Life After Death
Last year I died in Burlington. Couldn't breathe. Called 911. In minutes the ambulance arrived. Six guys threw me on the floor of the ambulance, ripped off my shirt and took my vitals. No heartbeat — no oxygen to the brain. Out came a glowing green square. Someone says, "This will hurt." They bammed me twice.
Two days later I woke up from a coma, and a nurse rushed over to me. "Someone has to tell you what happened: You were dead for six-plus minutes. No heartbeat. No oxygen to the brain. The betting was 7-to-3 for a body bag."
But I woke up. Death sent me back to life. We are old friends. Your article let me know there are many others who have had near-death experiences ["Knocking on Heaven's Door," October 26].
Life after death is different, as my girlfriend Diane sings, mangling some lyrics: "...I see my life's light shining, from the west out to the east. Any day now, any way now, I shall be deceased."
Joseph Moses Suruda
Cluse to Home
[Re From the Publisher: "Cluse Encounters," October 12]: Penny Cluse is closing. Heartbreaking news. When a restaurant serves a town like Burlington for 25 years, it is more than just a restaurant. It is a part of the community.
I come from a big family. When they visited, Penny Cluse would set up a long table on the second floor so sisters, brothers, spouses, nieces and nephews could all sit down to breakfast together. When I got married, Penny Cluse catered the barbecue on the wedding eve. Once again, a family gathered around a meal to celebrate being together: ribs and hot dogs, roasted corn salad and peach cobbler. When I attended the University of Vermont, we arranged a Convocation of Thanks for families of loved ones who donated their bodies to the Anatomical Gift Program. It was my job to ask for food donations from the business community, just some simple appetizers. Chef-owner Charles Reeves donated massive platters of sandwiches. "People will be hungry," he noted. He was right.
Today when I ate breakfast at Penny Cluse, I looked around: students, families, farmers from the Intervale having a breakfast meeting, prints from a local artist hanging on the walls. Community.
I wish Charles Reeves and Holly Cluse the very best in their next endeavor. And I thank them for being such a giving, thriving part of our community.
Cover Art in the Crosshairs
[Re "Warning Shots," November 2]: Rev. Diane Sullivan's choice of a pile of .22LR casings as optics for a cover article on gun violence struck me as nothing short of tongue in cheek! That empty shell is most often found wherever tin cans and targets are plinked or small game hunted, or littering the firing line at the national biathlon training center in Underhill. Lying on a city street with a numbered pylon next to it, not so much — unless, perhaps, the shooter's street name is Squeaky or Mini-Me.
Things came into sharper focus upon reading ["Plowshares Into Swords: Matt Donovan's The Dug-Up Gun Museum Delves Into the American Obsession With Firearms," November 2], which explains the role of art as "potent metaphor" and useful initiator of "vital conversations" about gun violence and our nation's ongoing "worshipping," "fetishizing" and "eroticizing" of firearms. This, from a Smith College poet who doesn't own any. My granny and all three of her sisters were Smithies.
Probably inadvertently, Sullivan has put her finger on the challenge of having "real conversations around the topic of firearms," to quote prof Donovan. While firearms owners outright enjoy them and find guns useful and adding value to their lives, others, usually non-gun owners, tend to focus on negative imagery and their symbolism vis-à-vis perceived social or political ills. Their representations often seem silly or untethered to the reality familiar to most owners. It's going to be really difficult having a constructive conversation coming from such divergent perspectives!
Excellent article ["This Old Homeowner," November 2], and a great topic. Here's my take.
Like many people over the age of 60, I prefer to stay in my comfortable home in a familiar neighborhood. As a lifelong planner, I find that modifying a home to accommodate a helpful and trustworthy person is vastly preferable to moving into a condo or apartment. It also acknowledges that we don't need as much space as we often have.
While home sharing may work for some, converting part of a home to a private dwelling allows more privacy and flexibility, as well as additional income to help pay ever-increasing taxes. Accessory dwelling units, also called in-law apartments or guest cottages, don't demand new land or utility lines or long approval processes. As long as you can meet setback requirements and building codes, barriers are minimal. This may even provide an incentive to do long-overdue weatherization work.
The biggest problem right now may be finding a qualified building contractor and, for some, the money to make the modifications. Perhaps a portion of the federal money going to large developers to build identical-looking apartment blocks could be used more creatively to encourage ADU apartments in existing older neighborhoods. We could benefit from a serious discussion of what towns and cities can do to help encourage new ADU construction for long-term rental use, like reducing property taxes for private homeowners who take action to help solve our affordable housing crises.
[Re "Conservative Legal Group Sues After Randolph Student Suspended," October 28, online]: Bravo to Randolph Union High School for its response to the ignorant and ill-informed student bullying of the transgender teen involved. But reading a bit of the content of the letter sent by her parent — a coach? — I can see the student is not to be blamed. Before you send your kids out into an ever-changing world, educate yourself so you can educate your child. You do a huge disservice to them by not doing so.
Stay strong, Randolph High administrators. It is an important lesson for us all.