AnnA Smith’s Spider Webb

Spider Webb's Triangle

Bill Nelson took me to the Vermont Bookstore on Main Street in Middlebury to look at his wife, Margaret’s (Peggy) book, Parenting Out of Control. In the stacks, limited as they now are under new management, we met a woman dressed like the characters in the books and cards she had in her hands. Very feminine. A little Gothy.

Overhearing me and Bill talking about the death of the local bookstore, a problem that caused him to drive to Burlington for a copy of “Bitch” magazine which had an article on Peggy’s book, the woman not only volunteered that she was familiar with the magazine, but that she liked to shop at Barnes and Noble, the store where Bill found it.

“Got any ink,” I asked?

“Why don’t you go to the stationary store next door,” she replied.

“I mean ink on your body.” She just looked to me like she had some images somewhere. And I take images of ordinary people with ink.

“I got a web on my arm and a triangle on my back. Its kind of old and fading; I have to have it restored. Spider Webb did it ten years ago.”

“Spider Webb in Woodstock, NY!”

“Want to see it?”

Dog Bites Girl

Dog Unattended

The best camera to have is the one with you when something happens. And you always have to be ready to shoot. Didn’t do so well here as far as taking the gritty, emotional shots but, at least I got a few shots which show part of the story.

On May 26, Sharon and I went for a ride on the bikepath. We went North to the Colchester and then went back past the Boathouse to Oakledge Park, a distance of 12 miles or so. A seriously glorious day for a ride to nowhere in particular, we were just breathing deeply, singing, smiling, just loving the fact we were out and on our bikes.

Continue reading “Dog Bites Girl”

Hip Hip For Me

Eric Benz, Hip Doc

A year ago to almost the day, I had my right hip replaced by Eric Benz, MD. Today, he cleared me for activity. The bone has taken nicely with the spike. No gaps or holes. No black marks on the x-ray, a record I don’t usually see against my name. I feel so good about so many things, but at the top, next to my love for my wife, is that I can walk, bike, sit down, stand up, all pain free.

I had little problems healing or recuperating. My body doesn’t like tape. As with the first hip, I waited too long to do the second. I didn’t want to miss work at the PD’s Office or, after being laid off humiliatingly, drop out of school at Champlain College. The Defender General erased my sick time, over 500 hours, with a tart too bad, good by. Like star pitchers who go to the mound, I worked in pain. Never did anyone from Central Office in Montpelier ask how I was doing or if I needed some help carrying stuff to court or walking up stairs to my office. They just took me for the fool I was who wanted to do justice. School, I thought I could make it through a semester, but art and computer courses require sitting and walking, too. And Champlain College has stairs and icy pavements. Sharon stopped whatever she was doing and drove me most days. She wanted me to quit and have the operation. When the Spring 2009 semester ended, I was ready, physically and mentally.

No, I am not back to normal. I have to overcome the PTSD that comes from being in pain for so long. I still hesitate to take steps. I walk ramps. I try not to carry heavy things or cross streets when the light is changing. I have pain when I sit for long periods, so I walk around every 45 minutes when I am at the computer. Tough going to the movies. I sit on the bed to put on my pants and use a shoe horn to put my shoes on. No leg crossing. And, I haven’t hit a tennis ball in years, a condition I want to change this summer. “Just don’t try to cover the court,” Eric said.

Amazing how many people I came in contact during this process. One day, I will get over my touchiness at being asked how do you feel?What is your pain level? Never took the drugs I was offered, either. Couldn’t sleep through the night. Had to prepare to face the days. Couldn’t sit. Couldn’t stand. Put on weight by not exercising. But the pain, the overriding pain, I still feel, even though it be gone. I thank everyone who helped me, not just Eric who did the carpentry work.

“Stand up Mr. Duckman, when you address the Court,” Judge Toor screached at me. I think it is in her complaint against me, but I cannot remember and, right now, don’t care to as I prepare to go inactive tomorrow, ending my career as an attorney. “I am doing the best I can, but you wouldn’t care, because you never asked and I probably would not have answered, because you would not have given a damn anyway to know why I wasn’t rushing to court or jumping to attention.” Now had this conversation occurred, I probably would have justly and rightly been held in contempt.

Big day. Off to listen to Jazz at the Flynn. I have chain grease on my leg from a weekend bike ride. Looks good to me.

Erdman at the Marriot

Erdman Fits
Erdman Fits In

Last year, we moved around the corner to a 1,600 sq ft condo in a recently constructed building which sits between a Mariott and a Hilton. One bedroom, one bath didn’t work anymore. Our living room and terrace face the Lake, but our view is obstructed during green season by trees that line the west side of Battery Street. In the Winter, the view extends as far as the eye can see to New York. Not living on a higher and more fashionable floor made the place affordable, a big factor as we head into the last phase, i.e. endgame, of our lives.

Since our arrival, construction of an addition to the Marriott Courtyard has interfered with our quiet enjoyment of the place: truck, machine tools, cement trucks, workmen. Not fun. But, the work crews seem close to being finished, thank God, and have begun to clean up the mess and spruce the place up. Plants, shrubs and a piece of outdoor sculpture by local artist Richard Erdman of Williston have been added to a little garden area making the space seem attractive and classy. He has sculpted a second piece that will be installed near the entrance when construction have been completed. I feel much better about living here now that an object d’art with varying colors and curves will greet my arrivals and departures, as opposed to some deck chairs and potted plants.

Here, the artist measures space between the pedestal and the shaped object during a visit today where he took pictures of his work. He seemed really happy with the placement and the effect of the light off the surrounding areas. “At some point  you think you know what it will look like, but you never know until it is in place. It sorta has a life of its own,” he said.

Light dances off the edges of the shape and the stand. The pedestal provides its own colors and lines. And the object doesn’t just sit on the pedestal, it rests on a pin and can be rotated, changing the angles the light hits the planes and edges, causing more interesting shadows, tones, and hues. Richard wants to keep the kinetic nature of the piece a secret to prevent trampling of the adjoining flowers and possible abuse of the piece. I am almost sorry I know it can be moved, because I have adjusted the sides numerous times and will have to stop playing with it to prevent others from learning the trick.

Lenny’s Yahrzeit 2010

War Dead Reaches 1,000 in Afghanistan

The yahrzeit for my Father, Lenny, is 25 Sivan, which in this year corresponds to the sundown before, through the evening of, Monday, June 7, 2010. I find the Jewish calendar comforting in this regard since, were we to observe the Roman calendar date, the actual date on which he died, June 16, 1963, Father’s Day, I would always be saying Kaddish and lighting a candle for him on a made-up day designed to have you remember your father. A little too contrived for me, since my relationship with him didn’t last so long and most of it was too painful to be worthy of celebrations endemic to Father’s Day.

When he died, I was a year short of my sixteenth birthday, a milestone of significance only because it allowed me to obtain a learner’s permit. His sickness carried on for most of my memorable childhood. We started taking him to the hospital and to the doctor’s offices when I was six or seven. I can remember the operations to remove little cysts from his arms, neck, and head. I remember the coughing, the wheezing, the fatigue. He couldn’t throw a ball anymore, walk, carry things, or bend over. At ten, we found out he had some kind of blood disorder and something growing in his lungs. He fought on for all those years, missing work, getting treatments. I helped put salve on the wounds left by the primitive radiation treatments of the time. No surprise when he died; subject to the remissions, he had a dead-going-through-the-motions-look for years. No one thought I knew. Continue reading “Lenny’s Yahrzeit 2010”


Not Just Unlucky

Seven Days, a local free rag that covers politics, culture, food, and life in primarily northern VT, highlighted a disturbing problem extant in Burlington. There are street people who actually hang out on the street, people who have not been netted in the City’s social services. Shocking both sides say about the positions of the other. Both teams, for the sake of argument are made up of good, hearty, well-meaning people. One thinks that individuals have a right to the public streets no matter what they look like or how they earn a living; the other thinks that only people who have somewhere to go, preferably a job or a shop or a restaurant can use the throroughfares. To support the use of the police power to rid the paths of unattractive humanoids, the gendarmes rely on the public order and safety argument, sophistry which has stripped the right to assemble, press and almost the right to free speech of their intended protective shields. Frankly, I think it is because some don’t like to see the disadvantaged up close.

Continue reading “Jesse”

Fewer Behind Bars

Overcrowded Jails

NYT reported yesterday that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the number of inmates in county and city jails was more than 767,600 at the end of June 2009—a drop of nearly 18,000 inmates or 2.3 percent from a year earlier.” Credited for the decrease was a drop in the crime rate.

As much as I would like to laud the statistic having been and remaining a critic of the overuse of incarceration to maintain order, punish the mentally ill, maintain the racial superiority of the ruling classes, control public and private morals; and provide employment to otherwise unimaginative or poorly motivated individuals, a drop due to a realization that the State/Government confines too many people at great cost and for insufficient reasons, destroying lives, families, and communities would have been more heartening.

Lone Sailor Sees Again

Clear Enough

The smoke went north when the winds shifted. Fires continue to burn in Quebec. Clouds brought rain, helping the plants and settling the smog. Winds and cool air chased the clouds. Voila. Blue skies for a change. Not that the weather ever stops me from going outside. I like the gray days, the windy days, the cold days, too. It is just a matter of how many layers and which one sits closest to my body or farthest away. It is the windy days, when it is cold, that keep me huddled up inside.

Just a t-shirt today and shorts. No wind. No humidity. Warm sun. Clean air. And no people.

So Sharon and I rode along the Lake on the bike path, after the bike commuters cleared out. Few visitors here early on a Friday morning and locals have to work. Relatively empty but for a peloton of kids learning bike etiquette. Not sure they know their right from their left or that when they ride their bikes, they have to follow the rules like everyone else, giving up their usual exception for being short and young.

What kid wouldn’t want to be on their bike on a day like today, a day when we are all kids, enjoying the freedom a bike brings and the thrill of having the wind in your face as you generate the energy needed to travel?Just lovely.

To avoid the kids, Sharon wanted to exit the path and ride down North Street, fearing they wouldn’t know to move when I said “on your right.” But they all had control over their equipment and moved the correct direction, giving us an aisle to ride through. In the lead, I didn’t hit any of them and none ran into me.

As I passed, I said a customary, “thank you.” The well mannered Burlingtonian kids replied, “your welcome.” Very wholesome.