Saturday, March 24

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Sunday, March 18

Word to the Wise.

Sunday, February 6


I love New England in the Winter.

The crisp air brings birds out that we don't normally get in warmer months, and keeping the feeders well stocked helps as well.

Nothing I've photographed here took me far from my car-- some are from the driveway and some are from driving around in New Hampshire. Given that the temperatures around here have dropped into the negatives frequently in the last month, it's good not to be walking very far.

A quick note: these are all smaller versions of the image; clicking on them gets you to the full-sized version.

The picture above is of this bird:

When I got home Friday morning, it was in the tree near the feeders. I spotted it and kind of stalked it while it came out to eat. If you're familiar with it at all, you probably know exactly what it is. If not, it's a good bird ID exercise.

I've never managed to get a Hoary Redpoll at the feeders, but we occasionally get irruptions (bursts of movement into a region of birds not usually in that region) of common redpolls. There were two at our feeders a few weeks ago-- it was a dark and cloudy day and this is the best I did:

We get white-breasted nuthatches throughout the year, but I love photographing them in Winter:

This Barred owl was hanging out on a low branch in New Hampshire, not far from where I live:

And this Barred Owl is sitting outside my window as I type this:

Right now the snow is so high in our driveway that it's hard to get pictures of the birds on the ground, but fortunately I was able to get this Northern Cardinal:

And this finch, which comes with a quiz: is this a house finch or a purple finch? Show your work.

But the real treat from Friday was the local Agway in Walpole, NH. Someone there noticed a small flock of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings in the field out back and started putting seed down every day. So if you get there at the right time, you can get really close and they'll just fly in and eat, anywhere from 15'-30' away.

I've had pictures this nice of Horned Larks before:

But never one this crisp and clear of a Snow Bunting:

And capturing them in flight (mixture of horned larks and snow buntings) is a real treat:

I look for Butings and Larks all winter and couldn't find the flocks in their usual spots. Now I know why. They're all hanging out at the Agway.

Agway is also a good place to look for Mockingbirds. I suspect this one is a year-round resident:

And, of course, black-capped chickadees are ubiquitous:

These are from November. You probably know the species

And a few more older photos of various winter birds from the past few years:

Tuesday, February 1

A Benefit Show for the Greater Falls Warming Shelter

It's intensely easy for people to slip through the cracks when things get bad. This is one of the immense values of the Greater Falls Warming Shelter, an overnight shelter that helps the homeless survive through the cold and sometimes deadly, Vermont winters. As a result, I've organized a benefit show:


When: Saturday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m
Where: Immanuel Episcopal Church (the Stone Church) in Bellows Falls, VT
Contact: Greater Falls Warming Shelter ( / (802) 463-2567)
Julie Waters ( / 802.451.1947)

BELLOWS FALLS, VT. - A group of local musicians will be blending
their harmonies to benefit the new Greater Falls Warming Shelter.

The Greater Falls Warming Shelter is a valuable resoruce in Bellows
Falls. According to the Brattleboro Commons, "in its first year, the
center served 44 individuals for 371 bed nights during the 93 nights
it was open. More than 75 volunteers stayed overnight at the shelter
or provided some kind of support such as laundering, cleaning,
donating furniture, providing supplies or helping with the fundraising
concert. Monetary contributions to the shelter may be sent to the
shelter’s fiscal agent, Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA),
at 91 Buck Dr., Westminster, VT 05158.

Here's a sample of what Jesse and I play when we jam together:

The concert is the brainchild of Julie Waters, a local artist and
musician who believes that part of the mission of arts is to support
and give back to the community that allows it to thrive.

"So many artists deal with trying times and fall from the common
graces of society at various points on their paths. For some of us,
the craft or artistry is what separates us from going off the edge.
To me, it's the other side of the coin. We can't live as artists
without having a respect for those whose lives do not easily fall
into the box of a comfortable home and a warm place to live." she
said. She said the response from the other musicians was practically
instantaneous when she asked them to participate.

In addition to Waters, Jesse Peters and Ali Chambliss will be
headlining the show.

Julie Waters is a folk artist in the truest tradition, weaving
stories, motion and rhythm, creating lyrical poetry through the
strings of her guitar. With more than simply a creative approach to
music, her performances turn on a dime, first evoking ancient modal
melodies, and then suddenly sliding into a rock and roll beat that
morphs straight into the 21st century.

Jesse Peters blends all his formative experiences into a musical
approach that includes many different styles. He is flexible enough
to play instrumental dinner music one day and jazz-rock with his trio
the next. His writing style is similarly broad, with modern groove
numbers interspersed with more traditional finger-picked tunes and a
few rockers thrown in for good measure. Mixing it up like that keeps
it interesting for both him and his audience.

Ali Chambliss is one woman, with a guitar, an array of songs and a
tremendous voice. Her original songs are crafted from a well of
emotion deep and challenging as it is beautiful and poignant.

Suggested donation is $10.

The Greater Falls Warming Shelter opened November 22nd at 83
Westminster Street (behind Athens Pizza) to provide a temporary spot for
an overnight stay. It will remain open until April and is staffed seven
nights a week by volunteers who serve in two shifts from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
and 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. New volunteers are urged to contact the shelter at or leave a message at (802) 463-2567 to learn
about the shelter and the on-going training provided. Members of the
shelter steering committee will also be at the concert to provide
Facebook link for the concert

News about the shelter

Julie Waters Web Site

Downloadable/printable poster for the show

Video of the sort of music Jesse and I play when we jam together:

And here's a piece I expect to perform:

Monday, January 31

Does geography have a liberal bias?

We begin with Media Matters:

Wait for it...

Wait for it...


Now, far be it for me to critique the general public's knowledge of geography. When I was in high school, I had Europe memorized and now I can't remember what's where because a good chunk of it as changed. So if Fox News is incapable of remember where Egypt is, it's probably because of the recent changes in the area that have caused confusion.

We can all understand that, right?

Except that Egypt's existed for thousands and thousands of years.

I know Fox doesn't care for all that learnin' stuff that well, so I'm going to explain things from the "Egyptian History! For Kids! site.

First, they say:

Because it is surrounded by deserts like the Land of Oz, Egypt is pretty hard to invade. So a lot of the time Egypt was at peace. But not all the time....The Egyptians also sometimes fought off invasions from the Libyans to their west, or from the Nubians to their south (and sometimes they lost to these invaders too). Around 1700 BC, there was a big invasion of Hyksos from the north.

1700 BC... that's like... lots and lots of years ago. Probably even before I was born.

So a little more about Egypt:

As in the rest of Africa...

Dude. Egypt's in Africa?. When the &*%@ did that happen?

Of course, as you've now probably figured out, that is not, in fact, Egypt that's labeled as Egypt. Egypt would be that unlabeled part that's part of Africa, just to the left of (literally, not figuratively) Syria and Jordan. The part marked as Egypt?

That's just an obscure little country no one would know about called... Iraq.

For what it's worth-- I don't think this is part of some fiendish plot of some sort on the part of Fox to push some talking point or another. I think they've simply become so fact-averse that they don't bother checking. I'm guessing this was done by an Intern (or, possibly, Tom Delay in some prison furlough program) and no one paid enough attention to actually double-check anything. Which, I believe, illustrates the Fox News motto:

F*$! it, we'll do it live!

Monday, August 16

I am still undecided

Vermont comes with a level of access to state government that I've not seen in other states. When I lived in Rhode Island, I occasionally had very brief and fleeting interactions with legislators and politicians. The night Clinton got elected President, I got to meet now Senator Jack Reed in an elevator and tell him how much I admired and respected him. That's about as much as you get.

Vermont's a bit different. This season, I've had extended conversations with Peter Shumlin and Matt Dunne. Last year, I talked with Doug Racine and Floyd Nease at length at our blogger summit. When I criticized Challenges for Change a few months ago, I got an e-mail from speaker Smith.

This is so outside of the realm of what I tend to expect, but this access has left me in the position of not just choosing between abstracts and figures who give speeches but choosing between people with whom I've had extended conversations and have a bit of admiration and respect for.

I will say that I wish I'd had this opportunity with Markowitz, and because I've never met the woman and never had a chance to see how she interacts when I challenge her directly, I don't have a read on her and I just don't feel confident supporting her at this point. I truly respect that she may end up making an excellent governor and I'm open to that. If she wins the nomination, she has my full support.

But I'm not going to talk further about her here because I'm not writing about the abstracts. I'm writing about what I know best: what I've seen directly and witnessed with my eyes.

So, between the three candidates with whom I've had extended conversations, who are Shumlin, Racine and Dunne and why I'm having so much trouble choosing:

With respect to fund raising, this is Racine's weakest point by far, and honestly it concerns me. Dunne's powerful fund raising machine has actually shocked me in terms of its abilities, and I think that can be turned to great advantage in the general. Shumlin is just very, very good at talking to people, interacting with them and getting them to support him. In Dunne's case, I think it's superior organization that's leading to strong fund raising. In Shumlin's, I think it's primarily just force of personality.

I first met Doug Racine at a poverty forum. It was a fairly amazing experience and gave me great confidence in his ability to govern and lead on issues that are extremely important to me. If Racine becomes our nominee, I'd have no concern whatsoever advocating for him. I am also deeply respectful of his willingness to be open and direct about the tough choices in ways I don't see other candidates (save for Bartlett) doing. That makes me lean in his direction in a major way. Whereas Shumlin is extremely optimistic about how we can get things done (and I do think he's got some good ideas), I get the sense from him that he's more big picture and grand idea than small detail. I don't see that as a problem as much as it just doesn't make me as enthusiastic.

My biggest concern with Racine, aside from the money issue, is one that is hopelessly vague: when I see him at events this year (and I haven't gone to many) I don't get the feeling that he's enthusiastic about them. But I've only seen him at a few forums this year, and maybe I just caught him on off days, but it makes me worry that he's not excited about this race. From Shumlin and Dunne I see excitement. From Racine I see a great deal of confidence and ability, but not as much enthusiasm. This makes me think he'd make a great governor but I'm not convinced he'd make a great candidate in the general election.

My biggest concern with Shumlin is an echo of what I wrote before. When I met with him briefly a few weeks ago, he asked if I liked his ad on early education. I said "no." He wanted to know why and we talked about it a bit. My biggest concern was that I didn't get the sense that the ads focus on universal preK might end up causing child care providers to think they were putting him out of business. Peter reacted with surprise at my reaction, and I got the sense that he got it but I also felt kind of dismissed, as though what he said was more to placate me and he didn't remember what his ad actually said. That particular issue makes me question his depth of understanding. Like I said, I think he's big picture guy, but I'm fine tooth comb detail girl, so that's important to me.

But that said, I think Shumlin's charisma is phenomenal, and just having a conversation with the guy, I want to support him, and that psychology and charisma goes a long way in an election. So my support for him is the flip of that of Racine: I think he'd make a stronger candidate but I don't know that he'd make as good a governor.

Which brings us to Matt Dunne.

Watching Matt for me is like watching a time lapse video of several years over the course of a matter of minutes. When I look at the difference between how he did at the forum I live blogged last month (he did well, but not spectacularly well) and the depth and detail of what I've seen since, I'm extremely impressed. I like Matt. He's personable and he has charisma. My biggest concern about him is what I would have loved about him twenty years ago: his idealism. He talks about technological innovation, which I think is important, but he talks about it as though it's a cure-all. I've been fairly heavily involved in "technological innovation" at the state level. It sounds great on paper, but easily turns into bloated, expensive, waste, much of which is spent out of state and ends up costing us far more than we expect it to. So this concerns me and I worry about this. But from the campaign point of view, what Matt lacks in the over the top personality that Shumlin has, he makes up for in spades with a fund raising apparatus that's formidable.

So that's it. I haven't decided yet. I like them all. I like different things about them and have different concerns about each of them. But none of these concerns are major. They're more "well, ideally what I'd like is..." I mean, ideally, I'd like my next car to have keyless entry but it's not like I'd pass on a great vehicle just because it didn't.

And that's it for me: Dunne, Shumlin, Racine: these are people I would trust to be governor and do a good, possibly great, job at it. These are people I think could wage a serious effort against Brian Dubie and have a very strong shot at beating him. And maybe that's the problem: it's not that the candidates have weaknesses but that the choices are so good this time around that I have to focus on the weaknesses to differentiate between them.

So yeah, I still haven't made up my mind.

Anyone want to take a stab at convincing me?

Monday, August 2

Julie Waters e-notes: Mon, August 2, 2010

Hey all: just a few quick things:

(1) I will be playing this Friday at the Farmer's Market in Bellows Falls.

(2) If you're in the area, I currently have an art exhibit in Newburyport, MA, at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge visitor's center. The exhibit will go through the month of August.

(3) In September, I will be performing at Pleasant Valley Brewing in Saxton's River.

Still working on the new CD. Still doing web design. Still blogging. Things are crazy but good.
More info:

Julie's photography:
Upcoming events for Julie Waters
Friday, August 6th Julie Performing Live at Bellows Falls Farmer's Market at Waypoint Center; Bellows Falls, VT

Sunday, August 8th 2nd Sundays Song Circle at RAMP Gallery; Bellows Falls, VT

Friday, September 17th Julie Waters Live in Performance at Pleasant Valley Brewing Pub; Saxton's River, VT

Sunday, August 1

Julie Waters to be featured Artist of the Month at Parker River Visitor's Center

Vermont nature and wildlife photographer Julie Waters will be the August 2010 Artist of the Month at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center in Newburyport, MA.

Throughout this Summer, the Visitor's Center has been featuring shows by artists each month. This is Julie's first solo show, featuring prints of wildlife photographed throughout New England ranging from relatively common (American Robins on the Nest & a Great Blue Heron) to the exceptional (one photograph is of a pair of butterflies that appear to be engaged in aerial combat and another is a 42-minute exposure night shot showing the stars in motion over a local orchard). The exhibit will be available during normal Visitor Center Hours throughout the Month of August.

The Visitor's Center is at 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA.

A gallery of some of the prints to be exhibited is available here

For more information, please contact Julie Waters,, 802.451.1947

Wednesday, July 21

One of these things is not like the other

Netflix often makes recommendations based on movies and/or tv shows I
watched. Under "Action and Adventure" its first suggestion is "Dr.
Horrible's Sing Along Blog."

Tuesday, July 20

A brief commentary on a conversation with Matt Dunne

A few days ago, I posted the following in a comment thread over on Green Mountain Daily:

I like Dunne, but I wish he'd run for Lt. Gov instead. I think he's got some good ideas, but his responses at the forum I live blogged made me feel like he might not be quite ready for the top slot. There was a lot of commentary about how he's a great candidate because of things his parents did, which I think of as very weak answers.

When I say I "like" Dunne, I mean I like him a lot. I've had conversations with the man and I think he's a really great guy.

He dropped me a note and asked if I'd be willing to talk for a few. We connected this afternoon and a good conversation. Fair note: I did not tell him I would be blogging about this (nor at the time did I expect to be) but we also never addressed the conversation as "off the record" in any sense and I do not expect that he will be offended or upset by anything I have to say in this post.

So we had a really good conversation, one in which I pointed out a few things that I thought of as fairly serious problems about his messaging. One was the issue I mentioned above, referencing his parents. I don't think that's necessarily settled, but I can see where he was coming from on it.

The other thing I brought up was that Matt made multiple references to his experience as administrator of AmeriCorps Vista during the forum I live blogged. I can see why he'd want to bring up administrative experience but I didn't get the sense that he understood much about child care or early childhood education. He said during our conversation that he did a lot to support early childhood education through AC Vista, and I asked him if he could articulate any specific examples of that.

Now-- to be clear: I am a teacher. Asking people to articulate examples is a huge part of what I do. It's kind of a crucial element. I am never convinced that someone understands a concept until I hear specifics.

So that's why I asked.

I got an answer I didn't expect.

Matt rattled off a series of examples of ways in which his organization supported early childhood education. He cited specific research about the various ways we can support parents and children in need. He spoke with an intense amount of detail about these issues and genuinely knows exactly what he's talking about.

I'm not saying I was wrong above. In that forum, at that time, he did not articulate this depth of understanding, but that forum was just a few weeks ago. This is not the sort of information and understanding that you glean by drilling yourself on it over a few short weeks. I found myself *extremely* impressed with the conversation we had. I did, of course, have to mention that I never got the sense that he understood early childhood education to the extent that he clearly does during that forum and I wish he had been more articulate about it at the time. Even with a three-minute timer, if he'd just rattled off a few of those statistics during the forum, he would have swayed a *lot* of people in attendance, so I consider that to have been a missed opportunity.

But, that said, I'm writing this to give Matt props for listening to what I had to say and being willing to have a fairly uncomfortable conversation with someone who had kind of slammed him in a public forum. I'm still undecided, but now instead of being undecided between Shumlin and Racine, I'm undecided between Shumlin, Dunne and Racine. Part of me thinks I shouldn't really be thanking Matt for this, but really, I know I should.

So... to Matt, more like what I heard from you today. You've got a more complicated mind than I gave you credit for. To Peter and Doug, you may have your work cut out for you at the other early childhood forums. If Matt brings his A game to those forums, you might be in some trouble.

To Deb, please just show up.