Here is Main Street, Wilmington, VT, looking east, before, during and after the flood caused by Hurricane Irene. For more photos of the after-effects of the flood, see or scroll down this page to "Walloped by Mother Nature" (at to see video taken during the flood. 

Almost three weeks later, several dozen bridges remain out, some areas still have no phone or water but major roads are re-opening one lane at a time. 

For the latest on flood relief efforts in Wilmington, go to
Below are a few photos taken October 1. A lot has happened in a month, but most downtown stores and businesses are empty. Some are selling off what they salvaged from the flood, but others are vacant or boarded up, including Town Hall, Dot’s, the Chamber of Commerce, Bartleby’s Books (which is under reconstruction), Norton’s Quilt Shop, Mannyu’s and the yarn shop. The Crafts Inn is open, and so is the Celtic gift shop. Mount Snow is still operating. Many businesses along Route 100 North are closed, but Dots 2, the Chinese restaurant next door to it and the movie theater are open. 

I’m not often moved by the National Anthem sung at football games, but was rocked by Jim Cornelison’s rendition yesterday, at the Chicago Bears/Atlanta Falcons game. Cornelison sings at all Bears home games, just as Misheal Miller does for the Ravens. Both tenors give stirring renditions of the anthem, but Cornelison brought untold numbers to their feet yesterday at the stadium, at home and undoubtedly at sports bars well beyond Chicago. We watched it in a diner, where it was hard not to stand, cheer and shed a tear or two.  

Dauntless Spirit by Donna Estabrooks, 30 x 30
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I have no wisdom the share, no warnings, predictions, apologies or insights into what transpired that day. Those of us with kids and friends in the line of fire on September 11, 2001, maybe never fully recover, let alone those who lost loved ones. Instead, I gladly leave it to the pundits, musicians and artists to make sense of what happened and explain how it changed us forever.

Donna Estabrooks, of Montague, Massachusetts, expresses my feelings better than I ever could.    

For more about Estabrooks and her work, go here:
Two Poppies by Donna Estabrooks, 36 x 48
There’s an important story in The Atlantic written for anyone who loves this country, or who plans on living in it for the next 20 years or so.

It’s written by Michael Lofgren, a respected Congressional staffer who worked for Republican legislators on defense and budget issues for nearly 30 years before retiring this summer. 

Lofgren explains what is REALLY going on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t explain what we can do to stop the craziness, except vote. In large numbers. In every election.  

Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the rest. This story is long but well worth the time.

Goodbye to All That: 
Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
September 2011by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis 

Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"

Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.


Some of you know about my surgeries and new body parts. I’ve waited a while to write about them, but think it’s time I explained what it was all about.

Last year at this time, I could barely walk 20 feet. When I did walk, I relied on a cane to steady my gait and protect me from bumpers. This problem had been going on for years. In fact, I haven’t had cartilage in my hip joints for at least five years, maybe more.

You have to understand, I was once a compulsive walker, eventually a jogger. I walked three miles every morning before work, and sometimes took an evening jog just to clear my head. I entered short races just for the exercise and camaraderie because I was never fast enough to win. But, a day without walking or running was a day of misery for me.

At some point in my late 50s, my body started playing tricks on me. Among other things, I developed a rheumatoid condition plus plain old osteoarthritis, then started losing use of joints in just about every part of my body, including hands and feet.

Last December, the worst of my two hips was replaced. The structure of the joint was so bad, cysts had taken over where there once was cartilage. Without warning, those cysts would lock together so I couldn’t move at all. Bone had deteriorated, which led to systemic inflammation and nerve damage. Instead of feeling sharp pain at the hip, I felt dull aches all over. Some days, I felt like I had a full-body migraine. Eventually I learned to swim when the pain was bad, and found other low-tech methods to soothe my body without resorting to steroids or high-powered pain killers (which I had tried but gave up because of side effects). 

I spent four days in the hospital for the first surgery, then nine days in a nursing home before going home for a month of in-home nursing and physical therapy. Once I outgrew that, I went to outpatient PT for about six weeks. At the same time, I started prepping for the next adventure.

Then, it was on to surgery number two. This one felt easier than the first, but I developed post-surgical complications that kept me in the hospital six days. By the time I could leave, my strength was good and pain was low, so I skipped the nursing home and opted for in-home care. Dave took a week off to take care of me, with help from an RN and PT several times a week. Again, I went to outpatient PT for a little more than a month.

So, here I am four months out from the second surgery, and there isn’t much I cannot  do that I want to do. As you can see, my legs are straight, facing forward (which they weren’t doing before surgery) and approximately the same length (which wasn’t the case, either).

However, I can no longer cross my legs. Now that I’m allowed to, I can’t bend much beyond my waist. That will come, the doctor says but he also warns that too much bending could harm the prostheses.  

So, I can’t do crunches or run or jump. My pole vaulting days are over. I may not be able to polka BUT I can tango! And, I can go to the playground with my grandkids, and soon will be able to get down on the floor with them to color or build a castle with Legos. What could be better than that?   

To prepare for surgery, I swam every other day for six months before, then as much as I could do between and after surgeries. The buoyancy of water allowed me push harder than I could on land, so swimming was invaluable exercise. My husband convinced me to add upper body Nautilus to the mix before the first surgery, which really helped me build stamina. 

The entire ordeal took about a year out of my life, but that didn't come as a surprise, so I just went with it. You have to focus on one thing at a time. Major surgery isn’t something you squeeze in when you have a little extra time. 

As you may have noticed, sometimes this blog went weeks without new posts. I almost gave it up, but didn't because I enjoyed reading your comments and your blogs so much.  The therapeutic value of blogging cannot be overestimated! 

During the recovery period, I read a dozen novels on Kindle, but found it almost impossible to write. The stumbling block was not pain or weakness, but brain fog. Today, I’m happy to report that all systems are running at almost full throttle.

Would I do it again? You bet. A year is a small price to pay to feel 20 years younger. 

If you’re thinking about joint replacement surgery, here’s the most important thing you need to know: The surgery part is nothing. After all, you’re not  there!

What’s really hard is the rehab. It’s a killer! You must be totally committed to regaining muscle, nerve and bone. The recovery window is quite small, so you may have to work harder than you have ever worked, when you least feel like doing so. 

But, if I can do it, so can you.