Tag Archives: country

Llama Lasagne

I went to the Three County Fair this passed weekend. The experience turned out better than I thought. What I wasn’t expecting was an awesome band. And I was impressed by the energy, humor, and talent of local band Llama Lasagne. They delivered a fun time for all. 

Check out some photos I took of them:

Click to view a slideshow.

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Photos of the Days – Local Travel

June 22, 2010

Sunderland/Deerfield bridge over the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.

June 23, 2010

Mom at the edge of the garden.

June 24, 2010

Candle light with a sea captain.

June 25, 2010

Insects are there even in the dark.

June 26, 2010

Chasing dinosaurs on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

June 27, 2010

Admiring butterflies at Magic Wings in Deerfield, Massachusetts

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On A Hill

May 23, 2010

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill

I often walk this hill.

I imagine when my great grandparents and my grandmother and her siblings finally settled at the foot of this immense mound, they had already looked up at its greatness for several years.

I imagine them, maybe, walking about the hill, maybe, taking a break from farming the land. And, really, I can only imagine them looking over the valley and seeing woods covering Sunderland, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton, and beyond, that little more exist.

Sun setting and rain a few miles away.

 

I imagine my mom riding her horse around this hill, young like me. That’s what I imagine her doing here.

When I look from the top of this hill, I see the farm, still in the family; my parents’ work hard for a life I’m not sure I will take on.

I see the University of Massachusetts, treetops, crevasses where there are major roads, and mountains I believe exist in the works of Erastis sailsburyfield.

So many times I have walked up this hill – with neighbors, family, friends, horses, dogs, boyfriends, Sean.

Mostly, I feel, it’s the one thing here that isn’t stale.

Clover.

When I was young, a real child, and the hill was covered in snow, just so the grass couldn’t poke through, I would walk alone making footprints with intensions, walking backwards.

If the snow melted in the sun and hardened into a half inch of crust at night, we would all scurry our way up the hill, and slide down, and dive off whatever our vehicle was before hitting pickers at the bottom.

When the snow was light, we would hitch up the horse to the sleigh and ride up and around on sunny days.

When there was no snow, no mud from the spring thaw, and the grass was short, we’d ride the horses around there too. I think my earliest memories of being on the hill is of my parents shifting me on and off the front of the saddle; one of them always holding me around my tummy.

That might have been before they rented the field out, but I don’t really know.

One renter planted cow corn. The neighbors and I would run through the isles of tall stalks, getting whipped by long fuzzed leaves.

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill.

Later on, we got a new renter, who does hay. It was always fun to climb the gold bails, to try and push them around. We were all too weak and young. I’m pretty sure we all loved the smell, of the dried grass warming in the sun. The dust would tickle our noses.

Before we were of age, we learned how to drive out there. Before grandma died, when I was practicing how to drive, we put her in the car too. She liked going for rides. She told me to put the pedal to the metal, of course I didn’t. I always think about that when I’m driving and I think of grandma.

I was real sad then, when I was in high school. I did a lot of imagining. I would always imagine romantic affairs up there. Who wouldn’t want to be up the hill, seeing everywhere, so far, with someone you love who loves you back? But I was mostly alone then.

So, sometimes I would take the dog up there – just the two of us. She was really my mom’s dog, and I could never have loved her as much, but it made me happy to see the dog prancing through grass three feet high or snow three feet deep. Then we’d have to pick the tics off her, or melt away the beads of snow caught in her paws. Once she bit a porcupine up there and it took days to get the quills out. That was a long night.

Fallen and dried.

Mostly we go up there at night anyways, I mean, when the sun is setting, at the end of the day. Sometimes, we all would walk up there and see UMass lit up at night. It was even easier to see the stars, the Milky Way, the moon.

Today, I walked up there with my camera. It’s a good camera. I can take some pretty good photos. The grass was mixed in with clover. The hill is passed spring, so there is no mud and the anthills are underway. It’s not ready for hay, hasn’t even been planted. Actually, I don’t know if it will. But I have to walk carefully, like my parents would always tell me, not to tramp all over the clover and grass. So, I walked carefully, trying not to trample all over the hill. I took some pictures. And, really, what I thought this time is, man, it’s going to be hard to leave this, one day.

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill

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Holla Holland

See all my photos here or in a slideshow

A few rain drops is no worry for the bikes in Amsterdam.

 

While abroad, I took an Anderson Tours trip from London to Holland for Easter weekend.

It was definitely a unique experience for a somewhat guided tour.

From London, we took a bus to Dover and boarded SeaFrance ferry, while still on our coach to Calais, France.

The port at Dover.

 

Overlooking the Channel towards France.

 

The French, unfortunately, decided to strike, which I guess happens a lot at the port, and the under two hour ferry ride took six hours as we couldn’t enter the port until some people ended their demonstrating. From Calais, we drove the coach off the ferry to Holland.

We stayed at a noncommercial style hotel called Lake Land in Monnickendam. The area is, obviously, flat and a beautiful country scape. It’s quiet and a nice change from the city of London, which we had been staying in for three months. While the hotel’s buffet style dining may not be for everyone, it’s a fun atmosphere for seniors (who were dancing to the beat) and young people.

The view at Lake Land.

 

Holland is wicked flat. And by wicked, I mean very. No mountains or even hills, and there are canals big and small everywhere. Some are few feet wide and some are several yards wide. Canals are also used like fences. It’s common to see a simple gate and canals used to keep sheep and cows on a plot of land.

Heading into the city – Amsterdam – there is more flat land and a lot of construction going on whether it’s of buildings or on roads and highways.

Once you hit the city, you will know it. There are rats nests of bikes everywhere, and everyone is on a bike.

I'm guessing there are miles of bikes lined up if one counted.

 

Because the city and country is so flat, it’s easy to walk or bike everywhere and anywhere. Amsterdam also has a good public transportation system, which there are tracks for the above ground seemingly everywhere.

The city itself isn’t a skyscraper city or even quite like London. Things are more small and cute. But the essence of Amsterdam is an openness and cool that no other region can compete with.

One of many canals.

 

Yes, prostitution is legal and there are coffee shops (they don’t sell coffee) on ever corner. But the fact that people don’t seem to judge you when you walk down the street is quite impressive. 

It’s easy to rent a bike and tour the city or even take a boat cruise through the winding canals.

Not quite what I was hoping for, but it beats getting rained on.

 

You can visit the red-light district and it’s perfectly safe, or that’s what it seemed. Prostitution is some people’s career. It’s viewed as nothing to poke fun at and has been a huge part of Dutch culture since the times of great painters like Johannes Vermeer. One thing that is frowned upon is taking photographs of the district’s doors and windows where women and men might be at work. And, if you are wondering, according to our guide, if the light is red and on, the room hosted by a woman is open for business. If the light is blue, it usually means there is some sort of “mixture” or male element.

Not really sure what this was about but no one seemed disgusted.

 

There are many kinds of museums and attractions for everyone alike. One day we checked out the Anne Frank House, where for a 20 minute wait in line, visitors can tour the house where Frank and her family went into hiding. 

Outside of Amsterdam, tourists can tour clog and cheese factories such as the one we visited in Monnickendam. Clogs are still made and worn today, though it may seem they have become a bit of a tourist attraction. The idea behind clogs is that they are lightweight, water proof for those canals, and hard to protect worker’s feet.

Right down the road from Lake Land.

 

A demonstration. Apparently, it's not that hard but takes practice.

 

I could never figure out if these were mechanically produced or person produced.

 

Another Dutch cultural excursion to take is a trip to a tulip farm, like Keukenhof. The tulip has historically been a part of Dutch cultural and very much is today. Visitor’s can tour tulip field’s, gardens, and greenhouses filled with the most amounts of tulip arrangements you might ever see.

Keukenohf: Spend a good portion of the day if you love flowers.

 

It's a bit overwhelming, but so colorful.

 

Field farmed tulips.

 

There are a few alternative arrangements, much like a painting.

 

The openness of Dutch culture is truly remarkable. We met a group of Dutch guy friends who we thought were our age or much older. In fact, they were all younger than us, but because of their casual normalcy of alcohol and acceptance they seemed so much older. We chatted with them and it seems because they are “so experienced” with these “things of life,” alcohol, drug use, and the like are not as big a deal as they are in the U.S. They said, some people they know haven’t ever smoke marijuana because they know it’s there and they can do it any time they wanted. The Dutch guys also told us we weren’t spontaneous. I won’t defend myself and say that’s true. I like to consider myself spontaneous when I decide to randomly go on a bike ride and take photos. But I’m not sure I can compare myself to these guys who say, when they want to enjoy life and have a good time, they will. As an American, my night ended with me feeling like I should “enjoy life more” by going mini-golfing at random or hang out with people I’ve just met.

Pillow fight!

 

Holland is definitely a culture that people can learn from, not just have an exciting and beautiful trip to. I will definitely be back to Holland, soon, I hope.

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Mount Sugarloaf

Friday was a bit hazy for taking photos at the top of Mount Sugarloaf, but I snapped a good one of a tractor at teh mountain’s base.

Overlooking the Connecticut River.

 

Tractor hiding at the corner of a field and the base of the mountain.

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Out of pocket donations to Sunderland Elementary School?

The article “Music, art technology cut in Sunderland,” by Ben Storrow, appeared in The Recorder Friday.

The article summarized cut and reduced positions and programs.

The comments rage back and forth, regarding the override, yet seem to lead towards support for the arts.

Some parents are concerned about the large class sizes, reduced teachers’ aids, and the arts programs.

WWLP highlighted parents’ concerns in a news package and article. A Sunderland Elementary School student, Sammi Penza, comments on the music programs.

CBS 3 Springfield also reported on cuts the school faces. Sunderland Elementary School principal, Penny Spearance, commented.

Monetary donations to the school and volunteering has been brought up, reports show.

An Associated Press article, “Parents pass the hat to make up for school cuts,” highlighted similar budget cut issues of schools throughout the country.

The AP’s Donna Gordon Blankinship reported:

The practice comes with some controversy.

Some fear it will only widen the gap between rich and poor school systems and set a dangerous precedent that will make it easier for politicians to shortchange public education. In New York City, parent groups ran afoul of the teachers union for using their own money to hire classroom aides.

Readers are welcome to post their thoughts and knowledge, and take this very unscientific poll posted below.

If there are parents of children in the school that want to share their story via video, I’d be willing to document this aspect of the defeated override.

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