T-Shirt Weather!

Nancy abused me on the trip to Maine yesterday.

“You’re just going to have to accept it gets cold in New England. And you can’t just be walking around the house half-naked expecting to be warm and toasty.”

Pardon me, I guess I forgot to get my blood replaced with anti-freeze.

Yes, I am already cold.  I saw temperatures in the 60s and thought, “T-shirt weather!”

New England ain’t got time for my Texas wimpiness. So here we are in Maine, there was genuine frost on my windshield this morning, my fingers felt like Otter Pops; thank LL Bean for providing a store so close.Did I mention it’s going to be bright and sunny today?

I might freeze to death.

***

We arrived at Erin’s last night, brought our stuff in, and went to procure my first lobster of the trip Soon after. It was a delicious crustacean and did not stand a chance against my expert disassembly skills and voracious appetite.

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Angry Dogs and Blushing Dads

Tomorrow, Nancy and I are off to Maine to visit with our awesome friend, Erin, and attend the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. The winner for largest pumpkin is already in- a 1,266 lb “horror pumpkin” as my friend Mary called it.

This will be the first overnight(s) trip we’ve taken since the drive from Texas to Vermont. New England is just chock-full of “you can’t get there from here”, so we’ll debate the route we want to take later tonight.

I’m also looking forward to seeing Erin’s folks again. I really enjoyed them both last time we met. But I gave her dad a hard time and I am not sure what he made of me. I joked with him in front of the whole family. He blushed.

He may be plotting revenge.

***

I had my first regular set at Royalton Community Radio today, and I had a blast, although I couldn’t figure out how to turn the air on in the studio and I nearly died from the heat. Luckily, Nancy dropped by and saved me in the nick of time, and even brought me some tasty seltzer water to boot. Yum.

The set went really well, though, and Todd Tyson, the station manager sent out a note to the staff that said, “Heading south, again, a strong start out of the broadcast gate for Jay Brownlee with his opening segment of “Howdy Vermont”….an alt country vibe that ensures “no depression” will afflict you.” “No Depression” is a musically geeky reference to the movement of the same name that saw a re-invention of Americana by acts like Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks, and others. That Todd used it makes my musically geeky heart happy to its musically geeky core.

***

I think I might be the cause of dog friction.

Since Rita has warmed up to me, she has become more aggressive towards the much more docile and submissive Chica. Now, the funny thing is, Rita barely has teeth, so I guess Chica is afraid of being gummed to death. But Rita has begun growling at Chica, which was also funny- at first- because she sounds about as ferocious as an angry bunny rabbit. She’s five full pounds of H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

A couple nights ago, they literally fought in my lap. I was stunned. But I’ll be damned if I am going to get bitten- or gummed- if I can help it. It was all very unpleasant. Nancy is perplexed.

And I am not used to girls fighting over me. Even dogs.

***

Oh, something else I’ve wanted to say: people here have just been really nice to me. Just really nice to me. Open. Welcoming. Even Nancy’s daughter Sarah and her husband, Rick. Damned nice. It’s made things really easy for me. I am grateful.

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On the Air!

Today, I am starting my regular radio show called Howdy Vermont! (what else, right?) at Royalton Community Radio, every Tuesday from 3-5pm eastern time, that’s 2-4 back in Texas. To listen, just point your browser to http://royaltonradio.org (or follow this link). Locate the green player box:

ck

Then click the play button to listen in.

So, I hope you’ll join me today and every Tuesday! I’ll be playing the best music I can find, lots of things you might not have heard, so give it a try- music geeks welcome!

If you have any comments, please feel free to send me a tweet at @howdyvermont or an email at howdyvermont@mail.com

–Jay

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Pumpkinseeds and Bullheads

I have loved to fish since I was a kid, and I was lucky enough as a kid to have a brother who let me fish with him, teaching me how to tie knots and techniques for catching whatever it was we were fishing for. And he didn’t baby me; I had to learn not to fear fish or bait from a very young age. And I have loved to fish ever since.

Since even before Nancy and I arrived in Vermont, I have been dreaming about water. I couldn’t wait to get up here and start fishing. However, once we arrived, I put off getting a licenses and the gear to go out. However, a few days ago, Nancy collected some fishing gear she had, so it was time to break the drought.

I chose McIntosh Pond for our first trip. It’s close- maybe 10 minutes away up Dairy Hill Road, not far from the birthplace of Joseph Smith- yes, that Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. I joked with Nancy that we were so close to a Mormon holy place that the trout in McIntosh Pond were a variety called Mormon Tabernacle Trout. Yum.

Anyhow, we had a lovely day, caught no keepers of any kind, but did snag a variety of pumpkinseeds (what we call perch as a generic term back in Texas), bullheads (catfish), and even one tiny little black bass. Trout are apparently slow for the rest of the year until spring, but I could have cared less. It was such a perfect day and the pond so gorgeous, I was happy just being there.

We made a new friend, too.

A guy named Sun was fishing around the point from us and having better luck with the trout. He came over and talked to us a couple times, then eventually invited us over to join him. We chit-chatted about this and that and he proved himself to be exceedingly polite and friendly. Sun wants to take me ice fishing in a few months, something I am dying to try.

So I’ve got a new fishing buddy. I’d say that’s a great catch.

***

West Lebanon, NH has already become a regular Sunday destination for Nancy and me. It’s still a little bizarre to think, “Hey, wanna run over to a whole other state and have lunch and shop?” and know it’s as easy getting there as Andrews to Odessa. And the trips to Lebanon are well worth it.

First up is a local Korean/Japanese restaurant called Yama. I cannot think of much better than meals of hot, spicy soups and delicious sushi. It’s a gastronomic marriage made in heaven. It is also now our Sunday ritual.

Lebanon is also home to a few large box stores and even a tiny mall that are good for fleshing out the shopping experience. LL Bean is a big player for us; we’ve bought everything from rain jackets to fishing equipment there. There’s also Best Buy, Home Depot, K-Mart and the store everyone loves to hate: Walmart.

And ice cream. We tried (yet another) local ice cream yesterday, this time from Garelick Farms. If New Englanders don’t know anything else, they know their ice cream. Unfortunately, this particular outlet had an announcement outside that the store would close for the season October 21st. I wanted to cry.

***

We’re going to Maine on Wednesday for a big pumpkin festival held in Damariscotta, near where our friend Erin lives. The highlight of the festival is the pumpkin-chunking, held on Sunday. If you’ve not seen this before, the idea is that contestants build slingshots and trebouchets to see who can send their pumpkin flying farthest.

The real idea of going to Maine, for me, however, is to see just how much seafood I can slarf down in as little time as possible. Last time I was in Maine, I had lobster for every single meal except for maybe two the five days I was there, including an amazing lobster omelet the first morning. I will be gorging myself on mussels, oysters, clams, and any damned things with fins I can get my hands on.

Oh, and it’ll be fun to see Erin again.

***

I am going to end this post with a profession of love. Love, love, love.

Of course, I am talking about popcorn.

I love popcorn. I think popcorn should be kept in the house at all times. But not that Christmas tree garnish crap like Orville Redenbacher’s, flavorless, boring, generic. I’m talking locally grown, organic popcorn from right down the road called Hurricane Flats. Their Ruby Red variety is the bomb. And it makes me feel love, love, love.

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Hubbardton Battlefield

The only battle of the American Revolutionary War that was fought in what would only later become Vermont was engaged on July 7, 1777 near Hubbardton. Elements from Massachusetts and New Hampshire joined the Green Mountain Boys from Vermont in rear-guard action to hold off the redcoats attempting to divide New England from the other colonies. The action at the Hubbardton battlefield allowed the Americans to regather their forces to fight another day. That day was the famous battle at Saratoga, NY.

The battlefield itself is very small- an easy 1/2-mile or so path circled a sizable chunk of it. The ridgeline where the Yanks made their initial stand was a stone fence at the top of the hill. The stones are still there. The British were made to charge up the hill in the open, no trees or cover, where they were easy targets for the Yanks. However, almost all the soldiers on the Colonial side that day were either injured from previous battles or sick from the measles and other diseases. Walking the battlefield, it’s not hard to imagine the desperation of the American forces fighting so that others could live on.

Once the British forces began to overrun and flank the American soldiers, the Yanks broke into a desperate running, fighting retreat that pushed them down the side of the hill they had been defending, then across the road we traveled to the site, and again into the mountains beyond.

This was my first visit to a Revolutionary War battlefield and I am glad it was so near and so well-preserved. I hope the pictures posted here do it some justice.

Looking down the "front" side of the slope. The redcoats made their initial charge up this hill, the Yanks firing down as they came.

Looking down the “front” side of the slope. The redcoats made their initial charge up this hill, the Yanks firing down as they came.

The Historical Marker with a brief description of the battle that took place here.

The Historical Marker with a brief description of the battle that took place here.

Text on the monument.

Text on the monument.

Facing up the "back" side of the hill. The stone wall at the ridgeline lies at the top.

Facing up the “back” side of the hill. The stone wall at the ridgeline lies at the top. The road where the Yanks crossed as they fled lies behind you.

More text.

More text.

The monument.

The monument.

More text on the monument.

More text on the monument.

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As the British began to overrun the Yanks, they send soldiers down towards the middle and down the hill to cut off the road leading out. That road is still used today.

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The stone wall lies along the line with the tree in the center.

The stone wall lies along the line with the tree in the center.

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