Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Out LIke a LIght

Eli and I are listening to Marko the Magician's Hypnosis CD so we can fall asleep. It's not like I haven't tried guided visualization to get to sleep before, and with some success, but there's nothing quite like mother-son insomniacs doing hypnosis together. We turn off the lights in the living room, sit upright in a chair and let Marko count backward from ten to one as he instructs our shoulders to drop and takes us to some beach only celebrities can afford to go. The only problem is that he insists on bringing us out of this pleasant hypnotic state, the idea being that if we can do this five minute exercise a few times a day we'll be able to induce this state of relaxation on our own. But it is still very annoying to have to come out when you just got in. Hypnosis is apparently a dangerous sport. Every year we go to see Marko's hypnosis show on New Year's Eve and when he says the word "microphone," one guy starts running around City Hall shouting "Beep Beep" because he's convinced he is Road Runner and another starts singing "God Bless America." Then Marko snaps his fingers and they are out like a light.  God knows how long we'd sleep if he didn't bring us back by counting from five to one. "At one you will once again be totally alert." What a bummer. Frankly I'd like to be out for a week. And when I'm ready to take a permanent hike from this world, I wouldn't mind going out to Marko's countdown.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

There's a Higher Power!

The other day, I got the chance to interview country and gospel music legend Charlie Louvin. Back in the 40's and 50s, Charlie and his brother Ira headlined shows all over the country as The Louvin Brothers. Elvis opened for the Louvins; so did Johnny Cash. Ira Louvin died in a car crash in 1965. But at 81, Charlie's still making music, and will be contending for a Grammy in LA on February 8.

Charlie's a great storyteller. He talked at length about getting his start at an Alabama county fair in 1941, his life as a Louvin Brother, and touring with Cake and Lucinda Willliams. You can read the interview over at State of Mind Music.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beating the Heat

Saturday morning, an Arctic cold front moved in, and the mercury took a dive. But I decided tough it out and do a little snowshoeing. I strapped on my twin tennis rackets and hoofed it through Sabin's Pasture, a disused farm at the outskirts of Montpelier, just behind the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

I'd never visited Sabin's before. For years Montpelierites have been struggling over its fate. The pro-development folks want to put 600 housing units on it. The greenies want to conserve it. At this point, they appear ready to split the difference--if funds to purchase the property from its owners can be found. Then  we can all throw away our "Save Sabin's Pasture" (and, alternately "Pave Sabin's Pasture") buttons.

Judging from the established Nordic trails and sledways on the land, plenty of people have been using Sabin's for winter fun, regardless. I shoed my way to the center of the tract--and the abandoned slate quarry that can be found there. It's a little bit like the entry to Butch and Sundance's Hole in the Wall—a keyhole entrance between fifty-foot cliffs, and a path that leads into a dead-end canyon about 100 yards deep. Outside the quarry, the wind was roaring. Inside, I only heard the sound of myself. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is it I-naug-yoo-ration or innaug-uh-ration?

What is going on with the pronunciation of this word? It's like nuclear. Could someone please clarify? I'm going with the first (yoo) but all over the media I've heard it pronounced "uh." Less than one hour to inauguration. Evelyn, my sister, called me from CA. She never goes to bed before 3:30 am but she got up early to go to the Gorilla Cafe in Berkeley for the speech. Gary and I will be headed to City Hall soon, where it is rumored that CNN might show up. I think the last time they were here was when the Men of Maple Corner stripped off their clothes for a nude calendar and got orders from all across the country because CNN played a clip of the guys posing discretely in front of a canoe, nude above and below, in an endless loop all weekend. That two minute segment earned them over a quarter million for their community center (the whole point of the calendar) and that was just after 911 so it's been a while since Vermont went public. I wish presidents would be sworn in in spring. Doesn't that make more sense? If I didn't have to sleep on a bus and stand out in the cold, I would be in Washington now, bracing myself to be trampled.

The F-er Project

Plug into any media outlet today, and you're going to hear about change. At The Beehive, we're totally behind the swapping out of the overstuffed nappy that is the Bush Administration. And we're overjoyed at the arrival of The Man Who Isn't The Man. Still, it's important to remember that ordinary people can contribute to change as well. And leave it to Deb to figure out a way to change the world by dropping the F-bomb.

Friends of The Beehive will be shocked to learn that Deb occasionally lets a swear word slip. And while this isn't the world's most grievous offense, she decided to do something about it. After all, she was setting a bad example for Eli, who had begun to show a talent for sailoresque discourse as well. So the two set up a Curse Jar. The rules: use a word your great-granny wouldn't approve of, and drop a buck in the bucket.

Perhaps Barack inspired Deb to take her experiment a step further. Perhaps it was her own generous nature. But instead of using the Curse Jar to fund a new flat-screen TV, she and Eli decided to swear their way to change by donating their Curse Jar cash to Heifer International. This charity organization collects money from willing donors and uses it to buy farm animals for poor rural families. The animals—which range from chickens and bunnies to cattle and camels—provide their new owners with a source of food, fiber, or finances, making their lives more sustainable.

Gary and Maddie, of course, never use salty language. But we did have some spare change lying about. So we joined Deb and Eli on their Heifer Project. All told, the four of us scraped together $50, which enabled us to buy a share of a heifer (which, for those who are not agriculturally inclined, is a young female cow) for a family who needs it. That means somewhere down the road, folks will belly up to the breakfast bar with big servings of nutritious, delicious milk. And that's a change we can all get with.  

Friday, January 16, 2009


We're pleased to announce that Constance LaFarge of Platte Rouge, Idaho has won Beehive Reader Contest #417. Her sonnet, "The Noble Bee, His Yokes are Shafts of Sunlight" was chosen from among 627 qualified entries. For her effort, Ms. LaFarge wins a Gentle Giant Bee Smoker, courtesy of Artie's Bee Supply, Wickford, VT. Her poem will appear in Best of the Beehive, scheduled for release in spring, 2010.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

American Diner

To celebrate Deb's MFA status, we fled Vermont for the weekend. Portsmouth, NH is a sweet little town with lots of good restaurants and one GEN-YOO-WINE American Diner. In various forms, Gilley's PM Lunch has served the city of Portsmouth since 1914. On an icy Sunday night, we found its current incarnation, a 1940 Worcester Diner, warm and welcoming.

Owner Steve Kennedy hooked us up with some great historical info about the diner, and showed us some cool shots of its predecessors, horse and tractor-drawn lunch carts that trolled the streets looking for hungry dock hands and business folks in days long past. I devoured one of Steve's "100% chuck loin" cheeseburgers, and Deb dined on a chili dog, which she pronounced divine.

The place wasn't too busy, so Steve and Deb shot the breeze about legendary Vermont deer hunter Larry Benoit. Years back, Deb interviewed Larry for her radio show, Local Color. And Steve currently serves as Larry's videographer, helping to create how-to videos for wannabee buckmasters.

All in all, Gilley's was a great experience. So if you're in Portsmouth, stop by, sample the goods, and tell Steve the folks from The Beehive sent you.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life after MFA

So far I made a bunch of writing resolutions for the coming year, MFA in hand. They look good on paper. Still trying to get out from the quagmire of paperwork that has been left unattended for the better part of two years. Threw out the fifteen renewal notices for the New Yorker to find one that says I authorized the magazine to renew my subscription automatically through my credit card (didn't say which one). Then why did they waste so much paper?  I went along for the ride. Maybe I'll actually make time to read it this year. Gary hates 90 percent of all the fiction in the New Yorker especially Joyce Carol Oates, who has a piece he despises in the latest issue. He pretty much despises everything she writes.  Gary's favorite quote about Oates comes from his MFA colleague Les Edgerton: "Joyce Carol Oates. Nothin' in her wastebasket." Gary  once proposed making tee shirts that read STOP JOYCE CAROL OATES. On another note, Gary's being very secretive about his new creative work, which is nothing new, given that he never tells me what he is writing about. It kills his creative chi.  (He's a real artist). But he likes to flex his new biceps, which he is acquiring at the gym, at every opportunity. "Look!" he exclaims, shocked and awed by the bulging protuberances. I'm more into abs and Gary is convinced he will be ripped before we head off to Puerto Rico in February. I suspect these new-found muscles to be the source of his latest creative surge. What a little narcissism can do...It's funny all that fuss the media made about Obama's abs. Personally I didn't see any abs. He has pecs though. I did twenty sit ups tonight and ate a coconut macaroon dipped in dark chocolate. My belly feels a little lava-like at the moment. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Earth's Kittens

Yesterday afternoon, Maddie and I dropped in on the Vermont Fancy Felines cat show. We saw plenty of pampered pussycats, mingled with their owners, watched some crazy cat judging, and smelled lots of pee. Quote of the day, from Maddie: "Dad, at least at a dog show, the dogs pee outside!"