Sunday, July 26, 2009

eight, nine, ten

*NOTE: Parents of small people. Some of the photos in this post may be a little scary for children under the age of six.....

after the reprieve of northampton's trees and rivers and lakes and foods and friends, we took to the hills, arriving almost on the vermont border. the out-of-the-way amazingness that massachusetts has to offer is overflowing, and we harvested it to the best of our ability and appetite.
(harmonic bridge, playing traffic in the key of c).
assorted odds and ends of art i had not a clue about led me to what i should have spent the whole time pondering and inspecting and loving.
sol lewitt, beautiful man, beautiful mind. composing symphonies in the very detailed instructions he left for the craftmen/women that would then perform his peices on varying walls throughout the world. the notion of playing a building with color, pattern, line and improvised scribbles hit both of us very hard with its profundity, and the sheer magnitude and scope of his body of work on display in those hills bordering vermont. this retrospective (that will be up for the next 25 years. go see it!)began with lewitt's earliest wall drawings, done just in pencil, describing very simple shapes. the colors and shapes blossomed througout lewitt's life, but as his life declined he returned to pencil drawings (albeit not as simple as the early works, and allowing for a lot more improvisation in the execution)...
way too brief (theme of this trip) visit with the wall drawings and we kept up the momentum south. really fast and intense rain storms through northerly states, gave way to clear views of new jersey, which was surprising in its beauty. native son daniel smith led us straight to the bosom of more friends. well, friend. kristen wagner welcomed us to her adopted city of sisterly love. the next day, early, i fumbled about the streets of philadelphia and finally found myself underneath the I-95, trying to navigate the bowls and lumps and tangled marvelous mess of fdr skatepark. the perma-lost state i seem to live in most of the time left me with only twenty minutes to skate. back to friends, we met up with the newly christened mr. derek forester-dehaan to grrace ourselves with the amazingly informative and stocked mutter museum.

above you will see the colon of a man that did not have the nerves in his intestines that would normally tell him its time to poop. this resulted in it all piling up, his colon expanding and finally killing him. at the time of death, forty pounds of poop (two and a half buckets!) were taken out of the colon and it was taxidermied for our viewing pleasure. so much to take in, the history of conjoined twins, so many fetuses in bottles, a huge skull collection and so on and so forth. had to sneak these fotos, for the security guards enforced the no picture rule with gusto.
(team mutter 09)

we took in more old america (coupled with the older than america america we saw a few days previous in western massachusetts. it is all very startling to see things in our country older than 150 years) and kristin, despite her stance of horrible tour guide-ship, showed us the vastness of the city in a small, way too small amount of time.

an hour west, to the hill country of chester county and the next triplet of days will be up soon and very soon.

And how could I forget Boston?

In our last post, I forgot to mention our stay in Boston. (Forgive me, Greg/Lila/Kaitlin/roommate of Kaitlin!) Our time in Boston was a blur, albeit lovely. We had dinner with Greg and he walked us all over Cambridge. Later we met up with Lila and she treated us to ice cream cones and sorbet. We slept over at Kaitlin's and in the morning she and her roommate took us to The Other Side Cafe for breakfast (amaaaaaazing!). We spent the afternoon sitting in a park reading books, chit chatting, and people watching. Fantastic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five! Six! Seven!

and then. . .

We spent the whole day hiking Acadia National Park, on what was probably the best trail I've ever been on.

Roots, bridges, stairs, lakes, climbing, plains, windswept views, and planks. All of it was lovely.

We went home to the Couchsurfers, tired and happy. They shared cake, and we all shared stories. An additional couchsurfer just in from somewhere, heading somewhere else had been invited to stay as well. He reminded us not to judge a book by its cover, and to always always always listen with an open ear. He played tunes on the guitar, some Marc Bolan, some Leadbelly, and some of his very own. He entertained our hosts late into the evening and a bit into the morning while Ted and I found some much needed sleep.

(Tofu scramble, home fries, vegan pancakes, coffee and soymilk at a regular old cafe, not advertised as vegetarian friendly.)

After breakfast, we headed south to Northampton, Massachusetts to see my first Chicago roommate and our dear, dear friend, Rene. (Sadly, our timing was bad and we did not get to see Stacey. All the more reason to return, not that we are lacking reasons.)

She took us to a beautiful old house with a fantastic view. Then we went back to her lovely vegan home, and made pizza with broccoli, onion, potatoes and homemade pesto, all from the farm she works at. For dessert we shared a slice of the cake her roommate made.

We biked around downtown and had breakfast at Green Bean (delicious!) and then Rene took us on a hike leading to her top secret swimming hole.

We went to a bakery called the Hungry Ghost and split a peanut butter cookie, fresh from the kiln.

Rene took us to the farm she works at, and let us sample some of the produce.

Did you know that overgrown lettuce looks like christmas trees?

Then we had to hop in the car to get to the Book Mill for "books you don't need at a place you can't find", and it was well worth the drive.

The Book Mill is on a hill beside a running stream. It's filled with good books at reasonable prices and plenty of nooks and crannies to read them in. They also have a cafe that serves fantastic food, delectable desserts, and locally brewed kombucha.

After our bicycle tour of Northampton I was smitten. A town with a bike rail path that runs throughout it, local shops and restaurants that support the local farmers, vegan eateries, beautiful bookstores, and hills to hike. . . What more could a person need?

Monday, July 20, 2009

two, three, four.

toronto. literally the smallest apartment ever we gained full reign over, given the key to this domicile the night before, under the mat. complete strangers this man let sleep in his bathroom sized efficiency hub of an apartment. apparently, we came upon toronto in the middle of a trash strike, and yet the streets remained cleaner than our old neighborhood in chicago will ever be. it was disconcerting seeing trash overflowing onto the street and napkins and wrappers being whipped about by the breeze, though, considering my exaulted view of the true north (strong and free) stemming mainly from the amazing ability of its citizens to place trash in a trash can. our mysterious benefactor became less so after a breakfast and city stroll that placed us well behind schedule for getting to montreal on time. slowly, everything to read, had to be read in french. we found our way through the rues and arrived not on time at all. montreal, and quebec in general, the french texas of the north. seperatists in the truest sense. i'm thankful for the impressive linguistic acrobatics of the people we stayed with. even the stop signs were in french...our poor time management, due both to the enchanting quality of montreal

as well as my unrelenting search for "the big o"

and subsequent "poutine" (french-canadian delicacy of the highest order: french fries with cheese curds and gravy)

led to a very pretty turned terrifying drive through vermont/new hampshire/maine.
our late departure ensured we hit new hampshire in the dark. the very dark. the dark in which i almost hit a baby black bear, a few deer and some foxes. cresting every hill, there would seem to be an animal in the middle of the road, but it would almost always turn out to be just a very dark shadow. like mirages, but night mirages. instead of projecting pools of water on the horizon, the night mirages were projecting animals i would surely kill. we arrived in bar harbor, maine (on the same island as acadia naitonal park) at two a.m. and were met with a large pillar of smoke as we entered the home in whose couch we would surf for the next two nights. dreads, so much grateful dead....none of this disturbed the sound sleep we soon enjoyed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day One

"No prisoner be, where liberty himself abide with thee."
-Emily Dickinson.

early we set out from chicago, moving right across the map (before we turn down and finally left, in the correct direction), detroit's industrial wasteland in our sights. blurred across the state of michigan and arrived on the outskirts of detroit to see this man and hopefully eat his pizza:

as we entered his clustered italian/american/pop culture/everything else smorgasbord of an establishment, our gazes landed on his uncovered paunch. we were told to wait as he finished eating his orange, propped in front of an enormous television. soon, we departed on a tour of this man's life work, after being denied pizza (by the health officials of detroit). the first thing to catch my eye was...well, eyes. those of the currrent pope, rendered with love in cement. he really captured those deep set beauts. it was all too much as he rushed us around, told us about virgil and dante and caesar augustus and george bush and naples and shooting sharks off of catalina and staying in a car for three days straight outside of phoenix rendering his legs not the same thereafter. he likened melissa to helen of troy numerous times, even the virgin mary herself. paisanos! paisanos! he yelled at us as we delved deeper into italian history and american history via cement. the tour wound down, we shook his sweaty hand and departed for deeper detroit industrial wreckage (and the beauty of the humanity thereof)

the heidleberg project was created by tyree guyton in 1986. his reaction to the decay of his neighborhood was completely in tune with the healing power of color and shape. he began painting circles of many different color on the derelect houses that were everywhere. found objects were nailed up trees and onto houses and pretty soon a two street section of one of the roughest and hardest hit neighborhoods of detroit blossomed into somewhat of a healing center. we marvelled at this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

and then it was off to toronto, way too late.