Lake Champlaigne

Chris and I are back from spending exactly 21 1/2 hours in Vermont, and you didn’t even know we were gone!

Shelburne Farms Inn

As part of a surprise for Chris’s mom’s 60th birthday, on Monday morning we drove to Shelburne Farms, where we spent the day with Chris’s family and then stayed overnight at the Shelburne Farms Inn. Chris’s brother, Steve, is a professional photographer, so I tried to hold my shutter-bugging in check. I couldn’t stop myself, though, from taking (and posting) a couple of the usual touristy photos. Shelburne Farms, of course, is beautiful, with acres of cow-dotted fields and tree-studded hillsides. And the Shelburne Farms Inn is absolutely stunning with elaborate carved woodwork, fabulous views, and antique-appointed rooms. (We stayed in the Oak Room, which overlooks the lake and shares a bathroom with the Dutch Room, where Steve and his wife Eve stayed.)

As I said, we spent exactly 21 1/2 hours in Vermont: we arrived for a noontime lunch on Monday and then left at 9:30 Tuesday morning so I could be back in Keene in time to teach my afternoon class. So given the whirlwind pace of Chris and my day-tripping, here are various blog-bits to mull over while I unpack my bags…

176 House

Thanks to Kathleen of unsettled for taking me out to dinner at this local restaurant. We’ve eaten there before, but this was the first time we ate outside on the terrace, which was entirely deserted by the time that our twinkle-toed waiter finally brought Kathleen her last drink. (If you don’t believe the twinkle-toed part, check out Kathleen’s version of the evening: yes, Mitch the waiter really did do a fairy dance amongst the twinkling Christmas lights.) Over the course of the evening, Kathleen showed me how to take a non-blurry low-light photo, which involves using your camera’s self-timer, setting the camera on a stable surface, and then NOT TOUCHING IT. The next time Kathleen and I get together, I’ll take a side-angle photo of her bounteous, blog-worthy breasts. Kathleen repeatedly laments that my blog isn’t trashy enough, especially given how trashy I can be (and frequently am) in person. Just wait, sweetheart, until I have incriminating photos and tell everyone, both of our drooling hubbies included, that our girls’ nights out have gone lesbian. Stay tuned, folks.

On a purely technical level, I’ve been hobbled by continued laptop woes. Faithful readers might remember the accident that robbed me of my T-key. Well, yesterday my new keyboard arrived, and Chris promptly popped it on my laptop…only to discover that the spacebar doesn’t work. Drat. So instead of typing blog-entries-like-this-for-the-several-days-until-I-get-another-keyboard, I asked Chris to switch back to the old keyboard. (I can, after all, still use the T; it just doesn’t have a key on it!) Once Chris had re-installed the old keyboard, I discovered that the slash/question mark key didn’t work…okay, no problem. That makes it impossible to type URLs, but I can live a couple days without that…until I discovered that the P key no longer works, too! So although I can go a couple days without slashing or asking questions, I most definitely cannot go a couple days without P-ing, so here I am typing this entry in my office at Keene State. Here’s hoping my new keyboard actually works from A to Z and beyond.

Home reflection, June 2004

Next, it was only a matter of time before my fascination with shop-window reflections would find its perfect outlet in the Mirror Project, a website featuring photos of folks who have snapped self-portraits in various reflective surfaces. My sidebar blogroll now features a link to random Mirror Project images, where you just might happen upon one of my first three submissions. The picture I’ve posted here is one I took yesterday while sitting the desk in our home office. Behind me you can see a nifty print of an illuminated Medieval map of the world with Jerusalem at the center; in my hand you can see my beloved Waterman fountain pen. There is a mirror on the back of a blocked hallway door in our office; you can see the right edge of that mirror as well as a reflection of the (dusty) file cabinet that is snug against said door. This will be my next Mirror Project submission; often while I’m writing at my desk I’ll pause to look in the mirror, so it was natural to use the camera’s self-timer to capture such a contemplative moment.

Lastly, today is Bloomsday, the 100th anniversary of Leopold Bloom’s June 16, 1904 stroll through Dublin as recounted in James Joyce’s Modernist masterpiece Ulysses. As fate would have it, I’m teaching an online course in British Modernism this term, and my students read (and were completely befuddled by) excepts from Ulysses several weeks ago. (This was a schedule goof on my part: had I planned my syllabus more wisely, we would have read Joyce this week.) The best way to celebrate Bloomsday, of course, is to stroll the streets of Dublin; many Joyce fans, in fact, converge upon Dublin every June 16th to do just that. Joyce, however, wrote Ulysses during his self-imposed exile in Europe: the Dublin streets and buildings he described were those he remembered from afar, the setting of many an imagined perambulation. So lacking the means or the wherewithal to drop everything and spend 21 1/2 hours in Dublin, you should take a day-trip in your own neighborhood, living one day as a flaneur in your own town. Joyce argued that all of human nature as well as the best and worst of all human civilization could be found on the streets of Dublin; I’d argue the same can be found on the streets of any town, starting right here, right now. In other words, take a walk, an at-home day-trip, wherever you find yourself, to see whether Joyce was right.