Wednesday, March 31, 2010
18. Visit the Vermont Veterans Militia Museum
My sister Katrinka is one of my heroes. There are lots of reasons for that, starting with the fact that she has the most integrity of anyone I've ever known, and has been a huge influence on me in that regard. She also has one of the most interesting jobs I can imagine. She's a museum content developer, which means that she does the research, writes the texts, decides the themes, and selects the images of many of the exhibits you see when you go to a museum. Unlike us academics, who take years to become experts, I've watched my sister go from zero to sixty in a matter of weeks on all kinds of fascinating subjects. Because of her I know lots of random facts about, among other topics, Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Church, jelly fish (did you know they are the indestructible cockroaches of the oceans?), African mud cloth, William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, and my personal favorite, Thor Heyerdahl, the modern day explorer who sailed from South America to Polynesia in 1947 in a little raft made out of balsa wood. And of course, because of her, I love museums; all kinds, on all subjects. And, being a Navy brat with a father who loves military history, I'm fascinated by war and military museums (even though my parents, both former Naval officers, can't figure out how they produced such a peacenik daughter). So when I saw the Vermont Veterans Militia Museum on my friend and colleague Kristin's list, I immediately invited myself along. (Kristin has her own list of 52, some of which --like the Penguin Plunge and ice climbing -- coincides with things on mine and some of which --like dog sledding, kickboxing and this museum -- is stuff I wish I had thought of, and so have now decided to blatantly copy.)
Being a small museum, visiting hours are rather limited, and it's only open from 10 to 3 Tuesday through Thursday. So we decided to visit on a Wednesday afternoon, and weren't terribly shocked that we had the whole place to ourselves. It's really pretty interesting. Vermont soldiers have played a role in wars starting with the American Revolution, and there were exhibits from the Revolution to Iraq. Because there was a focus on the role of Vermonters, it was interesting to imagine how Vermont has impacted, and been impacted by, these wars. I was surprised to learn, for instance, that fully 10% of Vermont's population served in the Civil War. The flag with stars that I included here is from the town of Bridgewater, VT, and represents what was apparently a common practice here during World War I, where each town hung a flag commemorating the servicemen who were away (in blue) and those who were killed (in gold).
I think Kristin and I were both most fascinated by the Snow Snake, a sort of cross between a jeep, a tank and a snowmobile that was used in World War II to transport soldiers who fought on wooden skis and snow shoes. I included two pictures, one of Kristin and I standing in front of the Snow Snake, and another giving a better view of it from the side. Outside of the museum there are also numerous tanks and helicopters, and Kristin and I got up close (and got our feet tangled up in the ties that anchor them to the ground) as we peered inside. Our favorite outside vehicle was the little observation and taxi helicopter used in Vietnam (the explanatory text called it a "OH-6 Cayuse", though that didn't help me out much).
I'm a huge fan of travel, and am getting pretty psyched for a summer full of it -- to the Dominican Republic, the western United States, the Middle East, and Europe in that order. But it's also pretty fun to see what's in your own backyard, and be reminded that the world is full of new things only a few minutes away, too.
52 Ways to Say I Love You
..in Albanian, with a huge shout-out to Pat, the father of my brother in law, Brian. Pat and his wife Kathy have had lots of great ideas for the list of 52, and one day Pat compiled the two longer phrases below in a whole bunch of languages, and sent it to me. Thanks, Pat!
I love you Te dua
May I have two beers please? Mund te kete dy birra, asseblief.
Easter Sunday souffle lesson. This Sunday I'm having dinner at the home of my friends Brett and Zan (as in Alexander). But before I do, Zan has very kindly offered to increase my New Things cooking repertoire by teaching me how to make chocolate souffle. Doesn't that sound sophisticated in a Julia Child kind of way? I definitely think so.
Bike maintenance. Back in the dead of winter when he was teaching me to skate ski, Nigel told me he has also taught many bike maintenance classes, so of course I immediately put him on the spot and asked if he'd show me how to get my bike in running order when the warm weather came. This weekend is supposed to be in the 70s, so Nigel told me he'd give me a lesson either Saturday afternoon or during the day on Monday when we don't have class -- it all depends on his own training schedule and when he's going to do his 70 mile ride this weekend!
Ice skating. Still lots of work to do on my skating goals, though I'm happy to report that yesterday I started working on my very first jump (a waltz jump which is just a little half jump, but still). Still going Mondays at 8:30 am and Wednesdays at 11:30 and, when possible, Friday at 11:30 or Sunday at 1. And I'm always happy to skate with other people, so if you want to join in once or often, just let me know.
Eat a Vermonster. What could possibly be a better team-builder than a group exercise in gluttony? On Wednesday, April 21, the Saint Mike's team headed to the Dominican Republic -- Ashley, Carolyn, David, Eireanne, Erin, Joy-Anne, Katelynn, Korinne, Mark, and I -- will meet up at Ben and Jerry's after my ballet class gets out at 6:30 to jointly demolish a Vermonster. If anyone reading this wants in on the fun and indigestion (like maybe, for instance, a bunch of people planning a similar trip to India or Guyana), you can always get your own group together and get your own Vermonster to keep us company!