Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Field Trip

Last week my daughter, granddaughter and Barb's daughter were all on vacation so we took the opportunity to get together and take a field trip. One of my favorite places to visit has always been Simon Pearce Glass in Windsor Vermont, and since Deb and Sarah love to go there too and Barb and Breanna had never been there, we decided it was the perfect choice.

All their glass is handblown by a small group of artisans and they have a balcony that goes out over the work area so that you can watch them do their magic. Glassblowing is a delicate dance and a cooperative effort as elegant pieces are blown, molded, rolled and joined together, each person knowing exactly what steps to take as component parts are assembled to create a work of art.

Above are pictures of their showroom.

This is an overview of the front half of the work area. You can see the almost white hot fire in the openings of their secondary ovens, the ones they use to keep reheating the glass as they shape and mold, like the man below.

This is a photograph of their main oven. It heats and melts all necessary ingredients, making the molten glass ready for the glassblowers. It is from this oven that each artisan removes hot orange glass with his or her glassblowing tube. Their judgment for knowing how much glass is needed for a particular project seems infallible.

To the right of the oven in this picture, you can see one of their artisans working with the superheated material, rolling and blowing the glass, coaxing it into elegant shapes. On the floor are troughs of running water. They place wooden molds in these troughs and, for some pieces, blow glass into the mold.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, many of the artisans were at lunch and the work area was rather quiet, and a few of our pictures didn't come out. I'm sorry to have missed one in particular; it was a photo of the sweeping, curved handle of a pitcher being attached to the pitcher with delicacy and perfection.

A simple wineglass can cost from $58 to $108, so as beautiful as I think the work done here is, I will never be able to set a table with Simon Pearce glass. But, some years ago, I did treat myself to a brandy snifter and three glass ice cubes. From the seconds table.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sharing a Joke

When you are in deep shit,
Look straight ahead,
Keep your mouth shut and say nothing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Remembering Gus

Once upon a time, during the years before I moved to Vermont, I partnered, for a few of those years, in managing a boarding stable. We boarded between 10 and 15 horses and made an effort at breeding Appaloosas. Our sire, Saint, was a colorful, handsome boy with excellent conformation, our brood mare, Rosie, a sturdy, well put together gal who's colors were somewhat muted by comparison.

With great anticipation we awaited the birth of our first foal. Its birth went well and everything seemed fine for the first few days but as time passed, we noticed a rapid deterioration in the well being of our first baby. The vet was called but the foal died before he could determine what was amiss.

Distraught but determined, we decided to give Rosie ample time to get back on her feet and try again. And, again, we were blessed with a frisky little foal. A few days later, like a bad dream come back to haunt us, this little filly also took a turn for the worst. The vet came back and this time was able to determine the cause of our problems. It seemed that the parents had an RH incompatibility and Rosie's milk was poisoning her baby.

We quickly separated the two and I took over feedings. I named the filly "August Morn," called her "Gus" for short and began the process of teaching her how to drink from a bottle. I thought little Gus would take to a bottle without any difficulties, these things always look so easy when you see them done on television, but such was not to be the case. She was suffering from separation anxiety and confusion and wasn't sure what to do with an unfamiliar object.

I don't know what gave me the idea, but I decided to try bringing a bucket of milk up to her muzzle, putting my finger in the milk and slipping it into her soft, warm mouth. This seemed to appeal to her and in no time I was able to switch her over to a bottle. It wasn't long before she came to think of me as her mother and when she wasn't napping, would follow me everywhere as I cared for the other horses and tended to my chores. We became quite close and games of tag, hide and seek and kicking at each other became the norm.

In my memory I will always see her there with her dark, shiny coat, white spots prominant on her rear and liquid brown eyes looking into mine with the question "hey mom, what's up?"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rural Vermont

It was almost 30 years ago when I moved to Vermont from a town south of Boston. I desperately wanted to get away from the masses of people, the noise and the pollution and live somewhere where the air was pristine and you could drink the water straight out of babbling brooks. Since my children had left to start their own lives and I had a friend living in a small Vermont town, it seemed the opportune time for a change and, after selling everything that wouldn't fit in my car, I struck out for the Green Mountains and a new life.

The beauty and charm of the state of Vermont has never ceased to delight me and I love living here. What's more, it wasn't long before I discovered that rural life in the mountains had some rather unique attributes. For instance, there are probably more dirt roads in this state than there are paved ones and a popular pastime is back road cruising. This requires taking enough time to very slowly traverse the roads that wind through the mountains and to appreciate the exquisite beauty they have to offer. Lush and green, the mountains here share the land with crystalline lakes, clear, cool rivers and sparkling brooks. Three to four hours is required for a proper cruise and to ensure the perfect ride, a picnic and some Vermont brewed beer should be taken along.

We also have five seasons, in contrast to the traditional four, the fifth being mud season. At this time of the year, between winter and spring, all of those charming back roads turn into pits of muck and mire. The mud is like quicksand and if you aren't careful, will suck your car down and hold it prisoner. I had a car get stuck so badly once that when I opened the door, the thick brown ooze crept in over my floorboards. It took a backhoe to pull me out. To those who live out on the dirt roads, mud season is the bane of their existence. The rest of us avoid them until the warmth of spring days and balmy breezes have had the chance to dry them out.

And then there is a great sport of pumpkin rolling. I do not know if it is unique only to the town I live in, but I have it on good authority that it started here many years ago. My town is built on hills, many of them quite steep. Except for the road through the center of town, everything is up and down. (Egad, that sounds like Dr. Seuss!) Anyway, you get the idea. So, on Halloween, car trunks, the backs of vans and truck beds are filled with pumpkins, the vehicles are taken to the tops of the hills and all contained pumpkins are let loose to roll down to Main Street. Much hooting and hollering is included. Your punishment, if you are caught, is to clean up the mess, but many are not caught and the day after Halloween finds the streets littered with bright orange pumpkin rinds. Strangely enough, within a day or two, it all disappears and becomes a memory.