I'm taking public transportation to Manchester, where the people from the farm should be able to pick me up. I haven't confirmed it all completely because I'm not sure what time the bus gets in and where and if I can walk to it easily in Rutland. I hope so. But I'll call the farm later today and see what the deal is.

I stared my day off so well. I woke up a little earlier than my alarm, took a shower, did my laundry, successfully packed all of my shit and had some toast for breakfast. I planned to get into Manhattan by 2 to pick up my check from Keen Company, for the work I did on The Fourposter (Shameless Plug- Go see it, I love it, it's wonderful). I didn't end up leaving The Bronx until 1:45 though, so of course I got in later than I wanted and ended up running around like a crazy person. Had to get to the bank, planned to go to the post office, and I had to pick up my train ticket and print out my absentee ballot application. I didn't make it to the post office. I barely made it to the train. Iggy met up with me and helped me get my bags to the train. Then when I got on the train, all frazzled, I was lifting my bag to put it away, but I missed slightly and hit a bar and broke one of the wheels clean off the bag. ARG! The stupid thing is heavy and I don't know how far I can carry it with my other bag as well. I'm so annoyed at myself for this. I had my bags all nice and arranged so everything was super easy to deal with and then I had to go and break the wheel. Typical.

On a different subject altogether, I finally purchased a camera, as I stated in an earlier post, and here is the first round of pictures. We went out after the first preview last night and I got a pretty amazing picture of all 8 of us. How we all managed to cram in that close and I managed to get an accurate shot, I will never know. The picture is priceless. I'm going to miss these wonderful people so much, but I hope to find new wonderful people on my journeys. Here goes.

Oops, not everyone is in this one.

If at first you don't succeed...