Sunday, December 29, 2013

Remembering Pager

We lost my father a few days ago. The memorial service was yesterday.

Pager's Obituary
Pager's Memorial Service
George's Comments at Pager's Memorial Service
Rebecca's Comments at Pager's Memorial Service

My comments at the memorial service yesterday included an explanation of the origin of the name "Pager" (rhymes with logger), the story of how my parents met, and the story of "Put's Palace." Rebecca's comments started out with a story about the famous breakfasts with grandchildren.

The photo above was taken in 1990 at Put's Palace. I wasn't blogging in 1999 when my mother died, but earlier this morning I put up a blog post about her:

Remembering Mother

Following are some of my favorite posts on the blog about Pager, newest on top:

100 Years Ago and Today (Christmas 2011)
Christmas 2009
Boulder Hi and Boulder Lo
A Man and His Horse
Changes in Pager's Lifetime
George's 2nd Birthday
Pager and Cat
Christmas 2008
Westview Farm
Pager's 93rd Birthday

Rebecca's Comments at Pager's Memorial Service

Click here for Rebecca's comments at Pager's memorial service

The photo above was taken at Christmas 1978.

George's Comments at Pager's Memorial Service

Click here for George's comments at Pager's Memorial Service

Above is the photo of Pager and Beth that I talked about. For more information about Boots, including photos, see this earlier blog post:

A Man and His Horse

Pager's Memorial Service

Click here for the full program from Pager's Memorial Service

Rev. Elizabeth Griffin is the retired minister of the United Church of Fairfax.

Rev. Robert Boutwell is also a retired minister. Florence Boutwell is Rev. Boutwell's wife. Her harp was made by their son, Bruce Boutwell. The Boutwells and the Putnams have been good friends since Rev. Boutwell was the minister in Cambridge and Jeffersonville in the 1960s.

Lorraine Wood is from Fairfax.

All of the above also did Grandma's memorial service at the United Church of Fairfax on July 26, 1999.

Courtney (Howard) Leitz is Barbara Howard's granddaughter.

Pager's Obituary

Harold Butler Putnam, 99, of Cambridge, Vermont, passed away on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 with family by his side. He was born on September 8, 1914 in the farmhouse at the Putnam Family Farm in Cambridge. His parents were the late J. Kinsley Putnam and Mabelle (Butler) Putnam.

Traveling by horse and buggy, Harold attended and graduated from Cambridge High School in Jeffersonville as the class Valedictorian in 1931. He attended the Vermont School of Agriculture, now Vermont Technical College, graduating in 1932. Following graduation he had a job with the Agricultural Conservation Program for a few years. Many years the farm hosted sugar-on-snow parties for the ACP staff.

On June 16, 1946 Harold married Lois Gould and together they ran the farm and raised four children. They were married for 53 years.

Harold was a lifelong dairy farmer, the 4th generation of Putnams on his dairy farm. He was innovative for his time, embracing change and adopting new technology. Electricity came to the farm in 1941. Harold was instrumental in getting it to this area by helping to secure right-of-ways from multiple landowners. Before baled hay he installed in his barn a hay dryer for drying hay faster. He later built a milking parlor and converted his tie stall barn to loose housing, both very uncommon at that time. Many years later he built a new modern design barn with a larger milking parlor and continued the loose housing concept for the cows.

Before the era of home freezers, he was a founding member and eventually President of Cambridge Cooperative Lockers, Inc., a village store that housed freezer space for food locker rental to community members. He was a trustee of the Cambridge Cemetery Association at the Mountain View Cemetery in Cambridge for 50 years. He was on the board of directors for Richmond Cooperative Association, Inc., a milk marketing co-op. He was active in many other farm organizations, including the Farm Bureau Co-op (a maple syrup co-op) and the United Farmers Cooperative Creamery Association. He was a deacon at the Cambridge United Church for many years. As a youth Harold was very active in the local 4-H and as an adult he was a 4-H leader for the children in the area.

Before the advent of the modern bulk tanks, milk was stored and kept cool in milk cans bathed in cool spring water. In 1950 Harold purchased a local milk route and picked up milk cans from the coolers at area farms for several years. For many years, he also drove a station wagon school bus to pick up school children from some of the back roads around Cambridge.

Maple sugaring was always a large part of Harold’s annual adventures. He witnessed many changes as he began the early years with buckets and gathering sap by horse and sled. Over the years this evolved through experimental trials using plastic tubing to collect the sap and then progressed to using vacuum to help increase sap yields. He then was able to witness the building of the 5th sugarhouse on the farm with the latest hi-tech tools for collecting sap and making syrup.

One of Harold’s hobbies was the growing and preservation of an old Vermont heritage flint corn. He grew and harvested this special variety for many years, marketing his corn meal from “Pager’s Gristmill” to local residents and area food establishments.

He was considered a local historian and often sought after by those with questions of how things used to be. He was instrumental in helping to establish the Cambridge Historical Society.

Harold is survived by three children: Beth (Putnam) Cole of Cambridge and her husband Jerome Cole; William H. Putnam of Cambridge and his wife Donna (Wilkinson) Putnam; and George S. Putnam of Jeffersonville and his wife Nancy (Carpenter) Putnam. Their families include 13 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren: Jennifer (Cole) Patterson, her husband Andrew Patterson and children Lillian and Rachel; Rebecca (Cole) Towne, her husband Steven Towne and daughter Anna; Geoffrey Cole, his wife Katie (Morrow) Cole and son Hunter; Deborah (Cole) Governale, her husband Nicholas Governale and son Evan; Jason Putnam; Travis Putnam and his wife Hollie Putnam; Carrie (Wilkinson) LaFountain, her husband David LaFountain and children Devin and Shyanne; Sarah (Wilkinson) Bradshaw, her husband Jeremy Bradshaw and children Haylee and Bryce; James Wilkinson; Craig Wilkinson; Brian Putnam; Emily Putnam; Laura Putnam. He also leaves a sister-in-law, Harriet (Gould) Karr Burnham, a special friend Barbara (Brewster) Howard, and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Harold was predeceased by his wife in 1999, his son John K. Putnam in 1971, and his sister Elizabeth (Putnam) Taylor in 1997.

The family wishes to express their thanks to Lamoille Home Health & Hospice, Franklin County Rehab Center, and the many caregivers who helped with Harold’s care in recent years. Special thanks to Nancy Knapp, Theresa Wilcox, Patty Wells, Mary Skog, Sue McAdoo, Lorinda Smith, Betsy MaGee and the many volunteers for their caring devotion to Harold’s care.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday, December 27, 2013 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at A. W. Rich Funeral Home – Fairfax Chapel, 1176 Main St., Fairfax, VT 05454. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at United Church of Fairfax. Memorial donations in Harold’s memory may be made to the Cambridge Historical Society, P.O. Box 16, Jeffersonville, VT 05464. Inurnment will be private and at the convenience of the family.

A short obituary appeared in the Burlington Free Press on 12/26/13 here. The long obituary above was published online on 12/26/13 here. Bill took the photo above on 12/14/03 at Put's Palace. I think the shirt Pager is wearing is the shirt discussed in the Putnam family history on p. 47, photo on p. 48.

Remembering Mother

Mother was born on March 17, 1916 and died on July 21, 1999. Her nickname was "Pat" because she was born on St. Patrick's Day.

I didn't start blogging until 2007 and so there isn't much on the blog about Mother. Above is a favorite wedding photo taken on June 16, 1946 at the Cambridge Community Church.

From 1999:

Mother's Obituary (3 MB PDF)
Mother's Memorial Service (1 MB PDF)

Later today I will publish several posts about Pager which will include information about Mother, including how they met. Following are older posts on the blog related to Mother:

What is a boy?
Clayton Burnham
Rural Uplook Service (about both the Gould and Putnam families)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Slow Democracy, Slow Government

The 2013 Slow Living Summit was held June 5-7 in Brattleboro, Vermont. All of the plenary sessions were in the Latchis Theatre. Love the marquee!

Susan Clark of Middlesex and I presented a workshop on "Slow Democracy, Slow Government: Creating more resilient communities." (See this post for background.) Our breakout session, at the nearby Marlboro College Graduate Center, consisted of three parts:
  • Susan talked about Slow Democracy
  • I talked about Slow Government
  • We engaged the audience in a case study
Susan talking about Slow Democracy:

Photo courtesy of Mark Bushnell

Susan is pointing to a graph titled "The Popularity of Congress Today" which shows a dismal approval rating for Congress of 9%:

Susan discussed her book Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home. Slow Democracy is local decision making that is inclusive, deliberative and empowered. Susan presented several examples where Slow Democracy led to effective government solutions to problems.

I discussed how Slow Government—government that is sustainable, local, organic and wise—can speak to the problem of citizens' lack of faith in government:
Following our presentations we engaged the audience in a case study about government involvement in the grading of maple syrup. Click here for the handout for the case study (PDF 0.8M). The photo below was taken during the case study discussion:

Photo courtesy of Mark Bushnell

The slide on the screen is slide 16 in my PowerPoint slides:

(The "organic" in Slow Government has nothing to do with agriculture. It has to do with government's handling of the economy. See my talk at the link above for more explanation.)

There were good discussions during the case study. One participant stated that it is the process, not the decision, that is important. The process is important, and Slow Democracy has a lot to say about how to engage in a good process. But the decision is also important—just ask any buyer or seller of maple syrup. If the decision was not important, we wouldn't need to worry about the process. Slow Government can help us make good decisions. The goal is for government to earn the consent of the governed—more than just 9% of the time. To achieve that goal, we need both processes and decisions that citizens will respect.

For an analogy to grading maple syrup, I talked about the grading of another food that Vermont is famous for: cheddar cheese. Consider the categories of Cabot cheddar cheese. There are no government rules specifying the differences between Sharp, Extra Sharp, Seriously Sharp, Classic Vermont Sharp, Vintage Choice, etc. Nor are there any government rules preventing Grafton cheddar cheese from being marketed in a different way. Grafton sells their cheddar as 1 Year Aged, 2 Year Aged, 3 Year Aged, etc.

Several people in our workshop came to the conclusion that there is no need for government involvement in the grading of maple syrup, especially since—as one participant noted—there are no food safety issues, only matters of taste and color.

About 300 people registered for the Slow Living Summit and 20-25 people attended our breakout session. It was an epic adventure!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weather

Memorial Day is traditionally the unofficial start of summer in this part of the world, but it isn't summer yet at the higher elevations! Below is Mt. Mansfield this morning. The freshly planted corn field is the field across from Quarry Hill Farm on VT-15 in Jeffersonville.

After a temperate but dry spring, we had a week of rain that ended with snow at the higher elevations on Saturday afternoon into Sunday (yesterday). The road through Smugglers Notch was closed Saturday due to snow and remains closed today (Monday). Mt. Mansfield received 13 inches of snow. Several towns in Vermont at 1500 feet in elevation or so received 2-3 inches of snow. Whiteface Mountain in New York received 3 feet of snow! News articles here and here.

We didn't have any snow at home, but it was a cold (37F), rainy day yesterday. It's a beautiful day today, presently 54F.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lean In

While I had not heard until yesterday about Duck Dynasty (see my previous post), I have heard from multiple sources about Sheryl Sandberg's new book Lean In. I haven't read the book, but I've watched Ms. Sandberg's TED talk which I'm told captures the essence of the book.

Her theme is that women today have plenty of career options, an improvement over previous generations, but women still aren't realizing their potential. It must be somebody's fault. Well, actually, she thinks it's everybody's fault, including women themselves.

Not everyone agrees. Here is a Wall Street Journal book review:

Do as I Do, Not as I Say

The reviewer agrees with Ms. Sandberg that women (on average) have different ambitions than men (on average). Unlike Ms. Sandberg, however, the reviewer doesn't necessarily see this as a problem.

Another view about Ms. Sandberg comes from Penelope Trunk, who once worked in the high-tech industry like Ms. Sandberg. Ms. Trunk, now a farm wife, co-founded Brazen Careerist, her third startup. Brazen Careerist (sounds like "leaning in," doesn't it?) is "a career management tool for next-generation professionals." From her home on the farm she provides executive coaching. Bio here.

That background gives Ms. Trunk a unique perspective on this topic. The blog post at the first link in the preceding paragraph is well worth the time to read. Read the comments, too. The conversation in the comments draws out Ms. Trunk, and she explains more fully why she feels the way she feels. Some of the comments are very insightful, others are quite moving.

Ms. Sandberg has two degrees from Harvard and is a protégée of former Harvard University President Larry Summers. Susan Patton is another Ivy League educated woman who has been in the news recently because of her advice to women.

Ms. Patton was the first woman in her family to go to college. In 1973 she entered Princeton University in only the fifth co-educational class in the school's history. In 1977 she graduated as Class President. Today she runs her own consulting firm specializing in marketing and human resources, including executive coaching. She lives not on a farm but on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Bio here.

Ms. Patton recently wrote a letter to the Daily Princetonian: "Advice for the young women of Princeton":
Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out — here’s what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.

Her message was that finding the right man to marry is important to happiness, and that college is the best hunting ground.

Well, Ms. Patton's letter is controversial, to put it mildly. Here is a collection of responses on the Daily Princetonian. Here is a column on the Huffington Post by a woman who was "dumbfounded" by Ms. Patton's letter. Here is Ms. Patton's response on the Huffington Post.

Ms. Patton graduated from college the same year I did. Surely women who graduated from college more recently don't feel that way, right? Not so fast. Here is a column by a recent Dartmouth graduate who supports Ms. Patton's message:

Find a Man Today, Graduate Tomorrow

Here are two more well-educated women who support Ms. Patton's message:

Jean Kaufman, aka neo-neocon
Megan McArdle

All of the above links are about what women think. Are men allowed to have opinions? Probably not. Even President Obama is in trouble for recently expressing his opinion that the attorney general of California is an attractive woman. What was he thinking??

Nevertheless, at some risk, I offer these observations from a happily married man with a son and two daughters, all in their 20s and out of college:

1. Women do not all think like men, and women do not all think like each other. Vive la différence!

2. Feminists are intolerant of this kind of diversity.

Men have been thinking about what women want for a long time. Does modern culture provide a better answer than Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century?

UPDATE 10/20/13: Here are more views on the theme of this blog post by two eminent women.

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Last March she wrote this column for The Atlantic magazine:

What 'Lean In' Misunderstands About Gender Differences

Dr. Sommers' column supports an observation I made to Nancy some years ago: Men helped create our modern world where women have more choices about how to live their lives. Our reward is to be criticized for the choices women make.

Camille Paglia is a professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. On 10/08/13 she participated in a Janus Forum debate at American University on "Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture?" Her debate opponent was Prof. Jane Flax of American University. Interestingly, both women have PhD's from Yale. Christina Hoff Sommers attended the debate and wrote about it:

Comet Camille Paglia comes to AU and talks gender

Follow the link at the end to read Dr. Paglia's opening comments. They are thought-provoking. There's even a Vermont connection!

Duck Dynasty

Am I the last person in the country to hear about the apparently popular TV reality show Duck Dynasty? I only learned about it yesterday. I had come across a link to a short April Fools video by MidAtlantic Farm Credit called Cluck Dynasty. I knew that MidAtlantic Farm Credit had a significant concentration of loans in the poultry industry, but I had no idea what their video was all about. A little research turned up the first link in this paragraph which is where the photo came from. Mystery solved.

This incident prompts me to share a few thoughts about modern culture. This is the first of two posts today on this subject.

What does Duck Dynasty say about modern culture? Maybe the times they are a-changin', ever so slightly.

Modern culture often belittles traditional values such as family, religion and commerce. Modern culture doesn't understand guns or hunting, and a lot of the time it doesn't understand agriculture. Modern culture is all about diversity—except for issues of class or gender where diversity in thought, income or wealth is unwelcome.

Now consider this quote about Duck Dynasty:
A God-centered, traditional family that hunts is now explosively popular across the country and among the younger generation. (source)

Wow. And did I mention that this entrepreneurial family has created considerable wealth from modest beginnings?

While Duck Dynasty came from Louisiana, other surprises are coming from Britain. First there was the wildly popular Downton Abbey, which deals with a fictional aristocratic family far removed from the real family of Duck Dynasty. Unlike anything else in recent popular culture, Downton Abbey actually gives a balanced treatment of the upper classes. See this recent op-ed column in Forbes magazine:

Down On Downton: Why The Left Is Torching Downton Abbey

And now there are the new British dramas “Mr. Selfridge” and “The Paradise” which Virginia Postrel writes about on Bloomberg:

How Mr. Selfridge Created the Modern Economy

A quote:
When the British drama “Mr. Selfridge” debuted on PBS this week, American viewers saw two things rarely on display in contemporary popular culture: a businessman hero and, more remarkably, a version of commercial history that includes not just manufacturing but shopping.

This is wonderful. Our society would benefit greatly from more respect in modern culture for business, commerce, and entrepreneurship.

I once heard Virginia Postrel speak at a conference in Burlington and I was impressed. What she has to say at the link above about feminism is interesting. And she is a Princeton graduate. The topics of feminism and Princeton lean right into my next post...

Monday, February 18, 2013

More SLOW Government

Last summer on Independence Day I wrote about the idea of SLOW Government:

Introduction to SLOW Government

Lots of exciting things have happened since then! At the end of that post are updates that describe two subsequent developments by other Vermonters: Biddle Duke of Stowe and Susan Clark of Middlesex.

Today on Presidents' Day I write about another development.

The idea of SLOW Government came together after I attended the second annual Slow Living Summit last summer. (I blogged about that summit here.) Next summer I will attend the third annual Slow Living Summit, and I will be presenting the idea of SLOW Government!

It will be a joint presentation with Susan Clark, mentioned above. Susan is co-author of Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home. This book, published in September 2012, is a wonderful exposition of what I mean by the "L is for local" aspect of SLOW Government.

Susan and I did not know each other until last month. We were introduced by the organizers of the Slow Living Summit at the suggestion of the publishers of Susan's book.

This joint presentation will be an interesting exercise. While Susan and I mostly agree on the "L is for local" aspect of SLOW Government, we don't necessarily agree on the rest of what I mean by SLOW Government. We have different worldviews, even though we both grew up in Vermont.

Can people with different worldviews work together productively? In her book Susan writes about the concept of ecotones (a new word for me): "the extraordinarily diverse, productive zones where unlike systems meet." Check out this link to an article in Forbes magazine (that Susan brought to my attention) for an example of people with different worldviews coming together for a productive discussion:'s Co-Founder Has The Tea Party's Co-Founder Over For...Tea

Governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Public approval of government has fallen to dangerous lows. Susan and I independently had the thought that the philosophy of "slow" contains ideas that can help turn around this troubling trend. We are now working on a joint presentation about those ideas for next summer's Slow Living Summit.

Stay tuned!

Many thanks for the feedback from people who read my July 4th post on the idea of SLOW Government. I have revised the language in that post from time to time based on that feedback. The original idea remains unchanged, but hopefully the explanation is more lucid. Click here to read the explanation of SLOW Government. Continued feedback is welcome.

And with this update on SLOW Government, I wish you a happy Presidents' Day!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Plot Road to Hogback Road

Last Sunday was one of the best days of the winter! It was sunny and, while it started out cold, it warmed up to the mid 20s (F).

We snowshoed the Long Trail south from the Plot Road to the Hogback Road, about four miles. There were ten people in our group. We stopped at Roundtop Shelter to enjoy a little hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps:

Elevation at the shelter is 1650'. This was nearly the highest point on the hike.

We found a number of pretty ice formations:

Here's most of the crew at Prospect Rock:

Almost at the end of the hike, this view is looking steeply downhill at the Hogback Road and the Lamoille River:

We saw many deer tracks throughout the day but especially between Prospect Rock and the Hogback Road. Didn't see any deer, though.