Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Bill Kenney 3/09

I finally have some time, cindy is somewhere else, and her exploder sits in the drive, ready for a cruise to kenneyville. I rev up on the Easton road, a sign “frost heaves” is very true, and soon I pass the sign to the Robert frost museum, paralleling the ham branch river, running black between random patches of ice and snow. Flash on the time I ran it at high water in the canoe with Derek. “don’t kill my son” were the last words Carolyn gave me. I was the one who swam when we hit a log, just another river trip.

Flash again on the gunfight that took place here, with liko Kenney pulled over, getting into an argument with a cop, and shooting him with a 45 then running over him. Then the crazed ex marine picking up the cops gun and shooting liko in cold blood. The town went crazy over this one, fingers pointing everywhere, and friends shocked. I know the family, and knew liko as a kid running wild, undisciplined, and always in trouble. He was on the road to recovery until this catastrophe.

Im on a quest for old friendship, looking for bill Kenney, archtypical new Hampshire farmer and black sheep of many in the Kenney family. Jack and peg Kenney met skiing and bought an old farm out here 500 acres in the 40s and had a skiers hostel with raging parties back in the early days. Their kids now feud over the land use, a sometimes tennis camp, beefalo ranch and organic garden. Davy grew a field of mellowness, and now bill is the only one left working the land. Mike has a tennis court refinishing business and joe is semi retired, running an antique shop, now mother of the famous ski racer, bode miller, who has just retired from the world cup circuit after winning the cup.

Bill has married a Russian lady, mail order bride, and lives in the cook shack, a log cabin structure back in the woods. I look up the drive and there he is, looking very busy, a Maddox over his shoulder, headed for the carrot patch. Knee boots, coveralls, tattered carhart jacket, craggy face, beard, but piercing eyes, always moving, We greet , old friends, and banter about the weather, the crop of organic carrots hes been growing since august now under an insulating cover of straw. “an old Indian trick, keeps em growing through the winter”. He wacks away with the Maddox and removes a thick layer of rotten hay, digs into black rich earth and red shapes of carrots start to come up. He fishes them out and soon has a good pile. “wow, I never knew about that” “you gotta be tricky out here to survive”, he grins and goes back to work “I can get 1$ apiece for these things in the health food store.” Hmm I wonder how true that is.

He starts in about his farm “ ya, still got them beefalos, did in a big steer last month, another ready to go” dreaming of a cash crop, he has 12 of the beasts, and they eat a lot of hay. “ gonna have a valley full of organic farm here, gotta option on 26 acres in the lowland, great soil, gona be hiring soon, know anyone who needs a job?” “ I know a couple million out there, that need a job, maybe we could start a new town for them”.

He’s at odds with his sibs over how to split up the farm, he wants 5 acres, a minimum lot size, but his sibs are all at his throat, tried arbitration, to no avail, they really don’t like each other. Its coming down to a court hearing in the spring. He may be out of a place to live.

Its quiet and getting cold, the sun setting steel gray in the west, and the smell of fresh earth in the air. He’s headed to the barn to feed the beefalos, and I’m cold, feet wet in my crocs, and not suited to hike down the hill in the deep snow. “ you got no boots,” he observes, “I better be moving on, I stole cindys car, and shell be wondering where it is.”

We part ways, waving as he goes down the road into the gathering dusk, headed for the greater glory of living off the land.

Copyright 2009 terry wright

Sunday, March 8, 2009

franconia 2

Franconia 2 3/09

The day starts with a bang, cindy leaving early in a flurry of activity to secure a prime spot for our bbq lunch on the mountain, pancakes flying low, a new gallon of mape makes the scene to sweeten things up. It is still over cast but warm and sun is promised for afternoon. I pack up ski gear, head for the mt and watch the stream of cars pack ing into cannon parking lot. We ignore the signalers and find cindy parked next tot he bunny slope, booting up, ready to rock n roll. Steve and phil dunn are already on the mt, Kathleen is there from montreal, the troops are gathering. Now we have a group of about 10, kids, sibs old friends, skiing fast, long swoopting carvers on the open slopes.. still haard up top, we can see the ice rink of profile trail glinting high above. I get a senior ticket for 36 and off we go, the rat pack, moving smoothly through the lines, greeting old friends, cindy knows everyone local, and we get a great hit of cannon comaderie. Down to the tram after a false start, and I enter the hallowed ground of my youth, flashing on my first makeout session in a snowbank with terry norton, right in front of her fathers office window. My mouth still hurting from being hit by Malcolm grandy,the bad guy at high school, going up after a basketball. I pushed off and he landed on his back, wind knocked out. It really made kissing interesting, but we orally exchanges precious bodily fluids in a fit of passion, rollijng in the snow.

We try the top, now blasting raggae at the lift station, a guy in natty dreads stands guard. We fly down ravine, playing with the snow along the edges, now soft with rising temps. We follow each other in a line, blowing past the standers and snow plowers. I look around and the mountain is coming out, our mountain, Lafayette, how many times did we top out there, hunkering down in the stone shelter smoking a tobacco pipe while the snow blew by, snug in our tight group shot through with testosterone with mountains, rock climbing, ice climbing skiing a way of life. We cruise down to the parking lot where the briquetts are sizzling dogs and burgers, beers in hand sitting in folding chairs, with the sun breaking through. It is a real scene, kids running around, skiing on one ski, munching dogs, friends dropping by, and the 4 sibs reveling in the reunion. Phil dunn is there too, tall white moustached gent, our neighborhood friend, and Kathleen, cindys tuckermans friend from montreal. She and cindy were at tuck on 4 th of july one year and suddenly Kathleen wasn’t there, she had broken through a snow bridge and was 20 feet down in a crevasse upside down, hanging from her skiis. The patrol extracted her, but not until a great deal of rope arranging and derring do on the part of swampy paris and his crew. So we retell the old tales, reliving the past triumphs and disasters and all taken back to our invincible youth.

We head up the chair, spirits high, me feeling the effects of a nooner beer. Get to the top of the chair and I make the fatal mistake of weight too far back, cant spring up in time and my skiis go sideways and I crash, a resounding thump on my helmet tells me where the chair is hitting. The lift guy is on top of it, and stops the chair from running over me, and a crowd helps me up, shaken, the high destroyed, but ready for more.

Now more top runs, and I opt to return for my nap with steve and Ronnie. Alls set for the party and people arrive , some of the older guard, including dick bennik a class mate of dads at Harvard, and Duncan cullman, old boyfriend from telluride. We rev up with catered munchies, and when the crowd is in full swing, I get tom and we suit me up with the elvis costume, turn the lights on in the pimpdaddy coat and im off down the back stairs, hanging out on the lawn, in the dark until cindy and part of the crowd emerges, and I walk waving my lighted arms, to the great enjoyment of all. Cameras click, cindy and I grind out, “you aint nothing but a hound dog” in gravelly voices, more cameras and people crowd around to feel the coat and cuddle. A great thing that, cathys gift after burning man 3 years ago. And now my staple costume.

We gather for buffet and sitdown dinner at a long table, 21 people and toast cindy, tell tall tales, and have a great meal. Cake ice cream, and good cheer, lots of wine. I sit with Irene and we strike up our old friendship, she still in town, doing body work, and living off the land, skiing as much as possible. We relive old times, old friends and revel in the atmosphere of community.

I tell the story of taking cindy over the headwall the first time, and other stories abound. Even little Carolyn gets in the act and tells a Lapland story. Irene and I repair to the living room and I show the burning man slides and a few more shows. Now people leave, and I cruise to the apt and sleep soundly, rain pounding on the roof.

Friday, March 6, 2009

franconia new hampshire

Franconia 09

Hectic times, doing taxes, and death, and heading out into the storm to gain the motel la quinta, and park sleep fly accommodations, my flight leaves at 6 am so im taking the easy route. Another adventure back to childhood haunts, family and old friends. Ski cannon, party for cindys 60th, and hang with the north country scenery and crowd.

Kk and I talk and I surface after 2 near accidents in shallow alto, a row of high class stores, restaurants, and the apple store, where kk and zoe, looking hugely pregnant, are perusing the latest in apple ware. We oo and aahhh over a monster computer screen and mac tv wireless setup and head into th e night in search of sustenance. The usual choices, all high class, settle into Vietnamese, very posh, typical silicon valley types, wining and dining. We settle in and choose a pinot by the glass, all wines are 40 or more, with emeritus pinot on the menue for 125. ouch. These friends of mine know how to market.

We have a great chat, and leave with kk and zoe ready prepared and willing to be parents of my next granddaughter. I crash late, rise early 3:40 and do a seamless entry into the world of international travel. Catching my flight to ohare, watching quantum of solace with the bose headphones, and making the transition to the flight to Manchester seamlessly.

Tom isn’t there, and I finally duck out of the cold with a beautiful sunset behind, and there he is, looking for me. We nosh and I sleep on a bench until jostled out of reverie by Carolyn, in from dulles, complete with skiis boots and ready. We rocket off to Franconia thru the night, intense conversations, growing up up here, old trips in the night with blinding snow, freezing rain, where we slid into a snow bank, and watched cars crash into the barrier and spin around us. The notch is clear and they are grooming garys and avalanche, so we have a good day ahead to ski. Cindy greets us with spaghetti and nonstop conversation, I break in every once in a while,, but feel a bit left out. They are intense conversationalists, not leaving a break between stories for me to get my oar in, I crash as the chatter contines, and rest the rest of the dead.

The alarm wakes me right on time for my flight 3:40 am, shit I forgot to turn it off, and then the cell beeps its low battery refrain, up a gain, more ibu and a s pill and im off till 8. awake to cindy opening the garage door below me, and the race is on, nonstop conversations, events, prepping for a day on the slopes, like old times in the cabin. We scrape 1/2 inch of ice off toms car, freezing rain coming down, the mountain in clouds. Andy fixes me up with a great set of salomons and technical boots that fit great and we are off tot he slopes. The usual prep scene, dressing for the day,now raining, and booting up, ready for a typical day on cannon, so many times in our youth we are on auto pilot, still chatting away and planning the logistics for the day.

Im bundled up, the facemask on, new goggles,helmet, new parka ready for anything. Its warm and raining, and we realize our first mistake: sittting on the wet chairlift and soaking our butts. Oh well, a normal day at the coldest worst weather mountain in the east. The snow is soft and groomed, so we find places to turn abundant, and follow like rockets down the narrow trails, all skiing in unison, a thing of beauty, like the old days, for the first time in years. Exhileration explodes in cheers and yodels as we scream down the slopes, taking the inside of the turns on ravine, singing the praises of the master of trail builders, sel Hannah, with hair growing out of his ears, planning and cutting the original trails on cannon.

We hit the top lift and the seats on the chair are glazed with ice, which we melt and make our butts even wetter, still non stop chat, great memories, wonderful family times, all set by dad and mom, we are now continuing a long tradition, only we have had. Into the clouds, flat light and boilerplate ice conditions, like skiing on marbles, but soon I find the snow has been pushed to the sides of the trail, and it great going there, easy turns, keep ing up with the flashing image of cindy, in perfect race form, zinging in front, flying down the mountain. We explore the old haunts and some new ones, little trails no one uses, with good snow, easy turns, few people and great feelings.

Lunch break with sandwiches from home, despite the sign that says no bag lunches at the door, all kinds of people around, loads of kids, still a family mountain. Carolyn is there in a ski class, and we tag a long, but they are ripping the mountain. I notice few snowboarders, and they are very polite, unlike the unruly, disrespectful sort at mammoth. We ski the top again, the doors blaring at the base station for the chair. it has warmed up and no ice on the seats, but still glare polish on the upper part of the trails, but tom has sharpened my edges and im holding firm, even on vast patchs of ice. Cindy and I head down the mountain, leaving tom and Carolyn to their devices, I crash and up and suddenly dinner is ready, early, a full evening ahead, picking up Ronnie, going to a play, I play dead, and write this, hook up the ipod with the doors playing, at peace with the world.

copyright 2009 terry wright

mina boat restaurant

Mina 2/23/09

The sign says it all, “Nevada: alcohol-legal, gambling-legal, prostitution-legal, lobsters-illegal” . nestled in the wide open valley, a group of dusty houses and shuttered buildings appears, and an anachronism: a large boat, with portholes and a door in the side, and a sign “Desert lobster café-open”. I pull into the parking lot, and a new building appears behind the boat, a wheelchair ramp and a car and beaten up pickup show signs of life.

The usual debris lies around, a blackened washtub upside down on top of a pile of half-burned firewood, with no obvious purpose, but im sure a story lurks somewhere. Enter the swinging door with sign, no credit cards, and look in my wallet, 4 forlorn dollar bills appear, and im in trouble if I want to eat anything. A cheery hello from the back of a neat, new kitchen, and a lol comes up offering food.

Id love something to eat, but have no cash, I just came in from Benton looking for Sam.

You gotta check?


Is it good?

Yep, but its on a sonoma county bank

That’s ok, whaddya want?

I settle on fish and chips on the recommendation of the lol and a guy starts whipping up my feast.

Im looking for a guy named sam, anyone around here?

Oh ya, hes one street over, give him a call if you want.

I get the number and dial and a voice comes over the wires.

Are you the friend of bert finney in Benton? Im here to buy you lunch.
Ill be right over-the reply
After casing the joint, I look into the boat and behold a veritable museum, complete with display case of revolvers, a sherrifs badge and some articles on the town. Above, perched on a tree limb is a stuffed cougar, and deers heads and antlers protrude from the walls like so many tree limbs. A big table sits there and I re enter the back room and this older guy comes in looking around, for me, it is sam, but not the right sam, but wtf? I invite him to sit down and we talk, in the easy desert way of things important to all. Water supply, weather, the job situation, places to explore, heart problems and on, an easy guy to talk to.

I am still trying to get ahold of the real sam, and the people know him, the big bald guy works for dot, but not his last name, so I call charlotte at the café in Benton and she fills me in sam Compton is the name, so I call him, and get the answering machine, oh well. More coffee and delicate fish and delicious coleslaw, not too sweet as sam had told me, and more conversation.

At least you got to talk to one sam-his parting comment.

I fill in a check for 8.75 including a 1$ tip, and enquire about the lobsters. The story bert told me is that they had a great business growing lobsters here and selling them to the casinos in reno, but the state shut them down for lack of permits and sanitation, and they are now working on getting that operation going again, lobsters in the desert, wow, what a concept.

My eye catches a sign for consulting geologist as I pass down the main drag, and I see what looks like sams truck in front. Hook a u ie and park to barking of dog and two blonde girl kids at the fence. I ask for sam, and they get mom, an older smiling, but suspicious face, she doesn’t have sam there, but her husband is a geologist, consulting in mexico looking for gold, I give her my card and we talk, the kids and dogs milling around.

Im off to hawthorne and on to greater glory with mitch in Carson city, lunch with canyon in auburn, on through the rain to my warm bed in Forestville.

copyright 2009 terry wright