May. 19th, 2017

Here’s the thing about my 300-mile, straight-line, virtually-no-hills, extremely boring commute:

New York State is stupid gorgeous. Nobody really knows that, because we’re really only famous for the city, but I swear to Christ, the whole fuckin’ state is this ridiculous swathe of green shit and scenery. Out west it’s mostly flat but toward the southern tier it gets all rolling, and it’s got glacial lakes and microclimates and shit. East, the geology’s way more interesting, and there are these absolutely ridiculous vistas that unfold around you as you stare blankly at the same two fucking lanes each way. As you get close to the capital, the Mohawk River comes in and does ridiculous pretty shit with the foothills of the Adirondacks and so on, and it’s just– you can’t look at it and drive, but it’s so stupid. 

cut for a lengthy attempt at poetic description of chasing a thunderstorm for 100 miles:

There’s this one really dramatic bit where the Mohawk River bisects a mountain and there’s a curve and the Thruway runs right down in the river bottom, and the train tracks come in on the other side of the river, and I cannot find it on a fucking map. I hit Maps as I drove through, and got Sprakers, but I can’t find it in the street view of the hamlet of Sprakers, so I can’t be sure. It’s a ways before you get to Canajoharie, anyway. I think. I can’t remember. (There’s a sign that says Albany– 42, but I’m not sure where that really puts it.)

So here’s the point of my story. I came out of sunshine and 80 degrees out in Buffalo, and as I drove east I could see that the sky was darker, and there were some weird sort of… rays? The sky clearly had darker parts, and as I kept going past Rochester, into Syracuse, I could see that the whole southeast quadrant was dark, and there was a sharp line of light bisecting the sky. By Syracuse the roads were wet, so my suspicion that I was chasing a storm was confirmed– weather here goes very predictably from west to east, most of the time, and so does the Thruway; I’ve raced storms before, watching them in my rearview and being afraid to stop for gas lest they catch me. This time, though, it was ahead of me; there was nothing but sun behind, fluffy clouds and sun going from yellow to gold as the evening came down. 

East of Syracuse, the weird ray effect in the sky got stronger, and just before Utica, one of the rays solidified into a chunk of a rainbow. It was a straight chunk, no curve or arc. I kept watching it intermittently, as the road got wetter; I was getting road spray now, but no rain was falling.

The Thruway, of course, doesn’t go perfectly straight east-west all the time. It curves in a few places– toward Rochester, back down toward Syracuse, and of course, as it picks up the Mohawk it starts to follow the river’s curve a bit. So as I curved gently southward, I suddenly saw another hunk of rainbow, as the sky straight east grew darker and more foreboding– and I realized, it was the two ends of a giant rainbow arc, that if I could see it, would fill the entire east quadrant. It was the rainbow’s feet. But the rest of the rainbow itself was swallowed by the dark stormclouds, that now were starting to have flickers of lightning in them.

Now, I’ve long felt that the vista to the southwest as you come down the long hill between Utica and Ilion is possibly the most beautiful view on the Thruway (closely contested, of course, by the bit over by Auriesville I think, the bit with the whole valley thing, but that view’s one thousand times better from Rte 20 a little ways up the hill). Today, as I came down that hill, I could see rain trailing from some clouds, and it spattered the windshield and fogged the vista in weird trailing shrouds, and the lightning was forking between clouds more than it was hitting the ground, by then. I thought I was really in for it; the sky overhead was starting to be dark, now, and the sun in my rearview was harshly glaring off the wet roads and sparking off raindrops and such. 

But as we bent back northwards a little bit past Canajoharie toward Fonda, we swung back up out of the thick of it, and I lost the rainbow’s feet in the clouds again.

The lightning intensified as I got in toward Albany, and was extremely dramatic. I lost the last of the sun as I bent south again to Schenectady, and it was full dark by the time I got off 90 and onto 87. It rained on me the rest of the way, but not hard, and I watched the silent lightning the whole way east on Rte 2, through detours in Troy (the rte 2 bridge underpass where it goes under the Sage campus downtown was closed, which irritated me because I don’t know Troy that well, and it was only because a flash of lightning silhouetted the steeple of the church on the corner that I realized I’d gotten redirected right to the street Farmbaby’s pre-k program is on– I still took a wrong turn, but at least I knew where I was). 

It was still raining when I parked at the farm, but not so hard I couldn’t make it to the door relatively dry. 

In my head this was very poetic. I was trying to compose something beautiful, about the thick gold of the sunset in my rear-view vista, and the heavy black in front of me, the rainbow’s feet either side of the lightning-studded clouds, and the brilliant, ridiculous, ravishing green of mid-May all around, and cows and clouds and whatnot, but it’s not coming out exactly as I meant. 

Anyway here’s Canajoharie on Google Maps, if you zoom out you can follow Rte 90 and get some idea of what I was talking about with the curving and whatnot. I don’t know if you can Streetview the ridiculous vista over Ilion– but here’s some trivia, even at night there’s something to see, because Ilion proper is the home of the Remington factory, which even if it’s closed now, is still lit up at night and you can see the little city’s streetlights all laid out in a grid like jewels in velvet as you come down that hill. 

I’ve never been there, I don’t know if it’s nice or shitty, but I have looked at it a lot, and you’d think I’d be tired of it, and I am, God how I am, I wish I didn’t have to make that drive. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s stupid pretty. 

I almost pulled over at the Indian Castle rest stop to get a shot of the rainbow, the gold, the sunset, the lightning, but there’s a gorgeous view that the rest stop is just out of sight of, and I could tell that, and I didn’t need to stop for gas and I didn’t want to interrupt my flow. I learned about half a dozen Stan Rogers songs on this ride (that’s what I do on long car rides, I learn songs) and I was super into the Jeannie C just then. I knew I couldn’t get a good shot of it anyway and I’d’ve just gotten mad about it.

So anyway– have some incoherent blathering. Mostly I’m just pumped I’ve made it here with both wallet and credit card intact. There’s still time for me to fuck that up, but so far I’m ahead of my average record.

(The Jeannie C., by the way, what the fuck. It’s a beautiful song, and actually suits my range really well which I didn’t expect, and the haunting little refrain, it’s not a chorus, just an interjected line, I’ll go to sea no more, it’s so pretty, but jesus Christ the whole thing is an elegy for a boat, right, that sank, and that’s sad, your dad built it and it’s named for your mom and like, I feel you, but within the narrative of the song a man dies, and the song deals with it pragmatically– oh John’s dead so you gotta bail– and then goes on and on mourning this fucking boat, and meanwhile a man is dead you guys. What a song. I’ve learned it and now I have to find a seisun again so I can perform it and be like, guys, this song, this fucking song, it’ll bring you to tears over a boat but a man is dead for the love of God. “John Price give a cry, and pitched over side, and it’s forever he’s gone under”… Bro, your boat straight got fucked-up, and it’s sad but that boat was fucked, every seam was pouring water, right, I’m sorry you couldn’t save it but a dude straight drowned and you’re sad because you couldn’t love another keel? Christ.) 
oh since I didn’t really mention this in my ridiculously wordy post yesterday, I did actually arrive at the farm. It was after nine, but my sister was still up folding laundry in the kitchen, and we had a good laugh about some things. 

“[Farmbaby] just could not get to sleep tonight, though,” she said, “because she was waiting for you. Is [B] gonna get here? When will she get here?”

“Aww,” I said. That morning I’d missed a call from my sister’s phone, so I’d called back, and it had definitely been a stolen-phone call from Farmbaby, and so I’d talked to her and told her I’d see her very soon.

“At lunch she saved a chair for you,” Farmsister went on. “She’s been waiting all day for you to get here.”

“I should’ve been clearer on the phone about when I was actually arriving,” I said, contrite.

“Oh,” Farmsister said, amused, “it was perfectly clear, she’s just not good at waiting.”

or, one thing that happened at foley square on may day.

[for the non-new-yorkers out there: we’re at the harmonious point in the five year cycle of cooperation and hostility between the mainline labor unions and the immigrant workers’ organizations (workers’ centers; country/region-of-origin anti-imperialist organizations; &c). what they agreed on this year was not to march, but to hold a three-hour rally in a historically significant park in the middle of the courthouse complex next to the financial district. a place no one goes who doesn’t work in finance or law enforcement, unless they have a court date or have just been released from the tombs. it’s very close to chinatown, but you’d ever know it by who walks down centre street. but at least the music between the endless series of speakers (some of them fantastic organizers and inspiring when not blasting muffledly through a giant stack of speakers) was pretty good, the weather was pleasant, and the socializing was lovely…]

at about 6:30 pm, a group of 20-odd fascists appeared at the northeast corner of the park. i was told that they had marched down from union square, where antifa folks had prevented them from attacking another mayday event. i’d seen them perhaps half an hour earlier as they approached the park; i was on my way to get dumplings and didn’t see what happened in the interim.

when i say “fascists”, this is what i mean: they carried one big KKK flag; two 13-colony snake flags; a big trump banner; a “anti-communist action” flag showing someone being thrown out of a helicopter; a few “latinos for trump” and “jews for trump” placards; a u.s. flag or two; a few reichswehr-style military helmets; at least one headful of blonde dreadlocks; and an assortment of other far-right insignia and symbols.

Keep reading

A post shared by Bridget Kelly (@bomberqueen17) on May 19, 2017 at 6:39am PDT

Good morning Quackenkill, and whatever this little stream is named. Featuring zen water noises, birdsong, cars going by on Rte 2, and my shaky, mediocre camera work. I was not cut out for videography. (at Laughing Earth)
via replied to your post “Here’s the thing about my 300-mile, straight-line, virtually-no-hills,…”

I hadn’t realised until I looked at the Google map link but in Buffalo and on that road you are actually as close to my aunt and uncle in Ottawa as you are to New York City. Anyway I enjoyed your landscape painting with words here. ♥

Oh yes, Ottawa is quite close, and NYC is really far. I have been meaning to go to Ottawa for literally decades. I’ve been to Montreal precisely once, for a matter of hours, and Toronto many times, but I’ve never made it up to Ottawa, and I keep meaning to. It’s supposed to be really lovely. 

I mean, the geography in general is really nice. It’s just. Some of those beautiful remote places, there’s nothing to do. 

So while sometimes I wish the farm was a little farther from the highway… mostly, I’m glad to be able to roll down to the city in under ten minutes. Expands one’s options a lot, it does. 

I’m glad it conveyed something at all. It was so beautiful, and I was so taken with the whole experience at the time, but I just couldn’t distill it concisely into anything when I finally sat down with it. One of these times, I need to make the drive with my camera out and actually stop at all the scenic overlooks and such– but here’s maybe number five of the top ten dumbest things about the Thruway: they really don’t have any of their rest stops timed for good scenery. They’re just wherever they felt like putting them. There might be a single place you can pull over to look at the scenery, and they just added a second thingy where you can stop and look at the old Erie Canal bed but it’s never open. 

It’s very New York. We’ve got a lot in common with the City, but the City doesn’t really know it– but there’s just some common aspects of culture, maybe united in our semi-ineffective bureaucracy and such. 

Oh, a bill to move the state onto a single-payer healthcare plan passed the Assembly, so I’ve written to my state Senator, and in so doing discovered that he’s embroiled in a scandal, so that’s swell. I’m planning to write to the local senator for the farm but I literally don’t even know who that is. 

If we pass this bill, we’ll beat Vermont to it. Governor Cuomo would love that feather in his cap, but– isn’t it sad, that’s our bar for our politicians to meet to be effective, is to look cool– ugh. Hey, I would fight a badger in a pit for Cuomo if it was him vs. literally any Republican at this point, so. I hate him, my whole family spits when his name is mentioned, but at least you can appeal to his vanity to get laws passed sometimes. (Half the time they’re incoherent, and three-quarters of the time any funds just get misappropriated to friends of his, and literally dozens of people are in prison over this, but he also hasn’t personally offended our international allies or to my knowledge assaulted anyone, so, he’s like a goddamn angel.)
A Jeep just rolled in the driveway and I could instantly tell it was my dad because of the bagpipe music bumping on the stereo

I have at long last found an amazing local graveyard, and as I walked around it, I wanted to write some encouragement for you to go graveyard hunting!

It’s one of my fave hobbies. Its not only a great way to feel ghosty, but also to connect with your local area, learn some history, get out doors, and be immanent. I especially want to encourage my copingkin followers, or ghosts with mental health troubles, to go visit your local graveyard. They are such peaceful places, and a great excuse to go for a walk.

1. Respect the livingThe dead don’t care, as far as I can tell. Graveyards are for the living, and the living get pissed. Dress down - leave the black lace parasol at home. No pagan stuff or rituals unless what you are doing is indistinguishable from “a nice walk”. No make-outs. If you see another person - or as often happens, a funeral - simply make yourself scarce. Finally, if you are taking photos, avoid any graves from the 1940s or later - as they may have living relatives.

2. Good things to bring: good shoes, graveyards can be uneven to walk on. A camera. I like to bring plastic bags and gardening gloves. Appropriate weather gear. Some tissues - many yards will have toilets, but they aren’t always kept regularly.

3. Take care of your graveyard, and it will take care of you. I like to litter-pick as I go, as a way of saying thank you; I often stand planters back upright or clear away stones and debris obscuring a name (never do this at Jewish cemetaries, as leaving a rock each time you visit is a custom - it’s normal to see small piles of stones on their flat stones)

4. Photos look best with high contrast between light and shade. Overcast days and midday sun are only really good if you want a personal record of a cool stone you’ve found. For the dramatic, I-can’t-believe-how-easy-this-is photography, the long magic hours as the sun comes up and down gift you gold light, intense contrasts and deep black shadows. Even if you plan to make finished stills B&W, they will look better taken on a sun&shade day.

5. Cool things to look out for:
* People from different eras.
* People from different cultures, representing waves of immigration to your area.
* terrible poems
* symbols on gravestones, such as the anchor or Mason’s compass
* people who died in unusual ways, including War graves
* new features such as crematoria, ash gardens, children’s areas, chapels of memory, crypts etc
* nature - trees, birds, etc. Yew trees are traditional.

Every graveyard I go to now, I spot something new. Last week, I found a graveyard with a sign up about their “grave reclaimation” program, the rules they follow to reuse old graves for new people. You can see as you walk around graves with “chosen for reclamation” signs on them; if no family member challenges them in over a year, the graves will be taken down.

There is always something new to discover.
via replied to your post “A Jeep just rolled in the driveway and I could instantly tell it was…”

are your dad and my dad long-lost kindred spirits? because my father has done that.

lazaefair replied to your post “A Jeep just rolled in the driveway and I could instantly tell it was…”

I only hope I ascend to that level of don’t-give-a-fuck when I reach his age.

Here’s the context I didn’t include: I wasn’t sure that Jeep had a stereo. My folks are not… into music.

But if there’s one genre of music Dad has ever listened to, it’s pipe band music, because he was in one as a teenager, and he’s never really gotten over it. (He still plays, occasionally, indifferently; mostly for family events. He has protested that he’s not all that good, but here’s the thing: it’s bagpipes, they’re an instrument of war, not music, so you don’t have to be very good at playing them. As long as you’ve mastered the basic technique. And really, he’s fine at it, he’s just not competitive-pipe-band fine at it, nor does he really want to be.)

My dad has… a finely-rationed set of fucks that he gives in relatively predictable fashions. Some things, it is not possible for him not to care too much about.

He has, however, never for a moment in his life really had a spare fuck to give what people think of his taste in music, fashion sense, or that sort of thing.


In the ensuing conversation he offered to give me a tomahawk that he’d found among his Rev War re-enactment effects. (“It’s not mine,” he said, “the one I have was hammer-forged for me by that German smith, this one’s probably commercial, but it’s a nice hatchet, really.” “I can use a tomahawk,” I said, being a person who sleeps alone in the woods in a canvas-walled house for months on end less than two miles from the place a murder victim got dumped last summer. “They’re nice because you can use them on firewood, which you can’t with a sword,” he said.)

(Unrelated conversation: one of the farm hands said of Farmbaby, “I think she’d make a good mercenary, she has such a keen eye and a clear sense of things.” I considered that for a moment, and said, “That’s it, then, we’d better teach her the way of the sword,” which for some reason everyone else thought was really funny. Come on though, she’s already three, that’s already too old for some of the traditional ways!)



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