A Peculiar Grace • a novel by jeffrey lent

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What to give a blacksmith?

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 10.17.26 AMWHAT a fantastic book! The detail Mr. Lent incorporates into his main characters’ trade, blacksmithing, is sure to appeal to any tradesman. A solitary man, living alone, living with his demons, rediscovering love. Again, a complex effort by Mr. Lent, which will enrich your life. I invite you to visit any library in America, locate this book of fiction, and try the first three paragraphs in a quiet nook. Time permitting, you’ll sit for the first chapter of 50 pages and leave with the book under your arm.

Jeffrey Lent was born in Vermont and grew up there and in western New York State, on dairy farms powered mainly by lent190draft horses. He lived for many years in North Carolina, an enriching and formative experience.  Lent currently resides with his wife and two daughters in central Vermont. – Grove Atlantic

Pennsylvania Ballet • Serenade

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Pennsylvania Ballet • Serenade • Choreographer: George Balanchine

IF YOU WERE permitted one cultural performance your entire life, what would you choose?  The Doors in Madison Square Garden?  Pavarotti singing below the Eiffel Tower?  A recital of wooden flute in an Aurignacian cave?

After attending the first ballet performance of my life, I can attest there is one answer only to this question:  a ballet performance of Serenade.  

“Now, hold on a minute”, you are probably thinking.  Just who is this George fella?  George Balanchine was the finest choreographer that ever lived, says just about everyone who studies this for a living.  “And what, exactly, is this Serenade?” 

Backing up a little, we remember Tchaikovsky wrote, in 1880, Serenade for Strings in C.  Inspired by his time in Italy, this piece supremely exhibits a relaxed buoyancy and melodic richness. Perfect, one thinks, for ballet. This piece, however, was not written for Mr. Balanchine. Sadly, by eleven years, the two men missed the other’s worldly existence.

A few decades later, as a young man, Mr. Balanchine heard Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, and wrote, to accompany this music, a perfect dance he also called Serenade.  To answer your question, finally, Serenade, first performed in 1934, is a ballet by George Balanchine to Tchaikovsky’s  Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48.

Tchaikovsky’s score is fulfilling and romantic; the ballet performance is this but so much more.  Beauty and grace one rarely encounters in a world of survival comes alive through the imagination and vision of one man.  The dance designed by Mr. Balanchine will transport one in a manner the Manly Man, hiding tears, may not acknowledge.  Women, however, will openly be thankful for the beauty of all Mankind.

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet in Serenade, choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

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Chinook Winds Bison Yarn and Fiber • MONTANA

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Chinook Winds harvests fiber from bison, or buffalo as they are commonly called,  then blends the fiber with varying amounts of alpaca and/or wool.

All fibers come from animals  raised on South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming ranches.  The fibers are processed at regional and US owned mills. Once the yarn comes back from the mill, it is sold in its own beautiful natural colors or kettle-dyed and handpainted in deep rich tones.

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 Why am I so excited?

Because Heather had some extra time, bottled up on her farm in Iowa, during this famously cold winter. And I asked, very nicely, if she’s knit me an extra warm watch cap with extra special yarn. AND IT’S DONE !!!!! 

It’s 70% Rambouillet which is one of the softest wools with high crimp for warmth and bounce, 25% bison which is strong, light, warm, and soft with a micron count comparable to good cashmere, and 5% Suri which is strong, light, warm, and soft.   There are two types of alpacas, and Suri makes up only about 10% of the total population. – Heather

Hats by Heather of Iowa. From $55 to $225 delivered. This example cost $125.

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¡Ay, caramba! Cara Cara CARA !!!

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WE ARE officially in mid-season for one of my favorite Venezuelan imports! Discovered at the Hacienda de Cara Cara in Valencia, this  cross between the Washington navel and the DSCF2780Brazilian Bahia navel is a phenomenal treat.

You don’t like oranges? You’ll love the cara cara, regardless. Slice one up! Go ahead, I dare you ! The carpels tear cleanly off the pericarp and melt in your mouth in a complex explosion evoking notes of cherry, rose petal, orange, and blackberry. Carpels, you ask? HCeLFThat’s the flesh of the fruit, also called the segments. The inner core is the pith, and even that didn’t go to waste in the orange I just consumed. This cara cara was $1.25 at Wegmans, and well worth it!

Meiser Tire Pressure Gauge

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Pressure Drop   Toots & The Maytals

LONG long ago, a son gave to his father the nicest tire pressure gauge one could get from the auto supply store. It was made in the USA, and featured a hose and easy-to-hold brass chuck. But the father didn’t straight on tablebother with tire pressures; he allowed the garage to handle any and all routine maintenance. So, as often happens after the best intentions, the gauge was given back to the son several year later with a rueful excuse and a smile.

I used the gauge for over two decades before something went amiss. It began giving off-readings, telling me a tire was flat when visual inspection clearly showed a healthy sidewall. What to do? Meiser, the manufacturer, apparently had all their domestic market product made in China, sold under the Accugauge label.

I called Meiser, and discovered the gauge had a lifetime warranty. “If I would only mail it in with $3 return postage, they would repair or replace the product.” WHAT? No, sir, I want the gauge repaired. “Fine. Note that you want REPAIR, NOT REPLACE on your contact information.”made in usa

“Why don’t you make gauges here anymore”, I asked. The short answer was that their distributor stopped carrying domestic production gauges, so production stopped. I offered to take over sales, accepted the financial impact of a one hundred gauge order, and began selling them on eBay and sportsmen’s forums. The venture, after postage, fees, and promotional samples, does not make any money. But Meiser is very pleased to keep their guys busy, and Meiser’s suppliers can’t but feel the same way. Buyers invariably rave about the quality.

Never has an unfavorable comment been received. A quality gauge and a fair price

Michelin Primacy™ MXM4®

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Rolling Rolling Rolling

EVERY DRIVE, long and short, was rumbling thunder. Head-rattling, tension-inducing, muscle-cramping agony. Especially highway miles. I was in sales, a genuine road warrior. 300-400 miles a day was not uncommon. The 1994 850 Turbo I bought from a lawyer in Haddonfield was well-maintained, but he had his mechanic mount a cheap set of  tires before the sale. The tires were aggressive, but loud!

After a purchasing decision was made, several months were spent scouring online resources. Lengthy visits to tire stores, exhaustively gleaning every last bit of information regarding tread noise, durability, performance under all driving conditions, price, looks, and country of origin. Tires are classified by their characteristics. Given my wants, I chose a Luxury Performance Touring tire.

The best tire in my speed rating is made by Michelin. The best price? Costco [spend some time becoming familiar with their Road Hazard Warranty, which is  excellent & free]. Tirerack is the tire-primacy-mxm4-heroacknowledged go-to resource for online information and comparisons of tires.

Michelin manufactures tires in six states: Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina and South Carolina. In addition, there are three plants in Nova Scotia, Canada and one plant in Queretaro, Mexico. All of the Michelins I’ve purchased have the words MADE IN U.S.A. imprinted on the tire.

When I sold my Volvo, the Primacys were over 60,000 miles old but still had usable tread. I next mounted a set on an ’01 Acura TL, and again enjoyed excellent handing and wear characteristics. We put a set on the Subaru. The car is unstoppable in all weather. When my GMC Sierra pickup needs tires, alas, the Primacy will not be chosen because it is not a truck tire. But I will purchase the Michelin  LTX M/S2. From Costco.

LOST NATION • a novel by jeffrey lent

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EIGHTEEN Hundred & Thirty Eight was the date. The location, somewhere between New Hampshire and Canada. A very sparsely occupied area with the roughest of living. The inhabitants prefered to be left alone. Both countries thought it their territory. 

A man pushes his wagon deep into the wilderness, looking for a place to set up trade. Far from the law, far from questions about his past. The wagon’s load? Two barrels of Jamaica rum, powder, lead, fabric, small housewares, a woman.

Mr. Lent captures the dirt, grease, and hardship as a first hand observer. The depth of his observations will transport the reader back to a time before electricity, automobiles, telephones. You will not notice they are missing. You will live in this world not so long ago when survival depended on your work and your neighbor.

lent190Jeffrey Lent was born in Vermont and grew up there and in western New York State, on dairy farms powered mainly by draft horses. He lived for many years in North Carolina, an enriching and formative experience.  Lent currently resides with his wife and two daughters in central Vermont. – Grove Atlantic