When we first arrived in Brattleboro, we were charmed by the idea that we have a full-fledged circus school in town. I had dreams of the circus back in the day myself. Lee took a community class to learn the basics of German Wheel, and we’ve been to several NECCA performances.

A couple of years ago, the circus school announced its intention to move from its current digs in the old Cotton Mill complex to a brand new building over on Putney Road. While I lament the loss of funkiness, from the perspective of the school’s leaders I can certainly see advantages to a newer, brighter space.

As part of the capital campaign underway to build that new building, NECCA received this painting as a donation. It’s by Paul Stone, whose dental practice was located in our home for many years (before it was our home…). We see Paul from time to time, as he plays cards next door most weeks. He gave us the original blueprints for the building after he found them in his closet a year or two ago. Vermont has a lot of barn painters, but there’s something about his paintings… palette, shadows, who knows… that has appealed to us from even before we knew we were buying his building.

Soooo…. wouldn’t it be awesome if the painting ended up gracing a wall in Paul’s old building? So full-circle, so meant-to-be. Wouldn’t that be just the best pre-Christmas present EVER???


The James Burke TV show Connections arrived at just the right moment in my youth to really fascinate me. The idea that you could weave a story crossing vast reaches of human history with only the thinnest thread – and have the whole thing hold together – still gives me great pleasure. And makes me boring at cocktail parties.

Today, I happened across a copy of Volume I of the Annals of Brattleboro and came home to look it up to see how valuable it is. Since the text has been transcribed and made available for free, perhaps not as valuable as i’d hoped, but still.

Looking for my new treasure online, I discovered something that was phonetically similar enough to rank high in the hits: the Brattleboro Rat, a naturally occurring “knockout mouse” first identified in 1961, by Dr. Henry Schroeder, who surprisingly doesn’t seem to have his own Wikipedia article yet. About 40 years after that, I was deeply enmeshed in knockout mouse-related research helping build a nomenclature for murine bloodborne cancers, part of a career that led me first to Connecticut, and finally to Brattleboro. 

Where I took an interest in local history, and a couple of intriguing gravestones, which led me to consult the Annals of Brattleboro…

If you’re of a certain age, like me, your first reaction on seeing this is to hear a certain Elton John song. I follow that up with a realization that I don’t have any idea what the song is about. Who is this Levon and why is being Levon so epic? 

 And then, as you’re walking away, humming along to the tune now firmly stuck in your head, only then do you take the time to ponder whether it’s grammatically appropriate to believe “on” something. Or to stand “on” line as they seem to do in NYC. 

And finally, as the moment passes, you can ponder which local business this car’s people might be in: the activist bookstore, the transgender-run daycare, the tattoo parlor? Oh well, you’re welcome in Brattleboro, whatever you believe on.

For the last hundred years or so, this clock has helped everybody in Brattleboro get where they need to be, when they need to be there.

Although I applaud the use of a coordinating green, I am concerned to see this landmark apparently held together with duct tape this week.

Putting the fun in fundraising… again this year, the Retreat included a photo booth in its Employee Giving campaign kickoff.

This is one of a whole herd of phones that have been cemented to the sidewalk around town over the past few weeks. Very subversive.


A couple of years ago, Brattleboro tore down some decrepit buildings on this site, opening up a tiny piece of our waterfront. Today, a group of concerned citizens cleaned up the brush, trees and so on to open up the view. It’s practically a Destination now!

Deja vu all over again

We joined a few dozen of our fellow Brattleburgers this morning for an informational meeting about proposed renovations to our police and fire facilities. When we went to a similar meeting three years ago, the expensive proposal was tepidly supported by the Selectboard and eventually voted down by a vocal but small group of CAVEmen (citizens against virtually everything).

This time, our new Town Manager presented a range of options in a coherent if long-winded manner, and I hope we can stop the dithering and do these renovations.

This is not a picture of Al Roker. He was scheduled to make Brattleboro the 48th stop on his record-setting 50-state tour at 9 PM last Thursday. We duly headed out, enjoyed special discounts and an overwhelming crowd at Duo restaurant (seriously guys, if you email the whole world, go ahead and put on another bartender), and watched carefully through the drizzle.

By following the great man’s progress on Twitter, it was clear that 9 PM wasn’t happening. He made it finally around 10:45, still a remarkable logistical feat, and completed his trip the next morning. Money was raised to help hungry people. We were asleep.

The thing of standing in the weather with a cardboard sign hoping for a glimpse or a handshake is a thing that I just can’t get excited about, whether it’s a weatherman, a candidate, or a Pope. I once paid relatively big bucks to attend an event only to be rewarded with a blurry picture of Hillary Clinton’s bodyguard’s earphone from the back, but that came with a delightful lecture by Madeleine Albright and outstanding hors d’oeuvres. Otherwise, no thank you, I’ll stay home.

So, Al, sorry we missed you, congrats on your new World Record, stop by again sometime when you can stay a little longer.

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