Well, there’s your problem 

She: So this thing on Facebook, only true every 1000th year? That’s just dumb, it’s always like that. 

He: Facebook is full of stuff from the dollar store that they grind up and feed to you by flinging it at you with a spoon. 

Uncle Frank

The word ‘blessed’ doesn’t generally sit well with me, but it is exactly right to describe how I felt at the chance to celebrate Frank Reaves’s memory and mourn his death.  We enjoyed a beautiful, uplifting service, and most importantly got to visit the whole clan before we take off for afar. 

I’ll never live up to Frank’s example… in a whole lot of dimensions he was an outstanding guy. Doesn’t matter, though: he gifted me in every single interaction we ever had the belief that it’s worth it live well and be my own example. 

21 seconds

That’s what separated second-place Galen Rupp from winner Geoffrey Kirui in the Boston Marathon today. Can you imagine the feelings?

Nat Hentoff, RIP

Nat Hentoff died last week. He was an amazing guy. I disagreed with him on a lot of specific policy issues, but he seemed like someone with whom that would be OK, maybe even expected.

I first heard of him in the hullabaloo around his getting fired at the Village Voice. Then I ran into an article he wrote, or really an excerpt from one of his books, in Evergreen Review (an issue that used to be online, but doesn’t appear to be at this time). That led me to watch his appearance on Firing Line, which is too long to really watch in its entirety unless you care specifically about something they’re saying. But, even a minute or two serves to remind us that while the level of wordplay has come down A LOT since then, the liberal/conservative TV talk show script hasn’t changed appreciably in 50 years.”They” are supposed to be earnest and idealistic to the point of naivete, while “they” must appear smugly self-assured and fundamentally uncaring.

The things that made him angry in life haven’t gone away, but neither have the things that gave him joy. Nat Hentoff is someone we could all stand to remember, to emulate in the sharpness of our thinking, the depth of our feeling, and the eloquence and sincerity of our expression.

Marigot first look

We got our adorably tiny rental car, but there was some mixup with Verizon, we were forced to navigate with a map. Quelle horreur. We finally stopped in the tourist office to confirm that we in the right place, and yes. 

But the AirBnB property manager wasn’t there, so we had to wait a few minutes. No problem with that…

We set out for a look around. Nicer, better maintained than St. Croix for sure. A mix of French and English spoken. This ship almost looks like a movie prop in the afternoon sun. 

As darkness fell , we headed back toward the house. 

Dinner at Rosemary’s (curried goat and grilled snapper), then a trip to the grocery store. So far, prices seem very reasonable. If you pay cash in dollars, which I can do for about another day before running out, you get a discount. I suppose those transactions might not make it to the tax collectors. 

Morning musings

A few random shots from recent morning walks around Brattleboro. 

One way to afford a fancy plug-in hybrid is to carry a table lamp in the back seat. 

These blocks appeared a while ago to block off a makeshift parking area. Parking can be tricky for downtown residents, because few houses have garages, and in the winter you’re not allowed to park on the street (to make way for the plows). Plus, those blocks are across from somebody’s front window. So, the whole block thing just seemed a little hostile to me. Los numéros appeared a few weeks later. Somehow I think they are wonderfully, slyly subversive. 

Here’s a fire truck getting its daily bath. We recently learned that one of our half-million-dollar trucks must be replaced several years ahead of schedule because the frame is rusted. And we are currently paying a million dollars a year in bond interest to replace this fire station, for reasons that include mold in the walls. Maybe consider drying the truck more thoroughly before pulling it back in?

Grateful, grateful

It’s been a month to shake off the complacency. I’ve been reminded that relatively big things in your life, like a job, can just disappear from one minute to the next. I’ve been reminded that much of what I thought I knew about politics, about the very nature of our public discussion, was wrong. From there, it’s easy to think about all the fragility of all the systems that surround and support us. One hacker destroys the food distribution system, one text message smashes the car. One cell divides too quickly. One mob with a pitchfork – or an automatic rifle – decides not to like you. 

Probably most people in the world already knew that stuff better than I… incomprehensibly bad things happen every day, everywhere, and to everybody. Still, when your glass is even a little emptier than it used to be, you notice, and wonder, and worry. 

But even faced with a crazy set of changes, what I’m noticing this weekend is a glass that still feels way more than half full. Lost a job? Lucky, and grateful, to be in a household with another one. And to be in a household, not all alone. And for that household to be in an actual house. And so on. 

Lost a little knee cartilage over the years? Extra thankful for my bike. Far-flung family? Hooray for big-hearted friends. And so on. At some point, after some number of losses, I suppose I’d feel differently… the emptiness would overwhelm the fullness, the unfairness would eat the joy right off the plate. 

But not yet. I’m thankful this weekend for all of it. And even though it’s probably Pollyanna thinking, grateful for the new choices we will have to be making in the coming days. Exciting times!

Life’s Little Ups and Downs

Some of the things that have become themes on this blog might seem mundane, even silly. Manhole covers, duct tape on cars, door knockers, that sort of thing. However, there are moments of excitement…

But rest assured, I don’t travel around the world only to stare at the pavement… There is cool stuff up in the air as well.

The Sea Lion

Boats often lead lead long and interesting lives, and boat people often seem to be people who enjoy chronicling those lives in detail. Here’s the Sea Lion… not much to look at cosmetically, but she caught my eye, and made me wonder where she’d been before. Assuming, of course, that I have the right boat, here’s the answer.

Donald McKay

I’m supposed to be in an airplane this morning about to land in Australia. However, some malfunction or other allowed me the privilege of staying in Boston overnight and trying to get out today. So, I went for a nice walk in the morning drizzle. I would post overhead video footage of the entire experience, but it isn’t allowed…

It wasn’t a total loss, however since I got to see this wonderful bust of Donald McKay in the park. He looks about like I felt yesterday dealing with Delta.

Mr. McKay’s clipper ships, such as the Flying Cloud and the Sovereign of the Seas, were among the fastest vessels of the time, carrying everything from slaves to timber to 49ers on their way to California. 

Today, this part of Boston Harbor is mostly abandoned, or more accurately it has been abandoned and is now in the early throes of gentrification… Instead of longshoremen smoking furtive nasty cigarettes, it’s twenty-somethings with weimaraners and lattes.

Mise en place, again

Getting ready for the fabulous Vietnamese feast prepared by Sheri for my birthday. After our hike, we had a “towering” appetite. Best of all, a large number of the extended Houghton / Providence clan joined in… 

Thanks a ton!

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