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Hatred. Violence. Fear

National Museum of Art

Midnight, 8 November. Stars so bright overhead, the big dipper low on the horizon. A frost layed down coating of ice on the deck railing. A black night save for the hope lit in the stars.

It is election day and there is a clenching in my body as if I chugalugged a bottle of anxiety. Sadness at what has become of the country I love. I have walked in the path of beauty in all things. Now there is this squeeze within, the desperate foreboding that this election has changed what America and I have stood for.

The anger and hatred that raised the hairs on the back of my neck on that day spent in Dachau in 1982…it is back, this Dachau disease.

A moral compass directed my life but now the foundation of my soul has been crushed, stamped upon, swore at.

Hatred. Violence. Fear.

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Peter Miller, peter@petermillerphotography.com 25 August.

We Vermonters who work for ourselves are suffering. Let’s put it this way. The average Vermonter has very little disposable income. State, town, school taxes and fees, property and school taxes, the 5th highest electrical rate in the country, above average costs of fuel oil, propane and gas make us downright poor. Our state government is spending more than it takes from us

Vermonters who have read my book, A Lifetime of Vermont People, email or visit. “We love Vermont,” they say, “we have family here, but our pension is too small.” Some sell, some can’t find a buyer. Younger people leave the state looking for decent paying jobs.

Vermont statistic trackers say enough new comers are moving in to balance the disenfranchised that are leaving. The head on this Forbes article, from last April, says it all: Tax Happy Vermont Becoming A State Where Only The Rich Can Afford To Live.

The rural Vermont culture of self-government, earning enough to get by and that inner sense of being a Vermonter is being replaced by a homogenized, wealthier, more sophisticated “transplant”. Some of these new Vermonters adapt beautifully to our Vermont Way, as I have. Many, though, carry their home state on their backs when they arrive. They want dirt roads paved and fancy sport facilities. The need dog parks and larger police department that will respond to calls when somebody they don’t recognize walks near their home.

They have deeper pockets than the self employed Vermonter so they buy homes and tear them down to put up larger and more expensive structures. They apply for town positions or are elected to the state legislature and create new bills to raise the cost of living. A new culture is nudging out our rural way of life. Long time residents from New Hampshire and Maine who have stopped in my Waterbury gallery say that is also happening in their state. .

I am a writer and photographer and my professions have been mangled in this century by the digital revolution. I started an Airbnb and decorated the rooms with my photographs and installed a photo library. Even so, I had to borrow to pay my property tax, the first time since I have been filing in this state since the 1950’s. And you know, I prefer writing and photography to being a chambermaid!

I have a new book project because of comments made to me by stressed-out Vermonters.. The Vanishing Vermonter, The Loss of a Rural Culture, will be published in the spring of 2017. So far I have interviewed and photographed nine people who expressed their thoughts on this “new” Vermont. How will I pay for it? I will crowd fund and put up on my blog sections of the book as I write them. (www.petermillerphotography.com).

Paul Hannon-7

Paul Hannon, master mechanic and owner of his Irasburg Garage for 30 years.

Paul Hannon is a mechanic who for 30 years has owned a garage in North Irasburg. He is the first person I interviewed for The Vanishing Vermonter. When we ended our interview he said, with a sigh,

“I am losing hope”

Vermont is a bellwether state. Our canary in the cage is gasping, our lead sheep is bleating. The hope and pride of my people has become fragile.

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I Am Vermont Broke

Peter Miller, peter@petermillerphotography.com 25 August 2016.

We Vermonters who work for ourselves are suffering. Let’s put it this way. The average Vermonter has very little disposable income. State, town, school taxes and fees, property and school taxes, the 5th highest electrical rate in the country, above average costs of fuel oil, propane and gas make us downright poor. Our state government is spending more than it takes from us

Vermonters who have read my book, A Lifetime of Vermont People, email or visit. “We love Vermont,” they say, “we have family here, but our pension is too small.” Some sell, some can’t find a buyer. Younger people leave the state looking for decent paying jobs.

Vermont statistic trackers say enough new comers are moving in to balance the disenfranchised that are leaving. The head on this Forbes article, from last April, says it all: Tax Happy Vermont Becoming A State Where Only The Rich Can Afford To Live.

The rural Vermont culture of self-government, earning enough to get by and that inner sense of being a Vermonter is being replaced by a homogenized, wealthier, more sophisticated “transplant”. Some of these new Vermonters adapt beautifully to our Vermont Way, as I have. Many, though, carry their home state on their backs when they arrive. They want dirt roads paved and fancy sport facilities. The need dog parks and larger police department that will respond to calls when somebody they don’t recognize walks near their home.

They have deeper pockets than the self employed Vermonter so they buy homes and tear them down to put up larger and more expensive structures. They apply for town positions or are elected to the state legislature and create new bills to raise the cost of living. A new culture is nudging out our rural way of life. Long time residents from New Hampshire and Maine who have stopped in my Waterbury gallery say that is also happening in their state. .

I am a writer and photographer and my professions have been mangled in this century by the digital revolution. I started an Airbnb and decorated the rooms with my photographs and installed a photo library. Even so, I had to borrow to pay my property tax, the first time since I have been filing in this state since the 1950’s. And you know, I prefer writing and photography to being a chambermaid!

I have a new book project because of comments made to me by stressed-out Vermonters.. The Vanishing Vermonter, The Loss of a Rural Culture, will be published in the spring of 2017. So far I have interviewed and photographed nine people who expressed their thoughts on this “new” Vermont. How will I pay for it? I will crowd fund and put up on my blog sections of the book as I write them. (www.petermillerphotography.com).

Paul Hannon-7

Paul Hannon, master mechanic and owner of his Irasburg Garage for 30 years.

Paul Hannon is a mechanic who for 30 years has owned a garage in North Irasburg. He is the first person I interviewed for The Vanishing Vermonter. When we ended our interview he said, with a sigh,

“I am losing hope”

Vermont is a bellwether state. Our canary in the cage is gasping, our lead sheep is bleating. The hope and pride of my people has become fragile.

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August 9, 2016 by peter@petermillerphotography.com | Edit

I wrote this letter last year and did not send it. Eventually my penalty rose to $7,000 and out of state lawyers were involved. I finally paid the quarter I missed due to a heart attack. The amount was, as I recall, about $80. Read on…

**********************

Peter Miller
20 Crossroad
Waterbury, VT 05676

Vermont Dept. of Taxes
PO Box 547
Montpelier, VT 05601

Dec. 7, 2015

Taxpayer ID XX-XXX9480

There is never a name—a real person to respond to—so I assume this goes either to the top of the ladder—the tax commissioner—or the bottom rung echelon, which may be you. I have sent a copy to both of you.

You say my sales tax and penalty is $3,096.67. When I saw that figure I thought you billed the wrong Peter Miller. Why, last year my total income was $10,000 and this year in November I went down to less than $1,000 as the total amount of money I had to my name.

I own no stocks. I have a mortgage on my house appraised at $303,000 but a real estate agent said I would walk away with less than $150,000, taking into account the value of the lot and the condition on a 165-year-old house and my mortgage. My house is not an asset; it is a liability.

I borrowed on my life insurance that was to pay for end-of-life expenses; I have a few cents in saving. I do have Social Security and book sales, a few photo sales, and my new Airbnb has allowed me to stave off a tax sale. Maybe you might still win out.

I am 81; I have no job except my wits. I can write and photograph, and I have done regional books and many Vermonters write me about the sorry state of their income and the direction of this state as one of the most expensive in the country.

Let me explain before I get into my sales tax. To many of us who are self employed we have little discretionary income. Most of what we have is reserved for taxes, to keep our homes from being sold because we can’t keep up and of course energy costs are a killer. I am just finishing up paying for last year.

There are so many fees that the state has created or raised. Thank god I had a tax rebate this year or I wouldn’t be living in Vermont. Food costs have also crept up; we can’t often afford local fresh food (I took a break from writing this letter and signed up with the Food Shelf and received two bags of canned produce, some milk, butter and eggs).

Yes, there are plumbers and electricians who charge $100 an hour. When I consider the time I spend writing and producing books my pay is probably less than $5 an hour but I do pay for the expenses I incur in producing books or photographs. I just don’t have enough to pay for me.

The arts have taken a big hit in this economy and here in Vermont many believe that all artists need to exist is air. The other problem is that the digital revolution has crippled photographers as the business types lower our commissions and fees so they can sell more and keep a larger portion of the money pie. Galleries usually keep 50% of every sale.

What I am really saying is that we Vermonters—those of us who are the core of our state— are Vermont Broke.

Now back to my sales tax. I had to cut back on the use of my bookkeeper because of these costs and that means I prepare the sales tax. I thought we paid sales tax once a year but I was wrong when I looked at my sales tax book. I also thought I was caught up because there were no more pages to estimate my taxes.

At any rate, I did pay my sales tax of $355 for the first quarter of this year. In the last few months I also had so few sales from my home gallery that this income is negligible. For the last two quarters my sales tax is, from checks, 1,432.65. More people pay in cash, sometimes only $3.00 for a notecard or $40 for a book; I have estimated these cash payments by adding $1,500. There are some in state credit card used and my bookkeeper has to figure those out. It’s on the computer but I don’t know how to find it.

So I am sending you a check for $400, which I assume is more than I earned with sales tax. Most of my income is from bookstores, out of state agencies and publishers. I now have about $2,500 to last me through Christmas. Most will be used for electricity, water and fuel and propane.

However, I have no sales tax forms to fill. Will you send some?

As far as all that money you assessed me—your penalties are more than I have in my checking account. This year I created an Airbnb in my home to keep living in Vermont but I may have to move anyway. Many Vermonters, those who are self employed and made this state what it is, are furious at the state legislators, who spend freely. Vermonters that live month to month, frugally, grumble they do not like to pay for all the perks bureaucrats receive (and also those who work for large corporations). They realize that by moving to certain states they can lower their overhead and buy a turkey for Christmas. Me? I’m getting a ham from the Food Shelf!

Sincerely,

Peter Miller

Here are excerpts from two letters I received:

“We have given up on our dream of building a house on our land in Walden. The state legislature’s two bills concerning a carbon tax are what really scared us into that decision. I don’t see how the older population in Vermont will survive the push for more wind and solar farms and the costs associated with migrating off fossil fuels. We just wanted to live out our retirement years in peace and quiet, staying warm, enjoying nature, family and friends. Looks like we’ll be doing that in Maine.”

“I cannot ell you how much your new book (A Lifetime of Vermont People) means to me. I was moved to tears after I bought a copy in St. Johnsbury and pulled over at a rest stop and began to turn the pages. This sudden release of emotion surprised me and when I thought about why I think it was because of who and what we have lost here in the state I call home.”

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The July 14 issue of Waterbury Record included a section called Reader’s Choice, 2016. In it was a write up naming me Mr. Waterbury for my coffee table books on Vermont.

The following letter was written to the Waterbury Record, which published in the July 14 issue a section called Readers’ Choice, 2016. In it was a short squib about Peter Miller, who they named “Mr. Waterbury”. This is my reply:

I am honored to be a Mr. Waterbury that nobody knows. That’s good! However, I must decline the title. You see, I am the Mayor of Colbyville.

Colbyville is somewhat of a hamlet, which is a cluster of houses and a church. Well we had a church but they moved, wisely it turns out, due to creeping sprawl and traffic overload on Route 100. This hamlet has no known boundaries and we truly are in servitude to Waterbury. We pay gawdawful taxes to the state, town and village of Waterbury, for which we are whacked with the back of the hand. As one town official told me years ago, Colbyville is a dumping ground.

I was not elected mayor; it just came to be after years and a pig roast I held on Ben & Jerry’s property in celebration of my new book, A Lifetime of Vermont People. No politicians, bureaucrats, town officials or media attended the event and that was good too.

However, for all we have been dissed we are home to three big businesses. There is the new Fairfield Inn, under the umbrella of Marriott and a Burlington developer. It is truly a sore sight for tired eyes; The Alchemist, where a bunch of alchemists concoct Heady Topper, so hoppy that two cans of this ale will addle your head; and Ben& Jerry’s, owned by Unilever, a Brit-Dutch conglomerate that is one of the world’s wealthiest food companies. Here in Colbyville Ben&Jerry’s sells thousands of ice cream cones for $5.00 each. They are much smaller and more costly than the ones sold a few years ago. However, the imbibers are all smiles when they have an ice cream cone pasted to their face.

There is a difference between the pairing of their English boss and his Vermont fiefdom. Unilever supports Hilary Clinton for the presidency and gave her between $50 and $100 thousand. Ben & Jerry’s—Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield,—the flesh and blood characters that started the company in a Burlington gas station and made multi millions when they sold out to Unilever, are strong supporters of Bernie Sanders. These three flatlanders were originally New Yorkers but they morphed well into Vermonters.

Back to Colbyville. We residents are a gaggle of independent Vermonters more in tune with Ethan Allen’s sense of a free and independent country instead of being taxed-squashed by the town, state and Feds, as if King George is still squatting on the throne.

We are meeting to vote on some important issues. Should we secede from the town and village of Waterbury, the state of Vermont, which is out of control, and the United States government, which is turning scary? Can we stop that slimy creature called Sprawl? And should we rename our cluster of buildings and GPS coordinates to…Ben&Jerryville or Heady Topper Town?

Peter Miller
Mayor of Colbyville

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It was 40 years ago that Moscow, Vermont residents celebrated America’s Bicentennial with their very first parade. But further research showed the first parade was a year earlier, and was urged upon the town by a bunch of kids. I was not at the first, but at the second parade, on July 4, 1976. which I photographed. I wrote and photographed the following article, that appeared 40 years later in the July 4 edition of the Stowe Reporter:

Moscow 3a copy

Erika and Disa Nourjian hold their Bicentennial Banner they made from a bed sheet.

Moscow 2 copy a copy

The shortest parade. Paul DeCelle in the French military hat leads the 1976 parade that took 15 minutes . The band music was supplied by the local radio station and played in boom boxes carried on the shoulders of the Moscow All Men Marching Band, non who owned or played an instrument.

 

July 4th, 1976: 10 AM. Paul DeCelle, owner of DeCelle’s Market,

postmaster and unofficial mayor of Moscow, robed in black like a judge and wearing a French military hat favored by DeGaulle (“Apres le deluge…Moi!”) began the Moscow July 4th parade, the first to be held in Moscow, Vermont (well now, really?)

Holding an American flag he marched behind a bicentennial banner and a small group of Moscow residents as he led the parade from the Stackpole home past DeCelle’s store for about 200 yards, turned around and marched back to the store did a daisy- do by the Smith house and dispersed for bloody mary’s on Jane James’ front porch and hotdogs from Decelle’s market. All the kids were sucking popsicles.

They called it the World’s Shortest Parade (Hmm, well for that year) and truly it was over in a blink of the eye, in the sense that we, this 40th anniversary of that moment, remember it. Just a blink.

The first bicentennial parade began in the kitchen of Jane James’ home, which lived across the street from Decelle’s. Rudy and Tom Hamilton were having drinks with Jane, who had a post-modernist sense of humor. So they designed the parade. Paul and his wife joined and put up a poster announcing it. Charlie Lusk called WDEV and asked them to play marching music for 15 minutes so the sound blared out of the boom boxes on the shoulders of the Moscow All Men Marching Band. Not to be undone, the Ladies Lawn Chair Brigade followed up. The carried folding chairs and every 40 feet or so stopped, opened the chairs, sat down, got up, and then did it again and again. Behind the two Moscow marching units were the kids on bicycles and a couple of lawn tractors. Paige Stackpole led a pony cart filled with youngsters, one who appears terrified. Ed Rhodes was in a revolutionary uniform looking fabulous, Martha Walker wore an antique dress and floppy hat, the horsemen followed and then, in the behind of the parade, so to speak, were the latest residents of Moscow, Kitty Ross and Alan Coppock. Their job was to shovel up the horse manure and put it in the kid’s cart they wheeled. (Later Ward Rice and his wife held the post of Behind the Parade but Ward recalls there were no horses when they marched, as the horses were scared off by the Fire engine sirens and that was the end of a mounted parade. Ward and his wife walked with nothing to scoop up! Ward recalls that the problem was rectified in the next parade where the last to move to Moscow wheeled a cart of horse manure, dumped it out on the street and then one would shovel it back in).

Tractor Moscowa 4th.  (2)

Tom Hamilton happy tootling along with the kids.

Yes, we would now call it a July 4th parade with a post modern, quirky sense of humor, thanks to that get together the night before at Jane James’s home.

But above all, look at the faces in the photographs. They were happy. Their body language was loose and welcoming. After all, they were neighbors and they knew each other and partied together. Moscow was a close-knit, blink-of-the-eye village. The west river flowed past, they were brook trout to be caught and there was a swimming hole easily walked to from DeCelle’s Market.

What a neat little… hamlet? Stowe people looked down upon the Moscow peons while the Muscovites peered over their nose at the Stowe people, but they smiled when they said that. Some say Moscow, Vermont was named after the chimes from the church in Moscow, Russia and maybe that town doesn’t blow its horn and beside, Moscow, Vermont didn’t have a bell tower, or, at the time of the parade, a church. Again, a post modern thought.

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. The first Moscow parade was in 1975, a year earlier! Yes it was! And it took a day of research with calls to those who moved away from Moscow and could still remember that day. Anna Stein, Paige’s daughter now living in South Burlington did most of the digging.

The first parade also began at the Stackpole house, and marched a couple of yards to the Smith house and back. Didn’t even make it to Decelle’s. “Too short, said a marcher. “Let’s do it again.” In the parade were half a dozen Moscow friends and a bunch of kids.

So who first started the very first Moscow Parade? It was a call from Paige Stackpole to Charlie and Anne Lusk.

Paige Savage, Moscow 4th.  copy

Paige Stackpole an instigator of the very first Moscow parade and was pony lead at the second in 1976.

“Well, they organized it, but we started it, “ said Anna, who rode a horse. “We all wanted to parade and ride our horses and decorate our bikes. We complained enough so it happened.” It was a kid’s parade, it was.

Anne and Charlie Lusk lived a few houses down from the Stackpoles. Anne was outside when the parade passed, smiling and clapping. Her belly looked as big as a basketball for she was a week past term. Charlie carried a radio to play the march music he arranged with the local radio station play during the parade but the darn radio just crackled and moaned and that’s why, in 1976, it morphed into the multi- blaring, boom boxes of the Moscow Alli Men’s Marching Band.

Anne Lusk , from her home in Boston, remembered so well the moment and that first parade.

“It was so small, she said, that if you weren’t there you didn’t know about it”

Just a blink in time. The parade we know today was actually the work of Jane James and the Hamiltons; both moved to town after that first parade of 1975. So yes, this is their parade.

Just a blink. The marching bands of boom boxes and chairs remain in place it’s style is eroded. Decelle’s Market was sold. Ginny his wife had a stroke and then a murder of one of their children and the need of carrying on under such weight; Now Paul is gone. So is Ed Rhodes, so fine in his revolutionary outfit. Al Coppock passed way too quickly and so did post modern art spark Jane James and easy going Wendy, Bruce’s first wife, of breast cancer.

On the other hand…Erika Nourjian joined the financial world and lived in the Carribbean, but retired early. Disa has three children and lives in Burke. Rudy has a child that was in the parade but now lives in Norway. I too lived in Moscow until a divorce removed me to an unheated attic in Colbyville. Just before the Parade my ex wife moved with our children to England. Now my daughter Dodie has an import business and the best Mexican restaurant in London but after Brexit, she and her husband may become Scottish passport holders.

Just a blink. Rudy and her husband Tom were in the 1976 parade and live in the same house. She wants to bring back the parade to the friendliness that it was and is making changes. She will be serving hot dogs at her home down the street from Paul’s Market which is becoming a show room for a furniture maker. And how about those bloody mary’s???

Just a blink in a lifetime, that is all it is, but it’s a good one!

Erika and hand made sign,ba Moscow 4th.

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I HAVE A NEW WEBSITE!

Produced the best Scottish Highlander herd in the United States

Carroll Shatney bred the best Scottish Highlander herd in the United States. Carroll has passed away but his son and wife still raise Highlanders. 

 

Oh, it took a long while to create this new site. Making something simple is not always easy but here it is and this blog is part of it:

http://www.petermillerphotography.com

John Hadden created it. He lives  under the shadow the Lion Couchant (You know what resting lion is? “Lion Couchant” so said Champlain in French, when he first saw the mountain from Lake Champlain. It is now called Camel’s Hump but I don’t know who gave it that name.

John is a photographer and what we call a web master. I met him when I gave a talk and one thing led to another. What he knows so well is how to impress the intangible meaning of The Vermont Way on a web site.

We started with black and white, which I am known for in this country. The design he created is simple, direct, honest and displays the depth of an image in a personal way (at least I think so). Tell me your first impression of this web site— what is good, bad, left out or forgotten.

The dressing room at a 1956 Dior fashion show

The dressing room at a 1956 Dior fashion show

I do want to have my books and photographs recognized in England, China, Japan, France and Germany, so we’ll have a translation system installed. What these people like are rural Americans (and for the Germans and French—cowboys and Indians and the wide, wide west.) Boy, could I show them some areas in the Great Plains where fer’ners never tread).

I have paid little attention to my blog and now I will have to write regularly to bleed some of the air
out of my brain.

We had a beautiful warm day. Then it snowed and was raw as a grizzly’s sore throat. I am finally over a flu siege, out of bed, weak and slow moving as a slug. Have to do lots of hiking (well, in my condition it is called walking.) This winter ice and thin snow was not friendly to skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers or just walking into the woods on a day when billowing snow flakes parachuted down and created a depth of silence.

A wind is blowing from the northwest—we call it an Alberta Clipper.

Love to all, walk in beauty. peter.

Will and Rowena,  Vermont Icons, died in the early 1960's.

Will and Rowena, Vermont Icons, died in the early 1960’s.

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