Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vermont to Montreal July 26th - July 27th

The Galaxy Book Shop in Hardwick, VT
self serve with cash in the till
Amazing roof garden
Nearly all of Monday was spent driving up and down Route 2. I was taking youngest daughter for her obligatory immunizations before college. This was a lot of time in the car - 7 hours due to traffic but relatively easy. Easier than we had thought and Rosie and I enjoyed pleasant conversations and a nice breakfast at Whole Foods on the way out and she was much relieved that the this series of shots was not very painful as the previous ones. I also arranged other important doctors visits as I drove so it was a good day. And if not a vacation precisely at least some stress was removed from the summer. 

The drive to Vermont was delightful. We stopped Burdick's for coffee in Walpole NH and arrived in Hardwick VT in time for lunch. Hardwick has a coop that we visited in 1984 when or eldest was 1 years old. We bought her a T-shirt that had a buffalo and Buffalo Mtn. Coop which she and all three of her sister wore for 15 years. Hardwick is now the center of the 'localvore' movement.  The first site we enjoyed was this window at the Galaxy Book Store 7 Mill Street. They will have one of my fave poets reading in AUG - David Budbill. I wish someone had been in the window. We could have exchanged stories. We had a local produce lunch at the Buffalo Mtn. Coop Café where the gazpacho was the best I have ever had. Anxious to get out of the car we pushed on Craftsbury to visit our friend Mimi who is the mother of one of our oldest and closest friends, David. Back 1984 we lived together in Cambridge. He was reeling from a divorce proceeding that was tearing at all our hearts and shaking the foundations of our little coop house and community. We were visiting in VT to cheer us and his two year old daughter, Catherine, in this difficult time. I was pregnant with our second child, due in late August. David was separated but still married to Lucy, my best friend from high school. Our friendship and our youthful promise that we would live together and help each other raise our families was the center pole of the three family arrangement in our funky three-decker in Central Square, Cambridge. Robert and I loved Catherine like a niece and our eldest daughter Sira loved her like a cousin. We spent many summers after that visiting David and his parents in Vermont and now our all too infrequent visits are always filled with sweet memories.

On the way to Mimi's there is new farm stand that is owned by Pete Johnson - a shaker and mover, who is responsible for much of this ... article excerpt from  SlowFood blog:

"We all know what local, sustainable food can do for the health of our bodies, but could it also be a cure for the health of ailing economies? Ben Hewitt’s book The Town that Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food delves into this question, exploring the growth of a vibrant local food economy in Hardwick, Vermont, population 3,200. Hardwick is a lot like how it sounds – unemployment in the town is 40 percent higher than the state average; incomes are 25 percent lower. But in the last few years, Hardwick has returned to its historical roots in farming, with a new twist – local, sustainable agriculture. It’s growing a vibrant local food system that is restoring not only some jobs and higher wages, but a sense of community and food that’s connected to it. A diverse network of “agrepreneurs” in Hardwick– High Mowing Organic Seeds, Pete’s Greens, Jasper Hill Farm, the Vermont Food Venture Center and so on - are producing organic and artisanal foods and seeking investors. Business owners share advice, capital and facilities. About a hundred jobs have been created. Sounds great, but is the story of this one town’s thriving local food system unique, or is it a viable model for other communities? As I read, part of me hoped to find an easy-to-follow plan - just do it like we did! Farm this way, market that way, save the world, take a nap. Sadly, social change isn’t that easy, but while Hardwick doesn’t offer an exact blueprint, it is a thought-provoking example of a thriving local food economy. Hewitt suggests that a couple of unique, and surprising, variables have contributed to the town’s growing local-ag economy: poverty and small size. Hewitt believes that Hardwick’s success is founded upon trust and collaboration which “are in no small ways social and cultural responses to economic hardship.” He also suggests that the population had a “just right” quality that was big enough to be ambitious, and small enough to be fast-acting and flexible. The best lesson to be learned here is about cooperation and inspiration. The Town that Food Saved is a story about the ability of a group of likeminded folks to come together in pursuit of a passion for sustainable, local food– not without challenges, but with dedication to a bigger vision. That’s what Slow Food is all about too. If you’re interested in learning more about thriving local food entrepreneurs, BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) has some exciting network programs focused on sustainable agriculture.  And for ideas on how to invest in other inspiring small food enterprises, you can check out Slow Money, a non-profit dedicated to investing in local food systems and connecting investors to local economies.

We were earlier than planned but Mimi was gracious and read her book as we paddled around her pond and walked the dirt roads a bit, eating fresh raspberries. Then we watched a huge thunder storm roll in, roll over and pass on. Mimi made a delicious curry chicken dinner and we played a few rounds of banana gram  and slept soundly in a room overlooking pond. A gray morning greeted us as we left later than planned for Montreal. But the drive was pleasant and again, shorter than we had thought. We arrived at our 'hotel' at noon and the room was not ready. We discovered only as we were leaving the next day that we had misread the time and we were a full 2 hours early.

We talk a good game...July 24th 2011

We talk a good game...

Robert and Rosie did the framing of the screen house/shed extension.

Robert and I talk a good game about sweetly "doing nothing" but as soon as the sun went down I was immediately engaged in transferring old family videos to DVD. This is my idea of fun.  I love that the little gizmo in white is now all that is needed to connect and digitize from VHS tapes to .mov files. Back in the day I had to borrow a set up from a film-maker friend that cost about $1000 and was 20Xs the size. This set up was less than 1/10 the cost as well. Early in the AM I set this up to run with tapes of Xmas 2000. But when,  like an old fire horse, I heard Robert pounding nails into his screen house project and I found myself strapping on a tool belt to help shingle while the infernal machines worked on my project.
White rectangle in middle is 'gizmo'
My favorite yellow hammer - which I used for 2 years as we built the houses here in Royalston, felt like an old friend. The hammer is light, well balanced and has an easy grip. But my upper body muscles did not find work familiar and hammering was not an old friend. The only muscle I use in my upper body is my damn mouth. Which came in handy as I convinced Robert that the 90+ degree heat was better suited to blue berry picking. After whacking my index finger, nailing shingles too low and bending and pulling 2 nails to each I sent home, we broke for a quick late lunch. And then we went in search of the low bush blueberries that were sited by Maureen earlier in the week. The roads in Lake Dennison were dry and dusty so we went slowly, drinking in the smells and sounds of summer.

Patti was our guide/companion on the back roads of Dennison and we found the blue berries after a few false starts. The berries were not as plentiful as we hoped. Nothing like the top of Gap Mtn.  I pick berries carefully, eating a lot as I go and with a mind towards cooking and freezing them. Robert picks with a clear "quantity over quality mentality" and I have always been the one to prepare the berries for eating. His is a tough act to follow - it can take hours to get his berries usable! This time I got him to agree to clean and separate the berries when we got home.  He was happy to agree because he was certain I was just being whiny - How hard can it be, really? Just to sort the ripe berries from the leaves, twigs, unripe greens and dessicated grey berries? Well, it took him over an hour to clean about a gallon. I think I have a convert to quality picking. The heat was relentless so we drove down to the lake for a swim. Normally, it takes me many minutes to walk in and get all over wet. I'll dive into anything but I HATE walking into cold water. This time I was in before Robert. The water was about 70 degrees and the air temp was over 90 - my fave conditions for swimming. It was luscious.

We had a quick dinner after our swim and finished the day with more work on the screen house. This has been Robert's project - I have not been any help. In fact, the project has been stalled for years because we could not agree on the location, design and materials. I gave in ( I want a barn with a studio - been promised one for 30 years...bon chance ) and Robert, assisted by youngest daughter, Rosalie, did all the framing during the precious 3 weekends while I worked on grant reports, videos and other matters. It was fun to be swinging a hammer again. We worked in the cool of evening until the bugs drove us in.

The Sweet Doing of Nothing July 23rd,2011

Patti is the gardener.  We appreciate and eat.  She plants, weeds and waters.

Our first day of official vacation involved rising early and paying bills, answering and emptying email in-boxes until 3PM. This seemed an inauspicious but necessary start to a week without internet and sometimes even without cell phone as we would see once we were au Canada ( O,Canada ?). I felt guilty for being the cause of such a late start. But we were rewarded by the beauty and  hushed industry of bees and butterflies as soon as we arrived. The slanting light of early evening gave the garden a  luxiourious butterry wash. Ah. En vacance. I forgot all and simply enjoyed the “dolce far niente” – Italian for the “sweet doing of nothing”.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My other Summer Job

This summer the Boston Public Library features Norah Dooley telling stories from from around the world, around the branches and neighborhoods of Boston. This is in conjunction with their annual Summer Reading Program. Spoken word is the source and sustenance of written language and oral stories, in performance, make that connection come alive. All performances are free and open to the public, July 6th thru August 15th.

One World, Many Stories

Norah Dooley performs in Boston Public Libraries as featured  storyteller for Summer Reading 2011
Norah  tells timeless folk tales from around the world. Her stories make audiences sing, laugh, and think. Noodleheads, legends, tricksters, and heroines are well represented as Norah shares engaging
traditional tales from Haiti to India, from Japan to Costa Rica, and from the Mediterranean traditions of Italy, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Algeria –including Mullah Nasreddin stories.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why I Love My Summer Job

Storymobile, ReadBoston and me

  Telling a story in a basketball court for ReadBoston, 2010
During the past 12 summers I have worked for the Storymobile. This is ReadBoston’s most well-known and public program. Each summer about 12 storytellers tell stories at nearly 80 sites throughout the city of Boston for six weeks. These programs are free and open to the public. They are in parks and gyms and libraries. Sometimes there are 20 kids and caretakers. Sometimes hundreds. At the end of every performance every child who attends these storytelling sessions gets to pick out a free paperback book. If a child attends every week, he/she will have six brand new books to add to his/her book collection. And they will have heard 6 different storytellers tell in 6 unique styles and listen to stories. Listening to a story is not a passive act -because actively listening to stories enriches the soil of literacy which is...oral language.

It is often a "tough room", hot venues filled with squirmy and distracted kids.  But it is also amazing, rewarding work. After telling "Little daughter and The Wolf" last year, a six year old came up to me and said, "When are we going to see that movie again?" Which movie, I asked. She said, with some impatience, " The one just now, about the girl and the wolf. "  I said, you made up that movie listening to my words. She looked perplexed and then was yanked out by her teacher along with 9 others, on loops of rope. But I was delighted. She thought her imagination was as 'real' as a movie. Check out the schedule here: Storymobile Schedule. -

A few videos from ReadBoston:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Copley Library 10:00-10:45
66 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02115

8 Oak Street West, Boston (Chinatown), MA 02116

Salvation Army 1:15-2:00
1500 Washington Street, Roxbury, MA 02119

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mosaic School 10:00-10:45
85 Seaverns Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Bromley Heath TMC Community Service Department 11:15-12:00
30 Bickford Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Marcella Park 1:15-2:00
Marcella Street/Highland Street, Roxbury, MA 02119

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ellis Memorial Children’s Center 10:00-10:45
66 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116

Escuelita Boriken 11:15-12:00
85 West Newton Street, Boston, MA 02118

Ark of Cherubs 1:15-2:00
81 Walnut Ave, Roxbury, MA 02119

Friday, July 22, 2011

Crispus Attucks 10:00-10:45
105 Crawford Street, Dorchester, MA 02121

Egleston Square Library 11:15-12:00
2044 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury, MA 02119

Carter Playground 1:15-2:00
Columbus Avenue & Camden Street, Roxbury, MA 02118

Monday, August 1

Billings Field 10:00-10:45
Centre Street and LaGrange Street
2030 Centre Street, West Roxbury, MA 02132

Ohrenberger C.C. 11:15-12:00
175 West Boundary Road, West Roxbury, MA 02132

Mattapan Library 1:15-2:00
1350 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan, MA 02126

Tuesday, August 9

West End House Boys and Girls Club 10:00-10:45
105 Allston Street, Allston, MA 02134

Honan-Allston Library 11:15-12:00
300 North Harvard Street, Allston, MA 02134

Jackson Mann Community Center 1:15-2:00
500 Cambridge Street, Allston, MA 02134

Thursday, August 11, 2011

United South End Settlements, 10:00-10:45
48 Rutland Street, Boston, MA 02118

TADPole Playground 11:00-11:45
Boston Common, Boston (next to the Frog Pond)

Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center/Josiah Quincy School, 1:15-2:00
885 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111

Friday, August 12, 2011

Children’s Quarters 10:00-10:45
36 First Avenue (Charlestown Navy Yard), Charlestown, MA 02129

John F. Kennedy Family Service Center 11:15-12:00
23 Moulton Street, Charlestown, MA 02129

Charlestown Library 1:15-2:00
179 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 0212

Sunday, July 3, 2011

An Open Letter to Justice Scalia

" [with the game] BioShock, the developer Irrational "testing the limits of the ultraviolent gaming genre with a strategy that enables players to kill characters resembling young girls." The game presents an ethical choice to players, whether to kill 'Little Sisters' for extra abilities or save them and receive less."

Dear Justice Scalia:
I hope your mother is not alive to hear the latest nonsense you delivered from the bench.  Were you raised by wolves-or what ? Are you *pazzo?

Me, I got to wonder if you have actually seen ( or Saw) or played a video game or recently read a fairy tale? ( I have a few highlights of some great games below). You may say and even believe that that the violence in video games is protected speech. Fair enough. I mean, getting extra points for killing a prostitute after you have sex with her ( as featured in older versions of Grand Theft Auto ) is not only protected by the First Amendment, it is the American Way. That's just like the evil stepsisters having their eyes pecked out as in some classic versions of Cinderella - right?


Saying that the violence in video games is like violence the Brothers Grimm fairy tales is simply bone-headed.  First, the violence in a folk or fairy tale has some context and reason embedded the plot or the social context of the listeners. Second, in fairy tales, there is always a resolution to the violence. Yes, innocents are often irrationally and violently victimized, but the guilty are always punished. And sure, a person could read the gory parts of any fairy tale over and over again. Reading compulsively like that is not only unlikely it is distinctly different from the exciting simulation and repeated perpetration of violent acts upon others.  Duh!

It must be exciting to pretend to rape and murder over and over again. I don't know. Me? I prefer to make pesto. But I assume the pleasure in dangerously anti-social patterns of behavior is why video games sell so well? But, let's not talk about what I think. Let's talk about you, the wise judge in the highest court of the land.

*Che fai? What are you doing down there? Beyond protecting business interests, do you guys ever attend to or speak about moral considerations?  You did feel free to open your big mouth and talk about literature. The issue of violent video games has social implications that deserve very careful consideration. During WWII, the Nazis were the first to use repeated viewings of filmed violent acts to train and desensitize their concentration camp guards.

Just sayin'.

The First Amendment is one thing. I am a huge fan of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But only a *citrull' could think that violent video games are harmless, or would compare them favorably to our valuable cultural heritage of oral narrative.

So, wise up, Antonin! What would your mother think?  And say hello to your *fratello, Romulus for me.


Norah (LaTosca) Dooley

*citrullo: /tʃiˈtrullo/ noun. fool, stupid.
*pazzo: /pa'ttso/ adj. crazy, mad, lunatic
*fratello:/fraˈtɛllo/ brother
Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf until a kindly shepherdess took over.  Due to their humble beginnings they grew up without an X-Box or cable.

From a list at wikipedia

2006     RapeLay     PC     Illusion Soft     Rape forms a core part of the gameplay leading to controversy raised in the UK Parliament and elsewhere.

2006     Rule of Rose The mayor of Rome called for the game to be banned from Italy, saying children "have the right to be shielded from violence". The then European Union justice and security commissioner wrote an open letter condemning the game for "obscene cruelty and brutality". An Italian magazine, Panorama, claimed that in order to win the game players must bury a girl alive which the game's European publisher disputed. On the UK release day, the publisher announced that Rule of Rose would not be published in the UK, despite the game being approved for release by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and Video Standards Council regulatory bodies

2007     BioShock     Xbox 360, PC, PS3     2K Games     An article in The Patriot Ledger, the local paper of developer Irrational Games, argued that the game is "testing the limits of the ultraviolent gaming genre with a strategy that enables players to kill characters resembling young girls." The game presents an ethical choice to players, whether to kill 'Little Sisters' for extra abilities or save them and receive less. 2K president Ken Levine defended the game as a piece of art, stating "we want to deal with challenging moral issues and if you want to do that, you have to go to some dark places". Jack Thompson took issue with advertisements for the game appearing during WWE SmackDown's airtime, writing to the Federal Trade Commission and stating that M-rated games should not be advertised when large numbers of under-17s are watching.

2007     V-Tech Rampage     PC         This game simulated events from the 2007 Virginia Tech Shootings and has music targeting the RIAA