Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Grann Day

It has been a pretty long day, mostly on the water. The winds that hit us Monday and Tuesday set most of us back in oyster production so today was catch up time. This morning it was still blowing out of the north at a good clip (15 to 20) so Alex and I grabbed what we could under these conditions, with a coming tide. After some rapid processing on shore, and a couple of deliveries to the shop, we went back out for the remainder of the day - set up the float mooring and grabbed a lot of oysters for tomorrow.

We also listened to tunes (primarily WERS on the seemingly seawater-proof Dewalt boombox) told stories, gabbed a bit about friends and foes, and just took it all in. The wind screeched to a halt at 3:00 and everyone on the bay was able to enjoy it. Lots of sunshine and moderate temps. A good day.

The gulls were about and they seemed to be feeding on something in the water: diving and splashing. We figured they were after a polychaete worm hatch (mini sand worms that swim about to frolic and spawn). Also the razors are getting active on the flats and the gulls like them too. But maybe some smelt or herring are starting to show...probably not, maybe smelt, but anyway, they were onto something.

A change of gears: Last night Brooke informed me that our friend David Grann has published a new book called "The Lost City of Z" and that it has been on the NY Time bestseller list (we now have a copy). It turns out that B. Pitt will be producing and acting in the film adaptation very soon. Pretty cool. David is one of two younger brothers of one of Brooke's best friends, Alison. (Did I compose that last sentence correctly?). We all grew up in adjacent neighborhoods. Anyway, go read the book. I am going to start it tonight and looking forward to it....the story of an exploration for a lost city in Brazil in the 1920s.

But back to the bay: more of the same tomorrow. Then hopefully to frolicking and spawning...why should the worms have all the fun?

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Farm

This past weekend was a doozy in many ways. But the best dooziness occurred on Saturday when my family and I visited our friends at Taylor Farm in Londonderry, VT. The Taylor Farm, located on Route 11 (not too far from downtown Londonderry), is a 500 or so acre dairy operation run by Jon Wright and his wonderful family. They keep on the order of about 100 dairy cows (Holsteins and New Jersey’s), milk them twice a day, and make Vermont’s best and only raw milk Gouda cheese. They produce several varieties including traditional, chipotle, smoked maple, caraway, nettle, and a prized aged Gouda, to name a few. They also keep draught horses, regular horses (I’m not a horse guy so I don’t know the terminologies), pigs, ducks, geese, and lots of chickens that squawk around and crank out eggs every day. Dogs, cats, bugs, birds, bees, ….what else? That might cover it.

I first met Jon Wright last year when my sister, Priscilla, and I took the kids for a tour around the valley between Stratton, Magic, and Bromley mountains. I had read about the Taylor Farm in a review in the Boston Globe the week before and being a farmer, and a cheesy kind of guy, I felt that this was probably going to be a good destination. Upon meeting Jon’s sister, Mimi, in their small, rustic retail shop, I knew we were in the right place. We bought all kinds of cheeses and goodies for the kids, then off on a one hour sleigh ride behind two cool draught horses. We stopped at a small Adirondack shelter out in a field somewhere where he started a fire for the kids so they could roast marshmallows and make samores. He provided hot cider and while the kids were toasting the solidified corn syrup the three of us ensued in conversations that spanned farming, oysters, global sustainability, and Vermont. In short, we had a great time with him out there. And afterward I promised to come back after he explained that they rent out their guest house throughout the year.

So I kept my promise. Last summer our family made the trip up to Londonderry and rented out the Wright’s guest house for a few days. We had an amazing time: the kids were off and running, helping with chores, exploring, and getting completely filthy with mud and manure. As promised, I brought a bag of oysters and it disappeared from sight within seconds. Last summer’s trip to the Taylor Farm was one of life’s best memories – especially because Max and Jane were so into it and not one second was devoted to any type of electronic device. I even got to fix some plumbing in the bathroom.

So last weekend we descended upon the farm again. This time with my brother-in-law, Chip (who you may have read about on this blog), and one of Jane’s friends, Katiana. The place was mobbed due to a kid’s birthday party (sleigh rides, etc.). But I managed to find Jon and spend a few minutes catching up. Unfortunately the visit witnessed the bad news that the Wright’s encountered over the winter. In February their dairy barn, a massive structure, collapsed under the asymmetrically-placed weight of the season’s snow during a nighttime wind event. Two cows were killed, the rest were rescued overnight (in bitter cold) by several members of Jon’s family and community. Even 6 weeks later they were still preparing the barn roof to be raised back up in several sections. It looked to be a monumental task. But Jon’s spirits were high and he had the help of his friends and neighbors. They’ll be fine I think. A large bash is planned for May to celebrate the restoration’s completion and I think I’ll go.

So we did our part and bought lots of cheese, milk, goodies for the kids, yarns, hats, and other stuff from Mimi in the shop. I presented Mimi with a bag of fresh oysters and this was received with a large smile. Then off we went, passing Mimi in the driveway running back to the shop with a lemon in her hand, “..for the oysters!”

Two more stops – a maple sugar shack and a woodworking joint. Great stuff. Then back to the house on the mountain.

Dinner was absolutely magnificent: oysters and cheese with wine for appetizing us, then steaks on the grill and some of Chip’s best side dishes to date. There was a berry pie from Taylor Farm for dessert. We ate, then put on the Who live at Kilburn (1977) on the high definition Jumbotron over the fireplace and carried on throughout the evening with the aid of Brooke’s brother Tom (who lives in the area) and our friends Lynn and Eric (from CT) who, by sheer coincidence were staying only a half mile from our place. As I watched Pete Townshend jump, jig, and jam I looked around and felt a distinct appreciation for life.

See how much fun it is to support local farms? Now back to the oysters… Now back to the real challenges.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gar? Yar!

The International Seafood Show occurred from Sunday through Tuesday. I went in on Sunday. The show is both grating and fun for me. I am not a big fan of wading through rivers of people in confined spaces. But the thing that kept me from freaking out at the show was the consistent awareness that we were in the Expo Center, which is something like 250 square miles in area, so there would always be places where people thinned out to tolerable concentrations.

There are some nice things about the show. First, I am with my friends and we make it a fun time. It is also an opportunity for vendors to make connections and support business. Other friends and colleagues are usually there and the event offers the chance to catch up with them. But one of the benefits of the show is sampling all kinds of food, from all over the world, and to see and meet all sorts of organisms.

Take Joel, for instance. He is some kind of organism and this was his first time attending the show. He was immediately attracted to the various species of marine life being served and shown in display cases. The Louisiana gar that he fell in love with ended up in his basement making fish prints. See his expression of love, lust, and delight below.

Another organism of interest is CJ. Of course, he’s famous now and most of you already know lots about this species, the CJificus Huskonia. But what you might not know is that you have to feed him, like a parking meter, to get him to work right. Finding the coin slot can take time however. But at the show we found it and Cory did his best to add extra minutes to C. huskonia.

The show is full of other sights, ranging from delightful to repugnant. One specific event crippled both Joel and me. As I was waiting for Joel to get through the long line in the men’s room, pondering the instructional signage in front of the entrance (see below), I was briefly unaware of mystical events taking place inside. Joel emerged not relieved but in a twisted fit of laughter. I instinctively asked what was going on. All he could do was to feebly raise one finger, about shoulder height, and say: “Dude, just …..…just wait…….…ohhh shit…” So I waited. And in a few seconds a man resembling Joe Pesci (Joe Fish perhaps) emerged from the restroom with a little hitchhiker….a souvenir of sorts.

Ah, life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just photos

...this scene was really funny....

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Let's go for a swim.

Friday, March 13, 2009


There are some things that turn up when working on the water. Most of them are crap: bottles, gloves, hats, and the occasional bra. Then there are other things.

But when I find odds and end out there I sometimes wonder who owned them. The Hooters hat, off of some guys head in a burst of SW wind as he tilted his chin back to finish his 6th beer. The gloves that probably drift into the bay from somewhere off shore may have been owned by lobster guys from Maine.

One of my favorite finds while digging steamers was a key chain/bottle opener with a big green beetle inside of it. The story behind that - a mystery.

But some items are of known origin. A couple of months ago, as Alex and I landed at Matt. Court a friend of ours suddenly marched down to us and asked us for a rake: "Hey. You guys have a rake?" Um, no, this time we didn't. The reason? He dropped his phone off the end of the Yacht Club pier. But it wasn't a waterproof phone and the tide was coming, so we kind of shrugged our shoulders and offered the right advice: buy a new phone. But then yesterday Alex found the thing. No one's home.

I'm still waiting for the elusive bale. Or much better, that suitcase full of stacked 100s. Ah yes, that would be nice.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

He's pink.

Doggie got shaved at PetCo the other day. Must mean that spring is here. Kind of like Groundhog Day or something.

I had them save a bag of hair to tie flies with.

Look at that poor thing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stormy and Cold

March 1 - 3, 2009

The nor'easter kept most of us in over the weekend. Then, of course, the backside of the thing brought in bitter cold temperatures and NW winds. Another day or two of this crud then it looks pretty good ahead.

Just some scenes from the past few days. My fingers were too cold this morning on the boat to think about taking the gloves off to shoot "on the water." So these are all on the land, looking out.