Sunday, October 2, 2011

Four Days at Tunbridge Worlds Fair

We recently spent 4 days at the Tunbridge Worlds Fair working for Crescent Foods selling very un-fair fare.  Nothing fried.  No animal parts shaped into giant tubes and cooked in great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts.  No sugar spun into tufts of pink clouds on a stick.  All vegetarian burritos, quesadillas and tortilla wraps.  My god we were out of place. 
Deciding what to eat at the fair and when is an art form that can only be perfected with practice.  Fair food should be attacked in the same systematic way a good lover approaches sex.  I look at popcorn kind of like getting to first base.  You can still move around, checking out all your options without having to make a serious commitment to any one (type of food).  Which makes fried dough the oral sex of the fair.  Things are definitely heading in the right direction but it’s not too late to head to the parking lot satisfied.  Taken to a logical conclusion this of course makes Italian sausage and peppers the big O.  Which I suppose makes maple cotton candy akin to a good post-coitus smoke.
There are quite a few overweight people in Vermont and I think most of them spent a day or more at Tunbridge.  Nothing like a September chill in the air to get people thinking about an extra layer of warmth.  I was lucky enough at one point to look up from my tortilla wrapping position and be greeted by the backside of a fairly large woman with a serious case of plumber’s butt wearing a bright red thong that stretched from one end of the Gobi desert, up and through Mongolia and ended somewhere in the foothills of the Himalayas.  Not a pretty sight but not unlike witnessing a good trainwreck I found myself constantly checking to see if she and her family had moved on.

We did get to see quite a few people walking around wearing camouflage.  Which doesn’t say a whole lot for the people who design camouflage.

And if I might offer the following bit of advice.  Only buy stuff you won’t take home with you.  Like rides, fair food and fortunes from Zelda the gypsy.
No giant inflatable hammers.
No goldfish in baggies.
No oversized foam cowboy hats.
No balloons that have been twisted to look like poodles with challenged colons.
No belt buckles the size of a Prius.
I’ve got to go.  Somewhere out there is a clown riding a unicycle while twisting long skinny balloons into poodles that you can wear on your head.  I think I might see what will happen if I jam a stick in his spokes.
Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Sunday, September 11, 2011

After Lanakila

The best time of the day is 6:00 AM.  Coffee is made and there is time to sit on Main House porch and listen to Brook running after a full night of heavy rain.  The boys of Lanakila still sleep.  Brook runs down past Health House, Woodcraft and Exploring.  Running with the spirit.  The spirit that provides the faith that Lanakila will be here in another 90 years.

There will be at least one counselor (a direct descendent of Doug Pilcher) who will have two bowls of cereal and two pitchers of milk served to him in bed.

There will be a bugler.  It may not be Hans or Fraser but someone will blow reveille.  Probably really badly.  Mostly likely not recognizable as reveille, but boys and young men will still get up.  Some will brush their teeth, some will not.  All will coming charging to breakfast.

During the first week of camp at least one Brooksider will miss his Dad but will be quickly and firmly and lovingly made to feel part of a community by someone with a heart as big as Angus Davidson's.

Dogs belonging to no one and everyone, will wander into and be shooed out of the dining room.  The dining room with the piano played by someone who knows the power of music to lift hearts towards the heavens.  Probably someone whose Grandfather was prepped for chapel by Robbie Pennoyer.

There will be a chef who will not prepare enough grilled cheese sandwiches.  And a group of Bridgers who are terrible dishwashers but incredible rat-tailers.

Jenn Grossman's mist will hover over Lake Morey's surface and I will sit on Main House porch with a cup of coffee and listen.

Boys and young men will return next year and Brook will still run down past Health House, Woodcraft and Exploring.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Me, Irene, Tula and the iRobot Roomba

I left camp as Hurricane Irene was making her way up the East Coast not really sure of direction or where landing would be.  Both me and Irene.  We both lit about the same time, me back in Middlebury for a short while and she, briefly but very efficiently as hurricanes go in Stockbridge, Rochester, Gaysville and numerous other communities.  Reeking of devastation and vandalizing our notion of final resting spot;  what will become for those of us close to her as “our hurricane”, left behind a lot of mud in the wrong places, dead cows and substations of power grossly downstream.  But there was the unintended heroic consequence that pointed out why places like Stockbridge, Rochester, Gaysville and others are called communities.
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
I think Irene.
I think Irene who?
I think Irene the lottery, my home isn’t upside down.
So after a couple of days at my sister’s house in Cornwall and a hurricane extended trip to New York, New York (the city so confused they had to name it twice) to move daughter Grady from Brooklyn to her new life as a student at NYU I find myself with 4 or 5 days of not a whole lot to do other than drink beer, watch the Lake Dunmore shoreline slide back into position and keep an eye on Tula.  
Tula is Ashley’s dog and is the heir to the Miss Bindergarten fortune.  I have been tasked as a dogsitter which in this instance is not that taxing a task.  Food twice a day, a walk every morning which she could do in her sleep and throwing a tennis ball into the lake.  Throwing the ball is the hardest part of the job because throwing it too far results in a look of yeah right.  “Woof woof” (trans: “There’s a good strong wind blowing into shore, let’s let that take care of things shall we?”)
There is no internet access (something which has jumped ahead of access to healthcare on my list of great job benefits) and no TV.  But who cares.  I’ve got me an iRobot named Roomba.  More precisely Roomba the Model 400 vacuum cleaning robot.  This little bad boy “Cleans I don’t have to.”  And is quite mesmerizing as he bumps his way around the room like a severely drunk dancer at a very white wedding.  (What is about the culture in which I matured that names bad things like hurricanes for women and assigns maleness to modern life-altering wonders?)  Better than any Jim Carey movie, I watch endlessly, trying in vain to figure out the algorithm that guides Roomba.  Yo stupid!  Lift your feet outta the way.  Tula at least is smart enough to leave the room when Roomba fires up.  Out of the room and up on a bed.  “Woof, woof, woof” (trans: “Call me when you learn how to climb bedspreads.”)
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Irobot who?
Irobot out to pick up the tennis ball because the wind changed direction.  
So it’s 4 or 5 days after Irene and Tula, Roomba and I await the arrival of another storm due to deposit up to 4 inches of rain.  The Cherokee have a saying that roughly translates as “don’t piss off Mother Nature”.  Actually I made that up.  What do I know of the Cherokee.  But it seems like something a culture with more sense than ours would say.    
So we wait.  Woof, woof, woof, woof. (trans: Roomba!  Get your ass out of that corner and bring Peter another beer.)
Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Well Now What?

Well the summer of 2011 has rounded the bend.  Over in Middlebury they are post-Field Days to be followed quickly by back-to-school shopping.  The Tweed River Music Festival has come and gone (without me) and the last camper left yesterday around 1:00 PM (without me).
It has been a summer that turned out much differently than I had envisioned.  Plans of learning to play the guitar (2 new chords-that’s it), running every day (once around the lake) and making a gazillion grilled cheese sandwiches (accomplished that one) were squashed by work.
My romantic life was on hold.  Basically a summer of celibacy.  My laundry getting mixed up and delivered to one of the female counselors’ cabins by mistake was as close as I got to love.
Showering after work tonight and I’m down to one bar of Ivory the size of a dime.  Enough for one armpit which means I have to stand sideways when ever I converse with anyone so’s not to offend.  So I figure I can put a little adventure in my life, a little change, a little shake-me-up and take care of Mr. B.O. at the same time.  I’m going soap shopping!
I’m going soap shopping and after 30 plus years of loyalty I’m planning on coming home with something different than Ivory.  
First stop is aisle 9 at Kinney’s Drug Store.  Aisle 9.  Hosiery, Cosmetics, Implements (huh?), Facial Essentials, Shower and Bath and Skin Care.  This is not going to be as easy as I had hoped but I remain determined. Mantra: change is good, change is good.  No it’s not.  Change is scary, can’t I just get my Ivory and go home?
Apparently there have been several changes in the soap world in the past 30 years.  Who knew cucumber, lemon verbena, shea butter, exfoliation and micro beads were an essential part of being clean.  There may be a panic attack in my future.  And nothing against the Irish but I’ve known a few and they haven’t got a lock on freshness.
Oh this is interesting.  Down on the bottom shelf all in a row.  Boraxo, Lava and Kirk’s Castile.  This is the section for people who don’t mind scrubbing off an arm in the name of cleanliness.  I think I might have gone too far and work my way back up.  
My final answer Regis?  Zest.  I’ve heard of it.  Serious questions about the Ocean Energy and the Scent Caps System that promises to release long lasting clean scents.  But it’s right next to the Ivory so I don’t feel as though I’ve strayed too far.   Take a deep breath and head quickly to the cash register.  And we’re done.    
That was actually liberating.  Almost exhilarating.  But exhausting.  I’ll say goodnight.  I’ve got to get to bed so I can wake up and take a shower.  
Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Monday, August 1, 2011

So today I got out of the kitchen

and got to go for a hike with Don MacIntosh and a group of eight year olds.  The tripping department is wonderful about putting these hikes, canoe trips and overnights together and once and awhile you can tag along.  After about a 20 minute ride, oh wait a minute...Everett put on your seatbelt...we made it to the trailhead for the Wright Mountain Trail.  The hike includes a sidetrail to the Devil's Den caves where we won't get to go in but we can look in because four people have gone in and not come out and they never found their bodies.  Ooh, like I'm really scared.

We learned that before heading out on any hike it's important to get rid of any excess weight and check the trail map one last time.

Trip Leader

Hiking with 8 and 9 year old boys at first seems like a nightmare.  And it is.  But you can learn a lot by being patient and just lending an ear.  Did you know that the typical human swallows 12 spiders during their lifetime?  While they are sleeping.  And you probably know this too but if you hold a match to your  butt and fart it will explode.  Jason's brother did it.

We stopped for gorp, water and a quick rest after about 10 minutes.  No Wilem we are not almost there.  

The boys.

I'm sorry you spilled your water, I bet you'll be more careful next time.  

Cows fart with their eyes closed.

About half an hour later we stopped for lunch.  (This is not going to be a long hike.)  We had lunch at this great cabin with a wonderful view.

Wonderful view

Cabin and the boys

After lunch we had a wonderful time doing what is called rest period.  I don't know at what age we stop this ritual but I for one would vote in favor of a mandatory 1 hour nap after lunch.  It was actually a very nice time.  The boys settled down, the clouds over head floated peacefully by and the breeze gently worked its way through the beech tree canopy.  Until James farted.  Which he did not do on purpose.  Did so.  Did not.  Did so.  Ten minutes of suppressed giggling and we're on our way.

Anyway.  If Gandalf and Frodo and the smallest transformer fought against the spells of Voldemort it would be a tie.  Would not.  Would so.  I think I sprained my ankle can someone carry me?

Heading down the trail towards the caves things started getting real quiet even though everyone knew there is no such thing as the devil and he wouldn't be hanging out in a bunch of not really scary caves in Vermont and what was that noise and maybe I should wait here to guard the water bottles.  Did you know that if you fart in a cave it will echo for eternity?  True.

I didn't get any pictures of the caves.  None of them came out for some reason.  Ooooh.

We made it down and back to camp for dinner which was.  No.  Yes, Mexican night.  Well that will be good for my heart.

Next week I'm signed up to go to Eagle's Bluff with a group of 11-12 year olds.  I'm looking forward to being with a more mature group.  I heard these guys can make armpit farts and one of them saw the nurse's boobies when she bent over to tie her shoe.  Did not.  Did so.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today I found...

East Bumfuck, VT.  It is just north of Victory before you get to Granby.  I went for a motorcycle ride out of camp in search of the point where Vermont, New Hampshire and Canada all come together.  Thought I would take the back way so as to see a part of Vermont I had never seen before.  Which is now that part of Vermont I hope to never see again.  The road from Rt 2 in North Concord that winds up and through Victory, East Bumfuck, Granby, Guildhall finally connecting with Rt. 102 turns out is gravel.  Which turns out to not be the best road surface for motorcycle tires that should have been changed about 2000 miles ago.  An interesting side note: Guildhall gets its name from the Abenaki word for “place you can’t nor would you want to get to from here”.

Guildhall Doublewide Trailer
I finally made it to the right neck of the woods but narrowing down what I thought would be a pretty big tourist draw (I mean we’re talking not just about the Northeast Kingdom, this is the actual Northeast Corner of Vermont) was a little more of a challenge than I had foreseen.  Almost crossed into Canada at Beecher Falls.  Headed up the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut looking for a place called Happy Corner, NH.  Sounded promising but nothing.  I finally tracked down a stone marker that indicated that an institution of no less importance than the United States Supreme Court Boundary Commission had determined that the spot I was looking for was 314 feet to the east at the low water point of the edge of the Connecticut River.
You thought I was kidding?

That’s it!  Get your toes wet and you’re in New Hampshire.
On the way home I had lunch in this quaint little restaurant named after the farmer who had a farm, EIEIO.  And on that farm he had some animal parts, EIEIO.  With a quarter pounder here...
Actually it was a great ride.  It’s always good to get out of camp for a little break.  I did see some signs of wildlife.

Unfortunately also signs that man is starting to encroach on this quaint corner of Vermont.

I did have a close call on the way home when I came around a corner and there were these slow children ahead playing teeter-totter in the road.

Luckily I had retained my muscle memory from playing the windmill hole at miniature golf so many times and sped under the port side just as she went up.  Another interesting side note:  Teetor-totter comes from the Greek.  Teetor meaning fat boy and totter meaning move closer to the fulcrum.  There you have it.
Next week I think will explore the path of 5 or 6 of Vermont’s fine micro-brewed beers as they make their way from fine hops and grains to my refrigerator and beyond.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Summer of 2011

is quickly passing.  Although everyday at camp seems like 4 or 5 days I am realizing that the end of camp is about as close as the beginning.  So far it has been a great combination of long hours of work that is much harder than I imagined and an environment of wonderful people, love and caring and sharing and almost enough alone time.

The camp is truly a magical place that reminds me every day of what Hogwarts must be like.  Kids are allowed to escape and be themselves no matter if that means wearing your shorts pulled up almost to your boobies or breaking your arm because you jumped out of a swing that was going just a touch too high.  Counselors are encouraged to make fools of themselves which makes fitting in for me quite easy.  The other night I got to go on an after-dinner treasure hunt with the Brookside Unit which is the set of tents and cabins filled with 9 and 10 year olds.  It was explained to the boys that the point of the hunt was to get the unit to work as a unit and that we were going to walk as a team not run as a bunch of individuals after each clue was read and figured out.  It took about 3 clues for the counselors to figure out that while the ears of 9 and 10 year old boys hear walk, and their brains understand walk, and they know they are supposed to walk it is just impossible for the legs to not run as fast as possible (team? what team?) to the next clue.  Because, well there is no because, that's just the way it is.  Has been since 1922 when the camp started and will be in 2022 when the camp will be 100 but the boys of Brookside will still be 9 and 10.

We served 750 grilled cheese sandwiches yesterday with 25 gallons of homemade tomato soup.

Wednesday night is the final game of the summer baseball tournament and the kitchen is responsible for a hot dog and hamburger bbq.  It should be great fun and very tiring and we'll get up the next day and do it all over again.

4 Things I won't miss hearing.
1. What's for lunch today?  (What do you care kid you're not going anywhere.)
2. Do you have any apples?  Not the green ones, I like red.  (No kid, today's fruit are bananas.)
3. The upper dining room milk machine is empty.  (Try the one in the lower dining room kid.)
4. What's for lunch today? (You're the 217th person to ask me that today.  You win a set of hands around your wind pipe.  Just kidding, now get out of here kid.)

I had a day off today and had a great motorcycle ride over to Middlebury and back.  Got a haircut at Bud's where haircuts only cost $12 and only take 5 minutes.  When you have as little hair as I do there's little sense in getting fancy.  Got to see Erin (yea!) and have lunch at Mister Ups and catch up.

On the ride back I took the back roads over Bethel Mountain, through Randolph, up and over to East Randolph, up and over to Chelsea, up and over to Vershire, Ghost Green, South Corinth and finally to Bradford and Colatina's Pizza.  Where I now sit enjoying open mike night, Switchback beer, a 12" sausage and mushroom pizza, the Red Sox playing the Orioles and internet access.

The smell of fresh cut was so sweet coming down through some of the nicest hit 'em hard freshly paved curves I've been on in awhile.  My oh my.  Clover 'bout knocked me off my bike.

Well I best go.  The Sox are down 3-zip and I've got to figure out what to serve for lunch tomorrow.  And suggest that Jackson wear his shorts just a little lower.  A 10 year old boy's boobies need to breathe.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hello Madda, Hello Fadda

Here I am at Camp Lanakila.  Which unfortunately doesn't have wireless internet access.  So here I am at the Fairlee Free Public Library.  What is Fairlee Free?  You only have to pay sometimes?  Just what seems right?  And who decides?  Anyway it being Saturday they closed an hour before I got here.  Luckily the bench out front ain't too hard and is close enough to the Whistlestop Cafe's internet signal that I am able to broadcast and try to get up to date.

All the kitchen staffs from all the camps got together this morning to go over policies and procedures.  Definitely have fun.  Definitely do not clean the slicer with your hand while it is running.  I met my staff which consists of my Asst. Chef Chris who is nice enough but a little jumpy-everything cool-I'm down with that-can we get a CD player for the kitchen kind of guy.

Then I have 4 college-age kids from overseas who have little or no experience in the kitchen. (The cheese goes between the two slices of bread for a grilled cheese sandwich?)  I will fill in more details as I get to know them but for now they are: Alan from the U.K.,  Ekaterina from Russia, Anita from Hungary and Olga from Ukraine.  Beet soup for everyone!  We start tomorrow with a dinner called the Big Kahuna which is a gathering of all the unit and department heads.

Some pictures.

My cottage.  Pretty rustic here at old Camp Lanakila.

The view from my front porch.  Are you sure this is a camp?

The backside of the mess hall.

Some of the tents and clubhouse of the Brookside Unit.  8,9 and 10 year old boys.

My room.  Just as rustic inside.

A beautiful rainbow over Lake Morey.  Aaaah.

My snail mail address for anyone who would like to write a real letter and boy would I like to get one!
Peter Ross
Camp Lanakila
2899 Lake Morey Road
Fairlee, VT  05045

Well that's it for now.  I better go check on my charges.  Olga stop!!  Turn the mixer off before you scrape down the sides.  No Alan, sugar is not the same as salt.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hey buddy I'm talking to you!

I do not make these up.  I swear.

"Middlebury police investigated a report of a dead man sitting in a truck parked off Rt. 7 North on May 6."
We could probably stop right there but let's continue.
"A man told police that he had tried to converse with the person in the truck, to no avail."
Did you try shouting?  Not that it would do any good because...
"Police discovered that the "dead man" was in fact a mannequin."

Not to be left out of this week's stoopid sweepstakes...
"A Seminary Street Extension resident was ticketed for an illegal bonfire on May 7.  Police said the property owner had been burning, among other things, a mattress, lawn chair, pots, pans, shoes and a copier."
30 color copies a minuite my ass.  Burn you sum-a-bitch burn!

Friday, May 6, 2011

So Many Fools...

So little space in the Addison Independent.

You can not make this stuff up.  This week's police logs were full of items too good to be true.

We start in Bristol.  Where the Bristol Police...

"On March 5, assisted a state trooper to detain a subject running in the road and removing clothing."
        It was hot.  Very hot.  Stay with me here and see if you can follow the following...

"On March 6, received a report from a Bristol man that objects were stolen from his car.  The man later reported that a young male returned the property after it was stolen for a friend who had allegedly stolen it."
     I'm sure there is a crime here somewhere.  If you can figure it out let me know.

"On March 11, received a report from a Crescent Street resident that her dog, which looked "like a polar bear" had run away."
     Run away?  Or just returned to the wild after eating all the garbage, which looked "like a fine restaurant meal".

"On March 15, a Munsill Avenue resident reported her black-and-white cat named "Kitten" had been missing for three days."
     Hate to tell you ma'am but I think we found your cat.

"On March 20, found a black-and-white house cat dead on East Street and the officer properly disposed of it."
     Which is more than we can say about this sap's car...

"On March 25, received a report from an Adirondack View resident that his vehicle was mistakenly sent for scrapping by a towing company following a crash in Burlington."
     Not sure but I'm thinking this will probably get settled out of court.

Meanwhile in Middlebury the police...

"Were informed that a musical instrument - specifically, a stand-up bass - had been stolen from the Mahady Center for the Arts on April 25."
    Probably by someone with a really baggy sweater.  And not driving a VW Beetle.

"Took into protective custody a very drunk local man on May 2.  The man proved to be uncooperative, police said - so much so that he was rejected by a detox center in Rutland."
     Probably want to leave that off your resume.

In with the good air, out with bad.  Peace. Peter