Astronomy Picture of the Day

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Don't talk to the aliens

I heard the news on the radio and Steve Hawkins said don't talk to the aliens. I can see why, since that human curiosity may kill us like the proverbial cat.
Mars Attacks, the finest Sci-Fi movie ever, showed that arrogant earthly personality types can be their own worst enemy.
This is a Travelogue for the Universe. At least my goal is to reach across the the galaxy and see what is possible.
When I was quite young, nearly 45 Earth years ago, As I shone my flashlight to the sky I was beaconing a sign, is it too late to retract my signal?
Or could the aliens now intercept our blogosphere, curious about our personalities, bad habits, indulgences, gripes and wishes?
Will they see through the words, misinterpret and be offended, or embrace us as their own alien family?
All I know, is when they land, if they want to destroy me, it is no more than others that have come before them.
If they extend their hand, Mr. Hawkins, respectfully, it would have been a long trip and I probably would offer them a sparkling ethanol beverage.
Mary Gerdt, Monkton, Vermont 2010 AD earth. Martian name Aryanna.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Black Gold: The Epilogue

Black Gold: The Epilogue
Ok, it really is not that dramatic, or unheard of, yesterday through today parts of Vermont got 1-2 feet of snow and it is know as poor man's fertilizer (moisture and ammonia).
We had spread the 'nure aka black gold last weekend
and got this snowstorm to put icing on the gold.
most has melted but it reminds me of how numb we get with late winter storms, mindlessly veering around down trees, watching for morons and wondering where our taxes went with no plowing today.
So I diverge from the Epilogue, best said in a photo.
Supposed to be 70 this weekend.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Black Gold part 2

Red Tulips and catnip

Shock the neighbors tulips, rhubarb, roses, hosta and black gold

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Black Gold

Black Gold,

Manure, that is,
Locally a combination of the
Alimentary end product of horses
and wood shavings, hay bedding, bugs and occasional leaves.

The delightful weekend weather augmented
By the arrival of a good quantity of year old horse manure
Thanks to generous neighbors
The garden is smiling.

Monday, April 19, 2010


The haystacks are burning,

the desparate woman said,

So far out

In the wilderness,

We will all be dead.

My son, my husband, my unborn kin,

My life and liberty

Gone here in the wind,

The hay set afire

By the savage throng,

I saw my blood rising,

Seeing red in the night

While the haystack burned

Making the dark turn to light.

The water was boiling, what shall I do?

Take the water outside, I will pour it on you!

The work of doing all we had done,

Rising in smoke, Enough, Now You're through!

mary's notes. This refers to Rachel Bishop, the first wife of the first couple to settle Monkton, Vt. Early days were tenuous and when Native Americans set fire to her haystacks, all she could do was fight back with boiling water. They respected her courage as do I and they spared her life. I think about her now, how different Monkton is now. How would she handle the hayburners of 2010?

Friday, April 16, 2010

More Forsythia

We planted this bush to help creat a windbreak from the North wind.
Monkton, Vermont

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pool Hall

I have written about my Dad once before in this blog.
Well actually I write about him more, but indirectly.
I am half him, after all.
We talked tonight and I heard again how longevity can really go too far and dodging death can become a monotonous colorless gray day.
So I tried to cheer him up and told him my Pool Hall story.
I told one of the girls at lunch, about the old Pool Hall on Main Street in Edwardsville.
It was a doorway, narrow looking, sandwiched between buildings-the Jail? and another storefront, I don't remember the exact sequence of stores.
Every day (sometimes many times) in the summer and other days, I surfed Main Street.
The Pool Hall was on the left going to the end of the street, on the way to Woolworth's which was good to cool off in the air conditioning. My step always hurried, my senses alert, as I peered through the sometimes open always mysterious, dark and smoky entrance to the Pool Hall, one place off limits to me.
You never wanted to lurk there long, move fast I would think, keep moving lest someone might emerge from that dark hole of smoke.

I always tried to please Dad on his birthday. In those days he smoked white tip cigars, to try to wean off cigarettes.
It was logical to an 8 or so year old to buy Dad the cigars but how to obtain?
I went to my trusty Mr. Kuethe to help me out. In his calm demeanor and few words, we walked up to Main St. to the Pool Hall.
My heart raced.
I breathed a little deeper.
I looked around to see if anyone noticed, did anyone care,
would I come out....alive?
Mr. Kuethe's hand was always so sure, steady, wrinkled from sun and hard work.
I would be OK.
We walked into the smoky room and I peered, squinted at the line of men, mostly or all black, I couldn't exactly tell it was so dark and smoky. My eyes wide open but seeing less after being in the bright sunshine.
We walked over to the small case and Mr. Kuethe facilitated the deal.
I walked a little faster going out, having met one major objective, to say I had crossed the threshhold of a most mysterious place.
Dad got the cigars, maybe a little puzzled at how I got them, maybe not.
Mr. Kuethe caught H*ll from Mrs. Kuethe and had to promise to never take that little girl into the Pool Hall again.
I looked up at Mr. Kuethe and thought I saw a wink.
Tonight I told Dad and miles away, I hope a little twinkle came to him tonight. mary

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Flowers

Tulips (above)

Forsythia (yellow flowers above)
Both need the cold to be dormant long enough to live later
when they come alive
as the rays of sunshine creep up at a higher angle each day
And these glorious short lived flowers appear
And make humans express delightment.
Happy Spring

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Halls of Shame

notes: i know you may have heard all this before. i am sending this letter to the 2 newspapers in my area. this is the unabridged version. this is my story. mary gerdt

Halls of Shame

c. 2010

by Mary Gerdt

“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly”

Abraham Lincoln

I have been reading the Plato articles by Professor Nuovo in the Addison Independent. These have had a funny influence on me. I remember my Mom’s bookshelf full of the classics. I felt detached from them. Now with Google and instant info, here is a long gone philosopher with insight into modern day struggles.

Have we really evolved?

I have wanted to lay out my common man’s argument against Vermont local town officials being able to sell your property for taxes owed to the town and State of VT and charging fees, advertising expense and the Town’s legal expense.

There is an elaborate manual about tax sales produced by the Secretary of State. Another on abatement of taxes. Laws, statutes, the foundation of Vermont civilized order.

My dream was Plato was reincarnated as me, a middle class female nurse with MS who has had a bumpy road fighting for property with my husband, comrades forever to keep what we have fought for our whole lives.

I work in a cave, a concrete bunker with fluorescent lights. When I come out it is dark, go in it is dark.

This is so I can earn living expenses which are soaring along with property taxes.

We missed the deadline to pay taxes and were assessed 8 percent by the town. Less than 9 months later the Town of Monkton was going to sell my property. My husband, trying to shelter me from this hateful act and likewise sensitive to being on the hall of shame of delinquent tax payers, did not tell me about this.

I really missed the whole event. A few weeks later I found out.

My property was one day away from being sold, which could have led to foreclosure. Someone or several someones knew and wanted it. My former lawyer was used against me and never bothered to try to reach me. No one in the town stopped and asked if I was OK. We have lived in this house nearly 20 years. My husband’s family has paid taxes here for a hundred years, even on property they did not own. Fred and I have always kept off the hall of shame. There were many whose property was not sold after only 9 months delinquency.

Have you ever been there?

The Town of Monkton has decided to sell whoever’s property they want to with their rough cut regulations.

I asked for more info on how they decided my property. A selectman answered the lawyer decided.

I wanted proof they tried to contact me. No proof.

I wanted abatement of taxes in light of our extraordinary circumstances and prior history of paying on time for many years.

They refused to respond to my requests.

This year we qualified for income sensitivity on taxes.

We also paid over $10,000 (almost 20 percent of our gross income) in taxes for our poor paint-less house and land. We paid $1000 to the town lawyer when he never talked to me, a woman landowner. We paid $500 to the tax collector who never talked to me nor tried to contact me in any way. We paid for the ad in the Addison Independent and I never have seen it.

I have suffered disillusionment in the cave called Monkton. The beautiful views blurred by an arrogant government which takes property in these hard times. I encourage all to question your town’s tax sale policies and the implications of the town taking a $300,000 property for $6,000 and humiliation on top.

I can now say I have been in the hall of shame and survived.

I pray others may survive and some may pursue legal fights in the cave of justice, the courthouse. I prefer the open fresh air of my backyard and typing in my friendly blog. Hoping I can influence the practice by towns of property land grabs. Hoping I can bring to light my main arguments against the new town hall in Monkton.

By the way, the town hall vote should not have been referred to as a postponement (by Addison Independent), but as a defeat for the folly of the Monkton officials.

Monkton needs to get its present house in order before building a new house. At the present town hall No one is falling over themselves, they are only open very part time. I prefer the smaller rooms so there are witnesses to conversations with some of the omniscient town officials. The blatant disregard for cost is evidenced by the lovely color design by the most expensive no-bid contractor. The lovely meeting rooms will not make the minutes get posted on the website so common folks like myself can read them. Nor will the price make the minutes understandable or specific (or I would have known my property was being sold).

The 1.5 million price tag is obscene when the town wants to rid itself of property owners, people like me who fall on hard financial times. I have anxiety about how long I will be able to work, who will want my property next. The town has ignored my pleas for abatement. The Secretary of State and Governor and Tax Commissioner are powerless to enforce all the statutes and rules. Only the local Town officials can correct the taking of land for small sums of money.

Or at least be accountable by working with a landowner prior to taking. Showing compassion in this difficult era of time.

If I took this to court, it would only shift the money to a lawyer. At $10,000, my reward would be eaten up and then some by most any lawyer. Ironically the town’s lawyer only wanted to sell high priced properties to make it worth his while. I am unable to affect any of these practices except by shining light on them to whoever will publish this. Also if I took the town to court, the town would use the same lawyer with the conflict to attack me and get paid to do it!

No, instead I will save the Townspeople’s money and I will publish on my blog as a completely unabridged version.

Fair warning to other women land owners. Your property could be sold by the town at their whim completely without your being informed. And no one will care. They will tell your husband or your Dad.

Have we come so far after all?

When I think of a modern utopia, My friend Herrad sums it up best,

“The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference.
He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.

If Plato had lived today, would he have gone to court?

Would the town have only told his wife and then put his family farm up for sale?

Would he have seen the folly in building a 1.5 million dollar building to process the foreclosure of the property of the weak, infirmed and those they want to eliminate from society?

Or would he have done, as I have and try to illuminate the issues in a public forum where all may read the sequel to the tax sale notice in the pay version of the newspaper I don’t read because I cannot afford it?

I like to think Plato would shutter to think of what is possible in “modern” society.

As a woman, I feel like we have not come far at all.

Anyone who cares to join me in protesting land grabs in these economic bad times, please write to anyone who will listen.

Please realize that when the town taxes you out of your home, it will be up to YOU to enforce the statutes, rules.

For the record, I wrote the Town of Monkton 3 times about tax abatement and they ignored, a posture that says, go ahead, take me to court.

I choose the path of light.

Do you see?

"Man, like a tree in the cleft of a rock, gradually shapes his roots to his surroundings, and when the roots have grown to a certain size, can't be displaced without cutting at his life." Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Be mindful what you wish for.

I know this is a little silly so bear with me.
Fred and I had finally decided we liked our japanese bread maker so much, that we would buy the same brand of rice cooker. You know, perfect rice every time?
This was Saturday.
Today he perused the local second hand community action place and found exactly what we were looking for.
Used about once. He already printed up a brochure the company recommended.

So knowing that,
if I had
known my
would come
would I have wished for a rice cooker?

make a wish.........
forward this if you like or do not forward to anyone if you choose.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Hey Another Saturday Night

As we plan for another Midnight ramble, we know it will be another Saturday night under Overlook Mountain, Woodstock, N.Y.
My days following the Dead with friends and some friends and some Dead are gone. Another Saturday Night is one of my favorites tunes.
Now we plan to go to a perfect musical venue with great staff, comfortable and warm setting and the best musicians giving their all in a professional intimate performance. More than that, Levon's Ramble nourishes your need for stellar music in an intensely personal experience.
I will add these memories to my repertoire of happy memories to enjoy when we can no longer stay upright. The price a small price to pay for a concert like no other. Click on Levon's links in the margin. Or here:
(tell them mary gerdt, team levon sent you)
If you get a chance to see and hear him you will truly be thankful for Another Saturday Night.
Mary Gerdt, Monkton, Vt