Cows on Parade

This was the 9th year of our annual Strolling of the Heifers.  We have been to every one, except the year of the thunderstorm, even I am not dedicated enough for that.  It may sound like the silliest parade ever, but it sure is popular.  Our town fills up with locals and out-of-towners, all to see over 60 heifers, plus dozens of goats, mules, sheep, oxen, Highland Cows, tons of school kids, dance groups, bands, jump ropers, local businesses, non-profit groups, theater companies, and a man in a ballgown.  I love the small town-ness of it all.  I don’t mind the traffic and the crowd.  It is something that makes Brattleboro different.  I know there are places that use the slogan “Keep Blankity-blank Weird”, but non of these places have anything on us.

Where I’ve lived

This is a repost from April 2006 (before the Great Yahoo Blog Disaster of 2007).

I have lived in Brattleboro my whole life.

I went to college in Virginia for 4 years, but I came home every summer and little tiny Sweet Briar was a lot like Brattleboro without the boys my age.

When I was born I went home with my parents to an apartment house they owned. It was (is) right on a main road near downtown. Our downstairs neighbor used to babysit me, and now I teach her great-grandchildren.

When I was 3 my parents bought their present home (27 years now) up the main road, but off the beaten track in a neighborhood. Our street had 3 houses on one side and 4 on the other (now 5). I had a friend across the street and a best friend two blocks up. We played in the road (no traffic then), on the jungle gym my dad built me, and on the tire swing that still hangs in the trees.
When I was 12 my parents added to our house. We spent 16 weeks that summer with no kitchen. The fridge and microwave were in the dining room and we washed dishes in a bathtub. When it was finished we had a hottub, downstairs bathroom, bigger home office, larger open kitchen and giant living space.

When I was in high school, mine was the place where everyone hung out. We had cast parties, afterschool snacks, and dinners before dances, concerts, and events.

I went to college. I came home and went to graduate school. I lived at home. I got a teaching job, I lived at home. Then I got my first apartment.

I moved up the same main road to an apartment in an old milkhouse behind the home of family friends. I now lived 1 mile from where I went home from the hospital with my parents halfway inbetween. I lived there just over 2 years, until my now-husband and I bought a house and moved…

Across town! I am now on the other side of the main road. I have a different trash day. I am in a different school district. I am closer to the grocery store.
But I own my own home. I live in a cute, desirable neighborhood with nice neighbors. We have a big side yard, now complete with a pond and patio. We have a cat and we have love.

Mine is still the place where people come. We are centrally located so we host meetings and parties. People use our porch to drop off and pick up stuff for our theater company.

I may have lived in 4 different homes, but no matter where I reside, Brattleboro is my home.

My hometown

This a repost from August 2005 (before the Great Yahoo Blog Disaster of 2007). This month’s NaBloPoMo theme is Home.

I have lived in Brattleboro for all 29 of my years (save for college in Virginia).

I adore my small hometown. 12,000 people call Brattleboro home with another 5,000 or so in the surrounding towns.

Brattleboro is unique. I am sure many people say that about their town/city, but it is true in Brattleboro.

We are a very artistic and academic town. We have a fabulous art museum that recently featured a never before seen Andy Warhol collection. We are home to several branches of colleges, and the School for International Training/World Learning, one of the leading schools in language and teacher training.

We are also an agricultural center. Holstein International, the international cow registry, is centered in Brattleboro. We have many dairy farms in our area. For the last 4 years Brattleboro has been home to The Strolling of the Heifers, an annual cow parade and dairy/agricultural festival.

Brattleboro sits in the Southeast corner of the great state of Vermont. People here are as inclined to live in, work in, and travel to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as the rest of Vermont. People move to Brattleboro for the culture, history, job opportunities, and small town charm.

That is just an introduction to my hometown. I will write more about it over the coming month.

A dozen things about Vermont

    1. Vermont does not allow billboard advertising. I love that. It is so nice to drive on the interstate (91 and 89) and not be faced with advertising every 10 feet. It is so obvious when you cross over into New York or Mass.
    2. John Deere was born in Rutland, Vermont. Who knew?
    3. Montpelier is the smallest state capital. It isn’t really a very exciting town either.
    4. Also, Montpelier is the only state capital without a McDonalds. What a claim to fame!
    5. The state tree is the Sugar Maple. Yummy.
    6. Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were both born in Vermont. So, Vermont caused Mormonism.
    7. The first postage stamp issued in the US was made in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1846. I don’t have a pithy comment for this one.
    8. On July 2, 1777, Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery. How does that explain our nearly complete lack of blacks?
    9. Vermont was, at various times, claimed by both New Hampshire and New York.  And now?  Everyone thinks we are a city in Massachusetts.
    10. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S., producing over 500,000 gallons a year.  I will only eat real maple syrup.  My wedding cake was maple flavored and the wedding favor was maple candy.
    11. Until recently, the only way a Vermonter could get a photo driver’s license was to drive to Montpelier.  Seriously, my permit (1992) was a thin piece of plastic coated paper.  Only in the last 10 years could you get a photo license locally.
    12. Vermont was the first state admitted to the union after the first 13 colonies.

      1791Vermont is admitted as the 14th U.S. state.

      Funeral Blues

      I am going to a funeral today.

      No one likes going to funerals. No one enjoys them. No one looks forward to them. You are saying goodbye to someone you knew. Cared about. Loved.

      I am going to a funeral of a child today.

      I didn’t actually know Brady. His mom is the younger sister of a friend of mine from high school. My sister is friendly with Brady’s mom.

      Brady was 3 and a half. His death was an accident. A sad, horrible accident.

      He leaves an older brother and a brother to be born next month; his mom and dad; several aunts and uncles and cousins; grandparents on both sides and even great-grandparents. He was cute and lively and a little bit devilish.

      I am going to a funeral today.

      Funeral Blues

      Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
      Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
      Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
      Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
      Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
      Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
      Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
      Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
      He was my North, my South, my East and West,
      My working week and my Sunday rest,
      My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
      I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
      The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
      Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
      Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
      For nothing now can ever come to any good.
          -- W.H. Auden

      Small town living

      I love living in a small town.

      T and I just went to the grocery store. I walked over to meet him as he came home from work. I took my iPod, cell phone and sunglasses. We shopped.

      As we got to the checkout I realized we were buying alcohol for an upcoming event. Remember what I brought with me? No ID. So, of course, the clerk asked for it. T showed his. “And yours?” I explained that I had walked. A manager came over. He hesitated (I am 31 and look it). I looked over at the service desk and asked if Jean was working. The kid behind the counter said, “Yes, but there is a manager right there.” Again I explained the no ID thing. So he got Jean. She looked over and smiled and waved. We got our champagne.

      How often in your grocery store is the most important person on the floor your friend’s mom? Jean’s daughter was in my wedding, did several shows with me, and dated my closest childhood friend.

      Sunday night blues

      This has been a fairly full weekend for me. I can hardly believe I made it to Sunday.

      P1000236.jpgFriday I got to school before 8 for the first time in months. Months! I am doing the AfterSchool Program Friday afternoons now. The last kids are picked up at 5:30. Lord S joined me at 5 with BK and we ate while the boys played Marble Blast. We went to Dancing Queen (introduction of new character) and Rockstar’s house. P1000265.JPG They have owned it since October, but this is the first time I have been there (yeah, it is in my school’s backyard, so sue me). They are moving in next weekend after months of renovation. They have more work to do, but Rockstar’s mom comes home this week and they’ve been living at her house. Lord S came down to Small Town School to chaperone the year’s final roller skate. I ate too many Rice Krispy Treats (but they were homemade!). The night didn’t end there. We headed down to the Small Town Bar for a band and fundraiser. My sister, Supermom (+ boyfriend), and Dancing Queen all joined us eventually. I only made it to 11:00, so we headed home.

      P1000426.JPG P1000424.JPG Saturday the tile guy came at 8, so we, of course, got up at 5 of 8. I weighed in (not so good) and then went home a took a nap. Lord S worked in the yard and I helped some. The bathroom is coming out great. After nearly 5 years I am tired of waiting, so I am glad to see progress. P1000448.JPG In the evening we went to the Museum for the season/show opening. It will be the last opening for the current director, but he isn’t leaving town, just the job. Lord S and I will be heading back for a better look at the art. We didn’t eat much, so we headed with the group to a nearby resturaunt and ended up closing the place. We met several new people and had a great time.

      Today I spent most of the day sleeping. Lord S did some stuff for his mom and then went down country (over an hour) for 10 more tiles for the bathroom. 2 Home Depots within 20 minutes and probably 5 within 45 and I pick tiles from a Lowes over an hour away. So now we have the tile and that job can be finished. Of course, now it is 11:15 and I am not tired. I am uploading pictures to Flickr, so I can jazz up this post, but that will take forever (I am doing 50+), so I will have to add them tomorrow. Yeah, it is only 10% done.

      Good night. Look for this post to update again in the morning (not that anyone is going to read it at this hour). Hey, if you do read it, could you say hi? I haven’t gotten comments in a while and I am feeling kind of lonely.

      It’s OK

      It’s nice to know there’s someone who caresWhen you feel all alone and suddenly scaredYour mom and dad will make it OKWhen they give you a hug, the fear goes away.Chorus:It’s OK (It’s OK)It’s really all rightIt’s all right. (It’s all right)It’s really OKYou’re as safe in the night as you are in the dayIt’s all right (It’s all right)It’s really OK.You can squeeze your pillow, squeeze it real tight.You can crawl out of bed and turn on the lightYou know it’s not so bad to be alone in the nightIt’s OK. It’s really all right.Chorus

      8536541322.jpgIn the late 1970s/early 1980’s, when I was growing up, there was not much cool music aimed at kids. Only recently has there been an explosion of music that parents could listen to, and enjoy, with their children. Sure there were recordings for children, but they were limited and mostly folk-music (not every family loves folk music). But I didn’t know about this lack, because I had my own rock band.t_756.jpgMy parents tell a story about when I was 18 months old and we were visiting Florida. We went to the Dade County Fair because their friends, Rosenshontz, were playing there. We saw the concert and then went back to the trailer. The little tiny, itty bitty trailer. But it had air conditioning! That was 1977.8536541242.jpgWhen I was a kid growing up these two guys came to my school, first my Montessori pre-school/kindergarten and later at my elementary school. They played cool music, kid rock, with songs we could sing and dance to. We laughed and danced and rolled on the floor. And we Hugga Hugga Hugged. We went to Teddy Bear’s Picnics with our stuffed bears.713647.jpgAs I grew up and grew out of the music I was still blessed. Those men lived in my town and my parents knew them pretty well. Gary Rosen lived next to the store my parents owned while I was growing up. We sold their records in the store. It was just one of the ways Brattleboro is the center of the universe. Sadly, they had a falling out over 10 years ago and the music came to an end. They continued to live in the same town, but everyone who knew them knew it was an angry break up. Each went his own way and made his own music, but to kids like me, it was never the same.DL1.jpgHappily, as an adult, I have also been able to watch the Rosen children, Lela, Penn, and Eliza, grow up into talented terrific kids. I’ve worked with Penn in Shakespeare in the Park. He was an annoying 14 year old, but he did what I asked. My husband and I have seen them all in the high school musicals over the last 7 years. Lord S had the pleasure of starring in the musical Children of Eden with Penn in 2006. Penn played Adam and Noah, son of my husband’s God. Lela had leads in her later musicals and Eliza is showing her talents as each year progresses. [Penn is on the left in the blue shirt; Lela is on the right looking at her dad, Eliza is next to her.]petsounds.jpgJust a few years ago I heard some hard news. Gary was diagnosed with ALS. My friend Bonnie, whose family is very close to the Rosens, told me about it. Over the summer he began to feel weak and shakey. In the fall it was hard to walk. By December he needed help doing many things. But he swore he would walk at Lela’s graduation that June. Sadly, by February, he needed a wheelchair to make it to see his children, all of them, in the high school musical. He relied more and more on that chair. Over the last few years his friends have rallied.DL4.jpgJust that spring, Bonnie organized a fundraising concert featuring musical acts from our community. (I will always be sad I had to miss it for another production.) The most wonderful moment, save for the finale, was when Bill Shontz, Gary’s former partner, took the stage. Even though they had such a difficult past Bill knew their history was more important.The concert was sold out and broadcast frequently on our local television station.aamilne_me.jpgBonnie and others organized a group of 20 friends who went every day to Gary’s house. They read with him, talked with him, helped him. They were there to relieve Mary and the children. There were nurses as well, but his friends were there for everything else. He even put together one last album. With songs he had previously recorded and tracks laid down by his children, Gary celebrated his favorite author A.A. Milne. Money was raised for a super wheelchair to help him get around in the world. He made it the last two years to the musical. This year he got to see Penn as Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Eliza as a choir leader organzing and leading dozens of school children in the chorus.JRH2.jpgThis past summer there was one final Teddy Bears’ Picnic with Gary Rosen. They were the opening concert at our community Summer Arts in the Park series. The children performed accompanied by local musician, Dan DeWalt.Penn will graduate this year. He is currently choosing from the schools that accepted him and looking forward to the end of the year. Lela is in her 2nd year of college and Eliza is a freshman in high school. As hard as the last 3 years have been Gary and Mary and their friends have made sure those kids had as normal a life as they could.Gary died this past weekend. It was kept out of the media until today. My mom told me yesterday. His family was prayed for at my church on Sunday and my sought out friends who would know what happened. I am glad his suffering has ended – isn’t that what you are supposed to say? But it hurts in my heart to know he is gone.obituary2005 Boston Globe articleDL7.jpg

      I’ve got a friend. She’s different than me.Says her seeing eye dog does the seeing she needs.I say “Don’t you miss the sun going down?”She says, “No! Not when I’ve got friends all around.Don’t go feeling sorry for meI may be blind but I can see that(Chorus)I, I’m gonna be the best that I canYes I am, yes I am. Yes.I, I’m gonna be the best that I canYes I am, yes I am.I’ve got a friend, moves slower than meHis paralyzed legs won’t let him run free.I say, “Don’t you miss running around?”He says, “No! It’s never gonna slow me down.Don’t go feeling sorry for me.I cannot run, but I can see that(Chorus)I’ve got a friend who’s special to knowHis mind’s not too quick and his speech is slowI say, “Don’t you feel sad when kids put you down?’He says, “No! Not when I’ve got love all around.Don’t go feeling sorry for me.I may be slow but I can see that(Chorus)We’ve got a dad who’s special to knowAlthough he’s been sick, he’s still doing his showWe say, don’t you feel sad that you’ve got to slow down?(Rosen) Oh no, not when I’ve got love all aroundDon’t go feeling sorry for meI may be sick, but I can seeI’m gonna be the best that I canYes I am, yes I am

      My day off

      Today is Town Meeting Day. In Vermont, each town has a Town Meeting. Most meetings now take place in the evenings or on a weekend day. My town’s meeting is the 3rd Saturday of March, but today is voting day. We are the only town in the state with representative Town Meeting. My dad has been a Town Meeting rep for as long as I can remember. When I was little I thought of Town Meeting as a day we had off of school and I saw my daddy on TV. We have had local access television for many years and they have always broadcast from the meeting. It was fun to see him.

      I actually get excited to vote. It is wonderful to me that we have that right and privilege in the United States. However, today, for the first time I am not voting. In fact, I am not doing much of anything. Last night, I came home from afterschool program feeling warm and achy. It got worse as the night went on. I woke up this morning feeling like crap. I have been coughing and achy all day. Good thing I didn’t have to go to work. I bummed about not voting. A neighbor, who was a friend in MS/HS, is a write in for a one year Town Meeting Rep and I am going to be really sorry if he doesn’t get it by 1 vote.

      I am also really sorry I didn’t get a flu shot.