Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Last night Albert came over and asked The Logger and I to go with him to an inn that had closed a few months ago, to pick up a few things. From what I've been told, the inn was having financial troubles and it closed. They were unable to pay electric bills, or have someone drain the pipes, so they froze and burst and the building flooded. It is now condemned, but no longer flooded. The Logger insisted that Albert did not need anything from the inn and did not want to go, but I was eager to see the place and poke around a little, as I am prone to doing, so The Logger agreed, reluctantly, to go. Also, his car was at Albert's place and Albert wouldn't take him to go get it until after we went to the old inn to "loot."

Albert asked me if I had any flashlights, because there is no power in the building. I suggested we go during the day when we would be able to see, but Albert insisted that he didn't want to. I called him a criminal and then went upstairs to get all of my flashlights (electricians need these things!), because good criminals need backup and getting arrested would make for good blogging.

I've always been fascinated with abandoned places, even though abandoned places like hotels and hospitals, which are never dark or empty under normal circumstances, kind of freaks me out. While Albert was going through the kitchen with The Logger, I wandered into the dining room. The ceiling was falling apart and the floor was all wavy. It was easy to see that it used to be a great-looking place.

Dining room fireplace

There was also a snazzy little bar attached to the dining room. I went through the cabinets behind the bar and was surprised to see that there were still untouched bottles of alcohol. I had to remind myself that I was not in New York and that people in small towns in Vermont probably don't make a habit of breaking into buildings just to look for alcohol. Nor were there squatters, who would have probably drank the alcohol and then trashed the place even more, for whatever reason. No, the place was left pretty much untouched except for the flood. Even the final menu was written on the dry erase board in the kitchen, along with a shopping list.

A pretty little bar

I then moved out to the lobby area and picked through a bunch of computer parts and piles of office supplies. Again, this was a good-looking room with a cute front desk. It even had a snazzy little telephone booth.

I'm quite fond of this picture because it shows how straight I hold my camera. Precision and grace, I'm all about it.

I went up the stairs to look at some of the rooms, but didn't do much exploring. I admit I was a little freaked out sneaking around in the dark place alone. I didn't even take any pictures up there because the thought of looking into my camera and seeing something that wasn't actually there maybe terrifies me a little. IRRATIONAL FEARS! I'm good at those.

When I went back downstairs Albert was looking through the box of computer stuff in the front lobby. He asked me what several things were and asked me if he needed them, to which my reply was always, "No. If you don't know what it is, then you'll never use it." Albert seemed to have the intention of taking anything that wasn't nailed down. As someone who can't stand excess junk I only considered taking things that I thought would be useful: some tape and notepads for the house, a few old keys for my friend Lisa who makes shadow boxes, sheets of stamps, smoke detectors, and 4 reams of paper. Albert tried to talk me into taking some crap-tastic old desk chairs for my own desk (which I don't have by the way).

We loaded everything into the Jeep and minivan (except for an open thing of corn oil which Albert wanted us to take, but I hid from him because who knows how old that was and really, is corn oil that expensive anyway?) Albert asked us if we wanted to go out to eat, and I considered it for a moment because I hadn't eaten yet, until Albert said, "We'll go to Friendly's" and I suddenly realized I wasn't hungry. Not to mention I would not have let him buy me food anyway, because for some reason I've always found that awkward.

The Logger scored us a can of kidney beans and black beans, and also got two cans of refried beans for the chickens (because no one else will eat anything with lard). The chickens had an all-out feast.

Just to mention, Albert did give money to owner of the Inn, and she knew we were there. We weren't really breaking and entering, and then looting, and then rolling around in the profits like the filthy pigs that we are.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Woo! I forced The Logger to take me climbing in Rutland on Saturday. He used to be a hard-core climber but has not climbed in quite some time. I decided (in that way that I'm good at making decisions for other people) that it would make him happy to go climbing. So we went off to Green Mountain Rock Climbing Gym. Don't let the website fool you though, it's not really just $15 a person, there's an extra $10 charge for a "belay lesson" which isn't much of a lesson considering you belay with a Grigri, which is self-locking so it's pretty hard to drop someone if you're paying attention. I wasn't actually annoyed about the belay lesson, but The Logger really didn't need it. Oh well, goodbye extra $20.

I haven't really been climbing since high school, when I took a climbing class. I loved it, although I was never great at it. Being short and not especially physically fit makes climbing tricky, but no less fun. It's no secret that I love heights, because I have always been a backwards person. Anyway it was a little sad that once I got to the top of the wall the only thing left to do was come down. I would have loved to be able to traverse a little around the top of the gym, but the belay system didn't work that way. I suppose I could have traversed along the bottom, but what's the fun in that? The floor is right there, you may as well just walk.

The best thing about this whole experience was watching The Logger stretch out all his limbs and climb. The walls were pretty high, but as soon as he started climbing it really didn't seem that way. I was worried that it was too easy for him, so I suggested he try doing a course (only use holds that were labeled with a certain color in order to be more challenging), but he feels the same way about courses as I do about traversing along the bottom of a wall; why only use certain holds if there are others around? Anyway it wasn't too easy for him, he just made it look that way.

I would have loved to put up some pictures of this amazingly giant person scaling walls, but I'm pretty sure he would have been mad at me for taking pictures while I was supposed to be keeping him from falling off of a climbing wall. So I didn't bring my camera.

The day ended with an adventure of finding food in Rutland, which is impossible for whatever reason. Good luck finding a sandwich in Rutland after 4pm, because it's not gonna happen. Not even on a weekend. Especially not on a weekend. So The Logger triumphantly got Taco Bell and I waited until getting back to Manchester to make an avocado, chile, cheese burger. Vegetarian style, of course.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Last night we had an early birthday party for The Logger. Oliver and family took off for Aruba today and will be gone for two weeks, which includes The Logger's actual birthday. We made burritos, his favorite food, and after much harassment he finally told me that lemon cake was his favorite, but that I should not take the trouble to make one. I of course ignored him and made two.

Theo, Pedro (who works at the inn), The Logger's mother and the Levis family were all in attendance. I admit I was a little worried that people wouldn't have a good time and it might be awkward for some, but there were no problems. Why did I think there might be? Mostly because The Logger made such a stink over the fact that I invited his mother, because he claims she would not have a good time. I think she was very happy to be here and loved seeing Guv and Talula.

A little while before we ate, Bonnie and Guv disappeared for a bit. When they came back downstairs Guv gave The Logger a hand made birthday card, which was full of his favorite things. It's pretty much the best birthday card I've ever seen, so it made it into the blog.

I think I might be attacking that tree.

I am now going to boast about this amazing cake that I made, mostly because I have never tried this recipe before and normally when I cook something for the first time it's not all that great. Maybe it's because Guv helped me, but this cake was really yummy. When the batter was all made I tasted it and I really liked it, which made me worry that it wasn't lemony enough because I don't really like lemons. I ended up making two round cakes and putting a layer of lemon bar (without crust) between the two cakes. I used my mother's amazing fluffy frosting which I call marshmallow frosting, because it tastes like marshmallows. Anyway, here's a picture.

When Bonnie saw the cake she called me Martha, which pretty much ended my cake-making days forever.

We didn't have birthday candles, but this one is home-made.

Happy birthday Logger.

So, maybe I didn't think about how huge the slices would be if I stacked two cakes right on top of each other, but no one complained.

This morning I remembered that I had gotten The Logger an exceedingly stupid birthday present (I'm good at that). Because of my love for little plastic animals and The Logger's new-found fondness of chickens, I gave him this little plastic chicken I had found when helping Oliver organize some stuff and had been carrying in my pocket. He of course did not understand what it was for and has thus become the pouty chicken, which comes out whenever The Logger feels like he needs to pout to someone (or something).

Sally the chicken

Friday, January 16, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Yesterday some pretty amazing things happened. I went with Bonnie, Oliver and The Logger to go check out a farm in Pawlet on the border of Wells that they were thinking about buying. The land is owned by The Larsons, who I had met a few nights before when they were invited over for dinner. I thought the Larsons were amazing people and they seemed to really be interested in helping Bonnie and Oliver succeed. The land is not on the market, there are no brokers or real estate agents involved and they would sell it for the same price they bought it for. They are dairy farmers and they think that a partnership with vegetable farmers would strengthen both businesses. They would trade dairy for veggies and use some of the land for pasture, which provides great fertilizer for the plants. When they left the house after dinner Bonnie asked me what I thought of the whole thing and I asked her if we could move tomorrow.

The farm is about 30 minutes from here on a back road to Wells. It's a very quiet road and the views are so spectacular. The house is right by the road, which makes it easy to get to in the winter snow. Especially because the Jeep could not make it up the first big hill in such deep snow, so we got out and walked around the property.

Those tracks in front of the Jeep are from a snow mobile.

Oliver first led us into the woods and The Logger stated that there was no good logging wood in this section but plenty of fire wood. Oliver then took us to the better of the two barns, which he planned to make into a WWOOFer house. I took a look at it and said "no way." He talked excitedly about the changes he would make and how great it would be for summer housing. I asked him what he planned to do for a bathroom and said there would be a composting toilet and a shower head "around the back." No way Oliver, I don't mind pooping in the woods, but I draw the line at a crappy shower after a long day of work. But then again, I can't speak for all WWOOFers and I'll be in Dorset again by summer (using a crappy indoor shower).

Ummm. But there are no walls on that thing. And how do you explain the phantom pants?

The other barn is so structurally unsound that it's falling apart and just needs to be taken down. It used to be used for Dairy, but now it might be good for scrap wood. Part of the structure seems ok and might be saved, but for the most part the farm needs a new barn. It was at this point that my camera battery (which said it was full when we left) died. No more pictures. Arg.

"Stop wasting my battery Oliver."

The last part of the tour was the farm house, which Bonnie was not at all excited about. Honestly, from the outside, it's an ugly house. When we went in, it was still an ugly house. It had so many weird spaces and all the walls and ceilings looked like wooden floorboards, which was really odd. The place also smelled a little uninhabited, because it had been for a long time. The rooms were pretty small and the whole house has only one bathroom, which is right next to the kitchen. However, there is a great fireplace downstairs in an amazing room that was added on later. After a very long debate in which everyone was interrupted several times Oliver finally made a plan for renovation that sounded pretty great. He would move the kitchen to the living room space, knock down a few walls, and put a sink and toilet upstairs in the kids bedroom. My only input was that he should draw out a groundplan and really look at the measurements to make sure there was room for everything, including his two huge refrigerators and three bay sink. It sounded like a really exciting plan, but it could end up being an expensive one. I told him that if he bought the farm, then the Logger and I could live there this season and start the renovations while he farmed his last season in Manchester. He asked me how many day a week I worked for the theatre. Six. Ha.

From there Oliver wanted to take us up to see the rest of the woods and see what kind of trees were there and if there was good logging. Bonnie said that she and Talula were too cold to trudge around in the woods, so she called the Larsons and asked if Bonnie and the kids could go over and see their place and say hi. I decided to go with them, because the Larsons have horses and I would pass up a freezing walk in the woods to go meet some horses any day. We talked Guv into coming with us by telling him he could pet the cows and horses. I told him that petting a horses nose was one of my favorite things to do, which it is. Guv agreed, so off we went, leaving Oliver and The Logger to go look at trees.

Talula is not into this whole snow thing.

The Larsons live right across the street on their own huge piece of property. The house they have there is amazing. Apparently it used to be a much smaller house and then they built a larger house right onto the back of it. So the front part of the house is used mainly for interns and one of their sons. It has its own kitchen and living area and four bedrooms. Not too bad, especially if they decide to share WWOOFers, which was talked about a little. Although I'm not sure if I would chose to live with the Larson family over the Levis family, especially because the Larsons eat meat. Boo.

Two of the Larson kids took us out to see the cows and horses. There were two dairy cows, though only one was producing because the other was pregnant. I don't think I've ever pet a cow and I was a little charmed. I've always thought cows were very sweet-looking creatures and these cows seemed sweet enough. I love their big sloppy noses and wide foreheads. They are such oddly proportioned creatures, with their jutting hips and bulging bellies. Bonnie pointed out that it was hard to tell which one was pregnant, even though she and the cow are due right around the same time, about a month and a half from now.

We met one horse, which Guv was shy to pet. It's funny how he was all about petting the cows, because he had done so in the past, but was hesitant to pet the horse, which he has less experience with. I was the opposite. I stuck my hand under the horses nose and let her lick my hand. I love how most horses will do that. It must be the salty sweat on people's palms, but she was also licking the gloved hand of one of the Larson kids. Guv got a little lick. When I told Cynthia Larson about my experience and love of horses she told me to give her my email address because she could use some help. I jumped at the opportunity and could not write my emil down fast enough. How exciting if I finally get to work with horse again. I've spent so much time in farm country Vermont and these are the first people I've met with horses. Yay!

Anyway the farm is beautiful and the house has potential to be beautiful at some point. I'm not sure you could find better neighbors anywhere. Here are a few more pictures I managed to get in before the camera died.

Walking back to the Jeep.

Now imagine that in the fall and summer.

The Logger is uncertain of how to carry something so small and squirmy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Now is as good a time as any to explain my love for Friday nights here at the Holon. Every Friday night is Shabbat, starting at Sundown on Friday until Sundown on Saturday. Because things are so slow in the winter, I don't find myself counting down the days until Saturday, but I do look forward to Friday night dinners. Theo and Max always come over and Albert and Georgette generally stop by. The food is extra special and we all sit down and spend time together. Theo, Oliver, Max and The Logger play music and Guv usually sings along and drums. Talula loves to dance. I'm not always the most active participant, but that's just my nature. I love to sit in a room full of people and enjoy what goes on around me. Fridays are late nights around here and there's a lot to enjoy for the evening.

For the last few weekends there have been cyber creeps in the house, which means we can not use the dinning room and we eat in the kitchen. This is usually a kind of cramped thing with some people eating standing up, or in the big comfy chair in the corner, but last night Oliver had the idea to pull the wooden counter top away from the stove and make a dinner table we could all sit around. It worked perfectly and we could all sit down and look at one another while we talked. Mostly about Obama and a little about the environment vs. gay rights, which sounds like a ridiculous topic, because it is. Theo's argument was that the state of the environment is more time sensitive than gay rights. Oliver's input was that the people who argue against gay rights are the people least affected by it. I said that the argument of who can marry who is such a stupid topic to begin with that I couldn't believe anyone would put effort into it, especially while there were pressing issues like global climate change hanging over us. This was something everyone could agree with. However, the argument does exist and I feel very strongly that we can not take care of the planet if we can't even take care of each other. How can I say that it's more important to buy a hybrid car than for someone to be able to openly display affection and marry the person they want to grow old with? Just because one is more time sensitive does not mean that it is more important. I don't think I expressed this very well last night, but I don't think that anyone was arguing against this point, just saying that it was so stupid that such prejudice even exists when the world as we know it may not be here in twenty years.

Getting back to the Friday night Shabbat dinner, I've been thinking it might be fun to put up a recipe or maybe a bit about what we've been eating. Generally when I am in charge of my own meals and no one else is eating them I don't eat unhealthy, but I do eat lazy. Since being here, I've found that it's still easy to eat lazy, but also really well. Many of our meals do not take a serious amount of effort or prior planning, but we still eat like we live on a farm(...). Last night was home made seitan (which does take effort and planning, or you can just buy it for an outrageous price) with mushrooms, carrots, sunflower seeds and soy sauce; follards (Which is what Bonnie and Oliver call their fake collards: the greens of broccoli, which are not generally eaten, but yummy nonetheless) sautéed with garlic; everything served over rice. I made some oh-my-god easy bread and Theo brought over some home-made nut butter, mayonnaise, and horseradish (which was so amazingly strong I wanted to die, but in a good way). Guv was kind enough to do the bread blessing twice and Talula did not break anything all night. Success!

oh-my-god easy bread (also known as Simple Crusty Bread) recipe:

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

Cornmeal (optional).

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3
cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until
there are no dry patches. When using white flour I find I usually have to add a little more in when mixing. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not
with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or
up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two
weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut
off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands
to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom.
Put dough on pizza peel (or a cookie sheet)sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes.
Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle
rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for
20 minutes. If you don't have a stone, don't worry about it. I've tried it with and without and it makes no difference at all.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife
three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan
and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 20-30
minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

You don't really need cornmeal or a baking stone, I just use a cookie sheet and extra flour.

This recipe is very skeletal and easy to change for different kinds of bread. I made a few loaves with half whole-wheat flour half white flour and put raisins in it. I thought it came out pretty yummy. I'm curious to try one with rosemary and olive oil.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Happy New Year everyone!

The holiday season this year was calm and wonderful. I spent Christmas with The Logger Family in Pawlet. There was yummy Mexican food a-plenty and good company. Fighting was kept to a minimum except for one outburst about appreciating your family history and being proud of being Dutch because they weren't WWII Nazis. I didn't mention anything about the horrific Dutch slave trades or the fact that they ruined their own economy with their obsession with tulips. Being Italian probably makes my own family tree pretty dark at parts, but if you go back far enough in history, no one is innocent anyway. Being American makes your family heritage seem extremely far away and removed anyway and being American is not currently giving me much pride. Thus, I declined to take part in this conversation.

New Years Eve was spent here in Manchester. Albert fired his DJ for the evening so Max and Oliver and I kind of threw some list minute stuff together with Theo's sound system. I borrowed a mirror ball from the Dorset Theatre and Albert found this crazy mirror ball projector thing that projected shapes onto a disco ball which spun the shapes around the room. The fact that there were star shapes spinning around the room made me super happy.

The Logger ended up washing dishes all night, which was a shame for me because I had no one to entertain me (read: no one to pester) all night. He bought a new sweater from The Gap and put on clean jeans for the occasion, which might be the most dressed up he's been since Oliver's wedding. True it was a formal dinner and dancing New Years Eve party, but that's pretty formal for The Logger, so it counts. But like I said he ended up in the kitchen anyway.

Max and I downloaded a ton of music to play and I watched over it during dinner, and then Max took over during dancing. This worked out well because no one wanted to dance to the music I put on. Story of my life. This crowd was not into anything after 1970. Nothing. Don't even try it. Johnny Cash? Who the hell does that guy think he is anyway? Can't dance to it. Micheal Jackson? Hell no. Frank Sinatra? It's about time, now where's my dance partner? Lost him when you put on that modern crap you call "music".

I left the Inn early and got a New Years Eve kiss all snuggled in bed. My offer to play Auld Lang Syne on my compy was declined. I love going to bed early, even on New Year's Eve.