Sunday, December 7, 2008

What Is It About Politics That...

gets people angry, polarizes them, makes us forget our basic humanity, gets us all together, clarifies issues, blurs issues, divides a country?  Why?  We are in the midst of that silly season of primaries and debates. Things get honed to a fine or a dull point.  Yet, do we miss the point of it all?  The will of the people.
I'm just back from a break in Jamaica where the reality of US politics was reduced for me to the value of theDollar_origami_4 dollar vs the Euro; the price of a barrel of oil; and who won the Patriot's game.  Yuck!!  Now I'm back and in the fray what with the Clintons, the Bushes, Obama,  Mitt, Julie- somebody and a host of others that
seem to muddle up and grow together.   Wow, is this what survival of the fittest is all about.  If so, we are doomed.  Only kidding.  I'm sure we're doing our best.  I just hope it works; there are a lot of decisions out there waiting to be made.  Unfortunately we seem (we being the people of the world) to mistake TACTICS for STRATEGY and forget setting a GOAL.  People want to know how we can "wipe out terrorists," keep oil cheap,  put off the days of reckoning with global warming, and get a low interest rate mortgage  that will never change. To keep the roadsides clean, you make bottles have a returnable deposit, not just hire people to pick them up.  We are picking up bottles all over the world.
The heck with politiickss!!!!   Here is my advice if you live in the North country:
    1) Wear a hat during the winter.
    2) Wash your hands 8 times a day (at least) while repeating the alphabet.
    3) Clean the keyboard of your computer twice a week.
Ignore all the above except for the last 3 things.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vermont Intercultural Semester in the Himalayas

Here is a message from our friend Thayer MacClay, 18, of Warren, Vermont.  Thayer is taking a year off before entering college (Colorado College) to put on 7 League Boots to explore the world and help people at the same time.  I thought you would enjoy this. He is spending the fall in  Ladakh in the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir.  I wish I were there in those high Himalays on the Tibet border!


Dear Friends and Family,

A lot has happened since my last update. Now, the VIS ( Vermont Intercultural Semester)  group and I are well settled into SECMOL (Student Educational and cultural Movement of Ladak h) and it's way of life. A typical day starts at 6:30 for the Ladakhis. They tend to study in the morning and some milk the cows along with some other chores. Then, at 8:00 there is breakfast. Curd and tea almost always are available, accompanied by teemok (unsweetened, cinnamonless, and greaseless cinnamon buns) or chapatti (thick barley flour tortilla), and lentils
or some other vegetable dish.  After washing our own dishes, we hang out in the morning sun until 9:00 when work hour begins.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Good Friend Oliver Hoblitzelle

Well, I'm back! Sorry to have been away for so long. Someday I'll explain it all. But for now, what I want to say is that kids are so important to our world and our future. So, here are some stories about the passion for fishing by my good friend Oliver Hoblitzelle. I'm sure you will enjoy them as much as I have.
P.S. If you are a kid and want to send in a story or pictures or art or anything that you created, please do and we might put it on the blog. Ask your parents permission to do this.
R. A.
Striped Bass Daybook — By Oliver Hoblitzelle
Last weekend I went fishing for stripers with Max in Charlestown. On Saturday afternoon, my mom drove me to his house. When we arrived at 2 o’clock, I sat down with Max, and we made our plan for the weekend. We decided that we were going to wake up at 3:30 am on Sunday morning. Almost immediately, we got bored with sitting around and decided to go fishing right then in the pouring rain. We walked to the bridge and decided to fish off of a small platform right near the locks. We both cast our six-inch storm swim shad into the current.

LureWe let our lures drift in the fast moving water over to a half-submerged wall that was acting as a current break for the bridge. Max and I started reeling in slowly. Max had a bite, but he missed the fish. I was watching his rod when it suddenly dipped. He set the hook as the fish started swimming away. It was moving so fast that line started to sing off the reel. I reeled in my line quickly so that it wouldn’t tangle with his fish. The fish paused his long run, Max took his chance and started reeling. The fish was a bout twenty feet away from us when he took another run toward a pole that was sticking out of the water. Max was pulling as hard as he could, but the fish still swam around the pole and knotted the line, making it impossible to land the fish, forcing Max to cut his line.
I took another cast and let my lure drift to the wall. I started reeling just like max had. I had my lure about ten feet from the wall when I felt some extra weight and my heart started beating really fast and I set the hook. The fish jumped high out of the water and then swam away. I battled the fish for a few minutes and then got it close enough to land. Max lowered our drop-net ten feet down to the water and then hoisted the striper onto the platform. I picked up the fish by the lip and then popped the hook out of its mouth. We measured it. It was 24” and weighed 7 pounds. I dropped the fish off the end of the platform and prepared to catch another.

That same afternoon, we caught fifteen fish. About seven of them were keepers, which means a striped bass over 28 inches. We released all our fish and arrived back at Max’s house at 9 o’clock at night. We fell asleep very late and woke up at 3:30am, to see if we could catch as many fish as we did on Saturday.

Once we got to the bridge, we went down to the platform again. We both started out using the same lures that we had used the day before. In a few minutes, Max caught a fish, a 25 incher. He took another cast and he caught another fish that was 8 pounds. Then we both cast in the same place, and let our flies drift in the fast-moving current, down to the wall. We both began reeling at the same time. Our rods both doubled over at the same time, and we started a long fight with these two frisky line-siders. A few minutes later, Bill, one of the few other people who fishes at the bridge, helped us land our bass. Bill is a gruff, foul-mouthed man in his mid-forties who tells many tall tales. We picked up the two fish and mine was only a tiny bit bigger than Max’s. They were both keeper’s of about 28 and 29 inches. Mine was just exceeding ten pounds and Max’s was a hair under ten pounds. We released them in hope that we could catch them when they got larger. Max caught one more fish that morning, and I caught three more. We released all of our fish

More Striper Fishing with Max
Last weekend I went fishing at the Charlestown Bridge. When I pulled up to Max’s house, he and his friend were standing at the window. I walked in and introduced myself to Max’s friend Joe. We decided to head down to the bridge and see what the stripers were feeding on. A few minutes later, we got to the bridge. I started casting towards the wall in hope that a striped bass would come out and nail my five-inch swim shad, but nothing happened.
Five hours later, we still had not caught anything. Suddenly, I glanced down at the locks and saw the water was starting to boil and move. When this happens, all the baitfish get injured, and the stripers start blitzing.
I tossed out my white swim shad into the commotion. I looked over at Max while I was reeling in my lure and saw Max’s rod bent like he had freight train on the end. Well that train wasn’t making any stops, and it was headed for Timbuktu. A moment later, his rod snapped up erect as if there had never been a fish on the end. The fish was so big that he had snapped Max’s 20 pound test line. I took another cast and started reeling. Almost immediately, a fish came out of nowhere and annihilated my lure. I was using a pretty heavy rod, so it did not bend as much. It was still an exhilarating battle of tug-of-war. We lowered our drop net off the platform and hauled the fish up.
The fish was nearly 28” long and was almost a keeper. I popped the hook out and dropped the fish back in the water. That evening, I caught four fish that were all almost the same size. Max caught one, and Joe didn’t catch any.
The next morning, we woke up at 5:30, and we walked down to the bridge. We had lost all of our swim shad the night before, so I decided to use a 3-inch unrigged shad on a jighead that weighed an ounce and a half. The water was moving, and on my first cast, a large bluefish bit my lure in half.
I reeled in my half-lure and put a slug-o on the end. I tossed my bait into the current and let it drift to the wall. Immediately, I felt a tap, then another, and then I felt dead weight. I set the hook, and the fish sped off to a pole and wrapped me around it. I was annoyed because when this happens you have to cut your line. But miraculously, it swam back around the pole. The fish was 28 inches. That morning, I caught 20 other striped bass. Max caught 1 striper and 2 bluefish, one was 24” and the other was 30”. We took the bluefish home and eat them for dinner.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Choices. It's All About Choices.

Choose Your Own Adventure is all about choices. In a way it is a simulation model, an approximation of reality without the risks of the real world.  You make choices leading to different endings.  If you don’t like the ending, you can start again with different choices leading to a different ending. 
We as individuals and as societies make choices all the time.  The history of our species is amazing: fire, numbers, alphabets or pictographic language, medicine, architecture, money and banking, art, music, laws etc. Choices got us there.  We are still making choices both as individuals and societies.  Not all of them are good---but, we can change the bad choices, we hope.
So, here is something that was sent to  me the other day.  Give it a listen. Send it on, if you wish.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Green Cup Cafe Waitsfield, Vermont

Vtmrvgreencup This is my second restaurant review.  This is another winning restaurant.  Small, intimate, excellent service and wonderful food. Flavors are fresh, scallops taste as though they were still in the sea, salads are almost a main course and are unique without trying for uniqueness.  If you want meat, the steak frites is excellent, and the fish is done so that the flesh remains true to the fish but never undercooked. If you want a large portion of twice-cooked ziti to nurture yourself, it is one of Jason’s mother’s old recipes and his family’s favorite.
     The wine list is small, well chosen and well priced. Desert?  Yes, more than equal to the moment.
    Prices?  For this food and this ambiance and the entire experience I would pay 50% more and not think about it.
     This is another  ‘run don’t walk restaurant.’

Friday, June 6, 2008


OBAMA.  What more needs to be said?  The world needs a leader, a person who can renew belief in humanness and decency.
Obama is just that.  Enough of venality, greed, dishonesty, and power- grabbing. Enough of war-making and preventative strikes  (neo-con).
Strong defense; strong leadership, fairness and leadership. Obama will give us this.
Here is our chance; and he needs our support as we need his leadership.
May the wind be at his and our back!
PS: For your reading enjoyment, a Washington Post article

Friday, May 9, 2008


IT RAINED last night and this morning the outside world was a luminescent green seen only at this time of year for a very brief time. Faust would say, Ah, moment, but stay a while!“ But that would be a bargain with the devil.  Never a good deal, although that lesson  doesn't seem to have great currency in this country of later.
So, with the rain comes another burst of growth: Obama!  It is time for change to spread and take root.  Would that Ms Clinton  would read the tea leaves and step aside gracefully. Let's hope so.
Alia y'acta est!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


ElephantYOU got that right.  $1.00 per day is all a family of four has to live on in many parts of the world where poverty is the mother and father and the grandparents of all.
Now rice prices have gone through the roof.  Drought. Scarcity because of a shift to other crops like corn to produce gasohol, plain old greed, and population growth are at work.  People living in poverty spend about 70% of their income on food as compared with 10 or 15% for developed countries.  Even less if you are wealthy.
How can these people survive?  Will there be a Malthusian contraction of population to offset rice and wheat scarcity?  Will there be a massive program of food support from the wealthy 1/3 of the world to the needy?  Will a virus or plague wipe out many particularly in the poverty areas where their health is already at risk because of malnutrition?
Dime_coinWill the rains return to Australia so that rice will flourish again and push out wine grapes as the crop of choice?  Will alternate energy become a reality to free us from the dependence on fossil fuels?  Will we all learn to consume less?  How much will global warming contribute to the problem and its solutions?
One dollar a day.  Not even a Euro.  Hey, buddy, can you spare a dime?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Well, Well, Well, Three Holes in the Ground

I wish I could embrace the day with a really positive attitude; but I can’t.  The politics of this country dismay me.  Clinton’s mean, nasty, negative campaign is another smear on what used to be a country where decency and civility were the way of life. Not that politics and business were ever clean—they weren’t and won’t be. BUT…… the Clintons both Hill and Bill appear as old, political hacks.  We need better than this if we are to survive in this increasingly competitive globalized world.
 Small_obama_image     We just don’t seem to get it, do we?   Obama is a leader like Churchill, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Ghandi and the  Clintons rip and tear at him. We don’t want and don’t need more dynasty building--- 2 bushes and 2 clintons would be a disaster.
     Is it time for the nation to split into several different parts?  I hope not, but we are creaking along.
     On the other hand, Bucky Fuller in his wide open optimism said something like,  “Never has there been a time when humankind could do more for all than now!!!”
     Obama gets it. The Clintons and McCain don’t.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


WHEN I WAS A KID I could hardly wait for the snow to come. Maybe I’m smarter now, I’m certainly older.  So, I like to see the first flakes in October but I wish they would just put in an appearance and then go away. This has been a long, nasty winter. I’m glad its done.  The skies have been pale blue, few clouds, and the temperature has sucked the moisture out of the snow and sent it downstream to the valley floor. Lake Champlain is cresting now and it’s high---very high. It will be hard to get the boat in at the dock which is under water and will be for a long time.
     The fields are flirting with green, and the mountains are preparing for what we call up here The Marching of the Green ---- the leafing out of trees that slowly proceeds up the slopes.  It can take weeks. There is still snow up there, and you can ski it if you climb for it.   Some of my most memorable days skiing were spent climbing in the spring for the lingering snow.  Not this year, I’ve other thing to do. So be it.
    I was thinking about Obama, Iraq, global warming, the crooks in Washington and everywhere else, and suddenly I said, hey, it’s spring. Time for renewal, for hope, for change, for growth, for rebirth.
     GO OBAMA!!!!! 

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Montgomery Crest


I call on the Clan Montgomerie to aid me in confronting my adversaries.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Town Meeting Day

Rockwell_freedomofspeech Yes, we still have town meetings in Vermont but they have been eviscerated by the state.  What’s new about that? Big government wants all the power all the time.  So, a few years back they—the state legislature—passed an act called Act 60 that took the power of towns to run their own schools away from the towns. It was all about money and power although they put up a good argument that it made education more equal to all in the state.  Good goal; horrible strategy.  State 100, Towns ZIP. 
     But we still get together to argue about the road budget, the municipal buildings budget etc. Whoop dee do!  However, we can now focus on things like conservation and global warming.  The town meeting becomes a focus for group discussion about these important areas; and you would be surprised at the level of sophistication brought to the table. 
     The state might try to kill the power of the towns---meaning people—but they have never figured out that people do count, and that people will like a meandering river find away around the blockages formed by the state.  Yea for us!  One and all.
     Remember, bottom up is more powerful than top down! 
We also had a Primary in Vermont today.  I know that Obama will win.

Friday, February 29, 2008


800pxredhookfacory Shannon and I were in NYC for a press visit to things like Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and other major forces in The publishing world. But…we have to eat; so, with rain pelting down so that you could barely see outside the cab window, we raced down the East Side Drive, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, sped along some other highway playing bumper car with everybody else, slid off the I 75 or whatever it was and nosed into the dark, spooky dock area of Red Hook.  Blocks of silent, dark godowns ( Asian term for warehouses), silent brick houses in rows about to be reduced to memories, and big, empty parking or storage lots seemed lifeless.
Queen_elizabeth_trondheim_2      We were now at the docks where the QE II and the Queen Mary shelter before taking on human cargoe for glorious trips across the Atlantic to England. I can remember when the West Side of NYC on the Hudson River was a warren of big ocean going liners: The Ile de France, the SS United States, the Italian Lines, the Dutch Line and so forth. Beautiful, graceful monsters that went back and forth to Europe competing with the early days of jet air travel. On Saturday nights for $5.00 (a lot in those days—1960s) vyou could go aboard, bring some friends with you, and pretend you were going to Europe until they piped you off the ship with appropriate warnings and admonitions. Those days are gone, and with them those gallant and marvelous leviathans to be replaced by floating , many storied tubs that ply the waters of the Carribean. Ah, well, so be it.
     On to the restaurant.
20060420goodforkdoorthumbTHE GOOD FORK at Van Brunt St in Brooklyn is housed in an old redbrick worker’s row house facing the docks. You open the door and BAM!! you are in the coziest bistro this side of Paris  with a cuisine that competes with not only Bistros but with some one star restaurants in that city on the Seine. No, I’m not kidding.  The food: braised sweetbreads that hint of the Far East, oysters dipped and flash fried so that they seem raw, plump, stingingly sweet, hangar steak with Kimchee couscous, fried egg on top, and spices that only the nerviest chef would try.  That’s just a sample.  The wine list? A delight. Nicely priced, a mélange carefully selected from France, Italy  with a secret white from the Alta Adige), some Oregon and Washington pinot noirs, and someThegoodfork01 good Spanish riojas.  Deserts are just that.  What a treat. Try the apple tart---holy smoly.  Try them all.
      Ben and Soji Snyder both own and run this gem of a restaurant. Ben is a fine, professional actor with a list of excellent credits, an equally fine furniture maker and the maitre D; and Soji is a trained chef with a love of food and070101_goodfork_560 flavors and presentation.  Her kitchen is a dance of three or four other chefs and flashing sauce pans and the sound of chopping and mincing. Garlic is in the air but does not overcome the other smells of green onions, lemon grass, star anise and red wine sauce.
     Don’t miss this place.  I wish it was in Vermont down the dirt road from us instead of in Brooklyn, but, alas it ain't!!!!!  GO THERE.
391 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231     
phone 718 643 6636
     fax 718 643 6643

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Keep Bumping Into Those Things I Was Supposed to Have Read, and Understood, In College

804360_33720836 “What?” you may ask and “Why?”
Milton’s Paradise Lost, Virgil’s Aneid, Goethe’s Faust, Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Old Testament ( dipping occasionally into the Vulgate), Shikibu’s The Tale of Gengi, and Shakespeare and Chinese novels and on and on into new things and new physics for the layman etc.
Why so busy? Why now and not then?  I guess because the world has never seemed so alive, full of opportunities and promise---and the darker side.
It also begins to make sense. At 4:30 am when I decide that sleep is no longer a possibility, Milton comforts me, Shakespeare’s Henry V and the St. Crispin Day speech invigorate me, and my two favorite cats ( we only have two) purr me into a cat nirvana.
Oh, there are many other books I will dip into ; no need to read every word, every page.  Sometimes looking at the mountains beyond my windows is more than enough; sometimes watching the birds at the ground feeding station at dawn tells me that the world is amazing.  Wouldn’t it be great to fly?
All the mags (The Economist, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, the NYT) take second place.  Even music need not interfere.  It’s a voyage beyond compare, a trip waiting for all, a treasure house.
Oh, oh!!  Back to my computer and incoming e-mails.
Marcello  (aka Ray)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Amor Ergo Sum

Lsun_2   We went to a 60th birthday party of a dear friend last week. Twenty of us were there, and we were all commissioned to either write a poem celebrating our friendship and love of our friend or tell some story revealing his personality.  It was a wonderful evening and underlined for me the importance of friends as an extended family. We have that connection where age differences from toddlers to septenagerians (viva septenagarianism!!!) are nonexistent and compassion and acceptance are the order of the day every day.  No, it is not a utopia, but we embrace the collective WE.
     Poems were wonderful, stories were great even if you did not know the birthday boy.  Dinner superb. Laughter---life’s cure-all--- sustained and almost ribald.
     Let me leave you with one thing. A quote from Bill Coffin, former chaplain of Yale University.
    “Descartes said Cogito ergo sum --- I think therefore I am.
                         But I prefer
        Amor ergo sum    ---  I love therefore I am.”
                                                          W. S. Coffin
That about says it all.
Ciao, Ray

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The North Country

Clock461e THE RAIN CAME IN LAST NIGHT as stealthy as a cat on the prowl: first the slow motion approach, then the crouch, then the burst of energy.  I heard it on the tin roof of our house towards 2 am, a favorite hour for me to be awake.  It has that low level drum-roll comfort that includes heart beat and inward seeking mood set that begins to signal that winter is on the wane.
Don’t worry, there is plenty to come. But, the overall snow-pack has reached its basic limit; from now on it will not build. It will grow smaller despite big dollops of fresh snow on top of it.  The earth below with its grasses and seeds and voles and deep down frogs are getting the message. 
For us up here in the North country, it will be a good 8 more weeks, but we can live with that.  Spring skiing can be great, and the sunsets will be back as the days lengthen.
Yippee!!!!!  I love the seasons, each and every one, but now will come the special ones.
Bis bald!