Gone Fishin'


I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!


More Hikes, Work, and Weather

Kate and I went with Ben up to the Bison Range over the weekend. No bison were to be found, however. We did see several deer, both mule deer and whitetail deer. We saw a doe with three fawns, a pretty good size buck, and a spikehorn. We also saw a couple of mule deer "pronking," which is when they bound with all four feet moving in unison. The best way I have to describe it is the way Pepe LePew used to run in the cartoons, accompanied by a boinging sound effect. Everybody else saw a couple of elk as well, but since I was driving, I missed them. The Bison Range was an early morning trip, so we had time in the afternoon to head back up the Ravine Trail off Grant Creek Road. We went all the way to the junction with the trail to Stewart Peak Trail. We were able to do it pretty quickly, though not quite quickly enough to regularly replace our daily run with a daily hike, as much as I'd like to do that. I started at REI Sunday. So, now I've been through training on shoes, outerwear, and bikes. I have more orientation coming up on Sunday. Also, I'm trying for an Associate Planner position with the county, but they called today to let me know that although I am still in the running for the job, they are going to readvertise it for another two weeks to get a few more applicants. I hope this means I at least will get an interview. It would be a great fit with REI on the nights and weekends and maybe a ski instructor thing on some weekends up at the Snowbowl.


Today's Hike

Kate and I did get out for our afternoon hike. We went up along Grant Creek, which is the way you go out of Missoula to get to the Snowbowl, all the way to this little trailhead. We went about 2.5 miles out and back the same way. The views were great and it turns out the trail hooks up with Sawmill Gulch, which is where we went with Katie the second day she was here. Either approach can be taken further up to Stewart Peak, which I'd like to do sometime when we have more time and the weather is a little more favorable. The light was really pretty today as fast moving clouds cleared away the rain that dominated most of the day. The tamaracks have really all turned now and look great illuminated by shafts of 5:00 sunlight. This reminds me that I'll miss these late afternoon hikes and runs when we change the clocks over on Sunday. We saw a small type of squirrel a couple of times, about the size of a red squirrel but with little round ears and a black tail. They would sit and stare at us, with us staring back for about a minute before ascending into the trees, chattering all the way, as we continued down the trail. We also saw a good size den of some kind right beside the trail, heard a raven call, and saw another bird perched high on a snag that stood twice as tall as all the trees around it. The trail appears to be open to mountain bikes and Kate and I both agreed that it might be a good idea to come back with them as soon as we get some decent tires. Upon returning to the apartment I noticed that the clouds had cleared enough to reveal that the top of the Snowbowl got a dusting of snow. It is less than a month until their projected opening, and hopefully a slot on their ski instructor squad for me. Meanwhile, I hope to hear back about the Associate Planner job for the county. I took a look at the GIS data layers they have available for download on their website, but was not able to dig up my old copy of ArcView so I could start making some maps. Looks like there's another trip into out storage unit awaiting me tomorrow. Also yesterday, had a great email exchange with my friend Dan, who blogs over at r-f-d (see link on right). We have some similar tastes in modern blues, which he found when he saw R.L. Burnside (R.I.P.) on my list of favorite artists in my profile. I suggest to Dan, and anybody else who likes the blues as they are played today to check out Fat Possum Records. Good stuff.



I just got off the phone with folks at REI and they've hired me. It won't really pay the bills or anything but it certainly is something. They apologized for the delay in getting through paperwork and background checks and all. So, after nearly a month here, I am (small g) gainfully employed. Here's hoping it leads to more networking, more opportunities and meeting some great outdoorsy people! I'm headed out the door for a hike with Kate on the Ravine Trail, which is just around the corner from us. More later.


Checking In

Little to report today. I did get back in touch with the hiring guy at REI but apparently they are still running background checks on their potential hires. He said he would understand if I had taken another job at this point. I told him to keep me on the list. I'm pretty sure they aren't going to offer me a job, and I'm not sure how to feel about that- sad, I guess, but in a very limited way. The weather has been a little more overcast today, but the added bonus of this was a bit of moisture in the air. This made our daily run a little nicer. Rain in the forecast for the next couple of days, no snow yet.

Thoughts on last works...

I was flipping though Ginsberg's Cosmopolitan Greetings earlier today. It was one of our texts in one of the poetry classes I took during my senior year in college, I'm sure it was one of those I took with Albert Glover- certainly my favorite person at SLU. Anyway, picking up the book got me to thinking, not so much about Ginsberg but about that last year at Saint Lawrence, back in 1999, and about my time with Glover. That led me to think about how he retired and this is the first year he won't be around up there, or at least not teaching. I wish him the best, but I don't think SLU will ever be the same place to me knowing he isn't around. Then, flipping though a dated copy of Poets and Writers, I noticed that someone had published Charles Olson's letters to his publisher recently. That got me thinking about Glover, too. Olson was, as I understand, his mentor. I then realized that while Katie was here a few days ago, I had dragged down a few of Glover's books from the shelf, trying to find a particular poem to show her, but instead got lost in one of the earlier books, where he wrote a lot about fixing up a farm house in Canton, his kids, his wife. That stuff was all gone by the time I met him. By the time I graduated, he had a house again, this time in town. His wife was still gone, son was off somewhere. I saw him again a few years later, we went to a lecture together and then he was off to see his (ex?) wife. He smiled when he told me, knowing it was news. I haven't written to him since. I think it was a little while after that that I stopped writing completely, absorbed in my menial job, my stuff and who knows what else. I think I had to go through all that to get here though. Anyway, Looking at the Ginsberg book, I remember the night that Danny Winchester chanted out the poem "Hum Bomb" from the book while I belted out stuff on the harmonica and other guys made noises with bedsprings and other stuff. It was our last night at the Java House, last night to perform and all that. Lots of people wanted to play that night. We did fine, but Danny wanted to do a reading from On the Road as well, and I helped out with music. We got booed off the stage. Anyway, there was something about that I remember, something I told Glover we were going to try to do with the poem but graduating and exams and beer all got in the way and I think I remember knowing that he knew that would happen and seeing the slightest look of disappointment on his face. They liked "Hum Bomb" that night, though, and I remember being surprised. I have a poem I wrote sometime before I saw Glover last and sometime after I graduated high school. It's the last thing I did since graduating from SLU worth typing out. If I can find it, I'll post it here later.


The Job Search

Well, I promised the folks at REI that I wouldn't bug them today, since they promised they would get back by the end of today about hiring me on. This was something I was originally supposed to know about back last wednesday. The conversation then (wednesday, them calling back only after I called earlier in the day to follow-up on the interview) went something like this: Him: "Uh, hi, is this Matt?" Me: "Yes it is, what can I do for you?" Him: "Uh, this is ___ with REI, just calling you back about the job." Me: "Ok." Him: "Yeah, we're going to have to wait to get back to you later this week or monday at the latest on the job- we just had a meeting and we'd like to interview some more people." Me: "Ok, I understand, so I should hear from you by monday though?" Him: "At the latest"
* * * * * * * * * *
Ok, so it's 6:00 on monday night and guess what? No call. Let's not forget- it's less than two months until Christmas (their busiest season), which I told them I'd be willing to work through if they hired me. This is for a job at $7.10 an hour to sell outdoor gear, maybe to stock merchandise and run a cash register. I went to the interview well dressed,spoke clearly, firm handshake, all that. I answered their questions pretty well. I have professional experience, supervisory experience, a college degree. I will work any and all shifts they'd like me to work. I will forsake going home for Christmas to work this $7.10 an hour job because it means that much for me to get the job and to work in retail. All this begins to wear on a person. I'm not proud. I'd probably take this job at $5.50 an hour if it meant being employed and having an answer to that "Where ya workin'? " question I posted about before. Yet, they don't call back when they promise to. I'll call when they open tomorrow, see how it goes I guess. But I'm really starting to wonder if I'm qualified for anything here at all, since I'm not from Montana.


Weekend Stuff

It took two days of hassle, but Kate and I are officially online under our own steam. The guys who came to set up our broadband were about as helpful as a plumber who turns on the water without hooking up the pipes. Still, after much configuring, and after one of our computers decided it didn't have an ethernet card after all, and the other decided that it didn't like the ISP's installation CD, we are finally up and running, with a wireless router and everything. Now, I just have to send my laptop back to Toshiba, as it has decided to turn itself into a paperweight. (Bad sector on the hard drive, can't even get into the BIOS any more, won't boot from my Knoppix DVD either.) By the way, I would recommend to anybody who fears their computer might die someday leaving them no way to get to their files that they download a version of Knoppix and burn it to a DVD right away. Before my laptop completely died, I was able to boot up with the Knoppix disc and move all my crititcal files off before attempting a system restore, which has certainly deleted those files as well as crunked my computer beyond all use. We packed Katie off to Kalispell today, from there she's headed to San Fran, and a new chapter in her life for sure. It was great to have her around and we took some really nice hikes in the area. The pictures I took were all slides, though, so we'll have to wait a bit (like until I can get the slides scanned or get a slide scanner) to post any of those photos. Since Katie left and we got the computers set up, I've been working through edits on my resume and cleaning up in general. I won't hear from REI until Monday, so we'll keep our fingers crossed until then. In the meantime, I am now aware that several good friends have blogs, and have added those links to the sidebar on the right. Enjoy!


Welcome to Missoula, Katie!

Our good friend Katie is here on a layover as she travels by train from the Cape to San Fransisco. She's here for a few days and we are showing her around, which is funny, because Kate and I are probably among the least qualified of anybody here to show somebody around. We went for a long hike today, saw deer, partridge, watched some sort of bird we couldn't identify make a meal out of a hornets' nest high in an aspen tree. The tamaracks (larches, I think they call them out here) are really turning and most of the deciduous trees are starting to go by. We had a great sunset tonight with blue sky, dramatic clouds and dark shadows mixed with gold light on the grassy foothills behingd the apartment. All very nice. Tonight, we will make pizzas with goat cheese, kalamata olives, caremelized onions and fresh mozzarella. Posted by Picasa


A few thoughts on law school

Although I wish this to be a forward-looking blog, I think it might be good to get some things out about why I left law school after my first year. I just got an "attrition survey" in the mail that asks me to check one or two of seven boxes that correspond to various reasons for leaving- and of course it isn't that simple.

One of my greatest fears leading up to and during law school was that I would permanantly abandon so many of my interests in order to begin this career as a lawyer. For me, funding law school entirely on my own means that there is little choice upon getting out- I have to go be a praticing lawyer- and while this isn't the scariest or worst thing in the world, it's not what I'd really like to be doing with my life in the long term. On top of that, I got married in August and the upcoming wedding gave me a lot of pause to think of what kind of husband I wanted to be. I knew that in my time during the first year of school, I had ignored my fiancee- now- wife, had hung up on her on the phone because I knew I had too much work to be doing that night. I think I fooled myself that I could balance her, manage her almost as I managed my course load. But by second semester, I was barely doing either, and while my grades did not completely tank, they didn't get much better, and my class rank dropped well below the halfway mark.

Throughout this, I often questioned why I was going to law school. The idea began for me when I had been a fairly disgruntled civil servant for about a year. One day, I emailed my dad and told him I was thinking about an MFA or maybe going to law school. Within a day or so, he wrote me back with a lot of reasons why an MFA was a bad idea and why law school was a good idea. At this point, I think an MFA would have been a bad idea as well, my depth in english literature is not good enough right now to produce good work, and I would be far better served by pursuing an MA At any rate, this began the law school idea. I took the LSAT, applied and got into Vermont Law School, then deferred for a year when another more interesting job prospect came along. In the meantime, Kate got into an MA program in South Carolina and went. I should have gone with her, but I plugged along in my job for her first year and in Law scxhool for the second. Being apart was a strain, but it wasn't the only strain.

Law school was a double edged sword for me, I learned so much, but I feel like I left behind an awful lot as well. Prior to school, I was upset with myself for losing touch with friends, failing to write enough good poetry, not getting outside enough. Law School didn't help any of those things much. But what really started to get to me was the ego and false confidence I was surrounded with all the time. As the second semester wound down, everybody was talking about where they were going to work for the summer. I didn't know where I was going to work for the summer and I didn't know if I wanted to go back at all in the fall. I felt like a traitor. All around me were people who by all accounts appeared to be 100% invested in their career in law, while I was wondering whether I ought to be there at all. I'm sure there were others in my position as well. I'm sure many of them went back this fall. I'm sure they'll all make great lawyers, and I think I would have been a good one too. I could even see myself going back to get a JD someday, when I can fit it into my life rather than fit my life into it.

I had such good friends at VLS too, who I left behind for the most part without a word, entirely because I didn't know what to say. I have wanted to write or call, but I feel that since I am jobless and out of this shared experience of school, I don't have much to write home about right now. Maybe soon. Now, I still feel like a bit of a traitor- I'm one of those people people at law schools speculate about, as in "ooh, I wonder who'll drop out over the summer..." I know I said those things, I know I felt superior to those who dropped out after the first semester, when really, perhaps they are my superiors for figuring something out before I did. I'm not sure.


Another beautiful Missoula day.

Had a nice day today- a good run up into the hills and nice sunny weather. Lots of resume editing, cover letter writing, and the rest of the junk of life/pay the rent kind of stuff. Somebody I knew once called it "shoveling-" getting the muck out of the stalls so you can ride the horse, I guess. I don't like to focus so much on the pedestrian, but when you need work and you need money to eat and things it can get in the way of the creative process. At the same time, I feel a little leaner- physically, maybe, but certainly mentally. I can walk into a place and ask who to speak to about a job. I can express myself clearly without apologizing- something I do too often. I can relax in the living room without the spectre of another box to open or another ppile to move down to the storage unit. The air is great outside- not too many people burning wood and coal in the valley yet- I hear it gets pretty bad in the winter when an inversion forms, trapping particulates over Missoula and creating an air that can be tasted and seen as well as breathed. Here's hoping it stays clear for a while longer. Posted by Picasa
The apartment, arranged. Well, everything is out of the boxes, and aside from having far more books than we have bookshelves, and no actual dining room chairs, it all looks pretty good. We even unleashed the Roomba we got for our wedding on the place last night- it did an admirable job and I was impressed that I had to empty its little bin twice- the place looked clean enough but it was amazing what it was able to glean from the floors. Aside from the creepy, red-blinking "power" indicator when it charges (a little too HAL- like for my taste) we'll get along just fine.Posted by Picasa


Dinner tonight and a recipe from this summer

Another thing to recover after too many nights of reheated whatever in law school is good food shared with good friends.

Kate's brother Ben came over for dinner tonight so we did onions, chicken, loads of diced garlic and baby spinach in a cast iron pan, added a big knob of goat cheese and then mixed it all up with a pound of penne pasta. Not perhaps my most elegant creation, but it did the job and Kate and Ben seemed reasonably happy. Lots of leftovers waiting for tomorrow. Slowly, I'm building up a pantry here, but it takes time.

I can't wait to get some herbs growing in the window again. We had good fresh basil all summer from seeds I started last spring, went well with all the tomatoes that came out of Kate's parents' garden back on the Cape. Actually, while I'm here with little else to write about, I might as well get down the smoked tomato soup recipe I worked up over the summer. This started as something in a Williams and Sonoma catalog but we didn't have all the ingredients and as far as the recipe went in the magazine, it only had a handful of fresh tomatoes in it and we had a garden full to use up. So, here goes:

Smoked Tomato Soup:

Pick and wash a basket full of tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are probably the best. Anyway, halve them and toss with a little olive oil, then get them on the top rack in a grill set on low. On the bottom rack, pile on a huge pile of fresh herbs. I used a bunch of basil and rosemary, and I think some thyme. Close of the grill. The herbs should dry out and smoke and it should be at least a half hour before the skins start peeling back on the tomatoes. Get them out of the grill, cool, and peel.

Saute a diced onion and a little garlic in some olive oil to start the soup. Add a big can of chicken broth and about a cup of sherry. If you use the cooking wine type sherry, you probably won't need to add any other salt to the soup. Push the tomatoes through a strainer to get rid of the seeds, add the pulp and one little can of tomato paste to the broth. Give it a stir. Add about a cup of breadcrumbs (not the seasoned ones you use to make breaded fried stuff- tear up some stale french bread into crumbs and use that). Simmer the soup for a bit and then cool and run it in a blender so it gets nice and smooth. Return to the pot, bring up to serving temperature. Take some whole basil leaves and dry them in your oven on a cookie sheet until they are crispy- spinkle one or two of these on top of each bowl as a garnish. A swirl of sour cream or plain yogurt is nice as well.

I can't say enough good things about this soup. The tomato flavor is intense and the smoky herb flavor is nice and subtle, but you won't belive the only spice actually in the soup is perhaps a little salt and garlic, with all the other flavor coming from burning up herbs on the grill! This stuff makes a lot of dirty dishes, so I'd do it at the end of tomato season and the you'll have enough to freeze for winter. To make a meal out of it, make some grilled cheese (try Cabot "Hunter's" cheddar) sandwiches on some good sourdough bread.



Where ya working?

This is the infuriating question that Kate and I have each been asked, each time by a total stranger, at least once a day since we've been here. The cashier at the grocery store, the truck driver who dropped off our stuff, and several others have posed us this question. What's infuriating about it is that they only ask after they find out we are from out of the state and they usually follow up by telling us that: 1. There are no jobs in Missoula 2. The pay is terrible anyway. Despite this, out and about Missoula, we see thousands of happy folks going to and from work in their giant shiny SUV's and we see plenty of big expensive houses in the hills. Somebody's making money here, that's for sure. Yet, it is primarily the boldness with which the question is posed that bothers us. We, good reserved New Englanders wouldn'r dare ask a perfect stranger such a question, and would have serious reservations about asking an old friend. "The question" is an assualt on the sensibilities, we cringe when we know it's coming, and we stammer in attempt to reply. I usually just tell them we are students, which probably raises more contempt but at least puts them at ease that we won't be trying to take THEIR jobs. The real question, veiled in the pretext of wanting to know about "work," of course, is that, since you have been identified as an outsider, are you just passing through or are you going to settle down and try to change this place? Are you going to try to pass gun control laws or reintroduce wolves or limit logging and mining? Are you going to complain that there's no motor vehicle inspection? Are you of the ilk that forced us to impose an actual, numerical speed limit on our highways a few years ago? All this is conveyed in the glance that accompanies the question. I guess the sooner we learn to do the handshake, or to roll up one sleeve or to wear a pin in the appropriate lapel or whatever the secret sign is, the sooner we'll have to stop enduring "the question."


At the Montana Snowbowl

My wife Kate and I on the access road to the Montana Snowbowl. The Snowbowl is about an eight mile ride from our apartment, but I think you climb about 2000 feet in those eight miles. It was nice to get the bikes out, though we still have slicks on from our summer riding on the bike paths and byways of Cape Cod. The knobbies are hanging in the garage in Yarmouthport, right where they will do exactly the least amount of good. Oh well, we'll probably stick to the roads until spring anyway. Kate's brother Ben met us up here and took some shots, including this one, taken using my cellphone (hence the low resolution). Posted by Picasa

Photograph by Ben Nugent

Posted by Picasa Ben Nugent, my new brother in law, currently attends the University of Montana and is an excellent photographer. He took this picture looking north from Trapper Peak in Montana.

We are here...

Well, we've been here for a week or so- we made it in one piece and our stufff arrived mostly in good shape a few days later. Montana is beautiful, as expected, but being her and being unemployed is scary. The wedding money is gone, and next month's rent will either have to come from some pretty damn quick employment or the credit card. Of course, my law school loans will be coming due soon as well, so I guess its time to get that economic deferrment package together. Kate and I just walk around all day with our stomachs twisted in knots. I have a hard time sleeping. The apartment looks great, though. People here find out you are looking for work and they get defensive, they tell you the pay is terrible here. I'm certain there are jobs for both of us in Missoula, it just is going to take some doing. I put in an application at REI, Kate with Starbucks. We both are signed on with temp agencies, and applying for several jobs a day with other places- the university, non-profits, the business world. The issue now is probably not to find a career, just a "pay the rent" job. I don't really intend this blog to be a chronicle of the woes of a law school dropout and his new wife who he dragged across the country, it's just that some of these things are really pressing right now. I belive that these are the flames I'll be forged in awhile, and knowing that makes it better. In other news, it's been good to unpack my books and CD's, which I haven't seen in over a year. It's good to read a little for fun. It's good to write a bit here and there, again mostly for fun and to keep loose. It's good to go running every day, and it is good to not be living apart from Kate, which i did for two years while she went to grad school in South Carolina. More later.