Vermont Author’s Book ‘Into the Wilderness’ Explores Mature Romance

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

By Clara Rose Thornton

Though Deborah Lee Luskin agrees that middle age ­– and American society’s perception of it — has been a factor in her self-awareness in her adopted rural home, she feels that being a Democrat and Jewish were stronger factors.

Luskin, a 54-year-old Vermont novelist and journalist, published an acclaimed book last February centered on two 64-year-olds who meet and fall in love, set against the changing socio-political backdrop of early-1960s Vermont. “Into the Wilderness” winds themes of religion, tradition, grief, familial and romantic companionship and starting anew in life with an uncanny prowess for details that vibrate with nuance and explore the vast landscape of the human heart.

Main character Rose Mayer is a Jewish Florida resident who buries her second husband in 1964. Her son, Manny, lives in New Jersey and owns a summer home in southeastern Vermont, near Marlboro. Manny and his wife, Jeannie, beg Rose to visit them there so that the sting of loneliness is softened, and so she can be surrounded by family and receive assistance with any needs that may arise. Though she ultimately agrees, she initially feels reluctant, not wanting to be put in the box of an “aging widow.”

“Inside, she still felt – well, not young, not the youthful Rose of urges and lusts – but spry and smart and as if her whole life were still ahead of her,” page three reads.

“At the time I was writing this book, when I was 48, I was very aware that in the general population I was already being written off as an old woman. We live in a culture that is devoted to youth. But I was actually rather liking my invisibility,” Luskin explained via telephone from her Newfane home.

“As I get older,” she continued, “my idea of ‘old age’ changes all the time. When I think of ‘old age’ I think of my parents who are 85 and struggling to maintain their activities of daily life. In 1964, being 64 was seriously considered more ‘ancient’ than it is today. I’m ten years away from 64; I don’t think I’ll be old then. I think I’ll be middle-aged. I think we as a society have to be careful about using the term ‘old.’”

The idea of a senior living a life full of passion, romance and self-determination was interesting to Luskin as a concept, but also, the reality that by age 64 some people may be quite set in their ways and ideas. She wondered what it might take to shake up those mores – either from peers or from one’s surrounding culture. In “Into the Wilderness,” Percy Mandell, the love interest whom Rose meets at Vermont’s famed Marlboro Music Festival during her stay, is a born-and-bred Vermonter who never married, never left the state and is deeply skeptical of those unlike him, including Democrats and non-Christians.

“When I came to Newfane in 1984,” said Luskin, “I was the first Jew many had met in the West River Valley. It was an astonishing transition for me, having come from New York City, where one generally lives amongst Jews. I’d come to the area with my family in 1965, so I had impressions of the culture then – 9-year-old impressions, but impressions nonetheless. I’d always understood Vermont to be this Republican bastion, this bastion of conservatism – religious and political. And it was for a long time.”

“Then, serendipitously,” Luskin continued, “the year that I moved here was the year that Madeleine M. Kunin was elected governor of Vermont.” Kunin was the first Jewish woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state. She was also Vermont’s first and, to date, only female governor in history, and a Democrat. There are several similarities between Kunin and Luskin, including that they both received their advanced degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School in New York City, and worked as journalists for several years. Luskin felt a bit of a kinship.

Over time, the back-to-the-land and hippie movements (so closely associated with Vermont in later years) spread their influence. Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s Luskin watched her adopted home change. In the early 2000s, she wrote an as-yet-unpublished book called “Elegy for a Girl,” set in 1958, which had a minor character named Percy Mandell who she wanted to expand on.

Soon she met an 80-year-old woman who’d recently been widowed. In talking with her, the woman had said, “Why would I ever want to get married again?” The idea of this woman, as a character, finding happiness with Percy took hold. Luskin gave the woman the name of her grandmother, Rose. In thinking back to her initial years in Vermont when Kunin was elected, and the cultural reintegration Luskin’s move required as a Jew, the tale of two seniors from very different backgrounds finding love in Vermont was born.
The amount of research Luskin performed for the time and locale of “Elegy for a Girl” made the 1964 setting of “Into the Wilderness” not nearly as difficult as if she had to start from scratch. “A lot was transferable from that book,” she said. She filled in holes by reading the Rutland Herald and Brattleboro Reformer on microfilm and researching at the Bailey/Howe Special Collections library at University of Vermont.

“I have a Ph.D. in English literature, so I love research,” Luskin added with a laugh.

Luskin was born in Teaneck, N.J., and moved to Weston, Conn., with her family in 1966. She attended Oberlin College in Ohio, graduating with high honors in English. Her path took her to New York City in 1978, where she landed a job as an editorial assistant for a small publishing imprint. Wanting to further indulge her love of reading (particularly that of her favorite author, Jane Austen) she went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. Her exhaustive doctoral dissertation, entitled, “Jane Austen and the Limits of Epistolary Fiction,” argues that Austen uses letters to teach her characters — and her readers — the importance of close reading. Luskin now leads literature-based humanities classes for inmates, children, and adults; teaches writing; writes for The Commons newspaper in Brattleboro; and is a Vermont Public Radio commentator.

“I’m part of the Baby Boom; I’m in the middle of the bulge,” she mused. “We are healthier than our parents and our grandparents, we have a longer life expectancy, we’re more active, and for the most part, we’re wealthier. What are we going to do with all this loneliness and leisure time that we’re facing? I’m starting to see a lot of people starting to date in midlife, and I garnered a lot of influence from them. Forget American culture being so much about self-suspension. It’s always time to live.”

“Into the Wilderness” is available through, and through the publisher,

Pounding the Global Pavement

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Business

Arnott sells nanotechnology from Chittenden County to the world

By Adam White

The thrusters fire on an unmanned communications satellite, changing the direction of its orbit around the Earth.

A near-non-existent tissue sample is magnified a million times under the beam of an electron microscope.

A proton zips through a mile-long, underground particle accelerator, helping scientists unlock the very nature of matter.

And the man whose company makes it all possible closes yet another deal with nothing more complex than his word and a handshake.

“I’ve been a salesman all my life,” said Charlotte resident John Arnott, chairman of Ladd Research Industries. “I’m the last remaining Willy Loman, from the old school. We’re in a technology market, but I am by no means a technical guy. I’m just a traveling salesman.”
Arnott estimates that he and his wife Rita spend up to 100 nights a year on the road – and that they logged close to 50,000 miles of travel last November and December alone. That dogged persistence helped Ladd become a world leader in nanotechnology, particularly the kind of specialized aperture discs used to regulate the fuel in a satellite thruster and focus the beam in an electron microscope.

“Because we have a specific ability that no one else has, we’ve carved out a place for ourselves in the global market,” Arnott said. “Basically, we make little holes in things.”
Margaret and Bill Ladd, who worked on the first electron microscope built in North America at the University of Toronto in the 1930s, founded Ladd Research Industries in 1954. Arnott began working at the company as a salesman in 1974.

Bill Ladd recognized the role aperture technology would play in many rapidly advancing areas of science, as well as ways to market other equipment and supplies to laboratories.
But the Ladds’ ambition eventually got the best of them, as the demands for their company’s technology simply could not support a staff that ballooned to close to 40 people. The company went under in the late 1980s, and the Arnotts bought it out of bankruptcy in 1991 with a new personnel vision that has proved ideal.

“We do more today with nine people than they did back then with 38,” Arnott said. “Their problem was that they had no versatility; they had way too many specialists. The secret to how we survive is that everyone’s willing – and able – to do everything.”

Arnott sticks to what he knows best: the road. Though he claims that he “hasn’t had a vacation in years,” his eyes light up when he recounts sales trips that took him into the jungle in Africa and caves outside Hanoi in Vietnam.

His son, J.D. – the president of Ladd and “brains behind the operation,” according to his father – has suggested using business technologies such as Internet conferencing to cut down on travel mileage, but he admits there is still a need for pounding the global pavement.

“Personal contacts are important in this business, and I’m not sure if you get that with computers and Skype,” J.D. Arnott said. “John’s role is one that we will continue to have; we might retire it with him, but I think he’ll fill it for many years.”

Chef’s Cheesecake Celebrates New Avocado Season

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Food

By Chris Ross

Chef Foshee's creation is a rich avocado cheesecake with a hint of lemon.

California avocados are in season spring through fall, and to celebrate the new crop, the California Avocado Commission asked several chefs to create recipes using avocados. One of those chefs is Trey Foshee, of George’s at the Cove in La Jolla.

Chef Foshee’s creation is a rich avocado cheesecake with a hint of lemon.


14 ounces cream cheese

2 large, ripe California avocados, peeled and seeded

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Graham cracker crust (recipe follows)

Tomato-vanilla jam (recipe follows)

Serves 12

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. With a paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese over medium-high speed until smooth, approximately three minutes.

Add the avocado, sugar and vanilla, and mix until smooth.

Add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.

Mix in the lemon zest, and pour filling onto Graham Cracker Crust, then smooth top with an offset spatula.

Place on top of a baking sheet, and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Garnish with tomato-vanilla jam to serve.


1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 tablespoon butter, to grease pan

Combine crumbs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl.

Melt the butter over medium heat, and mix into crumb mixture with a spoon until well combined.

With the remaining butter, grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Cut out a parchment paper circle to fill in the bottom of the pan.

Pour the crumbs into the pan, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan with your fingers.

Bake at 300 degrees for five minutes to set the crust, then cool to room temperature.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 vanilla bean, split

4 cups red cherry tomatoes, cut in half

In a small pot, combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean, and simmer until sugar is melted.

Add the tomatoes, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.

Strain the mixture, and reserve the tomatoes in a small bowl.

Return the syrup back to the pot. Place pot over medium heat, and reduce by half, approximately 10 minutes. Pour over the tomatoes and chill completely until ready to serve.

Per Serving: Calories, 410; total fat, 26 g (sat 13g, trans 0g, poly 2g, mono 9g); cholesterol, 130 mg; sodium, 240 mg; total carbohydrates, 45 g; dietary fiber, 4 g; protein, 6 g.

Recipe courtesy of Trey Foshee. –CNS

Remembering the Women Who Served in the Civil War

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Travel

By Sandra Scott

Carrie McGavock disinterred nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers and reburied them on her plantation during the Civil War. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Scott)

The American Civil War was the bloodiest war in American history, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths. While most people are familiar with the military leaders, they know little or nothing about the women who did their part during the fighting. All of the women of that era served on the home front, but some chose to put their lives on the line in actual battle. A good way to commemorate this year’s 150th anniversary of the Civil War is by visiting one of the many sites and museums to learn about the women who answered the call of duty on both sides of the conflict.


On Nov. 30, 1864, Carrie McGavock, mistress of Carnton Plantation, was witness to the Battle of Franklin, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. At the end of five hours, nearly 10,000 soldiers had been killed, most of whom fought for the Confederacy. Carnton became the largest Confederate field hospital in the area with Carrie and the rest of her family helping in a variety of ways.

Today on a tour of the pristine and beautiful plantation house it is hard to envision injured soldiers occupying every available space and body parts piled up outside the second-floor window where the operations were performed. The dead were scattered on the lawn. The floors of Carnton are still stained with the solders’ blood, but most impressive is the McGavock Confederate Cemetery, now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The graves of the fallen soldiers from the Battle of Franklin were in danger of deteriorating into oblivion when Carrie, with family and friends, disinterred nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers and reburied them on their property to create a dignified permanent resting place. Robert Hicks has immortalized Carrie McGavock in his novel “The Widow of the South.”

On the Civil War Walking tour of nearby Franklin, it’s possible to learn about the Petticoat Spies, so called because they secreted messages under their voluminous undergarments. At that time no gentleman would have thought of searching a lady.

The very nature of spying means that many of the Petticoat Spies have remained unknown and therefore have received no recognition. However, Sallie Carter was a staunch secessionist and the first in Franklin to fly the Confederate flag. When 25,000 Union troops occupied Franklin and the surrounding area, the courthouse became the headquarters of the provost marshal.

At 38, Sallie was twice widowed with several children, but she did her part. From the roof of her house she watched the Union activities. Then, using her wiles as an attractive female, she invited Union officers to dine in her home. Plied with a fine meal, music and plenty of whiskey, Union tongues became loose. Sallie wrote all the information on paper and stuffed it into a hollowed-out corncob stopper of a whiskey bottle.

Next she gathered food and medicine in bags that she tied around her waist so that they were hanging down around her knees and were well hidden under her hoop skirt. She obtained a pass and delivered her message and goods to the nearby Confederate army.

Another story shared on the tour is that of 16-year-old Ninny Stith. When she heard that Union troops were marching from Nashville, she set fire to the bridge into Franklin.


Sarah Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a male — easier to do in those days since physical exams were not part of the induction process –and fought in several battles, including the two at Bull Run in Manassas, Va. Dressed as Frank Thompson, she enlisted in the 2nd Michigan Infantry. She first served as a field nurse, but when a friend acting as a Union spy was discovered and executed by a firing squad, she took his place.

Traveling into enemy territory she disguised herself in many ways, including using silver nitrate to dye her skin black to pass as a black man. Another time she acted as an Irish peddler. When a packet of official papers fell out of a Confederate officer’s jacket, she promptly delivered it to Union generals.

Edmonds is probably the most famous of the women who soldiered dressed like a man, but so did Loretta Velasquez, who, after her husband, Harry Buford, was killed in battle, disguised herself and served in his place. There were also at least nine women who fought as men at Gettysburg.


Women have always nursed soldiers, but few women had become doctors at the time of the Civil War. In 1855, Mary E. Walker was the only female graduate of Syracuse Medical College. During the war she served as a contract surgeon, tending to sick and wounded soldiers in the field and in hospitals continuing her doctoring during her four months as a prisoner of war. She served in many different battles, including the battles of Bull Run and Fredericksburg in Virginia, and Chickamauga, Ga. Andrew Johnson awarded her the Medal of Honor in 1865 for her bravery and heroism in battle. She was the only woman to receive the medal; however, it was rescinded in 1917, along with nearly 1,000 others. It was restored by President Carter in 1977. Currently it is on display in her hometown of Oswego, N.Y.

Esther Hill Hawks, a graduate from New England Medical College for Women in 1857, was also an army physician. She was a contract surgeon and with her doctor husband joined the U.S. Colored Troops in Beaufort, S.C.

Many other women also did their part including Harriet Tubman, who led slaves to freedom and then became a spy during the war. Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse, went on to establish the American Red Cross. The women were courageous and willing to put themselves in death’s way for a cause in which they believed.


For more information, visit,, and   —CNS

What to Wear to a Wedding

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Blogs

By Sharon Mosley

Bare heels are a necessity — strappy sandals, mules, slingbacks, slides, d’orsay pumps, and open toes — they make an outfit, pants or a dress, look sexy and celebratory. (Stock photo)

Chances are you’re not one of the 1,900 guests who received an invitation to the royal wedding. But if you do have plans to attend a wedding this spring or summer, then you are probably wondering what you to wear. “White tails” may not be the choice of many except the royal British couple, but you still have certain protocol to keep in mind.

“A wedding is the rite wrapped in a party. Dress to honor the former, dress up for the latter,” says Kimberly Bonnell, author of “What to Wear” (St. Martin’s Griffin, $12.95).
Here are Bonnell’s “rules” for dressing for that special occasion we all love to dread.

“Guests grant the bride and groom the illusion of carnal innocence on their wedding day,” says Bonnell. “Even if it promises to be a wild gala, don’t go looking overtly carnal yourself.”

OK, so you’re going to have to dress up. So what do you wear?

• Yes, you CAN wear white to a wedding. “You can wear white, just don’t look bridal,” says Bonnell. Wear white linen or techno-nylon sheath dresses with bare black heels. Steer clear of romantic looks and go for more contemporary, chic looks. Or opt for a white, wool flannel suit with bare heels. White menswear trousers, metallic tops and bare heels are also acceptable “wedding” attire.

• Bare heels are a necessity. “Time out for a definition,” says Bonnell. “Bare shoes means strappy sandals, mules, slingbacks, slides, d’orsay pumps, open toes. With pants and even gowns, bare flats can look just as compelling as heels, but they’re best not worn with shorter hemlines for a dressy event. Bare heels make a pants outfit look sexy and celebratory.”

• OK, you can wear black, too. “Just don’t look funereal,” says Bonnell.  “How? Show some skin. Bare arms, neckline or back swing black from somber to festive.” She adds: “Picture a black slip dress or a sheath, not a buttoned-up black suit; bare black heels, not plain black pumps; or a black sleeveless shell, not a black long-sleeve turtleneck.”

• For a daytime wedding: Short, knee-length, mid-calf hemlines or even ankle-length are just fine if the invitation says “formal,” according to Bonnell. But be careful about wearing pants. “Tux pants, black crepe or velvet, white, gray or black flannel trousers (not gabardine — too businesslike) worn with sexy, bare heels and a stellar top like a taffeta party blouse, modest halter, sequined or beaded shell.”

• Wear low-octane jewelry. Concentrate on “day” pieces not gem glarers. Pair standout jewelry with a white cotton shirt tucked into a knee-length, beaded chiffon skirt.

• For evening weddings: You can get away with “anything under daytime … knee-length hemlines are fine, as long as nothing is overtly “dressy” or “daywear.” Avoid ankle lengths and pant tuxedos. Wear something more bare and elegant than you would wear for a day wedding, such a bareback top or dress. Try dressier day and night combinations like a charcoal cashmere shell with a pink taffeta ball skirt. Choose floral prints, only if they’re on evening fabrics like satin, silk or taffeta. Skip the cotton or linen florals.

• For those “nontraditional” weddings: a beach, a ballpark or a dude ranch, Bonnell suggests wearing flat sandals to the beach nuptials and skip the stockings. “Wear jeans to the dude ranch, but not weary faded ones,” she says. “And why not wear the long satin slip dress to the night ceremony at the ballpark?”

So, what is the bottom line? You’ve got to take into account several factors: The region of the country, the venue and time of the wedding, the age of the bride and groom, and the taste of the couple. Then take it from there. So, dress up to honor their special occasion and have fun while you’re doing it … whether they’re have royal roots or not. — CNS

Activity is Key for ‘Young’ 94-year-old Allison Brayton

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

By Adam White

Allison Brayton, 94, drives herself about 40 miles from her home in Morrisville to play the organ at Keys to Fun in Williston every Tuesday. (Photos by Scott Yates)

With a twinkle in her eye and her fingers dancing across the keys of an organ, Allison Brayton is the picture of youthful exuberance — at age 94.

“Even my doctors ask what my secret is,” Brayton said.

Each week, the Morrisville resident drives 80 miles round-trip to play the organ at Williston’s Keys to Fun Lesson Center, part of an active lifestyle that she credits for keeping her going at an age when the music has stopped for most people.

“I’ve always been active,” Brayton said. “It’s what keeps me young.”

Brayton also acknowledges that genetics might be playing a role in her longevity. Her mother, Mable, lived to be 95, and she had a great grandfather and grandfather who both saw their 98th birthdays.

“I come from a long line of family members who reached their 80s and 90s,” Brayton said. She is the youngest of seven children, and has “outlived them all.” She does have a sister-in-law, Elinor, who is 96 and lives close by in Morrisville.

“Studies of successful aging suggest that genetics only contributes to a component of what leads to a long and healthy life,” said Dr. Gary Small, director of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center and author of The New York Times bestselling book, “The Memory Bible.” “Considerable scientific evidence is pointing to lifestyle choices like remaining engaged mentally and socially as strategies for living better longer.”

Brayton moved to Vermont from Massachusetts nine years ago, after retiring from her career as a senior control clerk at Bank of Boston. She moved in with her niece, Judith Pease, and became active in the Stowe Community Church.

Having taken piano lessons and served as a church soloist earlier in her life, Brayton was drawn to a display of organs during a trip to the annual Home Show in South Burlington shortly after her move north. She entered her name in a drawing, and won a 10-week trial at Keys to Fun. She has been a regular there ever since, known as a no-nonsense student who is much more likely to belt out “Amazing Grace” than “Take the A Train.”

“I like religious music,” Brayton said. “I don’t care for jazz.”

“She takes (her lessons) very seriously,” said Tom Arnold of Keys to Fun. “She’s the kind of person who, when she gets an assignment, follows it right to the letter.”

That attention to detail is also evident in another of Brayton’s passions: counted cross-stitch embroidery. She stitches complex sample pieces for a needlework shop in Stowe, and gifted Keys to Fun an embroidered wall hanging of a musical note.

“That one took a couple of months,” Brayton said. “Counted cross-stitch can take a lot of time — you have to be very patient.”

Driving is no problem for the nonagenarian, thanks to her “good eyesight” that she says is also a necessity for the type of needlework she does. She appreciates driving in Vermont, after spending years battling traffic in the Bay State’s biggest city.

“Going home, even at rush hour, is a lot easier than in Boston,” Brayton said. “The drivers here are much more courteous.”

Interaction with other people might be the most important fuel for Brayton’s “drive” to live each day to its fullest. A recent study by psychologist Howard Friedman, co-author of the book “The Longevity Project,” cited social connectedness as a contributing factor to living a long life. In that way, Keys to Fun has proved to be somewhat of a Fountain of Youth for Brayton.

“Meeting people is one of the main reasons why I come here,” she said. “This is a great group of people.”

Casting Call: Spring Fishing Season Beckons Anglers To Area Waters

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Things to do

By Adam White

The spring fishing season for four popular species got under way in April in Vermont.
Charlotte’s Converse Bay provides a launching point for anglers to pursue three of the four species: smallmouth bass, lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon. Lake Champlain is a hotbed for salmon in particular, having produced the three largest fish of that species ever caught in the state.

“A number of people in town fish, and we provide an access point for many more people with our state boat launch (at Converse Bay),” Charlotte Conservation Commission chair Robert Hyams said.

While many recreational activities have seen a dip in participation due to the economic recession, fishing remains wildly popular in the Green Mountain State and across the nation.

“Fishing is the No. 1 recreational sport in the country,” said Eric Palmer, Director of Fisheries for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It beats out NASCAR, it beats out football. And Vermont has the second-highest participation rate in fishing and other wildlife-related activities of any state in the U.S.”

April 9 marked the official start of the spring season for small and largemouth bass (catch-and-release until June 10) and trout and landlocked salmon (until Oct. 31). Bass fishing doesn’t really heat up until later in the summer, however; the 10 largest fish of each bass species that have been caught in Lake Champlain were done in July or later.
“Bass spawn out by mid-June, then they’re hungry,” said Ed Schirmer, who has run a fly fishing shop and guiding service in South Burlington since 1975. “As the water warms up, they get more food activity from frogs, crayfish and other things that they eat.”

Trout fishing typically produces favorable results in the spring, and Charlotte’s Lewis Creek offers a good habitat for that coldwater species of fish. The area where Lewis Creek feeds into Lake Champlain has been a point of concern for one fishing-related problem, however: the spread of invasive species of algae and other plants.

Boats, trailers, waders and other fishing and boating equipment have been found to spread invasive species from one body of water to another unless properly cleaned, dried or disinfected after use. Water in bait wells and outboard cooling systems can act as a carrier medium for non-native plants such as European frog-bit, which Hyams said is in Town Farm Bay.

“If it’s there, it’s going to work its way throughout the lake – or it has already,” Hyams said.

Boats aren’t the only culprit; similar invaders hitch rides into streams and other smaller bodies of water on individual anglers. The Vermont legislature has taken action this season to help prevent the spread of one invasive, non-native alga – didymo, commonly called “rock snot” – by prohibiting the use of felt-soled waders.

“There are lots of different things that can move didymo around, including wet clothes and the bottoms of canoes,” Palmer said. “But felt soles seem to be the ideal medium that moves it, so the state took legislative action to ban felt-soled waders effective April 1.”
Schirmer doesn’t anticipate the ban having much of an effect on his business, which he said, “has picked up in the last three weeks and should get busier.”

“It may impact some people initially, because they may not have the right wading shoes,” Schirmer said, “but there are other shoes with sticky rubber bottoms that we sell, that work well. We should be able to move ahead, right through (the ban).”

With the right gear underfoot and in hand (Schirmer also crafts custom rods for clients), the longtime guide sees success as imminent for the modern angler in Vermont. He said a decrease in active farming along the state’s rivers has led to a reduction in fertilizer and manure runoff, which has in turn helped boost the population of insects that make up 80 percent of the diet for trout.

“The environmental cleansing of Vermont’s rivers has been a tremendous boon to the health and growth of the trout population,” Schirmer said.

That is great news for the anglers who began casting their lines en masse on April 9. Palmer thinks that part of fishing’s popularity stems from its highly interactive nature, particularly between adults and children. Unlike other leisure activities like watching television and playing video games, fishing reconnects people with the natural environment through an actively shared experience.

“Fishing is a very relationship-building activity,” Palmer said. “When you talk to experienced anglers, you often find that it was a mentor, a friend or family member, who got them into the sport. So their memories of fishing are also about the time they spend interacting with other people, which is special.”

Palmer is building some of those memories himself, by introducing his 4-year-old son, Odin, to the sport.

“We go out fishing together, and he has a blast,” Palmer said. “He talks about it for days afterward.”

‘Freecycling’ Keeps Useable Things Out of the Waste Stream

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Home & Garden

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Each one of us produces 1.2 tons of garbage per year, which is mainly bagged household trash. What’s not included in that figure are all the perfectly usable goods that get thrown out each year, such as old furniture, clothes, books, obsolete technology and working appliances.

Many of these items are yard-sale fodder, or can be found parked by the curb with a “free” sign attached. If you can’t find what you need through curb-shopping, or the classifieds in this paper, try websites like Craigslist and Freecycle. You can pretty much search any category, from ab-workout machines to xylophones, and find what you need. For cash-strapped families, or people who just wish to avoid adding to the consumerist culture, buying secondhand is the way to go.

The good news is that it also creates more economic impact in your local community when you buy something used from a neighbor rather than new from a big-box store. In addition to filling your home with beautiful, new-to-you furniture, it helps reduce the solid-waste stream flowing into our landfills. It takes a lot of energy and resources to produce new consumer goods each year. By reusing items, we extend the lifecycle of that good and reduce the environmental impact of our purchase.

In my circle of friends, we exchange garbage bags full of used clothing freely. We often have parties centered around exchanging used clothes or trading handmade things. Some of these parties have been open to the public, and leftover clothes were donated to families of migrant workers.

One local option for cleaning out your house, garage, basement and attic is donating your reusable household items and building materials to ReSTORE and ReBUILD.  “It’s a great way to help families and individuals in crisis. In 2010, ReSOURCE provided 958 individuals in crisis with $100,342 worth of goods and services, and 1,083 tons of materials were diverted from the landfill and put to good use,” said Milea Bell, Marketing Manager at ReSOURCE on Pine Street in Burlington. “We try to make giving as easy as possible for our donors by providing FREE pick-up of furniture and large appliances in Chittenden County and the greater Barre area.”

There are a few stores that cater to a reusing crowd, like all the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores for clothing and housewares.

Plus many vintage clothes boutiques sell haute couture used clothing. Many municipalities have nonprofit programs to reduce solid waste and retail directly to schools, homeowners and businesses.

A paradigm is a collection of assumptions, concepts, believes and values that together make up a community’s way of viewing reality. Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm, based on the values of sustainability, justice, health and community.

Our Irish ancestors had a philosophy of “make do with less” and “want what you have.” This paradigm shapes a resilient culture that thrives on minimal goods and builds community rather than personal wealth. Many of our grandparents survived the Great Depression and learned to live simply. Hopefully, we don’t have to suffer through that deep of an economic drop before we adopt voluntary simplicity.   —CNS

Lawn Care the Vermont Way

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Home & Garden

In last month’s issue, we ran a story entitled, “The Grass Is Always Greener,” (April 2011, p.9 or online at
A reader suggested we get some clarification on some of the suggestions in the article, such as how much fertilizer should be used — environmentally speaking — so we contacted the Vermont Department of Agriculture. Matthew Wood, the Pesticide Certification & Training Coordinator, responded with the following suggestions:

The 10 steps outlined in the article included some rather expensive ones, such as renting a core aerator as well as no less than four fertilizer or pesticide applications.

At the beginning, the article suggests applying a weed killer. I would only suggest that if you do indeed have a weed problem, and only after you have improved the turf health through the fertility and mowing practices discussed below.

Mowing to 1” is far too short, and recommendations for turf mowing height are anywhere from 3 to 4 inches in height now. That will promote deeper roots that will give the grass plant access to more water and nutrients, making it more drought-tolerant and helping it to out-compete the weeds by shading them.

The aeration is a good idea, as well as following with compost applications to fill in the holes. This is a good cure for compacted soils that get lots of traffic.

The starter fertilizer recommended in the article will most likely have more phosphorous in it than what the lawn needs, and this is what the current legislation is trying to address. We don’t want people applying phosphorous to their lawns without first getting a soil test that shows it is needed, otherwise it just tends to run off, polluting fresh water and possibly causing algae blooms.

Watering well initially is important, but daily watering of only ¼” won’t be enough to promote deep roots. Frequent light watering is not good for turf as it encourages shallow roots. It is better to do less frequent, deep watering to encourage deep roots for the reasons mentioned above. Water as needed, so obviously it won’t be needed if it rains more than 1” in one day.

Again, the fertilizer recommendations at the end seem a bit excessive, but if those are done, they should be with a phosphorous-free fertilizer. The middle number on the fertilizer bag is the phosphorous, so people should look for the zero in the middle (5-0-3 for example). Also, only apply the crab grass or grub control pesticides as needed. If you don’t have crab grass or grubs, then save the money and don’t use them.

I would encourage anyone that wants to improve their lawn but does not know exactly what the problem with it is to ask a professional for help. UVM Extension is a good resource for identifying pests, diseases, and weeds.

Here is a link to the lawn-to-lake website with great recommendations for maintaining a healthy lawn without polluting water with unnecessary pesticides or phosphorous:

Why Resistance Training Matters

May 5, 2011  
Filed under Health & Wellness

By Carolyn Nutovic

What are your health and fitness goals for this spring? Are you looking forward to getting out in your garden, playing tennis or golf with friends, or traveling to a new destination? Whether your dream is to keep up with the grandkids, or be swimsuit ready for your cruise this summer, resistance training can help transform the dream into an achievable goal.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, and National Institute on Aging all recommend regular resistance training for men and women 50 and older, within specific guidelines. This is because the most dramatic declines due to aging are in muscle strength. “Unless you do resistance exercise—strength training with weights or elastic bands—you lose six pounds of muscle a decade,” says Wayne Wescott, author of “Strength Training Past 50.”

Resistance training is a form of strength training in which various muscle groups in the body are engaged to oppose a force. Muscle groups either move against, or hold still against the force. Exercises may employ equipment using a cable system, such as the Total Gym or Resistance Chair, or may involve props as simple as a chair and dumbbells. ACSM recommends beginning with a cable system and progressing to free weights to avoid injury. A safe, effective workout regimen should include daily stretching and balance exercises, and resistance training two to three times a week alternating with three to five days of moderate cardio-vascular conditioning. However, individuals with chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, or osteoporosis should always seek professional advice when evaluating frequency, duration, intensity, and number of sets and repetitions. Chair-based exercise routines are an ideal starting point for such individuals because they provide a stable, low-impact environment in which to increase strength and cardio capacity.

What are some of the benefits of resistance training? First, if you regularly incorporate this type of strength training into your routine you’ll ensure greater long-term functionality. According to the Boston Globe, “Resistance training makes muscles substantially stronger and helps people do better at everyday activities such as walking, climbing steps, and standing up from chairs.” Such basic day-to-day activities help senior adults to maintain independence, and the ability to continue enjoying other activities such as hiking, bowling, cycling, and romping with the grandkids.

Secondly, an exercise regimen that includes resistance training has broad health benefits. Susan Crandell, author of “Thinking About Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife,” reports in AARP Magazine that “strength training just 20 minutes a day, two or three times a week, can rebuild three pounds of muscle and increase your metabolism by seven percent. [You’ll] feel more energetic, more alert, more vital and alive. Plus, the added muscle has a halo effect on many systems of the body, reducing blood pressure, improving your ability to use glucose from the blood by 25 percent, increasing bone mass by one to three percent, and improving gastrointestinal efficiency by 55 percent.”

And let’s face it, we’d all like to look great on the beach, wouldn’t we? What’s the relationship between resistance training and weight loss? The bottom line in weight loss, medical conditions such as thyroid aside, is that when you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. An intelligent weight loss program includes both nutrition and exercise, variables determined by the specific profile of the person attempting to lose weight. Research has shown circuit resistance training produces the same calorie burn as a brisk walk, while also building lean muscle mass.)

Anecdotal evidence also points to the effectiveness of resistance training in a weight-loss program. Louise Geary Crawford, a 73-year-old nurse, real estate agent and business owner, was told by her doctor that it would be unlikely she’d be able to lose weight at her age. She tried various diet plans to no avail. Despite these failures, she kept exploring options for weight loss, greater flexibility, and increased energy. Ultimately, she turned to resistance training. Now, nearly a year later and almost 50 pounds lighter, she’s a remarkable success story.

The evidence is clear. Having an exercise routine that includes resistance training can be transformational. You’ll lose the weight, lower your blood pressure, start running or cycling. How about the National Senior Games in 2011?

Carolyn Nutovic is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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