Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

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!


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.”


Read Full Post »

Waterbury, Vermont to New York City to Paris to Kampala, Uganda. A long, long trip for daughter Hilary on her way to a new aid job with Doctors without Borders. She will be upgrading Aid buildings throughout the country. She’s excited. This is her 3rd tour doing aid work–first in Peru, then Guinea, and now Uganda, her first assignment with the Doctors group. hilary to uganda

Read Full Post »

Peter Miller, Chambermaid

Peter Miller, Chambermaid

I just couldn’t afford it,” said Peter Miller, Former Vermonter of the Year and author of the  award-winning books Vermont Farm Women and A Lifetime of Vermont People.“My expenses were over the top and my income was plummeting. It became obvious to me that my house was a liability and I couldn’t afford to keep it and pay the taxes and energy costs. A real estate broker told me to sell and run.

“I don’t want to leave Vermont, I love it and it has been my home for 67 years, when my family moved to the state in 1947. So what to do?

The Vermont Room

The Vermont Room

“I changed my gallery into an Airbnb—four bedrooms, a small kitchen and sitting area and…get this…a library with nothing but my photo books in it. On the walls in the bedroom are framed photos I have taken in France and Vermont.

Peter's Squashed Gallery

Peter’s Squashed Gallery

“Then I turned a production room next to the Airbnb into what I call Peter Miller’s Squashed Gallery where every wall is crowded with photographs.

“I did this with the help of friends from out-of-state and from the sales of my latest book A Lifetime of Vermont People. However, the expense left me with a lot less than a person on the dole brings in from the government.

“Well, I’m getting by, sort of.  I have had guests from Costa Rica, France, Holland and Canada. They come for the beauty, the biking and the beer. They like the photos in the rooms and my inexpensive rates. I am barely able to pay my mortgage with Airbnb cashflow and hopefully my resurrected gallery will start covering some of my other expenses.

“So I have re-invented myself. No more international assignments for magazines and stock photography. I have a book to do over the winter called The Vanishing (or is it “Disappearing?”) Vermonter…an Endangered Species. I will photograph and interview a number of Vermonters and asked them what went wrong with our state.




Read Full Post »

When I was released, after a heart attack, from UVM Medical Center (read Fletcher Allen Hospital). I was told I needed pills called Clopidogrel or otherwise known as Plavix. It was to keep my new stents in good shape. I was told the pills were not expensive and available on the ground floor. So I went down and asked for the medication and was shocked when the price was $167.07 for thirty 75 mg pills. This was not for Plavix but, as written on the receipt, a substitute for Plavix—a generic. Good old Clopidogrel. Sounds like doggy poo.
I was to take this pill one a day for a year, for the cost of $2004.84. NOT CHEAP! So of course I called up Costco and asked their price for this medication (full name clopidogrel bisulfate). Their price was $20.33 for sixty 75mg pills. Yes $20.33 for not 30 pills but 60 pills! Costco’s total cost to me is $121.98. for a year’s supply. The hospital pharmacy would charge me  $1,882.82 more than Costco! I was scammed!

Does the hospital elevate all their prices that much? Is this why medical costs are so high? Or did Costco do me a big favor?

Read Full Post »

Austin maple heartI was sitting on the edge of my bed, the mattress covered with a red flannel sheet colored blood red. My hands were open, the palms flat, pressing down at my side, and my feet planted on the floor, stabilizing my balance. I had leaned over to lace my right shoe and dizziness and shortness of breath zapped my body when I raised my head. I sucked air into my heaving lungs and dropped supine on the bed. My heart and lungs slowed down. Calm replaced a budding panic.

How long was I there…two hours? I pushed myself up and walked shakily to my office, 12 feet down the hall, and called my cardiologist. I had visited his office yesterday and was told by Nurse Nancy Strong to come back for a stress test today. She filled a prescription for me of nitroglycerin tablets.

“Take them if you feel your heart is being compressed and you are not doing anything active.”

On this call I was connected again to her. “I am not coming in for a stress test. I want to go straight to the hospital. I am much worse than yesterday. I had to use nitroglycerin last night”.

“How many?”

“Two. They worked.” A ghost hand I called it, cold and grasping, had squeezed my heart for no good reason.

Nancy arranged for my admittance to the Vermont Medical Center, 26 miles away. I live alone and was lucky to have Mary, my sister-in-law who lives within a few miles. Sometimes she talks non-stop but in these situations she is calm, listens well and acts promptly. I told her I needed a ride to the hospital for my heart was fudging its responsibility.

“I’ll be there in minutes,” she said.

Heart attack, heart attack, heart attack!” I said to myself. I felt no great pain, maybe it was only blockage

of arteries, but at the rate blood was flowing, I thought I woouldn’t last another day—unless I lay flat so the ghost hand doesn’t squeeze.

It was a quick wheel chair trip to the emergency room. The orderly moved me to an empty, frigid cubicle and helped me onto a bed.

“You have to stay here until there is a room upstairs,” he said. “We’re loaded up.”

“How long before I’m hooked up? He shrugged his shoulders and left. Someone entered to attend me… maybe to see if I was breathing.

“I am a journalist,” I said, “this will make interesting reading in my blog. Can’t you find a room?”

I wasn’t too coherent. Soon I was in Room 516, next to Mounir Khouri, a 58-year old business man from South Burlington. He suffered a complete blockage of his widow artery. I was amazed he was not dead. So was he. Mounir was due  for another stent procedure.

The Vermont Medical Center cardiac section is very good, staffed with highly competent cardiac specialists—surgeons, diagnosticians, artery plumbers, visiting students, foreign residents. In their Interventional Cardiology program there are 8 physicians and 17 nurses who are responsible for 2,600 procedures a year (diagnostic catherizations, stenting, peripheral revascularizaion and heart valve replacement via catheter).

Two residents, one from India, the other from Egypt,  gave me a succinct review of my problems and the options they had. The chief surgeon visited, with two others and shook my hand as if to say I am in good hands. With his sterness and sense of being in control I thought he might be handing out Purple Hearts.

IV attached, vital sign monitors skipping along the screen, I wondered if I would see that moment when they stopped chasing each other. Nurses and nurse assistants and helpers attended me at all hours—clean the bed, hand me cups of pills, bring meals (surprisingly good for a hospital, save for the scrambled eggs that looked like yellow tofu and tasted like congealed powdered eggs), put an oximeter on my finger tip to measure the oxygen in my blood (low, 88!) pricked my finger for a blood sugar count and did all sorts of things to indicate I was alive and sick—and a link to bureaucracy due to the number of papers I had to sign. If I died, the digital equipment would regurgitate the information and prove that they did the right thing.

I lay flat on the bed and when the lights were out the ghost hand hovered overhead, shimmering a luminous, sickly green. On my third day in the hospital, shortly after noon, they wheeled me out of 516. My room partner was back from what they call the “procedure”. His two new stents were doing their job and he was okay. He was watching a tv show where I was being interviewed about my latest book while the crumpled me was being wheeled down a long windowless corridor, past doors and rooms, nurses, doctors, patients with masks, standing next to the walls, watching silently my passage. I am leading a parade? I looked up into overhead fluorescents that emitted a green luminescence that sparked a flashback to 1984, when I was photographing a corridor at Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich. It was made of cement blocks, scratched and crumbling and colored a gaseous green from weak fluorescents that barely lit the shut doors on either side. But there were no people, only ghosts of the prisoners kept there, in solitary confinement, over 40 years ago, before American troops liberated the camp. These prisoners, were led past where I lay on the floor, taking photographs. They turned to their left and into a courtyard and were ordered to stand against a concrete wall and shot. Thousands of them.

The plumbing room was large, lit by fluorescents and other lights that were not glowing green but mimicked daylight. Bustle, placement of equipment, few words, the staff slid me onto the operating table and readied all the equipment. A quick acting drug was injected and I was out. It was not the dread I felt at Dachau but a shrug of the shoulders: let it all play out.

I am 81. I had a stent inserted in 2006 when I returned from India. On both heart incidents the doctors did not tell me that my heart was whacky until I diagnosed myself after exercising. (“Why do I feel that numbness and that hovering ghost hand?) The first time was a numbness in my left arm and heart. It happened on three days within the first five minutes on the rowing machine. After the third workout I called my GP and he yelled at me to go to cardiac at the UVM Medical Center. The next morning I had a stent in my widow’s artery. My cardiac doctor visited when I was back in my room. “Close,” he said. “95%  blockage in what we call the Widow Maker’s Artery.”

It was a photo finish this time too. They gave me a sonogram before they wheeled me into the plumbing room. The sonogram created an image of my heart and the weak spots. Why don’t they do that every year, or give me a stress test? My self-diagnosis was last-minute scrambling.

The Plumbing Crew put in four stents—one to replace the stent in the widow’s artery that was stuffed with gunk, another just before it, and two smaller ones in the right coronary artery. Maybe this was the artery that was feeding my heart but was slowly damming up with sludge and when it was completely blocked, along with the Widow’s artery already shut down, why that ghost with the hand would envelope my body and lead me to another world.

The UVM Medical Center gave me a summary of my “visit”. I was diagnosed with Non-St. Elevated Myocardia Infarction and the diagnosis also included Coronary Artery Disease, Native Coronary Artery and Atria Fibrillation. I have been home for three days and am now allowed to walk up and downstairs. Very slowly, the visiting physical therapist advised me, and take deep breaths. I can tie my shoelaces without heaving lungs and dizziness. Visiting nurses check my vitals. I feel great, although there is no sun and the outside temperature remains in the single digits. I traded photographs to a friend to bring up firewood and stack it next to my stove. Another friend brought food and a Coors.

I am still short of breath and strength but the physical training will take me up to par. I can continue my photography and get going on those two new books I have started. Why did all this happen? Was it inherited and sloppy living? Or the two years working on my Lifetime book, so intent on doing a major work I put on weight and developed a “tourniquet leg” that swelled up as if I were an attachment to  my computer? I had to ice my leg and elevate it. I was stressed out and of course financially bereft. The book’s expense I covered, but not myself. I couldn’t pay my bills, stacked helter-skelter on a corner of the desk and I realized what with high taxes and energy costs, I cannot afford to live inVermont. I have to reinvent myself. As it is, I am a redundant being. Good thing I have a couple of Medicare plans otherwise I would be out on the streets.

My daughters called from England.

“How are you?”

“No big deal, “ I said and started talking about a new project I just thought up.


Read Full Post »

What an awful, awful arrival of the new year. In early January I jetted to Florida for vacation with my daughter who flew in from London (for my 80th birthday, My God, there are deep holes in my relativity!). Got bumped by Jet Blue three times, had to drive to Canada to get any flight to Florida, had my camera stolen, spent $500 more for parking, driving and flight. That costs me $1,800 extra including the camera (get up at 4AM three mornings in a row, suck in the stress of being bumped , waiting in line and then after the last bump, I would have waited another 4 days unless I made that drive to Montreal.  So darn tired I dazed my way through US and Canadian customs. I was easy pickings. Yeah, Florida was great. Floridians were freezing, to me it was late September, early October weather. Just about perfect. 

Came back to Vermont 20 days later with a strong sense of foreboding. My instincts were right. All the pipes in my house were frozen, the driveway and garage slicked with  black ice from a quick thaw and just as quick freeze. So I am on crampons bringing in wood, working on the pipes, shoveling, trying to get ahead with work and all those bills to pay, $2,000 for fuel oil and propane from Dec 10 to Jan 25. A warm day is when the temperature goes up to ten above zero. 

Trying to live in Vermont as a creative person is madness! So why did I have my second toe on the right foot executed?

It started on 26 Jan when I found a blister on my toe. Pricked it and blood and water squirted out. I washed it in hydrogen peroxide and bandaged it. I propped the toe in front of the fire and built a crust on it but when I put on a sock or shoe and walked it would go mushy. Went to Vermont Medical Associates in Waterbury. Doctor was not in so a nurse assistant looked at it and called in an on-duty doctor. They looked at the toe, which was black and brown on the tip and gooey. They whispered to each other. Then they gave me a shot of penicillin and a five day supply of antibiotic pills. As I left the nurse assistant said she hopes for the best. They thought I had gangrene.  And they did not even clean the toe!

One and a half hours  waiting for the moon, enough to freeze four toes in 1980's

One and a half hours waiting for the moon, enough to freeze four toes in 1980’s

Saw my physician the next day. Told him the nurse and doctor looked, whispered and did not clean. He said he would talk to them. He cleaned it well and bandaged it. He looked at it, did not probe. Found there was a good blood supply and no gangrene. Went twice again to the Waterbury Medical Clinic and had the dressing changed.

Friends at Copley Hospital, one a nurse, said get up to ER at Copley. Don’t fool around with toes. Went up on Saturday. Charles Osler a nurse with long experience in the ER, looked at it, probed it, said the bone was exposed and called the Orthopedic Clinic. He ordered an xray and blood sample. Dr. McLaughlin came up, looked at the toe and also probed it. He said the bone at the tip of the toe was exposed, it was infected, the infection is moving down the toe and he wanted to take the toe off half way down. If he didn’t the infection would travel down to my foot and then…he just gave me a look. So I signed off. Lop it off I said.

The toe is curled and is longer than it looks. The upper line is where the doctor cut the toe off. The bottom line is where the infection stopped.

The toe is curled and is longer than it looks. The upper line is where the doctor cut the toe off. The bottom line is where the infection stopped.

This is my second toe on the right foot.  This toe was a half inch longer than my big toe  and called  Morton’s Toe. Some say the 10% of us who have long second toes are more intelligent or leaders but I think we were very good tree climbing monkeys and it didn’t like banging against the front of my boots. I froze it in the late 1980’s while taking a well known photograph called Moon over Peacham. I was on cross country

Peter's nasty toe the day before its execution at Copley Hospital.

Peter’s nasty toe the day before its execution at Copley Hospital.

Freezing the toe and bumping against ski and hiking boots bruised the skin so this nasty winter the bone exposed itself like a spring flower.

The Doctor said cutting would remove the infection and my toe!

Three days later, at noon, in an operating room with four assistants, Dr. McLaughlin cut the skin with a scalpel and with a special pliers pried off the toe at the second joint. I had one of the nurses take a photo of my toe. It looked like an appetizer one would find in a Szeuchuan restaurant, along with slices of pig ears. Pig in a Poke?

I asked for a local during the operation and wished they had a mirror on the ceiling  so I could photograph the toe execution. One hour of work and I was wheeled back to Room 36. I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours and even hospital food tasted succulent.

I was given a special shoe to wear with a big block of a sole under my right foot so I would not stub my much shorter toe. I could hobble around.

On Wednesday morning John Dostal, a friend, drove me home and fell flat on the black ice in my garage. As the temperature goes up, the snow melts or changes to rain and seeps into the garage and then suddenly the temperature drops 50 degrees and black ice covers the front of my garage and deck. This icing is a new twist in our winters. All the hospitals in my area have had more injuries due to  slip and fall—broken ankles, wrists, wrenched shoulders, dislocated hips than any other year. Now the mal practice lawyers are rushing in to join the picnic.

I refuse to go outside without cleats on my boots. Now I don’t go out at all. This is a killer winter.

I have to elevate the foot, take antibiotic piils four times a day and pain killers when I need it. So far, not much pain. I am incarcerated in my home with a bandaged foot and a hobble shoe for two weeks when I see the doctor who tells me all is well, or he cuts more. I spend most of my time with the foot elevated. Friends have brought food and helped bring in wood. The doctor says I should walk normally. Well the toe was too damned long to begin with.

I still have frozen pipes and now I am told they will be fixed this week. The gallery is a mess with tracking of mud from the cellar. When I came home a few days ago the water was so close to freezing again in the bathroom. By the end of this week we will have a few days above freezing and maybe the salt will finally melt and make my deck and garage floor safe.

This is the third winter of slip and fall and there is no sign of change. There is not enough snow to insulate the sides of the house. Slip and fall winters are no fun. I won’t be in this house next winter unless I too am one of the people who want to leave but can’t find a buyer. With the high taxes we have in Vermont, the change in our weather and out of sight costs of propane and fuel oil, and the efforts put in to just survive, Vermont is not friendly to the independent, self employed Vermonter.

Read Full Post »

Waterbury, Vermont. September 1

I knew souhern Vermont was going to be hit when I saw the forecast of rain. Here seemed tranquil. On Sunday, the day the hurricane arrived, there was a wind of about 20 to 30 mph and rain was constant, although never pelting. I placed a bucket on the porch and measured the rainfall in it the next day– 4 inches. My talk at Frog Hollow in Burlington for Sunday afternoon was cancelled. Rob of Frog Hollow called and said the street was deserted and most stores were closed but there was just a rainstorm. It was the weekend when the parents brought their kids up to UVM for the start of the semester. Rob figured he lost $6000 in sales over the weekend, including what I would have earned. He believed the parents dropped off their kids and rushed home to secure their properties.

Monday morning I was up early for my 7 AM acupuncture appointment in Stowe.. Beautiful morning; the fields and roads looked scrubbed. The only problem I saw was about 50 yards of the road leading into Moscow was flooded during the night but no damage and the water receded.

The acupuncturist blamed my headaches on my neck and the way I was holding my body after the rotocuff injury. She relieved it and gave me some pressure points in my hand to relieve headache, which I still have but not so bad. My shoulder is functioning better but the ct scan will tell the story. Comcast failed again and my landphone was not workin

The backyard mess at the Cider House the day after Irene hit the restaurant on Route 2.

g for five days!

On the way back from the needle lady I listened to WDEV, which is very good about reporting local emergencies. I was shocked. Waterbury Village, so close, was flooded. The main street was under swirling water. It flooded in the night, the Winooski attacking like a Delta force, and disappeared in the morning, leaving chaos. The water surged in houses on both sides of the street. 51 mental patients were evacutated from the hospital and all the other mental patients (state employees) had the day off. The cellar in the state building was flooded including the bank offices for the Vermont Credit Union. Water filled the basements and tunnels leading from the building to outlying houses.

Peter Holm’s new office building is on Main Streett. An apartment in the back was trashed with slimy mud, from the refrigerator on down. No flood insurance for the inhabitants of course. The water then went into Peter’s office and stopped just two inches below his Mac Quadras! All his books and old proofs wete in the dumpster. Very symbolic–it represented the old publishing way of proofs, books, binding and all that Peter and I grew up with, and it was all in the trash. Peter did not lose any current work and he has a habit of backing up every day. He had help from his friends and the others who owned the building with him and he will be in shape soon.

The Northfield Bank was also flooded and set up a temporary bank in a trailer in the parking lot. The Alchemist brewery had their offices and brewerey equipment downstairs. They say they are going to reopen but….they do have a new brewery and canning facility next to my home in Colbyville. There goes the neighborhood–down the hatch! Maybe they will participate in Colbyville Pig Day this fall.

In the morning I called my assistant Kyle and asked him, as I usually do, to come in. He did, a couple of hours later. He said the power was off (and was all day in Waterbury, but not at my house), the road was flooded and a bunch of houses were trashed with cresting currents. The commando team at work again. The worst was what happened to the Cider House, where Kyle works in the kitchen at night. Mud buried the restaurant, water and electricity was lacking. The owners took a look, told Kyle to take the food, and disappeared. The Cider House is famous for good southern cooking and ribs and cornbread and po boys and alligator sandwiches, gumbo, boiled shrimp, corn bread, key lime pie and other southern goodies. They also had on tap wonderful pear and blueberry cider made in Vermont.

Slimy mud covered everything. We piled our cars full of food and it is now in my freezer and refrigerator and Kyle’s mother has a bunch. If I eat that stuff I will become round as a pumpkin.

I drove the back road on the other side of the Winooski and saw where the water had crested, about 7 feet above the road and at least 15 feet about the river. A cornfield was smashed and I have no doubt the big cornfields south of Richmond are under, as are other cornfields planted in the rich soil bordering the Winooski. Some Turkish vegetable farmers on the other side of the Winooski, just beginning the harvest, lost everything.

Waitsifled and Moretown were particularly hard hit and isolated as roads and bridges were flooded or destroyed.

I saw other houses in a poorer section of town devastated. The owners were moving out their goods as others watched, eating pizza.

I was astounded that all this damage was just a mile away from my house, protected by the idiosyncracies of weather and elevation. Other people who drove to work from the north and didn’t listen to WDEV were shocked at what had happened but of course the water receded and it didn’t look that bad until the residents dumped out the destroyed furniture and detritus of their lives.

However, this is nothing compared to what happened in southern Vermont.

Volunteers are helping to clean up today and for the rest of the week. I’ll go down to the Cider House and help clean up.

Last night Kyle came over and cooked a meal, from the Cider House, of chicken, hamburger, steak. Also horseradish potato salad and key lime pie. Good grief.

There are still towns in Vermont that are stranded because of wiped out roads. Nearby Moretown, heavily hit by the rivers in town, mentioned on the radio this morning that they found the crest of the flood was three inches higher than the flood of 1927, the highest ever recorded until this flood, at least in Moretown. Downtown Waitsfield is a sea of muck yet Darrad’s office, our Mac repairman, house is there, a couple of feet higher, and he had no damage.

I mentioned how the cornfield in town was crumpled by the flood. Thinking of a good picture of flattened cornfield, I drove to Richmond where very large cornfields border the Winooski. They were flooded, but the water obviously flooded at an even pace and the corn stalks were not knocked down, and it receded leaving cornfields as they were, just the stalks and leaves bronzed with the muddy water. They should be easily harvested when the ground firms up. What I saw in Waterbury was obviously a vicious, strong surge of water that blasted into the cornfield, knocking it, bending it and in places flattening it, just like a huge fist. I am surprised there is so little loss of life. Only four so far. One covered bridge was swept away.

I took my generator and a fan down to the Cider House yesterday so they could at least start drying out before mold sets in. Today we go down and clean out muck. One weather forecaster made an interesting point. Climate change has caused the spring flood and this flood in Vermont and last year we had mountain roads wiped out in heavy rain storms. This never happened before. One problem is that the culverts are too small to funnel the water now coming off the mountains after storms like these. The metal pipes in these culverts probably should be at least double the size. One cost of global warming.

During the storm Waterbury lost power and the state emergency communication center moved to Burlington. WDEV stayed on for 24 hours, used a generator for power and acted as the clearing center for news about the storm and what areas were hard hit and where stranded people needed help. They should have an award.

A Cider House employee lived in a trailer near Montpelier. During the storm he saw the water raise near his trailer four inches so he moved his car to higher ground. When he came back it was up to his knees and rising fast. He grabbed his dog and with his girl friend had to swim away from the trailer. Shortly after he rescued three people, two trapped in their car and one in a trailer.

Had to go to Epoch Gallery in Manchester thursday morning and couldn’t get there from here unless I went on a devious routes. On one section of Route 11 near Chester the road was about 30 feet above a brook that roared and took out half the road. Down below beside the stream has a log house on its side.

On the way back from Manchester to Waterbury I thought of taking a shortcut near Danby and inquired from a local about the road condition. “What road?”, he replied. “There

Between Springfield and Chester on Route 11 is this flood plain appraised at $48,000 (not $50,000 as the sign says). The landowner has made her point!

is no more road.”

Read Full Post »