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Greetings from the shores of Lake Champlain

Stone & Roses

Westport, NYI've been having a terrific summer so far, mostly without regular consultation of the Internet. Every once in a while I poke my head in to Computerland and say "God, what a mess," and I go back outside to plant pretty flowers in the mountains or sip coffee while watching the sun rise over the lake.

I knew far in advance that this summer was going to be among the worst of times to be on-line because we are in the midst of a presidential election. Last time around, blogs proved that they could be key players in the outcome of the election, and so this time it was pretty clear that in addition to the usual Internet nasties, there would be people out there stirring up trouble in the blogosphere who were being paid to cause trouble, to take down bloggers perceived to be supporting of one candidate or another, people paid to say what they were saying, and meetings around conference tables in which promoting particular political agendas in the blogosphere would be discussed. And there would be all kinds of unnecessary grief as a result. As I put it to some of my friends back in February in a conversation at Boskone, this would be an election in which people's lives would get destroyed because of their blogs. I made a conscious decision to opt out.

Things are playing out a little differently than I expected, inasmuch as I've followed the goings on, but the on-line world is full of unnecessary awfulness this summer. It seems like every time I'm on-line for more than just to check my email, I end up spending time trying to parse some blogwar or other to see if this is something I need to be involved with. The answer is inevitably "NO", and soon I will learn not to try to parse them at all. But I am still having a hard time coming to grips with what a brain-sucking parasite one's computer can be.

For the past two years, I have been fairly reticent about what has been going on in my life because I have been cyberstalked by a woman who is obsessed with me. She watches me so closely that in May she ridiculed my new author photo within two hours of my posting it.  She picks Internet fights and then theorizes on-line that I must somehow be involved with the resulting blog wars she involves herself in. She has about ten blogs and tries to make herself look like a crowd. A week or so ago, on a single day, she wrote about five posts mentioning me in various paranoid nutty contexts. She also began developing conspiracies theories about people I am photographed with. One author whom my husband publishes and who is a friend of mine, but whom I haven't seen much of since he moved to the West Coast a decade or so ago, was a major figure in her fantasy life and conspiracy theories four a couple of months earlier this year. She also took out after one of my kids, but backed off after I contacted her ISP and law enforcement. Unsurprisingly, she is front and center in one of this summer's many political blogwars and apparently blames me.

Having given myself some breathing space, I realize that inasmuch as I have any desire to be on-line, I would like to be able to talk about what fun I've been having. Last fall, we bought a house overlooking Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks. I have been spending a lot of time up there.

Peter scales the new stone wall.The house came with two failing retaining walls, which we have just replaced with amazing dry-laid stone walls made of beautiful boulders studded with garnet. The yard was completely restructured as part of this process, and so I have been planting a yard from scratch which is a fascinating process. I've been learning about soil PH and soil structure. I've been mail-ordering beneficial fungi from and moss for the shadiest of our walls from Moss Acres. We planted special grass seed. I've most recently put in some raised beds and planted rose bushes. I've been getting up with the sun and working on the yard for an hour or two before anyone else gets up. I feel so wholesome and healthy.

roses & stone

The town where our house is is a very friendly place, and if I want conversation , all I need to do is walk out the door. People will stop and talk. It is tremendously socially nurturing. I wish the blogosphere could go back to being more like my small-town front porch. But I think I'll have to wait until after the election for that. In the meantime, peace be with you.