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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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FROM THE GONZO CHEF

What better way to celebrate this wondrous day then to cook a woodchuck stew. I removed from my freezer three skinned woodchucks—one old and fat and two young ones. They were destroying a garden and a Browning .22 pistol did them in.

My they were difficult to skin; it was as if they did not want to lose their winter coat while the road kill turkey I gathered up a month before skinned quickly and was in the oven in a flash. It rated four YUM YUM YUM YUM

We have all sorts of woodchucks in Vermont. There is the Glitter Chuck, a two-legged woodchuck who sells pieces of land or houses to Wood Charles and goes to their pretentious cocktail parties. A Wood Charles usually comes to Vermont from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. They often have a trust fund but no common sense, which all Vermont woodchucks have. Oh yes, there are native Vermonters that do not have any common sense and we call them Rednecks.

A two-legged Vermont Woodchuck used to be someone born in Vermont. Now the name also includes those from out of state who are so assimilated that they drink Coors or Bud. Woodchucks can drink more of it at a much lower cost than local craft beers. It is why those empty cans are scattered along our roadsides.

It’s a fact that a four-legged woodchuck, also known as a whistle pig or ground hog (Latin name, Marmota Monax), can eat a quarter of an acre of a hayfield in a summer. Don’t believe it? Ask farmer George Woodard or any dairy farmer. It’s real easy for a cow or horse to break a leg in a woodchuck hole. Woodchucks build homes in hayfields and have a mound of dirt around the entrance, where they sit on a summer afternoon on their hind legs and whistle. They also build a hidey hole nearby with no mound and it is their emergency entrance—a straight drop to their fallout shelter. This hidey hole is a booby trap for cows and horses, for they invariable break a leg when they step in one

Boots Cornell, a Vermonter who lived in Cabot and now resides in Woodchuck Heaven, or Hell (as far as we know, the four-legged variety needs a green card to join the club), shot with his Winchester .22 hornet over 14,000 woodchucks in his life and should have received a medal from the Farm Bureau or at least a mention in the Guiness book of records.

Also the board of Directors of this four legs society realized that fisher cats, after they finished off the porkies (porcupines to you flatlanders), found a taste for pussy cats and woodchucks. So the directors of the woodchuck society advised their members to live in rock piles or stone walls.

Let’s get back to the kitchen. I took my three frozen woodchucks, (they had lived in an abandoned culvert) filled the sink with water poured salt in and brined the critters for about four hours, then gave them a cold water bath and took the cleaver to the carcasses. The young ones only had meat on the legs; the large one had a meaty haunch. I sliced off the fat and searched carefully for any glands and cut them out, for they can make a woodchuck taste like a teenager’s smelly sneaker that won a first prize.

My guide for this stew is The Recipe for Chaos, (https://therecipeforchaos.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/savory-west-virginia-groundhog-stew/ ).

Chaos led me in the right direction. The beer was the most important part, so my nephew Steve, who works for the Alchemist,  brought me four Headys which I was going to dump in the stew. He told me his boss just shook his head and said the Heady would boil down and be bitter. He suggested New Castle Brown a svelt beer, creamy and imported from England. I bought a six pack, drank one. Hmnm, better in a stew I thought. I also noticed in the store several types of Woochuck Cidery’s special so I bought Winter Chill Woodchuck hard cider with 5% alcohol (vs 4.7 for New Castle’s beer). Took a deep swig of their cider, then finished off the bottle. Not bad and seemed right for a woodchuck stew.

The most important part of the West Virgina recipe is laying down a quarter inch of grape seed oil (damn, expensive!) in a large skillet, sifting seasoned flour (Dr. Kernel’s) onto the cut up chunks of woodchuck and browning them. Set them aside. Then add the beer and cider to the grape seed oil in the skillet(one bottle of each to start with…don’t be stingy!). Stirred it, glazed it and set it aside. Cut up the veggies but then I went native and before heating them I added to the recipe what any good Woodchcuck, would do—clean out the leftovers in the frig and spice cabinet.

I added to the Chaos recipe:

A bottle each of New Castle and Winter Chill Woodchuck Cider

A clump of Hen of the Woods mushrooms

Garlic given to me by the Food Shelf (well, I am Vermont Broke, why else would I be making woodchuck stew and eating roadkill?).

4 Bay Leafs.

1 shallot

Thyme, just a sprinkling

Celery salt—two dashes or so

Mexican oregano (gift of my daughter who owns Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant in London.)

Worscester Sauce Two jerks of the bottle.

Angostura Bitters. Give it a double dash.

Ground Chipotle flakes. Just so much.

Srirachi A swirl.

Liquid beef bouillon to vanquish a cloying sweetness,

Cross of an orange and lemon. A half cup of the juice.

Now I forgot to tell you I saved the woodchuck livers.

I did them in butter, tasted a small bit and it was okay but lets face it I HATE LIVER! But I’m a Depression child and so I clean my plate or else!, says the ghost of  my Mother. I had some port that led a wall flower’s life for about a year and poured some into the frying pan, Thought better and added enough to cover the violet-purplish black liver and transferred it to a closed covered casserole dish and slid it in the oven with the large pot of stew, set the oven on 215 degrees and the timer to four hours. I was, at this point, finishing off a can of Heady that I decided to put in another pot.

Went into the living room and watched the Iowa Caucus Circus. Drank another Heady chased with a Woodchuck Winter Chill hard cider and stumbled to bed. Woke early with a dry mouth and a clenched brain.

…Tasted the stew. Good. Tasted the liver. Hmmm. So I put a third of the liver and port sauce into the stew and kept the rest as a snack for any visitors. After such a welcoming, maybe they won’t come back.

The stew?? The woodchuck meat was firm but not gamy and the sauce a bit sweet so I added a cup of beef bouillon to give it a wry woodchucky bite. Also at this point I added a bit of Heady. The boiling had been completed so the Heady wouldn’t be bitter hoppy, but just as it always is. Outcome? Four YUM YUM YUM YUM! Here’s to Woodchuckery!

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

Starlining to a New Future.

January 6 is the Epiphany and my birthday. My daughter Hilary, who was visiting, treated me to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, playing in Stowe.
We settled down in the middle of the theater. Unfortunately, no 3D glasses were given out for this show but never mind. My hand balled around a cluster of popcorn, I waited in the dark and suddenly, the screen lit up, Star Wars popped my eyeballs and I surged into reverse hyperspace and time, to Manhattan in late May, 1977. I was 43.

I had just crossed 86th and 3rd, lingered at the Papaya King for my favorite lunch, —two of their beef hotdogs in hot buns, a piquant yellow mustard along its carcasses and I was sucking it down with a medium sized Papaya Juice. YUM! One of New York’s best lunches.

I then walked a few doors to Lowe’s theatre, bought a ticket to Star Wars which had recently opened, and settled in to a crowded theater. Ahh —the scent of grass! The audience was lighting up creating an inversion. No problem if anyone was un- prepared; there were two young men walking up and down the aisles, whispering “Smoke? Smoke?” This was the City before The Invasion of the Yuppies and Political Correctness. Studio apartments were rarely over $700 and we all knew how to spot bicycle thieves and muggers working the streets.

I bought a ticket, I forget how much, $5.00? and waited in the dark with hundreds of others, until the screen perked up and we were in a new world, millennia’s in the future of good and evil, of saber fights, a prejudiced bar tender (We don’t serve this kind…your droid!”). And stitched throughout were visual and spoken puns straight out of comic books. We made friends with Han Solo, a rebel, a bandit but a man with a heart; Princess Leia, tough, brash and determined; Chewbaca, a Wookie Robin and the wonderful droids and Obi Wan Knobi whose life would end with the sacrifice to Darth Vader. What an evil symbol he is for the dark side of us.

And of course we saw the Empire destroyed with a missile attack by Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader escaping into space and the victory celebration and awards by Princess Leia to Han Solo and gang. How wonderful!

38 years later I am thinking back and now understand how that movie replicated our lives, or did we shape our lives from this movie?
I and my friends,—we were Han Solo. And so what if your buddies did not like to lose at chess and wore a rug? Luke was our naive self, and Obi wan Knobi was our mentor, for we still had respect for our elders—as long as they were hip. And of course, evil was clobbered. And Princess Leia, with her determination and sharp tongue, taught us to admire the new feminism.

That night, in bed, I thought of myself in the 1970’s era and how I never fitted in. We hated Yuppies, the Vietnam war and learned to distrust politicians. We lost so much with the assasinations of President Kennedy and his brother Robert,who would have been our next president. We went on to see wars we should never have considered; the destruction of the middle class with Reagan’s trickle down theory, as the political wealthy took over. We fear our country is copy-catting the growth of National Socialism in Germany during the 1930’s.

Ahh, but then I go back to the movie, to the moment Han Solo pushed his souped up hot rod into hyperspace. WOW! The theatre erupted with gasps, shouts and cheers.

We hope we can again use hyperspace to starline ourselves to a better world.

Governor Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and National Democratic Chairman.

Governor Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and National Democratic Chairman.

My, thanks for so many birthday wishes—over 90 of them! Here I am 82, born Jan 6, 1934 in Manhattan, 1:45 AM, a capricorn with scorpio rising, moon in Pluto (hey, they now say it isn’t a planet!), three book projects to do, a new website, and still selling A Lifetime of Vermont People and Vermont Farm Women.

So what did I do on my birthday? My daughter Hilary is here, waiting to hear when she leaves for Paris and Uganda as a specialist in soil and water for Doctors Without Borders. So she cleans after her messy father, does homework for her new job, cooks marvelously and looks forward to life in a beautiful small country. So on my birthday we shared breakfast with my brother and sister-in-law, went swimming at a health club, did some exercises, and in the evening watched Star Wars in Stowe (Hans Solo, it can’t be true!) and, back to the present, enjoyed a beer, mussels and a smoked bluefish sandwich in Doc Ponds and then home to a Boston cream pie baked by Hil and a glass (no, two!) of Prosecco, the much less expensive alternative to champagne. Ahh, Christmas. Put on 6 pounds and now have to lose 12 pounds. Boring you, ain’t I?

But then there is former Governor Howard Dean. I interviewed him for my new book, The Vanishing Vermonter, an Endangered Species. He looks great– he’s lost 32 pounds and is trying to keep it off, has silver grey hair and is just as positive as he was when Governor. As chairman of the National Democratic Party he visited all our states and considers Vermont the best because we are the only one that lets every citizen have a say in our government (He also believes Phil Hoff was the most important governor in Vermont’s recent history).Governor Dean believes broadband, good schools, medical coverage for all our citizens (he calls medical insurance as it is now paid by small businesses a killer) and a program to bring more youth into the state, particularly enticing out-of-state graduates from our colleges.

That is his agenda. Mine is closer to my pocketbook. How can we turn Vermont so that the self employed can at least afford a week’s vacation?

 

Gallery latest

You slide down the ladder, bump on the ground and there you are—whacked. Happens. So then you get up and hope the joints work. Yes, that’s me, Peter Miller.

So I have been Vermont Broke. The photography business internationally is in the dumps, thanks to some greedy CEO’s in the stock photo business. The digital revolution cut deep and Lord help us here in Vermont with high taxes, energy costs and escalating fees. And then those like me that live in a house built before the invention of insulation. Even food is more expensive. So it goes and God Bless the local food bank—thank you all!

I have to make changes and I have. Opened an Airbnb and squeezed my photo gallery into one room.  I call it The Squashed Gallery and I AM HAVING A BIG SALE, CLEANING OUT AND STARTING OVER AND THAT MEANS REAL LOW PRICES! Photos from $10 to $600 for real large framed ones. Discounts of up to 60 %. Framed photos, matted photographs in bins: Paris in the 1950’s, Margaux Vendange 1957, Vermont Icons, photos of Stowe and Waterbury, black and white and color. You should take a look at the photos in my Airbnb as you stroll through my guest rooms that, frankly, have paid for my mortgage (but not the rest of it all, god knows!). AND…30% off books including A LIFETIME OF VERMONT PEOPLE and I will autograph all.

SALE IS SATURDAY AND SUNDAY ALL DAY LONG. THAT’S DECEMBER 19-20.

First 20 buyers receive a copy of Nothing Hardly Ever Happens in Colbyville, Vermont, with essays and photos taken in the 1970’s before Colbyville became aesthetically sad. And back then instead of a new motel we had that fornicating pig.

Come to Peter’s Squashed Gallery on 20 Crossroad, just off Route 100, two houses south of Ben & Jerry’s and opposite the Hong Kong restaurant, less than one mile from Interstate Exit 10 on Route 100 heading towards Stowe. This Saturday and Sunday.

fred tuttle copy

 

Carroll Shatney“I had no idea,” says Peter Miller, author and photographer, that my book A Lifetime of Vermont People, would have such an effect on its readers.”

The book is a collection of 62 written profiles with black and white photographs of Vermonters taken over the last 60 years.

The author wrote a summary of those years and the changes he noticed—The interstate, gentrification, the banks, the direction of the legislature and small changes, such as posted land, the Vermont accent, and…the end of a classless society. Most of the comments and letters received by the author, discuss their inability to cope financially and a rising anger about the legislature and the state government.

“They are not out friends anymore,” said a cleaning lady and she practically shouted it.

 “I feel violent,” said an auto garage owner when thinking about the direction the state is moving towards.

 “Our pensions don’t cover our costs,” said a recently retired couple, we would like to leave but can’t find a buyer.”

 “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 tell 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.”

Some Vermonters now realize their home is not an asset but a liability because of the property tax, student tax, and the cost of energy and upkeep.

And it is ironic that Vermont will welcome refugees from other countries but there is no comment about the Vermonters who want to leave Vermont. They are refugees from one of the most expensive states in the union.

I have spoken to so many that I plan to do a book called the Vanishing Vermonter….An Endangered Species. I will interview a bunch of them and let them tell their story. I will also have a section where Vermonters can comment about what to do about bringing Vermont back home.

The more I think about this anger the more I realize it is about the cost of living, for sure, but embedded in their souls is that foreboding anxiety that we are losing our way of living—the culture—that has made our state so unique.

The book A Lifetime of Vermont People is available at independent Vermont bookshops and at Peter Miller’s website, http://www.silverprintpress.com.