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Stuck in Vermont: 100% homegrown Vermont vlog about art, music, obsessions and outsiders

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March 2007

March 27, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 15: Maple Open House

Maple_2 The Sixth Annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend was held at sugarhouses throughout Vermont, March 23-25, 2007. The Open House Weekend is an invitation to the public to visit one or more sugarhouses throughout the state.

I chose to visit the sugarhouse at my home away from home, Shelburne Farms.  A handwritten sign tacked to a bridge behind the Farm Barn pointed us up the hill.  At the crest we watched sheep munch on grass and breathed in the awe inspiring landscape of Vermont mountains set against the artful outline of the fairytale-like Farm Barn.

Down the Farm Trail, smoke was rising up from the sugar shack and kids were lugging buckets of sap.  About 400 people visited the sugarhouse Saturday and sampled hot syrup, learned about the sugaring process and ate syrup on snow.

Maple_10Sugar Maker Mark Klonicke gave us a hearty education in the complex Art of Sugaring.  Did you know it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup?  And some trees are sweeter than others?  Also, sap does not gush out of a tree, it drip, drip, drips - and the speed of its dripping is affected by wind and temperature. 

Also, when I asked Mark which grade of syrup was best, he chuckled and shook his head, "That's the sort of thing that sugarers stay up till 2am arguing about." 

When the sap is running "fast," the sugarhouse stays open all night long to make sure that not one precious drop of the sap is wasted.  When you are tapping about 550 trees and each tap only wields about 1 quart of syrup, you can bet that you'll save every last drop!  Shelburne Farms makes about 100 gallons of maple syrup a year so each drip is precious.

Maple_7It reminds me of Dune in which The Spice (which could also refer to oil) rules the world.  Mmmm...the magical syrup could probably start a war or two if we aren't careful...

Ethereal song entitled "Curling Pond Woods" by Greg Davis' off his beautiful album, Curling Pond Woods.  This song so perfectly blends with the sounds of the sugarhouse that I wasn't sure if the running water was part of the music or background noise - I am still not quite sure.

Note to self: Do not edit a vlog about tasty syrup unless you are prepared to eat some!  After eMaple_3_evaditing this vlog late last night, I was CRAVING pancakes and made some as soon as I woke up with some Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup.   Mmm...truly the nectar of the Gods.

Stuck in Vermont 14: Date with History

Date_history_4Preservation Burlington held a fundraiser Thursday evening, March 22, at the Fleming Museum, "A Date with History."  There were tasty munchies, mysterious historical characters mingling with the guests, a harpist and a guided tour of the current exhibit, "Burlington and Winooski 1920-2020: The Evolution of Our Built Environment."

History sometimes feels more concrete than it actually is.  After perusing the various blueprints, models and photographs sprinkled throughout the exhibit, you begin to realize how fluid and ever-changing our small cities are.   And once you realize this, it becomes clear how important all of our roles are in steering these developments in the best direction.  But which way to go?

There have been a variety of plans which have changed the face of Burlington and Winooski over the years - some in the distant past, such as urban renewal which did much damage to the community, and some which are more recent, such as the transformations of Church St and the Waterfront.  It is amazing to realize how hugely these changes affect our day to day lives. 

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What if the two-lane highway proposed along the Waterfront had been built?  What if we had approved the proposal to turn the Waterfront into a Disneyland of sorts, packed full of shops?  And what if we had decided to build a dome over Winooski?  How would our lives be different if these proposals had been realized?

 

Andrea Rogers, Executive Director of the Flynn Center, noticed that many of these development proposals are more extreme at first, and then become more plausible as we pare them down.  Former Vermont Senator Sally Conrad pointed out that it is up to us to keep an eye on development and ensure that our cities grow in ways that are positive for all our citizens.  Ann Vivian, VP of Preservation Burlington stressed the necessity of striking a balance between development and preserving our past.

Date_history_7 Janie Cohen, Director of the Fleming Museum led our tour through the impressive exhibit (up through June 24th) which takes a comprehensive look at the complex and ever-transforming organisms that are our cities.

The exhibition looks at the impact of both the Urban Renewal and Historic Preservation movements on our downtowns, how changes in transportation have affected our cities, the ways in which natural forces such as floods, fire, and Dutch Elm disease have reshaped our urban landscapes, and the evolution of Burlington's waterfront from an industrial salvage yard to a recreational destination. - Fleming Museum

 

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The evening was a smashing success and a lucky few even guessed who the four mystery guests were.  It is a fine line we walk between change and preserving our past.  But with an ever-vigilant community keeping an eye on things, I feel safe knowing we will move in the right direction - whatever that may be!

Ethereal song entitled "Brocade (Rewoven)" by Greg Davis' off his most amazing album, Curling Pond Woods.

 

March 20, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 13: Craft Mafia

Craft_1_2Friday night in the Old North End and Studio STK was hopping with crafty items created by the recently formed Burlington Craft Mafia.  Homemade hats, shirts, jewelry, bags, belts and haute couture fashion was artfully displayed around the room to the delight of shoppers. 

Even the food looked good, bright green cupcakes and little sandwiches cut with love to look like ducks and stars.  On the stairs, Colin Clary sang and played guitar in a rainbow colored sweater. 

I talked to some of the featured artists and members of the crowd about crafting, obsession, inspiration and recycling. 

Craft_5I have to admit it, I am a craft addict.  And I am an obsessed artist who spends most of her time snipping away at tiny bits of video footage.  These talented, hard-working women inspire me.

I can so totally relate to Joanne when she talks about how her happiness is intertwined with making things (which leads to not sleeping much). There is something so satisfying about making something that other people can enjoy and wear daily.   When you are doing that, who needs sleep?

I also talked to Allison about her haute couture fashions which carve out their own niche in the Craft Mafia and involve an impressive swath of recycled materials - a zipper from an industrial sleeping bag, fabric from yard sales and a dress made out of t-shirts.  Makes you think anything is possible!

Craft_2_evaThe evening started out slow but ended with a bang.  I walked out with a beautiful blue beaded necklace (thanks Kacey) with a flowered heart at the end.  And that showed a massive amount of self-restraint because the place was packed to the gills with delectable items.

You can find out more about the artists and purchase their amazing goods by visiting their individual websites which are all listed here.

The wonderfully whimsical song is "Some of My Favorite People Are..." by Colin Clary off his craftily-packaged sweater album, "Sweater Weather or Not, These are the Songs I Got."

PS My apologies for the crunchy look of the Stuck in Vermont videos.  I am going to make a concerted effort to find some better YouTube compression settings.  As much as I like the DIY, low fi look of the STVT vlogs, it would be nice if people's faces were not crawling with pixels!   If anyone knows of any YouTube compression magic tricks, please let me know. 

March 14, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 12: dug Nap

   

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dug Nap is an interesting fellow.  I first became acquainted with him the way most people do, someone gave me one of his greeting cards - the one with the urgent VT State Trooper's report about the crack in the center of the road and the pie stolen off a windowsill...you know the one?

I was living in Oakland at the time and the yearly murder count was climbing past 100.  Blinking police cars parked on my corner every weekend and no doubt their police reports were pie-free.  I loved the image of Vermont dug Nap was selling,  quirky, refreshing and all his own.

dug Nap wears many hats: visual artist, performance artist, rock musician, poet, writer.  Friday night he wowed a sold out crowd at the FlynnSpace with his one-man, one-night-only show, "My Imaginary Girlfriend."

This vlog does not contain any of the show itself, dug decided he was not ready to release that just yet.  Instead, it is a record of the evening and a sampling of dug's many fans who packed the house Friday.

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Sadly, the demand for seats was so high that even dug's optometrist was not able to get a ticket.  Alas.  Many of the ticket-holders knew dug from the old days when his band Pinhead opened for the Clash (!?) or through his paintings and greeting cards which are renowned in Burlington and internationally as well.  Some came with no preconceived notions at all (the group sitting next to me for instance) - out of simple curiosity to see the man behind the cards.

And once Bob Klink took the stage and switched from hat to hat, script in hand, much of the audience was mesmerized.  There is no doubt that dug is a powerful performer with an unusual perspective and a clear voice.   He took us on a strange and wonderful ride and we never looked back.

Dug_nap_1I spoke to dug both before and after the show.   Appropriately, he wore a different hat during both interviews.  It makes me glad to know such a unique voice can find a spotlight and an audience. 

And with a sold out show, standing room seats all taken and 50 people turned away after that, it is clear that other people are interested to hear what dug has to say as well.   Artist, performer, outsider artist or insider, it is clear that his many hats fit him well.

Wonderful song is "You vs Them" by The Hero Cycle (MySpace) off their brand spanking new album "Lakes and Ponds."  They have a record release party at Club Metronome March 16th, check it out!Dug_nap_4_1

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March 05, 2007

Stuck in Vermont 11: Cindy Sheehan

It isn't every day that you are lucky enough to spend an entire day with Cindy Sheehan.  And after driving with Cindy from Burlington to Montpelier to Middlebury and back to Burlington again on the Peace Bus, I was exhausted.  How does she do it? 

Cindy_1_1 When I asked what kept her going, she said simply, "The idea that there's people dying for no reason."

During the weekend of March 2, 3, and 4, Cindy Sheehan, John Nichols (associate editor of the Nation magazine), former Army Sgt. Drew Cameron (Iraq Veterans Against the War), former Marine Cpl. Matt Howard,  (Iraq Veterans Against the War), former Army Sgt. Adrienne Kinne (Iraq Veterans Against the War and a psychologist for the Veterans Administration Medical Center in White River Junction), and Newfane Selectboard Member Dan DeWalt (organizer of the town meeting resolutions) barnstormed through eleven towns in Vermont to speak in support of citizen actions and participation in Vermont town meeting on March 6.

I spent the entire day of March 3rd following this amazing group of passionate, eloquent, hard-working people - first to the Statehouse to speak out in support of the resolution to bring the troops home, and then to Middlebury College and UVM to rally support for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney on Vermont's town meeting day.

Cindy_4_busIt was snowing hard but our fearless bus driver, Jim Goodnow of Veterans for Peace managed to steer the bus clear of any ditches.  Jim was with Cindy when she first started Camp Casey and came to national attention in August of 2005.  I asked him if he had any idea of the amazing ride that was to follow and he said that he had an inkling when he saw Cindy up late the night before working on her laptop:

"I could tell by her concentration and the spirit, the aura about her, the presence there, that there was something that would be happening.  I didn't know the exact dimension of it." - Jim Goodnow

Cindy_7_hug There is something magical about Cindy that is hard to describe.  She is an articulate and powerful speaker and everywhere she goes, people flock to her, shake her hand, hug her and tell her their stories.  She inspires, provokes and causes a commotion wherever she goes.

At the Statehouse, Cindy was greeted by a woman clad in American flag clothing and holding a sign that said, "Go Home Sheehan."  Cindy took a moment to examine her sign and address her personally.  She smiled and said, "I wish I was home right now, in California." 

Cindy is always on the move, recently back in the States after visiting Turkey, she has traveled all over the world spreading her message.  Demanding an end to the war in Iraq, a safe return home for the soldiers and impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

Cindy_6_vets_1 She was joined on the Vermont leg of her tour of duty by former Iraq soldiers, Drew Cameron, Matt Howard, and Adrienne Kinne who are all with Iraq Veterans Against the War.   These three speak with heart-breaking honesty and use their personal experiences to display the disastrous effects of the on going war in Iraq. 

During the Senate hearing, Matt addressed supporters of the war and President Bush:

"On many levels I empathize and sympathize with them because they have a lot to lose, I had a lot to lose.  When you realize that everything that you put your life on the line for is a myth and was for nothing, that will shatter you.  It has shattered me and I'm trying to pick up the pieces of my life...for the last two years of my life upon discharge, when I realized that I was NOT there to help the Iraqi people." - Matt Howard

No matter what your feelings on the war, you cannot help but be touched when you hear these veterans speak.  They were there to live through things you have only seen on television and all of them are significantly younger than me.  They went to a foreign land on our behalf and now they have come home to speak out and uphold the constitution they swore to defend.

Cindy_3_statehouse Alongside writer John Nichols, Cindy and the vets brought their messages to eleven VT towns in three days.  The hope of organizers Dan DeWalt and Jimmy Marc Leas (owner of the bus!) was that this barnstorming tour for peace would motivate Vermonters to use their unique rights on Town Meeting Day tomorrow, March 6th, to ask that the troops be brought home and the President be impeached.  You can find out more at their website, Vermont Impeachment Movement.

Cindy_2It isn't easy traveling from town to town on a rickety old bus in a snowstorm.  We were often behind schedule, looking for bathrooms, tired and ravenous.  But despite all this, everyone's spirits and morale remained high. 

The talk never strayed far from politics, even when discussing the odd parallel world where Anna Nicole's burial and Britney's head shaving garner more press than people dying overseas.  These people have a mission and it informs every breath they take.

There was a nice little moment when Ralph Nader called John's cell and a ripple went through the bus as everyone realized, "Ralph?  Ralph's on the phone?"  John handed the phone to Cindy and she smiled, "Hi Ralph, it's Cindy!"

Earlier, they had discussed the possibility of Cindy running for President.  It is easy to imagine, she causes such a stir everywhere she goes.  Who would have thought that from one impromptu political action in Texas in August of 2005, Cindy could have paved such an impressive path. 

Cindy_8_applauseIt truly does go to show that one person, no matter who you are, can make a difference in this world.  We are lucky to live in a state that allows the freedom to discuss these matters and more at our town meetings. 

Happy town meeting day everyone!  And many thanks to Cindy, John, Adrienne, Matt, and Drew for touring our state and to Jimmy and Walt for organizing this, to Jim for driving and to Liza for bringing the baked goods!

Beautiful opening music by Swale, "Soft Fireworks," followed by rocking Cave Bees tune, "Mine All Mine."

PS Did you know Cindy is on MySpace?  She likes to use it to connect to her younger fans and joked that she has thousands more friends than Michael Moore!

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