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Excuse Note Follow-up June 29, 2015

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Dear I Prefer to Remain Anonymous:

Rest assured, I have passed along your message responding to the excuse note I wrote for Indigo Bunting a couple of weeks ago. Ms. B appreciates the tough love, but she’s still not writing, instead screaming at me “A new computer and a new phone within a few weeks of each other? Are you effin’ kidding me? I can’t take this!” and “Shut up and let me finish bingeing on Orphan Black.” I’m happy to report she has finished that binge, but last night she did sneak in the first episode of her next one. Tonight she’s driving nearly two hours to at last see Trombone Shorty perform. It’s always something with her.

At one point, though, in response to a request from An Anonymous Condiment Aficionado, Indigo did try to update the condiment-in-the-refrigerator list, at first struggling to define exactly what counts as a condiment, and she filled two pages of a 5-by-7-inch notepad. Here it is: Santa Cruz organic pure lemon juice, San-J organic GF tamari, Annie’s Natural shiitake sesame dressing, Trader Joe’s sweet chili sauce, Pitchfork Preserves cranberry syrup, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, Wild Maine blueberry hot sauce, Annie’s Naturals BBQ sauce (where did that come from?), Stonewall Kitchen maple chipotle grille sauce, balsamic vinegar with wild blueberries, unsalted butter, basil pesto, Skillet fennel and black pepper bacon spread, La Tartufata, Sambal Oelek ground fresh chili paste, Tamicon tamarind concentrate, Polaner Allfruit seedless blackberry spread (disappointing!), Hellman’s real mayonnaise, capers, Kalamata olives, sweet red peppers, onion-stuffed olives, Grey Poupon, Heinz organic tomato ketchup, Cholula chili lime hot sauce, maple syrup, Vermont Hills teriyaki sauce, Hershey’s butterscotch topping (really? is that a decade old?), Green Mountain salsa, pickled ramps, Wild Hibiscus flowers in syrup, Ranier Reserve cherries, and pickled scapes.

That’s right. In her refrigerator. “How does this happen?” you can hear her scream, I’m certain.

Yers in eye-rolling frustration,

Varied Bunting

P. S. With luck, her attitude will get its ass adjusted tonight:

Excuse Note June 16, 2015

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Dear Blog Buddies:

Please excuse Indigo Bunting for her 6-week absence. She has been working. She has been attempting clothing/book purges around the house. She has had to go visit family. She has a pinched nerve, and she has not been sleeping well. She’s needed to buy a new computer. She should be planning a trip to England in the fall and can’t even get around to doing that. She has been very sad because people she loves are going to move away. She is concerned by how scattered she is. She has been trying to keep up with TV addictions. (Maybe now that Mad Men and Game of Thrones are over, she’ll have more time, but really, it’s time to bingewatch Orphan Black and Orange Is the New Black.) She has not been fishing yet this season. Not even once. She hopes she’ll be back soon.

Sincerely,

Varied Bunting
Official Writer of Bunting Excuses

Installation: Night Shift May 6, 2015

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Five bronze female figures, full size (~67 inches), horizontal. Outdoor presentation preferable, on grass. Presented in a line, slightly staggered.

Figure 1: Savasana (supine, corpse pose)

Figure 2: Felled tree (supine, left foot to right knee)

Figure 3: Half fetus (side lying [right], knees at about 90 degrees)

Figure 4: Fleeing GSW (prone, right knee at about 45 degrees, chalk outline)

Figure 5: Props (side lying [left], left leg straight, right knee at 90 degrees, supported by bronze pillow)

To make exhibit interactive, place full watering cans at either end. Lightly sprinkle figures.

Garter May 4, 2015

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Thursday afternoon, after the warming, I took a walk on the rail trail with Laura. We happened upon two garter snakes in the leaves alongside the path. Garters tend to spook easily, but I squatted for a better look. One of them came right over and looked me in the face, forked tongue darting. S/he slithered deliberately through the canyon created by my boots to Laura’s shoe, winding around and under its front before crossing the trail. We followed the snake to the other side, and s/he came back to us for a moment, looking again, no doubt marveling at our tameness.

Bernie April 30, 2015

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Early on during my life in Vermont (the mid-90s or so), on a trip north to Burlington to do some shopping, Tim and I were in a department store looking for ties. There was another man there doing the same. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. I thought he resembled some of the wealthy gentlemen I’d been meeting farther south, the stuff of boards of directors and golfers. (Perhaps he was wearing a suit.) I nearly approached him to ask how I knew him, if we’d met somewhere (some museum function, perhaps), just like I’d nearly done with Dom DeLuise in a general store before I figured that one out. (When one is the new person in town, and everyone is new to her, she is certain she has recently met you and that she should remember who you are is embarrassed that she doesn’t.)

Just before we paid for Tim’s ties, it dawned on me that it might be Bernie Sanders, our lone congressman. I hadn’t seen that many photos of him, but my brain had finally settled on who this man might be. I asked the cashier. She looked at the credit card slip he’d just signed and confirmed it. She was a recent immigrant and did not know who he—or even what a congressman—was. I can’t say I did a good job of explaining. I was sorry I hadn’t figured it out in time to say hello to him.

That was the only time we crossed paths.

When rumors began swirling that Bernie might run for president, I wasn’t thrilled. Anyone left of seriously conservative in this country seems to be the target of ridicule, and I wasn’t sure I could stand watching it. I was, frankly, worried when he ran for Senate in 2006. I didn’t fully believe that Vermont* would promote him from congressman to senator as an Independent, and I didn’t want to lose his voice in Washington because he’d aimed too high. I was so relieved to be wrong.

But apparently something within me has shifted. It would appear that I’ve been harboring a secret hope—one so secret that I’ve been keeping it from myself—that Bernie would run, as long as he did so as a Democrat. In the wee hours of the morning, he announced he was doing just that. Do I think he can win? No. (Have you figured out that I can’t claim to be an optimist?) But I’ve come to believe that someone not tied to big money, someone who isn’t being outright bought, someone who in many ways has nothing to lose needs to speak up for the middle class in a way that’s not just lip service.

So I’m a little bit gleeful, at least briefly, at least now. Speak truth to power.

 

 

*People think of Vermont as a liberal state, but that’s not my experience, at least not in this corner. I live around a near 50-50 split. Vermont didn’t elect a Democratic governor until 1962, and the mantle has been passed back and forth between parties ever since.

Acceptance Speech April 9, 2015

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(holding gold trophy)

Wow. Thank you. After a couple of sleepless nights, I really wasn’t expecting this! There are so many to thank. First, of course, the Gods of Sleep, who at last saw fit to favor me. I hope you’ll stay with me a bit longer. Thanks to the Sun, whose brightness I soaked in yesterday on my multiple-mile walk—hat tip to Vitamin D! I’d like to thank Alcohol for not messing with my sleep pattern last night, Menopause for few hot flashes, and Fantastic Food for keeping it real. A special thanks to Nausea, who showed up ever so briefly but graciously backed away at my glare. I’d like to thank Unconscious (who probably had a little help from Subconscious) for the successful abduction of Conscious. Gagging her and tying her to that chair was a nice touch, and I only half-awoke when she knocked herself and said chair over in her struggle for freedom. Great job at subduing her, guys. This award makes me feel rested and ready to face what comes next. Thanks, everyone, and (raising trophy high) good morning!

4BY1: Quarterly Report April 1, 2015

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Downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, American goldfinch, tufted titmouse, northern cardinal, blue jay, house sparrow, dark-eyed junco, purple finch, red-bellied woodpecker, mourning dove, hairy woodpecker, common raven, American crow, red-tailed hawk, rock dove/pigeon, European starling, rough-legged hawk, snow goose, osprey, bald eagle, snowy owl, American robin, common eider, herring gull, red-breasted merganser, long-tailed duck (oldsquaw), black-backed gull, mallard, common redpoll, wild turkey, pileated woodpecker, eastern bluebird, American kestrel, northern mockingbird, turkey vulture, Canada goose, common loon, common merganser, common goldeneye, song sparrow, hooded merganser, red-winged blackbird. (43. 2012: 40. 2013: 53. 2014: 40.)

Yes, we had our second snowy owl sighting, in January, in Maine. And I finally heard my first red-winged blackbird two days ago.

Goal March 24, 2015

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I shouldn’t be spending the money, of course, I should be saving up for those Big Things that are to happen this year, but I am here in the City of Food Gods, and my goal is to not put anything in my mouth that doesn’t move past satisfaction into happiness. On arrival we split a dozen oysters, two local varieties and one from away (Nova Scotia, I think), and they send me into paroxysms of joy that bubble over with my celery mimosa. To finish, we order an oyster bun; after all, the chefs are nominated in the James Beard Best Chef: Northeast category, and there is nothing in that room that is not delicious. We follow this with a trip to the new dumpling place (its 26-year-old owner nominated in the James Beard Rising Star Chef category), where we eat boiled peanuts that make us swoon and two orders of dumplings, one lamb/black bean/chili/peanut and one steamed hake/burdock, and these are gigglegood, and we only wish that they’d served them in the opposite order. The next day I have fresh fruit and a hard-boiled egg and a (James Beard–nominated) croissant for breakfast, a toasted almond-and-ginger kale-and-quinoa bowl for lunch, and a lobster roll for dinner. Both nights I indulge in gelato: Sunday my traditional bacio and hazelnut from the Verona vendors, Monday toasted coconut and mango from their competitors, which makes me feel guilty out of loyalty to the there-first Italians, but my friends like the new place, and it was good. This morning I walk next door to the James Beard–nominated bakery for a ham-and-cheese croissant and a cup of strong black coffee, and as I begin to recount my culinary adventures thus far I discover that today is the day these nominees (and the other City of Food Gods nominees, many of whom will be seeing me soon enough) will find out if they move from semifinalist to finalist. I am excited for all these deserving people. But I am most excited for me, who doesn’t deserve any of this, but whose taste buds dance delighted at their luck.

AM4M: Whereabouts March 23, 2015

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I know that I’ve disappeared. I do this. But I’ve been anxious and obsessed, about things I seem to be losing (my keys, my mind, my body, my youth, bits of my livelihood) and about possible future events, the thoughts of which trigger near panic-attack discomfort stemming from childhood (physical chaos of my living space, money worries). But I can’t write about these things without (a) it being one big whine or (b) boring myself silly. Enough already. As to those deaccessioning projects I need to accomplish, I consider writing about those, but then I think, write after you’ve done something, if you ever do. Stop stalling. This is bullshit.

Half-Assed February 27, 2015

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On Monday, my chiropractor pronounced my pelvis and spine in alignment after a 6-plus-week struggle with a pinched nerve. She said I could go back to yoga if I avoided certain poses. She said I could get back on an elliptical, gradually, in a couple more weeks. She gave me permission to try to ice skate, as long as I didn’t fall (the rink closes for the season this weekend!). And she told me that my right gluteus had atrophied a bit and was not as firm as my left.

In a way, this is puzzling, because all the exercise I’ve been doing—walking and biking at the gym, cross-country skiing on the rail trail—works both sides of my body. But I guess my left side has been doing some serious compensating for the weakness on my right.

She gave me some exercises to do to strengthen my right side. I haven’t done them yet.

I skated for (just) a half hour today. I could tell I’d been three months off the ice. There were enough people there that I couldn’t reverse direction, leaving my left cheek, again, to lord it over the right.

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