Saturday, November 21, 2009


One thing that is nice about seasonal work is the opportunity to shift gears and get involved in something new. This is what happens for me every spring and every fall. It keeps life interesting.

Two weeks ago, I re-started my job at Stowe. A small group of us have been working to get our areas cleaned, organized, set up, and ready for business. Now all we need is one thing: snow.

Which has been our only problem -- and it has some people feeling concerned, worried, befuddled, apprehensive, scared, confused... you name it, people are feeling it. It is November in Vermont, the ground is green and brown, and the temperature is 51! Very unseasonal.

But you don't have to worry. Everyone I know is doing snow dances. A snow dance, in case you don't know, is the same as a rain dance, only you shake your hips twice and drop the left shoulder in the middle. It's a subtle, but important, difference. Also, Lucie Keene resonated her crystal bowl for snow earlier this week. Which is to say, she cut out paper snowflakes, handed them out for people to write their wishes (everyone wished for some type of "freshies," "blizzards," or, simply, "snow, please!"). Then, she tossed the snowflake-wishes into this giant white bowl, rubbed it with her resonator, and it made this wild sound that made you feel like you were trekking near some Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas. If this doesn't make it snow, I don't know what will.

If you're still not convinced, listen to this. Snow Wakeman, long-time instructor at Stowe, recently visited her psychic. There, she learned that there will be a storm of historic proportions on December 31st of this year. "Stock up on food stuffs and propane," Wakeman advises. "Make sure your vehicles are outfitted with snow tires and, if possible, chains." The New Year's Eve blizzard of '09 is going to leave Vermont buried in mounds of white.

I can't wait.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quality of Life Improvements

In recent months, I have implemented two additions to my routine, and I feel that they have made significant positive impacts to my quality of life.

The first new addition -- and this one affects my daily regimen -- has been the use of "couzies" when I consume a beverage from an aluminum can. I have prior experience with couzies, but their use was limited mostly to fishing trips. Now, I rarely drink a cold beverage without one, and it has been a really nice change. No cold fingers from holding a soda or beer, no search for a coaster every time I want to set my beverage down... this has been a very positive development in my life.

The other new addition -- and this one is still in the early implementation stages -- is my new food processor. I say "new" because I only knew we had it for the last two months. I have been informed, however, that it has been part of the household gear pack for much longer. So far, all I know how to make in it is butternut squash/sweet potato soup. And boy is it good. One note about the processor from a QOL perspective: I don't love washing it. But when autumn hits in the Northeast, it sure is nice to settle into your chair with a big bowl of piping hot soup.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Festival 8

Hands down, it was one of the 8 best Phish festivals of all time. Pictures say 1000 words, so I will take advantage of images in this post, since I there's no way I could possibly write it all. (Note: click on any photo to enlarge.)
Once we got the kitten out of the suitcase and our stuff packed, we flew to Las Vegas where Lisa Aiken -- equipped with camping equipment, food, and drinks for 3 people over 5 days -- picked us up and brought us to the concert site in Indio, California. We arrived at 4am. Of the three of us, Alison grabbed the most shut-eye -- about two hours. That first day, therefore, was a real marathon, but the evening's two sets of music were fabulous.

The next day was Halloween. The band upheld its Oct. 31st tradition of donning a "musical costume" which, this time, was the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street -- complete with a horn section and backup singers. The musical highlight of the whole weekend for me was "Lovin' Cup," which Phish has covered thousands of times so that its place is solidly established in the band's canon. But "Lovin' Cup" is also on Exile, so it came up during the Halloween set -- and the place, the band, and, most especially, the guest performers, just went crazy. Out of this world. Also out of this world were 30,000 costume-wearing Phishheads. I camped with a 1920s flapper and a hockey-playing pirate. I also met Jim Morrison, the entire gang from Scooby-Doo, the 1969 championship-winning Boston Celtics, Eve (from Adam and Eve), and about 15 Jon Fishmans. What a night!

In terms of the Festival, Phish took care of everything. Foremost, holding it in southern California enabled the band to provide a rain-free weekend -- very nearly a Phish first. Festival 8 also included a traffic-free entry, soft grass to camp on, clean Porta-Potties, clean and spacious showers (that's right -- Phishheads showered!), and a certified organic Farmer's Market (we enjoyed fresh strawberries and mandarins, and we made breakfast burritos from fresh eggs and peppers). Keeping with another festival tradition started at 2003's IT festival, Alison and I began each morning by running around the campgrounds. And in addition to the Halloween set, there was another Phish first: Sunday's noon-time Acoustic Set complete with free coffee and "8-shaped" donuts. Unfortunately, the line for the morning snacks was too long. Fortunately, the line where they were giving out free Phish Food Ben & Jerry's scoops was not long, so we went there instead.

I'm not going to lie. There were times leading up to the weekend that I wondered if I'm getting a little old to be taking off across the country to follow my favorite jamband. Well, I have to tell you: I had a great time. Since 1991 they have been my favorite for a reason. They put on the best show of any band out there... and they took care of every person who made the trip. Everything was perfect. Trey, Mike, Page, and Fish: thanks. Lisa, great driving and packing. Heather, thanks for looking after our house and animals while we were away. And in answer to the original question: I'd do it again in a second.

See you at "Festival 9"!