Not having a phone line for almost two months is very educational. I have been writing letters to people and even sending them gifts. I was a crappy email correspondent anyway. We also don't have a television so after dinner we play Parcheesi or Black Jack or read books out loud. It feels just like the olden days out here in the sticks, yep!

I've also joined the local food co-op and earn my member's discount by washing dishes for two hours a month. It is a very meditative job and is also good for the complexion--lots of steam. Here is a short list of great coops along or near Route 2 (the only road we've ever known).

The Harvest Coop in Cambridge, MA, is a well-meaning establishment that has a cool cafe in front, lots of produce, and also a good vitamin section. There are nice bocconcini sandwiches in the refrigerated case across from the fish, I like to load these up with the roasted Mediterranean vegetables sold bulk from the olive bar.

Green Fields Market in Greenfield, MA is another hoppin' store--their eat-in section is on a second-floor balcony and they have an amazing selection of lip balm. Whoa.

Brattleboro, VT, is very proud of their coop. Their cheese section seems to be the best in the country and is run by a former Hollywood film director (or maybe it was TV). There are always hot entrees available to eat at tables or takeout (good for lazy or tired people) and there is a monthly "shareholders day" when they give out free coffee and samples and musical coop members perform for the lucky shoppers.

Just up route 91 is the Putney Coop in charming wee Putney. This is a low-key place with a popular bulletin board (need a catsitter? have a spare cabin?), great prices, and a cool location right across from the rib shack and down the road from the crossroads that is downtown Putney.

The crunchy lifestyle is lovely. However I try to balance things out by wearing a studded belt and knee-high pleather boots.

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