2 weeks ago I went on a hike in the hills near home. This was a few days before the big snowstorm that I chronicled in my last post, so while it was snowy, there were only a few inches of it on the ground. That Sunday was otherwise sunny.
I hiked a half-mile down the road to the trailhead I’ve used many times before. Here’s what it looked like once I was a little way into the forest:
I soon took a different fork than the one I’ve taken in the past – one I’ve never followed before, though I had an idea where it would take me.
It had snowed the night before, so there was stuff still clinging to the trees:
As I started climbing up toward the ridge, I noticed a number of bike tracks in the snow (usually crossing the path I was on). I marvel that people will mountain bike in such slippery conditions, but then I’ve never been the type to be very risky, so there are a lot of things people do that seem dangerous to me.
Here’s a shot of the path being more inclined:
I also noticed little tiny pine trees that had sprouted before winter:
There were a few forks in the trail, where I had to guess which way I should go. I was sometimes able to sight by the top of the ridge, and sometimes looking at the sun helped. Eventually, when I got near the steep part of the ridge and started moving laterally, I followed a wide bike track (which could have come from a motorized bike of some kind).
Eventually, I spotted a chain link fence, and knew that I had gotten to the point I was expecting. This is an old military installation:
It’s no longer run by the government, but is owned by Amherst College. I don’t know offhand what they use it for. I had known of the place’s existence for some time, but had never laid eyes on it before.
I followed the fence around to the front gate:
And just as I emerged from the woods onto that access road, I saw these trucks parked nearby:
Much of the Holyoke Range is state parkland, and so it would make sense that they have a facility for fighting forest fires. Here’s the facility proper, which is on the same road (called Military Road) as the college’s property:
From there, I headed up the road toward Rt. 116, which is the main road crossing the range. It passes through The Notch, and the point where it goes through is about where Military Road intersects it. I crossed the highway and headed over to the Notch Visitor Center, and from there started heading downhill on another trail that I’ve used many times before (which parallels Rt. 116).
That trail dumps one out near Atkins Farms market, where I took a look at the construction they’re doing. It looks like they’re building an addition:
Here are some pictures taken from the same spot of the peaks on either side of the Notch. This is Bare Mountain:
That’s the Eastern end of the portion of ridge I followed, and the military reservation is a bit downslope from it.
Here is Mt. Norwattuck:
From there, I walked along the road to home. As I passed back by the first trailhead where I’d started, I noticed the sungoing down behind the ridge, and I’ll end this post on that note:
A blizzard hit us last night, and so we had a large amount of snow waiting to be shoveled in the morning. 3-5 inches were predicted to fall overnight, but it looked like 8 inches when I got up (before 6am). It was still coming down quickly, too.
Here’s the view of the back deck and the table we have there, as soon as it got light out (maybe 7am):
Note the height of the snow on the glass:
and the deck surface is a few inches below the floor inside the house.
I called in to work to check on whether they were open, and found that the place was closed. This was very fortunate, as it was going to take a long time to dig out.
Here’s what I found when I opened the side door:
We went out after breakfast to start shoveling. After a while (about 11:30), we got out a yardstick to measure the depth in the driveway:
Yes, 17 inches had collected, and it was still snowing.
After a bit over 2 hours of work we had cleared only 1/4 of the driveway. We started to consider whether we could hire someone to plow, though we didn’t know who to call or whether anyone would be available at that point. After lunch, though, we noticed a truck plowing 2 nearby driveways (one next door, and the other across the road). We flagged down the driver, and found that he lived in the place he’d plowed across the road, and was willing to plow our driveway for free!
This was very appreciated, and we insisted on paying him a little bit for his trouble (and gas).
Here’s the pile he pushed up, just past the garage:
With the driveway pretty much done, we could turn to the stairs and deck and such. We usually put birdseed out on the table there, and some of the usual birds (a pair of juncos) came looking for seed while the snow was still there:
We measured the snow back there, which had drifted against the house somewhat:
It was a bit shallower on the table:
There was still a bit of snow falling in the late afternoon when we worked on finishing things up. We probably got a total of 20 inches altogether. Here is the stuff we piled up by the front porch, from the section of driveway we cleared ourselves:
And the yardstick going through part of the pile:
Here’s what the backyard looked like after most of the snowfall:
And here is the house:
A month ago I made my way to a small, one-day comic convention in New York: the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. It’s a pretty new con – this was only its second year – but it attracted a great variety of talent.
I drove part of the way there, but parked in Connecticut and took the train into NYC. I noticed that there was a book rack placed in the train station by the local public library:
A closer look revealed that all the books on the rack were romance novels:
Perhaps that’s what the library expects train riders will want to read. I did not pick one up, myself.
I rode the train into Grand Central, then took a couple of subways to get to Williamsburg. While walking to the convention site, I saw an interesting Orthodox church:
And also this graffito beyond a freeway overpass:
I wonder where Eggyolk was, then…
Here’s the venue that the show was held in, another church:
Specifically, the event took place in the church’s gymnasium and cafeteria. Here’s the exhibit/signing floor in the gym:
There were a couple of tables on the stage at the far end. I took another picture from the stage:
It’s a bit hard to see the layout of tables in these pics, partly because the place was so crowded. Attendees filled the room all day.
There were a few people I wanted (and got) to see there, starting with Jason Little:
I had picked up the first book of his comic “Bee” back in 2003, and then had lost track of the comic. It turns out, he had only just published the second book, so I picked up a copy from him. Haven’t read it yet, but I really enjoyed the first book, Shutterbug Follies, which is about a woman working in a photo lab who stumbles on a crime plot from clues in negatives that are dropped off.
Also there was Kate Beaton, whose archives I have now read. I was going to buy the book collection of her strips from her, but she didn’t have copies with her. Instead, she had a minicomic containing newer strips, which I bought.
Yes, I seem to have taken pictures of the tops of people’s heads.
Kate said I looked familiar, and I mentioned that I had volunteered at NEWW the previous month. On the back of the minicomic she sketched me and wrote a thank you for volunteering! She may not remember that I messed up her line management, but she probably wouldn’t dwell on it anyway.
The always funky Lynda Barry was there, so I got to meet her for a second time:
She has a new book out about creating art, to go with her previous one about writing. I now have both in my “to read” pile.
I got a few comics signed by Paul Pope, who I had met once before:
And then there was the one creator I most wanted to meet there: someone whose work I’ve been reading for more than 2 decades, but whom I’d never gotten to meet before. My main reason for attending BCGF was to see:
Bill Griffith. If you aren’t familiar with Zippy the Pinhead, well, it’s probably the most surreal strip you’ll find on the newspaper comics page, and one of the most satirical.
Down in the cafeteria, below the gym, they had a section with food being sold and a separate panel area. I went to 3 panels during the day. The first was basically a conversation between Lynda Barry and Charles Burns, who were classmates in high school and college.
My favorite moment from this panel was Barry being asked about a lot of recent collage work she’s done, and her anecdote from her childhood about that. She said she spent a lot of time cutting pictures out of magazines her mother (who worked in a hospital) brought home from work. When she was bored or feeling bad, she would do things like cutting slits in a picture of Beefaroni and then have cut-outs of different famous people rise up from the pasta and slide back down into it. It never failed to amuse her, and I can see why.
The second panel I went to featured Evan Dorkin and Paul Pope, and they were supposed to be joined by an old industry veteran Irwin Hasen to discuss his and other artists’ comic work from earlier decades. Hasen was unable to make the con because of illness, and though I’m a fan of the two remaining panelists, they failed to hold my attention much.
Look, I was so bored, I couldn’t be bothered to hold the camera still! 😉
The third panel had Bill Griffith on it, so I wanted to hear him speak, though the subject was the comic strip “Nancy”, which I’ve never been a fan of.
It was okay, and though I’m still not convinced by the panelists that “Nancy” is one of the greatest strips ever, they did show some funny examples of it and other Ernie Bushmiller work.
I left the convention shortly after that last panel, and went in search of dinner. That ended up being at a little Turkish restaurant where I got some decent (but not great) falafel, hummus, and grape leaves. On the way, I was asked if I was Jewish by a man handing out literature (I admitted that I’m not). It appeared that the local Chabad organization was doing this as part of Chanukah, and they had a large menorah on one street corner:
After dinner, it was back on the subway, back on the train to CT, and then back in the car to home. In between subway trains, someone in front of me on the platform noticed a rat crawling around on the tracks, and declared that she had now had the full NYC tourist experience. Indeed.
Quick post to mention an encounter I had shortly after Thanksgiving. I was taking food scraps out to the compost pile late in the evening. I often see various wildlife prowling around the yard and sometimes in or near the compost. That night, as I approached the pile, I heard something scrambling through the leaves, and then I saw in my flashlight beam that it was fleeing up a small tree. I took out the old cell phone cam and got a picture of this individual, who had paused at about my eye level:
In case you don’t recognize it, that would be an opossum. I’ve seen it, or another like it, on several other occasions around our house. I’ve also seen skunks some of the time, and I’m always glad not to be startling one of those.