Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mad Cow Disease

On the customs form that I fill out on my way back to the US I will have to check "yes" to the question: Have you visited a farm in the past 30 days? 

A farm in Ormstown, Quebec which has been described as "the place of magical strangeness" by one Dakota Belle Witt, is where I currently reside. It is a place I've been coming to most of my life. I spent many summers here when I was younger. It is, in fact, a summer camp. The mad man who runs this place has been a friend of my mother's since she was 15 years old. His name is Andre and the farm, appropriately, is called Andre's Farm, or La Ferme d'Andre. My first job was working here as a counselor. To this day its the hardest job I've ever had. My french is not good... its not even ok... its pretty much not french at all. Trying to organize a bunch of french speaking kids and force them to bathe themselves and keep their cubbies clean... well, I'm sure you can imagine. Most of them just laughed at me, deflating my adolescent ego.

Andre is beyond eccentric. He says whatever is on his mind all the time. At dinner last night he told me I had beautiful eyes and followed that by saying I also had a nice ass... and nice tits. He has had white hair since I can remember and wears all white and only white every day always.  

We took the train here on New Year's Eve. A quiet dinner of four turned into a party of twenty or so. That's the farm. It's a Quebec tradition to eat at midnight to welcome the new year. So after our huge meal at around nine o'clock... we drank and drank and then ate again. At one point there were impromptu latin dance lessons. So twenty French-Canadians, age 4-70, gathered in sheep skin slippers and nerdy sweaters to shake their hips. It was beautiful.  

A fresh snowfall leaves the landscape fluffy white, spotted with rickety wooden fences, silhos, old barns, stone farm houses, leafless trees and a small winding road leading to town. Today's big event was a sleigh ride, horse drawn with bells and all. It wouldn't have been complete without the horse being spooked by a snow mobile and running off in the wrong direction with Andre at the reins cursing and yelling. This was followed by an amazing meal cooked by Lucy. She is the resident chef, graduated from culinary academy and worked at the best restaurants in Montreal. She is always full of energy and ready to dance and drink boxed white wine. When speaking to me she constantly switches between French and broken English. She is marvelous. Tonight also ended with dancing. I was even coerced into participating.  

There is a Mexican family living here right now. My limited Spanish and my limited French are now a language smoothie in my head, its even garnished with some Russian and Portuguese. Yum. I'm hopeless when it comes to communicating with anyone here. I've been keeping to myself and observing. The most communicating I do takes place during the late night dining room concerts. It isn't hard to convince me to play and the folks here are eager to listen. So in the huge, deep red, low-lit dining room, with dark wood floors and two fire places, I pluck and sing each night. 

I've spent four nights here so far. One night we had a barbeque in the snow and all did shots while the flakes landed on our noses. On the barbeque there was pork and goat. Both these animals were born and raised not fifty yards from where they were currently being prepared and soon to be eaten. It doesn't get much more local and organic than that. The rarity of such a thing has led to me to vegetarianism. The raising of animals for meat, and sadly also dairy, is one of the worst things for the environment. I know I sound like a hippy... and maybe I kind of am. Animal rights is one thing, but you could also look at it as human rights too. Every time I eat a vegetable I am fighting for the human right to not live through global warming. I'm exaggerating a little, but you get my point. 

A little about the farm itself: a pool (more like an ice skating rink at the moment), a pond (with ducks), an atelier (for arts and crafts), horses (who all have nasty temperaments from being ridden by rotten kids for years), llamas, cows, dogs, pigs, donkeys, goats, chickens, cats cats cats (each time I come there are more), a very affectionate cockatoo who loves to whistle and bob it's head along to a tune, a tipi, and my favorite... Tarzan's Barn. La Grange de Tarzan is so incredibly hazardous and so incredibly fun. Very hand made ramps and ladders and platforms and a rope swing, and in the center of it all is a huge foam mat. How no one has ever died... well, knock on wood. No matter how much describing I do though, I could never really communicate the magic. It's an incredible place. People come here once and can't ever stop. 

I had my first kiss here. I slow danced to Hey Jude with my first boy friend in the girl's dorm in my pajamas. I rode a horse named Daphne over my first jump. I milked my first cow. I snuck a freezer pop and then had to brush the blue dye off my tongue for what seemed like hours. I smuggled in candy and hid it in my cubby. I discovered the location of the camp fire cookies and my career in thievery began. I got drunk for the first time. Tequila shots at the local bar in town called Vieux Moulin. Fifteen and no one ever asked for an ID. I once fell asleep in a bucket of towels while managing the showers. This place is littered with history. It wreaks of my childhood. Horrible, wonderful, wonderfully horrible, and horribly wonderful memories lurk around every corner. 

I wrote a song yesterday. It's a good place for it. I'll post it as soon as its recorded. I'm also working on the  'I Kissed A Girl' cover and video. I'm so excited.


  1. Even with the cluster of communication and memories, it sounds as though it would be a good place to heal. I hope it has done that for you when/where people (may) have failed. It sounds like that place is 'magical' for you. I hope that, that sort of thing is what you need right now in your life.

    I think that's one of the things I personally miss the most about the east coast. I always had an escape, I knew tons of little places I could run away to and hide for hours, days, even weeks or months at a time if I needed to. Almost anywhere along the east coast now that I think about it. It seems funny.

    Sometimes I think places, certain atmospheres or environments will do a person, a soul (if you'll forgive the religious overtones) more good then words, companionship or many forms of love ever could. It's hard to find people who will understand that however.

    My french is basically non-existent (had a strange conversation once where my friend spoke French to me and I was able to roughly figure out more or less what she was saying due to my history in Spanish and I kept answering her questions and then telling her to stop talking to me in French since I didn't know any of it), however my Spanish (when I'm not dead tired) isn't half bad if you ever want to try to work through some of it. I don't know any Russian but I know parts of Chinese and Japanese along with chunks of German. The German professor I had for half a year was insane, 500 words a week! I thought my head was going to explode. I thank a very sexy lady (an ex who is now married with kids) I know for helping me with flash cards. haha.

    From your post it doesn't seem your much a fan of dancing but I know some amazing queer dance lessons/studios if you ever were interested. Not to mention the ballroom dance instructor at my college will give free lessons (during class) to anyone who shows up (regardless of if your paying him or not). Mostly ballroom type stuff (waltz, tango, fox trot, west coast swing, rumba, salsa & more). I've seen some queer country western oriented line dancing stuff too that I almost signed up for, but conflicted with my class schedule. I'm shy as hell, so as long as I can pretend it's a class I can do half decent and the instructor I mentioned that teaches at CSUEB is a fucking amazing man that I have nothing but the utmost respect for. Thanks to him I've taken about a year of ballroom since he makes everyone feel comfortable and like they could be a pro if they wanted to.


  2. Have you ever gone 'boot skating' before? I was terrified of losing my balance on ice skates as a kid and therefore refused to wear them and most of my other friends just sucked at it so we ran around on the pond that was in my back yard growing up in boots, sliding across it as we tossed snow balls at each other.

    That list of animals sounds like my mothers house, no joke. I think the only thing on that list that I'm almost certain she hasn't had was the donkey (but she might have proved me wrong by now, I haven't been back there in years.)

    A friend used to have a barn which was filled from floor to roof with hay bails every winter an we'd wait until some of the bails had been removed before running off this one ledge and jumping into the mountainous hay piles. I'm totally clueless how none of us every managed to break something (mostly our selves).

    I second your hippie points of view on vegetarianism (Though I admittedly am a pescartarian). It's scary the stuff people don't know about the food their eating. Have you seen the movie "Food, Inc"? Documentary on the food industry, I had been bordering on cutting meat out previous to that but after that. Fuck. My mom, when she was married to my step father, used to help raise cattle for food purposes and raises her own turkeys every year. The taste difference alone is crazy, the rest of it with antibiotics, corn feeding, the tight spaces their all packed into? Utterly sickening.

    A couple friends got in a fight once about supply and demand of meat. One said it's gonna be made, people should eat it. Another said, it wouldn't be made so much if people didn't place such a high demand on it. - It was a nasty argument. Being able to see both sides I just stayed the hell out of it.

    Mind going off on random topics. Sorry.