Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh Sandy

Sun has set...or has it? The sky is so dark.

Even though we are hundreds of miles away from Hurricane Sandy, a "Frankenstorm" of historic proportions that is just now coming ashore in New Jersey, this part of Vermont is expected to get hit hard with gale force winds.

Things are picking up too. Not sure how long we'll have power. Tied a jump rope to the porch door as it kept banging around, making the dog start every time it hit the jamb. Seems to be the only sound Chuck can hear, poor old guy.

Did I mention the moon is full? Even the full moon is contributing to the weather events.

I know nothing, really, about weather or astronomy, but tonight, with the thick, ribs of black clouds giving way to bits of darkening sky and the whistle of the wind coming through the cracks of the house, it's hard not to feel a bit unsettled.

Tonight, making a barley risotto, baked squash and searing a sirloin of local, grass-fed beef. Kids are listening to an audio book and I am drinking red wine.

Three cheers. To family, to nature and to learning how to bend in the wind.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Cleaning up and Cleaning out!

I am now in the vice-like arms of a particular bug...the neurotic-must-clean-my-house bug.  I've adopted an 8 yard dumpster which I've filled once (and is almost full again) and have a truck load of clothes and toys to take to Salvation Army...and I still have three more rooms to clear out!

In the meantime, to keep my creative juices flowing and give myself a tangible reward beyond a less-cluttered house, I'm working on my attic room - a sweet, crooked little space off my bedroom with dreamy morning light and a cool, private staircase into the kitchen. I've been scouring pinterest and design sponge for ideas and although I'm short on cash and time, I'm determined to make this space my own before teenage goddaughter C. and her friend travel here from California for a two week home stay in Vermont.

So here's a bit of video, to give you an idea of what I'm working with:

And a few still shots:

Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

2012 - 1972 = 40

I am going to turn forty. Soon. A year ago, this reality hit me in the gut. Literally. 

At first, it wasn't too big a deal, as I was running most days a week, doing yoga, eating well, but a temporary medical issue cropped up and I had to take it easy. After awhile, my work schedule got more crazy, I got really stressed and my preventative health took a back seat. As cold weather hit, I decided to make an exercise schedule on my Google calendar, determined to shed those last 10 pounds to hit my ideal-ized weight and panicked when I realized I was a lot farther than I was a few months before. 

This spun off into joining a gym, looking at super foods for youthful skin and increased metabolism, reading articles about healthy aging, and even some late night web surfing inspiration about famous forty-something celebrities (yep, I went there).  I started eating quinoa and kiwis, bought a $30 eye cream and as I squinted to read the tiny print on the back of the tiny bottle, tried to squelch the dread that I may need reading glasses.

39 on the left, 17 on the right. Ack!

I did not totally freak, but yeah...I did freak a little.

Then, I started spending lots of time with a new friend and found myself too busy to think about proliferating gray hairs, sagging necks, creaking bones and spotty memory. Work and life are still insanely busy, but it's been a really good few months.

Now, 7 months later, as I restart my exercise routine and seek balance for my full and happy life, I realize that I really do like myself, and although I'm a work in progress, I'm in a good place.

I want to be healthy and fit, but not at the expense of a healthy psyche and perspective, so it comes back to this never ending and joyful pursuit of life in the present. Besides, there are real benefits to being older and to being this wonderful age and I intend to seek them out with gusto. 

So yes, I admit it. I bailed on my yoga and running (although I've started them again!), and my diet is back to normal with the added benefit of incorporating some pretty damn yummy "super foods", (that's a separate posting!) and I am still figuring out the time thing, but my Dad's voice often pops up in my head "It will work out one way or the other". 

So...I'm gonna throw a party and clean my house instead.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fireflies are BACK...

...and may I always feel the same leap of joy when they appear.

Tsuneaki Hiramatsu

 Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, time lapse photo of fireflies

Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, time lapse photo of fireflies

Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, time lapse photo of fireflies

Memorial Day

In memory of those who served and died in battle, a poem written by a man who was a poet, an artist, a surgeon and foremost, a soldier. Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem, In Flander Fields after the death of his friend and former student, Alex Helmer, in 1915.

Col McCrae died three years later of acute pneumonia, while commanding a military hospital in Europe.

In Flanders Fields

by Col. John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sun Dog

It's been a busy, busy spring and this morning is the first morning I've had in a long time to just sit and breathe. 

Don't get me wrong. My "To Do" list is still insanely long. There are a dozen voice messages that need to be responded to and the impressive pile of mail and papers in my kitchen has become cringe-worthy. Poor Chuck, my blind and arthritic dog, must think he's been abandoned and the kids, to their utter delight, are looking unkempt and kissed by smudges of dirt from my benign neglect. I even found forbidden candy wrappers tucked under the living room pillows which is bold - in the past the candy is usually consumed under a shrub in the yard and the evidence buried. 

See? I've been busy.

One of the fortunes of the morning, or so my friend keeps telling me, is watching the world wake up around you. Although I prefer to do that from the vantage of my bed, my friend is an early riser and sometimes, when feeling especially good in nature, I'll join him for a walk up the dirt road, listening to the birds and the soft bellows of cows. Sometimes, if we are early enough, the gray light will give way to gold as the sun rises above the mountains with names I have yet to discover and if we are truly lucky, a sun dog will appear...just for us, or so I like to think.

So now, watching the gray light turn brighter, I'm savoring the quiet morning and waiting, not impatiently, for the kids to wake up the house with their chatter and laughter. I'll sip my good coffee and  check my messages, organize my lists and consider the best strategy to get everybody to touch soap today. 

Then, I'll type a missive about it all, get up and get on with it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

When One Door Closes...

I wrote this post about the Hardwick Community Garden and it originally appeared in the Center for an Agricultural Economy's blog. 

When One Door Closes...

With the rains and flooding from Tropical Store Irene on August 28, 2012, we lost the Hardwick Community Garden to the Lamoille River.

It was dispiriting to see all the hard work over the past few years disappear with the topsoil, vegetables and flowers only to be replaced with silt, sand and rocks. Just months before, in January, we had lost 2/3 of the garden first to flooding from an ice jam, a regular occurance in that part of the river, and then to the damage caused by the heavy machinery needed to break the jam and save the town from flooding. 

The following April, with the help of students from Sterling College and our dedicated group of gardeners, we moved stone and debris, re-tilled, raked in new compost, fixed beds and repaired the damage done. We were hopeful and excited as we planned our workshops, reached out to new gardeners and the local school who made up new gardens and got on with the business of community gardening. We had no idea what the end of summer and the height of harvest would bring - not just to us, but to the entire State of Vermont as people everywhere dealt with the loss of their businesses, homes, farms and livliehood in the wake of the massive flood waters that forever changed the topography of our State.

To say our gardeners and our staff were discouraged, is an understatement. With sadness and even some frustration, we made the decision to close the Community Garden. 

Read the rest here...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Wonderful Poem by a poet...because it's National Poetry Month!


 by Eleanor Lerman 

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman down beside you at the counter who say, Last night, the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder, is this a message, finally, or just another day?

 Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the pond, where whole generations of biological processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds speak to you of the natural world: they whisper, they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old enough to appreciate the moment? Too old? There is movement beneath the water, but it may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

 And then life suggests that you remember the years you ran around, the years you developed a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon, owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have become. And then life lets you go home to think about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

 Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one who never had any conditions, the one who waited you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave, so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you were born at a good time. Because you were able to listen when people spoke to you. Because you stopped when you should have and started again.

 So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland, while outside, the starfish drift through the channel, with smiles on their starry faces as they head out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

Kudos to for publishing fantastic poems.

From Our Post Soviet History Unfolds by Eleanor Lerman, published by Sarabande Books. Copyright © 2005 by Eleanor Lerman. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Run with Me!

It's spring!

This time of year is when the blood boils through my veins and all I want to do is run.

Of course, after a winter of icy roads and viruses, by body is out of sync with my desire...but that is changing.

The last two springs, I have been fortunate enough to run with girls. Little girls. Enthusiastic, huggy, talkative and fabulous girls. I am a volunteer coach - a persuading-cheering-always-trying-to keep-up-with coach to a group of a dozen pre-teen students at the local school. We are training for the SpringFest 5k race on May 26th and we are challenged mentally, emotionally and physically, yet we always come out of it energized, happy and feeling good.

We are 6 weeks into it with 6 more weeks to go. The girls ran 1.75 miles last week and were exhausted, but proud.

It's a good feeling. I am going to go with it.

Happy running!

photo by 802

Friday, March 02, 2012


Finally, it happened.


A couple of days ago, we had our first "real" snow storm of the winter. The last one was in November. Yep, November.

I have spent the last few days watching the sky go from crystal blue to gray, anticipating the falling treasure. Then, on Wednesday night, it came. For 16 hours, snow fell from the sky covering up the ice and dirt. Frozen ruts were erased beneath a foot of powder and the landscape was transformed.

It feels incredibly good to trudge through the powder, taking my shovel and pushing it out of the way. There is satisfaction in watching my dog Chuck dive head first into short piles, using his nose to sniff out the burrowing mice and bits of buried treasure, only to come up with icy whiskers. I enjoy seeing skiers on the trails and hearing the dull roar of snow machines. The rumble of the town plow is a sound I have missed.

It's been a long "not winter" in Vermont this year and although I had about given up hope of long nordic skis, sledding parties and snowy runs on the back roads as spring inevitably creeps toward us, it looks like winter has finally least for a few days...and I'll look forward to the challenge of trying to fit in my favorite winter fun as quickly as I can.

First up, shoveling my drive.

Standing on a pile of LAST winter's snow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Answer Me This

A post where I talk about to-do lists, childhood pyromania and make a thinly veiled reference to Star Wars.

How is there not enough time in the day?

Life is busy - for me, for you, for everyone. We do our best to prioritize, organize, list and then set out to "do". We have gadgets and programs to help us multi-task, appliances that make our chores faster and easier, a car to help us get from place to place and permanent press fabric so that tracking down an iron nowadays is near impossible. We even have technology that takes the brevity of electronic communication to a whole new level of speed - texting, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds.

At this very moment, as I type this post, I have a report due...yesterday, a house full of chores to be done and volunteer duties that glare with judgement from my calendar.  Yet here I am. Still writing and spending what is no doubt precious time, if only to me, typing a post that a scant number of people will read.

As a kid, life was busy too. There were oak trees to climb, experiments in the garage with flammable liquids, gowns pieced together out of gauzy fabric found in my mother's closet and a regular game of Kickball played in the vacant lot next door. Time either dragged like an old lady driving a Buick on a one lane road or or flew by like a screaming X-wing escaping the exploding Death Star.

This afternoon, I spent time remembering a woman who died four years ago today. A cousin, actually, although one that I didn't meet until I was 14 and she was 16 and my Dad married her Aunt. Sweet and kind, a beautiful woman with a smile that was infectious, Jessica died at thirty seven of breast cancer, two years younger than I am now, leaving two children and her high school sweetheart-turned-husband with broken hearts and empty arms.

She didn't have enough time either.

So, as I sit here in my dining room gazing at the Christmas tree adorned with my childhood ornaments and blithely ignore the stack of bills on the edge of the table until I've had one more glass of wine, answer me this...

How is there not enough time in the day? In a week? In a lifetime? Maybe the answer is that there will never be enough big surprise there...the rapid growth of my three children and the persistent graying of my hair is a daily reminder of how little time there is.

One of my favorite quotes this year, as I move quickly through my days. It is a reminder to be present:

"When it's over, I want to say: All my life, I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms." -- Mary Oliver

G with the Little One.