Hail fellow and well met

Walking along over the weekend, we came across this scene involving a big machine ripping the front off a building (already under some kind of re/construction), and a very large contingent of emergency personnel. The scene was apparently unfolding just then, so we stopped to gawk. We saw some wisps of smoke, but it could have just been construction dust. 

One of the other gawkers was a big guy in a security guard uniform, and we got to chatting. He was from South Africa, been here about 8 years. He couldn’t say enough good about NZ, what a great place to raise his boys, how honest the police are, great people all over, and so on. 

Nothing dramatic happened across the street, so we took our leave and went on, smiling. 

The Emblem Museum

We went for an afternoon walk about town yesterday and chanced on a signboard that read “Emblem Museum.” Ok, I’ll bite…

It’s upstairs near Bhava Yoga on Elliot Street, and a beautiful space. It’s really two rooms full of paintings, which take their inspiration from Ethiopian scrolls and a Victorian travel book found in an attic. 

Julia Zanes, the artist and proprietor, greeted us warmly. We learned that ‘museum’ might not be quite the right word, but ‘gallery’ sounded too commercial.   She explained both the creative and physical processes behind the painting series, which resonated with me… finding this this old F. Hopkinson Smith book in the attic of her new home, connecting somehow with these old scrolls, hanging out with someone who just happens to do gold leaf… and a few hundred hours later you have Art. And art we liked, it would look good in this house. 

As a side project she makes puppets and does puppetry, because why not, and hopes to put on shows for kids, but maybe with less disturbing puppets, so they don’t cry. Good idea, but as grown ups we thought the creepy puppets were really cool. And also creepy. 

Can Brattleboro support another somewhat esoteric gallery/museum? One is hopeful, but… I’m glad we got to see it and meet her now. 


We found this particularly enigmatic note on the base of a lamppost the other evening. I’m convinced it’s an omen… my life has had more than the usual share of buffets, and now is about to acquire another. 

Way way long ago, one of the first pieces of grownup furniture I ever bought was a mahogany buffet in an 18th century style. It was painted white at the time, and I got it for what seemed like a song. We kept it through several moves, eventually refinished it (so-so results) (don’t use a pressure washer), and finally traded it for a smaller hutch when we moved to a more constrained  house in Alameda. 

Under circumstances I don’t exactly remember, we acquired a print by depressive French artist Bernard Buffet, and then another and another. 

Now, as it happens, I’m in the market for a clarinet, and it turns out that one of the brands to consider is a Buffet (actually it’s Buffet Crampon, but that sounds even less sexy in English than in its native French). Buffet clarinets are well-respected, but – new or used – they ain’t cheap, and so I’ve been hesitating… could a Yamaha or even some lesser marque sound as good for half the price?

The answer to that question is probably yes… especially in my inexperienced hand. But then again, if a man my age suddenly picks up the clarinet in the first place, surely it’s as much about the romance as the waveforms? Paris café bands in the 20s and 30s were playing Buffets, so why in the world wouldn’t I do the same?!

The universe has spoken!


For the last 7 years, I’ve been keeping an eye on my pocket change for the Guam-P quarter, along with all the other state and territorial quarters issued from 1999-2009 that I’ve accumulated since they started the program in 2003. For about three years, the elusive Guam-P has been the only hole in my collection. 

Finally complete, thanks to whatever chain of events led that quarter to end up in my pocket this week.