Tuesday, September 26, 2006


The movers are coming this morning so I will be unplugged for a while. Next time I post it will be from my new apartment down south!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you later,


Monday, September 25, 2006

Thank you!

The Farewell Party was the best party ever. My friends laid out a collage of Monuments under glass. There was a buffet table laden with lots of fantastic food they had cooked themselves, from soup to pasta and shrimp salad to meatballs, fruit, cheesecake and brownies. And more. People wrote their sentiments in a handmade book Jeanne created. Music was playing and two coffee urns percolated.

By 1:30 people were wandering in. I said hello and lots of hugs and soon people helped themselves at the buffet and we all sat down. Animated happy conversation for the next hour. People said nice things to me in clusters of knots of groups.

At 2:30 Alex played a song on his guitar and then came the remarks which were extremely nice. People got up to the microphone and talked. 'You have integrity. 'You were fair and honest. 'You were always there to help. 'You inspired us. 'You changed the town.' I was astounded and overwhelmed sitting still as a rock in front of all those people not knowing what to make of it. I hope I looked appropriately appreciative...mostly I was shocked.

Then they presented me with gifts, an engraved jewelry box, a cross pen, Tuscan CD, southern style napkins, 2 dozen roses. Then I spoke, saying a few words and thanking them.

I can't express how wonderful the day was. That so many people worked so hard to put on a farewell party for me was such a tremendous gift, and something I'll never forget. But the greatest gift of all is that people said they now feel empowered, able and willing to speak up, and know how and where to get the information they need. That's the best, and was the whole point of us starting The Monument. I am truly grateful for the so very many people who helped with The Monument ... it really was a labor of love to bring a good newspaper into the world and help it grow, and with it, a community grew, too.

Gray is filled with so many wonderful people, we truly are a community of givers and great good souls. I'm the one who feels lucky to have been here.

Thank you!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Traveling light, embracing change

He who would travel happily must travel light.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I'm just about done packing my small apartment, and though I'm leaving much of my furniture behind (my new one's furnished) it still means that when I sort through my stuff, I still have to examine every possession and assess its aesthetic quality, gauge its emotional attachment, judge its purpose in my life, and then dispense with it. I'm Hamlet, packing the castle, "To take or not to take. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous backache, Or to take arms against a sea boxes, And by opposing move them?"

Nothing gets your emotional juices up like moving, but forcing myself to do it means that I grow. I like to challenge myself to do new things. I've done it all my life, and it never gets easier, as a matter of fact it gets harder. But what a necessary thing. I like traveling off the normally prescribed path and vaulting myself into the world to see what's there. When I do I learn new things, contribute in new ways. Scary, but Measure for Measure, "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Invisible Councilor

The Story of the Invisible Councilor
Alison, you gotta run for Council.
It's too much work.
C'mon...we need someone to hold that seat until we can scrape up a real puppet.
It takes too much time.
Look, we'll paint a couple of token signs, you don't have to put your number in the paper, make any speeches, or deal with the public. All you have to do is show up on Election day and shake hands. We'll take care of the rest.
I don't want to give up my free time.
Let's sweeten things. You don't have to show up to any council meetings. OK? Please?
I don't have to go to any meetings?
OK, I'll do it.

And that is how Alison Libbey became the Invisible Councilor.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Civility? Gosh darn, they keep trying

Gray Maine now boasts its 9th blog. I blogged about the plethora of blogs, on The Monument site a couple of months ago. At that time, there were 7.

Anyway, the townspeople of late have gotten on the blog bandwagon. Me included, of course. But when the recall heated up last spring, so did the blogs. Blogs about Gray sprouted like mushrooms and some died as quickly. Many of them claim to seek 'civility.' There is a difference in seeking it and living it, though. If you lead by example then you will receive what you sow.

Aside from this blog, there’s “Black and White in Gray” run by Paul Proudian and the Gray News. It claims to expose the dysfunctional politics of Gray, Maine by calling people 'viral implants' and 'Hitler'. Paul Proudian's blog exemplified incivility and worse. The blog is moribund, now. Maybe the town is no longer 'dysfunctional'. It's good the blog isn't functioning, frankly.

Gray activist Sharon Bondroff started one called www.crazyingray.blogspot.com but it petered out, though it still exists online.

For a while there was a blog run by anonymous “Batgirl” called www.graydissidents.blogspot.com. Batgirl’s blog got ugly fast and then it was deleted by the originator. Common knowledge put that blog's authorship on Gray News's Nathan Tsukroff.

Almost immediately, though, a blog that mimicked the Batgirl blog was started by anonymous BiasBuster. It busts the bias of The Gray News. It has kept going and nobody knows who Biasbuster is.

Recently another blog started called The Heart of Gray Maine: Finding The Truth Within Heart of Our Community.” It’s run by an anonymous person called “TinMan” and its tagline is: “Finding the TRUTH Exposing the LIES Healing the HURTS Stopping the HATE.” That blog we now know is run by Debbie Shaw Mancini. Debbie stops the hate by calling opinions she doesn't like 'vile spewings.' Civility eludes that particular blog, in my opinion.

Then, a mimic blog to Debbie's started called “Land of Doh-z!: The Soul of Gray, Maine: Saving the Soul of a Community.” It’s run by an anonymous person called “Tiny-Man” and it's absolutely hilarious. Not politically correct, but spoofily hilarious. My favorite post was Fall Movie Releases

I started The Quiet Life this summer. And now we have "A Gray Agora" run by Publicus, who says he wants "civil, constructive, and productive debate on the issues " and goes on to mention that occasionally we "get whipped up into that old mob mentality, and we capriciously execute our charges ...Often just because we can." Capricious executions and civility are usually mutually exclusive.
Personally, I think it's Paul Proudian again. Or his clone. Decide for yourself:

Paul Proudian, Gray News: Down the Iraq Memory Hole
Publicus, on his blog: A View Down the Rabbithole

Publicus's favorite phrase: 'fails to grasp' .
Proudian's favorite phrase: 'fails to grasp'.

Given the recall people's track record with blogs, I hold slim hope that Publicus's blog will fare any better. It already started off with an unfortunate tone of derision. It's not easy to run a blog that encourages thoughtful debate, but I hope that one of the blogs, at least, will make people proud that their town's name is in the title.
Blog on.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tiny fire-crackers popping over nothing

There are a few people in Gray angry that the new Manager hasn't appointed Bob Ryan to the Fire Chief's position yet. They are angry over the fact that the new manager is choosing to delay hiring until she can gain an assessment of the Department's personnel, skills, weaknesses, and therefore make an informed decision about potential candidates for Chief. This makes sense to me.

This same group, the group that tried to get their way by usurping a local election by starting a recall, since the failed recall has challenged our local government for seemingly "rushed" decisions. Just last month regarding the proposed shift of public safety dispatch duties from Gray to County, they cried "We need to stop look and LISTEN to the reasoning behind the proposed changes." Alternatively, they think that "Now for the town manager to delay one iota in this obvious decision to appoint Bobby Ryan as Chief of Gray Fire & Rescue is a travesty." Is it stop-look-listen? Or don't delay one iota? Can you help me out with this one?

In other moments, this group has said, "It is important to allow the town manager to do his job and not try and micromanage operation of the town. Unfortunately, when people who don't understand or perhaps trust the nature of government step into a position of authority, they can make a real hash of things." Bunker, Proudian's BWG blog, March 2, 2006.

I agree, Bunker, I agree.


Town Administrative Code, section SECTION 2 - DUTIES [Manager]

He or she shall perform such duties as are specified in Article III of the Town Charter, including complete executive direction of the administrative services of the Town.

Gray Town Charter Article III says: "The Town Manager shall be administrative head of the Town and shall be responsible to the Council for the administration of all departments assigned. The Manager shall appoint, remove and fix the compensation of all Town officers or agents whose elections or appointments have not been otherwise provided for by this Charter. All such offices shall serve under the direction of the Town Manager."

Friday, September 15, 2006

There's a Museum of Hoaxes

"Examining dubious-sounding claims and mischief of all kinds"


Makes for great reading. I loved the Gullibility Tests

MIT 'hacks' mark Sept. 11 with a fake fire truck

Monday, September 11, 2006
from The Boston Globe, Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent

A fake fire truck appeared this morning on top of the 150-foot high Great Dome at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

In what may be an only-at-MIT Sept.11 tribute, a fake fire truck appeared this morning on top school's Great Dome, the site of storied student pranks since at least the 1960s.

From the ground, the vehicle appeared to be the old fashioned cab of a truck that has been painted red. The cab is attached to a rectangular box, which is also red, and has the words "MIT Fire Dept." painted on the side in bold white letters. A coiled rope dangled from the side of the "truck," completing the emergency vehicle look.

The Great Dome is a 150-foot high rotunda that dominates the skyline of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. It has been the site of other notable pranks -- known on campus as "hacks" -- including a 45-foot replica of the Wright brothers' biplane on the 100th anniversary of flight in December 2003.

Perhaps the most famous prank came in 1994 when what looked like a real MIT campus police cruiser appeared on top of the Great Dome, complete with flashing lights and a box of donuts in the front seat. The car, numbered "pi," had a sign in the back window that read: "I brake for donuts."

School officials declined to discuss today's fire truck, but said they can only assume it was a nod to the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. MIT does not have its own fire trucks.

In the past, the school has not seriously punished hackers. When the Wright brothers' biplane appeared, six students were spotted leaving the building at about 6 a.m. Not only were they not arrested, but an officer helped one retrieve a forgotten laptop. more here

Thursday, September 14, 2006

So, I'm supposed to be packing...

...but instead I am noodling science haikus to enter in the Science Creative Quarterly’s most exceptional, illustrious, splendiferous haiku phylogeny project. Hey, beats trying to untangle the beginning of the tape roll and scooting the cat out of empty boxes.

What do you think? Haiku has 5-7-5 syllables over three lines.


Avogadro’s rule
So incomprehensible
But not by Perrin


Means operculum closes
When scientist peeks


Breathe, let in the oxygen.
Now, let in the light.


Coral, grows real slow
Beautiful colors rising high
Boat prop, the end comes so quick

Irony of the day

Irony of the day:

I picked up my mail. It contained 3 items.

1. ME press Association Bulletin
2. New Yorker
3. A letter from the PO that my mail forwarding has started.

Frustrating moment of the day:

I called Delta a 5th time. I received yet a 5th set of dimensions that my kennel must adhere to.

Relaxing moment of the day:

A chocolate chip cookie from Maine Bean

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reactive to proactive

Being a newspaper editor means you are always reacting to something. A car crash; grab your camera and hustle to the scene. A controversial meeting; rove the audience and get reactions. A new town proposal; manage community responses. When things happen, you have to take an interest. You have to launch out into the world and make sense of it so you can put it in the paper so others can make sense of it. It means your time isn't your own and you're always following something. Being Editor means you life a reactive life. It's a life once removed.

I chose "The Quiet Life" for my new blog because I am really looking forward to a quieter life, but I hadn't realized that it was quieter because I'm now living a proactive life instead of an anticipatory one. Initiating choices instead of gauging reactions. Being active in advance of events instead of living behind them.

So that's enough philosophy for the day. I've got to head over to UPS and buy packing boxes. It's all I can do not to bring my camera with me in case I need to react to something along the way!

OMG, I just bought my first Dylan song

"Thunder on the Mountain" from his new album, Modern Times. I like the rolling piano and round feeling to the song, and I'll concede that the weight of history is probably right to bestow on him the title "rock's greatest poet." But I don't connect with his words as much as his rhythm (in latter years). I still maintain Paul Simon's lyrics are more picturesque. My favorite is "The Mississippi delta was shining like a national guitar."

I think Dylan's voice has gotten better with age, so at long last, I bought a Dylan tune.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

So that's it!

"The key for me is to keep expectations low."
So that's how to lead a country. Huh.

Wait, there's more! Asked what he's read lately, Bush exclaimed:

"I read three Shakespeares!"

YouTube, George Bush, to Brian Williams, interview August 31, 2006.

Midnight musings

I woke last night at midnight to owl hooting. Which was weird because the windows were shut and they're triple pane. But I heard him anyway. He was a Great Horned Owl, whose hoots are softer and go like this: whoo whoo-whoo whoo whoo.

The Native Americans believe that birds carry messages from the spiritual plane to the physical plane, and revere the Eagle most of all because that bird flies the highest, closest to the Creator. Owls have always been revered also as birds of wisdom. In Greek mythology an Owl was sacred to Pallas Athene, the Goddess of wisdom. They are also associated with death and rebirth, real death and the metaphysical.

"Owl knows that all apparent manner of death is in fact a liberation into a new life. Something must first be cleared away for anything new to be born. When a person moves, leaves a job or relationship, has a baby, adopts a new animal friend, something in the old way of life had to die for the new to be created."

As I lay there listening to the hoots, I liked to think that the above is true. Deciding to move 1100 miles away to an unknown place and re-shaping my life into new challenges and adventures means that the old needs to be burned away to make room for the new. Necessary, but not an easy process.

Hearing the natural world at night is also a reminder that it exists. I know, we know it exists, but we forget. There's road construction going on in front of my apartment, and there are trucks, paving crews, and since I live a 1/4 mile from the fire barn, there's ambulance sounds, sirens...a lot of noise that drowns out the natural. It's nice to lie there in the night and be reminded of the other creatures that inhabit our world with us.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I found the perfect apartment

When I sold The Monument Newspaper and voluntarily left my post as Editor, (a great job...but I am ready to do something different) I decided to move south. I want to be warm in January! I had a list of criteria that I was looking for an apartment.

--private, with lots of land
--quiet, no highway noise
--reasonably priced
--near a nice city but located in a rural town
--DSL and cable available

My friends told me I was crazy, that my criteria was too restrictive. I thought, heck, all I need is one.

Well, I found it. It's a brand new two room studio with high ceilings and hardwood floors. It's got new furniture, including an oversize leather recliner and a massive bed. Huge windows with lots of light, and did I mention it's on a horse farm with 40 pristine acres of rural loveliness? And a pond? With a heron? And a pool? Garage? Includes satellite TV?

It's 3 and a 1/2 miles from an up and coming artist town and 14 miles from the city. So I get all the quietude I want but if I crave a cappuccino and a foreign film or a great bookstore, Indian restaurant, or art shops, that stuff is only 20 minutes away. I'm really, really happy.

Below: Road leading to my new place

Driveway. You turn in right next to a pretty brick church and
the driveway is a 1/4 mile long. Set way back from the road.

The shy horse always looks but doesn't approach.

Main Street of my new town! Cute, isn't it?

A day in the life

I am making huge progress on my “Month of Me”, the time I am deliberately taking between one career and the next. For example, yesterday, I bought a futon cover. This is more complicated than it seems. First, I had to get dressed. Not like I lie around in my pj's (all that much) but I had to put on 'outside clothes' that were non-stained, constrictive to my body, and all in one piece with no rips. That no one would run screaming from should I encounter any sentient humans on my odyssey. Phew. I needed a rest.

Then, I had to get up. Yes, launch myself from the antique swivel oak editor's chair in front of my beloved computer, my computer that brings me the world, so why do I need to go out into it? and extend my legs to their full and locked position. Ouch. I prefer sitting.

Most dauntingly, I had to use my car. A jalopy in sleek professional guise, it is literally falling apart. It sounds like its rear wheel is going to fall off, and I have long since given up allowing people to sit in the back over said offending wheel. They get nervous. Lucky front seat passengers started taking take bets on how long will it be until we hear a plaintive voice from the back seat asking, “Er, do you hear that noise?"

The drive to the city of Portland consumes more gas than I am willing to put into said crappy jalopy, but in order to have the car propel itself for that distance in its entirety, it must be done. Sigh. Gas station arrived at and large amounts of dollars are exchanged.

However, things perked up after victoriously parking in a spot right in front of the destination establishment while studiously ignoring the “Bus stop” sign. I entered and went straight to the sale covers. The sale was what had drawn me, after all, I have a futon that will now need to become my couch. The previous cover was torn asunder leaving mattress exposed and nakedly white under paws and claws of cavorting dogs and cats. It now looks like a hospital ward mattress.

Eschewing the mythical $22 sale covers which had drawn me there, I found a wonderful microfiber soft suede plush cover in teal. It was the most expensive of the sale covers, which sort of defeated my purpose in going to this particular store on sale with the intent of being frugal. But who could resist the soft velvet material brushing against bare skin? Who can blame me for feasting my eyes on soft colors and tushy-cushy-plushy? I cannot. It would take a much stronger woman than I. Heck, it even came with two pillows. It had me at hello.

The ride home resulted in a long diatribe against my wallet, which had the audacity to open itself enticingly to the store clerk. And the drive also included a rationalization that my futon, a poor and used cousin to the gloriously new furniture ensconced inside my new hardwood flooring adorned apartment needed to look like it belonged. “We beeeelonnnng!” sings my apartment chorus. Click here to get your own apartment chorus.

The cover is so beautiful and so soft I may never get up again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Express yourself!

After having expressed myself and made sense of the world through writing, all my life, I decided a couple of years ago to try visual expression. I've been experimenting with collage, watercolor painting, altered books, bookmaking, and photography. I don't think I'm that good. I'm not being disingenuous here, I am an excellent writer but making my hands produce a pleasant looking 3-dimensional object that had formerly been in my brain is harder than constructing pleasant sounding sentences that say what you want them to say. At least for me it is.

But some friends with whom I have shared my art say it looks good. I won an award for a photograph I submitted to a statewide contest. One of my hard cover books sold at auction for $25. So with their encouragement I stepped into the semi-professional world of art by joining the International Society of Altered Book Artists and I joined The Art List, which offers the most extensive listing of art contests, art competitions, art opportunities and juried art shows available. I also bought a website domain and I'm in the process of designing a web page to show my work. And I inquired about studio rentals too. In for a penny...

Altered books are, according to the ISABA, any book, old or new that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art. They can be ... rebound, painted, cut, burned, folded, added to, collaged in, gold-leafed, rubber stamped, drilled or otherwise adorned. I like painting over the page but leaving certain words exposed that tell a different story than the one that's originally there. And then decorating to match.

Here's four pieces of recent work. Three are pages from the altered book I am working on, which are not done but give you an idea. The fourth is a page from my art journal, a collage.

Collage: Human Spirit Gone Awry

"Spirit conversion by intense labors and struggles"

"This brighter age supported wisdom"

"Ruinous distress crushed in an instant"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Conversation with self

Internet radio is great. I experimented this weekend by searching for and adding another streaming radio station to my iTunes list. Accompanying Native Radio and Radio Margaritaville is now Hawaiian Rainbow, featuring Hawaiian music from all the islands.

After three days over the long weekend of potting around at home and listening as I make my art and write and clean, I had the following conversation in my head:

Self: Gee, this Hawaiian music is irrepressibly happy
Self: Well, if you lived in Hawaii, wouldn't you be irrepressibly happy?
Self: You've got a point.

Monday, September 04, 2006

'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin Killed

'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin Killed by Stingray on Great Barrier Reef
Monday, September 04, 2006

CAIRNS, Australia — Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.

Click the headline for more. Bummer.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rumor and its impact discussion on my other blog

For those of you who were interested in the rumor discussion, I've begun it on www.monumentnews.blogspot.com. The first post was yesterday.

Thanks for your interest!